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How to buy gold and silver

Rows of golden and silver bars
There are many ways to buy gold and silver, ranging from stocks to coins.  Getty Images/iStockphoto

Amidst economic uncertainty, with interest rates on the rise and stocks stumbling in 2022, some investors are looking to diversify their portfolios. By investing in a variety of assets, like precious metals, to go along with other holdings like stocks and bonds, the hope is often to build a buffer against economic headwinds and potentially find new ways to make money.

But how can you invest in precious metals like gold and silver? While assets like publicly traded stocks have a fairly straightforward buying process, investing in gold and silver can be a little bit more complex, given the variety of ways to buy these precious metals.

The good news, though, is that you don't have to literally mine for gold to reap the potential benefits. There are several other ways to gain exposure to gold and silver in your portfolio, as we'll explore here.

If you're considering gold then reach out to a professional now who can advise you and help you get started with a free wealth protection kit.

How to buy gold and silver

If you want to buy gold or silver, you have options such as investing in:

Gold or Silver IRAs 

If you want to invest in physical gold or silver bullion in a retirement-friendly account, you can do so by opening what's known as a gold IRA (individual retirement account) or a silver IRA.

But don't let the names fool you. You probably don't have to open separate accounts if you want to buy both types of metals. Generally, these are self-directed IRAs that allow you to purchase physical gold, silver, or other assets that qualify for the tax advantages of a regular IRA, and the bullion can be held in a depository.

But not all financial services companies offer IRAs in which you can buy physical gold or silver. So, if you have an existing IRA and don't want to open another one, you might instead invest in assets like gold ETFs through your regular IRA, rather than physical gold. Keep in mind though the risk that can come with speculating on precious metals, especially as you near retirement.

Fees are generally higher for specialized accounts like gold IRAs, compared with regular IRAs. A custodian for your account might charge a few hundred dollars per year in administration fees, depending on the bullion value in your account, compared with perhaps $40 or so (if not $0) with some regular IRA accounts.

However, fees can differ depending on what you ultimately invest in within an IRA, such as how mutual funds carry annual management fees. And fees for gold IRAs/silver IRAs can also vary, such as if the provider charges separate trading fees. 

A gold professional can provide further context and answer any questions you may have.

Gold or Silver ETFs

One of the easiest ways to buy gold or silver is to invest in gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or silver ETFs, which essentially trade like regular stocks. You can buy and sell ETFs through your stock brokerage. The ETF provider typically holds physical gold or silver bullion, and the value of those precious metals gets reflected in the ETF's share price.

The ETF provider typically charges a small annual fee to manage the fund. Gold ETFs are generally in the ballpark of 0.20-0.40% of assets, with silver ETF fees typically being slightly higher.

Gold or silver mining stocks

Another way to invest in gold or silver is to get exposure via stock in mining companies. In theory, if precious metals prices go up, then companies that mine those metals would also increase in value, but prices can also depend 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 tend to be a bit higher than bullion ETFs.

Explore your gold-buying options now by speaking with an expert. Or use the table below to compare providers.

Physical gold or silver bullion

Another option for investing in gold or silver is buying physical bullion, such as gold bars or gold coins, or silver bars and coins. Bars and coins can have designs/images on them, for which they are sometimes considered collectibles.

You can find some companies that sell physical gold and silver online and ship the bullion to you. However, this can be more expensive than other forms of buying precious metals. The prices of physical gold could be roughly 5-10% higher than the current trading price, if not more. Silver bullion can trade at even higher premiums, like 25% or more, though the entry point is significantly lower than it is for gold.

Plus, you then have to figure out how to safely store the bullion, such as in a safe in your home or at a depository. You can also find some physical stores that buy and sell gold and silver, but you also will often pay a premium there.

The bottom line

There are many ways to buy gold and silver, so consider what you're looking to achieve 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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