403b vs 401k

Things become complicated when you want to compare 401k vs 403b as a retirement plan but don’t have much information about it. Simply, these two plans are for the financial future.

One plane offered by for-profit companies and another one is for non-profit entities. After deep research, we are ready to give you more details about 403b and 401k.

When you know what these two plans are and what are the basic differences then it will be easy for you to decide for the future. For your wildest retirement dream let’s unpack some differences.

403b vs 401k
Picture: 403b vs 401k

Most of the time, retirement plans come as confusing terms for the people. But for the 403b and 401k, there are many questions like what it is, how it works, what are the key benefits, similarities, and differences. Understanding this term is important to put money into it.

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Before consideration, ask yourself, should you invest your own money? Or looking for the employer’s contribution if there is enough money.

Don’t panic anymore to compare 403b vs 401k as retirement plans. Most people look at these plans to get tax-exempt. But one thing we can say for sure, both plans are great as retirement plans.

401k vs 403b
Picture: What Is a 403b and 40k?

401k is a name given and used as a tax code but a retirement plan sponsored by the employer. In recent times, it has gained popularity because of tax advantages. But the key fund of this plan comes from the payroll account.

It will be deducted from the payroll account automatically which must match with the employer’s contribution. This money limit you contribute is free but experts suggest matching it with the employer.

The good news is, anyone can choose it in every payment period. When you choose your investment against this plan like company stock, ETFs, cash alternatives, or other investment vehicles you’ll be responsible.

Know about 401k
Picture: Know about 401k

What is 403b?

This plan is almost similar to 401k. But we need to talk separately about 403b because it takes the form of annuity contracts or mutual fund custodial accounts.

403b is a term referring to the tax code. It has another name and that is “tax-sheltered annuity” (TSA) plans. But the sad news is this plan is tax-deductible.

 403b plan also known as TSA: 401k vs 403b
Picture: 403b plan also known as TSA

Key Takeaways:

Let’s have a quick look at key takeaways on 401k and 403b.

  • Both plans are almost equal. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.
  • 401k offered by for-profit companies.
  • Both allow you to choose a limited range of investment options.
  • 403b are offered by non-profit organizations.
  • Both offer tax-advantaged retirement savings.

Differences Between 403b and 401k:

After a long discussion, these two retirement plans might seem similar but a few things set them apart. Now we are going to know that from below.


Both plans are offered by different companies. 403b is offered by a tax-exempt organization. That means it’s from nonprofit organizations like schools, universities, religious organizations, or hospitals. On the other hand, 401k plans come from for-profit organizations.


Cost influences both plans. For the non-profit organization, the administrative cost is lower. That means the 403b plan comes with a lower cost. The government doesn’t want to put an extra burden by increasing the cost of such plans or organizations. So, it’s less costly than 401k.

On the other hand, 401k is expensive for employers compared with a 403b plan. But this plan has a good side in terms of cost and that is, it won’t affect employees at all. The cost is only for employers.

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Options for Investment

401k has more options than 403b for investment. There is a reason behind it. Companies offer more ranges for 401k because it’s more expensive than 403b. As a result, it ensures quality for the investment.

As an example, 403b only offers mutual funds and annuities. On the other hand, 401k offers stocks, bonds, annuities, and mutual funds as well.

What Are The Similarities Between 403b and 401k?

It’s time to find out similarities between these two plans. Read below to know these similarities.

  • Both plans are named with a code given by the IRS. It happened only in their corresponding section.
  • For both plans, employees can contribute up to $18500.
  • You can remove your contribution from your paycheck.
  • Don’t need to pay income taxes for the contributions.
  • Both accounts are tax-deferred
  • If you withdraw money too early, then you might receive a penalty and this penalty system comes with both plans.
Contribution for Both Plans is up to $18500
Picture: Contribution for Both Plans is up to $18500

Benefits of 403b vs 401k:

In terms of benefits, we found many but most of them are similar to each other. So, we tried to discuss the unique benefits and these are.

  • Investment is more important than the plan. You can get more options for the benefit when you choose a 401k retirement plan.
  • 403b comes with a lower cost.
Which Plan Should I Choose?

This segment is for you if you are still confused to choose the best one between these two plans. If you are a business owner then there is sad news for you. In this case, which plans you choose doesn’t matter a lot. So, it depends on which plan the employer offers you.

401k is the best option for a for-profit organization. You have access to get this plan for the benefits. On the other hand, 403b is an option for you if you work for a non-profit organization like a school, hospital, etc.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to discuss 403b vs 401k and which plan you have access to. The only focus should be to get the most out of your money. It will be best to secure your future financially.

After going through this article, now you know why we discussed these two retirement plans. There is no wonder if you found a combination of some sort of annuity and investment.

 This guideline is also best for those who are about to start a new job. That’s why we discussed to clarify your confusion and discussed the most basic differences that help you to choose the plan.

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