How to Buy Cryptocurrency – A Step by Step Guide

In this guide you will learn how to buy cryptocurrency. There are different ways you can buy cryptocurrency which we will go through on this page. However the best and most popular way to buy cryptocurrency is by using a cryptocurrency exchange.

Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Exchanges are the best method to buy because it is more of a direct way of buying crypto. Which means you will own the physical digital asset. Additionally you have flexibility to take your crypto off the exchange whenever you want.

On the other hand, other options have either one or neither of these two advantages.

How to Buy Cryptocurrency Using a Crypto Exchange

Here is a step-by-step process on how to buy cryptocurrency using an exchange. The process is really easy and made up of the following steps. However we will go through the steps in detail.

Steps to buy cryptocurrency using an exchange
Choose a Crypto Exchange
Choose from our list of the top crypto exchanges and click the ‘Visit’ button.
Open Your Account
Enter your details to open an account. This may include sending photo evidence of your identification as per KYC (Know-Your-Customer) rules.
Confirm Your Login Details and Verify
Set up 2FA (Two Factor Authentication). This is extra security for you and requires confirmation by mobile or email code when you login to your account.
Wait for the Platform to Approve Your Account
Some exchanges have automated the process your account will get approved instantly. However with some you might need to wait an hour or several days. Your wait will also depend on your account limit. The higher the limit the longer you will need to wait because your account will need to be manually approved.
Deposit to Your Account
Some exchanges have a ‘Buy’ or ‘Instant Buy’ section. Here you can register a debit card and instantly buy your desired crypto as a simple card transaction. If not, head to the deposit section to make a deposit to your exchange account with your chosen payment method.
Buy Your Cryptocurrency
Find the ‘Buy/Sell’ section, choose the crypto you want to invest in and the amount you want to buy. The amount of fiat currency (e.g. USD) needed will be auto-populated. Click the ‘Buy’ button and wait for your trade to be processed. The exchange rate will be based on the current exchange rate at the time of your trade.

There are a number of resources that are provided on this guide. Including images to help you out.

It does take some time to set up an account with an exchange and figure out how to buy cryptocurrency. However when you do it once, it will be easier the next time you want to buy or sell crypto.

Additionally this guide contains recommendations and tips. Either for you to better understand the best practices or suggestions on how you can save money on fees. Like this you know what you need to look out for before you buy.

Things You Should Know Before You Directly Buy Cryptocurrency

There are 10,000 + cryptocurrencies and counting. It shows that the space is increasing in popularity. Most people have heard about Bitcoin, perhaps Ethereum or privacy coins like Monero and maybe some others.

Cryptocurrencies are similar, but they have their differences. Most beginners buy bitcoin or the most popular coins to start with.

This is because Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency and supported by all crypto exchanges. Additionally it is the crypto with the most information available and enjoys wide ranging supported across different devices and products.

Details on How to Buy Cryptocurrency Using An Exchange

Now we will get into detail on how to buy cryptocurrency using an exchange.

1. Choose an Exchange

Firstly you will need to choose an exchange where you will buy your cryptocurrency. There are a lot of different cryptocurrency exchanges to choose from. To help you make this decision you can have a look through the list of recommended exchanges.

1 kraken-1200x1200
9.3
More details + Standard exchange fees: 0.9% – 1.5%
Kraken Rating
This is a crypto exchange with a solid track record and good customer service
BTC, ETH, DOT, DOGE, 90+ Cryptos
Security
10
Ease of use
8
Customer support
9
Value for money
10
PROS:
  • Excellent security features
  • Low fees on Kraken Pro
  • Established exchange
CONS:
  • The lowest fees can only be accessed on the Pro area. There is a small learning curve to learn how to use it
Editor’s choice 2 coinmama-1200x1200
8.5
More details + Standard exchange fees: 0.9% – 3.9%
Coinmama Rating
An easy way to get started buying crypto
BTC, ETH, BCH, 10+ Cryptos
Security
8.5
Ease of use
9.5
Customer support
9
Value for money
7
PROS:
  • Established exchange
  • Simple, intuitive website
  • Excellent customer support
CONS:
  • Fees are high
  • No crypto-to-crypto transactions
3 cex-1200x1200
8.4
More details + Standard exchange fees: 0.16% – 7%
CEX Exchange Rating
One of the best and most trusted crypto exchanges
BTC, ETH, BCH, 60+ Cryptos
Security
9
Ease of use
8.5
Customer support
8
Value for money
8
PROS:
  • Easy to use app
  • Cryptos, derivatives, stable coins
  • 24/7 support
CONS:
  • Lacks in choice of coins
4 Binance Review
8
More details + Standard exchange fees 0.06% – 0.1%
Binance Rating
Binance is one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges. It is renowned for its low trading fees, vast array of supported cryptocurrencies and services.
Security
7
Ease of use
8
Customer support
7
Value for money
10
PROS:
  • 600+ cryptos to trade
  • Low trading fees
  • Automated trading bots
  • Comprehensive service
CONS:
  • Was hacked in 2019
  • Customer service needs improvement
5 coinbase-1200x1200
7.6
More details + Standard exchange fees: 0.5% – 2%
Coinbase Rating
The only crypto exchange to be listed on the stock market
100+ Cryptos on Coinbase and 250+ on Coinbase Pro
Security
6
Ease of use
10
Customer support
5
Value for money
9.5
PROS:
  • Is insured against hackers
  • Low fees on Coinbase Pro
  • Supports 100+ countries
CONS:
  • Customer support is slow and ineffective
  • Goes down when large volumes of users hop on the platform

You should note that all recommended exchanges work in the same way. However Coinmama is an exception. Since Coinmama does not hold your cryptocurrency funds you will need to have a wallet address. Like this you will transfer the crypto off the exchange once you purchase.

Ideally a hardware wallet would be your best option for storing your crypto. We will go through this in the “Advice for Better Securing Your Cryptocurrency” section. However you should note that storing your cryptocurrency on a hardware wallet is the best practice to securing your cryptocurrency. To clarify that is regardless of the exchange you are using.

2. Sign Up

Once you select the exchange you can move onto signing up. The first part is like signing up to any online website. As a result you will need to provide your email and password which is standard for any platform.

Additionally because the cryptocurrency exchanges we recommend are centralised and/or regulated exchanges, they will ask for more details.

They will ask for your country of residence. They may also ask to confirm you are 18 years or over. However the details they ask vary from one exchange to another. Here are a couple of example screen shot of what to expect.

CEX.io
how-to-buy-cryptocurrency-kraken-sign-up
Kraken

After filling in your details the exchange will ask you to confirm your email address. You should make sure you confirm it before you proceed any further.

3. Verify your account

Moreover to confirming your email address, the exchanges will also ask you to submit identification to prove your identity. The exchange will let you know what documents you are able to submit.

You should make sure that the information you provide to the exchange can be cross-verified by the documents you supply. For example if you are submitting a document with your address, then the address should be the same on all other documents. Otherwise it will delay the application process.

Some exchanges will prompt you to verify your account, either via email or directly on the website. However each exchange is different and you might need to do it manually for some. This is pretty easy to do.

To do it manually, you will need to navigate to your profile and verify your account. Usually your profile has your name or profile icon at the top right.

Tiered System for Verification

Some exchanges have a form of tiered system. This means that the amount of documents you submit will depend on the amount of crypto you want to buy.

So if you plan to buy a small amount of crypto they will only ask for one document for identification. If you plan to buy a lot, then they will ask you to submit more documents as proof.

You could always submit the full amount of documents for practicalities sake. So that you will be ready to use the platform with any amount. However not everyone can affords thousands worth of crypto so you might not need to do so anyway.

We just suggest you have a look at the different tiers and see what’s best for you. Additionally you should give yourself some flexibility.  

The exchanges make signing up and the verification process relatively straight forward. So all you need to do is follow the prompts the exchange provides.

Some people complain about having to go through the process, but these are money services. They have to comply with international laws and they cannot get around it.

4. Account Approval

After you sign up you may need to wait a while until your account gets approved by the exchange. Your account could be approved instantly, within hours or several days. It subsequently depends on the exchange you selected.

You should receive an email notification from the exchange to let you know your account has been approved.

5. Deposit

Now that you are all set up, you can login to the exchange platform. Usually you will need to navigate and click on ‘deposit’. With some exchanges you may need to press ‘buy’ or ‘exchange’ to get deposit options. To clarify each exchange is different so they might not have the same options.

It is better to deposit and use bank transfer than credit cards or other payment methods. Credit cards are more instant which means you can jump straight into buying cryptocurrency. However credit cards come with hefty fees. Usually credit cards fees are 3-5% which is quite high. That is to say you could put that money towards buying more crypto instead.

On the other hand bank transfers have no fees or a small flat fee. The only drawback is that some bank transfers take some time. The duration of the transfer would depend on which country your bank is located.

When you click to deposit into the exchange you will get the exchanges’ details. Take the details and organise the bank transfer using your banks online banking portal.

After that you will need to wait 3-5 working days until the transfer is completed. The exchange will notify you via email when you received the funds in your account.

6. Buy Cryptocurrency

Once your money is deposited into the exchange you can buy cryptocurrency. Login to the exchange and find the exchange buying area. There could be an ‘exchange’ or ‘buy’ button. Usually the button is close to the menu at the top or on it.

Here is how the Kraken exchange area looks like:

kraken-review-exchange-area

All you will need to do is select which cryptocurrency you want to buy from the drop down. Then input the amount you want to purchase and click to buy. Your crypto will go into your account once you have purchased it.

Advice for Better Securing Your Cryptocurrency

Once you have purchased your crypto you should consider moving it off the exchange. To do this you will need a wallet, the best ones are hardware wallets.

Hardware wallets are a way of safely storing and securing your cryptocurrency in what is known as cold storage. This is a top notch method for storing them. In fact reputable crypto companies that are serious about security use cold storage methods for storing their crypto too.

Why Opt for Better Security

The reason for this added security is because there are a lot of hackers. These hackers have breached platforms that provide cryptocurrency for purchase and they have done so on multiple occasions. You can have a look at this list of hacks on crypto exchanges here to understand the extent of the problem.

If the platform you use to buy and store your crypto gets hacked you could lose your crypto for good. Some platforms have compensated their clients after a hack occurred, while others have declared bankruptcy. The reality is that it is not worth feeling uneasy or having that added concern at the back of your mind.

Which Hardware Wallets to Use

It is recommended to order and use a hardware wallet like Ledger or Trezor. If you want more information you can have a look at the Ledger review here and the Trezor review here.

There are other hardware wallets on the market, but they are still fairly new and untested. Ledger and Trezor are the first hardware wallets that are tried and tested and come highly recommended.

Only order your Ledger or Trezor directly from their online stores. This is because if you order elsewhere you could be at risk of receiving a wallet that criminals tampered with. You will lose your crypto if you use tampered wallets.

Different Ways to Buy Cryptocurrency

Here are some other ways on how to buy cryptocurrency apart from using exchanges. You can also buy cryptocurrency using:

  1. Brokers,
  2. Crypto ATMs,
  3. Mutual Funds
  4. ETFs and
  5. Stocks connected to crypto

We shall go through all of these methods so you can get a good idea of each one.

Brokers

There are two different types of Brokers you can use to buy crypto. Firstly there are those online like for example eToro and Robin Hood. In this case you will have to sort out the trades yourself.

Secondly you have the option to ask a traditional broker that has their own physical premises. However most brokers still do not invest in crypto. Perhaps they might offer Bitcoin, but it will take some time until more offer Bitcoin and other cryptos.

The drawback with using online brokers is that unlike exchanges you cannot take your crypto off the platform. You have to sell it and move your money off the platform.

Crypto ATMs

Dedicated crypto ATMs have sprung up across many different countries. However you cannot buy all cryptocurrencies from crypto ATM machines. Some offer only Bitcoin while others have more of a range.

Here is a list of cryptos you can get from crypto ATMs:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Dash (DASH)
  • Dogecoin (DOGE)
  • Ether (ETH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Monero (XMR)
  • Tether (USDT)
  • Ripple (XRP)
  • Zcash (ZEC)

You can find an ATM near you using CoinATMRadar. The nearest crypto ATM might be quite some distance away. So it may not be worth the trip.

Additionally you should note that using a cryptocurrency ATM can be one of the most expensive options to buy crypto. Usually they charge approximately an 8.4% fee, but crypto ATM companies are not transparent with their fees. As a result you could end up paying as much as 25%.

CoinFlip ATMs charge 6.99% plus a network mining fee. Usually it is around $1, but it can fluctuate in price. However this is still high and although it is another direct method to buy cryptocurrency it is not worth it. It is better to use a cryptocurrency exchange.

Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are essentially a fund made up of many investors that pool into the fund. They are actively managed by professional money managers. The Managers ensure to generate gains or income for investors.

However fund managers do charge fees for managing the funds. So you have to minus the fees from any income generated by the fund.

There are a couple of Incrementum funds: The Incrementum Crypto Gold Fund and the Incrementum Digital and Physical Gold Fund. These funds are a mix of Crypto and Physical precious metals. However one fund is for retail investors and the other is for instituational investors.

Additionally there mutual funds that are purely Bitcoin funds. They are the Bitcoin Strategy ProFund (BTCFX) and the Cboe Vest Bitcoin Strategy Managed Volatility Fund (BTCVX). These funds do not invest directly in Bitcoin. They deal with Bitcoin futures which is more complicated stuff for average investors. To clarify futures trading is trading the future price of Bitcoin.

We do not have an opinion on the last two funds. However Incrementum AG has won many awards and are excellent asset managers.

ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds)

An ETF is a fund that is tied to the price of an index, sector, commodity or other asset. It can track one or many at once. It is essentially another type of financial instrument to invest in.

There aren’t any ETFs other than Bitcoin ETFs at this point. Here are some Bitcoin ETFs:

  • ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF
  • Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF
  • VanEck Bitcoin Strategy ETF
  • Global X Blockchain & Bitcoin Strategy ETF

Stocks Connected to Crypto

You could also invest in companies linked to crypto. Either exchanges or those that create components to support the crypto industry or crypto payments. As a result this would be an indirect way of investing in cryptocurrency.

A couple of examples are:

  • Coinbase (COIN) a cryptocurrency exchange platform.
  • Nvidia (NVDA) which produce graphic processing units used in crypto mining technology systems.
  • Square (SQ) which is a payment provider that allows its clients to make payments in fiat. However they also allow clients to buy, store and sell crypto.

Trading Cryptocurrency

If you want to actively trade instead of invest and do not know where to start we have some suggestions for you. They are simply a start to set you off in the right direction. You can easily go down the rabbit hole with these disciplines because there is a lot to learn.

You should get to know: Technical analysis including fundamental analysis and how to read chart patterns. However you should note that trading is risky. You have no guarantee of future performance.

Other Articles In This Section
What is cryptocurrency? Start with the basics of crypto.
How to buy cryptocurrency? Find out how to buy crypto safely.
How to cash out cryptocurrency? How to cash out your profits.
Crypto slang. Get to know the everyday terms used in crypto.
Hard Money vs Easy Money. And why it matters for your wealth.
Types of cryptoassets. The main ways to invest in crypto.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I buy cryptocurrency?

There are 5 ways to buy cryptocurrency:
1.     A cryptocurrency exchange,
2.     Broker,
3.     Crypto ATMs,
4.     Mutual Funds,
5.     ETFs and
6.     Stocks connected to crypto

What is the best way to buy cryptocurrency?

There are different ways to buy cryptocurrency. However buying crypto using a crypto exchange is the best and most popular way.

Why is buying cryptocurrency using an exchange the best option?

Using an exchange to buy cryptocurrency is more of a direct way of owning crypto. You will own the digital crypto itself and not a derivative of it. Moreover you are able to take the crypto off the exchange whenever you want.

How to buy cryptocurrency using an exchange?

There are several steps to this. The short version is that you have to select an exchange, sign up, deposit and buy cryptocurrency. Ideally you should also buy and set up a hardware wallet for your crypto to properly safeguard it.

Which crypto exchange is the easiest to use?

There are hundreds of crypto exchanges. However there are only a small percentage that have good security, liquidity and good customer support amongst other things. The easiest to use are in our recommended exchanges list.
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