How to Buy Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies
We understand that it can be difficult and confusing for new users to take their first steps into the world of Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
CoinMarketCap is here to help! We’ve collected information from over 300 cryptocurrency exchanges globally and through that data, prepared a quick guide to help you choose the best crypto exchange so you can finally buy your first Bitcoin!
The options available to purchase Bitcoins and other assets do differ from one country to another due to the laws that exchanges operate under. The options to buy Bitcoin with credit cards, debit cards or transfers from a bank account also differ from country to country and between exchanges. Here at CoinMarketCap, we are here to help guide you through those options.
As you might have seen from our homepage, there are thousands of cryptoassets to choose from. While most people start with one of the biggest coins — such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash or Ripple — it is possible to purchase very obscure, high-risk and speculative assets as well.
Choosing the Best Bitcoin Exchange
The very first step involves choosing an exchange or trading platform that supports the deposit and withdrawal of your local fiat currency. Many exchanges are localized and only support a select number of currencies. This page allows you to see which exchanges support your currency of choice.
Using our extensively collected data from all exchanges, we are able to rank these exchanges based on volume, liquidity (how easy it is to buy and sell Bitcoin) and each exchange’s estimated number of users. We hope this ranking can help you better decide where you would like to buy your first Bitcoin!
You can also check if exchanges are licensed and regulated, the different deposit and withdrawal methods they support, their fees and trading commissions and their Bitcoin price. We have conveniently displayed all the information for you to make your decision on just one page.
These subjects might sound a little mundane, but it is important to remember that a crypto exchange has to operate under similar rules to a stockbroker. This means that they have very high standards for documentation to comply with the local laws. Certain exchanges might not be a good fit for you because of the country you are from and it is helpful to know that in advance, so that you can choose the best place to buy Bitcoin and crypto for your own situation.
Understanding the Different Payment Methods Available
There are four main methods of depositing local currencies on a crypto exchange. They are: 1) Local bank transfers; 2) International wire transfers; 3) Third party payment processors; 4) Credit/debit cards.
For the first several years, it was not possible to buy Bitcoin or any of the other early cryptocurrencies with a credit card, debit card, or with third party payment processors like PayPal, because it is possible to reverse those transactions. Since a blockchain transfer cannot be reversed, it would have been possible to pay, receive the crypto, transfer it off the exchange and then reverse the payment. This meant that for years, the price of BTC and all crypto was supported by real money with no borrowing.
Therefore, until quite recently, it was only possible to get Bitcoins from an exchange with either a local bank transfer or a wire transfer.
|Local Bank Transfer||Usually the quickest, easiest and
cheapest with a local bank account
|Not all exchanges will offer this service|
|The SWIFT protocol is widely accepted
and used to transfer money (large
and small amounts)
|May take a few days to process,
|Third Party Payment
Webmoney, Skrill, etc.)
|Quick and easy for users with accounts
on these platforms to deposit and
|Need to create an account with third party
|Quick and easy to deposit small
amounts of money
|Very expensive (credit card fees are passed
to you), and there is usually a maximum deposit sum
(which will be small)
Local Bank Transfer
Usually the quickest, easiest and cheapest with a local bank account
Not all exchanges will offer this service
International Wire Transfer (SWIFT)
The SWIFT protocol is widely accepted and used to transfer money (large and small amounts)
May take a few days to process, higher fees
Third Party Payment Processor (Paypal, Webmoney, Skrill, etc.)
Quick and easy for users with accounts on these platforms to deposit and withdraw
Need to create an account with third party payment sites
Credit/Debit Card (Visa, Mastercard)
Quick and easy to deposit small amounts of money
Very expensive (credit card fees are passed to you), and there is usually a maximum deposit sum (which will be small)
Is It Possible To Buy Bitcoin Instantly?
It often takes several days to fully open and verify an account with an exchange because of the documentation requirements they face. However, once an account is open, it is possible to fund it quickly — via bank transfer, wire transfer, credit card, debit card or transferring in crypto that is held elsewhere — and then buy, sell or make a trade very quickly. Some exchanges will allow new customers to make trades using leverage — borrowed money — immediately, while others do not. This means that it is important to check whether or not cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Visa Electron are allowed with any exchange that you choose.
Once verification with an exchange has been completed and a deposit has been made, it is possible to buy any of the assets that they make a market in. The range of assets available differs substantially from exchange to exchange but all offer the top coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash.
What You Need to Do to Purchase Bitcoin
Now that you have decided which exchange you would like to trade on, it is time to register an account and get a Bitcoin address! After registration, it is perfectly normal if exchanges require you to verify your identity. This is what we call “Know Your Customer” or KYC. The process will involve you submitting photos to prove your identity. After submission, the process may take a few hours or up to a few days to complete. Be patient!
After KYC is complete, you should now be allowed to deposit money into your account. Referring to the above, please select the option that makes the most sense for you. We recommend going via a local bank transfer if possible, but a SWIFT transfer or via a third party payment processor also works. Only use credit cards for small sums of purchases as the fees do add up! (Exchanges usually charge 3-4% in credit card fees)
Once the money is deposited, you are ready to buy your first Bitcoin! Remember, you don’t have to buy an entire Bitcoin — you can buy part of a Bitcoin, as each Bitcoin is broken down into 100 million Satoshis!
How To Buy Bitcoin: Steps For Beginners
To complete your first purchase, you will need to select the coin you wish to buy on the exchange. Exchanges have a “Trade” section and within this you will need to choose a coin, such as BTC, ETH or another. Cryptoassets are traded in pairs. The largest coins will have pairs that match the main government currencies. This means that you can buy directly from USD, EUR, GBP, etc. into your coin of choice.
Purchases can either be made at the current market price or you can set a price that you would like to buy at. If you set your price too far below the current market price, your deal might not be concluded for some time, or possibly never! It will only be concluded if the asset falls to the price that you have entered.
Many smaller coins and assets do not have pairs with fiat currencies. To buy or sell these, you will need to transact via another asset, usually BTC, ETH or a stablecoin based on the U.S. dollar. To do this, you should select a coin, select BTC and then make your purchase. A few seconds later, your account will show you as holding BTC rather than your deposited currency. Now you can select a new trade, using BTC as one half of the pair and your coin of choice as the other. The exchange will be concluded at the current coin to coin market rate.
Ways to Store Your Bitcoin
Keep BTC on a Bitcoin Exchange
Bitcoin exchanges allow you to store your digital currency directly with them, which is probably the most convenient storage method for those new to crypto. Do note that incidents have occurred when exchanges have been hacked or lost their customers’ BTC or altcoins, so do be aware of the risks of keeping BTC on an exchange! Otherwise, you could opt to keep your BTC on an external wallet — which also has risks for newbie crypto users that aren’t yet comfortable holding their own private keys.
How you plan to use your new cryptocurrency might influence how to buy and how you plan to store it. If, for example, you want to own Bitcoin or an altcoin as a short-term investment, it might be easier and simpler to hold your coins on the exchange you purchased them through. There can be additional security issues to doing this, but the reality is that most people hold at least some of their coins on an exchange. If your goal is to simply learn how to invest in Bitcoin, this is likely to be the easiest option.
If you plan to purchase BTC or other assets for trading purposes, then you will need to store them on the exchange because they become collateral — the asset that you stake or borrow against. There are many exchanges that will allow margin trading of crypto for their customers. This is obviously a very high risk strategy for money management and we recommend that you take appropriate financial advice for your personal situation.
However, if you plan to buy cryptocurrency in large amounts, or you plan to use it to buy goods and services online, then you ought to hold the coins yourself. To do this you will require some type of online or hardware wallet.
Keep BTC in a Bitcoin Wallet
Instead of keeping your digital assets on a Bitcoin exchange, you could keep your BTC in a Bitcoin wallet. Wallets come in two forms — hot and cold. Hot wallets are software that stays connected to the internet, aka storing your Bitcoin online in a digital wallet or a mobile wallet. It is more convenient to transact via a hot wallet, but they are more susceptible to being attacked. Cold storage of your new Bitcoin is possible by using hardware wallets, but online wallets are potentially more user-friendly for crypto newbies.