Choosing your ideal safe deposit box provider depends on many factors

Safe deposit boxes are ideal for the safekeeping of precious metals and other assets. Commercial institutions and private individuals have several choices: Safe deposits can be rented from banks, precious metal dealers, or private providers at home or abroad. Some options have advantages and/or disadvantages, so the best solution often depends very much on your own personal requirements.

A safe deposit box at home or a local precious metal dealer’s safe, which can seem very convenient, are often the first choice for many. However, an informed choice should also consider many other criteria such as experience, independence, storage capacities, privacy, accessibility, insurance coverage, security matters and the range of payment options available. There are also further considerations such as whether you plan to store gold or silver, or important documents. Our article aims to brief you on various aspects you should consider when choosing a safe deposit box. This understanding will help you find the best form of storage to suit your needs.

Overview of selection criteria
There are various criteria to consider when choosing a safe deposit box and its provider.
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Specialist providers versus all-rounders

In general, one safe deposit box looks very much like another: the front drop-down flap or door is opened with a key, an access card, or a code, and the inner compartment can then be removed. However, in other respects they can be quite different. Classic safe deposit boxes are offered by banks or precious metal dealers who rent out part of their in-house safe-deposit capacity to their customers. With their core business conducted elsewhere, these providers regard this kind of safe deposit facility as more of a customer service. The safe deposit boxes offered by banks or dealers are thus more of a sideline.

This is where all-rounders differ from specialist storage companies whose core competence is the safekeeping of assets within high-security facilities. The experts have in-depth knowledge, extensive specialist know-how, and often possess many years’ experience. They adopt a solution-oriented approach based on individual customer requirements, provide facilities tailored to specific storage aims, and offer the systematic processing clients would expect from a professional business.

In addition to the specialist focus of private storage providers, they are completely independent of banks and precious metal traders. There is no obligation to purchase investment products from a specific service provider, nor any other qualifying conditions such as a requirement to open a bank account. That’s why this article specifically mentions bank-independent and dealer-independent safe deposit boxes. Last but not least, providers who specialise in securing valuables tend to provide higher levels of security than is usual, or even possible, in many (older) bank buildings.

The location – Switzerland and Liechtenstein offer specific advantages

The concept of diversification, so familiar to investors, actually applies equally to the question of the best location for a safe deposit box. Choosing a facility which is a certain distance from densely populated areas and company headquarters can prove advantageous, and certainly offers additional security. Ideally, a safe deposit facility should be located outside of urban centres, and preferably not within a large city. And for security reasons, the actual address of any private storage facility should remain undisclosed – something which is just not possible for banks.

To further minimise the risk, it is also advisable to store valuable assets in a country with an enduring reputation for economic and political stability, such as Switzerland or the Principality of Liechtenstein. Both these sovereign states are independent of the European Union (EU), and also have their own currency. In addition to their modern infrastructure and security advantages, each nation has a long tradition of vigorously upholding property rights.

Switzerland in particular is considered an ideal location for the secure custody of precious metals and other high-value investment products, thanks to its many years’ experience as a globally respected gold-trading nation which is also home to some of the world’s leading refineries. Swiss private storage companies benefit from this advantageous location and have a broad selection of safe deposit box solutions available to their clients. Swiss Gold Safe offers safe deposit box facilities in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Full business transparency and a range of sizes

Because the rental of storage space is not part of their core business activity, banks and gold dealers usually have only a limited range of safe deposit boxes. When available, these generally come in just one standard size – about as big as a classic briefcase. If you wish to store gold or silver bars or coins, these units soon reach their capacity limits, both in terms of quantity and weight. However, private providers such as Swiss Gold Safe are much better equipped to meet the individual needs of their clients and can offer a full range of safe deposit boxes in different sizes.

With a private provider, good customer service comes as standard, which means, for example, that safe deposit box dimensions and prices are always clearly visible. In addition, there is a simple, transparent and easy-to-understand calculation of insurance costs. Furthermore, our clients in Switzerland and Liechtenstein can expect comprehensive advice and support from a designated contact person. Bank-independent safe deposit boxes are suitable for almost every kind of asset, including precious metals, jewellery, precious stones, cash, cryptocurrencies (hardware wallets), artworks, documents and much more.

Safe deposit box with various contents
Different locker sizes are suitable depending on the possible contents.
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Cybersecurity and energy independence

In these difficult times, with the risk of cybercrime and disrupted energy supplies, private storage companies have significant advantages over financial institutions. At Swiss Gold Safe, customer data is stored exclusively on high-security servers which employ the latest technologies to protect against attacks from hackers. And neither are private storage providers required to allow authorities access to sensitive data. For instance, unlike banks, independent providers in Switzerland are not obliged to automatically furnish account data, nor are they required to compile a safe deposit box register.

Even a sudden power failure as a result of a temporary loss of energy supply could not disrupt Swiss Gold Safe’s bespoke safe deposit systems. Our facilities have their own emergency power supply, so safe deposit boxes are safe, secure and uncompromised, even in the event of a power outage.

Who receives the safe deposit keys?

Clients who open a private safe deposit box with Swiss Gold Safe generally receive every available safe deposit box key. Clients alone are responsible for the keys, and may, if they wish, deposit one key with a local notary or lawyer. However, Swiss Gold Safe has no replacement or master key for any safe deposit box – and thus has neither access nor knowledge of the contents. Subject to prior notification, a key gives safe deposit box owners access to their property at any time – on special request even during evenings or at weekends.

It is also common for banks and bullion dealers to give customers all the keys. But if every key is lost, then a new lock must be installed in the safe deposit box, which can be a very costly operation. Furthermore, these organisations generally restrict safe deposit access to normal business hours.

Maximum privacy and discretion

To ensure no one other than the safe deposit client knows what goods are in the respective safe deposit box, Swiss Gold Safe and similar private providers guarantee no other client will be present in the vault at the same time. This is achieved by efficient customer service. Our guarantee ensures every client’s privacy is protected to the full, and also demonstrates our commitment to absolute discretion. At the same time, this measure also reduces the security risk and enables us to provide the best possible support for all our clients.

Is safe deposit box insurance always included?

Anyone who deposits gold bars or silver coins in a safe deposit for safekeeping should be careful not to lose them as the result of an unexpected event. Safe deposit box insurance is indispensable to cover such eventualities. Most safe deposit box arrangements only include basic insurance cover up to a (modest) maximum sum insured value. So, in practice, renters must arrange any extended, full-value insurance for themselves. In such instances, a household contents insurance would only pay out a proportion of the total value in the event of a claim for loss or damage.

As a specialist storage company, Swiss Gold Safe offers its customers an insurance service which can be adapted to meet their particular needs. Basic insurance is already included within the safe deposit box rental, which transparently lists what is insured, and up to what sum insured. In addition, a comprehensive insurance can be arranged to cover a specified value. This transaction can be completed anonymously using the relevant safe deposit box number, so no customer data is passed on to the insurer.

A range of payment options

A good safe deposit box company is also happy to provide clients with a range of options for fee payments. While banks and other service providers usually collect the annual rent via a bank account, Swiss Gold Safe takes a different approach. Our clients can use a variety of different payment methods, including bank transfers or cash settlements. Payments are accepted in Swiss francs, euros or US dollars, and digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are also welcome.

Full protection of property rights: off-balance sheet storage

Property rights are another important consideration when choosing the best safe deposit box provider. From a global perspective, Switzerland is regarded as a pioneer in terms of protecting individual property. This living tradition is fully supported by Swiss Gold Safe at its two locations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. This means no reporting to government agencies, and no declaration of the contents of your safe deposit box.

In addition, the client always retains full ownership of the stored goods. This remains the case, even in the unlikely event of the storage provider becoming insolvent, because the stored property never becomes part of the provider’s balance sheet.

Trading links with precious metal dealers?

Our safe deposit boxes in Switzerland and Liechtenstein are not only detached from any banking system, they are also free from any ties or obligations involving dealers. That means investors can purchase their coins or bars wherever they please. Such dealer independence is particularly desirable when there are existing precious metals ready to be stored. A strict separation of custody arrangements, as handled by Swiss Gold Safe, and any form of precious metal trading reduces the risk of default or misuse.

However, this clear differentiation does not exclude close contacts with trustworthy local precious metal dealers. For example, it enables customers to buy investment products and have them delivered directly to our vault for safekeeping. This allows our clients to benefit from an independent safe deposit box facility and to also enjoy the advantages offered by a trusted dealer partnership. For example, Swiss Gold Safe has been working very closely with Echtgeld AG for many years.

Criteria for safe deposit boxes, and safe deposit providers, at a glance