If you want to buy silver bars as an investment, there are various sizes, brands and types of dealers you can choose. Silver bars are available through online and local vendors. In addition some financial firms offer precious metals through buying programs that often include low cost custodial (storage) services. However you choose to buy silver bars, it’s wise to know how to select the right ones for you and how to protect and monitor your investment.
Learn how to check the characteristics and price before you buy silver bars. Good quality silver bars are stamped with the weight, the name of the mint and the fineness. Investment quality silver is usually .999Fine (meaning it is at least 99.9% pure silver). Bar sizes vary from small 1 ounce wafers to 1000 ounce silver pricks. The cost is always based on the current price of silver, which you can check daily in the newspaper or online (see the link at the end of this article). Keep in mind that all dealers add a premium to cover their costs.
Consider using an IRA precious metals account when you buy silver bullion. IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) can be used as a tax shelter for investing in silver. There are restrictions on what types of precious metals can be included in a tax-sheltered IRA account, however. To decide if this would be a good way for you to invest in silver bars, check IRS Publication 500 (thee is a link to it at thee end of this article).
Put security first. Precious metals concentrate a lot of value in a convenient and easily portable form—thieves love them! Some brokerage and other financial firms offer custodial services to store bullion for a small fee. Another option is to rent a safe deposit box at your bank. If you must store your silver bars yourself, get a good quality safe and do not tell anyone you have precious metals on hand.
Choose the brand and size of silver bars you want. There are several companies, including Engelhard and Pan-American Silver that market silver bars. Your main decision is to choose the right size. Smaller bars tend to be a little more expensive per ounce but are often better if you prefer to buy small amounts at a time. 100 ounce and up bars are better if you are making a large purchase, since you get a price savings. If you choose very large bars (1000 ounce) you will probably want to have them stored (see Step 3)—a 68-pound brick of silver is a little awkward to handle.
Locate a dealer in precious metals bullion. You can buy silver bars directly from commercial mints or dealers online. Another option is to buy from one of the many jewelers and coin dealers that carry silver bars and other forms of precious metals bullion. To get started, you can try some of the local dealers listed in the US Mint’s Bullion Dealer Locater online (see Resources).
Keep track of your investment. When you buy silver bars the idea is to make a profit, of course. Keep an eye on the market prices. Be sure to keep complete records of your transactions for tax proposes.