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Buying Bitcoin is easier than you might think. The two main ways of buying Bitcoin are to find a Bitcoin broker and purchase directly or to visit a cryptocurrency exchange and buy Bitcoin on the open market.
To help walk you through the process, we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to finding a Bitcoin broker or exchange and buying Bitcoin in the US.
This is our quick guide to just one way to buy BTC. Compare some other options in the table below.
You can find and compare Bitcoin exchanges and brokers here. Or skip ahead to our curated list of the best BTC exchanges.
It’s typical to find trading fees of about 0.25% to 0.5% per trade on US cryptocurrency exchanges, while brokers will typically charge even more. They may also sell above market rates, or charge deposit and withdrawal fees, which results in extra “hidden fees”. Low-liquidity exchanges experience similar problems, with price slippage representing a major potential cost.
By contrast, Binance.US fees start well below the average, even before you apply any discounts, while its BTC/USD markets are liquid enough that price slippage isn’t a major concern for most people who just want to buy cryptocurrency. There are also a range of no-fee deposit and withdrawal options available for US residents.
In this way, it offers solid value for money for someone who just wants to buy Bitcoin, as well as good value for more active traders who want to take advantage of the Binance.US trading fee discounts.
There are two main things that can slow down buying cryptocurrency.
On the other end of the spectrum, some exchanges can get you signed up, verified and buying cryptocurrency in just a few minutes.
Coinmama is one of these. Verification times may vary, but at the lower end it can take just a few minutes to complete the initial tier 1 verification, assuming you have your documentation (driver’s licence, a clear selfie and personal information) ready.
It’s also one of relatively few exchanges to support credit card payments, which facilitates instant cryptocurrency purchases.
Coinmama isn’t the cheapest option, but it is fast.
Buying cryptocurrency for the first time can be overwhelming and complicated.
Coinbase isn’t. It’s become one of the biggest names in Bitcoin by focusing specifically on making it as easy as possible to buy cryptocurrency for the first time.
It works on both mobile and desktop, it offers a range of payment methods to suit almost anyone, and it walks buyers through each step to making their first purchase.
Coinbase gives users their own wallets and has an active customer service team. Visually, it delivers a much more soothing and uncluttered interface than other exchanges.
Among other beginner-friendly features are the ability to send money to someone (as Bitcoin) through just their email address, and an expansive educational section which slowly unfolds for users.
Coinbase is designed for people who want to gradually wade into cryptocurrency instead of diving into the deep end.
Bitcoin is the world’s oldest and biggest digital currency by market cap. Created in 2009 by an unknown person (or persons) using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is a form of decentralized electronic cash designed to provide a viable alternative to traditional fiat currency.
Rather than having to deal with a centralized authority such as a bank to process transactions, Bitcoin holders can transfer their coins directly to one another on a peer-to-peer network. All Bitcoin transactions are tracked on a public ledger known as the blockchain, and people working as miners verify transactions and update the blockchain.
The maximum coin supply of Bitcoin is limited to 21 million, but it’s possible to buy a small fraction of a coin – each individual coin can be divided down to 0.00000001 BTC. Find out more about how Bitcoin works in our comprehensive beginner’s guide.
You can buy Bitcoin in the US in three simple steps:
Before you can buy any Bitcoin, you’ll need to set up a digital wallet where you can safely store your coins. Bitcoin wallets don’t actually hold any coins, but instead, store the private keys you need to access your public Bitcoin address and sign transactions.
There are dozens of options to choose from, including the following:
The next step is to decide how and where you will buy Bitcoin. There are hundreds of platforms to choose from, and they can be separated into three main categories:
The final step is to submit an order through your chosen platform. For most first-timers, the easiest and most convenient option is to use a Bitcoin broker.
No matter which type of exchange you choose, you’ll usually need to sign up for an account first. Depending on the exchange you use and the regulatory requirements it is subject to, you may be able to sign up simply by providing your email address or you may need to provide your full name, contact information and proof of ID before being allowed to trade.
Once your account has been verified, you’ll need to enter the amount of BTC you want to buy, choose your payment method, review the fees and the total cost of the transaction and then finalize your purchase.
The exact steps you’ll need to follow vary depending on the payment method and type of platform you choose, so keep reading for more details on the different ways you can buy Bitcoin.
There are many different ways you can purchase Bitcoin, each of which has its own pros and cons.
Want to turn your cash into cryptocurrency? There are several ways to buy Bitcoin with cash in the US, including the following:
Buying Bitcoin with cash is quick and convenient but is usually more expensive than other options.
While some exchanges will accept credit card payments, most major US banks have banned credit card cryptocurrency purchases, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, CitiBank, Capital One, Discover and Wells Fargo. Debit cards are less likely to be banned, but also nowhere near as widely accepted as credit cards.
Got a PayPal account and want to use it to buy Bitcoin? The good news is that you can definitely do this; the bad news is that only a limited number of platforms accept PayPal.
The biggest advantage of buying Bitcoin with PayPal is that it’s quick and easy to do as you’ll no doubt be aware if you’ve ever used PayPal to purchase anything else online.
However, you may need to hunt around for the right platform, and if the platform you choose doesn’t accept USD, then you’ll need to be fully aware of the fees that apply. VirWox and Paxful are two of the better-known platforms that accept PayPal at the time of writing.
Another way to buy Bitcoin with US dollars is to choose a platform that accepts bank transfer deposits. The list of platforms that allow bank transfers is an extensive one and includes sites like Quoinex, Uphold, BitFlyer, HiveEx.com and more.
Depositing funds using your bank account usually doesn’t attract any fees, but it does mean you may have to wait one to two business days until the funds are cleared into your exchange account.
Whichever bank account payment method you select, make sure you consider the following:
If you want to exchange another cryptocurrency for Bitcoin, you’ll be pleased to learn that BTC is listed in a huge range of trading pairs on a wide variety of crypto exchanges. The key is finding the exchange that offers the right features and fees for you.
You’ll need to search for exchanges that list your desired trading pair, such as BTC/DASH, and then compare the pros and cons of each platform. Once you’ve found a suitable exchange, you can buy Bitcoin by following a few simple steps.
You’ll need to do the following:
The process may vary slightly from one platform to the next, so look for a how-to guide on your chosen exchange or contact its customer support team if you’re unsure of what to do.
If you want to buy Bitcoin in the US, most exchanges will require you to verify your identity first. However, if you value your privacy, it’s still possible to buy Bitcoin anonymously.
The following are some of the available options:
With hundreds of platforms to choose from, finding the best Bitcoin exchange for your needs is a challenging task. To make your choice easier, consider these key factors when comparing exchanges:
There’s plenty of choices when selecting a Bitcoin exchange, and US users can choose from platforms based here at home or in countries all around the world. So, should you buy Bitcoin from a US exchange or from a foreign platform? To help you decide, consider the pros and cons of buying on an American exchange.
Regardless of whether you choose a US or overseas-based crypto exchange, make sure you compare a range of options before deciding which platform to use.
You can sign up for a Coinbase account by providing your email address and creating a password. Before you can trade, you’ll need to verify your account by doing the following:
Remember to also enable 2-factor authentication on your account for extra security.
From your Coinbase account dashboard, click the “Deposit USD” link. You’ll then be able to access the necessary details to transfer funds into your account via your credit or debit card.
Click on the “Buy/Sell” tab at the top of the screen before clicking on the “Buy BTC” button. Specify how much Bitcoin you want to buy or how much USD you want to spend, then take a moment to review the full details of the transaction before you click “Buy”.
You wouldn’t invest in shares without doing your research first, so make sure you understand the following essential facts about Bitcoin before you buy:
Finally, it’s also worth remembering that Bitcoin is far from the only fish in the cryptocurrency sea. While it may be the biggest and best-known, there are more than 1,600 other cryptocurrencies available as of July 2018 (and growing). While the value of some of these coins is questionable, there are plenty of other digital currencies worth considering as alternatives to Bitcoin.
Want to get your hands on some Bitcoin without actually buying it? There are a few options available:
If you want to buy a large amount of Bitcoin, for example, $50,000 or more, you may want to think twice before placing your trade on a traditional exchange. Not only will you be exposed to slippage, which can substantially increase the cost of your trade, but you’ll also need to accept the risks of hacking and theft associated with traditional exchanges.
Over-the-counter (OTC) brokers can offer better prices, increased transaction limits and faster processing times to large-volume traders. Check out our OTC cryptocurrency trading guide to find out how buying OTC works as well as the benefits and risks you should be aware of.
If you want to buy Bitcoin, start comparing a range of cryptocurrency brokers and exchanges. Look at their features, fees, security and overall reputation to decide which platform is the right fit for you.
You can then sign up for an account and get ready to start trading. However, make sure you research your purchase thoroughly and are fully aware of the risks involved before you buy.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ADA, ICX, IOTA and XLM.
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