This silver bullion guide explains how to buy physical silver, where to buy it and which online dealers have the best prices. We present the most popular silver rounds, bars and coins to address which types of silver are best for most investors, while discussing silver pricing in an easy to understand manner. Finally, this guide will show you how to calculate the lowest price dealers by comparing your true premium over spot.
Table Last Updated: August 26, 2015
The table above lists the best silver prices found at top online silver bullion dealers for the most popular bars, coins and rounds. Each is linked to the product page at the dealer website, where you can view more details, pictures and quantity discounts, plus a variety of similar bullion products.
If you’ve been waiting to buy silver because it seems too complex, relax. It is easier than precious metals forums make it seem. The goal of this guide is to provide you with enough tips to get you comfortable with an online silver purchase and to help you find the best place for buying silver, rated and reviewed as a trustworthy and reputable online bullion dealer.
The Most Competitive Dealers Online: Best Places to Buy Silver
If you you want to know where to buy silver online, start with a trusted dealer like JM Bullion . This dealer typically has the best price and provides free shipping on all silver bullion orders. The minimum order size is $100. JM Bullion offers only high quality, trusted and sensible silver coins, rounds and bars through a secure, easy to navigate website. Pricing is transparent and product availability or shipping dates are clearly stated right up front. JM Bullion is a good go-to dealer for high quality, low premium silver bars, rounds and coins favored by most silver bullion stackers. As an added convenience, JM Bullion allows for payment with Check, Wire, Credit Card and even PayPal (you will pay the credit card price when paying with PayPal). Like Provident below, JM Bullion now allows for payment with an electronic check. If planning to buy silver online, visit the site and you won’t be disappointed. Once you are an established customer, payment by electronic check becomes an option, eliminating higher credit card fees and the need to send a check.
Next, pay a visit to Provident Metals . an online silver bullion dealer that has exceptionally competitive prices. They offer free shipping on all orders over $99 and a fixed $5.95 shipping on smaller orders. There are no minimum order sizes. Provident offers the lowest prices through frequent deals and sale prices on popular products. Provident’s own mint typically provides the best deals on rounds and 10 Oz bars and they also produce a nice assortment of exclusive, collectible and sometimes limited series rounds and bars. This dealer maintains a diverse selection of silver coins in inventory, so if looking for a specific foreign silver coin or mintage date, they are more likely to have it. Finally, Provident is usually the winner if planning to purchase silver with a credit card. offering more flexible size limits and a lower credit card premium. Provident Metals also offers the ability to pay for your silver online with a secure electronic check. This eliminates the added cost for using a credit card, as well as bank wire fees. While you have to wait 4 days for the funds to clear, this method of payment for silver bullion becomes a no-brainer.
Buying online can provide silver investors with incredibly good deals. Other top dealers include APMEX (American Precious Metals Exchange), Gainesville Coins and Liberty Coin. Which dealers have the best prices on your favorite silver? The answer can frequently flip back and forth, but the two dealers above are consistently the most competitive, offering up better overall prices than the competition.
Factors to Consider In Shopping for the Best Dealer
Everybody wants a good deal. With the advent of the Internet, there is absolutely no reason that a gold or silver buyer should have to pay excessive premiums or suffer good service. Online bullion dealers abound, and those that offer good prices and a painless shopping experience stand out from the crowd. In addition to offering good prices, you should also consider the following factors when selecting the dealer from which you will buy your silver bullion:
- Shipping Costs (See Discussion Below)
- Selection of Popular Bullion from Top Quality Mints
- Inventory Available, In Stock and Ready to Ship
- Estimated Delivery Times
- A Good Online Reputation Amongst Silver Buyers
- Willingness to Buy Back Silver at Good Prices Relative to Spot
Buying Silver Online During Dips: Ready Your Shopping Cart in Advance
Once you’ve selected a dealer, you want to be ready to buy during “waterfall” type sell-offs, where silver tends to get pushed down hard during massive futures (paper) dumps, or even during quick dips after a rebound has started. PMBull doesn’t advise trying to time physical silver purchases like a day-trader would stocks, but if you believe that you can get your silver bars or rounds at a much lower price and have a target in mind, here is what you must do:
1) Visit the silver bullion dealers linked above.
2) Select your bars, rounds or coins and add them to the dealer shopping cart.
3) Start the checkout process (you will need to create an account).
4) Leave your silver in your cart, and do not complete your order until ready.
Now, when silver hits your target price, you will simply need to log in to the dealers site, go to your cart, which should reflect updated prices, and confirm your purchase. You will be prepared to capture a dip in prices, before prices rebound higher.
Compare Premium Over Spot to See Which Dealer Has the Best Prices
There is only one way to get the best price for silver bullion and that is to compare dealer prices at the time of purchase. Silver is generally priced at a premium over the current spot price. To understand how much you are paying, look at the current spot silver price per ounce, then compare that to the total cost for an ounce of silver under consideration. The difference is the premium over spot that a dealer is charging. To insure optimal pricing, compare your total intended silver bullion purchase price, with quantity discounts, shipping charges and credit card or wire fees included. The result may be a lower total cost per unit for a given dealer, even when the initial “per ounce” premium over spot price appears higher in a simple price table.
Total Cost Per Ounce – Spot Silver Price Per Ounce = True Premium Over Spot
You may also want to compare buy-back pricing, if the dealer displays what they are currently paying for the silver product you are considering for purchase. Frequently, higher premium products can also be sold over spot, due to their demand in the secondary market. The true cost is the difference between the purchase and sale price, independent of spot price fluctuations. In a crisis or extreme shortage scenario, most non-numismatic silver will be selling for the same price, assuming what you have to offer is a recognizable or desirable product from a well-known mint with a good reputation, so don’t sweat the minor differences too much.
Ultimately, market conditions will dictate the price trend and how much you pay. Like cars, computers and other goods and services, each dealer has different levels of overhead, operating costs and desired margins. Some prefer high volume with lower margins while others may charge a heavy premium, especially for a lower quantity purchase. Those top quality dealers willing to compete on both service and price, who are interested in establishing long-term stacker customers that continue to buy from them, are the dealers from which you will find the most satisfaction. These are the dealers to which you will return for repeat, ongoing silver purchases.
Reputable silver dealers will tell you right up front how much premium over spot you are paying – or at least make it simple enough to calculate. They will also tell you how much they are currently paying customers who are selling the same product back to them. Depending on the product in question, you can pay anywhere from less than a $1.00 over spot, to many times that for more rare or in-demand products, or coins with a particular numismatic (collector’s) value. Of course, like most things, higher volume purchases can occur with a much lower markup or premium. Further, if you pay with a credit card, you can expect to pay more as well.
In some cases, a lower premium over spot may come at a different kind of cost. Poor service, slow delivery, incomplete or incorrect orders and other types of hassles (or loss) may be the cost of doing business with a less trusted or less reputable dealer or individual. Oddly enough, some of the worst dealers out there on all the non-price considerations also feature the worst pricing! Convenience, confidence, service and selection should all be factors in what you are willing to pay. Not to worry. There are dealers that excel on all these fronts, with superior prices on top products.
Higher volume equals lower price almost everywhere. You will need to visit dealer web sites to see what kind of discount you can expect to receive on the purchase of a 20 American Eagle Mint Tube or a 500 Canadian Maple Leaf Monster Box, versus an individual coin in the table above.
Comparing Silver Bullion Dealers: Some Caveats and Tips
Some dealers may at first glance appear to have a low premium over spot. Then they get you on the shipping charges. Stick with dealers that feature lower, flat-rate shipping or even free shipping options. See below for how to calculate your total silver cost to determine that you are really getting the best price.
While dealer comparisons may demonstrate the relative difference in price for a variety of silver investments, they do not necessarily take into consideration other factors like shipping or credit card charges, wire transfer discounts and minimum order sizes.
Dealer comparisons invariably leave out important details that impact the final price, so what appears to be best on the surface may very well not be the case. Ultimately, there shouldn’t be much difference between the better dealers and it may come down to personal preference. Some dealers do indeed charge excessive premiums over spot price, so don’t assume all dealers are priced the same.
Of course, there will also be less trustworthy or less reputable dealers that have no interest in providing good service or establishing long-term customers. These are the ones who will rip off the ignorant in an effort to make a quick dollar. Frankly, we wonder how these types of dealers continue to thrive.
You will need to visit multiple sites to truly compare the total acquisition cost for a given purchase, but you will soon narrow your choices down to a few favored sites. The best way to get a feel for any given dealer is to start a shopping cart on each dealer site for an identical product. This will give you a feel for ordering and allow you to see the final price, with shipping charges, as well as any surprises that may present themselves before you actually confirm a purchase.
Silver Buying Tip #1: Watch Out for the Shipping Trap
Some dealers will price their silver bullion at a seemingly low premium over spot, but then get you on the back end with a higher than average shipping charge. This hits small order buyers especially hard. You must pay attention to shipping charges in order to get the best price. Do not make the mistake of only checking a dealer’s price per ounce, or an advertised premium, when comparing silver dealers.
Many dealer comparisons or advertised price quotes do not tell the whole story. When you consider shipping charges as part of the total price comparison, the final story on who has the better price may be different than a comparison table may have originally indicated. A 20 coin tube of Silver Eagles with a $15.00 higher shipping charge is ultimately priced with a $0.75 per ounce incremental premium. That’s a 2.5% higher cost per coin, and comparison tables do not always take this into consideration.
Silver Buying Tip #2: If Buying Silver with a Credit Card, Compare the Credit Card Price
Update: Provident Metals and JMBullion, linked in our dealer list above, now allows you to settle payment online via secure electronic check through the ACH Network. This is probably the best route for paying, since it eliminates credit card or bank wire fees, as well as the pain
of having to send a check via U.S. Postal Service.
If buying silver with a credit card, be sure to check price differences. Some bullion dealers are competitive for cash purchases, but may be less flexible for credit card purchases. One dealer may be your best option for cash, while another dealer may provide the better deal for credit card buys. Note also that cash purchases do not always yield the lowest price if you choose to wire funds, rather than sending a personal check. Often, wire fees at the bank may be greater than the premium you would pay for using your credit card. This is more likely to be the case on low volume purchases, where your cost will always be greater.
Silver Buying Tip #3: Look at the Price Tiers, Not Just Prices Displayed in the Product Listings
Some dealers prominently display their lowest price in their product listings. This price is based on the highest purchase volume tier. Other dealers will display their single ounce price, while also displaying the lowest price based on higher volume purchases. In order to view the actual price and premium that a bullion dealer will charge, you need to click through on any given product to view the tiered pricing table for comparison at your intended purchase level.
Silver Buying Tip #4: Telephone Support is OK, But You Should Not Be Required to Speak with a Salesperson
Some dealers are known to advertise seemingly low prices on very specific silver coins, but when you click through to make a purchase, you find that you must complete a form and wait for a call, or that you are required to speak with a salesperson. If that salesperson subsequently tries to talk you into a different investment with a much higher premium, there’s a possibility that you are the intended target of the classic “Bait and Switch” routine. The low advertised coin price is meant to reel you in, while the salesperson’s job is to up-sell you on a much higher cost silver investment that may not perform as well. See our discussion on what type of silver to purchase for more on this particular topic.
Good online dealers will allow you to fill a shopping cart and complete a purchase online, without ever having to speak with a salesperson. Of course, these dealers will also provide you with assistance over the phone, should you have trouble completing your order, or should you wish to ask a question before making a purchase. The difference is that you will be speaking with customer support personnel, not aggressive salespeople that are trying to maximize a commission by selling you high margin products, rather than silver bullion that you’ve selected yourself.
Buying Physical Silver Through a Local Shop vs. Online Dealers
You may wish to check prices with a Local Silver Dealer. as many buyers report the ability to acquire bullion at a reasonable price this way without having to pay for shipping. Some buyers also like not having to worry about privacy issues or leaving a paper trail. Through a local shop, you may develop a relationship with the dealer which can result in good deals not always offered to every customer that walks in the door.
Like any other purchase made through a traditional brick and mortar shop, the price at a local coin shop may be a bit higher, but the absence of shipping charges and not having to deal with wire transfers, as well as the comfort of having your metal in hand at the time of purchase, makes up for this.
The downside of buying through a local dealer is that you are less likely to find an extensive inventory and less likely to be able to acquire larger quantities of brand new, uncirculated coins. If you are into the collector or hobby aspects, a local dealer may be desirable as this won’t matter. If you are simply seeking silver bullion at a good price, online dealers are more likely to offer what you desire, without shipping charges.
The Best Silver to Buy: Silver Bars, Coins and Rounds
When it comes time to cash in on your silver investment you want to be holding the most common, liquid, easy to understand silver products. If you are buying silver because you believe silver prices are set to surge due to supply shortages, skyrocketing inflation or the continued debasement of the U.S. dollar, then what you are looking for is simply ounces of pure silver at the best price. Don’t worry though, you can still buy beautiful coins and rounds that are fun to accumulate and still achieve your investment objective, without overpaying or acquiring an encyclopedia of knowledge.
Silver Buying Tip #5: Keep It Simple! Stick With Basic Silver Coins, Rounds and Bullion Bars
Our silver table allows you to see the differences in price for various silver bullion coins, rounds and bars which can help you determine which silver investment is best for your particular case. Below, we provide a basic description of each type of silver product and the advantages to owning each.
Bullion refers to precious metals in their purest form. Unlike metal alloys used to mint most of today’s circulating U.S. coins, the American Silver Eagle is considered to be a silver bullion coin because they are minted from 99.9% pure silver.
This guide lists specific bullion silver products that most silver investors own. We believe that there is no need to make things complicated. By no means is this an exhaustive list of options, but it is a good starting point for a new silver investor that would like to begin stacking physical silver quickly.
The most popular physical silver bullion products bought by experienced investors can guide the first-time physical silver buyer well. While there are many subjective factors that determine the best silver for you, our intent here is to keep things simple so that you can get started quickly. Generally, the best silver to buy is that which gets you the most pure silver for your dollar. To achieve this, you must minimize the premium that you will pay over spot silver prices, regardless of how or where you purchase your silver.
Silver bullion bars allow you to buy pure, physical silver in a format that can be conveniently stacked in a safe. For the first-time silver buyer, we suggest narrowing your choices to keep things simple. Common sizes for retail investors include 1 oz, 5 oz, 10 oz, 1 kilogram (32.15 oz) and 100 troy oz bars. Trustworthy brands for silver bars include Johnson Matthey, Engelhard, OPM Metals, Sunshine Minting, NTR, Golden State Mint and SilverTowne.
It is also possible to buy generic silver bars at a lower premium, but if you watch the bigger dealers, you can often buy better known brands or bars at special prices, leaving little reason from an investment perspective to buy lesser known (or unknown at the time of purchase) generic silver bars.
Silver coins are produced by the mints of sovereign nations. Government issued silver coins command the greatest confidence amongst silver investors and are quite liquid for this reason. Silver coins are always a great place to start. Due to their popularity and the confidence they invoke, silver coins get a higher premium price over spot than silver bullion or privately minted silver rounds, but they make a very good starting point for the novice silver buyer.
Brilliant, Uncirculated Condition (BU) silver coins provide a high level of confidence and security for the first-time silver buyer and will likely command a higher premium when selling than more generic silver rounds. The most popular silver coins include American Silver Eagles and Canadian Silver Maple Leafs, at 99.99% purity. Silver coins minted by governments around the world and popular with collectors include Austrian Silver Philharmonics, Chinese Silver Pandas, Australian Silver Kukaburras and Mexican Silver Libertads.
The beautiful Silver Eagle is the most recognized and trusted silver bullion investment and gets the highest bid prices for silver bullion in North America. Buy tubes of 20 Silver Eagles to minimize premiums and to receive the best prices. Silver Eagles can be purchased individually, mint tubes of 20 coins or even sealed green “monster boxes” from the mint, which will contain 500 coins in 20-coin mint tubes. The higher quantity purchases will reduce the cost of your silver investment.
Junk Silver: Pre-1965 U.S. Mint 90% Silver Coins
Silver coins preferred by some silver buyers are half-dollars, quarters and dimes that were minted prior to 1965 by the U.S. Mint. These coins contain 90% silver, unlike the debased coins in circulation today. Once silver was removed from the alloy used to mint modern U.S. coins, these 90% silver coins, referred to as “junk silver,” were quickly scooped up by astute coin aficionados. They are now traded based on the actual silver content in the coins, not their face value.
Junk silver coins can be sold individually, but they are generally bought in increments based on the face value of the coins. A common increment for sale might be $1.00 face value, which would be four quarters, ten dimes, two half dollars or a mix of coins totaling $1.00 in face value. A $100 face value bag may contain a mix of 90% silver coins, or for those that prefer them, 100% fixed denomination.
The condition of the coins is not too relevant because again, “Junk” silver is traded on the basis of the weight of the actual silver content. 90% silver coins contain approximately .715 troy ounces of pure silver for each $1.00 face value. Thus, a $100 bag of mixed Junk Silver coins can be calculated to contain approximately 71.5 troy ounces of pure silver.
Some silver stackers believe that Junk Silver is a better way to hold silver to be used in a post-dollar economy for trading purposes because of their small size and weight. A 90% silver dime, with silver trading at $100 per troy ounce, would be valued at a little over $7.00, versus a silver eagle containing 1 troy ounce of silver at $100.00. Thus, the silver dime could be a more efficient medium of exchange for lower priced goods.
See PMBull’s Guide to Silver Rounds
Silver bullion rounds are also a a good way to buy silver at a lower cost. It is only minimally more complicated, provided you purchase rounds from a well-known mint and a trusted dealer. Silver rounds are issued by a myriad of private mints and look like coins, but they are not legal tender. Rounds come with a wide variety of designs, each unique to the mints that produce them. Buffalo design silver rounds are especially popular.
Think of rounds as a hybrid between coins and bars. Their purity is .999 fine silver and they can be found in weights ranging from 1 troy oz. to 100 troy ounces. Both purity and weight should be stamped on the round. Rounds, like bars, provide more silver for your investment dollar than coins due to their lower premium. 1 troy ounce rounds are the most common, but 5 oz. rounds can be found. The premiums on silver rounds should be small since they have little in the way of numismatic value.
Silver rounds are commonly issued to commemorate specific events, and are often popular with collectors, or as gifts. Other rounds are simply issued as an alternative, convenient means for storing silver, just like silver bars. Trustworthy, well-known brands include Sunshine Minting, OPM Metals, A-Mark, Silvertowne and Engelhard. There are countless other mints that produce generic silver rounds, many that are no longer in existence.
Perhaps the most popular silver rounds for silver investors are the ubiquitous Buffalo Design rounds, found at the larger and more popular online dealers. The Buffalo design rounds frequently carry the lowest possible premiums.
Your First Physical Silver Purchase
Buying physical silver bullion as an investment is not complicated once you understand your basic choices. When you realize that you do not need to become an expert on coins in order to invest in silver, your confidence increases dramatically. Whether to buy government coins, bullion bars or silver rounds is a personal choice, and any difference in premium will likely continue to exist at resale, so there is no need to sweat the details.
With the proliferation of online dealers and a plethora of review sites for local dealers and coin shops, finding a good source to buy your silver, at a good price, should not be difficult. Be confident that your first purchase will go smoothly and make an initial purchase. An American Silver Eagle is a good start. Ultimately, saving a nickel or dime on your silver purchase will not serve you, if the time invested to do so causes you to miss a $2.00 move in the price of silver.