Although most investment portfolios primarily consist of assets like stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and mutual funds, these assets are largely at the mercy of volatile fluctuations in market prices.
You can use precious metals to protect your portfolio’s value through turbulent times in the market and even load up on them to come out ahead in bear markets and inflationary environments. The price of gold, silver, and other precious metals are known for their negative correlations with the stock market and their ability to outperform in tough times.
But you can’t just walk into your local bank and ask for gold bars. If you want physical possession of bullion, you’ll need to work with a precious metals dealer.
We chose our best overall precious metals dealer, JM Bullion, because the company does several things right. It offers a vast selection of products with transparent pricing, several payment options, and IRA-quality metals with reasonable IRA storage options and fees.
Other entries on our list earned their positions by doing at least one or two things very well. For example, APMEX offers one of the largest selections of metals online, and SD Bullion guarantees the lowest prices.
Best Overall: JM Bullion
Founded in 2011, JM Bullion has grown to become one of the largest, most trusted precious metals dealers online over the past decade.
The company offers a large selection of bullion products including silver and gold bars, bullion coins, and novelty items like silver bullets and statues. You’ll also find a range of other products, including platinum, palladium, copper, and paper legal tender.
Many of the products listed on the company’s website are IRA eligible; this means the products meet the strict standards required to be held in tax-advantaged investment accounts. Although the company doesn’t operate its own depository, it works with Transcontinental Depository Services (TDS) to store your IRA precious metals securely with minimal storage fees.
JM Bullion is known for transparent pricing. The company is so dedicated to ensuring you know and are comfortable with their fees, they show you exactly how much you pay over the spot price for each of their products. You’ll find the company has some of the most competitive prices online.
You can choose from multiple payment methods when you shop, too. Traditional options like credit card, bank wire transfer, money order, and check are available alongside less conventional options like PayPal and Bitcoin, although its 4% discount may entice you to stick with more traditional payment options.
JM Bullion also has a reputation for providing quality customer service and shipping orders quickly. Perhaps that’s why the company has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has thousands of stellar customer reviews strewn across the web.
Best for an Abundant Selection: APMEX
Founded in 2000, APMEX is the gold and silver bullion dealer on this list with the largest selection of them all. The company offers a host of gold and silver rounds and bars as well as platinum and palladium products, copper, currency sets, rare coins, and other rare forms of legal tender like the Buffalo Nickel from the early 1900s.
Part of the reason the company can offer such a large selection is its standing as a U.S. Mint Authorized Purchaser.
The U.S. Mint doesn’t sell bullion products to consumers. Instead, it has an Authorized Purchaser program whose members purchase products directly from the mint and sell them to the public.There are only 10 such members in the U.S.
As a U.S. Mint Authorized Purchaser, APMEX can get its hands on more bullion faster than most other dealers, enabling its incredible selection ranging from popular items like the American Silver Eagle to legal tender you may have never even heard of before.
Additional features of APMEX include:
- Payment Options. You can use just about every payment option available at APMEX. Make payments via check, credit card, bank wire transfer, money order, PayPal, or cryptocurrency.
- Trusted eBay Buyback Partner. In 2018, APMEX and eBay teamed up to launch a precious metals buyback program. This means you can sell your precious metals to APMEX through eBay, a popular e-commerce platform many people already use to buy and sell items.
- QuickShip. APMEX buyers enjoy fast, free shipping on orders valued at $199 or over. You’ll even get a $10 credit toward your next purchase if your order is late.
There are two major challenges to saving money: actually establishing the habit of doing it and the fact that cash loses value over time due to inflation.
Money Metals Exchange is a precious metals dealer with a simple solution to both these problems: automated precious metals savings plans. The plans start at just $100 per month. All you do is set the date you’d like your precious metals savings amount to come out of your checking account and Money Metals Exchange handles the rest.
Not only does the automatic deposit to your precious metals savings plan turn saving into a habit, but gold and silver (the metals included in the plans) are also known for their ability to safely store value and outpace inflation.
You can stop, restart, and sell your precious metals back to Money Metals Exchange any time you want.
Additional features of Money Metals Exchange include:
- Large Bullion Selection. If you’re not interested in an automated savings plan, shop Money Metals Exchange like you would any other dealer. They have a large selection of gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, copper, and novelty items to choose from.
- Competitive Pricing. Although you won’t find the lowest prices on most products, the company does offer competitive pricing.
- Secured Loans. You can also access low-interest loans secured by your precious metals holdings.
Best for Industry-Low Prices: SD Bullion
You want to make sure you buy at the best possible price when you invest. That’s true in the stock market, and it’s true in the precious metals market.
Precious metals dealers make money by charging a spread over spot price. This means you pay a premium over the price dealers pay on the spot for precious metals for immediate delivery.
SD Bullion makes this profit too, but it’s guaranteed to be the smallest in the industry. If you find a lower price for any of the products the company offers, SD Bullion will match or beat the price offered by their competitor.
Additional SD Bullion features include:
- Large Selection. SD Bullion has a large selection of gold, silver, and copper. The company also offers platinum and palladium, but the options are relatively slim.
- Free Shipping. SD Bullion buyers enjoy free shipping on orders over $199. You pay $9.95 to ship all other orders.
- News. The company website includes a news section that covers major gold and silver headlines.
Best for Buying Gold Coins: Buy Gold And Silver Coins (BGASC)
Buy Gold And Silver Coins (BGASC) was founded in 2012. Since then, the company has become one of the best coin dealers online, specifically if you’re looking for gold bullion coins.
The company’s selection of gold numismatics will appeal to any gold investor, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been investing in the yellow metal for years. The site is easy to navigate and features all the staples like the American Gold Eagle, Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, and South African Krugerrand.
You can also find rare gold coins valued as high as $1 million.
Additional features of BGASC include:
- Other Precious Metals Products. BGASC also offers platinum and silver bars and coins.
- Sales and Deals. BGASC is consistently offering sales and deals that allow you to gain precious metals exposure with a minimum premium to spot prices.
- Novelty Items. You can find precious metal gifts and jewelry at BGASC that are perfect for any occasion.
Best for Educational Materials: Birch Gold Group
Education is the foundation of any solid investment decision. Few online gold dealers offer educational materials that can hold a candle to Birch Gold Group.
The education center covers topics like why you should consider investing in precious metals, how to invest, and the differences between physical gold and other gold investments. You can even access interviews with thought leaders, politicians, and guru investors for free.
You can also access the latest news to find out what’s moving the market and when, or sign up for a free newsletter so you never miss a story.
Additional features of Birch Gold Group include:
- Large Product Selection. Contrary to its name, Birch Gold Group sells much more than gold. You can find a large selection of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium on the website.
- IRA-Quality. The company offers several IRA-quality products.
- Free Market Update. Sign up to receive a free update on how the market is doing, sent to your inbox weekly.
We used seven metrics when comparing the various online precious metals dealers. We specifically focused on aspects like price, selection, payment options, the availability of educational materials, and unique features like automated savings plans.
Price is king when you make any investment. The goal is to get into the investment for as little money as possible and leave it with a meaningful profit. Some precious metals dealers charge high spreads and hidden fees that make it difficult to achieve that goal. None of those dealers are on our list.
Although SD Bullion guarantees the lowest prices online, the other dealers on this list aren’t far off. We only included the options with the most competitive pricing structures.
One of the fun parts of investing in gold, silver, and other valuable metals is to comb through the different designs and choose those that speak to you. All the dealers we included on this list have an impressive selection of bullion products to choose from.
Just about every business online allows you to pay with methods like credit cards, e-checks, or PayPal. Most of the options we’ve included on our list offer other payment methods like paper checks, money orders, and even cryptocurrency.
One of my biggest problems with the global shift to online shopping is instant gratification. I enjoy walking in a store, purchasing a product, and using it when I get home. However, being the frugal person I am, I often put off that instant gratification in exchange for a meaningful deal.
When you buy precious metals, you’re probably going to get the best deals online, but you don’t want to wait forever to get the metals you purchased. All the providers on this list ship your metals to you quickly; some even do so for free.
Education forms a solid foundation for any financial decision you make.
Few dealers in the precious metals industry offer quality educational materials. Some of those dealers are on this list. In particular, Birch Gold Group has some of the most intuitive educational materials you’ll find in the industry.
All dealers have their own pricing, shipping, and selection of products, but some take unique features to the next level. For example, Money Metals Exchange makes it easy to automate your precious metals savings.
Any time you work with a financial service, it’s important that the company provides quality customer service. Every option on this list offers an email address and phone number for customer support and a team at the other end of those contact methods that’s knowledgeable and eager to help.
Whether it’s your first time buying a silver coin or you’ve got thousands of ounces of gold, silver, and platinum, chances are you have questions from time to time. Answers to some of the most common questions about precious metals dealers are below.
What Happens When I Purchase Gold?
Typically, the dealer holds the gold until your payment clears. For example, if you send a check, the gold won’t be shipped until the check is received and cleared by the dealer’s bank. Don’t worry though; the price you pay is locked in when you place your order.
Once the payment clears, your precious metals will be shipped. This could mean they’re shipped directly to you or a depository location of your choice.
What Is a Precious Metals Depository?
Precious metals depositories are companies that charge monthly or annual fees in exchange for the secure storage of your precious metals. These companies come in handy when making retirement investments that require third-party storage or when you purchase large quantities of metals that are difficult to store at home.
Do Banks Buy Precious Metals?
Central banks around the world are some of the largest buyers of precious metals, but they don’t buy their metals directly from consumers. Moreover, typical consumer banks don’t buy precious metals. If you’re interested in selling your metals, consider selling them to one of the dealers above.
Do You Pay Taxes When You Sell Gold?
That depends on whether you make a profit. You’re required to pay taxes on any capital gains generated from investments, including gold, silver, and other metals. On the other hand, if the investment ends in a loss, your realized losses can be used to offset the tax burden of other investments that resulted in profits.
It’s important to do your research and thoughtfully compare your options before deciding which dealer you’ll work with. Consider the following as you compare:
- Price. It may be difficult to generate a profit if you pay too much of a premium over spot prices. Only work with dealers that offer the most competitive pricing.
- Selection. Selection is most important if you’re looking for a specific type of coin or bar. If that’s the case, you’ll need to work with a provider that offers the product you’re looking for.
- Unique Features. Some dealers make saving and investing in precious metals easier than others thanks to unique features. Take a look at all the features each dealer provides before making your decision.
- Shipping Speeds. If you’re like me, shipping speed is important. You want to see what you’ve purchased as soon as possible. If that’s the case, look into how quickly shipments are sent.