How to Negotiate at a Coin Show

11 Do's and Don'ts to Get the Best Price

Attending a coin show.

James Bucki

Coin shows and coin shops do not operate like other retail stores. Coin prices are negotiable, and if you approach the negotiation process correctly, you can save yourself some money while you acquire the coin of your dreams. On the other hand, if you ignore proper protocols and etiquette, you can alienate yourself from coin dealers very quickly and be denied the opportunity to own the coin that may be the key to your collection.

  • 01 of 11

    Do Put on Your Winning Smile

    Begin in a friendly way. Smile naturally and introduce yourself. You don't have to use your full name; your first name will do just fine. Tell the coin dealer what you're looking for or your current interest in coin collecting. He may have something better behind the table than what is in the display case.

    If the dealer is condescending and rude (some of them are), then thank him for his time and move on to another dealer that is more willing to help. Do not behave rudely to "get even" with the dealer. Another dealer may see your behavior in this may damage your reputation.

  • 02 of 11

    Don't Interrupt the Dealer

    If the coin dealer is working with another customer, it is wise to wait for your turn. You don't know if that customer is interested in purchasing a $10 coin or a $10,000 coin. Additionally, when you do receive the dealer's full attention, he will be more willing to work with you instead of being angered at the interruption that you caused. Starting on the wrong foot is a sure way to ruin any deal that you may be contemplating.

  • 03 of 11

    Do Your Homework

    Research the fair market value of the coin that you are interested in. Understand how coin grading works and form your opinion of the grade of the coin you are interested in purchasing. Do not work off of the Gray Sheet and expect the dealer to give you wholesale pricing. He is in business to make a living by providing you a valuable service. 

    However, the longer you work with an individual coin dealer the better relationship you will form with him. You will then be on the lookout for coins that you may be interested in.

  • 04 of 11

    Don't Be a Penny-Pinching Fool

    Once you have done your homework and have a reasonable idea of the value of the coin, compare it to the marked price. If it is reasonably close don't try to haggle over the price. For example, if it's a one dollar coin don't offer seventy-five cents for it.

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  • 05 of 11

    Do "Ask" & Don't "Tell"

    If you want to make an offer for a coin that is different than the marked price, make your offer in the form of a question and not a statement. For example, it is better to say "Would you be willing to take fifty dollars for this coin?"  Instead of saying "I'll give you fifty bucks for this." By using a question, this gives the dealer an opportunity to make a counteroffer which you may be still willing to accept. 

  • 06 of 11

    Don't Dis the Coin

    Don't insult the dealer by disrespecting his inventory. The dealer has spent time organizing and grading his inventory to the best of his ability. Leading off with statements such as "I don't think this is really an EF-40 coin" or "It looks like this coin has been cleaned" will only put the dealer on the defensive and he will be less willing to negotiate with you. If you don't come to an agreement on a price, politely hand the coin back to the dealer. Don't throw the coin on display case and leave hastily.

  • 07 of 11

    Do Bring Cash

    Paying Cash. Image Courtesy of: Tetra Images/Getty Images

    Most coin dealers work on a cash basis. If you have a long-standing relationship with a particular coin dealer it is only then appropriate to ask for credit. If you want a particular coin and don't have the cash to pay for it immediately, ask if the dealer would accept a down payment as a deposit with the rest of the money being delivered at a later date. If the dealer refuses to hold a coin with a deposit, it is no offense to you but just the way he does business. 

  • 08 of 11

    Don't Try to Haggle on Everything

    Some coins, such as bullion coins, are sold on razor thin margins. While other coins a dealer may have some "wiggle room" on the price. But don't try to haggle on everything, especially low-cost coins. If you're going to be purchasing several coins, group them together and ask if he can do better than the market price. 

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  • 09 of 11

    Do Keep Your Word

    If you make an offer to a dealer to purchase a particular coin for a specific price and he accepts it, the negotiation is over. Don't ask for a lower price after he agreed to what you asked for. Recanting your offer is insulting and will damage your relationship with that particular dealer. Remember, relationships are built on trust, and trust is built on keeping your word.

  • 10 of 11

    Don't Assume It's Too Expensive

    If a coin does not have a price marked on it, then you should ask the dealer for a price. If it is out of your price range or beyond your expectations, don't disrespect the dealer by making an off-color comment such as "Do you really think it's worth that much?"

    If that particular coin is priced beyond your budget, a secondary strategy is to ask the dealer if he has a similar coin that is within your price range. By letting him know the constraints you are working with and the coin that you are seeking, he is now in a position to help you find the coin you are seeking. He may even have one behind the table in a storage box.

  • 11 of 11

    Do Say "Thank You"

    Regardless of the outcome of your negotiation process, remember to always smile and thank the dealer for his time. His time is just as valuable as yours. You may see the coin of your dreams lying in his display case sometime in the future. Therefore, you never want to leave on a sour note.