So how do I actually purchase crypto currency and Bitcoin?


Hello Reader,

Last time we went through the various ways that you can get hold of some crypto currency and Bitcoin. In this article, I am going to take you through the most common method of getting bitcoins. Purchasing them with fiat currency!

Buying bitcoins can be harder than you might initially expect as the industry is still in it’s fledgling years. However, there are still many different ways, so let’s take a look at each of them in turn.

In person via a Bitcoin ATM

The absolute easiest way is to use a “Bitcoin ATM” machine. These work in a very similar way to the typical bank ATM / cash machine:

  1. Walk up to the machine
  2. Use the touchscreen to select “buy bitcoins”
  3. Scan your wallet app’s QR code to give the machine your bitcoin address
  4. Insert your money into the machine
  5. Tada, bitcoins will appear in your wallet

But where do I actually find one?

You can find your nearest ATM using one of the many “ATM finder” websites available online. Try to get started.

What are the advantages?

Ease, speed and anonymity tend to be the main advantages. Plus it’s a pretty cool experience.

What are the disadvantages?

They are only tend to be in major cities and charge really high fees so are far from the cheapest way to buy.

From another person using an online local service

Just like you can buy a sofa from a neighbour using craigslist or ebay, you can also buy bitcoins from regular people using an online matching service.

The most popular service is and it works like this:

  1. Create an account
  2. Select a seller that you would like to buy from (making sure to choose one that is willing to sell as much as you wish to buy, with a high feedback rating)
  3. Read the sellers terms and check that you agree
  4. Enter how many you wish to buy
  5. Once the seller has agreed to sell, you will be given payment details. The most common form of payment is via bank transfer (using the faster payments service in the UK)
  6. Using your online banking, send the selected amount to the sellers bank account details
  7. Mark “payment sent” on the local bitcoins site
  8. Once your seller has received payment, you will typically receive your bitcoins in your local bitcoins wallet within a few hours
  9. Send your bitcoins from your local bitcoins wallet to your private wallet

What are the advantages?

Ease, speed and anonymity tend to be the main advantages.

What are the disadvantages?

Prices are typically higher than other methods (though cheaper than an ATM). Additionally, you need to trust a third party so be sure to thoroughly review their feedback before sending any money.

From an instant purchase site using a credit card or bank transfer

The fastest and most popular way to buy bitcoins online is using an instant purchasing site, popular options include,,, and

Let’s use as an example given it’s the most popular:

  1. Sign up for an account and complete the initial verification process
  2. Press “Buy / Sell”
  3. Select the crypto currency you wish to buy, Bitcoin in this case
  4. Select your payment method (credit card or bank account) or select “add payment method” to enter new details
  5. Enter the amount you wish to purchase up to your weekly limit
  6. Press “Buy instantly”
  7. Complete credit card security check if required
  8. Your coins should be available in your account immediately (though it may take a few days for your first purchase)
  9. Send your coins from your coinbase wallet to your private wallet using the “Send/Request” button

What are the advantages?

Speed and security tend to be the primary advantages. Coinbase is the largest player in the crypto currency market and has millions of customers.

What are the disadvantages?

The verification process can be slow and cumbersome. Additionally, buying through a credit card incurs significant fees (though typically cheaper than an ATM or local bitcoins). The initial weekly limits are low, but do rise with repeated use.

From a full crypto currency exchange

A crypto currency exchange is an online website which allows you to buy and sell crypto currencies at the market rate using a wide array of order types. They work just like stock exchanges by automatically matching up buyers to sellers. There are many exchanges, but the largest and most popular ones are (EU), (EU), (US) and (US).

I’m from the EU, so I’m going to use as an example:

  1. Register for an account, you will need to complete anti money laundering / know your client (AML / KYC) identify verification which is more onerous than with other methods but worth the effort
  2. Select “Funding” from the main dashboard
  3. Select “Deposit” and choose your currency. If sending from the UK, it’s generally cheaper to send EUR via a SEPA bank transfer
  4. Use online banking to send a SEPA transfer to the details provided. Double check that they are correct and don’t send more than your daily limit.
  5. Wait 2-3 working days for the transfer to be credited to your account
  6. Select “Trade” from the main dashboard
  7. Choose the “currency pair” that you wish to trade from the drop down menu at the top. In this case we want to exchange EUR for Bitcoins so we will select XBT/EUR (XBT is the currency code for bitcoin)
  8. Press “new order”
  9. Enter the about of bitcoin you wish to buy
  10. If you use a “market” order, you will buy at the latest available market spot rate. If you use a “limit” order, you can enter your desired price per bitcoin and the exchange will buy when the price hits it (if ever). In this simple example, we will buy at the market rate, so choose “market”
  11. Press “Buy XBT with EUR”
  12. Confirm the transaction
  13. Once the transaction has completed, the bitcoin will be visible on the “overview” tab, but you can view the status of the transaction on the “orders” tab at any time
  14. If you’ve finished buying, remember to withdraw your funds from the kraken wallet to your private wallet

What are the advantages?

Exchanges are tend to be some of the largest crypto currency entities and have been around for multiple years with millions of customers. They are therefore one of the safer methods, but bankruptcies do happen so remember to withdraw your coins (have a read about the disaster that was mtgox). The main advantage of crypto currency exchanges however is that they are by far the cheapest way to purchase and you can generally buy much larger amounts. You will typically only pay a relatively tiny fee and so will be able to acquire bitcoins for very close to market rate.

What are the disadvantages?

The two main disadvantages are the length of time it takes to get your funds to the exchange and the lengthy verification process that you are required to go through. Note however, that there is generally nothing nefarious about the verification process. Rather it is a mark of the exchanges legitimacy as it is a requirement of the various regulations that they are required to comply with.

So what do you recommend?

This depends on what I am trying to achieve:

  • If I absolutely have to buy right now as I think the market is about to shoot up, I use and eat the fees.
  • If the market is stable, I use a proper exchange with kraken, bitstamp and gemini being my favourites.

Closing remarks

So now you know how to create a wallet and fill it with bitcoins. But wait, young grasshopper! Before you dive into buying some (virtually) shiny new coins, make sure you have done the following:

  • Setup a private wallet and fully understood how to operate it
  • Checked and double checked that your computer is virus free
  • Googled your banks policy on transfers to bitcoin sellers
  • Setup 2 factor authentication on any exchanges or services you use
  • Have at least performed a cursory read of the tax implications of using crypto currency in your country

Once you are ready to transfer the coins from whatever service you choose, withdraw them back to your private wallet. Remember, if you don’t own the private keys you don’t own the coins!

Assuming you’re clear on all of the above, it’s time to get on board the crypto train. If not, never fear, I’ll be covering many of the remaining topics in a new post some time soon.

If you have any questions, please do get in touch via the comments for this thread. It would be fantastic to hear from you. I promise I don’t bite and will happily answer your questions.

And that, as they say, is that.

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Check out this post on Steemit

Yours, X.

8 thoughts on “So how do I actually purchase crypto currency and Bitcoin?

  1. What’s the difference between coinbase and GDAX? Aren’t they the same company – why are their fees so different?

  2. Hi Andrew, good question!

    Coinbase is the consumer facing, “instant access” service where you can buy with a credit card. So when you buy from coinbase, you are buying your coins directly from them (and hence the include a chunky markup).

    GDAX was launched much later and is actually a full exchange, like Kraken or Gemini. It’s called an “exchange” as what it does is facilitate exchanges between different users, some who want to buy and some who want to sell. The exchange takes a small cut of the trade as profit. So when you buy from GDAX, you are actually buying off other users in an indirect kind of way and paying GDAX a small amount to facilitate the trade.

    Hope this helps,

  3. Another great post here and very informative for a newcomer.

    I am looking for to invest in Bitcoin now and am technically in no rush. My first question is do you think the market is currently stable enough for me to sign up to Karen (as I am in the UK) and then buy a relatively small test amount and send it to my private wallet?

    Second question is when do you think we will have a UK based exchange and is there any progress to follow?

    Final question is, as I have just started I only have a app wallet. Do you think this is sufficient for now? Could you explain or do a post on how to transfer BTC from an app wallet to a hardware USB wallet (as I think I will end up getting one to be safe).


    1. Hi MSO,

      Some really great questions that I think a lot of people will benefit from, so let’s get stuck in:

      1) I assume you mean, rather than Karen 🙂 If you’ve not purchased any before, I’d probably start with a small buy at as it’s faster and easier. However, I’d definitely get the ball rolling with Kraken or Bitstamp as the verification process can take a little while.

      2) We already have one! Check out They aren’t the cheapest, but allow you to use GBP. However, faster payments bank transfers are only available via their broker network at this point which is similar to local bitcoins. The main sticking point preventing really great exchanges from setting up shop in the UK is the UK banking industries current unwillingness to engage in crypto currencies. This will gradually change once regulations become clearer, but for now it make’s life difficult unfortunately.

      3) Yes absolutely, I really advocate trying it out with small amounts and getting familiar with how the whole process works before diving in with bigger purchases. You’ll be pleased to know a detailed post on hardware wallets is high on my to do list 🙂


  4. I’m in the U.S , and very new to the cryptocoin markets, however I do have a fair amount of experience trading stocks and options. Your article has put a lot of the process in some perspective.
    Thank you.

    In my research I came across bitfinex which seems to be a trading site. Could explain how they ” fit in” to the above guidelines ?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    1. Hi Alfred,

      Welcome and thanks for posting.

      Bitfinex is classed as a full exchange. They allow you to buy and sell with fiat and trade between a range of crypto currencies for relatively low fees.

      They’ve been around for quite a few years now and I’ve personally used them several times without issue.

      However, their ownership isn’t fully transparent and they suffered a hack last year so I know that some have reservations about using them.

      In my opinion, Gemini or Gdax are a safer option for US residents.

      Happy trading,

  5. Hi Xexr

    Thank you for the easy to understand information…for newbies like me.
    I am looking into setting up an account with Bitstamp.
    Do you know if we can export the private key using them?
    How long does the typical verification take?
    Once I deposit funds, my understanding is it will be in euros, however I prefer to trade in dollars, is this possible/how…do you know if this would incur fees, if so what they are?
    With UK eventually leaving the EU…will we still be able to do the SEPA transfers?

    Lastly is there an eta for your hardware wallet guide?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Info,

      Welcome to the site. Bitstamp will not allow you to export your wallets private key, but you can easily send any coins you buy to your own private wallet with keys that you control. This is generally true of all well known exchanges.

      Verification varies by exchange and demand, but Bitstamp appears to have escaped some of the vast traffic increases that other exchanges have so you should be able to get verified within a week or so.

      Bitstamp allow you to deposit both USD and EUR, though if you’re in the UK, you will find EUR deposits easier via SEPA. If you do choose to deposit EUR, you could easily buy BTC with the EUR and then exchange back for USD, but to be honest you’ll find the EU exchanges have higher EUR trading volume than USD so you’ll be better off just sticking with EUR. Doing this would incur fees on both trades, you can find bitstamps fee schedule easily with a quick google, but they are reasonable.

      Great question re SEPA & Brexit, this is something I’ve been curious about as well but haven’t been able to find a solid answer. I’m hopeful that it will be one of those things that everyone agrees to make an exception for given the utility it provides but time will tell.

      Finally, yes my long promised hardware wallet guide is still coming, I’ve a bit of time off soon so I’m hoping to get a few more articles out in the near future 🙂


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