Gold has been used as a store of wealth for as long as mankind has had any wealth to store. It’s one of the few investment classes that you can actually hold in your hand – and it can act as a valuable diversification tool in a balanced portfolio. There are many ways to purchase gold, but the most popular is to own physical gold bullion and coins. If you’re wondering where to buy physical gold online, keep reading for our top recommendations.
GoldSilver.com is a popular and trustworthy online gold broker. They offer a great selection of investment-grade gold bullion and coins, all at competitive premiums. They buy and sell, so you can also sell your investments to GoldSilver.com should you choose to do so.
We like this vendor because they offer a good selection, and more importantly, their buy/sell margins are very competitive. Their low premiums over spot make this one of the best places to buy physical gold online. Shipping is free on orders over $499 – and should you choose to, GoldSilver will also store your gold in secure vaults for extremely competitive rates (starting at just 0.06% of asset value per year).
SD Bullion is another great place to buy physical gold. We often recommend it to new investors, as SD Bullion offers a very low order minimum – purchases over $99 qualify for free shipping. Since most competitors charge shipping for small orders, SD Bullion is a great option for beginners and for those buying small amounts of gold frequently.
As the name suggests, this company primarily buys and sells bullion – gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and more. However, they also carry some collectible numismatic coins, as well as “semi-numismatic” gold/silver coins that offer a combination of intrinsic and collector value. Purchasing through SD Bullion is one of the best ways to buy physical gold online, particularly for those with smaller budgets.
BGASC.com is a large scale online bullion dealer. They have built a reputation for fair prices, no order minimums, and ultra-fast shipping in secure, insured packages. While they have no order minimum, their order size to qualify for free shipping is higher than average at $5,000.
For investors thinking about retirement savings, BGASC also offers a good way to invest in precious metals in a tax-advantaged account. They offer a precious metal IRA program, and sell a wide variety of IRA-compatible gold coins. The process is simple, and pricing is very competitive.
Money Metals, also known as Money Metals Exchange, is an online precious and base metals dealer. They sell everything from gold coins to copper bars, offering investors a huge range of interesting assets to choose from. Their premiums over spot value are competitive, and they have a reputation for excellent customer service.
Money Metals is a great option for beginners, for a number of reasons. For one, they offer several free resources for investors, including buyer’s guides, and ample information on the pros and cons of precious metal investment. They even offer starter portfolios, which include a variety of bullion and coins at a set price – perfect to start off your precious metals stack!
Option to store your gold in secure vaults, or take possession Instantly buy and sell physical bullion Clients can visit vaults in-person to view or withdraw stored bullion Storage fees can add up, however – typically 0.95 to 1.5% per year
GoldBroker.com is a popular option for those who want to own physical bullion, without worrying about shipping it or storing it safely. When you purchase from GoldBroker, your gold is stored in secure vaults located in financial centers around the world. At any time, it can be sold or withdrawn and shipped to you. This is a good option for hands-off ownership of physical gold, but keep in mind that storage fees can eat into your profits over time.
There are two basic ways to own gold: physical coins and bullion that you can hold in your hand, and shares of investment vehicles such as gold ETFs and mutual funds. Both perform similarly in normal markets, yet there are some stark differences.
On the other hand, the downsides of physical gold include the hassle of storing it securely, the premium over spot price that is typically paid, and the risk of receiving fake coins (which can be eliminated by shopping with a trusted online vendor).
While investing in gold funds may seem like a simpler option, there are some important downsides to consider. A big one is the ongoing fees associated with these funds, which can really eat into your performance over time. And equally important is the fact that you don’t truly own any gold when you purchase these funds. In a worst-case-scenario, “paper” gold may not do you much good.
The online vendors listed above are our top recommendations. However, there are other methods to buy physical gold, including:
Local Coins Shops/Bullion Dealers – Local coin shops in your area may offer a decent way to purchase physical gold. However, this varies greatly by region, and the quality of coin shops in your area. Premiums over spot price may not be as competitive as online dealers, and the potential for fakes/counterfeit coins may be higher. If you choose to buy from a local coin dealer, make sure to do your research beforehand to identify the best option in your area.
Other Collectors & Investors – If you know other people who collect or invest in gold, you can make direct purchases from them. There are also online forums and other resources you can use to work with other collectors. While you can sometimes score better deals this way, the potential for fakes, scams and even robberies is far higher – so in general we do not recommend this method for buying physical gold.
Through a Retirement Account – Most gold investors are aware of the potential to invest in gold ETFs and mutual funds through their retirement accounts. However, few are aware that some retirement accounts (particularly self-directed IRAs) allow for the purchase of physical gold bullion. Rules are complex and highly dependent on the administrator of your plan, so if you go this route you will have to do your own research.
Through a Broker with Secured Storage – Another unique way to buy physical gold but not actually take possession of it is to purchase through a gold broker that offers secure off-site storage. Popular options include BullionVault.com and GoldSilver.com. With these companies, you do technically own physical gold, but the broker will store it for you until you decide to take possession. This method is not for everyone, but presents an interesting option to consider for hands-off investors.
In the end, the most important thing to remember when it comes to buying physical gold coins is that you need to work with a company you can trust. Be cautious of newer vendors who lack a reputation, and keep an eye out for any red flags. If in doubt, stick to very reputable vendors like those listed on this guide.
The difference between coins and rounds is simple. Coins are legal tender, and they are produced by government mints, such as the US Mint and the Royal Canadian mint. Rounds are round, like coins, but they are manufactured by private mints, and they are not legal tender. Coins have a face value, such as $1 on the American Eagle and $5 on the Canadian Maple Leaf. Obviously, the face value has no connection to reality. Rounds do not have a face value.
Coins and rounds are usually produced in 1-ounce sizes, though you can also buy them in other weights, such as fractional or one-ounce multiples. Government mints around the world produce the coins and back their purity and weight. The year in which the coin was minted is stamped on the coin, as well as the coin’s purity. The purity ranges from .999 to .9999.
Most coins maintain the same designs for decades, except for Silver Chinese Pandas, which I believe get a new design annually on one side, the panda side. Rounds come in all kinds of designs, everything from cartoon characters to holiday themes. I’ve even seen silver rounds with pictures of Bigfoot on them.
Silver is a popular form of bullion that you can buy as coins, rounds and bars. Silver is more popular than gold because it has a lower cost of entry. If investing in silver interests you, I made two tables you can use to find the best silver prices:
Although I collect coins and bars, if you want to get the most silver for your money, I recommend silver bars. Silver bars are almost always cheaper than coins of the same weight. For example, at the time I’m writing this, a 1oz Silver American Eagle costs $17.80, whereas a 1 oz silver bar costs $17.14. That’s not a huge difference, but you save big when you buy larger volumes. Compare, for example, a 500 oz Silver American Eagle Monster Box for $9,120 versus 500 ounces in bar format for $8,040.
Gold is also a popular form of bullion that you can buy as coins, rounds and bars. Gold is slightly less popular than silver simply because gold costs more. The smallest unit of gold you can buy is 1 gram, which although affordable, costs more than the smallest unit of silver. In recent years, however, manufacturers have produced new fractional products that make gold more accessible and easy to use as money. Karatbar, for example, makes 1 gram bars encased in credit-card sized cases. I really like Karatbars because they conceptually portray gold as money, and idea which is no longer taught in school. Valcambi has a similar product called the “CombiBar.” Valcambi’s CombiBars are gold bullion bars that are stamped out in small pieces that you can break off, similar to a chocolate candy bar. In this way, you can make change when transacting in gold.
If investing in gold interests you, I made two tables you can use to find the best prices:
Similar to silver, if you want to get the most gold for your money, I recommend gold bars, rather coins. Bars and rounds are almost always cheaper than coins of the same weight. In fact, I don’t even own any gold coins because of this fact. I would like to add them to my stack in the future, but currently, it’s not in the budget.