Gold Coins or Bars: What’s the Better Investment?

Posted - November 3, 2023
gold coins or bars

Choosing between gold coins or bars can be hard. Especially for new investors, the wide range of different coins and bars on the gold market makes it tough to make a call in either direction. To make matters worse, both gold coins and bars come with their own unique benefits – and drawbacks. 

Don’t worry, though. Hero Bullion has you covered with this comprehensive guide. Gold coins or bars: what’s the better investment? 

Gold Coins Vs. Bars – Quick Comparison 

Most readers already know the basic difference between gold coins and bars. Gold coins are circular pieces of bullion created by authorized government mints. If a product looks like a gold coin but is minted privately, we call these rounds. 

Gold bars, on the other hand, are a classic way to invest in gold bullion. Gold bars have been used to display and store wealth for generations. These products are so synonymous with wealth that they’ve become a hallmark of rich men in movies. Gold bars aren’t circular like coins. Instead, they’re rectangular and usually feature minimalist designs. 

Gold coins or bars – let’s take a look at how these two gold products stack up in the next few sections. 

Premium Costs

Premiums are a big point of contention for some gold stackers. All gold products are sold above spot price, so it’s not usually possible to buy gold coins or bars at spot. Expect to pay at least some type of premium on every gold investment you buy. 

However, it is worth mentioning that gold bar premiums are often quite a bit lower than gold coins. If you’re looking for the cheapest possible gold products to invest in, gold bars are an obvious choice. This doesn’t mean that gold coins are without their advantages, however. 

Gold coins or bars – which has the better premiums? If you want to buy the gold product with the lowest possible premium, go with gold bars. 

Quality of Design 

When you sit down to decide between gold coins or bars, quality of design is likely going to play a role in your research. Gold coins and bars both come with designs on their obverses, but there’s a clear winner between the two: gold coins. Coins are sold at a higher markup than gold bars, and part of the reason for this price difference is the beauty of designs featured on most gold coins. 

Gold bars can sometimes also include beautiful obverse designs. We find that bars like the 2024 Year of the Dragon Gold Bar is one of the most pretty bullion bars on the market. But this is the exception – not the rule. 

Gold coins or bars: which product type has the better design? We’ve got to go with gold coins on this one. 

Liquidity and Market Demand 

Both gold coins and gold bars offer a solid secondary market. For new investors, this just means that it shouldn’t be hard for you to find a buyer for your gold coins or bars after you’ve decided to sell. 

Although coins and bars are both popular among collectors, it tends to be easier to sell gold bars compared to gold coins. Certain coins from popular gold coin series might be easy to find a buyer for, but people always want to buy quality fine gold at a reasonable price. This makes gold bars a solid choice; their low premiums also don’t hurt! 

If you’re trying to decide between gold coins or bars, resell value and liquidity should be important concerns. The good news is that you’ll find a buyer for either product, although we probably give the edge to gold bars when it comes to pure liquidity. 

Why Buy Gold Coins Instead of Bars? 

What are the advantages to buying gold coins instead of gold bars? If you’re someone who buys gold mostly for collectability, beauty, and numismatic value, gold coins are probably a safe bet. Some gold bars become numismatically valuable over time, especially if they have an extremely limited mintage or unique designs. Gold coins or bars: which is better? 

For the most part, gold coins offer a higher degree of collectability compared to gold bars. Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of buying gold coins over gold bars. 

Gold Coins or Bars: What’s the Better Investment?
2023 Australian Gold Kangaroo Coin

Numismatic Value and Demand 

Which is easier to sell, gold coins or bars? Gold coins have always been in-demand. There are caveats to this rule. Some of the world’s most popular coins, including the American Gold Eagle and Canadian Gold Maple, have dedicated collectors who will gladly take your investments off your hands. Other coins might be difficult to sell for more than their spot price in gold, especially if they’re damaged or in poor condition. 

The high variety of gold coins on the market also means that you have a higher chance of finding hidden gems. When we talk about hidden gems, we’re referring to coins that might become quite a bit more valuable in the future. Because most gold bars are only sold for a small premium over their spot price, gold coins are the better pick if you’re hoping for numismatic appreciation.

Intricate Designs 

Intricacy of designs is where gold coins truly shine. When you sit down to decide between gold coins or bars for your collection, design should certainly play a role. Like we mentioned earlier, it wouldn’t be fair to say that gold bars are ugly – plenty of bars do feature beautiful designs on the obverse. And even when mints keep things simple on their gold bars, some collectors prefer this classic look on their investments. 

Still, it’s hard to deny that gold coins have the win over gold bars when it comes to the consistent quality of their designs. Mints like the United States Mint and Royal British Mint pour millions of dollars into creating some of the most brilliant designs in bullion – and it shows. 

If your goal is to get the most eye-catching product possible for your money, gold coins definitely prove a better investment vehicle than gold bars. 

Are Gold Bars Better than Coins for Stacking? 

Even though gold coins might offer a better aesthetic experience for collectors, gold bars do have their benefits. Namely, gold bars might be better for stackers who care more about how much gold they get than the beauty of their designs. 

Gold coins or bars: which is better for stacking? Although it’s certainly a hotly debated topic, we gotta give the victory to gold bars on this one. Let’s talk about a few of the reasons why gold bars are the go-to for stackers who want as much gold as possible for their cash. 

Lower Premium Costs

Low premium costs are the biggest selling point of gold bars. Gold coins or bars – which is the better value buy? There’s not much of a contest here. Gold coins are minted by government mints, and they include a number of fancy, intricate designs. Their limited availability, high production costs, and history of collectability makes their premiums some of the highest in the gold market. 

Gold bars, however, can be produced by either private or government mints. They are often sold much closer to their melt value than gold coins, which makes them an excellent choice if you want more bang for your buck. 

High Liquidity Compared to Coins 

We talked a bit about this earlier on our guide. But when you’re deciding whether to invest in gold coins or bars, liquidity should be high on your priority list. Some collectors are in it for the long haul, while others view precious metals as a short term investment. Whichever category you fall under, you’re eventually going to want to sell your portfolio. 

When it comes time to sell, you’ll always find a buyer willing to purchase your gold bars. If you’re holding onto expensive, numismatically valuable gold coins, finding someone willing to pay full price for your investment could prove tricky. 

This means that gold bars when the “gold coins or bars” debate, at least where liquidity is concerned. If you’re investing and want to be able to quickly liquidate your stock for quick money, you can’t go wrong with pure gold bullion bars. 

Simple and Classic Designs 

While gold coins have the edge when it comes to beautiful designs, we find that some investors actually prefer the simplicity and classic look of a gold bar. This is just a personal preference, though, so your own mileage may vary. 

Most Popular Gold Coins

To help you better decide on gold coins or bars, let’s look at some of the most popular gold coins on the market today. 

American Gold Eagle

The American Gold Eagle has been a massive hit since its original release in 1987. The coin features an obverse depiction of Lady Liberty. She wears her traditional gown and walks toward the onlooker as the American capitol sits in the background. 

2023 1 oz American Gold Eagle Coin Reverse
1 oz American Gold Eagle

On the reverse, you’ll find one of two designs. The original Type 1 Gold Eagle featured an eagle in flight. Starting in 2021, collectors can also purchase the “Type 2” American Gold Eagle. The new design is a close-up of the classic American Gold Eagle and showcases some of the best detailing we’ve seen out of the U.S. Mint yet. It’s impossible to think about comparing gold coins or bars without showing some love to this classic piece of American gold. 

Canadian Gold Maple

The Canadian Gold Maple is another certified classic. The obverse depicts a portrait of Britain’s current monarch. Until very recently this was Queen Elizabeth II. Like all British and Canadian coinage, this obverse design will likely change following the death of the Queen. Now, future coins will instead highlight Charles III, England’s newly crowned King. 

2023 1 oz Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coin
1 oz Gold Canadian Maple

On the reverse, the coin gets its name. A highly detailed Canadian Maple Leaf is depicted. Each vein on the leaf is shown in exceptional fineness. Like most coins from the Royal Canadian Mint, the Canadian Gold Maple is minted with the industry standard .9999 purity. You don’t have to look far to compare the best gold coins or bars – the Royal Canadian Mint’s Canadian Gold Maple is a collector favorite for a reason. 

Gold Britannia Coin 

Rounding off our picks for the top gold coins in the world is the Gold Britannia. This coin has an even longer history than the other coins on our list – and it’s really something special. Britannia, the feminine personification of the British Empire, has been used for thousands of years to represent the island and its people. She appears here on the reverse of the coin, wearing a gown and carrying both the shield of Britain and a trident. 

2024 1 oz British Gold Britannia Coin
2024 1 oz British Gold Britannia Coin

The Royal British Mint is one of the oldest mints in the world, having been in operation for over 1,100 years. The mint’s commitment to quality of design and security are without equal, and a thousand years of excellence are showcased by their collector-favorite, the Gold Britannia Coin. 

Best Gold Bars to Buy 

As we continue our comparison between gold coins or bars, we have to give some attention to one of the oldest investment vehicles on the planet: gold bullion bars. 3 bars stand out as the most popular gold bars in the world: the Royal Canadian Mint Gold Bar, Valcambi Gold Bar, and the Rand Refinery Gold Bar. Let’s take a closer look! 

Royal Canadian Mint Gold Bar

For fans of the Royal Canadian Mint, choosing between gold coins or bars is tough. While the Canadian Gold Maple Coin is a classic for collectors all over the world, Canada’s national mint also produces an exceedingly popular gold bar brand. 

Like many other gold bars, the Royal Canadian Mint Gold Bar keeps things simple on the obverse. Set against the ridge textured background, the bar’s front side features the RCM logo, complete with a stylized maple leaf in the middle. You’ll also find the bar’s weight, purity, material, and individualized serial number on the obverse. 

RCM 1 oz Gold Bar
Royal Canadian Mint 1 oz Gold Bar

The reverse of the Royal Canadian Mint Gold Bar includes a repeating maple leaf pattern. 

Valcambi 1 oz Gold Bar

Another gold bar with a classic look is the Valcambi Suisse 1 oz Gold Bar. Often available with some of the lowest premiums over spot in the industry, this bar is one of our favorites. 

The obverse features a smooth, reflective gold background and the Valcambi Suisse mint name, Valcambi has become a leader within the gold bar market; the Swiss mint has made headlines for producing some of the coolest, sleekest gold bars in the business. 

The reverse is where this bar shows off its main details: the purity, material, serial number, and weight all make appearances on the back of the Valcambi 1 oz Gold Bar. 

Valcambi 1 oz Gold Bar Serial Number
Valcambi 1 oz Gold Bar

For collectors who want to buy gold coins or bars at a reasonable price, the Valcambi 1 oz Gold Bar is tough to compete with. 

Final Thoughts: Gold Coins or Bars? 

Gold coins or bars: which is better for collectors? Ultimately, it’s tough for us to choose. Depending on your investment goals and preferences, you might opt to buy a combination of both products for your growing portfolio. 

Generally, our advice can boil down to two main points. If you’re interested in numismatic value, beautiful designs, and high collectability, go with gold coins. But if you’re a stacker whose main goal is to get as much gold as you can for your money, gold bars are the right move. 

You might also be interested in: 

About The Author

Michael Roets is a writer and journalist for Hero Bullion. His work explores precious metals news, guides, and commentary.