Q: A reader named Joel asked about good companies to buy precious metals from.
A: Joel I would suggest first looking to your local brick and mortar stores. Most mid sized cities have one. The advantage these stores have is that you can go their every week to pick up an ounce of silver if you are so inclined. There are also no shipping charges (we will get back to that later) which especially if you make fairly frequent small purchases do add up. However do not just assume they are cheaper, often they are not. They have the costs of having a brick and mortar store and their potential customer base is geographically limited while an online store has far lower costs and a much wider customer base.
The bottom line is that you need to be educated and aware of gold and silver spot prices are and also of what competitive costs for the items you are interested in are. [Some products have notably high premiums (say Gold American Eagles or Silver Dollars) but that is a whole nother post.] Here is where things get complicated........
You need to be able to reasonably calculate what products will cost all said and done at your door not the price per item on a site or ebay. I think particularly with Ebay where you can pick up small amounts of 90% silver or whatever shipping and handling can really get you. The bottom line is that you need to figure out the cost of X lot of precious metals if you purchase it at a local store (if applicable) or from an online dealer in order to be able to make a sound decision.
For online vendors I can personally say that I have dealt with Kitco and Apmex and had positive experiences. I think Apmex tends to have lower shipping costs which is a big deal especially for frequent smaller purchases but sometimes you can get a better deal at Kitco. The key is to run the numbers and see where you can get the best deals be it the brick and mortar store, online store a or online store b.