The most standardized way to own physical gold directly is through the acquisition of ingots. Buyers should research reputable distributors and check the purity, shape, size and weight of the bars before purchasing them. It is important to be aware of potential Gold IRA scam schemes, as they are unfortunately quite common. The two most common places where you can buy precious metals are at an online dealer, such as JM Bullion, or at a local coin store.
Local coin stores have been around for almost as long as money. They went from being pawnshop establishments to becoming a more specialized form of resale stores. Local coin stores offer customers a place where they can view their items in person before making purchases. Online dealers, on the other hand, are obviously a more recent development. They serve as a virtual showcase for precious metals companies and allow customers to shop online.
The easiest way to buy gold is through an application called Vaulted (full Vaulted review here). Vaulted is an application run by McAlvany Financial Group and International Collectors Associates (its abbreviated name is McAlvany ICA) based in Colorado. The app allows you to buy fractional gold which is then stored at the Royal Canadian Mint. When you buy it fractionally, you don't have to buy it by currency (which is expensive per ounce) or wait until you can buy an ounce (which is expensive, period).
When you get an ounce, you can request delivery for a small fee. Gold futures are a good way to speculate on the rise (or fall) in the price of gold, and you could even accept the physical delivery of gold if you wish, although physical delivery is not what motivates speculators. Investing in mining stocks is riskier than buying physical gold bars or coins, but the benefits can be more significant and include dividends that you won't get from buying a piece of gold. If you don't want to have the trouble of having physical gold or dealing with the fast pace and margin requirements of the futures market, a good alternative is to buy an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks the commodity.
This allows you to expose yourself to gold as an investment without the risk or headache of dealing with physical gold. Therefore, gold ETFs are more liquid than physical gold and you can trade them from the comfort of your home. Three of the largest ETFs include SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), iShares Gold Trust (IAU) and the Aberdeen Standard Physical Gold Shares (SGOL) ETF. Instead of investing in physical gold, you can buy shares in companies that extract and refine gold.
When you have physical gold, you need to find a physical buyer, which can be difficult and time consuming, especially when the market starts to fall.