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There are a few different ways to invest in precious metals, but all of them involve working with a dealership. Gold, silver, and other precious metals have long been traded as a staple of the global economy. They perform inversely to the stock market, so they tend to be sought during times of market volatility.
One of your options for investment is to buy products with your cash savings. But many Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and don't have a personal investment portfolio to use.
Another option is to use your retirement funds. Since these are tax-advantaged savings, you have to comply with IRS regulations. That means that you have to open a self-directed IRA with a licensed custodian, buy approved products, and make sure that the package is sent to an accredited depository.
The best companies will be able to help you with any kind of investment. They can demystify the red tape around IRAs and help with funding your account. But the worst companies will trick you into buying things you don't need for exorbitant prices.
We've put together a list of our favorite precious metals dealerships. But first, here are the red flags to watch out for when you're looking for a gold dealer.
If you are looking to get started investing in precious metals right away checkout our top companies list. We did hundreds of hours of research and testing to find the top companies for this year...
How to Spot Red Flags
We have made a list of our most recommended companies. But if you want to do your own research, you need to understand how to spot red flags right away. There are certain unsavory business practices that are common in the precious metals industry, and there are other practices that are simply inconvenient.
Price is only one of the factors that you should take into account when it comes to buying precious metals. If you're being given a quote that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You want to make sure that you're working with a reputable company that will give you legitimate products.
Here are some of the biggest red flags when working with a precious metals investment company.
If the company representative is putting you under unnecessary pressure to make a sale, then that's a red flag. An ideal investment company should be interested in getting to know you. The most ethical ones will recommend products and investments that are in your best interests, even if it doesn't help their profit margins.
Oftentimes, you'll encounter these high pressure tactics when the salespeople work on commission. The more you buy, the more money they make. So they have an ulterior motive for recommending the products. Ultimately, their goal is simply to make you spend as much money as possible, whether that's the right financial choice or not.
Another red flag that goes hand-in-hand with this is confusing the customer. Sometimes customers will be subject to a "bait and switch" tactic. This is when the company says that an item is out of stock, so they suggest buying a substitute for a similar price. But what they don't tell you is that the substitute is worth only a fraction of that price.
High pressure tactics can look like:
As a general rule, if you're uncomfortable while you're on the phone with the company, then it's time to look for a different place to spend your money.
Lack of Education
Ideally, a precious metals investment company will be happy to teach you about the industry. They'll explain the pros and cons of investing, how different investors diversify their portfolios, and what options are available to you. You will be given enough information to determine whether this is a good use of your money.
If a company doesn't spend time on educating their clients, then that's a red flag. If you're told that you should simply stop asking questions and trust the representative, then that's a red flag. If they didn't have anything to hide, then they wouldn't be so reluctant to answer your basic questions.
Sometimes you can get a sense of a company's expertise just by browsing their website. Do they have resources available? Have they written books, articles, or blog posts of their own? Do they have videos or podcasts that teach you about the economy? What are the qualifications of the owners and the managers?
The more information that a company gives you up front, the more transparent and ethical they tend to be.
Bad customer reviews are a major red flag. Large companies will have some negative feedback no matter what, since they reach such a broad range of customers. But an ideal company should have mostly positive feedback, and they should respond to any negative feedback to solve the problem.
Almost every business website has a section that shows customer testimonials. But there are other places where you can find more unbiased reviews. Websites like Trustpilot, Consumer Affairs, Trustlink, and Google Reviews all compile the verified experiences of past customers.
Every company on our list has incredible reviews from thousands of customers. They consistently receive high ratings on multiple different websites. In addition, they all have high marks from the BBB and the BCA, and they don't have any entries on any popular scam documenting sites.
Customers report that they are overwhelmingly satisfied with their purchases and with the services. That goes especially for people who used the IRA services to invest in precious metals. Each company on the list has dedicated in-house teams of IRA specialists who help beginning investors with setting up and funding their accounts.
Top 3 Precious Metals Investment Company
Goldco began selling precious metals in 2006, though it started as a B2B setup. It wasn't until 2011 that they broadened into consumer precious metals. With more than a decade in the industry, they have honed their focus and become the most specialized precious metals IRA company in the country.
Goldco has been given multiple awards and certificates of recognition. It has been named one of the fastest growing businesses in California for several years in a row, as well as the best gold IRA business by multiple publications.
Many of the customer reviews thank their representative by name. There's one person who will get to know you and make sure that your account is taken care of. Even if you make a cash purchase instead of using the IRA services, you'll still get the same level of dedicated customer care.
Augusta Precious Metals is another top competitor within the precious metals industry. They have a huge number of items available, ranging from IRA-eligible coins to junk silver. Whether you're a collector or looking for a major change to your personal portfolio, Augusta has products that will appeal to you.
Another appealing thing about Augusta is how they sort their items. There are separate sections on their website for "common" and "premium" gold and silver. The common offerings include coins from random years, rounds with random designs, and bars with random designs. Because you have less input on the final product, you're able to get a larger amount of precious metals for a lower price.
The premium products, on the other hand, are much more specific. They involve coins from sovereign mints all over the world, as well as bars and rounds in specific weights. If you're looking specifically for products for an IRA, you can browse the IRA section of the website.
Augusta has the most educational resources on the list. Not only do they have videos, books, and articles available, but they also have one-on-one webinars. Every webinar is taught by a financial analyst who trained at Harvard. He will address your concerns and answer your questions, all before you even commit to a purchase.
The company's webinars were what hooked Joe Montana, a legendary NFL quarterback. He was so impressed with the company's service and with his own peace of mind that he became an "ambassador" for them. Now he's one of the main faces of the company, promoting their services to everyone who's nervous about the economy.
American Hartford Gold hasn't been operating for quite as long as Goldco or Augusta, but it still has a good deal of experience in the industry. This company has gone through explosive growth since being opened, now working with customers across all 50 states. They even have advertising campaigns that run on national television.
AHG aims to connect with the people who might not ordinarily use precious metals IRA services. So they've done away with setup fees and minimum investments. No matter how much or how little you want to invest, their doors are open.
If you do meet certain requirements, you might also be eligible for promotions. For example, AHG might cover the costs of your storage and maintenance for a year. Or they might send you some free silver as a bonus when you make a large purchase. You can ask about the terms and conditions when you talk to a representative.
When you look up reviews of AHG online, you'll find glowing praise from past customers. The vast majority of customers seem to be beginning investors, many of whom are anxious about the economy. They say that AHG made it easy to open an IRA or to make a cash purchase. In addition, they say that the pricing was fair and that it's easy to liquidate their holdings when the need presses.
There are many things to keep in mind when you're looking for the best precious metals investment company. Most importantly, you don't want to go with the cheapest option alone. Cheap companies often have poor customer service, and sometimes they even send fraudulent products.
Each of the companies on our list puts their inventory online, but they will only give you a price quote over the phone. That's fairly common when it comes to investment companies. Other precious metals dealers might show their prices online, but they're less likely to have investment quality bullion.
We like Goldco the best because of the amazing customer reviews. People consistently report that they're happy with the service and that they're grateful to their company representative. Several people have said that they've worked with Goldco for years.
We also like Augusta Precious Metals because of their education and ongoing support. But it should be noted that they have a high minimum to use their IRA services.
American Hartford Gold is a company that's built for every American. Unlike the other two options, this company doesn't have extra fees or minimum costs. So they make precious metals investing accessible to a huge swath of the US population that wouldn't be able to use the services otherwise.