When you hear “gold bars,” visions of underground bank vaults sealed tight and stacked high with glimmering gold bricks may come to mind. While vaults like this do exist, gold bars are much more accessible than the everyday gold owner may imagine. Gold bars are portable, private and liquid, and in some ways, more straightforward to buy than gold coins. Find out how to go about understanding gold bars and selecting the bar that's best for your precious metals portfolio with these five steps. As America’s Gold Authority®, we’re here to walk you through how and where to buy gold bars.
How to Buy Gold Bars
Step 1: Choose the Size and Type of Gold Bar
Gold bars are produced in various sizes and are available at many price points. Choose from bars ranging from 1 ounce to 1 kilo, depending on your budget, personal preferences, storage capabilities, and holding strategy.
Size and price
The market value of a gold bar is almost entirely based on its weight in gold. A bar's price closely follows the spot price of gold, i.e. the price at which you could buy one ounce of gold right now (“on-the-spot”) as opposed to some date in the future.
In general, the larger the bar is, the greater the price. What amount of your wealth would you like to safeguard with gold? With this number in mind, you can narrow your options down to only bars that fall into your price range. Note that a bar’s final purchase price will vary slightly from the spot price of gold depending on the current market supply and demand, as well as local, national, and global economic conditions.
Minted vs. cast
Apart from the bar’s size, you also have different types of bars to choose from, typically minted and cast. Minted gold bars are hand cut or punched from a large flat piece of gold and are often produced with glossy finishes and artistic designs (though the design typically has little effect on the bar's market value). Minted bars, depending on their size and refiner, can be packaged in sealed assay cards (left) that provide details about the bar's authenticity and protect its condition.
Cast bars are made by pouring molten gold into a mold, a production method that dates back thousands of years. These bars tend to lack the illustrious shine of minted bars and vary in appearance based on how the gold is poured and cooled. Some gold owners prefer cast bars for this very reason, as the bars appear more “natural” and are fantastic visual reminders of gold's long-standing history.
Step 2: Understand How to “Read” a Gold Bar
Unlike some gold coins, gold bars are typically not produced with special designs that majorly impact the bar's market value. They are, however, produced with identifying marks that provide information about the bar's producer, weight and gold purity, and sometimes a serial number.
The bar's producer
Buying a gold bar with a well-known hallmark can be beneficial in terms of liquidity. A hallmark is a stamp that is unique to the bar's producer. It functions similarly to an item’s brand. The more well-known and respected a brand is, the easier it can be to sell or trade the brand’s products in the future. A respected hallmark can bolster a bar's liquidity. The Perth Mint’s hallmark is pictured on the right.
Gold bars are available from trusted government and private minting institutions alike, including from the Perth Mint in Australia, Johnson Matthew, Asahi, and the Royal Canadian Mint.
The bar's weight and purity
How a bar's weight and purity are marked will depend on the bar's producer. Some mark these details in large numbers and letters separately from the hallmark, like the Perth Mint does in the example on the right. Other refiners, like Johnson Matthew, incorporate the bar's weight and purity within their hallmark.
The bar's assay card
A bar's assay card is more than protective or cosmetic (though it does make storage easy). It is official documentation of a bar's weight and purity, and includes a serial number specific to the producer. While this card can help further assure a bar’s authenticity, not all bars are packaged in assay cards. They may be too large or come with another means of authentication, like a separate assay certificate.
Step 3: Plan to Protect Your Gold Bars
Consider how and where you will store and protect your gold. Gold bars require less space than coins to store the same number of ounces, which can make them easy to keep at home. You could also store your bars in a bank safe deposit box or at a facility that specializes in gold storage and protection.
How and where you store your gold bars will partly depend on your financial goals. Do you plan on holding them as a means of protecting your savings until your children are grown, or as a means of emergency financial assistance? If it's the latter, you may want to consider storing your gold close to home, as a bank or storage facility may have limited hours of operation or be located far away. In an emergency, your gold could be inaccessible. Mitigate risk by making accommodations for storing and protecting your gold bars before taking possession of them.
Step 4: Choose a Gold Company
One of the smartest ways to ensure you're getting the best gold bar at the best price is to buy from a reputable gold company that puts your needs first. How do know if you're dealing with a reputable company? Look for…
- Third party ratings and a long history of client reviews. As the Federal Trade Commission advises, “Check out the seller by entering the company's name in a search engine online. Read about other people's experiences with the company.” Reputable, established gold companies can show that they have a long history of great service. Many also have the highest ratings from consumer advocate groups like the Better Business Bureau and the Business Consumer Alliance.
- A focus on education. A company that prides itself on client education won't rush you into making a purchase that's not right for you. “We specialize in educating customers not only on the gold industry, but the type of portfolios they can use to protect their [assets],” said U.S. Money Reserve's CEO Angela Koch in an interview on Enterprise Radio.
Sign up to receive U.S. Money Reserve's free Gold Information Kit to learn everything you need to know before purchasing precious metals. Explore special offers, discover diversification strategies, and dive into U.S. Money Reserve's exclusive precious metals guidebook. This expertly prepared tool is our gift to you!
A Note on Where to Buy Gold Bars
Almost ready to make your move? Where you choose to buy gold bars can impact the size, type, packaging, and price of the bars available to you. You can buy gold bars online, over the phone, or locally—though you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of each option.
Shop with a local dealer and you could walk away with gold bars almost instantly. While instant gratification often feels satisfying, it can come at a price. Will you be able to comparison shop and evaluate all of your product and price options side-by-side? Comparison shopping over time and across products is one of the best ways to help decide where to buy gold bars.
Apart from gold bar prices, there are security concerns to take into account, too. How far do you want to travel with real, physical gold in your vehicle? How far do you live from the nearest reputable gold company? How far will you need to carry your gold bars to get them in and out of your vehicle—and are you capable of doing so?
Holding a one-kilogram gold bar feels about the same as holding a liter of water. You can carry one liter of water. But let’s say you buy 10 gold bars. Are you ready to carry the equivalent of 10 liters of water from a local gold dealer to your car, then into your home or storage location? Even if you don’t break a sweat, do you feel comfortable carrying all of those gold bars safely?
Shop with U.S. Money Reserve online or over the phone to learn more about our selection of gold bars ranging from one ounce to one kilogram. We ship directly from our vault to your door.
- Some of our most popular one-ounce gold bars are produced at the world-famous Perth Mint in Australia, one of the few precious metals refiners that’s accredited by all five of the world’s major gold exchanges. On the obverse side of the bar is an elegant swan emblazoned in a circle. On the reverse side is a pattern of hopping kangaroos.
- Our 10-ounce gold bars are also produced at the Perth Mint and feature swan and kangaroo markings.
- Our largest gold bars, one-kilogram gold bars, are sourced from trusted minting facilities around the world, including the Perth Mint in Australia, Asahi Holdings (formerly Johnson Matthey), and the Royal Canadian Mint. Design details vary.
Call U.S. Money Reserve for help deciding how and where to buy gold bars. One of the main benefits of working with our experienced Account Executives is that we can offer and educate you about more than gold bars. We’re your one-stop shop for precious metals products, market insights, and even retirement diversification. As your gold portfolio grows, you’ll find that where you buy gold is just as important as what you buy.
Step 5: Buy Your First Gold Bar!
The advantages of buying gold bars are numerous. When you’re ready, browse gold bars online and call 1-844-307-1589 to receive a free one-on-one consultation regarding your overall financial goals. Experienced Account Executives are standing by to answer your questions and help you choose the right gold bars and coins for your portfolio!
Gold Bar Q&A
Q: How Much Does a Gold Bar Weigh?
A: A standard gold bar is pretty heavy. It weighs about 400 ounces, or 27.5 pounds. That’s the type of gold bar stored at Fort Knox. It’s about the size of a regular brick.
However, the kind of gold bar you would buy for your portfolio doesn’t weigh that much. For instance:
- A 1-oz. gold bar weighs 1.097 ounces (0.0685 pounds). That’s about the weight of a slice of bread.
- A 10-oz. gold bar weighs 10.97 ounces (0.685 pounds). That’s about the weight of a grapefruit.
- A 1-kilo gold bar weighs a little over 2.2 pounds. That’s about the weight of 1 liter of water.
Q: How Much Does a Gold Bar Cost?
A: Typically, gold bar prices pretty closely follow the spot price of gold (that is, the price at which you could buy one ounce of gold “on the spot”) plus a small premium. Larger bars tend to cost more than smaller bars. Shipping, insurance, payment type, and seller can also impact a gold bar’s final price. Shop gold bars to compare live pricing.
Q: How Big Is a Gold Bar?
A: Gold bars may look big in pictures, but they’re relatively small in size. Here’s a rundown:
- A 1-oz. gold bar from the Perth Mint is about 0.95 inches wide, 1.65 inches long, and 0.08 inches thick.
- A 10-oz. gold bar from the Perth Mint is about 1.46 inches long, 2.28 inches long, and 0.35 inches thick.
- A 1-kilo gold bar from the Perth Mint is about 1.58 inches wide, 3.15 inches long, and 0.71 inches thick.
- The standard gold bar, the type you’d find at Fort Knox, is about 7 inches wide, 3.63 inches long, and 1.75 inches thick.
Q: Do Central Banks Buy Gold Bars?
A: Yes. A nation’s central bank (such as the U.S. Federal Reserve), which sets a country’s monetary policy, buys gold bars for many of the same reasons that you might:
- To manage financial risk and promote financial stability
- To diversify away from paper-based assets or assets tied to the U.S. dollar
- To act as a hedge against inflation
- To serve as a counterbalance against uncertainty about paper money
“While central banks were net [gold] buyers for a 10th straight year in 2019, demand has become more concentrated, with fewer banks adding to reserves in 2020,” according to the World Gold Council via Bloomberg.
Also in 2020 news – “Central banks became gold sellers for the first time since 2010,” Bloomberg adds.
Q: How Are Gold Bars Made?
A: Gold bars are made in two ways: minting or casting.
Minted gold bars are hand-cut or punched from a large flat piece of gold and are usually produced with glossy finishes and artistic designs. Depending on the size and refinery, minted bars can be packaged in sealed assay cards that protect their condition and provide details about each bar’s authenticity.
Cast gold bars are manufactured by pouring molten gold into a mold. This process dates back thousands of years. These bars usually lack the captivating shine of minted bars and vary in appearance based on how the gold is poured and cooled. Some gold owners prefer to buy cast bars because they appear more “natural.”
Q: Who Makes Gold Bars?
A: Government mints and private companies around the world produce gold bars. Among them are:
- Australia’s Perth Mint: Most of this government mint’s gold bar offerings are Kangaroo bars weighing anywhere from 5 grams to 10 oz.
- Royal Canadian Mint: The weights of this government mint’s gold bars range from 1 kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) to 400 oz.
- PAMP: The best-known gold bar made by privately owned Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux, or PAMP, is the decorative Lady Fortuna minted bar. PAMP’s minted and cast gold bars range in weight from 1 kilogram to 400 oz. PAMP is located in Ticino, Switzerland.
- United Kingdom’s Royal Mint: This government-run operation makes and sells 12 different minted and cast bars. As of June 2022, the mint’s 400-oz. cast gold bar was selling for more than $750,000.
- Sunshine Mint: This private mint’s gold bars range in weight from 1 gram to 10 oz. Sunshine Mint is located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
- Scottsdale Mint: This private mint in Scottsdale, Arizona, produces gold bars weighing from 1/100th of an oz. to 1 kilogram.
- Valcambi: Based in Balerna, Switzerland, this private mint produces cast and minted gold bars weighing 20 grams to 400 oz.
- Asahi Refining: This private mint makes cast and minted gold bars ranging in weight from 1 to 400 oz. Asahi Refining, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Asahi Holdings, operates refineries in the Salt Lake City and Toronto areas.
It’s worth mentioning that while the United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, Kentucky, stores gold bars owned by the federal government, this U.S. Mint facility itself does not produce gold bars.
Q: How Can I Better Avoid Counterfeit Gold Bars?
A: According to Forbes, the risk of buying a counterfeit gold bar or coin is minimal. That said, ways to better avoid counterfeit products include sticking to well-known sovereign coins like Gold American Eagles and Gold Canadian Maple Leafs or bars produced by government mints or London Bullion Market (LBMA)-approved mints and refineries, as the authenticity of these bars is guaranteed.
If you have any doubts, a reputable precious metals dealer can verify the authenticity of a gold bar. When you’re inspecting a gold bar, you may be able to spot a fake by paying close attention to its weight, diameter, thickness, and price. If the bar seems, for instance, too light, too big, or too cheap, then you might be in possession of a fake.
“It’s highly unlikely that a trustworthy dealer would offer you a counterfeit product, but knowing how to inspect gold bars or coins won’t hurt,” Forbes points out.
Q: Can You Add Gold Bars to an IRA?
A: You can add certain types of physical gold—in the form of bars and coins—to an individual retirement account (IRA). However, you can’t add gold bars to every kind of IRA. Gold bars must be kept in what’s known as a self-directed IRA, which can hold alternative assets like precious metals. An IRS-approved custodian must buy IRA gold on your behalf.
To be included in an IRA, a gold bar must meet a minimum fineness requirement of 0.995 and must be produced by a national government mint or an accredited refiner, assayer, or manufacturer.
IRA-eligible gold bars include 1-oz. and 10-oz. bars from the Perth Mint.
Q: Can You Store IRA Gold at Home?
A: No, you must keep IRA gold in an approved depository. You can’t stash it in a safe deposit box at a bank or a shoebox at home. Why? Because storing IRA assets in your own home might be considered “self-dealing,” the Industrial Council for Tangible Assets notes, and could be treated by the IRS as a prohibited transaction. A prohibited transaction refers to the distribution of all the assets in an IRA, not just gold that’s being kept at home.
Q: So Where Can You Store Gold Bars Not Held in an IRA?
A: If you purchase gold bars that are not intended for a gold IRA, you can keep them wherever you want.
But for at-home storage, it’s best not to bury gold bars in the backyard or put them under your mattress. Rather, consider getting a sturdy safe that’s made for holding precious metals.
If you decide not to keep your gold bars at home, consider a safe deposit box at a bank or, better yet, an authorized precious metals depository or vault.