Yes, you can own gold in your own bank account. The problem is your usual bank will probably not know much about owning gold, as paper money is their usual domain. You could say having only paper money (backed by nothing but the promise of the US government) and no gold is part of the reason that the banks and financial community have got themselves into the trouble we see now. You do not need to go down that path!
You can own gold only in your domestic bank by physically storing your gold coins and bars in their safety deposit boxes. Some banks may buy and store it on your behalf in a common vault with other customers in what is called a “pool” account. This means you own gold, but it is dependent on the safety and reliability of the bank in question. If you have gold in your own safety deposit box, you then have to go and sell your gold yourself when you want some funds. Redeeming a gold bar or coin yourself is not instant, you also may pay a large commission in selling a small amount due to the handling costs involved.
So is there an alternative. Well yes, I can say there is. Very quietly, over the last few years, a few companies have developed bank accounts which behave just like your regular domestic account. Instead of owning dollars in these accounts, you own grams of gold (31 grams to an ounce of gold). You send X amount of $US or any other dollars for that matter to them via a usual bank wire. This is then converted to the prevailing price of gold on that day, and hey presto – you own a weight of gold in your account.
The important thing to remember is to start thinking of your wealth as measured in grams of gold rather than dollars. Gold has been with us since the start of time, paper money (without the backing of gold) is basically an experiment of governments. The $US has lost over 90% of it’s value since the Federal Reserve Bank started issuing the current dollar in 1913. This loss in value accelerated when Nixon removed the gold backing to each dollar in 1971. The dollar has been floating downwards, unprotected ever since.
Two of the most successful of these companies, Goldmoney and Bullionvault have close to one billion dollars in gold value each. All of this gold is directly owned by their clients in their own account. To receive your funds, the gold is sold electronically at the current market price, and the dollar equivalent wired back to your domestic account.
Both Goldmoney and Bullionvault are located in the British Isles, Goldmoney specifically in the low tax island of Jersey. The actual gold stored for both these companies is in Switzerland, London and New York.
A very interesting point is that as you OWN grams of gold rather than $US , my understanding is that they are not reportable as a Foreign Bank account for US citizens under current rules.