Online coin auctions work as intermediaries between sellers who want to sell their coins and buyers who want to buy coins. Users must register through an online auction site before they can place items for bid. Online coin auctions allow users to gain access to coins and collections they may not be able to find at regular coin stores. It's also often more profitable for sellers to sell through an online auction platform.
The best online coin auctions offer robust descriptions and terms of each piece, including shipping charges, return policies, and payment options. Good online coin auction sites accept returns with a stated return policy. They have stellar feedback ratings, don't use private auction listings, and stick to the standard buyer's premium at or around 20%.
Best Online Coin Auctions of 2021
- Best Overall: Heritage Auctions Coins
- Best for Rare Coins: Stack's Bowers
- Best for International Coins: Archives International Auctions
- Best for Coin Collections: Goldberg Coins and Collectibles
- Best for Bullion Coins: Penny Pincher Auctions
- Best for Commemorative Coins: Kagin's
- Best for Ancient Coins: Spink
- Best for Live Auctions: LiveAuctioneers
- Best for Low Fees: GreatCollections Coin Auctions
Best Overall : Heritage Auctions Coins
We chose Heritage Auctions Coins due to its unbiased, transparent, and varied options for both collectors and sellers. The established company has a diversity of U.S. and world coins along with rare currency.
Deals with a wide range of U.S. and world coins and rare currency
Comprehensive internet bidding tutorials
Staff of more than 130 experts
10% fee (minimum fee $25) for coins under $2,500
Customer service and shipping concerns from customers
Heritage Auctions, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and located throughout the U.S., won this category for its wide variety of coins, free appraisals, and many ways to bid. It features U.S. coins, world and ancient coins, rare world paper money, and more. Coin collectors can set a maximum bid and take advantage of advanced options if they want tighter control.
Register for a free membership to access Heritage Auctions' auction archives and bidding. You can bid in multiple ways: with a signature auction with an optional live floor session component, email, in person, through the mail, by fax, live by phone, and through Heritage Live bidding, which allows continuous bidding from the time the auction is posted on the site and throughout the live event.
Bid through the Heritage app so you can manage your bids and consignments on the go. Heritage, a member of the professional American Numismatic Association, has a staff of more than 130 experts and 400 additional service-oriented professionals can help you with a free appraisal.
Heritage customers can return items within three business days of receipt of the item. All returns must be in the same condition, including the security tag, and must include a copy of the invoice.
Note that the Better Business Bureau notes customer concerns regarding customer service, shipping, and more.
Best for Rare Coins : Stack's Bowers
Stack's Bowers has conducted live, internet, and specialized auctions of rare U.S., world, and ancient coins and currency since 1933. The company has handled famous collections and deals with rare coins through live and internet auctions. It also conducts retail buying and selling.
Fulfills a wide range of coin desires, including rare coins
Free appraisals and grading
Fully integrated website allows unlimited bidders to bid on your coins and currency
Complicated system may be confusing to inexperienced numismatists
Past technical and invoice difficulties
Throughout Stack's Bowers' 80-year history, it has sold every major date, mintmark, and type of U.S. coin which is why it wins the best for rare coins. It has also sold six out of the seven most valuable collections in history and is a member of the American Numismatic Association.
Its corporate headquarters are located in Costa Mesa, California, and it also has locations in New York, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire. International locations include France and Hong Kong.
Stack's Bowers offers several ways to bid after you create your free account. It's easy to bid in person during a live auction by filling out a registration form and securing a bid paddle. Participants can also bid via telephone, mail, absentee ballot email, or fax. You can also participate through the mobile app, and you can hear and watch live auctions through live audio and video feeds.
Stack's Bowers must receive any and all claims about a lot in damaged condition within 30 days after payment or the date of your auction sale.
Stack’s Bowers can appraise your collection for free in offices in California, New York City, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Hong Kong, and Paris. Walk-ins are welcome in New York.
Stack's Bowers staff has a combined 1,250 years of experience, including catalogers and researchers who specialize in world and ancient coins, metals, tokens, and paper money. Many of the team's experts have been published in numismatic reference books as well.
Best for International Coins : Archives International Auctions
Archives International Auctions, an auction house and online store dealing in financial history collectibles and investment material, won best for international coins. Over its 30 years in existence, it has hosted eight to 10 auctions per year for coins, paper currency, and medals.
Experienced auction house and online store
Extensive knowledge of antique stocks and bonds
No in-depth information on how to bid
Certain coins and notes not returnable
Archives International Auctions, a member of the American Numismatic Association, captured this category due to its history of dealing, consulting, researching, and collecting international coins for the last 25 years. The company specializes as consultants and appraisers of scripophily (collectible bond and share certificates), numismatics (coins, paper currency, and medals), and philately (stamps and postal history) for over 30 years. Archives International Auctions also seeks consignments, appraisals, and auction consignments.
Create a free account to get approved to bid in auctions, through pre-bids and live bidding, set up smartwatch notifications, bookmark items, track bids, and more. Next, click on a lot title to go to the bidding platform.
Note that those who have third-party graded notes by Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) cannot return their items.
Best for Coin Collections : Goldberg Coins and Collectibles
Goldberg Coins and Collectibles won this category for its professionals dedicated to helping consumers put together their coin collections for the best price. Goldberg Coins and Collectibles goes the extra mile for consumers through mailing lists and internet marketing by finding the right landing place for your collection.
Over 80 years of experience
Clients work directly with the principal owners
No in-depth information on how to bid
Certain coins and notes not returnable
Goldberg Coins and Collectibles offers coin collectors over 50 years of experience, winning our top choice for best for coin collections. The company founders have helped people build their collections and have also shattered collection price records. They have also won a lifetime achievement award for their contributions to the numismatic community.
You can find all types of coins on the site, but both founders are experts on U.S. colonials through modern issue coins. They also specialize in Greek, Roman, Judean, world gold, and silver coins.
In the event of a dispute, Goldberg Coins and Collectibles can offer the purchaser an amount equal to the successful bid price, plus commissions if the description of any lot in the catalog is incorrect. The lot is returnable within five calendar days of receipt but no later than 21 calendar days after the sale date. No return or refund of any auction lot will be considered except for lack of authenticity.
Best for Bullion Coins : Penny Pincher Auctions
Penny Pincher Auctions won the best for bullion coins for its spotlight on raw and certified gold coins. It also buys and sells raw and certified U.S. coins and paper money. The company also features ancient coins from Rome, Greece, and other empires. Penny Pincher Auctions runs standard live auction events each week.
Can pick up lots in person to avoid shipping charges
Caters to the average buyer
Can contact and visit the business in person
No free appraisals or grading
All sales are final
Additional 3% credit card or PayPal charge
We chose the American Numismatic Association member, Penny Pincher Auctions, for best for bullion coins due to its focus on services to an "untouched" market and clients by auctioning both certified and uncertified coins.
Penny Pincher Coins opened in 2007 in Fairfax, Virginia, opened stores in Fairfax City and another in Great Falls, Virginia. Individuals can also drop items off.
Penny Pincher Auctions specializes in U.S. coins, gold coins, paper money, world coins, and ancient coins from Rome, Greece, and other locations around the world. Big market houses typically only buy certified coins; this auction site gears toward people who want to invest less in lower-priced coins.
Penny Pincher Auctions allows you to create an account for free by inputting a username for bidding, buying, and selling. Input your email address, street address, and agree to the company's few terms and conditions. You don't have to watch the auction close; Penny Pincher Auctions will let you know if you win.
Penny Pincher Auctions does not allow returns but offers professional photography to provide digital photographs of the items auctioned for complete transparency. It also auctions military paraphernalia, antiquities, and more.
Best for Commemorative Coins : Kagin's
Kagin's swept our commemorative coins category for its collections of early and rare U.S. copper, gold, and silver coins, including pioneer and federal currency. Kagin's experts help clients build their personal collections.
Extensive team member experience
Has set records by auctioning rare numismatic material
Helps advanced collectors assemble specific collections
Additional 3% credit card charge
Does not accept corporate bidders
High 23% buyer's commission
Kagin's, a member of the American Numismatic Association, wins the best commemorative coins category because of its long history of auctioning rare coins, including pioneer gold, colonials, patterns, classic rarities, errors, paper currency, California fractional gold, ingots, and more. Kagin's doesn't put a reserve on items at auction, which means it doesn't put a specific price on any items.
Kagin's allows you to create a username and password using an email address and online bidders automatically get bidding paddle numbers.
Buyers cannot return items if they certified coins through a third-party certification service if they have a valid resale certificate or if they viewed the item in person prior to the purchase. However, if the item is counterfeit, contains an altered date or mintmark, or contains undisclosed repairs, you can return the items. Notify Kagin's in writing within five days of receiving the item and return the item in its original, sealed, and unopened container.
Don Kagin, the owner of Kagin's, holds the first doctorate in numismatics ever granted in the United States. He serves as a consultant for governments, banks and trust departments, money managers, financial planners, and professionals as well.
Best for Ancient Coins : Spink
We chose Spink as best for ancient coins due to its expertise in British hammered and milled coinage and ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, and Islamic coins and medallions. Spink holds a minimum of four annual coin auctions in its London salesroom and major coin auctions in New York as well as in Hong Kong.
Extensive team member experience
Helps advanced collectors with their collections
Offers both low-priced and high-priced items to meet collector needs
Can be less accessible to U.S. collectors
Pricier collections can be a turnoff to small investors
Additional 3% charge for Visa and Mastercard; 4% for American Express
Spink's wins best for ancient coins because of its constant spotlight on ancient coins and medallions. The Spink Live button on the home page allows collectors to access a bid or view auctions live with a video and audio feed. Use mail, fax, or email—decide on a maximum bid for a particular lot at least 24 hours before the auction. Bidding by phone is usually only available for lots with a minimum low estimate of $1,394.92 (or the current exchange rate for pound sterling to U.S. dollars).
The London-based Spink specializes in more than just coins—it also auctions and sells stamps, banknotes, medals, bonds and shares, autographs, books, wine and spirits, and more.
You can get a refund if a lot proves to have been a forgery. However, Spink will not refund your money if the catalog description or salesroom notice at the auction date corresponded to the generally accepted opinion of experts at that time or indicated that a conflict of opinions already existed.
Best for Live Auctions : LiveAuctioneers
We chose LiveAuctioneers for consumers' ability to bid through dozens of auction houses for many types of collectibles, including coins. Its virtual coin auctions offer some of the most high-tech options for customers who want access to thousands of options through a live coin auction.
Can bid through dozens of different auction houses
Can leave an absentee bid or bid in a live auction
Objects for bid in more than 50 countries
Not specifically just for coin collectors; may not offer in-house expertise
Buyer’s premiums vary from auction to auction and can range from 0% to 30%
Many auction houses on the site; different rules for each
LiveAuctioneers took the best category for live auctions because of its ability to give auction attendees wide exposure to many auction houses with the click of a button. In addition, coin enthusiasts can place bids in advance in real-time on the site.
In 2002, LiveAuctioneers, a New York City-based company, formed an alliance with eBay so auction houses could conduct live sales. LiveAuctioneers features coins, bullion, bills and currency notes, stocks, bonds, and bank certificates. Through iOS and Android apps, live-bidding capabilities, live streaming video, easy online payments, and personalized search alerts, LiveAuctioneer offers a platform for small investors to those looking to add to luxury collections.
Participating in auctions on LiveAuctioneers involves creating a free, secure LiveAuctioneers account. Credit card information added to your LiveAuctioneers does not get shared with auction houses.
Each auction house has its own terms and conditions related to refunds and returns, so carefully review the terms and conditions of each auction. You can also contact the auction house directly through the auctioneer’s "Ask a Question" button.
Best for Low Fees : GreatCollections Coin Auctions
We chose GreatCollections due to its low listing fees and seller's fees between 0% and 5%, depending on the value of the item sold. We also like its extensive collection of certified coins and paper money ranging in price from $25 up to over $100,000. GreatCollections offers items certified by the leading third-party grading companies.
Low listing and selling fees
Graded, certified coins available
Not specifically just for coin collectors; may not offer in-house expertise
Must pay grading fees through your consignor check
GreatCollections took this category because it does not have hidden reserves and includes professional images of every auction, as well as low buy or sell fees, often down to 0%. Coins list in a matter of days and payment is routinely sent within seven to 10 days of the auction. GreatCollections also offers discounted grading rates.
The Irvine, California-based GreatCollections offers a wide selection of certified coins graded by PCGS, the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), and the American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS).
GreatCollections allows returns as long as the item has been paid for within seven days of the auction date and the buyer makes no request to delay shipment. The buyer must notify GreatCollections within 24 hours and receive a return confirmation number. Original and return shipping costs are not refunded.
GreatCollections, a member of the American Numismatic Association, has successfully auctioned over 900,000 certified coins, making it one of the leading certified coin companies in the U.S.
There are many live auction houses to choose from. Some companies, like Spink and LiveAuctioneer, offer many more items than just coins while others specialize specifically in coins. Most branch out into notaphily, or paper money like banknotes; exonumia, or coin-like items such as medals; and scripophily, or securities like stocks and bonds. Overall, the best on the market is Heritage Auctions Coins.
Heritage Auction Coins maximizes bidding activity, has more traffic (which means more potential bidders) and offers seasoned advice by its many experts. It also serves as the official auctioneer of many major conventions.
Compare the Best Online Coin Auctions
|Company||Years in Business||Fees||Avg. Shipping Time||Coins Available|
|Heritage Auctions Coins Best Overall||45||10% seller’s fee charged for items under $2,500 $500 minimum appraisal fee or $350 per hour per appraiser, whichever is higher. Daily rate of $2,500 per day for extensive on-site appraisals. 10% fee (minimum fee $25) for coins under $2,500 and shipping fees||Anywhere from one to four weeks||U.S. coins, world and ancient coins, gold coins, silver coins, slabbed and graded coins of all types|
|Stack's Bowers Best for Rare Coins||80||20% fee added to the winning hammer price of each lot (minimum of $20 per lot) and shipping fees||All orders shipped via USPS shipping time standards.||Rare U.S. and world coins and currency; ancient coins|
|Archives International Auctions Best for International Coins||30||Buyer's premium, taxes, shipping costs (all vary depending on auction)||Shipping time varies.||U.S. and worldwide banknotes, stocks, coins, bonds, and historic documents|
|Goldberg Coins and Collectibles Best for Coin Collections||80||20% buyer's premium||Allow 2–3 weeks after receipt of payment for shipping.||U.S. coins, Greek, Roman, and Judean coins, world gold, crowns, minors, and more|
|Penny Pincher Auctions Best for Bullion Coins||14||15% buyer's premium, 3% transaction fee if paying by credit card or PayPal, $15 flat rate for USPS shipping and handling, insurance billed at 1% of the hammer price (included in shipping on the invoice)||1–3 day handling time, most things ship priority mail. Will ship registered by customer request within 1–2 weeks.||Gold coins, U.S. coins, paper money, world coins, and ancient coins from Rome, Greece, other empires, and more|
|Kagin's Best for Commemorative Coins||88||Additional 3% credit card charge, 23% buyer's commission||Shipping time varies||Early and rare U.S. copper, pioneer, territorial, gold, and silver coins|
|Spink Best for Ancient Coins||355||Varied hammer price, buyer’s 20% premium, postage charge ($30 shipments within the U.S. and $50 shipments outside the U.S.). Additional credit card fee.||All lots shipped via U.S. Express Mail to post office boxes, via Federal Express to street addresses, and via FedEx ground for bulky large lots.||Coins, banknotes, medals, bonds, and shares|
|LiveAuctioneers Best for Live Auctions||19||2.8% processing fee for sellers, buyer's premium (varies according to auction house), applicable shipping fees depending on the auction house||Varies depending on the auction house||Antique and vintage coins and currency|
|Great Collections Coin Auctions Best for Low Fees||11||Shipping fees, 5% fee for more than one return during a month, average seller's fees between 0% and 5%||Shipping time varies, depending on the shipping method customers choose.||Certified and rare coins|
How to Choose the Best Online Coin Auctions
Selecting the best online coin auction house means finding the site with the right coins that fit your budget. You may prefer an auction house that offers in-person appraisals, so it might come down to location as well. Here's what you can look for when you choose an online coin auction.
- Location: Do you need to have your items appraised if you plan to sell? You might need to make sure you can easily access the auction house. However, if you're willing to travel to get there, you may want to consider a few other options to get the best coins for your collection.
- Return policy: How are returns handled? What about disputes? Learn about the return policy for the item you're bidding on; it might not be exactly what you expected to receive when you first get your hands on it after bidding on an item online.
- Experience: Look for an online coin auction that has a lengthy history of dealing with coins. Make sure the auctioneer belongs to trade organizations such as the American Numismatic Association or the Professional Numismatist Guild. Professional affiliations tell you that the dealer will stick to certain industry guidelines and standards.
- Clear terms and conditions: What is the buyer's fee? Can you access credit? Does the auction company guarantee authenticity? Look carefully into all the terms and conditions before you make a decision about the right auction for you.
- Auction catalog: Look at the auction catalog so you know what coins will come up through the auction and when. Learn more about the coins that a particular online auction will feature before you bid.
Get on the phone and talk to the auction house before you bid and inquire about appraising your collection. Ask how much it will cost to appraise and what guarantees that provides.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know How Much My Coins Are Worth for an Online Auction?
Take a look at "A Guide Book of United States Coins," which numismatic enthusiasts call the "Red Book," to understand how much your coins are worth. Note that the book provides retail values, not wholesale values.
Get your coins appraised ahead of time by one of these auction houses or by a dealer who belongs to the American Numismatic Association. Coin enthusiasts should check with two or three dealers to get the most accurate idea of what someone might pay for a collection.
How Are Coins Packaged For Shipping After Auction?
Each coin auction house professionally wraps coins for shipping using a number of different methods. They will use bubble wrap, tissue paper, and other insulation paper for wrapping each individual item. The goal is to prevent items from moving around and getting damaged during the shipping process.
Does an Online Coin Auction Site Insure My Coin Collection?
Most online coin auction sites insure your coin collection when you work with them, but you must check each individual site for more information. For example, GreatCollections has an extensive insurance policy with Lloyd's of London (through HW Wood). This covers all coins in its possession, and when coins are in transit to buyers and consignors.
What Happens if My Coins Don’t Sell at an Online Coin Auction?
Every auction site has a slightly different policy. However, they may list your coins in a new auction if you can't sell them right away. The auction site may not keep making repeated attempts to sell your coins and may ship them back to you for a fee. Learn more about the minimum reserve amount at each online coin auction before you make a final decision. If you have a lot that is tough to sell, consider consigning them with a dealer instead.
How Much Do Online Coin Auctions Cost for Buyers and Sellers?
Online coin auctions typically have a high commission load. A major auction house usually charges a commission to the seller of between 5% and 20% of the auction price. In addition, the buyer will likely pay a buyer's premium, an additional charge (which varies, depending on the auction house) on the hammer price of the lot. The auctioneer charges the winning bidder to pay for administrative expenses.
To select the best online coin auctions for this review, we looked for auction houses that offer a wide variety of coins, low fees, transparent information about the bidding process, and a stellar reputation within the numismatic community.
We also researched coin auctions listed by the American Numismatic Association (ANA), a nonprofit dedicated to the study of numismatics and coin collecting. We used its searchable database to find ANA member coin dealers and auctioneers as well as reputable auction houses by numismatic specialty and location.