i called gold bullion international and learned a bit more about them.
1. $25,000 minimum account opening (NOTE: there is no account minimum for hard assets alliance, just GBI
2. no electronic trading at the moment; phone only
3. trades can only be done during new york business hours
the representative i spoke to was very professional and sufficiently knowledgeable, and did not try to bully me into buying something. so that was good.
you can have a cash account with them. so, you buy gold, you can sell it, be in US dollars in your account with them for a while, buy silver in a different vault in a different country, etc. of course, the more active you want to be the better off you are in vehicles better suited for active trading, but bullion international has some structures in place to enable that if you ever need to.
i do like this company, but i prefer to have the bulk of my wealth in something more liquid. if i get wealthier and $25k becomes a small portion of my net wealth, than i think i would have an account with bullion international.
basically, i think it's a good service for wealthier people.