American Eagle or American Buffalo?

American Eagle and American Buffalo gold bullion coins are both produced by the U.S. Mint, both sold as one-ounce coins, and both have an official ‘face value” of $50. So, which one to buy?

Aside from the distinctive artwork that adorns each coin, the difference is a matter of karats. The Gold American Eagle is a 22 karat coin, which means 22 parts gold mixed with two parts of another metal, in this case, copper. So, the coin is 91.67 percent gold. This makes the coin harder and sturdier than pure gold since gold is a highly malleable metal.

American Buffalo coins, which were introduced in 2006, 20 years after the debut of American Eagles, are 24 karat gold coins, meaning 24 of 24 parts. They are 99.9 percent pure gold. This means the coin is far softer than the American Eagle and must be handled with extreme care.

American Eagles, first produced in 1986, set the standard for bullion coins, with more than 1.8 million produced in 2021. That production includes more than 1.1 million one-ounce American Eagles, as well as half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and tenth of an ounce denominations. In contrast, American Buffalos are produced only in one ounce versions, with 350,500 coins minted last year. 

Whether you purchase American Eagle or American Buffalo bullion coins, recognize that their weight and purity is guaranteed by the U.S. government.