Why is it Important to Research Before Buying?
You wouldn't take a hundred-dollar bill and feed it to a goat, but the equivalent could happen if you launch into your silver investment plan without any research.
Even assuming you always dodge scammers with fake silver, you can still spend way too much to accumulate silver as a hedge against inflation or economic collapse. You could get talked into art bars or rare coins that fetch you very little actual silver for the prices.
Before you buy, arm yourself with knowledge and form your plan from there. There's this free webinar that would give you the information you need to get started. It'll teach you basic principles and techniques to maximize your returns. Sign up for it here.
Comparing Silver Bullion Dealers
When comparing bullion dealers, it helps to see their product pages side by side. You should open several sites on different tabs so you can instantly toggle from one to another to see how they compare. Some sites, such as PMBull.com, display several reputable sites offering the best deals of the day. They do some of the legwork for you. Remember, if your goal is to own silver to save yourself from possible hyperinflation or government disasters, you want to get the most silver for your dollars in as liquid a form as possible. This automatically rules out high-priced rare and numismatic coins and bars. Don't let sales people pressure you into them.
Some things to compare from dealer to dealer are:
- Shipping costs. Some dealers offer free shipping on all orders. Others grant free shipping on orders over a certain dollar amount. Some have flat shipping rates, and others charge by order weight.
- Premiums over spot. Since most bullion dealers compete fiercely for your business, premiums over spot will usually be listed as the lowest you can get. However, that figure may well represent the price for large bulk orders and not what they charge for single-item or small orders. A good dealer will list the range right up front so you don't have to dig.
- Fees for certain types of payment methods. The more fees attached to a payment method, the more premium over spot you are paying. So price over spot is not your only consideration. Since merchants who accept credit cards pay about four percent to process them, they must pass that cost on to you. Same goes for wire transfers and certain bank transactions. Some sites offer discounts if you pay by personal, business or cashier check or a money order. You'll have to wait for your check or money order to clear before they ship, but you save money this way.
- Buy-back rates. Compare how much over spot the dealer will pay if you want to sell product back. While this may be of no concern to you while in accumulation mode, it could become an issue if you unexpectedly have to liquefy your silver holdings.
- Locked-in prices. Find out from each dealer if they will lock in your purchase price at checkout and how long they will hold the order while you arrange for payment. Most online sites price their metals based on the ticker tape from COMEX which can make rapid and large changes throughout the day. Once the order is locked in, you agree to pay that price even if spot drops off a cliff five minutes later. Conversely, you won't pay any more, either, if the price spikes.
- Insurance. I'd fall out of my highchair if any bullion dealer worth its salt did not insure their shipments. That would just be crazy. However, do compare sites to see if you pay separately for the insurance or if it is rolled into the shipping charges.
Reviews of the 5 Best Places to Buy Silver Bars Online
In no particular order, because I like them all, these are my top picks of online dealers for silver bars:
In business since 2012 and accredited with the BBB since 2014 (A+ rated), they offer more than just precious metals. They also offer deals on survival supplies, which tells me they're not ex-Wall Street traders branching out into their own business. In fact, they are doctors with a passion for sound money and distrust of fiat. They're far more aware of the situation than most.
While they don't announce their shipping and buy-back prices, and their selections are fairly limited, I'm willing to work through their process to buy interesting silver bars because of their reputation for honesty and commitment to low pricing. Also, once you land on the site, a service representative window opens offering live chat to answer any questions for you. I like not having to search around for real people to talk to if I need help.
A+ rated and BBB accredited since 2014, I really like JM Bullion for their free shipping and large selection of silver bars and art silver. They may well be the leaders in precious metal online sales, boasting over 30,000 orders shipped per month. You simply can't maintain volumes like that if your prices and service were less than amazing. Their BBB profile shows, as of this writing, that 370 people reviewed their site. Out of those only eight were negative, but each negative review received a response from JM Bullion that either explained the confusion or offered to do what they could to satisfy the customer. I'd say JM Bullion has certainly earned its reputation as a great place to buy your silver bars.
Silver Gold Bull
This is a good site for viewing the pricing range per product so you know right up front what the premiums are. Plus, they have some very low prices on silver bars along with a terrific selection. They've been accredited with the BBB since 2012 and have zero complaints within the past year, as of this writing. Shipping is free for orders over $99. Anything less ships at a flat rate of $9.95. They keep a ticker tracker of spot prices at the top of the page, which is handy. Actually most sites do, these days.
Silver Gold Bull offers a price match guarantee wherein if you find a product at a lower cost, including shipping and any other fees, and if they have an exact match in stock, they will not only sell their matching product at the competitor's price, they promise you a better overall experience. Since they have a substantial selection, you may even get to capitalize on their price match offer.
APMEX has been accredited with the BBB since 2004 and has an A+ rating. They offer the same shipping deals as Silver Gold Bull but with better premium prices. And it's no wonder, with over ten thousand products on offer and over a decade of reliable sales behind them. Their volumes enable them to keep premiums low. Their staff is always friendly and easy to work with whether you're buying product or selling to them. They've had the time to develop into one of the best online dealers I know.
TPM, headquartered in clean, little Shiner, Texas, is owned by a five-generation family company, the Kaspars. That collection of companies has deep roots in Texas, all the way back to 1898. They sell quite an array of silver bars, some minted under their own brand. I'm always impressed with the low premiums and the free shipping on all packages. But the most appealing aspect of TPM to me is that they will sell you any quantity of product and never report it. How they can do this where others can't remains a mystery, but for those of us who value our privacy in metal transactions, you simply can't go wrong with TPM. They, too are accredited with the BBB and proudly maintain an A+ rating. All order fulfillment is videotaped, so, in the unlikely event anything were to go awry, you can review the tape to see exactly what went into your package. I know of no other dealer who does this very smart thing.
After educating yourself on silver bullion, the need to own it, what to look for and what to run from, you should be set to start buying. Compare your shopping experiences with any of these online dealers of silver bars and be sure to write reviews for them. Every business worth its bullion wants your feedback. If they blew it, let them know, it helps them improve. If they met or exceeded your expectations, let them know that, too. Your genuine reviews help other customers find the best place to buy their own silver bars online.