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How to buy Bitcoin (BTC)

Find the best way to buy BTC, from crypto exchanges to trading apps to Bitcoin ATMs.

Key takeaways

  • In March 2024, the price of Bitcoin hit a record high, topping $69,000.
  • The best and simplest way to buy crypto like Bitcoin in the U.S. is to use a cryptocurrency exchange or trading app.
  • You can choose how much Bitcoin to buy as an investment – it could be several Bitcoin down to a fraction (known as a Satoshi).
  • To invest, you’ll need to create an account on a crypto exchange, decide how much Bitcoin you want to buy and make a purchase.

In recent years, Bitcoin (BTC) adoption has exploded. While it was once taboo to invest in this alternative asset, more and more people around the globe are now buying and holding it, making Bitcoin more of a mainstream asset.
As of March 5, 2024, BTC has a market capitalization of over $1.28 trillion, which is more than half of the total market capitalization of the entire crypto market.(1),(2)

Federal regulators are seriously considering approving a spot bitcoin ETF, which would enable investors to get price exposure to BTC via traditional markets, and the New York Federal Reserve has publicly stated that “bitcoin shares most of the features of a store of value, such as gold.”(3)

Beginners to seasoned investors looking to diversify their portfolios have numerous options to buy BTC. Here are the best ways to buy this leading crypto today.

Bitcoin’s price is highly volatile. It’s gone from being worth about $3,800 in March 2020 to $69,000 in September 2021 and back to $37,000 in November 2023. In March 2024, bitcoin’s price set a new all-time high of $69,210, according to CNBC. Investors are at risk of considerable losses as well as gains. Exercise caution when investing in bitcoin.
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How to buy bitcoin

Today BTC is trading for $64,561.00, which is slightly up from yesterday's trading price of $64,942.16. Bitcoin's seen an increase of 137% over the past year. It reached an all-time-high price of $73,738.00 in March 2024.

The following steps to buy bitcoin are for US residents and should work with most cryptocurrency exchanges, investing apps and brokerages.

Step 1: Choose a crypto-trading platform

Crypto exchanges have become much easier to use than a few years ago. In just a few steps, you can verify your identity, create an account and buy some BTC on a long-standing, reputable platform like Kraken. Using an exchange like Kraken is good for those who plan to quickly move their BTC out of the exchange’s custody and into their own using a non-custodial wallet.

If you’re more comfortable, you can use certain traditional brokerages like Robinhood or eToro to buy BTC. Just keep in mind that it takes a bit longer to move your BTC from the custody of these brokerages.

Keep in mind that certain exchanges and brokerages aren’t licensed to provide crypto services to residents of certain US states and territories. So, make sure the exchange or brokerage you want to use is available in your area before you try to create an account on a particular platform.

Step 2: Connect a payment method

To buy BTC from a crypto exchange, transfer money from your bank account or use a credit or debit card. Some exchanges also accept payments via wire transfers, PayPal or Apple Pay. Venmo and PayPal allow you to buy BTC through whatever payment method you have linked in their apps.

ACH bank transfers tend to be both the easiest and cheapest ways to transfer money to a crypto exchange or brokerage. Most exchanges charge notable fees for credit/debit card purchases as well as for wire transfers.

Step 3: Place an order

You don’t have to purchase an entire BTC to get exposure to the asset. Each bitcoin is composed of 100,000,000 fractions, commonly referred to as “Sats.” Most new to Bitcoin begin investing by buying a handful of Sats — or a small fraction of one bitcoin. Purchase a fraction of a bitcoin by choosing the dollar amount you want to buy.

Most crypto exchanges or traditional brokers that offer crypto let you place different types of orders to buy BTC. The following are two of the most common types:

  • Market order. This is an order to buy BTC at the current market rate.
  • Limit order. This is an order to buy bitcoin when its price hits a certain level. When and if bitcoin hits that level, the exchange or brokerage will automatically purchase the bitcoin for you.

Step 4: Store your BTC safely

If you’re comfortable taking custody of your BTC, the safest way to store it is in a crypto hardware wallet, sometimes referred to as a “cold-storage” wallet. And if you’re looking to store it in an extra safe fashion, you could use a bitcoin-only hardware wallet like the Coldcard Mk4.

If you’re uncomfortable taking responsibility for the private keys to your bitcoin because you fear you might lose them, you may opt to leave your BTC with a trustworthy custodian. As we saw in 2022 with the fall of FTX, not all platforms that custody assets are trustworthy. It’s best to choose custodians with long track records like Fidelity or well-regulated platforms like Public or Webull.

The middle ground between managing your BTC with a hardware wallet and leaving your BTC in the custody of an exchange or brokerage is a software wallet like MetaMask or Coinbase Wallet — not to be confused with leaving your BTC in the custody of Coinbase, the exchange. Using these wallets, you can take custody of your BTC. However, these wallets aren’t as secure as hardware wallets, because they’re always connected to the internet. More on this in the following section.

Storing your BTC: Hot wallets vs cold wallets

To truly own your BTC, you have to hold it in a non-custodial crypto wallet. You’ll know you are using such a wallet if you’ve written down a 12- to 24-word recovery seed phrase. If you haven’t written down a recovery seed phrase, someone else is holding the private keys to your BTC.

Hot wallets

Hot wallets can technically be custodial or non-custodial. They’re sometimes referred to as “software wallets” and include crypto wallets that remain connected to the internet at all times. These wallets are not physical devices and are free to download and use.

Custodial hot wallets include wallets that exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini provide for you. As mentioned earlier, Coinbase also offers a non-custodial hot wallet called Coinbase Wallet.

Popular versions of Bitcoin-only hot wallets include Sparrow Wallet for desktop and Phoenix or Blue Wallet for mobile. Popular versions of crypto wallets that support Bitcoin include Exodus and Trust Wallet.

Using a hot wallet, you get true ownership of your BTC, but these wallets remain connected to the internet, making them more vulnerable to hacks than cold wallets.

Cold wallets

Cold wallets, or hardware wallets, offer a safer way to manage the private keys to your crypto assets, as they remain mostly or completely disconnected from the internet. These wallets are physical devices and come with a price.

Popular Bitcoin-only wallets include the aforementioned Coldcard Mk 4 and the Blockstream Jade. Neither of these wallets ever needs to be connected to the internet, which makes them safer than wallets that do.

Popular crypto wallets that support Bitcoin include the Trezor Model T and the Ledger Nano X. These wallets need to be connected to the internet when you use them to make transactions. The safest crypto hardware wallet on the market today is the NGRAVE ZERO, which never needs to be connected to the internet.

Bitcoin’s price outlook

We may see a notable rise in BTC’s price come mid-2024, after the fourth Bitcoin halving occurs. A Bitcoin halving is when the number of BTC awarded to Bitcoin miners every 10 minutes or so gets cut in half. This reduction in the supply of BTC coming to market has historically spurred a rise in price.

Where could Bitcoin's price be heading?

Bitcoin's price is expected to rise to US$87,125 by year-end 2025, according to the average prediction from Finder's panel of fintech specialists. Panelists also predict that BTC will hit US$220,708 by 2030.

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Where to buy bitcoin

Some of the most common places to buy Bitcoin are through exchanges or trading apps. These platforms accept US dollars via bank transfer or credit or debit cards, which makes purchasing BTC convenient and relatively quick compared to other methods.

If you’re unsure which exchange might be right for you, please review our list of the best crypto exchanges to help you decide.

If you plan to buy BTC through one of the less common methods — like a Bitcoin ATM or a peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace — you’ll have to learn how to self-custody your BTC first.

Most common ways to buy BTC

More ways to buy BTC

Trading apps

Trading apps allow you to manage various investments, such as cryptocurrency and stocks, in one location.

If you’re familiar with traditional stock and commodities trading apps such as SoFi Invest, Webull or Robinhood, then you can quickly utilize these platforms to start trading Bitcoin. They tend to focus on ease of use and are mobile-friendly.

Although trading apps and brokerages will give you direct exposure to the price of Bitcoin, they may not give you the actual coins to control. This means you can’t move your BTC off the platform to your personal wallet or another trading platform. This simplifies the experience but may be an issue for anyone who wants the full experience and security of using crypto.

Buying bitcoin from a trading app: what to consider

  • Pro: A convenient way to gain exposure to Bitcoin on a familiar platform.
  • Con: Many apps claim to offer zero-fee trading but may hide an extra fee in the spread.

Crypto exchanges

Buying BTC on a crypto exchange is the most common way to invest in Bitcoin.

Exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, eToro, Binance.US and are some of the most widely used crypto exchanges. They also enable you to buy other cryptocurrencies if you want to expand your portfolio beyond BTC.

The crypto exchange you choose will depend on your investment style and requirements. Some exchanges support instant buy features, which allow you to purchase Bitcoin directly from the platform using a credit or debit card or a bank account.

Other exchanges support spot market trading — a slightly advanced way to buy BTC, and it requires placing bids and offers. Trading fees are often low when you use this method, but, as we mentioned, it can be difficult.

Holding your Bitcoin on a centralized platform like an exchange means trusting the exchange to protect your assets. Assets held on an exchange are at risk of hacks, phishing attacks and potential mismanagement by the exchange operators.

To avoid counterparty risk and have complete control over your Bitcoin, consider withdrawing your funds to a personal wallet after you have completed your purchase or trade.

Buying bitcoin on a crypto exchange: what to consider

  • Pro: Straightforward buying and selling of BTC accessible to all experience levels.
  • Con: If you leave your BTC in the custody of a crypto exchange, your funds are potentially at risk because when you leave your crypto in the custody of a third party, the assets are technically just IOUs.

Traditional brokers

You cannot buy Bitcoin directly from traditional financial brokers like Charles Schwab or Fidelity.

Instead, you can buy financial products based on Bitcoin’s price, like Bitcoin futures products (e.g., the Proshares Bitcoin Strategy ETF) or shares of the Greyscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC).

When you buy these types of Bitcoin-related financial products, you don’t technically own any Bitcoin. These products are mostly used for speculative purposes.

Buying bitcoin on a traditional broker: what to consider

  • Pro: You can gain some exposure to Bitcoin’s price action via traditional investment platforms.
  • Con: You don’t technically own any Bitcoin when you buy Bitcoin-related products.

Money transfer apps

In recent years, money transfer apps have become a popular way to purchase BTC. The following instructions will help you buy BTC with CashApp, PayPal and Venmo.

How to buy bitcoin with CashApp

CashApp makes both buying and using BTC quite painless.

Not only can you purchase BTC in just a few steps with CashApp, but you can send and receive it just as easily.

CashApp has implemented the Lightning Network, a Layer 2 payments network built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, which makes sending and receiving BTC cheap and easy compared to payment apps like PayPal or Venmo. These only allow you to transfer your BTC on the Bitcoin base chain, which is more expensive to use.

One of the only downsides to using CashApp is that fees for buying and selling BTC are moderately high. You’ll pay 3% to buy or sell anything less than $9.99 worth of BTC and between 2.25% and 1.75% to buy any amount of BTC between $10 and $1,000.

With that said, CashApp is the only major payment app that lets you transfer your bitcoin to a non-custodial Lightning wallet, which can save you money, as transferring your bitcoin to the Bitcoin blockchain directly can be costly.

Cash app crypto: what to consider

  • Pro: Cash App allows you to send your Bitcoin to another crypto wallet if you want to custody your Bitcoin yourself.
  • Con: Fees for buying and selling BTC on Cash App are high compared to crypto exchanges.
How to buy bitcoin on PayPal

It’s quite convenient to purchase BTC on PayPal. Once you have a PayPal account, purchase some BTC — or PayPal USD (PYUSD), ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH) or litecoin (LTC) — through the app in just a few steps:

  • Select Finances at the bottom of the home screen.
  • Select Crypto.
  • Scroll down and select Bitcoin.
  • Select Buy.
  • Choose the dollar amount for your purchase and complete the purchase. (You will be asked to verify information about yourself if this is your first time buying crypto on PayPal)
  • Review the purchase details and select Buy Bitcoin if you approve of the order info.

Fees for buying and selling BTC on PayPal are high. You’ll pay $0.49 for purchases or sales between $1.00 and $4.99 and $0.99 for purchases or sales between $5.00 and $24.99.

Once you’ve purchased some BTC on PayPal, you can also use it to shop online with confidence at stores that accept it, knowing that PayPal’s fraud protection covers you.

Also, PayPal recently enabled users to withdraw their BTC from the platform’s custody. So, when you’re ready to hold your BTC in self-custody, PayPal now lets you transfer it to an external Bitcoin address.

PayPal crypto: what to consider

  • Pro: Buy Bitcoin quickly using a familiar and easy-to-use platform.
  • Con: PayPal charges higher fees than most traditional crypto exchanges.
How to buy bitcoin with Venmo

It’s also convenient to buy BTC on Venmo. Like PayPal, buy BTC — or PayPal USD (PYUSD), ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH), or litecoin (LTC) — on Venmo in just a few steps:

  1. Select Crypto at the bottom of the home screen.
  2. Select Bitcoin.
  3. Select Buy.
  4. Choose the dollar amount of BTC you want to buy.
  5. Select Review.
  6. Review the purchase details and select Buy Bitcoin if you approve of the order info.

Fees for purchasing BTC are also high on Venmo, and the fee structure is the same as PayPal’s. These fees are higher than those on most crypto exchanges, especially for purchases under $200. For purchases from $200 to $1,000, the fee drops to 1.8%, and for purchases of $1,000.01 or more, it drops to 1.5%.

One of the main differences between Venmo and PayPal is that Venmo is a social app through which you can broadcast your bitcoin purchases if you’d like.

Venmo also now allows you to move your BTC from its custody into a non-custodial wallet or transfer it to a friend. If you send your BTC out of the Venmo or PayPal networks, you’ll have to pay a blockchain fee, which varies according to network congestion.

Venmo crypto: what to consider

  • Pro: Buy Bitcoin using a convenient payment app.
  • Con: High fees for buying and selling BTC and other crypto assets.

Bitcoin ATM

Buying Bitcoin using an ATM is a way to purchase the digital currency in a physical location. The process typically involves using cash or a debit card to purchase Bitcoin, which is then transferred to a digital wallet, which you must have set up before using the ATM.

The benefit of buying Bitcoin through an ATM is the convenience and immediacy of the transaction.

However, it’s worth noting that the fees associated are often much higher than purchasing via an online exchange, and Bitcoin ATMs are only available in some locations. Also, newbies might feel uncomfortable setting up a Bitcoin wallet address and entering the long string of letters and numbers of the address via the ATM screen.

Buying bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM: what to consider

  • Pro: A quick and convenient way to purchase Bitcoin using cash.
  • Con: High fees will dissuade Bitcoin investors who know cheaper ways to purchase the asset, and newbies might not feel comfortable inputting their digital wallet information.

P2P marketplace

A (peer-to-peer) P2P crypto marketplace is a platform that allows individuals to buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly with one another through offers, a bit like eBay. An example of such a marketplace is Paxful.

The exchange or platform helps facilitate Bitcoin transactions by holding funds in escrow via smart contracts on a blockchain network. This ensures that the terms of the trade are met and that the cryptocurrency is transferred securely and transparently.

P2P marketplaces typically support a wide range of fiat currencies, including US dollars.

Low or no fees are common for P2P trades, and since order prices are fixed, you can potentially find Bitcoin below market value.

Purchasing Bitcoin through P2P exchanges regularly can be challenging, as it may be hard to consistently find a seller willing to sell you the exact amount you want each time.

Buying bitcoin from a P2P marketplace: what to consider

  • Pro: Interact directly with Bitcoin sellers and choose from hundreds of payment options.
  • Con: P2P exchanges typically have less liquidity than spot markets of OTC exchanges.

Crypto wallet’s native software

For those who believe in the concept of “not your keys, not your Bitcoin“, using a hardware wallet to buy Bitcoin may be a good option. These wallets offer exchange services like Changelly and Simplex, which are integrated into the software apps for wallets from companies like Ledger or Trezor. These apps are easy to use and typically accept credit or debit card payments.

Hardware wallets provide a secure and private way to hold your Bitcoin, which is stored directly on the blockchain rather than being entrusted to a third-party exchange or platform.

Although the Bitcoin blockchain is more secure than exchanges and has never been hacked, your security depends on you. You are responsible for managing your private key or seed phrase, which, if lost, may result in inaccessible funds.

Buying bitcoin from a crypto wallet’s native software: what to consider

  • Pro: You have total control over your investment, secured by the Bitcoin blockchain rather than a third party like an exchange.
  • Con: Learning to use a blockchain can be difficult. Transactions are irreversible, and your funds are at risk of human error.

Compare crypto platforms: exchanges, apps and brokerages

If this is your first time buying cryptocurrency, look for a platform that accepts US dollars. Once you’ve purchased your Bitcoin, you should be able to transfer it to another exchange later, so don’t worry too much about extra features for now.

Use the table to choose a platform that meets your needs, and select the Go to site button to get started.

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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the world’s oldest and most valuable cryptocurrency by market capitalization — or the total amount of money invested in the asset. Created in 2009 by a pseudonymous person or persons known as Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is a decentralized and cryptographically-secured digital payment blockchain network, and the asset on it — BTC — was designed to provide an alternative to traditional fiat currencies like US dollars or euros.

Rather than dealing with a centralized authority such as a bank to process transactions, BTC holders can transfer their coins directly to one another on the peer-to-peer Bitcoin network.

The maximum coin supply of Bitcoin is limited to 21 million, but it’s possible to buy a small fraction of a coin — each coin can be divided into 0.00000001 BTC.

Bitcoin digital rendering

Is Bitcoin safe to invest in?

All investments have risk associated. Before you buy Bitcoin, make sure you do due diligence in research and understand these risks:

    • Price volatility. Bitcoin’s price is largely based on speculation, meaning it can rise or fall quickly. It’s common for Bitcoin to move by 5% or more in a single day.
    • Exchange vulnerabilities. Leaving your Bitcoin on a crypto platform exposes you to several counterparty risks, including scams, hacks and theft, and fiscal mismanagement, as we saw in the case of FTX in 2022. To reduce this risk, it’s best to keep your Bitcoin in a non-custodial wallet.
    • Regulatory uncertainty. The regulatory environment for Bitcoin and other cryptos is constantly changing. In some countries owning and trading Bitcoin is legal, and in others, it isn’t. Even in countries in which it is legal to own Bitcoin or other cryptos, there can still be some jurisdictions that don’t permit certain Bitcoin or crypto services and platforms. For example, only a few crypto companies are permitted to operate in New York State, so there are only certain ways to buy Bitcoin in NY.
    • Novel technology. Bitcoin was created in 2009, making it relatively new as a form of technology and currency. Bitcoin doesn’t yet have the same track record or performance history as some other asset classes.
    • Technological learning curve. If you plan to invest in Bitcoin and custody the asset on your own, you’ll have to learn how to use a non-custodial crypto wallet.
    • Wallet vulnerabilities. The Bitcoin network is near-impossible to hack, but the hardware and software used to manage your funds — known as wallets — can still be vulnerable. We researched BTC wallets and shared which ones we felt were best.
    • Transactions can’t be reversed. Once you’ve submitted a transaction to the Bitcoin network, it can’t be canceled or reversed. Double-check the receiving address before sending a Bitcoin payment or moving Bitcoin off an exchange. One good way to do this is to check the first and last four digits of the wallet address you are sending to before setting the transaction in motion. There is no way to refund BTC sent to the wrong address.

What to look for in a crypto platform?

There are a few key factors to keep in mind when looking for where to buy Bitcoin.

Check your exchange is FinCEN registered.

If you choose to buy Bitcoin via a crypto exchange, it’s good practice to use a locally registered exchange. It’s more likely to accept US dollars and local payment methods like SWIFT, which helps avoid foreign exchange fees. Choosing a US-based exchange also means the exchange is likely to be registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which means it has to comply with local laws in the US.

Why you should use a FinCEN-registered cryptocurrency exchange

Crypto exchanges founded and based in the US are required to register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a division of the US Department of the Treasury. This bureau safeguards the US financial system by working to prevent money laundering, terrorist-financing activity and other financial crimes.

FinCEN-registered exchanges contribute to a more secure financial system in the US and provide you with better consumer protections compared to exchanges based in other countries.

Other reasons for using a FinCEN-registered exchange may include the following:

  • They are subject to state-level regulation and laws.
  • They are more likely to offer US-based customer support.
  • They typically cover local payment methods such as ACH bank transfers and support transactions in US dollars (USD).

Set up 2-factor authentication.

Whether you use an exchange or a financial app, look at the platform’s security features, like 2-factor authentication and PGP-encrypted emails. Cold storage of user funds is considered an industry standard, but insurance funds are less common and indicative of good security practices.

Learn whether the exchange has insurance fund.

A small number of exchanges now offer insurance on users’ funds. Two of these exchanges are Coinbase and Gemini. Beware that policies vary significantly between exchanges, so research this thoroughly if insurance is important to you.

Decide where you will custody your Bitcoin.

Where is your Bitcoin stored? If you plan to keep it on the platform you purchased it on, you may want to learn more about their storage practices and how they manage customer funds. Certain platforms like PayPal and Venmo don’t allow you to custody your own Bitcoin. These apps hold your Bitcoin in their custody. Others like Coinbase or Binance.US allow you to move the funds you purchase via the exchange into a crypto wallet. But when you do this, the responsibility to manage your assets responsibly falls entirely on you. If you lose the private keys to your Bitcoin, that Bitcoin is lost forever.

Bottom line

Before purchasing Bitcoin, compare a range of crypto exchanges and brokerages available in the US. Look at their features, fees, security and overall reputation to decide which platform best suits your needs. Consider an exchange registered with FinCEN for added peace of mind.

Remember that owning and using Bitcoin is not without its risks. Consider investing in Bitcoin as part of a wider investment strategy, and talk to a financial advisor if you have any questions about cryptocurrency investing.

Once you’ve purchased Bitcoin, think about your short- and long-term goals. This will help you decide whether to keep it on an exchange or move it to a non-custodial wallet.

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    SinethembaJune 17, 2019

    Hi I’m Sinethemba from South Africa.I want to ask how to join or do trading in bit coin I have try many times to register in bit coin please help me to make money

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoJune 18, 2019

      Hi Sinethemba,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Sorry to hear you are having a hard time to register at a bitcoin site. The information above where it says “QUICK GUIDE: HOW TO BUY BITCOIN IN THE US” carefully explains how you can trade Bitcoins in the US.

      On the page, you can also choose which bitcoin site is best for your needs. Simply choose from the table above that compares deposit method, fiat currency and supported currencies. Click GO TO SITE if you want to go straight to the providers website or view details to read more info on our site.

      This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators’ websites before making any decision.

      Hope this helps!


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