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How to buy gold and silver

Rows of golden and silver bars
There are plenty of options investors can take when buying gold and silver. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Whether you're a savvy investor or a beginner, incorporating gold and silver into your investment strategy can be a game-changer. These precious metals offer a unique advantage by providing diversification that stands strong even in turbulent markets, offering a shield against economic uncertainties and safeguarding your purchasing power when inflation rears its head.

Before diving into the world of gold and silver investments, it's essential to explore the array of options available. While it may take some time to grasp the various avenues for investing in these precious metals, the potential rewards are well worth the effort, no matter your financial objectives or experience level.

Learn more about how gold investing can help you here now.

How to buy gold and silver

Here are a few common ways to invest in gold and silver today:

Save for retirement with a gold or silver IRA 

A gold IRA (individual retirement account) or a silver IRA can be useful for investing in precious metals for retirement. These self-directed IRAs let you hold physical gold, silver or other assets in an account that qualifies for the tax advantages of a regular IRA. 

Because not all financial services companies offer gold or silver IRAs, you may need to open a new account even if you have an existing IRA — but you probably don't have to open separate accounts if you want to buy both types of metals. Another option is investing in assets like gold ETFs through your regular IRA, rather than physical gold.  

Fees can be higher for specialized IRAs compared with regular IRAs. You may take on one-time account setup fees, annual management fees and even separate storage fees for the custodian that keeps your gold bullion. However, fees for gold IRAs and silver IRAs can vary, based on a number of factors.

Before you buy in, keep in mind that precious metals can be risky as you near retirement. Although gold investing can be smart for investors of all ages, it may be better for younger ones

Consider speaking with a gold professional for further context or any questions about gold IRAs you may have.

Buy into gold or silver ETFs

If you're already familiar with traditional investing, one of the easiest ways to buy gold or silver is through exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Gold ETFs and silver ETFs essentially trade like regular stocks through your stock brokerage. 

The ETF provider typically holds physical gold or silver bullion and the value of those precious metals is reflected in the ETF's share price. This method also allows you to avoid the cost of storing physical gold yourself. The ETF provider may charge a small annual fee to manage the fund. Gold ETFs are generally in the ballpark of 0.20-0.40% of assets, while silver ETF fees may run slightly higher.

Consider individual gold or silver mining stocks

Another way to invest in gold or silver without buying gold bars and coins is to get exposure via stock in mining companies. This is more of an indirect investment. In theory, if precious metals prices go up, then companies that mine those metals would also increase in value. But a number of additional factors can go into stock prices, depending on how these companies operate.

You can buy stock in specific mining companies, much as you would trade tech stocks, for instance. Or, you can buy an ETF that invests in a variety of gold or silver mining companies (or perhaps both). Fees for mining ETFs may cost a bit more than bullion ETFs.

Get started with a gold investment here.

Stick with physical gold or silver

Another option for investing in gold or silver is buying physical bullion. This includes gold bars and gold coins or silver bars and coins. Bars and coins can sometimes have designs or images on them, for which they may be considered collectibles.

Some companies sell physical gold and silver online and ship the bullion to you. However, this may be more expensive than other forms of buying precious metals. You can also find some physical stores that buy and sell gold and silver, but you also will often pay a premium there. The prices of physical gold and silver for purchase may be significantly higher than the current trading price, or spot price, of the commodities.

After purchasing, you must also figure out how to safely store the bullion. Depending on the amount you buy, this could be as simple as a safe in your home or incur added costs for storage at a depository. 

The bottom line

Buying alternative assets like precious metals can help you withstand economic fluctuations over time. There are many ways to buy gold and silver, so consider what your goal is with these investments before picking a path. If you like the idea of physically owning gold or silver coins, for example, then you might go down that route, but if you prefer the liquidity and relative ease of trading stocks, then you might buy an ETF or shares of mining companies. 

Consider consulting with a financial advisor or trusted professional to see what's right for you. Learn more now!

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