the plan is $.50 on a $1.00 to a maximum of 3% of compensation
Don't forget the tax consequences either. If you contribute $1.00 you'll get a tax reduction of some amount. Let's assume you're in the 25% bracket so you get $0.25 back on your taxes. So, you've really only invested $0.75, but your employer is going to give you $0.50. When it is all said and done, you'll have really contributed $0.75 and the account balance will be $1.50. Pretty good return on your money...
I think you first need to define "good." Good in terms of what metrics? Fees? Investment options? Free advice from the investment professional your company hired? It all depends on where the plan is located, the investment options the trustee of the plan chose on behalf of the employees, among other things. All of these questions have answers, but do you really have the ability to change the answers? Not really... You're subject to what the investment professional presents to the trustee of the plan.
But from what I can gather from your question is that you want to know what to ask the company so that you can evaluate their offer against others that you may have. You got the basics down, which Mr. Tucker mentioned are pretty standard across the board. I would also ask: 1. What investment company is managing the plan? 2. When am I eligible to contribute? 3. Can you provide a print-out of the investment options? (you can use this to determine fees) 4. How often does the investment professional meet with the employees? 5. Does this investment professional assist me with choosing investment options?
If it seems like the HR department doesn't really know the answers to these questions, then I would be quick to surmise that they really don't keep up with the plan and just offer it to say that they offer one. But if the HR manager knows the investment professional by first name, and the last time he came in, and is quick to provide the investment options, then I would assume that the plan is "good." Most competent advisors will spend a great deal of time with the HR department of the firms with plans they manage and will generally provide good support to its employees...that's my definition of a "good plan."
It's about the standard matching contribution many employers are offering today, some companies are more generous than others. Any matching contribution you get is free money, always contribute enough of your salary to get the full company match before exploring other avenues.
Whether it's a good plan in other respects is another question, i.e. - investment choices, fees, etc.
To evaluate whether a 401(k) is good or not, you should look at: Company match - you already know that Profit-sharing - ask if the company often makes profit-sharing contributions in addition to the match Fees - ask for a copy of the last fee disclosure to employees, check on whether the funds are in the lowest available share class and see if the funds are index funds or actively managed funds Performance - Look on Morningstar to see how the funds ranked in their categories for 3, 5 and 10-year performance. Also see how consistent they are year by year for the last 5 years. You don't want a fund's 3-year score to come largely from one giant year. Number of options - The plan should have both index and actively managed funds, a good mix of bond funds of different types and hopefully some alternative funds. It is best if the funds are not all from one fund family. To me, target date funds are not necessarily a plus Advice - who gives participants advice and does the company pay for that? Brightscope Score for the plan - of course Some of these questions are best answered with the help of someone specializing in retirement plans like myself and there are other concerns a retirement plan specialist can help you with