We Tested Them All!

We purchased ten identical sets of gold jewelry and silver coins (see pics below): a 14k gold necklace weighing eight grams, a pair of 10k gold earrings weighing five grams, and three gold-plated sterling silver coins weighing one-ounce apiece. Next, we contacted ten separate cash for gold companies and requested "gold kits" from them by filling out their forms online. We decided to publish our findings online so the public could see for themselves. It should be noted that two of the companies didn't even know that the coins we sent in were actually made of sterling silver! Pretty scary, huh!

The final results demonstrated that Cash for Gold USA paid over $130 more than amount that the second-place company paid out. We highly recommend Cash for Gold USA primarily for their high payout.

TOP Cash For Gold Site Rankings


Cash For Gold USA
After some pretty astonishing results, we decided to share our findings online. Some were surprisingly good, some were predictably bad, and two of the companies didn't even know that the coins we sent in were actually sterling silver!
  • CashforGoldUSA.com
  • PrecisionRefining.com
  • JustSellGold.com
  • ExpressGoldCash.com
  • CaptainCashforGold.com
  • GoldStash.com
  • BrokenGold.com
  • $343.89
  • $208.21
  • $189.00
  • $174.38
  • $104.80
  • $81.54
  • $32.20
  • gold bars
Our Experiment

There are many Cash for Gold companies out there online -- all claiming to "Pay the Best" - however, there can only be one company that actually does pay the most.

  • We predicted that none of the companies would pay the exact same amount for the identical material. This was TRUE.
  • We predicted that there would be a slight difference between all the payouts. This was TRUE in that there were differences between payouts, but the differences were larger than expected.
  • We predicted that some companies wouldn't recognize the gold-plated coins were actually sterling silver. This was TRUE.
  • We predicted that one of the companies would "lose" our items. This was FALSE... Thank goodness!

In order to gauge the true payouts of the companies being tested, we had to ensure that the items we sent to each company were exactly alike. We purchased through a private jeweler 10 Identical Sets of the following items:

  • A gold necklace (14k) weighing 8 grams
  • A set of gold earrings (10k) weighing 5 grams
  • Three gold-plated sterling silver commemorative coins weighing 3 ounces of sterling silver (which is 92.5% pure) for a total of 86.3 g of pure silver
We thought the gold-plated coins would be a good item to add to our test because they look like gold, but are in fact only surrounded by a very thin layer of it. There isn't enough gold on the outside of the coin to really be worth much. However, the real value is inside - the coins are actually made of sterling silver. We predicted that some of the companies wouldn't catch on to this and recognize their true value, and we were right!

Goldpak, Gold Kit, Pre-Paid Mailer, Secure Pak, CashPak, GoldPaq
For each of the respective Cash for Gold companies being tested, we signed up on their websites by filling out a request form online. The companies then agreed to mail us a free kit in order for us to ship our materials to them at no cost to us. The packages kits delivered to us at different times over the course of approximately two weeks.

There were two different shipping options:

FedEx, UPS, Third-Party Carriers Some of the cash for gold companies provided pre-paid FedEx or UPS shipping labels with either ground or priority delivery. What's nice about this option when you're sending your gold, silver, platinum or diamonds through the mail is that you can really trust a third-party carrier like Federal Express. The chances of your package getting "lost" in the mail definitely gets minimized. We felt more confident about shipping our items through this type of service, that can be tracked throughout the entire shipping process on the third party's website. Also, these packages typically get delivered quicker than the option below.

Pre-Paid Envelope sent via USPS There were many companies that sent us a kit which contained the following:

  • A lovely brochure touting their promises, awards, BBB rating along with our tracking # and full name and address printed on it
  • A plastic bag to contain our items
  • A pre-paid business envelope (usually made of Tyvek) to ship the materials back
  • Some companies like Captain Cash for Gold sent us a key-chain, or a promise of a free vacation - which was really a bogus ploy to get us to look at a timeshare! They must have some deal with another company - hopefully you won’t fall for that trick.
As demonstrated in the pictures, we sent back the kits to all of the companies being tested on the same day. We did this in order to control for the variable change in the market price of gold and silver the day our items were sold. The companies received our kits all within three days of one another. It should be noted that the precious metal prices were very close to one another over the course of these three days and was therefore deemed not a factor in affecting the overall price of our gold and silver items.

NOTE: Personal Information & Private Data
A couple of the companies required full documentation (Drivers License or State ID AND a Passport!) to be sent in along with the items due to specific state laws. Since we didn't trust these cash-for-gold companies with our personal information, we decided NOT to send the items into them, instead we just didn't include them in our study. With so much identity theft happening on the internet, we felt it wise not to send some random company our Passport and Drivers License numbers. That information is worth more than the gold!

The Experiment
10 Identical Packages (same items being shipped)
10 Different companies
10 Different Payouts!

Out of all ten companies contacted, two of them requested our personal information (i.e. Passport & Drivers License #) which we felt uncomfortable sharing. One company did not even respond. Therefore, we were only able to send material to seven of the most popular online gold buyers. We thought that seven companies would still give us enough results to get a fair representation of what the market was paying for our items.

In order to control for the precious metal market changing and affecting the outcome of our experiment, we sent all of the packages back to the respective gold buyers on the exact same day. Through email notification and third-party tracking efforts, we were able to determine that all of the packages arrived at the companies within three days of one another. The prices of gold and silver did not fluctuate enough during this period of time to effect comparing the overall payout by each company.

The Results

Even though the packages went out at the same time, the payments came in at different times and spanned nearly 10 days. We received the checks in the following order:

Quickest Payers:
  1. Gold Stash
  2. Cash for Gold USA
  3. Just Sell Gold
  4. Express Gold Cash
  5. Broken Gold
  6. Captain Cash for Gold
  7. Precision Refining

It's understandable that some checks took longer to get back to us than others due to the fact that these companies are located in all different parts of the country. And since the test was conducted in California, companies that were further East obviously took longer to ship their checks back to us than those situated in the West.

The surprise was the range of payouts that we received. The top company CashforGoldUSA.com paid more than 1000% (that's 10 times!) more than the worst paying company, BrokenGold.com. It was absolutely astonishing to see how the same exact items earned completely different returns. We were definitely expecting to see a difference, however, the size of that difference was scary. Here are the rankings of the payouts:

Highest Bidders
1. CashforGoldUSA.com$343.89
2. PrecisionRefining.com $208.21
3. JustSellGold.com$189.00
4. ExpressGoldCash.com$174.3t
5. CaptainCashforGold.com$104.80
6. GoldStash.com$81.54
7. BrokenGold.com$32.20

It should be also recognized that a couple of the companies didn't even recognize the coins were sterling silver! Even though it blatantly states it right on the coin in plain English.


We obviously have to recommend Cash for Gold USA as the company of choice in this experiment. They blew out the lowest bidder by over 1000% and they paid 50% more cash than the second highest bidder. Cash for Gold USA has a lot of positive feedback online as well as an A rating with the Better Business Bureau.

CAUTION: Look out for Cash for Gold SCAMS & RIP-OFFs!
Be aware of where you are sending your gold. Make sure the company has been around for more than five minutes. Do the research! If a company can't recognize that the material you are sending in IS what they claim to be experts on, get your stuff back. It's frightening how anyone can launch a website today and claim they are a "expert."

Another tip would be to make sure the company has an actual office location. Don't do business with a company who you are unable to contact over the phone - or even worse, if they're operating out of a P.O. box - that just has scam written all over it.

Know what you have. We knew exactly what our items were BEFORE we sent them in so we knew what would be a fair payout and what would be a rip-off. Take your jewelry to a reputable local jewelry appraiser first to find out the fair value before sending in your gold.

Always send your items through a third-party carrier like FedEx or UPS. You want to make sure that your items will never get lost in the mail and that you can track your stuff throughout the entire process!

10 TIPS To Prevent Yourself From Being Scammed!
  • Tip # 1: Check with the Better Business Bureau. This private, nonprofit organization was founded in 1912 to assist consumers in verifying the identity and trustworthiness of businesses.
  • Tip # 2: Look at how long the company has been in business. Does it have a good reputation? What is its track record? There are a lot of fly-by-night organizations that may not have the level of stability needed to provide good customer service.
  • Tip # 3: Check the fine print of the company's policies. Do they have a return policy or clearly stated guarantee? If not, they are obviously not thinking about being consumer focused and how to best serve their clients.
  • Tip # 4: Look for a phone number and address. Any company that only has an e-mail address and a P.O. box should be avoided.
  • Tip # 5: Look for a company that lists their prices and defines how they do business.
  • Tip # 6: Track your package. Does the company use a third party shipper? If the company uses Fed Ex or UPS, you will be able to track your shipment of valuables and make sure your package isn't accidentally lost in the mail and the company can't claim that your package never arrived.
  • Tip # 7: Take photos of your items before you send them. That way if anything should happen you will have proof of exactly what your items looked like. It is also insurance against any unforeseen mix-ups.
  • Tip # 8: Send in as much volume as possible. Businesses will often pay a higher price for larger quantities.
  • Tip # 9: Label your items. A reputable company should not confuse your items, but adding your name is helpful.
  • Tip # 10: Be realistic. Know the fair value of your items before sending them.