How To Buy Silver
When you first begin collecting silver, the variety of types that this shining, brilliant precious metal comes in may appear daunting. Uncirculated bullion coins are offered beside mint proofs. Governments issue special commemorative editions or decorated coins. Private companies and banks sell silver in rounds and bars, and so forth. Each of these varieties of silver has a somewhat different purpose, though there is naturally overlap between them (for example, all of them are worth their current melt or spot value, regardless of any additional premium that may be attached to them).
When you know how to buy silver, the first step in choosing what type of silver to buy is to decide on the reason you are buying it. When you have a clear idea of your purpose in acquiring this precious metal, then the rest of your choices will follow naturally. Clarity of intention will lead to efficiency in action, which in turn will mean that you will be far more certain to reach your goals as far as silver purchases are concerned.
You can buy silver for one of three purposes, as described here:
• As a store of value; in this case, you are buying the silver mainly for its inherent value, in order to place your wealth into an asset that will probably remain valuable regardless of how the relative value of paper money fluctuates. Silver bought like this is a “hedge” against inflation, protecting the value of your earnings, and is usually bought for the lowest possible premium above spot.
• As an investment; in this case, silver is bought because you are expecting it to appreciate sharply in value, allowing you to resell it in a few years for a profit – or even almost immediately, if you are more or less “day trading” it. In this case, you will want to look for proofs, special issues, and so on, which will be collectible and command a high premium over silver spot price once their minting is over.
• For a mix of the two purposes, in which case a diversified portfolio is best.
If you are planning to buy silver as a store of value, then it is unimportant to buy those forms of the metal that will quickly appreciate in value due to their collectible character. In fact, since these types of
silver are more likely to command a larger premium above spot, they should be avoided. Buy the cheaper bullion coins, silver rounds, and silver bars for your value storing purposes.
If you are investing silver with an idea of reselling it soon to another collector in order to make a profit, then special mintage coins, proofs (the extremely high quality double-struck coins that are issued in limited numbers for collectors), and unusual commemorative coins are what you should be looking to purchase. Silver rounds are basically useless for investment purposes, because their price remains permanently just above spot. A few silver bars are collectible and can command premiums equal to 100% of spot, such as Johnson Matthey shipwreck bars, but most are also meant only as a store of value and are not a good investment for silver speculators.
How to Pay For Silver
Paying for silver purchases is complicated by the fact that many precious metal sellers will not accept credit cards at all, and require payment via wire transfer, cashier’s check, or personal check only.
Other services, such as APMEX, are more flexible, and allow payment by credit card, though they charge an additional small premium to offset the slight additional risk they are taking on by accepting credit card payments. Most services, regardless of whether or not they accept credit card payments, require an advance deposit of 10% to 15% of the total order value in the case of purchases higher than a specified amount. Minimum orders also apply, which are generally higher for purchases made from outside the nation where the online service is physically located, or where it warehouses its metals.
One interesting detail to bear in mind while paying for silver if you are living in America is that the government keeps a record of all transactions in excess of $10,000, regardless of what is being purchased. If you are suspicious of government monitoring of your activities, it is probably best to keep your purchases of silver at less than $10,000 at a time, if possible, in order to keep them “below the radar”. This does not eliminate all records of your purchases, obviously, but it does prevent them from being flagged outright by the United States government.
How to Get Silver Delivered
Most services that you buy silver from will have their own set procedures for getting their silver delivered to you. In the case of American firms, the United States Postal Service, or USPS, is usually used for domestic deliveries. The USPS is extremely reliable despite the howls of certain pundits – especially in view of how other nations’ postal services function, as anyone who has lived abroad for some time will have had the misfortune to discover – and fully insures your purchases.
International deliveries are made by firms such as United Parcel Service (UPS), DHL, and so on, depending on the country of origin and of delivery. Remember that you will need to pay customs duties on any silver that you have shipped internationally, which can add considerably to the metal’s price.
In order to ensure that you receive your silver purchase safely, you should track your package carefully with the tracking information you will be provided with, and ensure that you are at home when it is delivered. If the service is obliged to deliver your parcel to an empty house and leaves it outside the door, they are no longer liable to pay insurance claims if it is stolen before your return. It is your responsibility to be on hand to receive the package and keep your silver safe at the end of its journey.
Best Places To Buy Silver
Silver can be bought through many sources, both offline and on the Internet. The main reason to use an offline source in this day and age is if you come upon an exceptionally rare coin that is unlikely to be easily available on the Internet, and you snap it up for investment or collecting purposes. There are two kinds of sites you may find yourself purchasing from most of the time –
• Official mint sites or the authorized dealers’ sites which they provide links to. These are obviously the most secure, guaranteed sources of silver bullion coins, proofs, and so on, but have several disadvantages. If they are not located in your country, you may need to pay ghastly shipping rates for the international transfer. They also usually have a very limited selection of coins, since it is usually only the latest mintage which is still in stock.
• High quality gold and silver sellers, such as APMEX. These sellers usually have huge selections of coins from all across the globe, letting you easily complete sets, find rare coins, purchase one nation or another’s coinage, and so forth. They are also the only online source for silver rounds, silver bars, and similar items, since mints generally do not issue either rounds or bars, since coinage is more profitable to them than either.
Even if you are only planning on buying silver, and do not have either the money or perhaps the inclination to buy gold, you can check on how honest a precious metal seller is by seeing whether they sell “gold coins that cannot be confiscated”. All gold is potentially subject to confiscation by the United States government at any time they choose to enact such a law, so there is no “gold immune to confiscation”. Any site or business which makes a claim that it has “safe” gold, for whatever reason (because of the coins’ age, their collectible status, etc.), is lying and should be avoided like the plague.
Fortunately, there are many, many honest, forthright, and reliable sellers of gold and silver in the world today. One of the finest is APMEX (www.apmex.com), the American Precious Metal Exchange, which offers highly professional service, excellent prices, authentic coins, and plenty of useful supplemental information, such as the current spot price of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.
Finding Cheap Silver
Finding cheap silver can be something of a challenge, but with the right knowledge and a bit of persistence, you can turn up some startlingly good bargains. One way to get a bit of a discount on your silver purchases, regardless of whether they are coins, rounds, or bars, is to make use of an online service that offers a bulk discount. This will require that you buy a considerable amount at one time, which can be expensive up front, but will save you money overall, when considered in light of your whole precious metals investing career.
Finding Cheap Silver Coins
Cheap silver coins are fairly abundant because they were issued in such numbers by the various governments of the world up until the change to paper currency. Many are still stored in drawers, piggy banks, and safe deposit boxes. Many of these coins are well worn and thus are worth very little for investment purposes, but they will still retain their bullion or melt value. They can often be acquired at auctions, flea markets, and pawn shops for a reduced price relative to spot prices and other premiums.
Finding Cheap Silver Bars
Finding cheap silver bars is a bit more difficult, since they are rarer than old silver coins and less easy to verify as genuine. However, both pawn shops and Ebay may offer some occasional bargains. You can also use word of mouth to search for silver bars, and offer to take them off the hands of those who own them at a reduced price, in exchange for not needing to go through the trouble of liquidating them – a prospect that many people who are less savvy than you in the silver market will jump at. They will get ready cash, you will get silver at a discount, and everyone will be happy with the transaction.