Bullion or Coins – Easy Choice, Right?

“Bullion doesn’t pay interest or dividends, nor does it grow or expand by itself. That’s the price you pay for tranquility.” – Pierre Lassonde

Most people make assumptions about precious metal coins and bullion. “Coins are for collecting,” they say, while “Bullion is for investing.” The average person interested in precious metals might make that mistake based on the existing literature. The reason for this error is based on a perfectly sound, but incomplete, financial calculation made without consideration of purpose.

This flawed theory insists that the price for gold or silver coins is higher compared to silver or gold bullion, which is usually closer to spot. But a few potential considerations are left out of this equation.

Traveling with Your Bullion Investment

For example, let’s say you want to travel and use some gold or silver to pay expenses, give as gifts, or stash in another country because you don’t trust the one in which you live. Use nationally-based gold or silver coins, right?

Well, you would think so. But countries often have onerous rules on reporting what you are carrying when you leave the country. In the U.S., for instance, reporting what you have in coins is often more complicated than traveling with bullion bars or coins. (And no, please do not even consider listing your coins by legal tender value, as some advisors suggest. It’s a very bad idea and will place you in suspicion of money laundering.)

So if you’re traveling with a small amount of money, coins are better. A large amount of money? In some countries, it’s better to deal with bullion.

Costs of Assaying Bullion Bars and Coins

Another consideration boils down to cost. On the one hand, bullion is cheaper to purchase than coins. On the other, bullion usually requires greater levels of verification than government-issued gold coins do. Assaying gold can get somewhat expensive (up to $100 per bar, which can be 10% or more of the value of your pieces), although pre-inspected gold is available for purchase at a slightly higher premium. If you weigh that premium out, unless your investment is rather large, the price of assayed gold bullion will balance out with purchasing gold or silver coins anyway. That cost will also exist in one form or another if you verify share holdings.

So if you’re purchasing for deeper investment reasons, assayed gold or verified shares will rival the cost of government coins.

Conclusion

In short, the question can’t be framed in terms of personal preference alone. The real question is: what do you want to use it for? Are you looking for long term peace of mind in secure currency? Then use bullion. Are you interested in liquidity and perhaps to share with family, such as gifts? Then use coins. Are you planning to travel with your wealth? Consult local laws and investor advice.

Any investment choice in precious metals is a smart move – the key is to find the one that’s right for you. Personal preference isn’t the answer, but determining your short and long term goals when it comes to your metal investment is.

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