How to buy bitcoin: Here’s how to exchange your money to Europe’s virtual, tax-free currency
The European Court of Justice ruled that bitcoins can be exchanged tax-free, here's how to get them post-brexit
The UK has chosen Brexit, and that means the pound is probably in for a rough few hours, days, weeks and possibly years. And that’s also why one of the most searched terms on Google right now is “how to buy bitcoin”. Although it’s quite difficult to get your head around a virtual currency that you can’t even touch or hold, buying bitcoins is actually fairly simple – and this article will show you how to do it. Bitcoin might not save you from the effects of Brexit, but it could be something to dabble in for old time’s sake. Sound good? Here’s how to buy bitcoins:
How to buy bitcoins
- Set up a bitcoin wallet to store your prospective bitcoins.
- Visit a reputable website that will let you exchange your Fiat currency for bitcoin.
- Supply your wallet ID to a seller so that an exchange can take place.
- Transfer money from bank account into exchange or to seller.
- Wait for bitcoins to arrive in wallet.
- Go forth and spend.
How to buy bitcoins – in detail
1. Set up a bitcoin wallet
Before you rush out and buy some digital money, make sure you have a safe place to keep them – this is what your bitcoin wallet is for.
There are plenty of places to obtain wallets, with many cryptocurrency exchanges offering their own wallets for you to use.
But while it may seem sensible to sign up for a wallet with the exchange you plan to do business with, this isn't always the best move, as some are unstable.
You're far safer opting for a third-party wallet. These wallets also usually have the added benefit of allowing you to store different currencies in the same place, so if you get bitcoin fever, you have somewhere to store all those alternative coins you fancy buying.
While there are plenty of safe wallets to choose from, we recommend Coinbase thanks to its ease of use, clean interface, and handy iOS and Android app. In fact, Coinbase now also allows you to buy bitcoins from others too.
2. Exchange your Fiat currency for bitcoin
Now you have your wallet, it's time to get rid of your common pounds, dollars, euros – or whatever currency you use – and invest in the future.
There are many ways to attain bitcoins. You can purchase them from an exchange; via a wallet service; at face-to-face meetups, from a physical bitcoin ATM; or you can have a go at mining some yourself.
Purchasing from an exchange or wallet is an exercise in tedium thanks to having all the bureaucratic hoops. However, if you're happy not to be anonymous, and want to trade regularly, exchanges and wallets are a great choice.
If you want to see which exchanges you can easily buy from, visit Howtobuybitcoins.info for a list of every exchange registered in your country.
Purchasing face to face or via an ATM provides you with anonymity, but it can be more expensive than via an exchange or wallet.
If you're thinking about mining bitcoins yourself – don't. The process has become too intensive for any home computer, and investing in the machines needed to mine the ever-diminishing pool of coins is not cost-effective enough.
If you'd like a blissfully simple way to obtain bitcoins online, we recommend visiting Bittylicious. Despite the terrible name and basic web design, it's a great place that connects buyers with sellers, and without you even having to deal with anyone at all.
3. Supply your wallet ID to the Seller
No matter how you decide to obtain bitcoins, you must send your bitcoin address to the seller or exchange to ensure your bitcoins end up in your wallet.
This 34-character encrypted address is perfectly safe to share with others as it only allows users to send money to you. Nobody can take money from you with this address, nor can they make purchases in your name. It's just one way that bitcoin manages to stay secure for everyday transactions.
If you're opting for the bitcoin ATM route, then don't worry about your bitcoin address: all the information you'll need to obtain your bitcoins will be on a print-out – or sent automatically to you upon scanning a QR code.
4. Send the seller or exchange your money
Each seller or exchange will provide you with bank details to transfer across your Fiat currency into their account. All you need to do is set up a transfer from your account into theirs.
If you don't fancy making a bank transfer, some services will let you pay via other means – such as by credit card. However, you should be incredibly careful doing this with a site you're unsure about. Bank transfer is really the safest method for both parties, which is why only a few places allow for alternative payment methods.
One reason why we like Bittylicious so much is because – for UK residents – it offers alternative payment methods such as PayM, Barclays PingIt, Natwest PYC and credit/debit cards.
If you plan to purchase from a bitcoin ATM, all you have to do is insert your money into the ATM.
5. Wait for your bitcoins to come rolling in
If you've followed those steps, all you have to do now is sit back and let the bitcoins arrive.
Using a bitcoin ATM means the money should arrive almost instantly, and exchanges and wallets will usually have the cryptocurrency waiting for you shortly.
Some services take longer, but you can watch the progress of your transfer, and you won't lose them once the process has started.
Bittylicious guarantees a transfer within two hours or you get your money back – in general, it normally doesn't take that long.
6. Go forth and spend.
Now that you have your bitcoins, it's time to go and spend them.
More and more retailers and merchants are accepting bitcoins and other alternative coins.
Feeling hungry? Takeaway.com lets you pay for your local takeaway with bitcoin. How about a holiday? PrivateFly lets you pay in bitcoin for a private jet flight to your destination of choice. Or, you could just head to Coinmap and see all the businesses near you that accept bitcoin.