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Gold and silver are popular with preppers, as they are seen as physical “safe haven” assets that will still have value even in a financial collapse. However, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have now emerged, and have become popular for many of the same reasons. However, many preppers don’t know the benefits of one over the other.
But which of the two is the better survival currency? Frankly, neither!
Both have pros and cons that would make one or the other more ideal in any given collapse situation. Therefore the question, it isn’t so much which is better, but what qualities each asset possesses that would make them great resources for different survival scenarios.
In a survival situation, once a new financial system begins to emerge, history shows that precious metals like gold reliably start being used as money. Theoretically, however, anything that meets certain qualifications could be used for this purpose.
- Money should be portable, or easy to carry.
- Anonymity is a big plus as well, as there is a strong correlation between financial collapses and wars.
- Governments also tend to become more authoritarian in financial implosions, and may try to seize assets, so anonymity becomes potentially important.
- There’s also the question of historical resilience, security, and other factors.
We’ll now compare Bitcoin and gold for survival by rating which is better for each of the above critical characteristics of effective survival money.
Bitcoin wins, hands-down, in the portability department. You can have a billion dollars’ worth of Bitcoin, and it would be just as easy to transport as one dollar worth. Gold is heavy, so your ability to travel (or bug out) with even a remotely large stash of gold is extremely limited.
Buying bitcoin is usually traceable through the bank account you used to trade US dollars, and through forensic analysis of the blockchain, which is an unalterable digital ledger of all Bitcoin transactions. However, you generally have to use cash from a bank account to buy gold or Bitcoin, meaning transactions can be forensically tracked.
If two people were transacting privately, however, either gold or Bitcoin could be exchanged anonymously, just as with cash. Bitcoin is potentially more anonymous to obtain in the first place, but even gold can be purchased with cash from a private buyer. Problem is, there’s such a thing as fool’s gold, but Bitcoin can’t be faked. That brings us to the next characteristic of ideal survival money, which is security.
This one is interesting, as there are real security pros and cons to both gold and Bitcoin — they merely apply to different situations.
Bitcoin certainly leaves room for one to be scammed, as is the case with almost any transaction. But the technology behind it means there’s no way to really fake a bitcoin. Gold can be faked with tungsten, gold coatings, and various forms of “fool’s gold,” but there’s no such thing as Fool’s Bitcoin.
As far as seizure from the state, gold is probably easier to seize than Bitcoin, but with smart storage, even the government might have a hard time finding all of your gold stash.
However, the fact remains that Bitcoin is solely digital. That means that without electricity or web access, you’re out of luck, and your Bitcoin could be wiped out. That can’t happen with gold, and never will, so gold wins over Bitcoin in the security department.
Bitcoin could theoretically go to zero. In five thousand years of human economic history, gold has never, in any country or kingdom, become worthless. That makes the question of resilience an easy win for gold.
There’s just not enough history behind Bitcoin for it to be able to hold a candle to gold in the resilience department. Gold has five thousand years of human economic history behind it, and can’t be extinguished in an EMP attack.
Fungibility refers to the ability of a single unit of any given asset to be interchangeable with any other single unit. Both Bitcoin and gold are highly fungible.
Since an ounce of pure gold will be worth the exact same amount as any other ounce of pure gold, gold is fungible. Same goes for Bitcoin. Therefore, both come out just about even as far as fungibility goes.
Neither Bitcoin nor gold would be very helpful in the beginning phase of collapse; only after a more formalized economic system started to emerge during a later phases would they start becoming go-to mediums of exchange.
At the very beginning, people will transact in wads of cash and by bartering essentials like tampons and food, but as people realize that bartering requires a coincidence wherein two parties must happen to each have something that the other needs, forms of currency can start to emerge fairly quickly to make trading easier.
Historically, metals have tended to be one of the first things that people begin using for this purpose.
So much depends on nature of collapse. If there’s still electricity and web access, Bitcoin could be extremely useful. But absent either of those things, it’s utterly worthless.
Gold is a powerful asset whether or not the electricity still works, but it wouldn’t be in immediate demand. Bitcoin is easier to take on the run, and doesn’t require that you go around your property digging up all your buried gold. But it may also be hard, if not impossible, to use or access if web use is restricted or electricity becomes unreliable.
Bitcoin weighs nothing so it’s better for an emergency where you have to mobilize, flee, or bug out, but it comes with disadvantages. You can learn more about Cryptocurrency for Preppers here.
The real point is, Bitcoin and gold aren’t opposing forces, or an either/or option for preppers. Just as you wouldn’t spend all your extra money buying bullets without buying any stored food, you want to have a little of both Bitcoin and precious metals to be as prepared as possible.
Every one of your preps are investments of time and money, and being truly prepared means not having your eggs all in one basket. This is no different than diversifying traditional financial investments to benefit from different sectors of the economy, and to ensure if one investment goes badly, you have others to fall back on.
What ratio of gold and Bitcoin you buy just depends on your own finances, and how useful you think Bitcoin will be versus gold for the types of situations you’re prepping for. Since no one can predict the future, balance is key!
Eric is a nature-loving writer, experience junkie, and former Boy Scout who never forgot that time-honored Scout Motto: Be prepared. Aside from camping and survival, he loves writing about travel, history, and anything he finds strange and unique!
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12 Responses to “Bitcoin vs. Gold: Which is Better for Survival?”
Trying to learn about bitcoin a bit. I can’t even imagine it’s comparable to gold or silver for a shtf or collapse scenario, but I could be wrong I guess.
It seems to me, asking “will my bitcoin help me during shtf?” is pretty much synonymous to asking “will my pc help me during shtf?” or “will electricity help me during shtf?”
It may, or it may not. However, complete dependency upon the electrical grid, running servers, complicated networks, bandwidth, the wiring of funds etc, seems to completely go against what most people think of pertaining to this subject.
It seems apart from gold being heavy, bitcoin is a bit too light.
BitCoin is ONLY useful as long as there is an internet and a ‘banking system’ to support it.
Tangibles (gold , silver) are possession based.
If you have it in your hands…you have it, period.
To me, the biggest usefulness of Bitcoin (et al), would be in an American collapse, where “bugging out” means getting out of the country. Bitcoin has ways of being nearly impossible to trace, and it is about the ONLY way, as such, to get any assets out of this country without confiscation or taxation.
Other than a situation that requires that, I’d say precious metals are generally more useful among a general population in a general collapse.
Again, the BIGGEST advantage or use which Cryptocurrencies possess (and which is not mentioned in this article). is in anonymous portability across national borders. Cryptocurrencies, if initially transacted anonymously (through anonymous digital identities and transactions), can be pretty much entirely anonymous and untraceable, despite what this article may say to the contrary. You just need to know how to transact digitally-anonymously, and don’t make any obvious and equal non-digital transactions that may be easily identified with your anonymous digital transactions.
That’s why we don’t put all our assets into one thing. Not all into food, not all into water, not all into meds, not all into guns, not all into ammo, not all into land, not all into rental real estate not all into stocks and bonds. The whole point of the article is to spread out one’s preps so we are somewhat prepared for any of the likelier scenarios. That has the added benefit of preparing us for many less likely events.
Preserving some wealth in a crisis and getting some out the other side is part of prepping. In the extraordinarily unlikely scenario where there is no other side, preps like tillable land and security may be the things to have. In a mere regional or continental collapse, it would be extremely nice to get to Casablanca with both gold and bitcoins, because land isn’t portable, you can only carry so much food, and most countries won’t allow us to bring in guns.
I would guess that in a grid-down situation, the best forms of currency would be:
1) necessary items, like water, food and other supplies in immediate high demand
2) U.S. currency and coins (so long as the outage is either regional or expected to be temporary, there will be the expectation that the dollar will still be used at some point. It may not be possible to use banking facilities to access one’s bank accounts, however, so in the shorter term, having some cash or coins on hand could be important)
3) the same pretty much goes for gold as it does for the dollar. In a grid down situation, I suspect that some people would still accept that gold would continue to have value both here and in a world market…and what makes currency valuable is that people are willing to accept it and trade with it. Not everyone would be comfortable dealing with all forms of it, though, as it is not commonly exchanged hand-to-hand.
I don’t personally see Bitcoin or any other crypto-currency as being a viable option at this point in time. I think they are still pretty speculative–at least until they become more widely used and even then I would classify them as *risky*.
I wouldn’t accept Bitcoin as trade, so have no reason to assume that anyone else would either, with perhaps a few exceptions among its enthusiasts. But, being a digital currency, it would be worthless if the grid were down in any case…and I rather concur with the idea that if you only own it in digital space, you might be hard put to prove it exists at all if that record is wiped out… or that it has *tangible* value.
One of the important features of a currency is that enough people trade with it and accept it as valuable to make it widespread and easily used. If no more than a handful of people deal in it, or it is not easily convertible for goods and services, it is pretty much useless for common trading purposes, although there may be a niche market who would take it. There may also be a niche market who would accept any given collectible item which has value in an open market, but I don’t know that I would count on using them for daily trading purposes. 🙂
This is just my opinion, though–and no reflection on people using such currencies for investment purposes.
Hi Janine, I agree: in almost all scenarios short of TEOTWAWKI standard US cash is king. Puerto Rico: cash and cash only is how people buy food, gas, and other necessities. Their problem is that many people got caught with little or no cash on hand, so even tho they have money in their accounts they can’t access the accounts without electricity. In any kind of normal disaster, cash buys necessities and transportation out of the crisis zone.
In a major nationwide crisis, like the Lebanese civil war, any stable foreign currency like dollars or Swiss Francs would buy necessities and transportation out. Hard currency and gold, even diamonds, were convertible wherever people found refuge.
In the great majority of crises, cash is extremely useful. In the tiny number of possible scenarios in which it is worthless, we have other preps.
Eric the author here — Thanks for your great comments, everyone! Back to my theme of “gold is ideal for some situations and bitcoin others,” you’re absolutely right that no one in Puerto Rico wishes they had more bitcoin right now. However, in Venezuela, the ability to mine bitcoin is saving lives, livelihoods, and families! One type of collapse (PR), sure, it’s worthless, but in another (Venezuela) it is keeping some families afloat and preventing them from imploding along with the rest of their country. Worth mentioning that in the beginning phase of any collapse, it’s unlikely gold would be accepted anyway — that usually comes later, after some kind of semi-formal system begins taking shape again.
So again, they’re not mutually exclusive — but most definitely useful in different TYPES of collapses, and in different PHASES. Neither one is perfect or ideal for every type of surivival scenario, and may be useless in some scenearios (i.e. bitcoin when the grid is out) but a life-saver in another (i.e. bitcoin in Venezuela, where there’s plenty of electricity available but little of anything else)!
Thanks again for your great comments everyone!
Gold has been used as coin of the realm for thousands of years. Think I would stick with gold. I really don’t know much about bitcoin but to my knowledge you cannot hold it in your hand which means IMHO you do not own it.
If i asked a hundred of my close friends, “how many bitcoins do you have?”, not 1 person would have any.. Almost all would not have any idea of how to get any. What makes the dollar valuable is other peoples willingness to except them….not anything else. These hundred people would struggle with accepting bitcoins have value. The vast vast majority of people in general would not have a clue either. Hope we never have to find out.
When the system is broken, it’s broken! That means no bitcoin, no transactions, no banks! GOLD is used for so much more. Most of us dont know and need to at least read about gold. We learned during the recent storms all systems need to be checked!!!
Obviously not the one that is worthless in a grid-down event.
“Wish I had more Bitcoin” said zero residents of Puerto Rico recently.