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APMEX vs. JM Bullion vs. HAA—Who’s the Better Gold Dealer?

J&M Bullion

Updated on 02/07/17

Looking around for the best online dealer for your bullion purchase? Look no further, as this handy guide summarizes the main features and benefits of three of the most popular online dealers.

It includes data on products, fees, storage options, IRA compatibility, and other features—along with some drawbacks you might want to be aware of before making a purchase or choosing a storage facility.

Let’s get started…

Products

  JM Bullion APMEX Hard Assets Alliance (HAA)
Bullion products
offered
Gold
Silver
Platinum
Palladium
Copper
Gold
Silver
Platinum
Palladium
Copper
Bank notes, supplies, books, etc.
Gold
Silver
Platinum
Palladium
Proof coins, rounds,
and numismatics?
Yes Yes No
Metals prices displayed
on website?
Yes Yes Yes

Comments

JM Bullion and APMEX offer copper products. Copper is a hard asset, though it is not a precious metal and won’t always move the same as gold and silver (here’s what drives the gold price).

Hard Assets Alliance is strictly a bullion dealer and does not offer numismatic products. This can be an advantage because most investors shouldn’t speculate in rare coins (see why you should prefer bullion).

➢ If you don’t want to get ripped off by the high premiums that come with rare coins, all you’ll see for sale on HAA’s website is bullion.

Fees

(Sample premiums taken 2-5-16)

  JM Bullion APMEX Hard Assets Alliance
Premium/1 oz. gold Eagle (Random Year)* 5.09% 5.16% 4.74%
Premium/20 silver Eagles (Random Year)* 22.5% 24.75% 18.19%
Shipping (including insurance) Free ($100 min.). No PO boxes. >$500 requires signature (<$500 can add signature for $4.99) Free ($99 min.). PO box okay. >$1k requires signature. $27, but varies on location, slightly more for larger orders.
No PO boxes.
Signature required for all deliveries.
Ship outside US? No Yes Yes
Accept credit card? Fees Yes. $100 min, $5,000 max Yes, $5,000 max Yes. $1,000 min, $10,000 max
Other payment methods and fees -Check, MO, cashier’s check, or wire come with 4% discount over credit card
-PayPal; cost same as credit card
-No ACH
-Check, MO, Cashier’s check, or wire come with 4% discount over credit card
-PayPal; cost same as credit card
-No ACH
-Check, MO, cashier’s check, or wire come with 4% discount over credit card
-accepts ACH, no charge (3 day hold)
-Credit card
-No PayPal
*Paid with check or money order; excludes credit card payments and wire fees

Comments

Premiums in this industry change frequently—even intraday—depending on market conditions, dealer supply, etc.

JM Bullion and APMEX list prices “as low as…” However, these premiums are for large orders only, so smaller amounts will pay a higher premium.

Hard Assets Alliance has a supplier network where at least four institutional dealers and refiners in a chosen region will bid on your order. The best price is automatically displayed for the customer.

It’s noteworthy that Hard Asset Alliance’s insurance covers “physical replacement,” not a dollar reimbursement like most dealers. In other words, their policy will replace the product you ordered instead of paying the value of your order.

➢ HAA is the only dealer I know that offers a competitive pricing model, where multiple sellers compete for your business. This is why it has the lowest premiums. And this means, you’ll have high liquidity when you want to sell.

Storage

  JM Bullion APMEX Hard Assets Alliance
Company Transcontinental Depository Services Citadel Hard Assets Alliance
US locations New York
Los Angeles
Unknown. “Central part of US, not a major city.”

New York
Salt Lake City

International locations

 

Toronto
Zurich
Singapore
None Zurich
Singapore
Sydney
London
Must open separate storage account? Yes Yes No
Storage fees displayed on website? No No Yes
Shipping fee to depository? No No No
Deposit fee $50.
Zurich $100
$0 $0
Annual fee/gold 0.50% ($15/mo. min);
Zurich 0.8% ($25/mo. min);
numismatics 0.9% ($27/mo. min)
0.55% ($15/mo. min) 0.50% to 0.70% ($15/mo. min)

 

Annual fee/silver Same as gold Same as gold 0.6% to 0.8% ($15/mo. min)
Sample storage fee for 10 ounces/gold at $1,100 ($11,000) US: $180/year
Zurich: $300/yr.
US: $180/year
Int’l: Unavailable
US: $77/year
All Int’l: $77/year
Payment methods Check, ACH Credit card, check, wire Auto deduct from acct, ACH, check, wire
Delivery fees $50 US, $75 int’l, + shipping costs $50 US, $75 int’l, + shipping costs $0 (cost of shipping only)

Comments

Storage fees for all depositories are based on the value of metal you hold and are paid quarterly. You can see that the minimum monthly fee for both JM Bullion and APMEX make them expensive for the average investor (Hard Assets Alliance now has a minimum storage fee as well, $15/qtr). As a result, they should only be used for large accounts. They also add a surcharge to take delivery; HAA does not.

JM Bullion doesn’t display storage fees on their website and requires you to email or call a separate storage company. It was no fun reading the depository’s 9-page disclosure, all written in legalese. And withdrawal requests have to be put in writing to the storage company. This is an outdated practice and certainly less efficient than clicking “sell” on a website.

APMEX’s recommended depository won’t tell you where your bullion will be stored! I told them I’d be uncomfortable storing my metal in an undisclosed location, but they wouldn’t budge, citing security concerns. It’s true that most depositories won’t give you the vault address, but they’ll certainly tell you the city and state. APMEX uses Brinks, but other dealers that use Brinks facilities do list the city and state.

Hard Assets Alliance runs their own storage program. It uses the top custodians in the industry (Brinks, Loomis, and Malca-Amit).

➢ Hard Assets Alliance is the clear winner here…

1. Their program is designed for storage—you literally buy the product at the vault where you want to store it. J&M Bullion and APMEX require you to toggle between dealer and depository, causing extra unnecessary steps.

2. Purchase premiums are cheaper at Hard Assets Alliance (since shipping is billed separately).

3. They offer more international storage options.

4. You can take delivery of some or all of your metal at any time in two business days.

Bottom line: Hard Assets Alliance can’t be beat on convenience, cost, and storage locations.

IRA

  JM Bullion APMEX Hard Assets Alliance
Account types available Traditional, ROTH, SEP, SIMPLE Traditional, ROTH, SEP, SIMPLE

Traditional, ROTH, SEP, SIMPLE

Accept IRA transfers/rollovers?

Yes Yes Yes
Custodian New Directions preferred, but can work with others 6 custodians have “working relationship” with APMEX Entrust
Complete custodial application on bullion website? No No Yes
Set-up fee $50 Varies $25
Annual fee $75 ($125 for $100,000+ accts) All custodians charge fees, amounts vary $100
Other incoming fees

 

Cashier’s check, $25; wire $25; ACH $5; Roth conversion $75 Varies; must compare between each custodian None
Minimum purchase Depends on custodian you choose $2,000 ($1,000 minimum to sell) No minimum

 

Shipping fee to depository $0 $0 $0
Storage locations -Wilmington, Delaware
-New Castle, Delaware
-No int’l options
-Unknown. “Central part of US, not a major city.”
-No int’l options
-US: NY, Salt Lake City, International: Eagles in Zurich; Cayman Islands coming soon
Storage fees Varies according to depository Varies according to depository 0.50% to 0.70%

Comments

The main difference between these three dealers is that Hard Assets Alliance is the only dealer geared to buy-and-store metal. JM Bullion and APMEX require extra steps…

JM Bullion does not help you set up the IRA; it only recommends custodians for you to contact on your own. You must pick a custodian and complete their paperwork; then pick a depository and complete their paperwork; then buy metal at the dealer; then have it transferred from the dealer to your depository. I got exhausted trying to follow all the steps.

One caution: their video states they will “probably” ship your metals to your chosen depository… doesn’t sound reassuring.

APMEX will offer more guidance than JM Bullion, but you still have to complete all the same steps. Way too much juggling between dealer, custodian, and depository.

Hard Assets Alliance is the only dealer that lets you do everything under one roof—Entrust is a separate company, but you complete their paperwork on the HAA website. If you’ve been through the process elsewhere and then try the HAA way, you’ll get spoiled and never go back to those other programs.

Hard Assets Alliance only displays metals for sale that are eligible for IRA accounts. A potential life-saver since if you put the wrong metal in an IRA, you risk paying taxes. Most dealers still list all products, but provide a list of ones eligible for IRAs.

➢ Hard Assets Alliance is more convenient, lower cost, and offers greater international storage options.

Other Features

  JM Bullion APMEX Hard Assets Alliance
Rebuy product? No Yes Metal in storage, yes. Will rebuy other metal with Brinks in NY, $50,000 minimum
UTMA? No No Yes
Auto-Accumulation program? No No

Yes (MetalStream)

Blog? Yes Yes Yes
Customer Service Hours M-F 7am-8pm CST; Sat 9-1 M-Th 8am-8pm ET, Friday till 6pm. No Sat. M-F, 7am-4pm mountain. No Sat.

Comments

The clear winner in this category is Hard Assets Alliance. APMEX will rebuy product—a handy advantage—but you’ve got to ship it to them, making it a hassle and costly. With Hard Assets Alliance, it only takes logging in and clicking “sell.”

Hard Assets Alliance also offers UTMA accounts and auto-accumulation. Their MetalStream auto-accumulation program allows you to avoid the hassle of mailing checks or paying credit card fees every time you want to buy. MetalStream is an easy and cost-effective way to dollar cost average while you steadily build your position.

Final Conclusion

The advantages offered by Hard Assets Alliance overwhelm J&M Bullion and APMEX, particularly if you want to buy-and-store. However, even if you’re purchasing metal for delivery, given the competitiveness of Hard Assets Alliance’s prices, they are still the clear winner.

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Download Investing in Precious Metals 101 for everything you need to know before buying gold and silver. Learn how to make asset correlation work for you, how to buy metal (plus how much you need), and which type of gold makes for the safest investment. You’ll also get tips for finding a dealer you can trust and discover what professional storage offers that the banking system can’t. It’s the definitive guide for investors new to the precious metals market. Get it now.

 

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