Yes, it is safe to buy collectible coins online, but only if you do your homework. As with any endeavor, this industry has its scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells. And the internet makes it easier than ever for those dishonest scammers to take advantage of coin collectors.
What to Watch For:
There are a few reasons that coin collectors need to be especially careful about online shopping. Coins are reasonably affordable, compact and relatively simple to counterfeit, making it easy for a fly-by-night “dealer” to set up shop online.
The biggest limitation of online shopping for coins is the fact that you cannot see the exact item you are buying. This is a huge departure from the past when coin sales were always in person! Although many collectors still prefer a face-to-face transaction, online sales are very popular and have some advantages. Selection is much larger on the internet; you can find most anything you are looking for. And there is the ease of shopping from your home, day or night.
Price comparison is another motivation for collectors to buy online. But shopping for the lowest price is not always going to work to your advantage. Deals that are “too good to be true” almost always are “too good to be true.” Shady grading, fake coins and false advertising are all too common.
Trust is the only way to solve these problems. You need to find online dealers you can depend on. You probably won’t be paying rock bottom prices with these dealers. Reputable companies, with trained staff and an inventory of fairly graded authentic coins, have expenses to meet and need to be financially secure to stay in business for the long run.
Find a Reputable Source for Coins:
How long has the company been in business? Does it guarantee the accuracy of its grading and offer a money-back guarantee? Is there a wide selection and competitive prices? Are you offered personalized services, fast delivery, reasonable shipping prices and special searches?
You should also look for solid research from online coin companies. Ok, I admit I’m biased on this point because part of what I do for a living is to share coin knowledge with collectors though our website. If you are an experienced, thoroughly knowledgeable collector this may not be of interest to you. But for most collectors, shopping at a web site that just list dates, mints, grades and price will not help you grow your numismatic knowledge.
Where to Go From Here:
Shop around online and when you make comparisons go beyond just pricing data. Be sure you look into return policies BEFORE you buy. Then place a small order with a few different sources and watch your results. Is the grading accurate? Was the coin delivered in a timely manner? Can you speak to a real person on the phone when necessary? Once you’ve had a good experience or two you can shop with confidence and build a relationship with the supplier just like you would with an in-person dealer.
Ideally, online shopping can provide extraordinary convenience while you are also growing your collection and your numismatic knowledge base.