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How to buy Ethereum (ETH)

Learn how to buy Ethereum on 23+ exchanges in our step-by-step guide.

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Ethereum (ETH) redefined cryptocurrency and the internet by introducing Web3 technology to the world through smart contracts, dapps and tokenization, which helped ETH reach an all-time-high price of $4,878.26 in November 2021.

While this has helped make ETH the #2 crypto by market cap, Ethereum is still a highly volatile asset capable of major price swings in a single day.

Today ETH is trading for $1,670.59, which is slightly up from yesterday's trading price of $1,637.06. Ethereum's seen a decrease of -46% over the past year.

So before you buy Ethereum, make sure you understand these unique risks as well as its legal, regulatory and tax status here in the US.

If you're ready to get started, read on for step-by-step instructions and a list of platforms you can use to buy Ethereum in the US.

How to buy Ethereum in 4 steps

To buy ETH all you'll need is a smartphone or computer, an internet connection, photo identification and a way to pay.

  1. Compare crypto exchanges
    The easiest way to buy Ethereum is from a cryptocurrency exchange. Comparing in the table below helps you find a platform with the features you want like low fees, ease of use or 24-hour customer support.
  2. Create an account
    To create an account on an exchange, you will need to verify your email address and identity. Have some photo ID and your phone ready.
  3. Make a deposit
    Once verified, you can deposit USD using the payment method that best suits you – wire transfer, Rollover or personal check, debit card and PayPal payments are widely accepted.
  4. Buy Ethereum
    You can now exchange your funds for Ethereum. On beginner-friendly exchanges, this is as simple as entering the USD or ETH amount you want to purchase and clicking "buy". If you like, you can then withdraw your Ethereum to a personal wallet.

Disclaimer: This page is not financial advice or an endorsement of digital assets, providers or services. Digital assets are volatile and risky, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Potential regulations or policies can affect their availability and services provided. Talk with a financial professional before making a decision. Finder or the author may own cryptocurrency discussed on this page.

Where to buy Ethereum in the US

If this is your first time buying cryptocurrency you'll need to look for a platform that accepts US dollars, like SoFi or eToro.

Don't worry too much about extra features or coins for now – you can always sign up with another exchange later.

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

Name Product Deposit methods Fiat Currencies Cryptocurrencies
SoFi Invest Crypto
Bank transfer (ACH), Wire transfer, Rollover or personal check
USD

30
cryptocurrencies

Win up to $100 in crypto with a qualifying first trade
Instantly purchase a handful of leading cryptocurrencies with the SoFi app, which also insures your coins against potential hacks or theft.
eToro USA LLC Cryptocurrency Trading
Debit card, PayPal, Wire transfer, Online banking
USD

50
cryptocurrencies

Get $15 when you sign up and buy $100 of crypto. T&Cs apply.
Copy the trades of leading cryptocurrency investors on this unique social investment platform. Non-US residents can read our review of eToro's global site here.
KuCoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Cryptocurrency, PayPal, Debit/credit cards, Zelle
USD, EUR, GBP, RUB, CNY, AUD, KRW, JPY, TRY, VND

744
cryptocurrencies

Sign up and get up to US$10 in rewards. Make trades to get up to US$500 in rewards. T&Cs apply.
Browse a variety of coin offerings in one of the largest multi-cryptocurrency exchanges and pay in cryptocurrency.
Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, SWIFT, Visa and Mastercard debit/credit card, ACH online banking, Digital Wallet purchases
USD, EUR, CAD, AUD, GBP, CHF, JPY, AED

182
cryptocurrencies

Buy, sell and trade a range of digital currencies on this high-liquidity exchange – suitable for beginners right through to advanced traders.
Uphold - Digital Asset Platform
Bank transfer, Credit card, Debit card, Bank transfer (SEPA), Apple Pay, Google Pay
USD, GBP, AUD, EUR, CAD, CNY, JPY, SGD, INR, NZD

242
cryptocurrencies

Refer a friend to earn US$20 — $10 for you and $10 for the person you refer.
Use the Uphold app to trade between 200+ cryptos and other assets in a single click.
Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer (ACH), Debit card, PayPal, Wire transfer, Apple Pay, Google Pay
USD, AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, SGD, HKD, COP

130
cryptocurrencies

Get USD 25 in BTC when you trade USD 100 within 3 days of signing up. T&Cs apply.
Execute multiple trade types with no fees on cryptocurrency and wire transfer deposits on this exchange.
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What is Ethereum?

Launched in 2015, Ethereum (ETH) is one of the oldest cryptocurrencies and has long been the second largest by market cap. It was initially developed by a team of software engineers to build on Bitcoin's innovative use of while adding new and advanced use cases beyond digital payments.

The key innovation of the Ethereum blockchain is its use of smart contracts. Smart contracts are programmable, self-executing pieces of code that allow parties to reach a consensus without needing an intermediary. Smart contracts also allow you to build software applications on Ethereum, and it was the first blockchain to bring this programmability to cryptocurrencies.

Ethereum's blockchain has since laid the groundwork for thousands of decentralized applications (dapps) to build upon, including DeFi, social networks, games and more. These applications are similar to ones you would find on your computer or on the web, but instead, run on a blockchain to enable additional functionality and security that only blockchains can provide.

Everything running on Ethereum requires the native coin (ETH) to pay for network fees, similar to paying a toll for using the network.

Read our beginner's guide to how Ethereum works

What will I need to buy Ethereum?

To create an account with your chosen crypto platform, you only need an email address or mobile number. This will usually allow you to deposit cryptocurrency, but not USD.

If you want to buy Ethereum with US dollars, you'll need to pass a Know Your Customer (KYC) check.

This is a standard security procedure for most exchanges in the US and requires you to upload some photo ID, and in some cases a selfie with today's date.

KYC is usually approved instantly, but in rare cases, you may have to wait a few hours or days.

What are the best ways to buy Ethereum?

Once you've set up your account, you'll need to deposit funds to buy Ethereum with. We've listed out some popular ways to buy ETH and what you should know about each payment method below.

What is the cheapest way to buy Ethereum?

First things first – you don't have to buy a whole Ethereum.

Most exchanges let you buy as little as $5 worth of ETH, if not less. Just type in how much you want to spend in USD and let the exchange work out the rest.

Some platforms only offer 1 way to buy Ethereum, while others provide several choices. The 2 most common ways to buy ETH are on the spot market or with an "instant buy" feature.

Instant buy

If it's your first time buying Ethereum this will be the fastest method – but also the least cost-effective.

You'll usually find the instant buy section under a "Buy now" heading on the platform you've chosen.

It should feature a simple interface that lets you enter the amount of Ethereum you want to buy, or US dollars you want to spend.

This is usually the only option available for credit or debit card purchases, but you may also be able to make an instant buy if you've pre-funded your account with a bank transfer.

Be prepared to pay a markup on ETH's market rate in exchange for the convenience.

Spot market

If you see colorful charts with a range of prices, you're probably in the spot market.

The spot market is where buyers and sellers come together to place bids for ETH on the open market. It's usually the cheapest way to buy Ethereum because it lets traders set their own price.

You'll find the spot market under a "Trade" or "Spot" heading on the site or app menu of the platform you've chosen to use.

There are several different order types that you can make on the spot market.

  • Market order. This will buy you the amount of Ethereum you specify at the lowest possible price available. This makes it like an instant buy order, but with much lower fees.
  • Limit order. This is the most common order type and lets you purchase Ethereum at the price you specify. Traders use this to time the market and capitalize on price dips or increases.

How to find the best place to buy Ethereum in the US

There are dozens of different trading platforms to choose from when buying Ethereum in the US, so to help you find your best option, keep these factors in mind:

  • Where it's registered. Using a locally registered exchange is a good idea. It's more likely to accept US dollars and local payment methods like SWIFT, which helps avoid foreign exchange fees. Choosing from US-based exchanges also means it's likely to be registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) which means it has to comply with local laws in the US.
  • Security. Look at the security features the platform has to offer, like 2-factor authentication and PGP-encrypted emails. Cold storage of user funds is considered industry standard, but insurance funds are less common and indicative of good security practices.
  • Fees. Check the fine print to find out exactly how much your transaction will cost. Depending on the platform you choose, these could include spreads, trading fees and deposit and withdrawal charges.
  • Transaction limits. Are there any minimum or maximum limits on the amount of Ethereum you can purchase? Does the exchange restrict the amount of funds you can withdraw from your account in any 1 transaction or 24-hour period?
  • Other platform features. Look out for other features that suit your investment or trading needs. For instance, many exchanges now let you earn yield on your holdings, while some issue crypto debit cards to help you spend your coins.
  • Customer support. If you ever have a problem with a transaction, will you be able to quickly and easily get in touch with the customer support team? Are they based in the US? Check what contact methods are available and find out how quick the team is at responding to enquiries.
  • Insurance fund. A small number of exchanges now insure user funds. Beware that policies vary greatly between exchanges, so you'll need to research this thoroughly if insurance is important to you.
  • Reputation. As a young industry, reputation can provide a lot of clues when choosing an exchange. For instance, who are the founders? Have there been any controversies? Are their business practices transparent? If you can't find any of this information, that may be a red flag.
  • Range of coins. If you're thinking about adding other cryptos to your portfolio in the future, check to see what other coins you can buy through the platform.
  • Read reviews. Finder's crypto exchange reviews include user feedback, which helps you get a better idea of what the exchange is like to use for other people starting out just like you.

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).

Recent Ethereum developments

October 26, 2022: ETH price rallies nearly 10% in a single day after months of sideways movement as supply drastically reduces following the Merge. Read the full story.
September 15, 2022: Ethereum's long-awaited network upgrade, known as The Merge, is now complete. The transition to proof-of-stake (PoS) permanently eliminates proof-of-work (PoW) mining, reducing Ethereum's energy consumption by 99.95%.

Ethereum in Finder news

September 1, 2022: These 4 tokens are set to benefit as the Merge approaches...Read more

Is Ethereum safe to invest in?

You shouldn't invest in any asset, including ETH without doing plenty of research first. Before you buy Ethereum, make sure you understand and weigh up these risks:

  • Price volatility. Ethereum's price is largely based on speculation, which means it can rise or fall in a short time. It's not uncommon for ETH to lose more than 10% of its value in a single day.
  • Perceived value. ETH is a unique asset that does not have any tangible value. It derives most of its value from utility and speculation.
  • Exchange vulnerabilities. Leaving your Ethereum on a crypto platform exposes you to several counterparty risks, including:
    • Scams. Scammers frequently try to trick exchange users into handing over their username and password, often by phishing with malicious emails or fake website links. Use 2FA and encrypted emails to help protect your funds.
    • Hacks and theft. Exchanges are vulnerable to hacks and theft, so choose one with good security practices and a track record of safety.
    • Fiscal mismanagement. In mid-2022 a number of crypto platforms froze user funds after it was revealed they had engaged in irresponsible funds management.
    • Insurance. Unlike stocks, only a small handful of exchanges provide insurance on your cash deposits.
  • Regulatory uncertainty. The regulatory environment for Ethereum and other cryptos is constantly changing. It's important to understand how international rulings have the potential to impact Ethereum's future – for better or worse.
  • Novel technology. Ethereum was created in 2015 which makes it relatively new as a form of technology and as a currency. ETH doesn't yet have the same track record or performance history as some other asset classes.
  • Technical learning curve. Evaluating the tech behind ETH before you invest is important, but requires a deep understanding of the blockchain and other aspects of decentralized finance. You should be prepared to do plenty of research.
  • Ongoing upgrades. Ethereum is arguably the most active blockchain in the world and is routinely upgraded every few months. While releases undergo thorough testing, there may be unforeseen issues that could affect the usability of specific applications or the security of the network.
  • Transaction cost. During periods of high usage such as when the market is on a bull run, ETH transactions become very expensive or slow for those who can't afford the highest gas fees. You may have trouble making a transaction or using an application when gas fees are high. Steps are being taken to mitigate this, but the problem is likely to persist for some time.
  • Potential forks. In 2016, Ethereum was forked due to a major DAO hack. This resulted in the creation of a secondary network called Ethereum Classic (ETC), which diluted the price of ETH. Future Ethereum forks could have a similar impact on ETH's price.

Where could Ethereum's price be heading?

ETH is expected to close out 2023 at $2,184, according to the average prediction provided by Finder's panel of fintech specialists.

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Today's Ethereum price versus ATH

Compare today's price of Ethereum ($1,670.59 USD) against its all-time high (ATH) price of $4,878.26 USD on November 10, 2021. The closer the bar is to 100%, the closer ETH is to reaching its ATH again.

Current price: $1,670.59
All-time high: $4,878.26
34%
65%

How is Ethereum taxed?

If you hold Ethereum as an investment, you'll be taxed on any capital gains you make when you sell it — which includes spending it on goods and/or services. In the US, tax obligations also apply to mining, professional Ethereum trading and in a range of other scenarios, so make sure you're fully aware of what you need to report to the IRS.

Learn more in our crypto tax guide or use our round-up of the best crypto tax software to make tax reporting easier.

After you've bought Ethereum

Once you own some ETH, you have 2 options – keep it on an exchange, or move it to a personal wallet. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Keeping your Ethereum on an exchange

Pros
  • Convenience. Keeping your Ethereum on an exchange is convenient because you can buy and sell at any time.
  • Security. Holding Ethereum on an exchange does come with significant counterparty risks, but reputable platforms also invest heavily in security so you don't have to worry about the pitfalls of self-custody.
  • Insurance. A small handful of exchanges now operate insurance schemes. These can range from insuring user deposits held in cold storage to reimbursing customers if a hack occurs.
  • Earn yield. Many exchanges let you earn yield on your Ethereum. This is done in 1 of 2 ways: the exchange will either stake your ETH on your behalf, or lend it to other users. Each carries its own set of risks, though lending is generally associated with higher risk. Make sure you understand which method is being used to generate yield before handing over your assets.
Cons
  • Phishing. Exchange users are frequently targeted by scammers trying to steal login information through malicious emails and fake website links.
  • Hacking. Exchanges are major targets for hackers. While security practices have improved substantially, hacks still occur from time to time.
  • Account freezing. Exchanges have been known to occasionally freeze user accounts, whether due to security concerns, technical issues or market turbulence. This could see you temporarily lose access to your crypto.
  • Limited usability. Ethereum is a blockchain with a growing ecosystem of Web3 applications. If you want to use these services, you will need to move a portion of your ETH to a Web3 wallet to pay for gas fees.

Moving your Ethereum to a non-custodial wallet

Pros
  • Self-custody. A mantra repeated by crypto investors is "Not your keys, not your coins." This comes from the idea that the only way to guarantee ownership of your Ethereum is to own the private key — which isn't the case when you hold on an exchange.
  • Security. Ethereum and cryptocurrency wallets vary greatly in their features and security. For the most secure experience, consider purchasing a hardware wallet, which is usually a small USB device that keeps your private keys offline at all times for an extra layer of security.
  • Utility. If you plan to use your Ethereum for transactions, daily spending or decentralized finance (DeFi), then storing it in a wallet rather than an exchange will be more convenient.
  • Web3 apps. The Ethereum ecosystem is chock full of DeFi dapps such as Aave, on which you can lend your ETH. It also features NFT apps like Rarible and games like Decentraland. To engage with these dapps, NFT platforms and games, your ETH must be in a non-custodial browser extension wallet.
Cons
  • Learning curve. It's no secret that learning how to use a crypto wallet takes some time and effort. Spend some time learning how Ethereum wallets work before transferring any of your funds.
  • Personal responsibility. Owning your own money can be liberating, but it also means the responsibility is all yours. If you lose your private key, the only way to regain access to your wallet is through the seed phrase. Make sure to store both of these privately and securely.
  • Inheritance. A challenge presented by crypto wallets is how to pass access on in the event of death or disability. Several companies are experimenting with ways to solve this problem, like the Trezor Model T wallet's Shamir backup feature.
  • Expensive transaction fees. One of the main critiques of the Ethereum network is that it is expensive to transact on. ETH fees are significantly higher than fees on blockchains such as Solana or Cardano.
  • Smart contract risk. If you plan to use your ETH on decentralized applications – or dapps – your funds may be at risk. Dapps are controlled by smart contracts and if there is a flaw in the code of these contracts, hackers may be able to steal your ETH.

Bottom line

If you want to buy Ethereum, start by comparing a range of crypto brokers and exchanges available in the US. Look at their features, fees, security and overall reputation to decide which platform is the right fit for you. Consider an exchange registered with FinCEN for added peace of mind.

Remember that owning and using Ethereum is not without its risks. Carefully consider investing in ETH as part of a wider strategy, and talk to a financial advisor if you have any questions.

Once you've bought some ETH, think about what your short and long-term goals are. This will help you decide whether to keep it on an exchange, or move it to your own wallet.

FAQs

Is Ethereum worth buying?

Unfortunately, there's no easy way of knowing for certain whether any asset is worth buying. A good place to start your evaluation is by considering the asset's utility.

ETH is the gas used for the Ethereum blockchain, so anyone that wants to use it must own ETH. As a result, mass adoption of Ethereum could see demand for ETH rise as well.

Take a look at our expert panel's price prediction for ETH through 2030 to help you to get a better idea as to whether or not Ethereum might be worth buying.

Where is the best place to buy Ethereum?

The best place to buy Ethereum will depend on your needs, but a common thing to look for is a platform that supports USD, which you can do using our table.

You should also consider these things when choosing where to buy Ethereum:

  • What are the fees for buying and selling ETH?
  • Can I withdraw ETH to my own wallet?
  • What are the exchange's security practices?

Find out more with our guide to some of the best crypto exchanges in the US.

Can I buy Ethereum for fiat?

Yes, lots of crypto trading platforms can help you buy Ethereum with fiat currencies. Use our table to look for an exchange that supports USD deposits to get started.

Keep in mind that unless the exchange supports direct trading between USD and ETH, you may have to convert your USD to BTC first.

Can I get Ethereum for free?

There are a handful of ways to earn small amounts of free ETH, including playing online games or using a crypto rewards credit card.

A much more common approach is to stake ETH you already own or lend it to a platform such as Nexo to earn a yield.

Read our guide on how to earn free crypto for other potential ways to earn some free Ethereum.

Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance of ETH 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. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the Ethereum or any other cryptocurrency discussed.

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    BrianDecember 1, 2018

    What do you say about acquiring ETH and other cryptocurrencies using changenow.io? I found VISA and Mastercard support here, and I do not need to register, and I can buy coins for any amount. I think you should consider this exchange.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesDecember 7, 2018Staff

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      I have already forwarded this request to our publishers and will get feedback once we have word on creating a review page for this. Thanks for the information.

      Cheers,
      Reggie

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