These are our currently recommended gold and silver bullion dealers in the EU, UK, Switzerland and rest of Europe. We chose these dealers based on their customer service reputation, the buy/sell spread they charge on coins and bars, and the variety of payment methods they accept (including bank transfer, cash and cryptocurrency).
What you should know
- Buying physical gold is more expensive than buying gold ETFs and custodial (vaulted) gold due to the premiums added along the supply chain. However, physical bullion comes with the security that your gold is really yours and can’t easily be seized or frozen by a third party.
- Coins command higher premiums over spot price than gold bars due to manufacturing costs. Larger gold bars offer the lowest premiums of any form of gold bullion and are a compact way to store wealth. However, if gold was used as money, bars would be unpractical for day-to-day use.
- Gold ETFs are a cost-effective and simple way to get exposure to gold without having to buy, store, insure, and resell the physical metal. Buying gold ETFs means you are purchasing shares in a fund that owns, custodies, and insures the gold on your behalf.
- Debit cards backed by gold are also in the market, and they function like regular debit cards but are backed by gold held in a personal investment account.
- “If you don’t hold it, you don’t own it.” There is a considerable counterparty risk in not holding your bullion physically, including confiscation and account freezing.
Online gold dealers are where most people go to buy physical gold these days. In general, buying at a regulated dealer is also the safest way to get your hands on some gold, as they ship packages with insurance and often produce a certificate from the refiner. However, most of these companies have intrusive anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) policies in place, which means you have to provide them with personally identifiable information. Those worried about potential restrictions in gold ownership or other ominous scenarios should minimise the trails they leave online and look into other buying methods.
If you are looking to buy gold and silver privately and avoid the risk of having your information shared with prying third parties, in-store buying with cash or online with cryptocurrency is the way to go. Although it can be tempting, buying gold from strangers on the internet is not recommended unless you are able to verify the purity of the metal in question. But if you have that skillset, trading metals peer-to-peer can both keep your financial information completely private and let you avoid the high margins charged by dealers.
The Silver Mountain
At The Silver Mountain, as with many other regulated Dutch bullion dealers, you have the option to purchase gold and silver anonymously for up to EUR 10.000 through what is called a counter sale. With this type of anonymous purchase, you will receive an invoice without any personal information attached. If you choose to pay with cash, then it must be done so at the office in Baarn during appointments which must be scheduled in advance. Just make sure you stay within the limits of what you’re allowed to bring into your home country (typically EUR 10.000 in the EU).
The way BullionVault works is that you buy the metals on its website, and BullionVault then stores those metals in its insured vaults on your behalf. As such, there’s not much difference between BullionVault and your typical gold ETF.
Prices on BullionVault are typically lower than those who offer physical delivery, the commission being 0.50% to 0.10%, though the custodial storage fees are 0.01% (including insurance) per month. You can also sell your metals for fiat currency (€/£/$) and withdraw the proceeds to your bank account.
Gold ETFs are worth it if you don’t care about physical ownership and just want the cheapest possible exposure to the price movements of the metal. There’s no need to worry about the challenges of storage, security and high premiums, and one significant benefit is these ETFs they can be held in a regular brokerage account alongside your other investments. Some of the largest European gold ETFs measured by assets under management are Invesco Physical Gold, iShares Physical Gold and Amundi Physical Gold.
Most European gold ETFs are structured as exchange-traded certificates, or ETCs. Under this structure, iShares, Invesco, or some other investment company will set up a subsidiary in Ireland or Luxembourg to issue debt instruments with values linked to the day-to-day price movement of gold. When you invest in one of these gold-linked debt instruments, you are essentially lending money to the investment firm. This company will then pool your money with many other investors to purchase and store physical gold bars on your behalf. Most debt-backed bullion is held in J.P Morgan Chase Bank’s vault facilities in London.
Buying gold through ETFs is cheaper than buying physical bullion, though it will not give you physical ownership or privacy. While gold is cheaper per ounce with an ETF, you still need to factor in the costs of buying and selling and the yearly expense ratio charged by the fund manager. Compared to some of the less well-known online gold custodial services, which promise to perform the same service, gold ETFs also appear more trustworthy because of their more robust financial backing, history, and reputation.