Physical bullion is one of the most liquid and easy items to sell. Here we cover many do's and don'ts to help you better sell your gold, platinum, palladium, or silver bullion successfully.
Bullion Selling Do’s and Don’ts
Do shop for the best bid price offers for the bullion products you are selling.
Do not simply take the first offer you get when you are looking to sell bullion.
Do your research between both local and online bullion dealer bid prices.
Do not sell your bullion on websites like Craigslist (dangerous and fraud riddled)
Do consider that often many high volume bullion dealers may have published live bid prices for the products they are bidding to buy. Yet note also these live bid price posting bullion dealers may have hidden tiered volume bid prices or minimum buyback thresholds. This means if you are only selling a small amount of bullion, you may not receive the bid price they have actively published on their website. Always inquire about additional fees potentially hidden (restocking, even assay fees, etc.).
Do not simply sell based on the highest bid price, consider safety and the business track record of the potential counterparty you may be selling to.
Do consider selling highly collectible bullion items on eBay but be sure to note that as of 2017, eBay takes 10% or up to a maximum $750 USD of current bullion sales. Hence for example on a $10k bullion sale, eBay would take $750 USD meaning you would get back $9,250 USD barring all other listing upgrade fees. Also beware of payment fraud problems that occur on eBay.
Don’t sell your bullion to any dealer without performing proper due diligence on their business practices and organic customer reviews. Try using 3rd party review websites and bullion forums (reddit / facebook) to hear as many new and unbiased customer experiences as possible.
Do consider packaging and fully insuring shipping costs to the location where your bullion is being shipped and safely delivered to when sold (more information on shipping bullion safely below).
Do not accept checks from any individual buyers as a bank check can be rescinded or cancelled only a few days after you have given your bullion to the buyer (potential fraud here is rampant).
Do consider, during high demand, high bullion price premium bullion market surges, to sell some high premium bullion items you own and perhaps quickly convert the proceeds into lower premium bullion products (thus acquiring more troy ounces) or divert the funds into other, more undervalued asset classes on sale at the time.
The Bullion Selling Process
When selling large lots of bullion, trusted online bullion dealers are likely the safest and best method to receive the highest price possible for what you are selling coupled with the lowest risks of fraud or potential issues.
When selling small lots of bullion (e.g. less than perhaps $1k USD) trusted local bullion dealers in city centers may be best given the speed of payment and lack of shipping fees associated with such a quick, same day sale.
For online bullion dealers, the process generally involves a phone call and an explicit description of the exact product(s) you are seeking to sell. Most bullion dealers will be able to give you an immediate bid price offer on the phone.
If you have already shopped around, and this bid price is competitive, most often you can ‘lock in’ that bid price with a credit or debit card for collateral reasons (in case for some reason you don’t deliver the bullion you are selling according to the bullion dealer’s policy). From here your next step is safely shipping the sold bullion to the address which the bullion dealer mandates.
Bullion Shipping Process (Fully Insured, Best Practices)
Before shipping your bullion products, be certain to document all the contents of the package before finally sealing the parcel. This means taking pictures of the bullion products and specific packing slip documents you are packing into the parcel. You want to do this in case of the small chance someone steals and or breaks into the parcel in route to its destination.
Now let us discuss the most safe, fully insurable method to ship bullion parcels domestically in the USA.
USPS Registered Mail is the safest option for domestic Bullion Shipments
When shipping bullion in mail within the USA, the USPS Registered Mail service remains the best general shipment option in terms of overall price, safety, value, and potential insurance coverage.
USPS Registered Mail parcels can be insured for up to $50,000 USD per parcel at your local USPS Post Office.
Safest way to ship Gold Bullion = USPS Registered Mail (as well platinum, palladium, silver bullion + other precious metals)
Steps to Shipping Bullion with USPS Registered Mail
In order to ship bullion safely with USPS Registered Mail, you will need a few items to make a safe and compliant shipment.
The following are basic best-practices for safe bullion shipping within the USA:
Have a filled out USPS Form 3806 which you can find for free at your local USPS facility.
Use a minimum of 2 boxes, One smaller box within to contain the shipped bullion, another Priority Mail box for the parcel’s exterior.
Packing slip(s) which identifies the items being shipped from and to whom, order numbers, details, etc.
Ensure the bullion contents do not jingle or make noise. Try putting packed paper or styrofoam peanuts inside each round or coin tube’s top before securely taping them all shut. For bullion bars, use tightly taped paper coverings or bubble wrappings between bars for secure silence.
To ensure bullion round or coin tube tops stay shut, apply robust filament tape to secure each tube top remains closed in transit.
All box USPS Registered Mail parcels should have 3″ wide gummed paper tape covering all corners of the outer box to ensure a tamper proof stamped seal on the outer edges of the parcel.
Do not ship more than about 500 to 600 oz of silver bullion per parcel as there is a 70 pound max weight threshold, as well if dropped the potentiality of parcel breakage increases the heavier it weighs.
Private shipment service providers like FedEx (see 18.4), DHL (here) and UPS (see here) explicitly prohibit individuals from fully insuring precious metal bullion shipments. Note this precious metal private shipper exclusion just mentioned, does not include bullion businesses who often have direct operation agreements with the private carriers they ship with as well as additional third party insurance backstops covering themselves and their customer base.
Why is USPS Registered Mail so much safer compared to private carriers?
First, if USPS employees are caught stealing Registered Mail parcels typically they end up in Federal Prison and also forfeit their often coveted (likely underfunded) government pension plans.
As well USPS Registered Mail has an additional layer of security proved by the US Postal Inspection Service. US Postal Inspectors are fact-finding and investigative agents, they are sworn federal law enforcement officers who carry firearms, make arrests, and serve federal search warrants and subpoenas. When postal inspectors show up on scene, virtually any and all disappearing parcels often too ‘magically’ show up as well.
Thus the USPIS also helps ensure that USPS Registered Mail will likely remain the safest and best option for individuals shipping bullion fully insured through the USA’s domestic mail system.
Bullion Selling Payment Process
Most online bullion dealers pay, on bullion sales to them, via a mailed bank check, ACH transfer, or bank wire transfer. This typically depends upon the size and quantity of bullion an individual is selling to a dealer and the dealer’s respective internal policies and service sophistication.
The entire customer bullion selling to online bullion dealer process (from price ‘lock-in’, shipping, safe delivery, and final payment) can range from less than one week to a few weeks depending on logistics and market demand volumes.
To sell your bullion safely, you should seek dependable trustworthy counterparties who honor their word and offer a fair price. Then follow these and other aforementioned common sense steps in packing, documenting, fully insuring, and shipping sold bullion products safe and sound.