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TIAA-CREF offers annuities inside their retirement products. These annuities are no-load and they have no surrender charges.

This is not true. I am in the process of rolling over my TIAA-CREF into an IRA, and they do have a 2.5% surrender charge on the Traditional investment. But if you have less than $2000 in there, the fee is waived. So I guess it depends, but there are surrender charges applied in some circumstances.
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