Let’s review exactly what owning a cryptocurrency entails:
The easiest way to buy cryptocurrency (bitcoins or any altcoin) is via an online exchange, a platform that connect buyers and sellers directly. The price on an exchange reflects supply and demand in its purest form: the price is based on how many people are willing to buy and sell at a given time.
Exchanges will quickly and easily set up a public address and a private key for you. Enter your email address and a password, and bam! You get access to an entire world of digital trading. One of the most user friendly exchanges on the market today is called Coinbase (this is an affiliate link! If you use it, we'll get a small commission, which we use to continue producing high quality content. If you'd prefer not to use our affiliate link, click here).
Keep in mind that exchanges store your public and private keys in a wallet they create for you on their servers. It’s fine to keep your money in an exchange account in the short term, but it’s not as safe for long term storage.
While blockchains themselves may be immune to hacking attempts, if a bad actor gets their hands on your private key, they have full access to all of your assets. Exchange servers have been hacked in the past, and it is better to store your investment information elsewhere. We’ll review the best ways to keep your accounts safe in the Storing Your Bitcoin section of this course.
Here you’ll get the tools to purchase cryptocurrencies on online exchanges (the simplest and fastest way to do so). There are two types of exchanges:
The second type of exchange is more complicated to interact with, and is covered in more detail in our In-Depth section. Here, we’ll cover the basics of trading fiat money for bitcoins. Everything we cover below is included in the video above.
1. Making an Exchange Account
Coinbase is a user friendly, secure cryptocurrency exchange that has everything you need to get off the ground. Using our link, you get $10 extra if you buy $100 or more of bitcoin. How about that! (Note: this is an affiliate link! If you use it, we'll get a small commission, which we use to continue producing high quality content. If you'd prefer not to use our affiliate link, click here).
Coinbase allows you to use a credit or debit card, linked bank account, or wire transfer to purchase crypto.
2. Buying Bitcoin!
Now comes the moment you've been waiting for: actually buying some bitcoins (or any other crypto on Coinbase, for that matter). Simply click "Buy Bitcoin" and enter how much you'd like to buy in dollars. Coinbase will automatically calculate exactly how much bitcoins you will receive at the current market price.
Hit confirm and the bitcoins will arrive in your account within a few days. On this exchange, even if the price fluctuates during that time, the price locked in for you.
Congrats! You now own bitcoins.
Sidenote: we direct you to Coinbase because, after conducting lots of market research, we feel that it has the best, easiest-to-use product for new users. For a more detailed list of exchanges, see our In Depth section on Exchanges.