Buying Gold and Silver at Costco

The U.S. Silver Eagle, a one-ounce silver coin, seen on a large bar of silver.
The U.S. Silver Eagle, a one-ounce silver coin, seen on a large bar of silver.

As frequent readers will know, I am a fan of Costco but usually shop at Sam’s Club because it is closer and its prices are lower. Then Costco started selling gold coins or bars and silver American Eagle Coins, and I thought, “Hmm.”

I can see some advantages to buying silver at Costco. For example, your credit card company won’t know you bought silver, especially if you shop there frequently. Because Costco sells computers, appliances, furniture, jewelry and other expensive goods, charging $500 or $1,000 at Costco shouldn’t raise any red flags. If you buy from a company with “coin” or “bullion” in their name or your local coin store, your credit card company or someone looking at your records will have a good idea what you bought. Of course, at a local store, you can pay with cash, which is even more anonymous. Or, when ordering online from the larger coin dealers, you may be able to pay via Bitcoin, but that could have tax consequences.

Of course, Costco will know you own silver, but do they sell this information? Do they provide it to the government? I don’t know, but let’s remember that it is no more illegal to buy gold and silver at Costco than it is to buy rice, beans, laundry detergent and an easy chair.

Clothing and Coins

I did not set out to buy silver at Costco; I went to their online site to buy pants. They have some fleece-lined pants I like. They fit well and keep me warm. I also buy socks and hoodies there. So while I am on the site, I search for “Eagle.” Sure enough, silver eagle pops up. $539 for a tube of 20 coins, which is a premium of about $4.50 per coin, less than I can find elsewhere online. Tempting.

After some thought, I added a roll to my cart with my clothing purchase and checked out using my debit card. What can I say? I guess not all of that $1,400 I collected at the pawnshop will go to firewood. I consider it turning scrap gold into bullion coins, albeit in a round-about transaction.

Signature Required

Costco kept me updated about my delivery and the clothing arrived in three business days. Then the silver shipped from a different location. It shipped via UPS Next Day Air, signature required.

Great. Why can’t they just deliver to the P.O. Box like everyone else?

As you may recall, UPS doesn’t deliver to my address because we live so far up the mountain. They claim it is too steep for their trucks, and while there is probably some truth to that, I think the real reason is it adds too much time to the driver’s route. It’s not profitable to drive 10 minutes to make one delivery.

Of course, if you live in a more traditional location where UPS delivers to your door, this isn’t an issue, as long as someone is there to sign for it. This isn’t a package you want porch pirates to abscond with.

I know UPS comes in the late afternoon, but I don’t know exactly when, so I headed down the mountain at 2:30 to park in the neighbor’s driveway where the packaged was to be delivered. After 10 minutes, I said, “the heck with this” headed home, got a snack and a book, and returned to my vigil. Two hours later, the UPS truck pulls in. The driver is a nice guy and is happy I am there to sign for it. We chat while I sign his brown tablet, and he hands over a small box.

They packaged the coins using so much bubble wrap they did not bounce or roll around inside the box. I hurry home to check them out.

A Tube of Silver

It’s been about a decade since I bought a tube of Silver Eagles. As I recall, they used to have the lids held on with a kind of yellowish strapping tape reinforced with what I assume were fiberglass threads. The plastic tubes and green lids looked the same, but these had a silvery (maybe holographic?) United States Mint tamper-resistant closure. The whole tube was shrink-wrapped and had a label on it. I don’t know if it comes from the mint this way or if Costco added the shrink wrapping and label, but it is a nice way to show the coins are sealed and no one has tampered with them.

These 2024 were the first Silver Eagles I have purchased that have the new reverse design with a flying eagle landing on a branch. I like them better than the original design.

Silver eagle with the older reverse seen on on the right.
On the left is the front, or obverse, side of the Silver Eagle coin, which features the Walking Liberty design taken from the half dollar coin issued in 1916 through 1947. In the center is the new design on the reverse, which was adopted in 2021. On the right is the original obverse design was used from 1986 until 2021. All Silver Eagles are minted by the United States Mint and are 99.9 percent silver.

Thanks to this purchase, I have boosted my silver reserves by 20 ounces. Today, that’s close to $500 worth of silver. If the dollar depreciates and we see higher or hyperinflation, they could one day be worth thousands of dollars. Or, if the SHTF and society collapses, I hope they will have some value as barter items. Personally, I’d prefer to barter silver dimes or junk silver quarters, but I guess it depends on what someone is trading and how desperately I need it.

To put 20 ounces in perspective, it would take 277 junk silver dimes or 111 pre-1965 quarters (or about $27.70 in face value) to equal the amount of silver in 20 silver eagles. So while they could be useful in a post-apocalyptic shopping or trading session, you can see why having smaller silver coins would be even more useful. You don’t want to spend a silver eagle on a cup of stew if a dime will suffice.

A Reminder

I consider silver something that might be useful during the collapse and gold something that should be used after the recovery. Both require some sort of society—or at least another individual that wants them—if they are to function as money.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: If you have a limited budget and are in the early stages of your prepping journey, focus on the big three (food, water, and shelter) and what I call the next three (self-defense, communications, and first aid) before you spend your limited prepping budget on gold or silver.

If you feel you must have some precious metals, you can buy a roll of 50 dimes for about $100. Start there. Remember, you can’t eat gold or silver. Stock up on food first.

Also, silver prices dropped on Monday to around $22.50. If you decide to buy silver, try to buy it on the dips.

If you are pretty well prepped and you have sufficient funds, then silver and gold can be a way to preserve your wealth through an economic disruption. I found purchasing silver at Costco to be a painless transaction.

Check out the post below for more details on precious metals for preppers

Buying Gold and Silver at Costco