Fast Cash: 8 Best Ways to Sell Your Silver and Gold Coins

Collecting gold and silver coins can be a fun and very lucrative hobby. Still, as a collector, there may come a time when you need to sell pieces (if not everything) and reclaim the stash of cash—regardless of the reasons for investing in your collection in the first place. Whether you need the money to finance a kid’s college education or to pay for a hard-earned vacation for you and your family, it’s best to go into the selling process as well-prepared and as knowledgeable as you can possibly be.

Here are some suggestions—both analog and digital—on how you can go about parting with your coins, as well as the pros and cons of each option.

Local Coin Sellers

Your local coin dealer’s shop is a great place to start. If you happen to live near one, this can be an easy and convenient way to sell your coins. If you sell gold and silver on a regular basis or you plan to part with your collection in spurts over a longer period of time, it’s a good idea to become acquainted with the shop owner or manager. Developing a friendly working relationship with those in charge can go a long way toward getting you a fair price for your items.

Pros:

  • Depending on where you live, a coin shop might be right around the corner.
  • You can typically get cash immediately—no waiting for a check in the mail.
  • A face-to-face transaction often results in a much better price.

Cons:

  • If you don’t have a coin dealer nearby, the convenience level drops significantly.
  • Understand that a shop has to cover overhead costs like rent, electricity and salaries, so they may not offer you anything near the top dollar you’re probably expecting.

Coin Shows

If you can find an annual or semi-annual coin show in your area, this would be a great place for making a profitable sale. Folks travel from all around the country to set up shop at these events, giving you the opportunity to visit dozens of coin dealers in close proximity to one another while on a single trip—not to mention the chance of mingling with a host of like-minded collectors.

Pros:

  • Save time and gas by traveling to just one location instead of having to visit numerous different shops or buyers.
  • You’ll be able to get multiple quotes on the same items before settling on the best price.

Cons:

  • Many shows focus on selling coins to collectors, not necessarily buying from them.
  • If you live in a rural area, you may have to travel quite far to attend the show, thus negating some of the convenience and savings.
  • Should you miss the show in your area, you’ll have to wait for several months or even a year before the next show rolls round.

Pawnshops

Pawnshops often get a bad rap; the best ones are reputable and safe places to sell your coins. Just do your homework ahead of time to figure out which stores in your area are worth your time and effort. As for how it works, anyone who’s ever watched the show Pawn Stars on the History Channel, knows you’ll have the option to either sell your coins outright or pawn them—meaning you’ll be able to get a collateral loan on your items. Both options have their merits, but selling means you’ll get more money and get it right away.

Pros:

  • There are numerous pawnshops in most cities, and the odds are good you’ll be able to locate a sufficiently reputable one nearby.
  • Don’t trust the phone book or a search engine, however; ask around among your friends and family which establishments they regard as worthwhile.
  • If you decide to sell rather than pawn, you’ll walk out of the shop with cash in your pocket.

Cons:

  • Just like coin shops, you can expect to get a lower―sometimes considerably lower—selling price, thanks to the owner’s overheads. Naturally enough, he intends making a profit, too.
  • Pawnshops are not the place to sell rare or historically valuable coins; more than likely you’ll just get a spot price for the metal itself, rather than a realistic sum based on the numismatic value of the piece or pieces you’re selling.

Online Dealers

Coin dealers who operate online offer a similar selling experience to what you’d find in a shop, but with the bonus of being able to complete transactions in the comfort of your home. There are any number of reputable sites to choose from; ask your coin-collecting friends, because word-of-mouth recommendations are usually the most reliable.

Pros:

  • Sell your coins to a dealer without ever leaving the house.
  • Online coin dealers frequently offer decent prices, and it’s easy to get a quote.

Cons:

  • Depending on the site, you may not get paid instantly; you may have to ship your coins to the dealer first—meaning there’s a risk of never getting paid. (All the more reason to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable site!)
  • As with all such online activity, you have to factor in the cost and risk associated with shipping valuable merchandise.

Online Auction Sites

Web sites like eBay allow sellers to set up an auction during which buyers bid against each other to purchase items—just like they would at a live auction event.

Pros:

  • On the Internet, you’ll open up your sales to a far wider audience than you’d find at any in-person events or stores.
  • The inherent competitiveness at auctions can drive up the price of your merchandise, meaning the potential is there for much higher earnings.

Cons:

  • While you can land a higher selling price, there’s always the chance that limited interest may be the undoing of your auction: less competition will inevitably result in a smaller sale.
  • You’ll be obligated to fork over a seller’s fee to eBay, which can eat into your profits. These fees start at 10 percent and go up from there, depending on several factors.
  • Bear in mind you’ll have to ship your coins to the buyer, so be aware of the associated risks.

Online Classifieds

If you’d rather sell your coins directly to collectors, there are ways to cut out the middleman. One is to post an ad on an online classifieds site like Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, or Oodle. Be sure to include photos of your coins and be very upfront about the price. If you’re not willing to haggle, say so! Clearer is always better with classified ads.

Pros:

  • You can set your prices and take your time to look for the right buyer.
  • As a rule, online classified sites are user-friendly and don’t require you to have much technical expertise.

Cons:

  • Meeting a ‘potential’ buyer always carries a safety risk. Be sure to meet in public, and never carry large amounts of cash—or all your valuable coins—with you to the initial meeting. First ascertain who you’re dealing with and make the subsequent arrangements from there.
  • It may take some time to find the right buyer—which is hardly ideal if you’re hard-pressed to sell.

Forums and Social Media

Selling your coins to individual collectors via a forum or a private group on a site like Facebook can be a relaxed and more personalized option. This approach tends to work best if you’re already active in such a community; you’re more likely to find buyers willing to trust you, and you can feel more secure selling to a friendly face—or avatar.

Pros:

  • When selling to fellow members of the coin-collecting community, you can feel confident that your coins will go to a good home. They’ll be appreciated and looked after.
  • You might find buyers in your area, which would help you to save on shipping costs. You’ll probably also be able to deal in cash.

Cons:

  • If you’re not already active in an online community, you may not have much luck. Longtime users might see you as an interloper and not respond to your posts.
  • Since a sale like this is off the books, you leave yourself open to potential scammers. Be sure to vet your buyers, and if at all possible collect payment before shipping your coins.
  • There is often little to no recourse if you don’t receive payment for these types of transactions.

Smelters and Refiners

Finally, don’t forget that you have the option to sell directly to a smelter or refiner. Such a sale would completely eliminate the middleman and can be a good option for coins with little to no value beyond that of the metal. A smelter will be looking to melt down your items, so if you have a heap of bulk coins, this is probably the way to go.

Pros:

  • Smelters are a great option for those looking to unload coins in bulk.
  • This route is also a strong contender if you happen to be looking to sell any other gold or silver items that hold little value beyond their weight in metal—items like jewelry, and sterling silver cutlery.

Cons:

  • Smelters are simply not an option if you’re looking to sell rare coins or those with numismatic value.
  • You won’t receive much beyond the smelt value, and expect a lower spot price as well.

In closing: Remember that when selling your coins, the spot price only affects so-called junk silver or coins minted in the U.S. before 1965 (which are valued according to the bullion value of the silver they contain). The spot price holds no bearing on rare, semi-rare or collector’s coins, where numismatic value may extend far beyond the price of the metal.

With due research and legwork, you can find a worthwhile way of selling your silver and gold coins—one that works for all parties concerned. Good luck!