When buying gold, the first decision to make is whether you seek a source online or offline. Obviously, the two different purchasing mediums provide very contrasting benefits and each has its disadvantages. When looking at buying online, you have to choose between buying privately or buying from a retail website. And offline, you have more choices to make such as whether you go to coin shops, coin shows, pawn brokers, or buy from individuals through word of mouth.
The Advantages of Buying Online
Whether you are buying online from a specialist precious metals retailer such as JM Bullion, or through an auction website such as eBay, you’re likely to find a superb range of choice and be able to buy at prices closest to spot. The competition for your business online is fierce, and therefore, the margins are narrow.
It’s much the same as if you are going to buy a television, you’re likely to get more competitive pricing purchasing from individuals through auction sites, but can be more confident of the service you will get through specialists online retailers, who’ll also provide an excellent price.
Coin Shops – Access to Experts
Buying from local coin shops will likely be more expensive than buying online. The retailer will have fixed overheads, such as their premises, rates, and staff, and will need to factor these into the prices that they charge. You will also likely find a limited selection compared with an online search. However, you will be able to eyeball the gold you are purchasing and will also benefit from the advice of often very knowledgeable coin retailers. You may also be able to pick up a bargain, but this is less likely than online or through pawn brokers.
Coin Shows – Diversity and Rarity
Coin shows fall into a similar category as coin shops. There may be a better range of gold products from a variety of brokers, retailers, and individuals showing off their sales collections. However, you are likely to find yourself in an extremely knowledgeable group of people who understand the market price of gold and gold collectibles.
Taxation on Gold
When you are buying online, you are more likely to avoid sales tax. Many online retailers have established themselves in locations with low or no local sales tax. Therefore, buying remotely from these locations will mean you don’t have to pay the average 8.5% normally attracted by purchases of gold.
Sales tax can eat into your profitability. Even buying from locations that are tax-exempt, you may have to pay a use tax from the state in which you purchased. Avoiding this tax is an important consideration. If you live in an area that charges sales tax an online purchase will likely save you money. Watch out for online credit card fees that can be 4%+ though.
Most Investors Buy Online
Most investors that have a regular investment strategy choose to do so buying online. There are many programs through which they can facilitate the process. For example, JM Bullion has an Automatic Investor Program (AIP) that completely automates the investment routines. You simply choose your assets at the beginning of your investment; choose the amount you would like to invest, and then every month JM Bullion purchase as much of the asset as possible within the monthly investment budget.
The pricing of these online retailers is very competitive, especially if you choose to purchase through paper check or wire transfer and avoid the 4% credit charges associated with that payment method.
Costs of Purchases Online and Offline
Buying online or offline, you will attract costs. If you are buying through coin shops, coin shows, pawn brokers, or through word of mouth, you will have travel expenses going to pick up and perhaps even parking expenses. With online transactions, shipping and insurance costs will be required.
It is important to consider these when investing. With investment programs, such as that offered by JM Bullion, you can store your portfolio until you have sufficient quantities to make the costs less significant in relation to the investment value you are taking possession of.
Personalized Service and Advice
Both online and offline, you can access a personal service. Offline, you are able to make friends with the local retailers and experts in order to get a phone call when something of interest comes into stock. Online, you build a relationship with the provider you choose. This may be as simple as gaining trust in them and using their customer service a few times. But it is even possible to have a specialist investment advisor that becomes your point of contact when you call. Online retailers understand the importance of a personalized service and the best are really good at it.
Advantages and Disadvantages – A Diverse Approach
There are advantages and disadvantages of shopping online and offline, and of the various mediums within each. Online, you get the best price through forums, eBay, and private vendors. You get great pricing and service through the established online retailers, combined with constant access to gold and additional “investment programs”.
Offline, coin shops will provide you with incredible access to knowledge and expertise, you’ll be able to view your purchases, and you may pick up a bargain. Coin shows offer selection and often very rare coins (if that is what you are looking to add to your portfolio). Pawnshops will provide the opportunity to grab an occasional bargain, as the pawnbrokers will be dealing with distressed sales.
Many gold investors choose to buy from a selection of sources and build links and relationships online and offline in order to gain maximum exposure to the assets that they choose to invest in.