Where to store gold? Home vs safe deposit vs gold vault (allocated gold)
Before we present the specialized gold custodians, let's first look at the option of storage at home or in a safe deposit box and their pros and cons. If you decide for one of these options, you will also need to buy your coins or bars somewhere. While we can't make recommendations for local dealers, we'll present the best places to buy gold online. Gold in Mind has either tested the gold providers or can recommend them based on their client experience rating.
Just like with cash, storing your gold at home is free, but it is not very safe. Gold stored at home is susceptible to theft, either directly from the house or in the process of being transported in and out of there. Still, it's not a bad idea to have a few gold and silver coins at home as a last resort, but only an amount that wouldn't hurt you financially if it was lost or destroyed.
Many people like to store gold at home because it is very private. Small purchases of gold (US: under $10,000; UK: under £5,000) don't have to be reported to the government by the seller. However, if you buy gold online or pay for it with a check or a credit card, records will be made. Similarly, if you decide to sell, your sales of up to 25 ounces don't have to be reported in the United States.
Storing money or gold in a safe deposit box is much safer and still private. Nevertheless, the danger of theft in the process of you bringing or taking the gold out the deposit remains. This option is also the most expensive option. A safe deposit box usually runs around $100-$300 per year. Again, you will need to buy the coins or bars yourself. Some gold dealers will arrange a safe, insured transport of the purchased gold directly to your safety deposit box. If you can't find a dealer offering this service, try buying gold directly from your bank. The markup may be substantially higher compared to buying from specialized gold dealers, but it saves you a lot of hassle.
There are two things to consider when buying gold from a bank. First, don't buy overpriced collectible coins, but demand regular gold bullion coins such as the Gold Eagle (scroll down to see a full list of typical gold bullion coins). Second, don't let your bank deposit the gold for you. Always demand taking physical possession of the purchased gold. Afterwards, you can deposit it yourself in your safe deposit box. That is the only way to ensure the title of the gold is transferred to you and not left on the bank's balance sheet as a deposit (read a more detailed explanation why this is important). The likelihood that your gold will be taken from your possession due to a bank’s bankruptcy is much higher that the actual underground vault being robbed.
If you prefer to store gold at home or in a safe deposit box, decide which gold coins or gold bars you'd like to buy and which gold dealer to buy gold from. If you prefer to buy and store your gold in one step, you should consider buying allocated gold stored in a precious metals vault.
Precious metals vaults used to be reserved for corporate clients (precious metals dealers, funds and banks). The advantages of these vaults include: the storage fee per ounce of metal is cheaper because the amounts deposited are large and the insurance fee is low as the vaults are highly secure, making the danger of theft minimal. Previously, individuals could not store gold in these vaults because they only accepted quantities that most people did not posses. However, this has changed when innovative custodians invented the concept of partial ownership of standard gold bars (also known as allocated gold).
How does allocated gold work? The gold custodian holds standard gold bars (each weighing 400 ounces) ready to sell to clients. You buy, say, five ounces. The custodian's automatic system registers you as the owner of five ounces—you are allocated your share of a gold bar. The more clients buy gold, the more gold bars the custodian orders and loads to the vault. The custodian always holds extra gold bars for sale and the automatic software makes sure that no more gold is sold than is physically available in gold bars. That way the custodian prevents the situation of having more gold sold on paperthan is physically present in the vault. The custodian backs the clients' deposits with gold with a 100% guarantee.
If you decide to sell your five ounces, the computer either transfers your five ounces to another client who has placed a buy order or transfers your gold back to the custodian. You are always paid or are refunded in spot gold prices (minus the spread and/or commission). Because you are effectively participating in a professional system involving bulk quantities, you can reduce the total cost of gold ownership to as low as one third—compared to buying gold from gold coin retailers.
You should take into account that becoming a client with one of these custodians is similar to becoming a client with a bank, hence requiring slightly more effort than buying gold coins from an online store. For instance, you may need to mail in a notarized copy of your ID. However, the flexibility of instant trading you gain once you have become a customer offsets this drawback.
Gold in Mind has reviewed the two market leading companies offering this service—read our BullionVault vs GoldMoney review.
American citizens have the option of storing their gold with an IRA custodian (actually, the IRA Custodians will mostly refer you to their preferred gold vaults and gold dealers). Gold can be included into any type of IRA: traditional, Roth, SEP, Simple, self-directed. First, check if gold can be included into your IRA. If not, you will need to set up a separate gold IRA. The following IRA custodians specialize in gold IRAs:
Sterling Trust Company
BBB Accredited Business, BBB rating: A-
American Estate&Trust (AE-Trust)
BBB Accredited Business, BBB rating: A-
GoldStar Trust Company (branch of Happy State Bank & Trust Company)
BBB Accredited Business, BBB rating: A+
American Church Trust
(was acquired by GoldStar Trust Company, above)
BBB rating: A
Note that the BBB rating ranges from A to F. Any “A” rating can be considered an outstanding rating.
Other precious metals such as silver, platinum or palladium can also be included in your IRA to further diversify your savings mix. Because gold tends to appreciate when markets and currencies experience turbulence and stocks drop, gold can be useful in offsetting the losses your retirement savings may take during market turmoil. If you haven't already, read our article on why it makes sense to insure your pension with gold.
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