Which ETF Holds Physical Gold?

Investing in gold has been a popular choice for investors looking to diversify their portfolios and hedge against economic uncertainty. One convenient way to invest in gold is through Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). ETFs provide investors with exposure to gold’s price movements without the need to physically store and manage the precious metal. However, not all gold ETFs are created equal. Some hold physical gold, while others use derivatives or other financial instruments to track the price of gold. In this article, we’ll explore which ETFs hold physical gold and why they may be an attractive option for investors.

The Appeal of Gold ETFs

Gold has long been considered a safe-haven asset. During times of economic turmoil or inflation, investors often turn to gold as a store of value. Owning physical gold can be cumbersome and costly, as it requires secure storage and insurance. Gold ETFs offer a convenient alternative by allowing investors to gain exposure to gold’s price movements without the logistical challenges of owning and storing physical gold.

ETFs that hold physical gold typically purchase and store the actual metal in secure vaults. Each share of the ETF represents a certain amount of gold, making it a simple and efficient way for investors to own and trade the precious metal.

Popular Gold ETFs That Hold Physical Gold

Several popular gold ETFs hold physical gold in their portfolios. Here are some of the most well-known ones:

  1. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD):
    • SPDR Gold Trust, also known as the “GLD ETF,” is one of the largest and most popular gold ETFs in the world.
    • GLD holds physical gold bullion in London vaults and allows investors to buy shares that represent a fractional ownership of the stored gold.
    • It is known for its high liquidity and transparency.
  2. iShares Gold Trust (IAU):
    • iShares Gold Trust, often referred to as “IAU,” is another major gold ETF.
    • Like GLD, IAU holds physical gold bars in secure vaults and issues shares backed by these holdings.
    • IAU is known for its competitive expense ratio, making it a cost-effective option for investors.
  3. Aberdeen Standard Physical Gold Shares (SGOL):
    • SGOL is another popular gold ETF that holds physical gold.
    • It aims to provide investors with a convenient and secure way to invest in gold.
    • SGOL’s holdings are stored in vaults in Switzerland.
  4. GraniteShares Gold Trust (BAR):
    • BAR is a relatively newer entrant to the gold ETF space.
    • It holds physical gold bars in vaults in London.
    • BAR is designed to offer cost-effective exposure to gold price movements.

Advantages of Investing in ETFs That Hold Physical Gold

  1. Transparency: Gold ETFs that hold physical gold are required to disclose their holdings regularly, providing investors with transparency and confidence in their investments.
  2. Liquidity: These ETFs typically have high trading volumes, making it easy for investors to buy or sell shares at market prices.
  3. Lower Expenses: The expense ratios of these ETFs are generally lower than actively managed funds or ETFs that use derivatives.
  4. Ease of Ownership: Investing in gold through these ETFs is as easy as buying and selling stocks on an exchange.
  5. Physical Backing: Unlike ETFs that use derivatives to track gold prices, ETFs holding physical gold provide direct exposure to the underlying asset.


Investing in gold can be an effective way to diversify your portfolio and protect against economic uncertainty. When choosing a gold ETF, it’s essential to understand whether it holds physical gold or uses other financial instruments. ETFs that hold physical gold, such as GLD, IAU, SGOL, and BAR, offer a direct and transparent way to invest in this precious metal. These ETFs provide investors with the peace of mind that their shares are backed by actual gold holdings stored in secure vaults, making them a popular choice for those seeking exposure to the physical asset without the logistical challenges of ownership and storage. As with any investment decision, it’s crucial to do your research and consider your investment goals and risk tolerance before investing in gold ETFs.

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