How to Buy Gold in the USA

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Gold has been used as a store of wealth for as long as humankind has had any wealth to store.

Its rarity, perceived value and usefulness in jewelry and manufacturing have made it a popular choice among investors and collectors alike.

Today, gold is loved by many as an investment and store of value, and remains an exceptionally popular alternative investment class.

If you are looking to buy gold in the USA, there are several ways to go about it. This article highlights some of the best methods.

How to Buy Gold Bars and Coins in the USA

If you are looking to buy gold in the USA, there are three basic options:

The best way to buy gold in the US will depend on a number of factors, including where you live, how much you’d like to purchase, and whether or not you want physical gold.

For most people, the simplest and most cost-effective way is to shop with a trusted online dealer or broker.

This ensures competitive pricing, authentic products and an easy buying experience. For more on each of these methods, see the section below.

Option One: Online Gold Brokers

For most people, purchasing from an online broker will be the best way to buy gold in the USA. Online brokers offer an easy buying experience, low prices, and a huge selection of products. We recommend online brokers for a number of reasons:

For 95% of people, these online dealers present the best way to buy gold in the United States. Below, find some recommendations on trustworthy online gold brokers to shop with.

GoldSilver.com

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GoldSilver.com is a precious metal broker and dealer that sells a wide variety of investment grade bullion and collectible coins. They offer a wider selection than many competitors, while also keeping margins quite low. This is primarily a place to buy gold to have it shipped directly to you - and shipping is free on orders over $500. That said, GoldSilver.com also offers a secure storage program, with very competitive fees.

GoldBroker.com

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GoldBroker.com is a great option for buying and selling gold bullion online.

The company offers competitive pricing, secure storage and a good selection of investment-grade bullion and coins.

When you purchase from GoldBroker.com, you can either have the gold shipped to your door, or choose to have it securely stored in vaults located around the world.

All deposits are insured and stored in secure vaults, and can be withdrawn (or sold) at any time.

SDBullion.com

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SDBullion.com is a good option for people who are new to gold investing.

It offers a good variety of products, fair prices, and some of the lowest order minimums in the industry. With SDBullion, you can make a purchase as low as $100 without getting dinged with shipping costs or extra fees.

They do not offer secure storage at this time, so this is only an option for people who want to store gold bullion themselves.

BullionVault.com

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BullionVault.com is one of the best ways to buy gold in the United States, or anywhere else in the world!

This company lets everyday investors gain access to the international professional bullion market. This results in some of the lowest prices available anywhere, as well as extremely affordable secure storage rates. Purchases made with BullionVault can be stored in one of 5 secure storage facilities, and sold or withdrawn at any time.

BullionVault doesn’t offer much in terms of collectible coins or fancy bullion products.

What they do offer is investment-grade gold bullion at the lowest prices you will find anywhere. Buying margins are just 0.5%, and can go as low as 0.05% on repeat purchases once you pass a certain investment threshold. Overall, BullionVault has perhaps the best deals on gold you can find anywhere.

APMEX.com

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APMEX.com is an online precious metals dealer and coin shop.

They offer an absolutely massive selection of coins and precious metals, with everything from ancient numismatics to modern bullion coins.

APMEX is best for collectors, rather than investors, as their prices on some investment-grade items are not quite as competitive.

However, if you enjoy coin collecting, or want an interesting assortment of gold coins, APMEX is tough to beat in terms of selection.

Option Two: Local Coin Shops

Local coin shops may also be a viable option, depending on your location. If you have reputable coin shops in your area, buying gold directly from them does offer some perks. For one, you can take possession of gold the same day, and there’s no extra shipping cost or hassle. Secondly, it allows you to establish a relationship with a local broker, which may prove useful down the road should you decide to sell your gold.

On the other hand, purchasing from coin shops does have some downsides. Coin shops are typically small businesses, so their margins are often higher than what you would find with the big online gold brokers. You may end up paying a bit more, and selection will be limited to what they have on hand. Depending on the reputation of the dealer, the likelihood of ending up with fake gold could be higher with local coin shops than it would be with online dealers. Coin shops buy items from the public, and they don’t necessarily test each piece to verify its gold content. If you do go this route, make sure to choose a reputable vendor.

Option Three: Gold ETFs/Mutual Funds

For those who prefer a hands-off experience, another option is to invest in gold ETFs (exchange traded funds) or mutual funds. This method requires a normal brokerage or retirement account.

If you already have an account, you can simply purchase a gold ETF like GLD or IAU. These investment products track the performance of gold bullion, but do not involve the investor actually taking possession of any physical gold.

The benefit of this approach is that you don’t have to worry about secure storage, spreads of buying and selling, or any of the other hassles that come with owning physical precious metals.

On the downside, you don’t truly own any gold - only shares in an investment fund designed to track the performance of gold. Another significant downside is that these funds charge an expense ratio every year - typically .25% to 1% - which can really cut into your returns over time.

Legality & Reporting Requirements for Gold Purchases

The legality of owning gold in the United States has a fascinating history - it was actually federally illegal for US citizens to own any gold between the years of 1933 and 1974.

Today, it’s completely legal for citizens to own gold - but there are still some things to consider. If you are buying gold in the United States, there are some reporting requirements that you should be aware of.

Today, most reporting requirements are the responsibility of the dealer, not the customer. So, there is typically nothing you have to worry about when purchasing gold.

With that said, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with these reporting requirements, particularly if you’d like to keep your purchase history private.

IRS Form 8300

Precious metals dealers are required to fill out and submit IRS Form 8300 when they sell over $10,000 in precious metals in a cash transaction. This form only needs to be filled if:

A customer purchases $10,000 or more worth of gold, and pays with cash

A customer purchases $10,000 or more worth of gold, and pays with two or more cash-like instruments (such as money orders, cashier’s checks, etc.). For example, a $12,000 transaction paid using two $6,000 money orders would trigger the reporting requirements, but the same transaction using a single $12,000 money order would not.

This reporting requirement is only relevant for cash and cash-like transactions. So if you pay using a personal check, credit/debit card, bank transfer, ACH wire, etc. there is no need to report the transaction.

Also, this form is only required for transactions taking place within a 24-hour period. So, for example, if you purchase $6,000 worth of gold on Monday and $8,000 more on Thursday, the dealer will not be required to report anything. This article does a good job of explaining these reporting requirements in greater detail.

Tax Considerations of Gold Investment

For US citizens buying gold, there are some tax implications to consider.

When you purchase gold bullion, there will typically be no sales tax. However, some states do charge sales tax, so you will want to factor this into your investment strategy.

In states with sales tax on gold bullion, investing in gold ETFs or buying from gold brokers with secured storage may be a better option.

When you sell your gold investments, you will need to pay taxes on the difference between your purchase price and the sales price.

Unlike many investment classes, physical gold bullion is considered a collectible, and is taxed as such. This means that you will owe taxes based on your marginal tax rate - and not the preferential long-term capital gains rate.

It’s wise to speak to your accountant about the tax implications of gold investment in the United States.

Final Thoughts on Buying Gold in the United States

Buying gold in the USA is a simple process, so long as you go about it the right way. For most gold investors, we recommend using an online gold broker. You can choose whether you want to have the gold shipped to you, or pay to have it stored by the broker in a secure vault. Either way, using a professional broker will likely be the most simple, safe and economical way to purchase gold bullion.