How to buy Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. Learn how to buy ETH on an exchange and where to store it.

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Ethereum is an open-source blockchain platform that developers can use to build and run decentralised applications (dapps). Ethereum was proposed by Vitalik Buterin in 2013 and went into development in 2014 before launching in 2015, and has grown immensely over the years.

Its key feature is that it allows developers to create smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts that automatically complete tasks when specific conditions are met. As an example, a basic smart contract could say, “Pay John £50 if he emails me a 10-page report on pet obesity by November 30, 2021.”

These smart contracts are executed by the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which is powered by a decentralised international network of nodes. In the real world, Ethereum can be used to power dapps and smart contracts across a diverse range of industries, including everything from finance and insurance to supply chain management, betting and file storage.

Ethereum’s native asset, Ether (ETH), is the second-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalisation after Bitcoin. ETH can be bought and traded on a wide range of cryptocurrency exchanges. It is also used by developers to pay for transaction fees and services on the Ethereum network.

Step 1. Choose where to buy Ethereum

A cryptocurrency exchange is a digital platform that allows you to buy, sell and trade cryptocurrency. They are similar to stock trading platforms.

Your first major consideration is to figure out whether you want to buy ETH with another cryptocurrency (like BTC or a stablecoin such as USDT) or use a popular fiat currency such as the euro US dollar or Pound sterling.

For this article, we’ll assume you don’t own any cryptocurrency at present and want to purchase some Ether with your hard-earned GBP. There used to be a big distinction between “fiat-to-crypto” and “crypto-to-crypto” exchanges until a year or two ago as a result of banking regulations in most countries. Now, many originally “crypto-to-crypto” exchanges accept fiat currency as payment or work with integrated service providers to convert your money into the digital asset of your choice, and send it to your exchange account within a few hours.

Cryptocurrency exchanges differ in terms of fees, security, and payment options, so you’ll have to do your due diligence before choosing the right one for you. When choosing a cryptocurrency exchange, it’s important to look at the fees and withdrawal options. The ideal exchange will have low fees and high-security features. As a beginner, it is best to choose an exchange with an easy user interface that doesn’t have too many features, which may overwhelm you.

When deciding where to purchase Ethereum, look for an exchange that lists ETH in one or more currency pairings.

When purchasing cryptocurrency for the first time, it’s important to choose an exchange that supports your local currency. The most popular exchanges in the UK include Coinbase, Kraken and Gemini. They are considered beginner-friendly and accept most payment options, including wire transfer and credit or debit card payment.

You can view a list of exchanges in the below table, where you can compare various features like fees, payment methods and the cryptocurrency and fiat currency pairs on offer.

Once you have chosen an exchange, you will need to create an account on the exchange’s website. You can do this by clicking the button next to the exchange in the table.

When picking an exchange, consider the following:

  • Fees. Fees are charged every time you make a purchase and can accumulate over time, which is why it’s important to choose an exchange with the lowest fees possible. Buying cryptocurrency with a credit card also tends to be the most expensive option so try and find an exchange that offers other payment options, like wire transfers.
  • Coins. Since you’re here, you’re obviously interested in buying Ethereum. But, have you considered what other cryptocurrencies you might be interested in purchasing in the future? When choosing an exchange, it could be helpful in the long run to pick an exchange that offers other coins you are interested in.
  • Location. UK-based cryptocurrency exchanges must register with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and adhere to its regulations. Exchange operators must also meet the government’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing compliance and reporting obligations. Be mindful that exchanges located in foreign tax havens might seem appealing but they will probably lack adequate consumer laws to protect you if something were to happen to your digital assets.

Step 2. Create an account on an exchange that supports ETH

After you have chosen an exchange from the table below, click on the Go to site button and sign up with your name, email address, and a password.

  • Note: Many exchanges also require your full name, contact information and proof of ID before allowing you to trade.

You will then need to complete the Know Your Customer/Client (KYC) process, which is a legal AML requirement that requires you to verify your identity and address. To do this, you will need to provide a copy of your identification card, and a copy of a recent bank statement or utility bill that has your address on it. Sometimes you will also need to provide a selfie through the use of guided KYC software where you are holding your identification card.

Usually, KYC takes a few days, after which time your account will be verified and be ready for you to start using it.

After your account is approved, you will need to choose a payment method to deposit funds into your account before you can make any purchases.

Step 3. Deposit funds into your account

To buy ETH, you’ll first need to deposit GBP or another supported fiat currency into your exchange fiat currency account or link your credit card to the account.

If your exchange supports Ether (ETH) you’ll be able to buy ETH directly with your bank card. Some exchanges charge varying fees depending on the amount of ETH you’re buying, so pay attention to the cost of your transaction.

  • Note: Some payment methods have higher fees, with credit card payments usually being the most expensive.

Depositing funds. A cheap way to buy ETH is via bank transfer. You’ll have to deposit the money from your bank account to the exchange account and use it to purchase ETH. However, although this may be the cheapest option, you may have to wait a couple of days for the funds to clear in your exchange account. Once the funds have cleared, you can purchase ETH with these funds.

Linking a card. Linking a credit or debit card to your exchange account can be a convenient way to purchase cryptocurrency. But, as mentioned above, this is usually a more costly option. Card payments are also usually done instantaneously so you won’t be able to deposit funds to use on the spot market.

In general, it’s best to avoid using a credit card to purchase cryptocurrency as you will have to pay interest on top of the exchange’s fees. Additionally, some credit card providers don’t allow you to purchase cryptocurrency at all.

Step 4. Buy Ethereum

Navigate to the markets section on your chosen exchange to find your desired ETH pairing. Look for the section on buying ETH, and type in the amount of the paired cryptocurrency you want to spend or the amount of ETH you want to buy.

  • Note: Carefully review your transaction details, including the amount of ETH you’re buying and the total cost of the purchase, before completing the transaction.

Be aware that you don’t have to purchase a whole Ether, most exchanges will allow you to purchase a portion of one. Some cryptocurrency exchanges only offer one way to purchase cryptocurrency while others give you a few options. The most popular methods of purchasing cryptocurrency in the US are instant buy and the spot market.

Instant buy

Most exchanges offer the ability to buy cryptocurrencies like BTC and ETH instantly, and this is certainly one of the fastest ways to purchase ETH. Simply enter the amount you would like to purchase in your local currency and the exchange will calculate the equivalent amount of ETH, according to the market rate.

Buying ETH via the instant buy method is generally more expensive than on the spot market as there is usually an extra exchange fee added on top of the market price. This can be a simple way to purchase cryptocurrency for beginners but it’s important to be aware of the extra costs involved, especially if you are using this method with a linked credit card.

Spot market

This is the most common way to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies.

The spot market operates like a stock exchange where buyers and sellers come together and make offers. As a buyer, you can look for the lowest price available, or make an offer at an even lower price and hope it gets accepted. This method provides the most competitive fees and pricing and gives users control over the price that they buy and sell cryptocurrency at.

Step 5. Withdraw ETH to wallet

While some people choose to store their cryptocurrency tokens in their exchange account, this is not recommended. As exchanges are regular targets for hackers and thieves, it’s generally considered a much safer option to move your ETH tokens into a wallet which allows you to retain full control of your private keys.

Happily, there are heaps of choices available when searching for an Ethereum wallet. Options you might like to consider include:

Check out our guide to the best Ethereum wallets

What to consider before you buy ETH

Cryptocurrencies are complicated and volatile assets, and buying any digital coin or token comes with a high level of risk attached. Before you buy, make sure you do plenty of research and that you recognise the factors that could potentially drive the price of a cryptocurrency asset either up or down.

If you’re thinking of buying Ether, consider the following factors first:

  • Move to proof-of-stake. Though it started life as a proof-of-work cryptocurrency, Ethereum will soon be shifting to a proof-of-stake system as part of the Casper update. Designed to improve scalability and tackle centralisation, Casper’s success (or otherwise) will have a big impact on the future of Ethereum.
  • Market leader. As it stands, Ethereum has the biggest profile of all the dapps platforms currently in existence. Thanks to its early-mover advantage, Ether is the world’s second-largest digital currency in terms of market cap and the Ethereum platform is synonymous with the development of dapps.
  • Competition. Ethereum is also operating in an increasingly competitive market sector. NEO, Lisk, EOS and Cardano are just some of the dapp platforms that look set to compete with Ethereum in the future.
  • Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). The EEA is a non-profit corporation that aims to accelerate the adoption of Ethereum’s blockchain technology by businesses. If it can successfully drive increased use of Ethereum, this could potentially lead to increased demand for ETH.

Where to buy Ethereum (ETH) in the UK

Name Product Deposit methods Fiat Currencies Cryptocurrencies
eToro Cryptocurrency Trading
Credit card, Debit card, Neteller, PayPal, Wire transfer, Online banking
EUR, GBP, NZD, USD, AUD, CAD, HKD, SGD, CHF, NOK & 5+ more

27
cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency warning: Cryptoasset investing is unregulated in the UK. There’s no consumer protection. Your capital is at risk.
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CoinJar Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card, Faster Payments (FPS)
GBP, AUD

42
cryptocurrencies

Uphold Digital Money Platform
Bank transfer (ACH), Credit card, Debit card
AED, ARS, AUD, BRL, CAD, CHF, CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HRK, HUF, ILS, INR, JPY, KES, MXN, NOK, NZD, PHP, PLN, RON, SEK, SGD, USD

29
cryptocurrencies

Buy, send and convert from 29 currencies in seconds, all on one platform.
Kriptomat Cryptocurrency Exchange
Credit card, Neteller, SOFORT, Skrill, SEPA
EUR

198
cryptocurrencies

Finder Exclusive: Sign up with code FINDER15 and get EUR 15 when you spend over EUR 100 each month. T&Cs apply.
Buy a large selection of cryptocurrencies instantly via credit card or bank account after registering. Store your crypto conveniently in Kriptomat's multi-currency wallet.
Ziglu Cryptocurrency Exchange
Credit card, Debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay
GBP, EUR

10
cryptocurrencies

Buy as little as £1 of cryptocurrency with a flat exchange fee of 1.25%. Ziglu is on the FCA's register of crypto-asset firms and also offers insurance for your crypto against cyber attacks.
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