Want to Learn More About Investing in Gold, Securing Your Retirement, and Hedging Against Inflation?


In the exciting world of precious metals investing, the reputation and integrity of the dealer you choose to work with are crucial. Whether you are a seasoned investor or just beginning your journey in gold and silver investment, it is vital to partner with a reputable dealer to secure your wealth. Provident Metals, a well-known name in the industry, has recently been the subject of scrutiny and concern due to a "scandal" that has been circulating online. This article will explore the matter thoroughly and provide you with the necessary insights to make an informed decision about your investment.

What is Provident Metals?

a screenshot of Provident Metals homepage

Provident Metals is a leading dealer in precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and more. Based in Texas, they offer an extensive selection of bullion, coins, and rounds for investors. Furthermore, they specialize in offering precious metals for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), thereby facilitating a long-term, stable investment strategy.

What is the Provident Metals Scandal?

Recently, some allegations surfaced online, accusing Provident Metals of selling fake precious metals. According to these allegations, Provident Metals has been involved in selling fake gold and silver to unsuspecting investors. Given the severity of these claims, they have caused a stir in the investment community, prompting some to question the authenticity of their transactions with Provident Metals.

With that said, none of the allegations have been proven to be legitimate, and Provident Metals maintains a solid reputation with organizations like the BBB and TrustPilot.

It's also crucial to note that allegations of this nature are not uncommon in the precious metals industry. Accusations can often originate from unsatisfied customers or competitors aiming to tarnish a company's reputation. Therefore, it is vital to delve into the details and verify the facts before drawing any conclusions.

Does Provident Metals Sell Fake Gold or Silver?

a pile of free silver

While the allegations have drawn attention, it's important to remember that these online alligations remain unproven. 

Provident Metals is known to assay the precious metals they sell for authenticity, and it's also a member of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA), Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), and the American Numismatic Association (ANA). These memberships require stringent ethical conduct and transparent practices.

How to Ensure You're Buying Real Gold and Silver

To safeguard your investment, there are a few practices you can follow to verify the authenticity of gold and silver, even if purchased from reputable dealers.

  1. Certification: All reputable precious metal dealers will provide a certificate of authenticity with your purchase. This certificate is a guarantee of the purity and weight of the metal you have purchased.
  2. Assaying: This involves testing a metal to determine its purity and is one of the most accurate ways to verify the authenticity of gold and silver.
  3. Physical Checks: Physical properties of precious metals can be checked using simple tools. Gold and silver have specific weights, sizes, and even sounds when struck that can be used to identify their authenticity.
  4. Reputable Dealers: Always choose to deal with reputable and well-established sellers who have a proven track record in the industry.

Provident Metals Rating and Customer Reviews

a screenshot of provident metals BBB rating

BBB Rating

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has assigned Provident Metals an A+ rating, which is the highest possible score. This rating is based on multiple factors, including the company's response to customer complaints, the transparency of business practices, and the length of time the company has been operating.

TrustPilot Score

On TrustPilot, Provident Metals has received a 3.3 out of 5 rating, reflecting a generally positive experience for most customers. Reviews highlight the company's prompt customer service, wide product selection, and competitive pricing.

What Customers are Saying

The majority of customer reviews for Provident Metals are positive, praising their professionalism, product quality, and delivery times. However, some customers have expressed dissatisfaction, often related to shipping times and customer service responsiveness. In most instances, Provident Metals has responded to these criticisms, demonstrating a commitment to addressing customer concerns.

Here are a few reviews posted to TrustPilot that are worth sharing here:

I just received my first shipment of silver krugerrands this morning, everything came packaged perfectly, the coins are perfect and shipping was as promised. I love the coins and will definitely order again.


#1 Top Choice for Bullion, online or anywhere else! Of the half dozen or so bullion dealers I have tried, Provident Metals is my favorite. I have placed 23 orders with Provident, while my second most favorite dealer only got my business 9 times.. and for good reason. Great Prices & Customer Service, Accurate Product Description Pages.. I've even had the pleasure of speaking with CEO Joe Merrick (real nice guy - very receptive and responsive). I will stick with Provident until they sell out! 😉 And hopefully they never do.

Provident Metals is simply one of the best companies I've ever dealt with. My newest order was a 1 KG Silver bar and they shipped free and fast. I got a tracking number same day too. It arrived discreetly and well packed. They are very professional.

So, Is Provident Metals Legit?

After a thorough review of the facts and considering the company's standing in various ratings and customer review platforms, it is clear that Provident Metals remains a reputable dealer in the precious metals market.

While allegations of selling fake precious metals can be serious, there doesn't seem to be any truth to these rumors and they remain unproven. The company has maintained a solid rating with consumer protection agencies, and has thousands of positive customer reviews online.

As always, it is crucial for investors to conduct their research and due diligence before making any investment decision. And while the allegations against Provident Metals certainly warrant attention, they do not decisively undermine the company's reputation and legitimacy. Consequently, investors should continue to exercise standard precautions, such as checking for certification and performing physical checks on their purchases, to ensure they are getting authentic precious metals.

a pile of free silver
Read More

The realm of precious metals investing is ever-growing with various companies offering opportunities for regular individuals to participate in the market.

Among these entities, 7k Metals has been a notable name, catching the interest of both novice and veteran investors alike. 

This comprehensive review of 7k Metals will offer you an in-depth understanding of the company, its services, and everything you need to know before taking the plunge into precious metals investing.

What is 7k Metals?

a screenshot of the 7k metals homepage

7k Metals is a U.S.-based company that aims to provide every individual with the opportunity to invest in gold, silver, and other precious metals. The company was established in 2016 and has its headquarters in Idaho. It operates under a multi-level marketing (MLM) model, encouraging users not just to invest, but also to take part in their referral program to earn additional income.

7k Metals Products and Services

a pile of free silver

7k Metals takes pride in offering an extensive range of products and services, catering to both precious metals investors and numismatics enthusiasts. Their aim is to democratize the access and trade of precious metals, providing a platform where even regular individuals can venture into this form of investment.

Precious Metals Products

The company specializes in various forms of precious metals. These include:

  1. Gold and Silver Bullion: This is the most common form of investment in precious metals. Bullion usually comes in the form of bars or ingots, which are valued based on the purity and mass of the metal.
  2. Numismatic Coins: These are coins that are valued not just for their metal content, but also for their rarity, condition, and historical significance. 7k Metals offers a wide variety of numismatic coins from different eras and regions.
  3. Semi-Numismatic Coins: These coins strike a balance between bullion and numismatic coins. They carry a value for their precious metal content, but also hold a certain collectible value.
  4. Jewelry: 7k Metals also offers a selection of precious metals jewelry, appealing to those who want to enjoy their investment in a wearable form.

MLM Business Opportunity

Beyond just buying and selling precious metals, 7k Metals operates under a multi-level marketing (MLM) model. Members can earn income not only from their personal sales of products but also from sales made by individuals they have recruited into the company.

The MLM model employed by 7k Metals offers members the opportunity to build their own business within the company's framework. This involves promoting the company's products and services and recruiting new members to the team. In return, members receive various types of compensation, including commissions on sales and bonuses based on the performance of their recruited team.

Additional Services

Beyond their product offerings and the MLM opportunity, 7k Metals provides additional services designed to enhance the overall experience for their members. This includes their Autosave program, which enables automatic regular purchases of precious metals. The program is designed to help members effortlessly build their precious metals portfolio over time.

Their Sound Money Wallet is another innovative service offered. It allows members to store their wealth in the form of gold and silver, which can then be used for everyday transactions, just like any other currency.

Lastly, the company's travel card service provides members with exclusive discounts on travel-related services such as hotels, car rentals, and resorts. This unique perk serves as an additional benefit that enhances the value proposition of 7k Metals for its members.

In summary, 7k Metals goes beyond just being a precious metals dealer. With its product range, MLM business opportunity, and additional member services, it strives to provide a comprehensive platform for individuals interested in investing in precious metals.

Who Owns 7k Metals?

7k Metals is owned and operated by three co-founders: Roger Ball, Richard Hansen, and Zach Davis. These individuals bring with them extensive experience and expertise in the field of network marketing and business. They aim to make investing in precious metals accessible and profitable to all, leveraging their MLM model as a way to democratize the investing process.

Becoming a Member of 7k Metals

Membership with 7k Metals opens the door to a multitude of opportunities, from investing in precious metals to building a potential stream of income through their MLM business model. Here's a deeper look into how to become a member and the various benefits that come along with it.

How to Join

Joining 7k Metals is a straightforward process. The first step involves visiting their official website and clicking on the 'Join' button. Potential members are then prompted to select a membership level. Each level comes with its own cost and unique benefits:

  1. Standard Membership: This membership level offers access to basic features like competitive pricing on precious metals and eligibility to participate in the MLM model.
  2. Premium Membership: The premium membership comes with additional perks, including enhanced compensation plan benefits and exclusive access to certain products.
  3. Executive Membership: As the highest membership level, executive members enjoy all the benefits of lower tiers plus increased earnings potential and top priority on limited inventory items.

After selecting a membership level, you will be required to fill out a form with your personal information and make the appropriate payment for your chosen membership level. Once your payment is confirmed, you are officially a member of 7k Metals.

Member Benefits

Once a member, you will enjoy a host of benefits based on your membership level. Here are some of the general benefits:

  1. Competitive Pricing: 7k Metals promises its members competitive pricing on a vast array of precious metals, helping you get the most value for your money.
  2. MLM Business Opportunity: Every member of 7k Metals is given the opportunity to participate in their MLM model, which allows for potential earning through direct selling and recruitment of new members.
  3. Autosave Program: This program allows members to automate the purchase of precious metals at regular intervals, making investing hassle-free and consistent.
  4. Exclusive Access to Products: Depending on your membership level, you may also get exclusive access to certain precious metals products, giving you an advantage over non-members or members of a lower tier.
  5. Sound Money Wallet: Members can take advantage of the Sound Money Wallet service to store their wealth in precious metals, providing a unique method for managing and spending your investment.
  6. Travel Discounts: Through the 7k Advantage program, members can enjoy discounts and deals on travel-related services.

Becoming a member of 7k Metals not only gives you access to a diverse selection of precious metals but also introduces you to an array of services and benefits designed to optimize your investing experience. However, as with all financial decisions, potential members should carefully consider their own financial circumstances and objectives before committing to a membership.

Is 7k Metals an MLM?

One of the critical aspects of 7k Metals that differentiates it from other precious metals dealers is its business model. The company operates under a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) structure, which might be a fresh concept for some, especially those new to the investing world.

Is it a Pyramid Scheme?

7k Metals is not a pyramid scheme, although it's easy to understand why some might be confused. Pyramid schemes and MLMs can seem similar at first glance due to their hierarchical structure. Both models involve recruiting new participants and both reward members based on the activity of those below them in the structure. However, the key difference lies in the value proposition.

Pyramid schemes are illegal business models that focus solely on recruiting new members, often without a legitimate product or service. The money paid by new members is used to pay those who joined earlier, but without a real revenue stream, the scheme eventually collapses when recruitment slows down.

7k Metals, on the other hand, is a legitimate MLM company. The company offers real products - a wide array of precious metals - and services that create a solid foundation for their business. Members can generate income through selling these products, as well as through recruiting new members.

Is Their MLM Legit?

Yes, the MLM model employed by 7k Metals is entirely legitimate. It is a common business structure used by numerous reputable companies around the world.

Members of 7k Metals are rewarded not just for the sales they personally make, but also for the sales made by people they have recruited into the company, also known as their downline. It's a system that has the potential to provide passive income, but it requires effort and effective networking skills.

Potential Pitfalls of Joining an MLM

Although MLMs like 7k Metals offer an opportunity to earn money, they also come with their own set of potential pitfalls.

One of the most common issues faced by people who join MLMs is the difficulty of recruiting new members. The income potential in an MLM is often heavily tied to the ability to continually recruit new people. If you're not a natural salesperson or networker, this could be a significant hurdle.

Furthermore, members might also face competition from other members selling the same products. This can lead to market saturation and make it harder to sell products or recruit new members.

Lastly, as with all investments, there is a risk involved in buying the company's products for resale. Precious metals prices can be volatile and there are no guarantees of returns on your investment. It's crucial to understand these risks and be prepared for the potential of losses as well as gains.

It's essential to thoroughly research and understand the MLM business model before getting involved. Speak to existing members, read up on the company, and consider your own skills and capabilities before making a commitment. Remember, success in an MLM business requires hard work, dedication, and effective marketing and networking skills.

7k Metals Compensation Plan

The compensation plan for 7k Metals members is multifaceted and designed to reward active participation. It is an integral part of their MLM business model, encouraging members to sell products and recruit new members. Here's a detailed look into how the compensation plan works and how members can earn money:

How Members Earn Money

  1. Direct Sales: Members earn money from selling 7k Metals' products directly to customers. The earnings are the difference between the wholesale price and the retail price.
  2. Recruitment Commissions: Members also earn money through recruiting new members. When someone you recruit purchases a membership, you get a commission.
  3. Binary Commissions: The company uses a binary structure for their MLM model. This means that each member has a right and a left downline team. Every week, 7k Metals calculates the sales volume of your lesser performing team, and you receive a percentage of that as commission.
  4. Check Match Bonus: Members can also earn a Check Match Bonus, which is a percentage of the binary commissions earned by the members you directly recruited. The more people you recruit, the more check match bonuses you can earn.
  5. Rank Achievement Bonus: As members progress through the ranks, they are eligible for one-time rank achievement bonuses. These bonuses are additional incentives to promote growth within your downline teams.

It's important to note that while the compensation plan offers multiple ways to earn, a member's success largely depends on their individual efforts and abilities to sell and recruit effectively. Active participation is key, and your earnings will reflect your level of involvement and skill in direct selling and recruitment.

Additionally, it's also crucial to understand that investing in precious metals carries a level of risk. The market price of gold, silver, and other metals can fluctuate due to various factors. As such, while the potential for profit exists, so too does the potential for loss. Always perform your due diligence before diving into any investment, and consider seeking advice from a financial advisor.

In summary, 7k Metals offers a comprehensive compensation plan that provides various earning opportunities. It's a structure that rewards proactive members who are able to effectively sell products and recruit new members. However, as with any business opportunity, understanding the risks and rewards and aligning them with your personal goals and capabilities is essential.

BBB Rating, Customer Reviews and Complaints

a screenshot of 7k metals BBB rating

Customer reviews and complaints provide valuable insights into the experiences of individuals who have interacted with a company, their products, and services. Reviews and complaints about 7k Metals are a mix of positive and negative sentiments, highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of the company.

BBB Rating

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating is a trusted resource that consumers turn to when researching the credibility and reliability of a business. The BBB rates companies based on a number of factors including complaints received from the public, how the company responds and resolves these issues, the company's transparency, and more.

At the time of publication, 7k Metals held an impressive A+ rating from the BBB, which is considered an excellent rating. This rating is an indication of the company's commitment to resolving customer complaints and maintaining transparent and ethical business practices.

However, it's important to note that while an BBB rating can be a helpful tool, it should not be the sole basis of your decision when considering doing business with a company. Be sure to conduct a thorough due diligence, which should include reading customer reviews and complaints, understanding the company's business model, and ensuring that their products, services, and business practices align with your personal and financial objectives.

As with any company or investment opportunity, changes can occur over time. Therefore, it's recommended that you check the most recent BBB rating and other updated information about 7k Metals.

Positive Reviews

Many customers appreciate 7k Metals for its wide array of precious metals products, competitive pricing, and the opportunity to invest in a tangible asset. The company's autosave program, which allows members to automate their purchases, is often lauded for its convenience and consistency. The MLM structure, too, has been praised by those who have successfully built their networks and have earned substantial returns.

Positive reviewers have often cited the excellent customer service provided by 7k Metals. Customers have reported that their queries and concerns are addressed promptly and efficiently, indicating a high level of commitment towards customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, the educational resources provided by 7k Metals have been noted as being particularly valuable. Customers appreciate the company's efforts to educate their members about the precious metals market and investing strategies.


On the flip side, there have been some complaints related to 7k Metals, mainly tied to the MLM aspect of the business. Some members have found it challenging to recruit new members, which is a crucial aspect of earning within the MLM model. As a result, they have struggled to make substantial income from the MLM structure.

There have also been complaints about the market saturation of 7k Metals' products, with some members finding it challenging to sell products due to high competition.

A few customers have also expressed dissatisfaction with the price of membership, arguing that the cost of entry is quite high, especially for individuals who are new to investing.

As with any investment or business opportunity, potential members should thoroughly research and review customer feedback before committing. Understanding the experiences of others can provide valuable insights and help you make an informed decision. It's also important to evaluate your own capabilities, resources, and financial goals to ensure that they align with what 7k Metals has to offer.

7k Metals Exclusive Membership Perks

7k Metals offers an array of exclusive perks to their members, aiming to enhance their precious metals investing experience and provide additional value. Here's a closer look at these unique membership benefits:

Travel Card

Members of 7k Metals gain access to the 7k Advantage program, a platform offering discounts on a wide range of travel and lifestyle products and services. This can include savings on hotels, rental cars, and even activities like dining and shopping. The Travel Card is an excellent bonus for members who travel frequently, potentially saving significant amounts on travel-related expenses.

Autosave Program

The Autosave program is a unique feature that simplifies investing in precious metals. With this service, members can automate their purchase of gold or silver, deciding the amount and frequency that suits them. This takes away the need to continuously monitor the market or remember to make regular purchases, enabling members to consistently grow their precious metals portfolio in a hassle-free manner.

Sound Money Wallet

The Sound Money Wallet is a digital platform provided by 7k Metals that allows members to digitally manage their precious metals. It is designed as a convenient tool for buying, selling, or swapping gold and silver. Members can store their wealth in this wallet as precious metals and then easily convert them back into a selected currency when needed.

How Their Auto-Ship Program Works

The Auto-Ship program is another convenient service for members who wish to grow their precious metals collection consistently. By enrolling in this program, members will have a specific product shipped to them regularly, either monthly or quarterly. This allows members to steadily accumulate precious metals without the need for continuous, manual purchasing.

In summary, these exclusive membership perks provided by 7k Metals are designed to enhance the member's experience, offering convenience, potential savings, and unique ways to manage and accumulate wealth in the form of precious metals. However, each member's needs and preferences may vary, so it's important to understand and consider how these perks align with your own financial goals and lifestyle.

7k Metals Pros and Cons

Just like any other company, 7k Metals has its share of strengths and weaknesses. Here's a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of becoming a member of 7k Metals:


  1. Wide Array of Products: 7k Metals offers a wide range of precious metals products, allowing investors to diversify their portfolio. They offer gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in various forms such as coins, bars, and bullion.
  2. Competitive Pricing: The company prides itself on offering competitive pricing on precious metals, enabling members to get value for their money.
  3. Exclusive Membership Perks: As discussed previously, the exclusive perks offered to members add significant value. These include the Autosave program, Sound Money Wallet, 7k Advantage travel card, and Auto-Ship program.
  4. MLM Opportunity: The MLM business model provides members with the opportunity to earn passive income through recruiting new members and selling products.
  5. Educational Resources: 7k Metals provides valuable educational resources that help members make informed decisions about their investments.


  1. MLM Structure: While the MLM model can be a pro for some, it can also be a con for others. It requires effort, networking skills, and the ability to sell products and recruit new members, which may not be everyone's forte.
  2. Potential Market Saturation: With many members selling the same products, there's a potential for market saturation. This can make it more challenging to sell products or recruit new members.
  3. Cost of Entry: The cost of membership could be considered high, especially for individuals who are new to investing.
  4. Risk of Precious Metals Investing: Investing in precious metals carries inherent risks. Prices can be volatile, and there's the potential for loss as well as gain.

In summary, while 7k Metals has several appealing aspects, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. As with any investment opportunity, it's important to perform thorough research, understand the pros and cons, and evaluate the company's offerings in light of your personal financial goals and circumstances. Always ensure you are making informed decisions that align with your investment strategy and risk tolerance.

Other Factors to Consider Before Joining 7k Metals

Before deciding to become a member of 7k Metals, it is important to take a holistic view and consider a variety of factors. Here are some additional points to evaluate:

Understanding the Precious Metals Market

A fundamental understanding of the precious metals market is crucial if you intend to invest or sell these products. Familiarize yourself with market trends, pricing, and the factors that influence the value of precious metals. Although 7k Metals provides educational resources, independent learning can also be beneficial.

Your Investment Strategy

Consider how investing in precious metals aligns with your overall investment strategy. Precious metals can be a valuable component of a diversified portfolio, but it's important to understand your risk tolerance and investment objectives.

Your Selling and Networking Skills

As 7k Metals operates under an MLM structure, your success will heavily depend on your ability to sell products and recruit new members. If you are not comfortable with direct sales or networking, this aspect of the business could pose a challenge.

Financial Commitment

Consider the financial commitment required to join 7k Metals. This includes the cost of the membership, the price of the products, and any additional expenses that may arise. It's important to ensure that this investment aligns with your budget and financial goals.

Time Commitment

Understand the time commitment involved in actively participating in the MLM structure. Selling products and recruiting new members require time and effort.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Lastly, it's crucial to evaluate the company in terms of legal and ethical considerations. This includes checking for any legal issues or controversies associated with the company, as well as understanding their ethical stance, especially in areas such as sourcing of their precious metals.

Final Thoughts

Deciding to join 7k Metals is a decision that requires careful thought and analysis. It's important to consider the pros and cons, understand the commitment required, and evaluate how well the opportunity aligns with your financial goals and capabilities.

Remember that, while precious metals can offer a valuable investment opportunity, they are not without risk. As with any investment, it's important to do your homework, understand the market, and consider seeking advice from a financial advisor.

Whether you are looking for an investment opportunity, a chance to earn through an MLM structure, or simply to diversify your portfolio with precious metals, 7k Metals presents a unique proposition. As long as you've done your due diligence and are prepared for the commitments, 7k Metals can offer a multifaceted approach to investing in precious metals.

a pile of free silver
Read More

Investing in a retirement plan is an important financial decision. It requires careful consideration and understanding of various investment options.

Traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans typically offer a limited range of assets such as stocks and bonds. However, a self-directed IRA provides a broader scope, allowing investment in alternative assets like real estate, precious metals, promissory notes, and private startups. One of the most respected providers of self-directed IRA services is Madison Trust Company. 

This Madison Trust Company review will offer a comprehensive evaluation of their services, customer experiences, and overall reputation.

What is Madison Trust Company?

a screenshot of the Madison Trust Company homepage

Madison Trust Company is an IRS-approved custodian specializing in self-directed IRAs. Based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it's been serving customers since 2004. The company's key focus is to provide an expanded universe of investment options to their clients, while ensuring utmost compliance and smooth execution of transactions. Its team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing excellent customer service, helping you navigate through the complexities of self-directed investing.

Madison Trust Company Self-Directed IRA

A Madison Trust Company self-directed IRA provides the account holder - the investor - with the power to direct their IRA investments. This offering allows investors to explore a wider array of investment vehicles not typically available in traditional IRA or 401(k) plans. It's ideal for those who want more control over their retirement portfolios and the opportunity to invest in areas of personal expertise and interest.

Self-Directed IRA Assets

a selection of the investment options that the Madison Trust Company offers

A self-directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA) provides investors the flexibility to diversify their portfolios beyond conventional assets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. This investment strategy lets you direct your IRA funds towards a broader range of alternative assets. Let’s delve deeper into some of these asset types that can be held within a self-directed IRA through Madison Trust Company.

Real Estate

Real estate is a popular investment choice in self-directed IRAs. Investors have the opportunity to invest in a broad range of real estate types, including residential properties, commercial real estate, agricultural land, rental properties, and more. Investing in real estate through a self-directed IRA provides potential benefits such as rental income, capital appreciation, and tax advantages. However, it's crucial to be aware of the rules and restrictions imposed by the IRS. For instance, any property purchased with IRA funds cannot be for personal use by the IRA owner or disqualified persons.

Promissory Notes

A promissory note is essentially a form of loan agreement between the lender (the IRA) and a borrower. The borrower promises to repay the loan plus interest to the IRA over a set period. These can be secured (backed by collateral) or unsecured. The terms, interest rates, and duration of the note are flexible, allowing for potentially significant returns. However, it's important to note that investing in promissory notes comes with risk, particularly if the note is unsecured.

Precious Metals

Investing in precious metals can serve as a hedge against inflation and market volatility. Madison Trust Company allows for the inclusion of IRS-approved gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion in your self-directed IRA. The precious metals must meet certain purity standards and must be stored in an approved depository to maintain the tax-advantaged status of your IRA. It's a unique way to diversify your portfolio while safeguarding it from economic uncertainties.

Crowdfunding and Startups

With the rise of crowdfunding platforms and the potential for high returns, investing in startups has become more accessible. A self-directed IRA allows you to invest in these early-stage businesses, offering them the capital they need to grow while potentially providing substantial returns if they become successful. However, this type of investment carries a high level of risk, as startups often fail. Thorough research and understanding of the business model and market are critical before investing.

Other Assets

Beyond the aforementioned asset types, a self-directed IRA through Madison Trust Company offers the ability to invest in other alternative assets such as tax lien certificates, private equity, private lending, and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), among others. These options can provide additional diversification and potential returns but require a thorough understanding of each asset's unique risks and benefits.

Remember, the key to successful investing through a self-directed IRA is diversification, due diligence, and understanding the rules set forth by the IRS. While these assets can provide substantial returns, they also come with their own set of risks, making it crucial to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional before proceeding with these types of investments.

How to Set up a Self-Directed IRA with Madison Trust Company

a stack of silver coins

Opening a self-directed IRA with Madison Trust Company involves a series of steps:

  1. Fill out an application online, providing your personal information, beneficiary designations, and your choice of IRA type (Traditional, Roth, SEP, or SIMPLE).
  2. Once your account is established, fund it either by making a contribution, or by performing a transfer or rollover from an existing retirement account.
  3. When funds are available, select your desired investments and submit the purchase order. Madison Trust will then execute the transaction on your behalf.

The Madison Trust Company Directed Trust

In addition to self-directed IRAs, Madison Trust Company offers a unique service known as a Directed Trust. This service presents a compelling choice for investors seeking additional control over their financial assets while also benefiting from the legal protections offered by a trust structure.

A Directed Trust is a specific type of trust agreement where the duties are divided between an administrative trustee and a set of investment advisors, or directors. Madison Trust Company serves as the administrative trustee, handling the technical and administrative aspects of maintaining the trust. This includes tasks like regulatory compliance, record-keeping, reporting, and executing transactions.

Meanwhile, the role of investment decisions falls upon the appointed investment advisors or directors. In many cases, this may be the grantor of the trust (the individual who has established the trust) or a team of investment professionals chosen by the grantor. This division of labor allows the grantor to maintain control over investment decisions while freeing them from the administrative complexities of trust management.

Here are the key characteristics of a Directed Trust:


As a grantor, you maintain significant control over the investments within the trust. You can appoint yourself or any person(s) or institution(s) you trust to make the investment decisions. This could include financial advisors, investment firms, or family members. This high degree of control is particularly appealing to sophisticated investors who desire more autonomy over their investment strategies.

Legal Protections

Even though the grantor maintains control over the investment decisions, the assets in the trust are legally owned by the trust itself. This ownership structure can offer a degree of protection against creditors and legal judgments, provided the trust is correctly structured and administered.


Directed Trusts offer a broad array of permissible investments, similar to a self-directed IRA. You can invest in real estate, private equity, precious metals, and many other alternative asset classes. This flexibility allows for sophisticated investment strategies and portfolio diversification.


By dividing duties between an administrative trustee and investment directors, Directed Trusts create an efficient system that combines expert trust administration with personalized investment control. The grantor is free to focus on investment decisions without having to worry about the day-to-day administration of the trust.

It's important to understand that a Directed Trust is a complex financial instrument and should be used by investors who understand the risks and responsibilities involved. Additionally, as with all financial decisions, it's recommended to consult with a trusted financial advisor or legal professional to ensure a Directed Trust fits within your overall financial strategy.

Customer Reviews and Ratings

a screenshot of the Madison Trust Company's BBB rating

BBB Rating

At the time of publication, Madison Trust Company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), an indication of the company's commitment to resolving customer complaints and providing excellent service.

What Customers are Saying

Customer feedback for Madison Trust Company is generally positive. Many clients appreciate the company's responsive customer service, streamlined transaction process, and knowledgeable staff. However, as with any business, there are also some negative comments, mostly regarding administrative fees and occasional delays in transaction execution.

Madison Trust Company Pros and Cons

As with any financial institution or service, Madison Trust Company presents its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here's a detailed look into the pros and cons associated with investing through Madison Trust Company:


Wide Array of Permissible Investments

One of the primary advantages of a Madison Trust Company self-directed IRA or Directed Trust is the wide range of permissible investments. Unlike traditional IRAs that typically allow for stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, Madison Trust allows investments in real estate, precious metals, promissory notes, and crowdfunding campaigns, among others. This variety provides investors with an opportunity for greater diversification and potentially higher returns.

Reliable and Responsive Customer Service

Madison Trust Company is often praised for its customer service. They maintain a dedicated team of professionals that are readily available to answer queries and guide investors through the intricacies of self-directed investing. This level of service can be a significant asset for investors who are new to self-directed IRAs and alternative investments.

A+ BBB Rating

Madison Trust Company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, demonstrating its dedication to customer satisfaction and its commitment to resolving customer complaints.

High Level of Expertise

Madison Trust Company's team exhibits a high level of expertise in self-directed IRAs, Directed Trusts, and alternative investments. Their knowledge is a vital resource for investors navigating the complex rules and regulations associated with these types of investments.


Higher Fees

One of the most commonly cited drawbacks of Madison Trust Company is its fee structure. Some investors find their fees to be higher than those of other self-directed IRA providers. These fees can include account setup fees, annual account fees, transaction fees, and more. It's important for potential investors to fully understand the fee structure before opening an account.

Transaction Execution Time

While many customers appreciate Madison Trust Company's customer service, some have reported longer than expected wait times for transaction execution. It's important to keep in mind that self-directed IRA transactions can be complex and require a certain amount of time to execute properly, especially for unconventional investments like real estate or private equity.

In summary, Madison Trust Company offers a flexible, diversified approach to investing in retirement accounts, backed by reliable customer service and a high level of expertise. However, potential investors must weigh these advantages against the potentially higher fees and transaction execution times. As always, it's crucial to conduct your due diligence and consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Final Thoughts

Madison Trust Company is a well-respected provider of self-directed IRAs, offering a wide range of investment options to help diversify your retirement portfolio. Despite higher fees compared to some providers, the wealth of expertise and commitment to client satisfaction makes Madison Trust a strong contender for anyone looking to take control of their retirement investments.

As always, it is recommended to perform your due diligence and consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions. If you're interested in alternative assets and believe you have the knowledge to manage them effectively, a self-directed IRA from Madison Trust Company may be an excellent option for you.

a pile of free silver
Read More

As the demand for precious metals as an investment strategy continues to grow, several companies have emerged to meet the needs of investors.

Two such companies are SD Bullion and JM Bullion, leading players in the precious metals industry. 

This article delves into a comprehensive comparison of these two bullion dealers, providing an in-depth examination of their products, services, and pricing strategies to help you make an informed decision about where to invest.

a pile of free silver

What is SD Bullion?

the SD Bullion logo

Founded in 2012, SD Bullion is a premier precious metals dealer that has earned its reputation for providing high-quality products at competitive prices. The company was established by two doctors, Tyler Wall and Dr. Joseph Salerno, who were concerned about the state of the economic landscape and the devaluation of traditional currency. They saw an opportunity to provide a reliable way for people to preserve and grow their wealth through investing in precious metals, hence the inception of SD Bullion.

SD Bullion prides itself on offering an extensive range of products, which includes gold, silver, platinum, and palladium coins, rounds, and bars. Their inventory sources from leading mints worldwide, ensuring customers have access to diverse and quality precious metal options.

What sets SD Bullion apart is their commitment to offering "the lowest prices, period". This value proposition has driven them to consistently compete to offer lower prices compared to other precious metals dealers. They ensure their customers are getting the best value for their money, and this has played a key role in their rapid growth and popularity in the industry.

In addition to their competitive pricing, SD Bullion is also known for providing excellent customer service. Their team of knowledgeable representatives are always available to assist customers throughout their buying process, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience.

Beyond selling precious metals, SD Bullion offers a Precious Metals IRA program. Through their partnership with New Direction IRA, they facilitate the process of adding physical precious metals to a self-directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This allows their customers to diversify their retirement savings and hedge against economic instability.

SD Bullion also provides secure storage options for precious metal investments. Through their partnership with TDS Vaults, they offer fully insured and segregated storage facilities located in various parts of the world, ensuring the safety and security of your investment.

SD Bullion is not just a precious metals dealer, but a comprehensive precious metals investment platform. They cater to all types of investors, from beginners to seasoned investors, by providing a wide range of products, competitive pricing, reliable storage options, and an option to incorporate precious metals into retirement savings. The company’s core philosophy is centered around helping their customers preserve wealth and providing an affordable and secure way to invest in precious metals.

What is JM Bullion?

a silver coin from JM bullion

JM Bullion (are they legit?), established in 2011, is a prominent online retailer of precious metals, dedicated to providing an exceptional customer experience through its vast selection of high-quality products, transparent pricing, and excellent customer service. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, JM Bullion has since grown to become one of the leading destinations for investors looking to purchase precious metals online.

The product selection offered by JM Bullion is expansive, ranging from gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in a variety of forms including coins, rounds, and bars. Their catalog features items from mints across the globe, offering precious metal products of different weights, purities, and designs to suit a diverse set of investor preferences. Their inventory also includes a unique selection of specialty products and collectibles, appealing to both investors and numismatists.

One defining aspect of JM Bullion is their commitment to transparency and simplicity. Their prices are clearly displayed and updated in real-time according to market rates. This live-pricing model ensures that customers are always aware of the most accurate and current pricing information.

In addition to providing an extensive product range, JM Bullion also offers services that complement the purchasing process. They have a Precious Metals IRA program that allows investors to diversify their retirement portfolios by adding physical precious metals to a self-directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This service, provided in collaboration with New Direction IRA, provides a robust investment solution for those seeking to protect their retirement savings from economic volatility.

Further enhancing their customer service, JM Bullion also offers secure storage solutions through their partnership with TDS Vaults. These vaults are fully insured and segregated, providing customers peace of mind that their investments are safe and protected.

Another defining feature of JM Bullion is their user-friendly online platform. The website is easy to navigate, making it convenient for customers to browse, compare, and purchase products. This coupled with their dedicated customer service team ensures a seamless shopping experience from start to finish.

IJM Bullion offers a comprehensive and customer-focused platform for precious metal investments. Their wide product variety, transparent pricing, exceptional customer service, and additional services such as Precious Metals IRA and secure storage options make them an appealing choice for both new and experienced investors. The company is driven by the mission to provide every customer, irrespective of their investment size, access to precious metals at the best possible price.

Comparing Products and Services

SD Bullion Products and Services

a woman holds a handful of gold coins

SD Bullion offers a comprehensive range of products spanning across the four main types of precious metals - gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. These are available in various forms including coins, bars, and rounds. Additionally, they offer a selection of specialty products such as hand-poured bars and collectible coins, allowing investors a chance to own unique pieces that may carry numismatic value.

In terms of services, SD Bullion stands out with its Precious Metals IRA program. Through their partnership with New Direction IRA, they facilitate the process of adding physical precious metals to self-directed IRAs. This gives investors the opportunity to diversify their retirement savings, offering a safeguard against economic uncertainties.

Storage services are another crucial aspect of SD Bullion's offerings. Partnering with TDS Vaults, they offer secure, insured, and segregated storage facilities to customers worldwide. This ensures that investors have a safe place to store their investments, without the worry of managing the logistics of storage and security themselves.

SD Bullion also boasts a customer-centric approach with dedicated customer service representatives readily available to assist with inquiries and purchases, enhancing the buying experience.

JM Bullion Products and Services

a stack of gold coins

JM Bullion mirrors the diverse product range offered by SD Bullion, providing customers with a vast selection of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium products. The offerings include coins, bars, and rounds from various renowned mints across the globe. They also have a variety of specialty products and collectibles, catering to both investors and numismatics.

The services provided by JM Bullion align closely with those offered by SD Bullion. JM Bullion also offers a Precious Metals IRA program, through a partnership with New Direction IRA. This allows investors to add physical precious metals to their retirement portfolios, providing a robust and diversified investment strategy.

When it comes to storage services, JM Bullion, like SD Bullion, partners with TDS Vaults. They offer fully insured, segregated storage in highly secure vaults located globally. This ensures that customers can invest with confidence, knowing their assets are secure and well-protected.

Finally, JM Bullion also offers top-tier customer service. Their team is readily available to answer queries, guide customers, and ensure a smooth buying experience. Additionally, they offer a highly user-friendly website, providing a seamless online shopping experience.

In conclusion, while both SD Bullion and JM Bullion offer similar product ranges and services, there are subtle differences in their offerings. While SD Bullion focuses heavily on competitive pricing, JM Bullion places a strong emphasis on product variety and a user-friendly online experience. Both, however, provide robust Precious Metals IRA programs and secure storage solutions, making them reliable options for precious metal investments.

Comparing JM Bullion and SD Bullion Pricing

Both SD Bullion and JM Bullion are committed to offering competitive pricing. However, it's crucial to note that the prices of precious metals fluctuate in real-time based on market conditions. Therefore, there may be minor differences in pricing between the two companies at any given time.


SD Bullion tends to have slightly lower prices on certain products due to their commitment to being the "lowest cost" retailer. On the other hand, JM Bullion often has a wider range of products available, potentially offering more options at various price points. Both companies offer quantity discounts, with lower premiums for larger orders.

Tips for Deciding if SD Bullion is Right for You

When considering whether SD Bullion is the right choice for your precious metal investment needs, it's important to evaluate several factors. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Price Consideration: SD Bullion prides itself on offering competitive prices and aims to provide the lowest cost products in the industry. If your main focus is getting the most metal for your money, SD Bullion's commitment to low prices could be a significant advantage.
  • Straightforward Purchasing Process: SD Bullion offers a simple and efficient purchasing process. If you prefer a straightforward, no-frills shopping experience, this could be a crucial factor in your decision.
  • Precious Metals IRA: If you're considering diversifying your retirement savings by investing in a Precious Metals IRA, SD Bullion’s established partnership with New Direction IRA ensures a smooth and secure process.
  • Storage Services: For investors who prefer not to hold their precious metals personally, SD Bullion provides secure storage solutions through TDS Vaults. This offers peace of mind that your investments are safe and well-protected.
  • Customer Service: SD Bullion has a strong reputation for customer service. If you value having knowledgeable and responsive support throughout your purchasing process, this could be a decisive factor.
  • Product Variety: While SD Bullion may not have as extensive a product range as some competitors, they do offer a solid variety of options across all major precious metal types and forms. If your investment strategy includes specific products offered by SD Bullion, this could make them the right choice for you.

In the end, your choice should align with your investment goals, budget, and personal preferences. It's essential to conduct thorough research and possibly consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Tips for Deciding if JM Bullion is Right for You

When deciding whether JM Bullion is the best fit for your precious metal investment needs, consider the following factors:

  • Wide Product Selection: JM Bullion boasts an expansive inventory of precious metals. If you value a broad range of options or are interested in unique or collectible items, JM Bullion's product variety could be appealing.
  • User-friendly Online Experience: JM Bullion's platform is designed to be user-friendly, making it simple to navigate and find products. If you prefer an easy-to-use online shopping experience, JM Bullion is likely a good fit.
  • Precious Metals IRA: JM Bullion also offers a robust Precious Metals IRA program through their partnership with New Direction IRA. If you're looking to diversify your retirement savings with precious metals, this could be a compelling reason to choose JM Bullion.
  • Storage Solutions: Like SD Bullion, JM Bullion offers secure storage options through TDS Vaults. If safe, professional storage of your investment is important to you, this service is worth considering.
  • Transparent Pricing: JM Bullion is known for its transparency in pricing, with real-time updates reflecting market conditions. If you value this level of transparency and up-to-date information, this could be a point in JM Bullion's favor.
  • Customer Service: JM Bullion is recognized for its excellent customer service, with a dedicated team ready to assist with any queries or concerns. If you appreciate attentive and responsive customer service, this could sway your decision towards JM Bullion.

Remember, choosing a precious metals dealer is an important decision that should be based on your personal investment goals and preferences. It's recommended to do thorough research and potentially consult with a financial advisor before making your decision.

a pile of free silver

Final Thoughts

When comparing SD Bullion and JM Bullion, it's clear that both offer compelling advantages for precious metals investors. The right choice for you ultimately depends on your individual needs and investment goals.

SD Bullion may appeal to the cost-conscious investor seeking competitive prices and a simple, efficient purchase process. On the other hand, JM Bullion might be ideal for those seeking a wide variety of products and an easy-to-navigate online experience.

In either case, both companies offer solid customer service, comprehensive Precious Metals IRA programs, and secure storage solutions. This ensures that whether you choose SD Bullion or JM Bullion, you can invest with confidence, knowing that your precious metals are in good hands.

Read More

The popularity of gold as an investment cannot be overemphasized. Its proven track record as a hedge against inflation, economic crises, and currency devaluation has led investors to continually seek avenues to purchase it. It's not surprising then that people often ask, "Can you buy gold bars from Bank of America?" This article will take a deep dive into this question, provide valuable insights into where you can purchase gold bars, and discuss why Goldco stands out as our top pick for buying precious metals.

a pile of free silver

Does Bank of America Sell Gold Bars?

To put it simply, no, Bank of America does not sell gold bars. Bank of America, like most other major banks in the United States, does not deal directly with precious metals. As a financial institution, it mainly focuses on services like mortgages, loans, credit cards, and banking accounts.

It's important to note that while some banks used to offer precious metals like gold and silver, they've largely phased out these services due to complex storage requirements, liability issues, and the volatile nature of precious metal prices. So, if you were hoping to walk into your local Bank of America branch to buy gold bars, you would be disappointed.

Can You Buy Gold from the Bank?

six gold bars from the bank

In general, it's rare to find banks that sell gold bars or coins in the United States. While banks in some countries, like Switzerland, do provide such services, the practice is less common in the U.S. due to the reasons mentioned earlier.

That said, a few regional and community banks might occasionally offer gold coins, particularly those minted by the U.S. government, but the cost can often be higher than market rates. For instance, these banks might sell gold coins at a premium to make a profit, meaning you could end up paying more than necessary. It's also important to remember that banks typically do not buy back gold, leaving you to find a separate outlet if you wish to sell.

Best Place to Buy Gold Bars

When it comes to buying gold bars, finding the best place isn't just about convenience, it's also about ensuring reliability, security, and getting the best possible value. A number of factors can determine the best place for you personally, including the dealer's reputation, the range of products offered, and the overall buying experience. Here are some more in-depth recommendations:

  1. Online Dealers: In the digital age, buying gold bars online has become the go-to method for many investors. Reputable online dealers offer a wide range of products, competitive pricing, and the convenience of shopping from your own home. They provide extensive details about their offerings, helping you make an informed decision. Plus, they often have customer service teams available to answer questions. Some top online dealers include Goldco, Augusta Precious Metals, APMEX, JM Bullion, and SD Bullion. They all offer a large variety of gold bars, from different mints and in different sizes, to cater to varying needs of investors.
  2. Gold Brokers: Similar to online dealers, gold brokers have the advantage of expertise. They can provide tailored advice based on your investment goals and circumstances. Gold brokers can access a wide range of products and often have industry connections that can help you secure a competitive price. But it's crucial to check their credibility and ensure they are licensed to deal in precious metals.
  3. Mints: Buying gold directly from a mint, such as the U.S. Mint or the Royal Canadian Mint, can provide peace of mind regarding the gold's authenticity. These institutions produce gold bars and coins of guaranteed purity. However, keep in mind that mints often sell their products at a premium, so you might end up paying slightly more than the market rate for this assurance.
  4. Gold Shows or Conventions: These events can be a great place to buy gold bars, particularly if you're interested in rare or collectible pieces. Dealers from around the country gather at these events, offering a wide array of products. Plus, you have the opportunity to negotiate prices. Remember, though, it's essential to do your due diligence and verify the reputation of any dealer you're considering.
  5. Local Coin Shops: Local coin shops can offer the advantage of a personal relationship with the dealer and the opportunity to physically inspect the gold before purchase. Make sure the shop has a solid reputation and be prepared to negotiate to get the best deal.
  6. Auctions: Auctions, both online and physical, can be an exciting place to find unique gold bars or coins. Sites like eBay host many auctions for gold bars. However, buying at auctions can be tricky, especially for a novice. You need to account for the auction fees and be sure about the authenticity of the gold on offer.

Each of these buying avenues has its own set of pros and cons, so the best place to buy gold bars will depend on your individual preferences and circumstances. Online dealers and mints tend to offer the most straightforward and secure buying experience, while gold brokers, gold shows, and local coin shops might suit those looking for more specialized service or unique pieces. Ultimately, due diligence and research are your best tools for securing a good investment.

Why Goldco is Our Top Pick

a stack of silver coins

When it comes to investing in gold and other precious metals, finding a trustworthy and reliable dealer is essential. Our top pick in this domain is Goldco, a US-based firm specializing in precious metals IRAs. Here's why we've selected Goldco as our top choice for buying gold bars:

  1. Extensive Product Range: Goldco offers a wide variety of products, including gold bars of different weights and purities. This means you can select the product that best suits your investment goals and budget. Besides gold, they also deal in other precious metals like silver, platinum, and palladium.
  2. Exceptional Customer Service: Goldco has an impeccable reputation for customer service. Their team is knowledgeable, friendly, and readily available to assist with any questions or concerns. This can be especially beneficial for new investors who may need guidance throughout the purchasing process.
  3. Transparent Pricing: When you're investing in precious metals, you want to be sure you're getting a fair deal. Goldco is known for its transparent pricing. They provide clear information about the pricing of their products, including any premiums over the spot price of gold.
  4. IRA Specialists: Goldco is not just a precious metals dealer; they are specialists in precious metals IRAs. This means they can help you set up a self-directed IRA, allowing you to use pre-tax dollars to invest in gold. They guide you through the process, handle the necessary paperwork, and can even assist with "rollovers" from existing retirement accounts.
  5. Trustworthy and Reputable: Goldco is a highly respected company within the precious metals industry. They are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and have a top rating from the Business Consumer Alliance (BCA). Numerous customer reviews highlight their professionalism and reliability.
  6. Educational Resources: Goldco provides an array of educational resources to its clients. They believe in empowering their customers with knowledge, and their website offers numerous guides and articles about investing in precious metals. This can be incredibly valuable, especially for those new to gold investment.
  7. Buyback Policy: Goldco has a robust buyback policy. This means that if you decide to sell your gold in the future, they offer a simple, hassle-free process to buy back your precious metals. This can provide significant peace of mind.

Goldco ticks all the boxes when it comes to a reliable, trustworthy, and user-friendly precious metals dealer. They stand out for their extensive product range, exceptional customer service, transparent pricing, and specialization in precious metals IRAs. Therefore, whether you are a seasoned investor or just starting your journey in the world of gold investment, Goldco is an excellent choice.

Factors to Consider Before Buying Gold Bars

Before making a purchase of gold bars, it's crucial to consider several factors to ensure you're making a safe, smart, and profitable investment. Here are some important considerations:

  1. Purity: One of the most important factors to consider is the purity of the gold bar. The highest standard is .9999, meaning it's 99.99% pure gold. Bars with this level of purity are often referred to as '24-karat gold bars.' Always verify the purity before making a purchase.

  2. Size and Weight: Gold bars come in various sizes and weights, starting from 1 gram to 1 kilogram and even larger. Smaller bars are typically more affordable and easier to sell or trade, but they generally come with a higher premium over the spot price. Larger bars, on the other hand, can be more cost-effective on a per-ounce basis, but may be harder to sell due to their high value.

  3. Brand/Mint: The producer of the gold bar can significantly impact its quality and acceptability in the market. Renowned mints like the Royal Canadian Mint, Perth Mint, and Swiss PAMP produce gold bars that are widely recognized and trusted by dealers worldwide. Buying bars from these reputable mints can give you confidence in the authenticity and quality of the product.

  4. Storage: Before buying gold bars, consider where you'll store them. Keeping gold bars at home can be risky due to theft or loss. Some people use bank safety deposit boxes, but these are typically not insured for precious metals. Professional storage facilities, also known as vaults, offer a secure solution, often with insurance coverage. Some gold dealers, like Goldco, offer storage solutions for their customers.

  5. Seller Reputation: Always buy from a reputable dealer. Check their credentials, read reviews, and look for memberships in industry organizations. Buying from a trusted source reduces the risk of receiving counterfeit products or becoming a victim of fraud.

  6. Price: The price of a gold bar consists of the spot price of gold and the premium charged by the dealer. The premium covers the costs of production, distribution, and a small profit margin for the dealer. Premiums can vary widely between dealers and products, so it's worth shopping around to find the best deal.

  7. Buyback Policy: A dealer's buyback policy can be crucial when you decide to sell your gold bars. Some dealers, like Goldco, offer to buy back the gold they sell, providing a hassle-free selling process. Check the buyback policy before making a purchase.

  8. Liquidity: Liquidity refers to how quickly and easily an asset can be bought or sold without affecting its price. In general, smaller gold bars and those from well-known mints are more liquid as they are easier to sell due to their wide acceptance.

By taking into account these factors, you can ensure that you're making a well-informed decision when buying gold bars. It's always a good idea to consult with a reputable dealer or a financial advisor to understand your options and choose the right strategy for your needs and goals.

Final Thoughts

While you can't buy gold bars from Bank of America or most other banks, there are plenty of reputable places to make such purchases, with Goldco standing out as our top pick.

Always remember to conduct thorough research before investing and consider factors like purity, size, storage, the reputation of the seller, and buyback policy.

Investing in gold can be a smart move to diversify your portfolio and protect against economic uncertainty. Just ensure that you're making informed decisions and buying from reputable sources. Happy investing!

a pile of free silver
Read More

In an era of volatile markets and inflation uncertainties, investing in precious metals such as gold and silver is becoming increasingly popular.

These tangible assets have held their value throughout history, making them a trusted hedge against financial instability. In this realm, JM Bullion and APMEX are two of the industry's leading online retailers. 

This article will provide a thorough comparison between the two, helping you understand their offerings, pricing, shipping and storage options, and determining which suits your investment needs best.

zero fees from Augusta precious metals

What is JM Bullion?

a silver coin from JM bullion

JM Bullion is a leading online retailer of precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium products. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, the company is committed to providing a comprehensive range of high-quality products to customers across the United States.

The company's name, JM, stands for "Johnson Matthey," a British company renowned for its work in sustainable technologies and known for refining precious metals. Although JM Bullion is not affiliated with Johnson Matthey, they maintain a commitment to offering quality products and services in the spirit of the globally recognized brand.

JM Bullion operates primarily through an e-commerce platform, which allows customers to peruse and purchase from a diverse array of bullion products, including coins, bars, and rounds. Their catalog includes products from mints all around the world, including the United States Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, Perth Mint, and many others. The offerings range from the most sought-after bullion products to unique, hard-to-find items, catering to the needs of both investors and collectors.

In addition to their product range, JM Bullion provides customers with up-to-date market data, educational resources, and dedicated customer service. They consistently update their precious metal prices according to changes in spot prices, ensuring transparency and fairness in their transactions. The company also prides itself on its robust educational resources, which include detailed product descriptions, an informative blog, and a knowledge center packed with guides and information for both seasoned investors and newcomers to the world of precious metals.

The company's commitment to exceptional customer service is evident in its approach to conducting business. From an intuitive, easy-to-use website to knowledgeable and responsive customer service representatives, JM Bullion strives to ensure a smooth and secure shopping experience. They have also established a partnership with TDS Vaults, a professional storage company, to offer customers a safe and secure option for storing their precious metal investments.

Throughout its operation, JM Bullion has maintained an impressive track record and high rating among consumers. At the time of publication, the company holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, further demonstrating its dedication to customer satisfaction and ethical business practices.

In summary, JM Bullion is a reliable and trusted online precious metals retailer, offering an extensive range of products, competitive prices, and a wealth of resources, making it a popular choice for both investing and collecting precious metals.

What is APMEX?

apmex logo white

APMEX, standing for American Precious Metals Exchange, is a globally recognized online marketplace for buying and selling precious metals. Founded in 1999, the company is headquartered in Oklahoma City and has over two decades of experience in the industry, offering an extensive selection of products and services that cater to both individual and institutional investors.

APMEX's inventory spans across a broad spectrum of precious metals including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, which are available in the form of bullion, coins, bars, and rounds. Their product catalogue doesn't just limit itself to these traditional forms of precious metals; it further extends to a wide array of collectibles such as rare and numismatic coins, ancient coins, and even foreign currency. This makes APMEX a go-to platform for not just investors, but also avid collectors and numismatists.


APMEX sources its products from leading mints and refineries around the world. This includes the United States Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint, the Perth Mint, and other esteemed institutions. By maintaining these strong relationships with international mints, APMEX ensures that its offerings are of the highest quality and authenticity.

What sets APMEX apart is its commitment to educating its customers. Their website hosts a comprehensive education center that provides a wealth of resources. This includes information on the basics of precious metal investing, up-to-date market news, price charts, and detailed product descriptions. APMEX is dedicated to empowering investors and collectors with knowledge so they can make informed decisions.

In addition to this, APMEX also offers a unique loyalty program, known as the APMEX Club. Members of this program are entitled to exclusive benefits such as discounted pricing, early access to new releases, and personalized services. This program offers added value, especially to frequent buyers or larger investors.

For customers interested in including precious metals in their retirement portfolios, APMEX offers an extensive range of IRA-eligible products. In partnership with Citadel Global Services, a fully insured private storage facility and subsidiary of APMEX, they also offer secure storage solutions for precious metals.

At the time of publication, APMEX holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and it's highly rated among consumers for its product diversity, customer service, and educational resources.

In summary, APMEX is a globally trusted precious metals dealer that offers a vast inventory of products, a commitment to education, and a multitude of services designed to facilitate the purchasing, selling, and storage of precious metals, making it a comprehensive platform for both investors and collectors.

JM Bullion Products and Services

With an extensive catalog, JM Bullion offers a wide array of products to cater to various types of precious metal investors and collectors. Their products primarily include precious metals in the form of bullion, coins, rounds, and bars, spanning across gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Here's a deeper look into their offerings:


Bullion refers to precious metals in bulk form, which is typically valued by weight. JM Bullion's bullion offerings comprise gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in various forms such as bars, coins, and rounds. These bullion products, particularly bars and rounds, are typically sought after by investors who want a straightforward way to accumulate precious metals.


JM Bullion's coin selection includes products from the world's leading mints, such as the United States Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, Perth Mint, Austrian Mint, and others. They offer popular gold and silver coins such as the American Eagle, Canadian Maple Leaf, Australian Kangaroo, and many more. In addition, their collection includes platinum and palladium coins for investors interested in these metals.

Rounds and Bars

JM Bullion offers rounds (coin-like pieces) and bars in various sizes and weights, ranging from 1 gram to 1 kilogram and more. Rounds and bars are usually more cost-effective than coins, making them a popular choice for investors seeking to maximize their precious metal holdings.

Numismatic and Collectible Items

For those interested in the collectible side of precious metals, JM Bullion offers numismatic coins and collectibles. These include certified and graded coins from grading agencies like the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). They also provide unique collectibles like hand-poured bars and colorized coins, offering something for every collector's taste.

Precious Metals IRAs

zero fees from Augusta precious metals

JM Bullion offers a selection of IRA-eligible products, allowing investors to add precious metals to their retirement accounts. Their website provides detailed information on setting up a Precious Metals IRA, a valuable resource for those considering this type of long-term investment.

Market Data and Educational Resources

Apart from their product offerings, JM Bullion also provides current market data, allowing investors to keep track of precious metal prices in real-time. They host an informative blog covering various topics related to precious metals, and a Knowledge Center, where beginners can learn about investing in precious metals.

Customer Service and Secure Storage

Providing exceptional customer service is a top priority for JM Bullion. They offer live chat and telephone support for customers needing assistance. For the secure storage of purchases, JM Bullion has partnered with TDS Vaults, a leading professional storage company. This provides investors with a safe and fully insured option for storing their precious metal assets.

In conclusion, JM Bullion caters to a diverse range of investment and collection needs with its wide variety of products, helpful resources, dedicated customer service, and secure storage options. Whether you are a first-time buyer, a seasoned investor, or a passionate collector, JM Bullion offers the products and services necessary to fulfill your precious metals investment goals.

APMEX Products and Services

APMEX, the American Precious Metals Exchange, is known for its comprehensive offerings that cater to both investors and collectors. Their vast product catalog, well-structured services, and commitment to customer education distinguish them in the precious metals industry.


APMEX's bullion offerings are robust, featuring gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in various forms, such as coins, bars, and rounds. These products are typically valued based on their weight and the current market price of the metal, making them a popular choice for investors.


APMEX offers a diverse selection of coins from renowned mints worldwide, including the United States Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, Perth Mint, and more. Their catalog includes popular bullion coins like the American Eagle, Canadian Maple Leaf, South African Krugerrand, among others, in gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.

Bars and Rounds

For those who prefer bars and rounds, APMEX provides an array of options in different sizes and weights, from a few grams to multiple kilograms. Bars and rounds often provide a more cost-effective way to accumulate precious metals compared to coins, appealing to many investors.

Numismatic and Collectible Coins

One area where APMEX truly shines is their collection of numismatic and collectible coins. These include domestic and international currency, ancient coins, and rare collectible coins. Numismatic coins are evaluated based on rarity, condition, and historical significance, rather than merely their metal content, making them particularly interesting for collectors.

Precious Metals IRAs

APMEX offers a broad selection of IRA-eligible products, allowing investors to diversify their retirement portfolios with precious metals. They provide detailed information about the process of setting up a Precious Metals IRA, which is a beneficial resource for those considering this type of investment.

Educational Resources

APMEX prioritizes investor education, evident in their comprehensive educational resources. They provide a broad range of information, from basics about investing in precious metals to more complex topics, ensuring investors have the knowledge to make informed decisions.


The APMEX Club is a loyalty program that offers members exclusive benefits. This includes discounts on certain products, early access to new product releases, and personalized services, providing added value for regular customers.

Secure Storage with Citadel

Recognizing the importance of secure storage, APMEX offers customers the option to store their precious metals with Citadel Global Services, a fully insured private storage facility. Citadel is a subsidiary of APMEX, ensuring seamless integration of purchase and storage services.

In conclusion, APMEX offers a wide variety of products and services that cater to both investors and collectors. Their vast inventory, combined with their educational resources, loyalty program, and secure storage options, make them a standout choice in the precious metals market. Whether you're an investor seeking to diversify your portfolio or a collector looking for rare pieces, APMEX has something to offer you.

Are There Pricing Differences Between JM Bullion and APMEX?

As with any commodity, the price of precious metals fluctuates based on the global market. Both JM Bullion and APMEX update their prices in real-time to reflect this. However, pricing can also be influenced by other factors such as product type, weight, and rarity.

In general, JM Bullion and APMEX offer competitive pricing, often aligning closely with each other. There may be minor variations based on the factors mentioned above, but these differences are typically marginal. It is advisable to compare prices between the two, as well as other dealers, before making a purchase to ensure you get the best possible deal.

Shipping and Storage Options Offered by Both Companies

JM Bullion offers free shipping on all orders over $199, fully insured and sent discretely for security purposes. For those wanting to store their purchases securely, JM Bullion has a partnership with TDS Vaults, a professional storage company.

On the other hand, APMEX offers free shipping for orders over $199, like JM Bullion, and their orders are also fully insured. For storage, APMEX provides the option of using the secure facilities at Citadel Global Services, a subsidiary of APMEX.

Tips for Deciding if JM Bullion is Best for You

Choosing the right precious metals dealer for your investment needs is a crucial decision. It should be based on factors such as the range of products, pricing, service quality, and additional services such as storage options. Here are a few tips to help you determine if JM Bullion is the best choice for you:

Assess Your Investment Goals

The first step is to determine your investment goals. Are you investing in precious metals for wealth preservation, profit, or both? JM Bullion offers an extensive range of bullion products, which are ideal for wealth preservation and potential future profits. If your primary interest lies in bullion investments, JM Bullion may be the right fit for you.

Consider Pricing

While prices between reputable precious metal dealers are often similar, there can be differences. JM Bullion is known for competitive pricing on their products. If you're an investor who likes to make frequent purchases, even small price differences can add up over time. Always compare the prices of the same products across different platforms before deciding.

Evaluate the Customer Service

Good customer service can make your investment journey a lot smoother. JM Bullion is renowned for its high-quality customer service. If you value quick responses and knowledgeable assistance, JM Bullion's dedication to customer satisfaction could be a determining factor for you.

Product Diversity

If your interest lies more in a diverse range of bullion products, JM Bullion's extensive product catalog is an attractive feature. From different types of coins to bars and rounds, their selection caters to various investment preferences.

Think About Storage

If you don't have a secure place to store your precious metals or prefer not to keep them at home, you'll need a storage solution. JM Bullion has a partnership with TDS Vaults, offering secure and insured storage options for your precious metals.

Consider the Buying Experience

The overall buying experience includes aspects like website user-friendliness, ease of transaction, and delivery. JM Bullion is praised for its intuitive website and secure checkout process, making it an excellent choice for those who value an effortless buying experience.

In summary, JM Bullion is an excellent choice for investors seeking a diverse range of bullion products, competitive prices, excellent customer service, secure storage, and a seamless buying experience. As always, consider your individual needs and investment goals when making your decision.

Tips for Deciding if APMEX is Best for You

Making the decision about where to invest in precious metals is a highly individualized process, and the choice between dealers should be guided by your specific needs and investment goals. Here are some tips to help determine whether APMEX is the best choice for you:

Understand Your Investment Goals

Are you more interested in diversifying your investment portfolio, preserving wealth, or collecting rare and unique coins? APMEX has a broad range of offerings, including bullion for investors and numismatic and collectible coins for collectors. If you appreciate a wider range of options or have a particular interest in rare and collectible coins, APMEX could be an excellent choice for you.

Consider Pricing

Pricing is a significant factor in choosing a precious metals dealer. APMEX maintains competitive prices, and while slight differences may exist with other dealers, it's essential to weigh pricing alongside other factors like product range, customer service, and additional benefits. Consider the overall value offered by the dealer, not just the product prices.

Evaluate the Customer Service

Customer service plays a vital role in a satisfying and successful investment experience. APMEX is known for its professional and responsive customer service. If reliable customer support ranks high in your priorities, then APMEX could be a great fit for you.

Consider the Additional Perks

APMEX offers several benefits beyond its product offerings. The APMEX Club, a loyalty program, provides benefits like exclusive discounts and early access to new products. If you anticipate making frequent or large purchases, these additional perks could add substantial value to your transactions.

Consider Your Interest in Learning

For novice investors or those who appreciate a learning-centric approach, APMEX's commitment to customer education could be a significant advantage. Their comprehensive educational resources can guide you in making informed decisions and better understanding the precious metals market.

Reflect on Your Storage Needs

APMEX offers secure storage services through its subsidiary, Citadel Global Services. If you are considering substantial investments in precious metals and are concerned about safe storage, the seamless integration of APMEX's selling and Citadel's storage services could be particularly appealing.

Consider Your Buying Experience

A smooth buying experience, easy-to-navigate website, and clear information are all part of APMEX's commitment to customer satisfaction. If these factors are important to you, APMEX might be the right choice.

In conclusion, APMEX could be the ideal precious metals dealer for you if you value a vast product range, competitive pricing, strong customer service, additional benefits like a loyalty program, comprehensive educational resources, secure storage options, and a seamless buying experience. As always, your specific needs and investment goals should guide your decision.

Final Thoughts

Both JM Bullion and APMEX are reputable, trustworthy online dealers in the precious metals industry. They offer diverse product ranges, competitive pricing, and reliable shipping and storage options.

The decision between the two largely depends on your personal investment goals. If you're primarily interested in bullion products and value a straightforward, user-friendly platform, JM Bullion could be the right fit. Conversely, if you're a collector or are interested in a wider array of products and extensive educational resources, APMEX may be more suitable.

Regardless of which dealer you choose, remember that investing in precious metals should be part of a diversified portfolio. Seek the advice of a financial advisor to make informed decisions based on your specific financial circumstances and investment goals.

zero fees from Augusta precious metals

Read More

American Precious Metals Exchange (APMEX) has long been a beacon in the world of precious metals investing.

This platform's reputation for excellent service, a wide range of products, and competitive pricing has drawn numerous investors. 

However, as with all platforms, APMEX may not cater to every investor's unique needs and preferences. Therefore, it's crucial to consider alternatives.

This article aims to guide you through seven of the most reputable APMEX competitors, each with their unique strengths and considerations.

Top 7 Alternatives to APMEX

1. Goldco

Goldco Free Gold IRA Kit

Goldco, formerly known as Goldco Direct, is renowned for its focus on customer education and personalized service. They specialize in gold and silver IRAs, helping clients diversify their retirement savings with precious metals.


  • Provides a comprehensive educational resource center for beginners.
  • Excellent customer service and personalized attention.
  • Focus on retirement accounts allows for tax-advantaged investing.


  • Does not offer online purchasing of individual coins or bars.
  • Limited product selection compared to other platforms.

2. Augusta Precious Metals

the Augusta Precious Metals logo

Augusta Precious Metals emphasizes transparency, offering a straightforward pricing model that many investors appreciate. They specialize in gold and silver IRA's and provide a dedicated customer success agent to each client.


  • Straightforward pricing with no hidden fees.
  • High level of customer service with dedicated representatives.
  • Offers a buyback program for selling your precious metals back.


  • No online shopping option for individual products.
  • Limited to gold and silver; does not offer other precious metals like platinum or palladium.

>>Learn more and get free APM investing kit

3. Noble Gold

the Noble Gold logo

Noble Gold stands out with their range of offerings beyond the standard gold and silver. They offer precious metals IRAs but also allow direct purchase of a variety of precious metals, including rare coins and even royal mint collector's sets.


  • Wide range of products, including unique and rare offerings.
  • Provides the option for secure storage for your precious metals.
  • Strong educational resources for investors.


  • Pricing may be higher for some products compared to other platforms.

>>Learn more and get free Noble Gold investing kit

4. American Hartford Gold

American Hartford gold logo

American Hartford Gold is a family-owned business that has quickly earned a strong reputation in the precious metals industry. They offer a price match guarantee and a buyback commitment that reassures many investors.


  • Price match guarantee ensures competitive pricing.
  • Strong customer service reputation with a personalized approach.
  • Provides a buyback commitment.


  • Not as established as some competitors.
  • Limited to gold and silver products.

>>Learn more and get free AHG investing kit

5. RC Bullion

the RC bullion logo

RC Bullion specializes in precious metals IRAs, with a focus on simplifying the process for investors. They provide a streamlined, four-step process for setting up a self-directed IRA.


  • Streamlined process for setting up a precious metals IRA.
  • High level of customer service and individual attention.
  • Provides a variety of precious metals, including platinum and palladium.


  • Limited online shopping options.
  • Lacks the breadth of educational resources that some competitors provide.

>>Learn more and get free RC bullion investing kit

6. JM Bullion

a silver coin from JM bullion

JM Bullion is one of the most well-known APMEX alternatives, offering a vast selection of precious metals products at competitive prices. They cater to both large and small investors.


  • Extensive product range, including a variety of coins, bars, and rounds.
  • Competitive pricing structure.
  • Strong customer service and easy online ordering process.


  • Does not specialize in retirement accounts.
  • Minimum order amount required.

7. SD Bullion

the SD Bullion logo

SD Bullion is another widely recognized name in the precious metals industry. They boast a vast product selection and pride themselves on offering 'the lowest prices', which is a significant attraction for many investors.


  • Extensive product range with a variety of precious metals.
  • Low prices and a price match guarantee.
  • Offers a wealth of educational content for investors.


  • Does not offer a dedicated customer service representative.
  • Minimum purchase amount required.

Deciding Which APMEX Competitor Will Work Best for You

The process of selecting an ideal platform for investing in precious metals is highly individualized. Each investor has unique preferences, financial goals, and risk tolerance levels. Therefore, choosing the right APMEX alternative involves careful consideration of several key factors:

Investment Goals

The first step to deciding on the right precious metals dealer involves clarifying your investment goals. Are you primarily interested in diversifying your portfolio, protecting against inflation, or investing for retirement through a precious metals IRA? Each platform offers unique features that may cater more effectively to different objectives.

Product Variety

The range of products offered by the platform is another vital consideration. Some investors may be interested in gold and silver coins or bullion, while others might prefer diversifying with platinum or palladium. Certain platforms may also offer unique or rare items that might appeal to collectors.


The cost of purchasing precious metals can vary significantly between platforms. It's essential to compare prices, including premiums over the spot price, shipping fees, and any additional charges. Also, consider whether the platform offers a price match guarantee, like American Hartford Gold, which can provide assurance that you're getting the best deal.

Customer Service

Customer service is a critical aspect of any business, and precious metals dealers are no exception. Look for companies that have a reputation for responsive, knowledgeable, and friendly service. Some platforms, like Augusta Precious Metals, offer a dedicated customer success agent, which can provide a more personalized experience.

Educational Resources

If you're new to precious metals investing, the availability of educational resources can be a deciding factor. Look for platforms that provide detailed guides, FAQs, and other resources to help you understand the intricacies of investing in precious metals. For instance, Goldco is known for its comprehensive educational resource center.

Reputation and Reviews

Finally, take time to research the company’s reputation. Read reviews from past customers, check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings, and consider any industry awards or recognitions. A company’s reputation can provide valuable insight into their reliability and the quality of their services.

By carefully considering these factors, you can identify the platform that aligns best with your investment goals and preferences. Remember, precious metals investing is a long-term strategy, so it's important to choose a platform that you feel confident will meet your needs both now and in the future.

Why Goldco Tops Our List

In the realm of precious metals investing, Goldco emerges as our top pick among the alternatives to APMEX. This selection is based on Goldco's specific focus on retirement investing, their commitment to customer service, and their robust educational resources, all of which make them particularly appealing to a broad range of investors.

Specialized Focus on Retirement Investing

Goldco's specialization in precious metals Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) positions them uniquely in the market. They understand that many investors turn to precious metals as a method of diversifying their retirement portfolios and protecting their wealth against economic uncertainties.

Goldco provides a comprehensive solution for those looking to include gold and silver in their retirement savings. They not only help investors purchase the right precious metals, but they also guide them through the process of setting up a self-directed IRA, facilitating the entire rollover process from a traditional IRA or 401(k).

Superior Customer Service

Customer service is another area where Goldco shines. From your first point of contact, Goldco assigns a personal account executive to work with you. This representative provides individualized service, helping you understand your options, guiding you through the process, and answering any questions you might have.

This level of personalized service is a significant factor in Goldco's high customer satisfaction ratings. It reassures investors that they will have a reliable point of contact who understands their specific situation and investment goals.

Comprehensive Educational Resources

Goldco also excels in providing educational resources to investors. Their resource center includes detailed guides and articles about investing in precious metals, setting up a gold IRA, and understanding the market dynamics that impact the value of precious metals.

For new investors, this commitment to education can make the process of investing in precious metals less daunting. It allows them to make informed decisions, understand the potential risks and rewards, and ultimately feel more confident in their investment strategy.

In summary, Goldco's specialized focus on precious metals IRAs, their commitment to superior customer service, and their comprehensive educational resources make them a top choice for those looking to diversify their retirement savings with gold and silver. While each investor's needs are unique, we believe that Goldco offers a combination of features and services that will meet or exceed the expectations of most precious metals investors.


While APMEX is a reliable platform for precious metals investing, it's wise to consider alternatives that may align better with your specific needs. Whether you're seeking the most extensive product selection, the lowest prices, the best customer service, or the most advantageous retirement account options, there's an APMEX alternative out there for you.

Remember, diversifying your investment portfolio with precious metals is a long-term strategy. Therefore, choose a platform that you're comfortable with, one that meets your needs, and most importantly, one that you trust.

Read More


Get the information you need to make an informed precious metals investment decision.


COLIN KUEHN  Lead Researcher

Colin is a trained journalist, with a master's degree from the University of Montana. He has worked in print, radio and television. His primary research focus is gold and sliver investing. 

When he's not working, Colin enjoys spending time fishing one of Montana's many blue ribbon trout streams.