How To Buy Coins At Discounted Prices When You’re On A Budget – Insider Tips From A Longtime Coin Collector

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By Joshua

Coin collectors who, like me, are on a budget, are always looking to buy coins at discounted prices.

I’m talking about coins that cost less than book value, or the typical fair market value for a given coin in a particular grade.

Bargain Coins

Believe it or not, there really are discount coins out there.

How do you find these bargain coins? How much less expensive are they than the “regular-priced” coins? Are there any strings attached?

I have the answers to all those questions below…

Where Do You Find Discounted Coins?

Many coin dealers have a box of bargain coins. Stop by a coin dealer’s shop and see if they have any of the following:

You might also want to see if the coin dealer has a box of coins that I’ve usually heard referred to as “commons.” These bins (often called “half-off boxes”) usually include average-circulated common-date coins of the following series:

Bargain Coins

It’s possible the coin dealer you visit may have a different term for the bin or box of those common coins, but just about every coin dealer I’ve been to has such an offering. So, it pays to at least ask.

Many online coin dealers and mail-order coin dealers also run periodic specials on certain types of coins.

You’ll need to check each coin dealer’s offerings to see which coins are being offered at discounts, as these specials usually change every so often.

But Don’t You Only Get What You Pay For?

I know what you’re asking. You’re afraid that if you’re paying substantially less for a coin — say 20% or 30% (or more) off the the “regular” price of a coin — that maybe you’re getting a lower-quality coin.

Well, it’s been said by many numismatists that “there isn’t a Santa Claus in coin collecting.” That’s partially true.

You normally do get what you pay for, which means discount price tags are usually hanging off coins that have been cleaned, have some slight (or worse) surface quality problems, or have some type of defect (perhaps too minor to really bother you).

Bargain Coins

Sometimes, a coin dealer will offer a slight discount on a coin that simply isn’t moving. This might be a problem-free coin that they’ve had in their inventory for months or even years and they’re simply ready to get rid of the coin to make some quick cash.

That’s why it never hurts to try haggling with the coin dealer on the price whenever you buy coins.

How To Negotiate The Price Of A Coin With A Coin Dealer

There is, of course, an art to working with a coin dealer on the price of a coin.

You don’t want to just march into the shop like you own the store, point to the nicest looking 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent, and say “I’ll give you $10 for that pretty penny.”

OK, that may be a slight exaggeration of a situation that could arise when coin buyers get excited about scoring a good deal on a nice coin. In fact, that’s a perfect example of what not to do when trying to haggle with a coin dealer on the price of a coin.

The truth is, if you want to buy some cheap coins and you aren’t finding what you want in the discount coin bin, the best way to go about looking for a small cut in the price is to ask nicely.

Here’s an example of what I’ve done in the past with some coin dealers:

Me: “May I look at “X” coin?”

Coin Dealer: “Sure, Josh. The coin down here?” [Coin Dealer points through glass case at the coin I’m asking about].

Me: “Yes, thank you.” 

[I carefully inspect the coin with my coin loupe.]

Me: “What can you tell me about the price of this coin?”

Coin Dealer: “Let me see here…” [Coin Dealer flips through the latest edition of Coin Dealer Newsletter, more often called The Greysheet.]

[I quietly wait while the Coin Dealer decides how to quote me based on me whatever the coin’s corresponding “ask” price is in the Greysheet plus, perhaps, a small markup. I maintain a poker face.]

Coin Dealer: “I’ll take $XX for the coin.”

Me: “Hmm… Based on what I’ve seen in [insert coin media resource of your choice here, hopefully The Fun Times Guide!], I know the market for this coin/coin series has been soft recently. Is there any chance you’ll consider $XX-Y instead?”

[Coin Dealer looks at the Greysheet again. I maintain a poker face.]

Coin Dealer: “I can do $XX-Y+Z. What do you say?”

[I think carefully, realizing that a “fair” discount may “only” be 5% or 10% off Coin Dealer’s asking price. I only have so much that I can spend on my coin collection, but I also know Coin Dealer has to pay for the overhead costs of operating a store. I decide Coin Dealer’s negotiated offer is fair and still within my budget.]

Me: “We’ve got a deal.”


The above exchange between myself and a coin dealer is a generic example of my past negotiations, but it’s based on actual transactions that I’ve had more than once with various coin dealers.

Your experience in negotiating the prices of coins may not go exactly the way my example above does. However, if you’re polite, fair, and, most of all, honest with a coin dealer, they are likely to work with you every now and then on the prices you pay for the coins you buy at their shop.

Bargain coins really do exist, and you’re bound to find them if you know the values of the coins you want. So, be sure to use the price guides here at The Fun Times Guide to get a better idea as to what many U.S. coins are worth!

Knowing the latest coin values will help you better spot the bargain coins and allow you to best negotiate discounts on the coins you want to buy from your coin dealer.

More Ways To Buy Coins At Cheap Prices