How to Buy Bitcoin and Other Popular Cryptocurrencies
With the prices of Bitcoin (BTC) and other altcoins (alternative cryptocurrencies) surging as cryptos become more mainstream, a new wave of enthused investors is flooding in from traditional markets like Wall Street.
Whether you want to buy .01 bitcoins or 10+ bitcoins, our guide will show you the best sites and bitcoin exchanges for buying bitcoins and altcoins. We’ve done the work for you and rated these sites based on their trustworthiness, customer support, beginner friendliness, community sentiment, fees, etc. We’ve also included links to in-depth reviews and guides for many of our recommended options.
The Best Sites and Bitcoin Exchanges
|Coinbase Review||Bank Transfer,
|BTC, ETH, LTC||A+||4.6||Visit Coinbase|
|Gemini Review||Bank Transfer||BTC, ETH||A+||4.4||Visit Gemini|
|3||LocalBitcoins Review||Cash, Bank Transfer, PayPal,
Gift Cards, Many More Methods
|CEX.IO Review||Bank Transfer, Credit Card||BTC, ETH||A-||4.2||Visit CEX.IO|
Bank Wire >$10,000
|250+ Trading Pairs||A||4.2||Visit Bittrex|
|Kraken Review||Bank Transfer||BTC, ETH, LTC, DASH,
XRP, 10+ More
|GDAX Review||Bank Transfer||BTC, ETH, LTC||A+||4||Visit GDAX|
Having successfully served over 9 million customers in 32 countries, Coinbase is the obvious choice for bitcoin beginners.
Coinbase was founded in 2012 to give users an easy way to purchase, sell, and use cryptocurrency. Unlike most cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase directly sells Bitcoin (BTC/XBT), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC) to their users. This means that when you place an order, the fees and guaranteed price are clearly stated at the time of your order.
You can purchase cryptocurrency on Coinbase with bank transfers or credit cards, as well as sell cryptocurrency in exchange for bank transfer or PayPal.
Coinbase also provides cryptocurrency wallets. These wallets can be used to store, send, and receive Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. Customer funds are fully insured, although users are responsible for personal account breaches. If you store funds on Coinbase, make sure to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) like Google Authenticator to secure your account.
As a cryptocurrency business that’s based out of San Francisco, Coinbase adheres to a number of laws and regulations:
- Registered as a Money Services Business with FinCEN.
- Compliant with the Bank Secrecy Act.
- Compliant with the USA Patriot Act.
- Compliant with state money transmission laws and regulations.
By abiding by these laws and regulations, Coinbase naturally attracts newbies who find comfort in its safety.
Coinbase offers customer support through email and typically responds within 24-48 hours.
Gemini is another top-rated option. While it may be a tad more complicated than sites like Coinbase, Gemini has done a good job making their exchange user friendly.
On Gemini, you can only use bank transfers and wires to trade USD for Bitcoin and Ethereum.
One huge benefit of Gemini is that you can begin trading immediately after depositing. Unlike most of their exchange competitors, you don’t have to wait until your deposit has been processed. However, you cannot withdraw your cryptocurrency until your deposit has cleared.
Gemini was launched in 2015 by the Winklevoss twins, and is located in New York. While it is a relative newcomer, Gemini has quickly built a great reputation because of its low fees and great customer service.
LocalBitcoins is unlike most of the sites in this guide. While most of these sites are centralized exchanges, LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading platform. This means you can trade physical cash, PayPal, gift cards, or other payment methods for bitcoin.
LocalBitcoins also differs in that it does not automatically match orders. They do, however, offer an escrow and reputation service to help keep both the buyer and seller safe.
Example of the LocalBitcoins Process:
- User A wants to buy 1 bitcoin from User B in exchange for $3,000 via Moneygram.
- Once the purchase request is made, User B’s 1 bitcoin is held in escrow by LocalBitcoins until User B confirms that he received the buyer’s $3,000 via Moneygram.
- After User B confirms the Moneygram transfer, User A is given his 1 bitcoin.
While LocalBitcoins has been used to trade big bucks, the system is not perfect. There have been cases of scammers using the website, so watch out! With that being said, LocalBitcoins features a rating system for all of their users. If you stick to trading with reputable users, chances are you'll be safe.
Based out of London, CEX.IO is another site that’s been helping users easily purchase cryptocurrency for years.
When the site launched in 2013, it only offered a Bitcoin exchange. Since then, it’s added Ethereum and created more beginner friendly methods to purchase BTC and ETH.
Like Coinbase, CEX.IO allows you to use both bank transfers and credit cards to make deposits. They also allow higher credit card deposit limits than Coinbase. You can receive withdrawals with these methods as well.
The downside to CEX.IO’s beginner friendly purchasing methods is their fee. CEX.IO charges 7% fees (plus additional credit card deposit fees), compared to Coinbases 1.5-4% fees.
Despite having high fees, CEX.IO is a great option for those of you in locations not serviced by Coinbase. It’s also one of the few options that allow users to use credit cards for withdrawals.
If you’re looking to trade a huge variety of altcoins, then Bittrex is the exchange for you. They offer over 250+ trading pairs.
However, if you don’t already own any cryptocurrency, then Bittrex is probably not your best option. Bittrex only accepts fiat (USD, etc.) deposits of amounts greater than $10,000 and does not offer any fiat withdrawals. Unless you’re a baller and you’ve got several thousands of dollars to invest, we recommend you start on another site.
That being said, the U.S.-based Bittrex has become one of the most popular exchanges since its launch in 2014.
Kraken is another solid exchange option for trading cryptocurrencies for fiat currency.
While we prefer Gemini overall for its customer service, simple interface, and fast purchasing options, Kraken has some advantages: Kraken accepts fiat deposits via bank transfer in USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, and CAD. They also have a wider option of cryptocurrencies available to trade, including: BTC/XBT, ETH, DASH, EOS, XMR, ETC, ZEC, XRP, XLM, XDG, USDT, REP, LTC, GNO, MLN, BCH and ICN.
The company is based out of San Francisco, California and has been trusted by the crypto community since 2011. It’s great for those looking to exchange for a variety of cryptos.
The same company owns both Coinbase and GDAX (Global Digital Asset Exchange). While Coinbase is their more beginner friendly option, GDAX is their full exchange.
There’s nothing special about GDAX aside from their trustworthy reputation, which other exchanges also have.
GDAX accepts deposits via bank wire in USD, EUR, and GBP and you can trade for BTC, ETH, and LTC.