In this guide, we focus on what you need to know about purchasing precious metals directly from bullion dealers and alternative brokers & how and where to do so.
In a hurry? If you want to get started buying or trading bullion right now, here are options available in to consider:
Disclaimer: Availability subject to regulations.
Between 74-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs.
How To Buy Gold and Silver Bullion
Gold coins, silver bars, and other items made from precious metals are called bullion.
Here are the most common ways to buy bullion:
- National mints – Many countries sell commemorative bullion coins from their mints like the American Eagle coin or the Canadian Maple Leaf.
- Local suppliers – Pawn shops and other local businesses may also sell precious metals in various forms.
- Bullion dealers – Online retailers that sell precious metal coins or bars that you can store at home.
- Trading platforms – Some online dealers like BullionVault or BullionStar will allow customers to trade bullion with each other and also provide secure vaults for storage.
- Alternatively, you might consider derivative trading instruments like precious metal CFDs.
Choosing a Bullion Dealer
If you want to buy bullion, there are several factors to keep in mind when choosing a dealer or service.
First, you may want to determine if the dealer you’re considering offers the type of bullion you want.
Bullion typically comes in the form of bars, rounds, coins, numismatics, or jewelry. Here’s what they look like:
(Apollo2005 / CC BY-SA.)
|Refined metal that can be cast or minted. Larger bars are called ingots. Typically have serial numbers and other information imprinted on them. Lowest premium on the marketplace.|
(sirqitous / CC BY 2.0.)
|Looks like a coin but is closer to being a bar. They can't be used as legal tender. No date or denomination.|
(sirqitous / CC BY 2.0.)
|Produced by government mints. Can be used as legal tender in addition to its bullion value. Coins have an issue date and a denomination (eg, $1) on the coin.|
(sirqitous / CC BY 2.0.)
|Collectible commemorative coins. Typically not used as a bullion investment since their value is often disputed.|
(Housing Works Thrift Shops / CC BY 2.0.)
|24-karat jewelry is considered bullion due to its purity. Some metals at this level of purity, like gold, are too soft to wear as jewelry but can be used as an investment.|
Dealers sometimes specialize in specific precious metals. Most offer gold and silver bullion but it can be trickier to find other metals like palladium, platinum, copper, and rhodium.
Take note of the bullion sizes that dealers offer. Remember that bullion weight is measured in troy ounces. A troy ounce weighs just over 31 grams.
You might also encounter different units of measurement, like standard ounces. The live gold spot price is actually still measured in Tolas in some parts of the world.
Pricing and Fees
You can compare pricing by looking at the spot price for a type of metal. A bullion dealer usually adds a percentage of the total value on top.
You may also need to factor in wire transfer fees, storage fees, or other fees to use a specific bullion marketplace.
Storage and Shipping
You’ll be responsible for storing the precious metal bullion items you purchase, so you need to factor in the cost of shipping. Shipping costs depend on the weight of your purchase.
Some dealers fully insure your purchase if something happens to your package in transit.
However, if you do not want to store your bullion, you should seek a platform that will store your bullion purchases for you.
It can be hard to determine whether a dealer is legitimate or not, so do your research to ensure that the company you’ve chosen is reputable.
We recommend reading reviews to see how others have faired when working with a specific dealer.
Keep in mind that sometimes reviews, especially on a dealer’s website, can be edited, added, or removed. Because of this review bias, it’s best to check more than one site’s reviews.
Order Size Limits
What’s the size of your order? You’ll need to make sure that the bullion dealer you select has enough metal in stock to avoid splitting your order between dealers.
Some bullion dealers will offer bulk pricing or discounts on shipping for large orders. This is useful if you’re looking to order silver since you’re likely looking at larger weights due to the lower price of silver per ounce.
If you lack secure storage, you might consider working with a company that offers onsite storage services like Money Metals Exchange or BullionVault.
Bullion Dealers in
Not all online dealers accept customers around the world. Check to make sure that the dealer you want to work with doesn’t have any geographic restrictions that exclude your location.
We’ve done the hard work for you and have put together this list of bullion dealers that accept customers from .
Bullion Trading Platforms
Bullion trading platforms aren’t dealers per se, but they allow precious metals buyers to access professional bullion dealers via their platforms.
In addition to helping buyers and sellers connect, bullion trading platforms like BullionVault and BullionStar also offer:
- Storage vaults so that you can store your bullion with additional security and withdraw it whenever you like.
- Bank vault level security on your stored bullion.
- Insurance on shipping and stored bullion.
- Daily audits for purchased bullion.
- 24/7 access to buyers and sellers.
- Active traders have the opportunity to achieve a negative cost per trade by earning the spread.
Online Bullion Dealers Compared
When your local coin dealer or national mint doesn’t have the products you want or the prices you’d like, an online dealer can fill the gap. These three companies are good places to start.
|Dealer Type||Bullion Dealer||Bullion Dealer & Trading Platform||Bullion Dealer & Trading Platform|
|Selection||Gold, silver, platinum, copper, palladium, rhodium||Gold, silver, platinum, palladium||Gold, silver, platinum|
|Forms||Coins, bars, rounds, kits||Coins (gold only) and bars||Coins (gold only) and bars|
|Pricing Over Spot||Gold: $79, Silver: $4.39, Discount on larger orders||0.5% transaction fee, +0.3% currency-exchange fee for Pounds, Euros, or Yen||Gold: 0.34%, Silver: 1.14%, Platinum: 0.6%|
|Storage||Maximum of $96 for up to $15,999 worth of bullion, 0.39 - 0.59% for larger orders||Per year: gold = 0.12%, silver = 0.48%, platinum = 0.48%||Per year: Gold = 0.39% (Singapore), 0.59% (NZ); Silver & Platinum = 0.59% (Singapore), 0.88% (NZ)|
|Shipping||In some cases, shipping is free. Insured.||100g gold bars ship for $140 - $230 depending on destination. Insured.||Shipping is calculated on checkout. Courier delivery available in Singapore. Insured.|
Other Ways to Trade Precious Metals
You don’t need to purchase physical gold or silver bullion to invest in precious metals.
Below is an overview of these other ways you can get exposure to the price of precious metals and other commodities without owning the metals physically.
Get up to speed with our guide to all types of commodity trading.
Precious Metal Shares and ETFs
Purchasing shares and ETFs in mining companies can give you exposure to the prices of gold, silver, and other precious metals.
For example, live palladium prices are a broad indicator for many company stocks and vice-versa, since the metal is often extracted as a byproduct via copper mining, as well as alongside other metals.
With this method, rather than investing directly in precious metals, you’re investing in the businesses that produce the metals.
Contracts for Difference On Metals
Contracts for Difference (CFDs) are contracts that pay the difference in settlement price between the opening and closing trades, and they’re popular for short-term trades involving precious metals.
With CFDs, you can speculate on price movements without actually owning the metal.
IMPORTANT: CFDs are not available in the USA due to local regulation, and regulated brokers do not accept US citizens or US residents as clients.
If you’re looking for a CFD broker, see this list of brokers available in :
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Between 74%-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Read our primer on how to get started trading CFDs.
Futures and Options On Metals
Both futures and options on futures (often called simply “options”) allow you to speculate on the price movements of precious metals.
Like with CFDs, you don’t own the asset with these types of contracts.
- Futures require you to buy or sell a metals contract at a certain price on or before a fixed date.
- Options on Futures give you the right (but not the obligation) to buy or sell metals at a specific price while the contract is valid. Options buyers pay a fee for the contract, while sellers receive a credit.
Brokers like AvaTrade and Pepperstone offer precious metals futures and options.
Some bullion dealers like offer gold or silver investments in the form of self-directed precious metals individual retirement accounts (IRAs).
Gold IRAs act just like other IRAs — including the ability to take possession of your gold investment (subject to normal IRA distribution taxes).
Overall Verdict On Bullion
Precious metals like gold and silver in the form of bars, rounds, and coins can be valuable assets to include in a diversified portfolio.
Learn more about trading bullion with our precious metals guide.
You can see live precious metal prices in our price guides:
FAQs About Bullion
How do bullion dealers make money?
Bullion dealers make money on the fees they assess on purchases. This amount is called the premium, and it is the amount the broker charges you above and beyond the precious metals’ spot price. The broker may also be speculating on the price of the metals, which can increase or decrease their profits.
How much gold bullion can I own?
Laws vary by location. In the United States, there are currently no laws on the books regarding how much gold bullion you can own. In the UK and the EU, there’s no limit but purchased gold bullion is subject to a capital gains tax. Be sure to check the local laws and regulations that apply to you before purchasing gold or other precious metals.
Is buying gold online safe?
Buying gold online from a bullion dealer or trading platform is less risky if you work with a reputable dealer that employs SSL security on their website and offers insurance on physical metals shipments. You should also check reviews of the bullion dealer you’re considering.
Can I buy gold from a national mint?
You can buy gold, silver, and other precious metals as commemorative coins, bars, or rounds from various national mints. The US Mint sells American Eagle Coins and American Buffalo Coins. You can purchase Maple Leaf Coins from the Royal Canadian Mint. The South African Mint lets you buy Krugerrand Coins and the Perth Mint in Australia also sells gold and silver coins.
What is the cheapest way to buy gold and silver?
To find the best gold prices, first choose a dealer that charges the lowest premium on top of the current spot price. Second, consider buying gold bars or rounds instead of gold coins. Although coins are legal tender, their commemorative value can cause the price to be higher than bullion like bars and rounds.
For silver, bags of “junk silver” are available from online brokers. These are generally bags of US quarters & dimes minted before 1965 — when these coins were comprised of 90% silver. This junk silver is sold by weight.
What’s the difference between gold coins and gold rounds?
Gold coins and rounds may share the same shape and percent purity of gold. However, coins are legal tender and have both an issue date and a denomination stamped on them. Rounds are not dated and can’t be used for legal tender.
Why do people buy bullion?
People buy bullion as an investment. Gold, silver, platinum, copper, and other metals can help traders and investors to diversify their portfolios. Some traders consider bullion as an appropriate hedge when other asset types and markets show more volatility than desired.
What’s the price for spot gold?
The spot price for gold is how much it costs to purchase or sell a troy ounce of gold on the various marketplaces. The spot price will change based on demand for gold, the value of fiat currencies, current events, and more. The spot price is the basis for what dealers charge when selling you gold.
Are commemorative coins worth more than other types of bullion?
It depends. The spot price for gold is consistent across all types — eg, bars, coins, and rounds. Government-issued gold coins have a legal tender value that is separate from their bullion value. Other collectible commemorative coins, called numismatics, aren’t legal tender and their purity and value can sometimes be disputed.
How does bullion compare to other investments?
While a comparison of gold with the stock and real estate markets saw the latter perform better year-over-year between 2010 and 2020, gold outperformed large indices and other precious metals during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.
As a hedge against inflation, platinum and palladium have reached values similar to gold in recent years. In 2019, palladium’s value surpassed that of gold for the first time.