Our Review of Five of the Top Gold Refiners

Our Review of Five of the Top Gold Refiners

When it comes to selling gold online you have a lot of choices. There are hundreds of already established companies vying for your business; not to mention all the new ones that continue to pop up in this growing field. This of course makes it difficult to make any kind of decision on the matter. It is hard to figure out which companies are legitimate and which are just trying to scam you. Your only real option to get the most cash for your gold is to research all the different gold buying companies individually. To be honest that takes time – quite a lot of it.

On this site we’ve done quite a few reviews over the years based on our personal experiences with different cash for gold companies. Normally we deal in large quantities and contact the companies directly to handle our bulk needs. However most of our readers do not, so we decided to approach this review process like most individuals would. We went to each company’s website, filled out the contact form, and requested a gold kit from them. The following is our review of five of the top gold refiners:

Sell Your Gold

Sell Your Gold

Cash Payout: ★★★★★ 

Customer Service: ★★★★★ 

Turn Around Time: ★★★★½ 

Shipping Insurance: ★★★★★ 

Overall: ★★★★★ 

Sell Your Gold has been in business since 2008, but they are run by John Galt Refining which has over 50 years of gold buying experience. They are BBB accredited with an A- rating which is still excellent. After seeing they were ranked #1 by NBC’s Today Show, we definitely had to check them out.

At around 90% of the current spot price of gold for most transactions, Sell Your Gold offers a very competitive payout. However for larger volume orders, they offer even high percentages for your gold. They are also one of the only gold refiners we’ve used that will consider the resale value of your gold items and pay more than melt value.

Sell Your Gold has an up to date customer service outlet, offering both phone and live chat services with customer service agents. We were able to get through to a knowledgeable representative, who greeted us promptly and resolved our questions and concerns.

Sell Your Gold earned our #1 spot by offering the best shipping and insurance that we’ve seen anywhere. Their standard kit for most transactions covers up to $1,000. But when dealing with higher valued orders, they will insure any package regardless of the amount which is something we haven’t seen any other gold buyers offer. There are very few companies we recommend, and Sell Your Gold is one of them because they have proven to be one of the safest companies to deal with.

Empire Gold Buyers

Empire Gold Buyers

Cash Payout: ★★★★½ 

Customer Service: ★★★★¾ 

Turn Around Time: ★★★★★ 

Shipping Insurance: ★★★★½ 

Overall: ★★★★¾ 

Empire Gold Buyers has been in business for over 15 years and has one of the better reputations in the gold buying field. In fact they were recently featured on the CBS news as one of the premier gold buyers. They are BBB accredited with an A+ rating and no complaints. We actually hadn’t used this company until recently and I can tell you we were pleasantly surprised.

They pay 90% of the current spot price of gold for most transactions up to 3 ounces and they do pay more for 3 to 25 ounces and above. Customer service has always been a major selling point in any industry and Empire Gold Buyers has capitalized on this ideal. We contacted them through both their phone and live chat services where we spoke directly to a native English speaking customer service agent who was able to fully address our concerns.

Empire Gold Buyers also have Federal Express overnight shipping with insurance available up to $25,000. Most other refiners make you pay for your own shipping/insurance, or only cover orders from $100 to $1,500. Also FedEx shipping makes for a fast turn-around time and they even send you a quote the same day they process your shipment.

Midwest Refineries

Midwest Refineries

Cash Payout: ★★★★★ 

Customer Service: ★★★★☆ 

Turn Around Time: ★★★☆☆ 

Shipping Insurance: ☆☆☆☆☆ 

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Midwest Refineries has been around for generations and is a well respected company. They have an A rating with the BBB with minimal complaints. This company been online since 1998 and is one of the oldest gold refiners still business.

Although they are one of the original gold buyers, they could use a few updates to keep up with the times. They don’t offer live chat with customer service representatives, only a toll free number for all questions and concerns. Also their site has a very primitive design, and can be difficult to navigate.

At 95% they offer one of the top payouts, but they are only able to do so because they don’t cover your shipping or insurance which is one of the major issues that we have with Midwest Refineries. Also their turnaround is a quite a bit slower than some other refiners at around a week or more to get your payout.

Gold Fellow

Gold Fellow

Cash Payout: ★★★☆☆ 

Customer Service: ★★★½☆ 

Turn Around Time: ★★★½☆ 

Shipping Insurance: ★★★¾☆ 

Overall: ★★★½☆ 

GoldFellow is yet another fairly new gold buyer that claims to have one of the highest payouts available. They have been in business since 2007 and BBB accredited since 2008. Their rating with the BBB is an A+ with no complaints.

Much like Empire Gold Buyers, their prices are transparent on their site. But they pay between 56% and 77% depending on how much gold you have to sell. They claim that they pay more than most other gold refiners on amounts under one ounce but we didn’t find that to be the case with our transaction.

The only real complaint we have with Gold Fellow, other than their payout, is that they gave us the run around when we had a shipping problem. But the issue was resolved and overall we had a fairly good experience with them.

Cash 4 Gold


Cash Payout: ★★½☆☆ 

Customer Service: ★★★★☆ 

Turn Around Time: ★★★★★ 

Shipping Insurance: ★☆☆☆☆ 

Overall: ★★¾☆☆ 

I think just about everyone has heard of Cash4Gold now with their aggressive advertising campaign. They have been around since 2001 and have been mentioned quite a bit in the media. There’s a good bit of bad press about them (Google cash4gold scam) and we’ve heard some disconcerting things from readers but we wanted to give them a fair shot just like all the others. To be honest they weren’t nearly as bad as most people make them out to be but they certainly were not the best either.

We first decided to call them and see what their customer service was like while requesting a gold kit. We got through to a representative fairly quickly and she was very courteous and helpful but couldn’t answer our questions about their pricing structure.

Besides not having their buying prices listed on their site, another issue we had with Cash 4 Gold was that they only offer $100 in shipping insurance which is the lowest amount we’ve seen offered. Also their first offer for our gold was insultingly low. However after another quick call to their customer service line they ended up doubling their offer to about 20% less than what the top refiners paid.

One of the only good things about Cash 4 Gold was their turnaround time. Our transaction from start to finish only took four days which is pretty great.

A word of warningdon’t use the direct deposit or “FastCash” option or you waive your right to reject their offer.

All in all, the experience wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be but there really isn’t much reason to choose Cash 4 Gold over another gold buyer. A gold refiner like Sell Your Gold or Empire Gold Buyers is a much better option if you can wait a little while longer to get your check.


We’ve ended up trying out a lot of different companies over the years but felt that these five gold buyers were the ones that were worth mentioning in this post as they are some of the most popular and we get the most inquires about them. We do however have many more reviews available on the site. And as always we still encourage you to do your own research before you go through with any transaction. If any of you have any real personal experiences with the above companies feel free to share.

Our Review of Five of the Top Gold RefinersunratedZachary Callahan2014-01-07 21:20:22When it comes to selling gold online you have a lot of choices. There are hundreds of already established companies vying for your business; not to me…
Our Review of Five of the Top Gold RefinersZachary Callahanunrated2014-01-07 21:20:22When it comes to selling gold online you have a lot of choices. There are hundreds of already established companies vying for your business; not to me…


  1. I would like to know what the procedure is to refine gold and if refineries purchase gold?

    • I don’t think I could fit a description of the entire refining process in a comment but HowStuffWorks has a good article on refining gold.

      And yes refineries buy gold. There are several listed in this article.

  2. Some refineries will buy gold, silver out right check out Enviro-Chem, Inc. in Rogers, MN

  3. I looked at Empire Gold Buyers and did not see a chart where they say what they pay per gram. Also, they have 6 complaints, mostly considered resolved by the BBB.
    Just curious, why these two questions haven’t been answered by you.

    Do you have any information as to how much jewelers are paid by refineries when they send their gold in? My local jeweler says that they don’t make anywhere near the price of an ounce when they send it in, so how do we know what is a fair offer from them so that they too can make a profit?


    • If you look at Empire Gold Buyer’s BBB page you can see that they still have received no complaints so I’m not sure where you’re getting that information from. Also a site’s design can change since we last reviewed them.

      As for your other question, it depends largely on the jeweler themselves and what kind of deal that they have worked out with their refinery. There are also a lot of different factors which determine how much a jeweler will offer you such as the amount you have to sell (under an ounce is usually going to be a fair bit lower), the karats of the gold in question, and of course how much profit that particular jeweler needs to make off the transaction. I don’t know enough about what you’re trying to sell to give you a solid estimate. If you want to find out how much your gold is worth read our article on it and go from there.

  4. Hi my name is Michael, since being out of work for a while I have been looking for ways to earn extra money. I have been reading up on the gold market and tring to understand how people buy and sell gold and make money. There are a lot of adverts from people who are willing to buy scrap gold at various prices depending on which carot it is, but how do they then make money on that scrap gold they have just bought. I would like to get into buying scrap gold but who would I then sell it to, and most importantly make a profit.
    If you can give me some ideas I would be most grateful.
    Mike Hall

  5. Al Etihad Gold is the largest gold refinery in the middle east. It should be on the list.

  6. Do you have any reviews on refiners that accept gold/silver plated material and electronic scrap? I have found a few online but if you have any reviews it would be appreciated.

    Great article and it was very helpful in me fining a trusted refiner.


  7. Have you had any dealings (enought to review) with Northern Refineries out of Farmington Hills, MI?

  8. i would like to know which refinery that gold plated also

  9. I am from Papua New Guinea and currently live in California, USA.
    Since gold market is booming I am looking for investment partners who can sponsor me to bring bullion gold bars to sell anywhere with good price. I know where and how to get pure gold from many alluvial mines in my country.

  10. I have some questions after reading your helpful article.

    1. I found a very disturbing paragraph in Empire;s Terms and Conditions regarding their liability for what you send them. “Limitation of Liability:
    The websites liability will be limited to one-third (1/3) of the value of the total content, or one hundred ($100.00) dollars, whichever is less. If there is no original sales receipt or appraisal, website’ liability will be limited to thirty-three ($33.00) dollars.” It appears that your gold is insured while shipping, but once it’s at their site, you have no protection !!!!!

    2. As far as I can tell, neither of the top 2 companies (Empire, Sell Your gold) post their % payout on their site. Sell your Gold’s response to an FAQ on rates includes this: “When our Master Jewelers have the opportunity to see your items, they often find items which can be sold in the secondary market. Because of this, calculating your offer based soley on intrinsic melt value is not necessarily representative of the actual offer we will make after reviewing your items. Please call support toll-free any time at 888-465-3860 for current rates and estimates.” This makes me nervous because refiners that deal with professionals (dentists, jewelers, etc) have a fixed, published scheduled of % spot payout by karat and dwt. Examples of such companies I found include: midstatesrecycling.com; garfieldrefining.com

    3. None of the companies describe how they determine the composition of your gold. I have some old jewelry the K mark isn’t legible, and which was never there on dental gold, gold nuggets, etc. Again, the professional refiners highlight their sophisticated assaying technique.

    4. Sell your Gold offers what seems to be a useful service – finding a buyer for jewelry that is worth more than its scrap value. I have several pieces like that. Have you any experience with that option? Thanks!

    • Hi Daisy,

      As for #1, those terms and conditions are for people who chose to send their gold themselves via USPS or other services. The reason for this, sometimes people want to take advantage of the situation where they said they sent $10,000 of items in regular envelope with no tracking and call Empire Gold Buyers to tell them that the package was lost. However they do have regular jeweler’s insurance that covers the valuables inside their location.

      #2. Empire Gold Buyers do have a chart with their payout listed and it is listed right in the review on this page as well. As for Sell Your Gold, you are right their payout chart is not listed on their site and this is something we would like to see them change. Those two examples you listed have the same charts that Empire does where they start at over an ounce and go up from there.

      #3. Most of these companies have the same testing procedures as professional jewelers which involve a testing kit (electronic or chemical, or both) and a jewelers scale. I’m sure if you call up any of these companies they would be happy to explain their testing procedures in more detail.

      #4. We have tested this service on a couple occasions and it is great if you have desired jewelry pieces. If you feel confident that your jewelry is worth more than it’s scrap value, I would definitely recommend this service. We have received all positive feedback from our readers so far.

  11. Follow-up comment: IMPORTANT
    WATCH OUT!!!! SellyourGold does not offer a high (90%) payout. They offer a 50% payout!!!! Their price today for 14K gold was between $15-20 / gm (melt or resell value.) Here’s the calculation to determine their %.
    Today’s spot price per Troy ounce for 24 K gold is 1655. There are 31.1 gms/Troy ounce gives $53.21 per gram for 24K. 14 K has 58% as much gold as 24K (14/24) which means the full price for 14K today is $31. So they offer $15 vs. $31 ….
    NBC got false results, and I wonder how. I’m not the only one who noticed this. Others have made a similar comment on the NBC website. It’s too bad, because I wanted to like this firm, but I got concerned when their rates weren’t shown on the site.
    There are firms who do offer in the 90%+ range. Any reputable site should show their rates!!!

    • Is $15-20 a gram what they quoted you over phone? Otherwise I’m not sure how you got that number. Anyways what you have to understand Daisy is that all of these gold refiners work on a graduated payscale. So depending on how much gold you told them you had to sell, the number will vary quite a bit. When we mention the 90% payout with Sell Your Gold we are talking about amounts around an ounce. If you have less to sell you’re going to be lower on the scale.

      However I’m still surprised they quoted you that low; it must have been a very small amount of gold. We like SellYourGold because they will work with you if you’re not happy with their offer and of course they will return your gold exactly as you sent it if you can’t work something out.

  12. I used specialty metals in Fairfield Conn. The
    terms posted on there website matched my results.

  13. Recently I send my gold to gold refiners also none as gold 2cash they offerd me £540 then £700 then £790 all of which I turn down they did return my gold.
    then I sent it to Lois Jewllers of Birmingham who offerd me £1069.00. for it i accepted this offer, so to all you gold sellers out there Lois Jewllers are probly the best.