How to Invest in Silver with Mutual Funds, ETFs, and ETNs

What to Know Before Buying Into This Precious Metal

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You may choose to invest in silver as a hedge against inflation or a way to diversify your portfolio. There are many ways to invest in silver. The best way may be to gain exposure to the price of silver through mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or exchange-traded notes (ETNs).

Are you new to silver investing? If so, there are some pitfalls to watch out for. Before you invest, learn the strategies for buying precious metals.

Why Invest in Silver?

Some people love silver because its standing as a precious metal to invest in is second only to gold. Still, silver is much cheaper than gold. The gold-silver price ratio averages around 47 to 1.

Silver as an investment offers advantages that are similar to those of gold. There are industrial uses for silver, for instance. This metal is a good conductor of electricity. It has uses in mobile phones, computers, solar panels, and RFID chips, among other things.

The Silver Institute forecasts an 11% increase in demand for silver in 2021. This demand is driven mostly by industry. Physical ownership of silver will also fuel the increase. Jewelry is expected to rebound but might not reach pre-2020 levels.

The price of silver is driven by supply and demand. Investor speculation is also a factor. Often, precious metals such as gold and silver are in higher demand when there is much uncertainty about currencies. Low-interest rates tend to drive up the demand for precious metals, including silver. Prices rise as a result.


Silver is often used as a hedge against changes in currency value or as a store of value during times of economic uncertainty.

How to Invest in Silver

There are many ways to invest in silver. You can buy metals in the form of bullion coins or bars. You can buy shares of mining stocks, or you can invest in silver mutual funds, ETFs, and ETNs.

The silver market is much smaller than the gold market, which makes for higher volatility in price. Because of this, investing in silver can be risky for most people. You may decide to invest in small portions. For instance, you may choose to put 5% of your portfolio in commodities, one of which may be silver. That could help diversify your holdings.

Silver Investing With Mutual Funds, ETFs, and ETNs

Most mutual funds do not hold silver as a physical asset. You can get indirect exposure to silver in mutual funds by holding equity precious metals funds. Two examples of these funds are Aberdeen Standard Physical Silver Shares ETF (SIVR) or Invesco DB Precious Metals Fund (DBP). ETFs like these often have more exposure to stocks of gold mining companies than to silver and silver mining companies.

If you want the most direct exposure to silver, you will need to use a silver ETF. One example of a silver ETF is iShares Silver Trust (SLV). You can also use an exchange-traded note (ETN). One example is X-Links Silver Shares Covered Call ETN (SLVO).


ETNs are debt instruments, like bonds, that do not invest in any asset. Although they are linked to the performance of a market benchmark, ETNs are not equities or index funds.

The Bottom Line

Generally, the best way to invest in silver is through ETFs or ETNs, not mutual funds. Most people who invest in silver want exposure to the price of silver rather than stocks of companies that engage in silver mining and manufacturing. ETFs and ETNs often track the price of silver, but most precious metals mutual funds do not.

As always, you should use caution when investing in securities, especially those that you do not understand. Don't try to time the market. Due to the speculative nature of silver and other precious metals funds in the market, it's best to avoid short-term market-timing strategies. You can use precious metals funds as long-term diversification tools. Put only small amounts of your portfolio, such as 5% to 10%, toward such securities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best way to invest in silver?

The best investment strategy depends on your goals. If you want to build a long-term silver investment, perhaps even one to pass on to heirs, you might prefer to buy physical silver bullion. Physical silver typically comes with higher retail fees, but it's a physical product that you can simply store. ETFs and other silver funds are cheaper to actively trade, making it easier to capitalize on short-term price fluctuations, but these products charge annual expenses.

What are the best silver coins to invest in?

If you want to purchase physical silver bullion, you have several options. The most secure option is to buy from a government mint, such as silver bullion from the U.S. Mint. Private dealers also sell physical silver, but the average silver investor may find that it's easier to trust a product that comes directly from a government mint.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. "Gold to Silver Ratio."

  2. The Silver Institute. "Silver in Industry."

  3. The Silver Institute. "Global Silver Demand Forecasted to Rise 11% in 2021, Reaching 1.025 Billion Ounces."

  4. TD Ameritrade. "Could Silver Shine in Your Portfolio?"

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