Gold coins and bars are perennial favorites of investors seeking profit or a hedge in inflationary or uncertain economic times. Buying gold coins is different from buying collectible coins because it is the metal, not the condition or rarity of the coin, that determines its value. Coins offer an advantage over gold bars because of their smaller size. This makes it possible for investors with limited means to invest in and profit from gold coins.
You can buy gold coins in a number of ways. Online sites like eBay are popular choices and occasionally you can get a good deal. However, it is usually simpler and cheaper to buy gold coins from an established jewelry or coin dealer, or directly from a producing mint such as the U.S. Mint. Prices are comparable to what you will get through informal markets like eBay and you have the assurance the coins are properly certified. Regardless of where you chose to buy gold coins, never purchase uncertified coins. You risk buying a counterfeit. Even if the coin is genuine, you may not be able to sell it until you pay a coin grading service to re-certify the coin.
U.S. Mint Gold Coins
For U.S. citizens, the best choices, by far, are U.S. Mint American Eagle 22K or Buffalo 24K gold coins. Properly certified and encapsulated (sealed) coins are readily available directly from the U.S. Mint or at many dealers nationwide. Since most dealers will buy the coins as well, liquidating your investment can be fast and easy. In addition, U.S. Mint gold coins may be included in IRAs and other tax-deferred retirement accounts. Foreign coins such as Krugerrands cannot.
The type of coin you choose to buy is largely a matter of personal preference. American Eagles and Buffalo gold coins are available in multiple denominations from 1/10 Troy oz. to 1 oz.. American Eagles are 22K gold. That is, they are an alloy that is 91.7 percent gold, plus an added metal that makes the coin hard and durable. Buffalo gold coins are .9999 pure gold--the first such American gold coins. They were first minted in 2006 and have proved very popular with investors. You have to be careful handling them because pure gold is very soft and easily damaged. The investment values of the two types of gold coins are about the same, because they each contain the same amount of actual gold.
Where to Buy
You can buy gold coins from the U.S. Mint online exactly as you would make any other online purchase. Go to U.S. Mint's online catalog (link below) and set up an account. Once that's done, browse the online catalog and select the gold coins you want, as well as other investment and collectible coins.
Alternatively, you can buy gold American Eagles or buffalo gold coins in person at many dealers. Use the U.S. Mint's dealer locator tool (link below) to find dealers near you. It's a good idea to call several and get their prices, because dealer prices may vary. Most dealers also carry non-U.S. gold coins like Australian Nuggets and South African Krugerrands.