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Bitcoin is radically different from traditional currencies. But when it comes to buying bitcoin, you can think of it as any other foreign currency. All you need is a counterparty that takes your local currency and gives you back bitcoin. The same is true if you want to sell bitcoin: You just change them back into a traditional currency.
There are many ways you can use to buy or sell bitcoin, each with its own benefits.
Local and privacy-friendly
Bitcoin is about freedom and the right to protect your financial privacy. These are the best ways to accumulate bitcoin with these goals in mind:
- Earn bitcoin: the best way to get bitcoin is to offer a service people like, and get paid in bitcoin. This way, you’re in full control of the exchange rate and you don’t leave any trace in a centralized database about your holdings.
- In-person: Ask someone at a local meetup to sell you some bitcoin. While they have to check that the paper money you hand them is real, the authenticity of the bitcoin you receive is guaranteed by the wallet you use. Just wait for a few blockchain confirmations to make sure the bitcoin transaction to you is final.
- Peer-to-Peer exchange: If you don’t know anyone that will exchange bitcoin for you, there are P2P exchanges that facilitate this online. They usually include an escrow service to make sure both parties get what they were promised. Good options for this are Hodl Hodl or Bisq, or the brand-new Peach app.
- Bitcoin ATM: You can just feed some paper money into a Bitcoin ATM and it will send you the corresponding amount back in bitcoin. Depending on where you live, you can buy bitcoin without any identification. Unfortunately, that’s not true everywhere, and you should check the exchange rates beforehand, they range from “ok” to “extremely high”. Check out coinatmradar.com to find an ATM near you.
Instant buy into the BitBox
The "Buy" feature in the BitBoxApp allows you to stack Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies directly into your BitBox. No need to register with an exchange or open a user account. You pay by credit card for an instant purchase or with a bank transfer to benefit from lower exchange fees.
Stress-free Dollar Cost Averaging
A convenient and stress-free long-term plan to build your bitcoin holdings is to use a method called “dollar cost averaging” (DCA). Regularly buy bitcoin for the same amount of your local currency, e.g., 50 EUR every week. Over time you will get a good average exchange rate without worrying about timing the market. And you can be happy all the time: When the bitcoin price goes up, that’s great! And when the price goes down, you’ll get more bitcoin for the same price!
- Directly into your wallet: By using a non-custodial service, you can exchange your local currency and receive bitcoin directly into your own wallet. With Swiss services like Pocket or Relai (they service the whole EU), you don’t even need to create an account or go through a tedious identification process. Use these services to buy once, or set up a regular savings plan.
- Custodial Dollar Cost Averaging: If there’s no service available that will send you the bitcoin directly, you can also use a DCA service like Swan Bitcoin (servicing the US) to regularly buy bitcoin and manually send them into your own wallet from time to time.
Getting the best exchange rate
Privacy and convenience have their price. If you want to get the best possible exchange rate, and you’re willing to put in the work (and upload scans of your photo ID and potentially more), consider buying bitcoin on an established exchange like Kraken or Binance.
But beware: These exchanges heavily promote dubious altcoins, day-trading and by default keep custody of your bitcoin. Just buy your bitcoin and withdraw them into your own wallet as soon as possible.
Buying A LOT
Buying large amounts of bitcoin can eat up the liquidity of an exchange and raise the spot price to your disadvantage. If you plan to make a large bitcoin purchase, let’s say over $100’000 per buy, an “Over The Counter” (OTC) broker might be the best choice for you. For the EU, Relai Private is a great option.
This article explains how to buy bitcoin and does not represent financial advice. It goes without saying that everything that might generate a profit is associated with risk.
In general, don’t buy too much bitcoin. A common saying among bitcoiners is “don’t buy more than you are willing to lose.” If you get anxious when the price goes down, this might be a sign that you are overexposed.
Finally: You only own your bitcoin if you hold your own keys. For larger amounts, using a hardware wallet like the BitBox02 offers the best security for most people.
How can I buy bitcoin?
Bitcoin is like a foreign currency and you can buy and sell it using different means. Some options focus on privacy, while other make it especially easy to buy bitcoin on a regular basis. Whatever option you choose: make sure you actually hold the bitcoin yourself in the end, only then do you truly own them.
What's the best way to accumulate bitcoin?
In general, earning bitcoin is the best way to accumulate it over time. This method gives you great privacy at no additional cost, with an exchange rate you set yourself.
What's the cheapest way to buy bitcoin?
Big exchanges that pair buyers and sellers with an order book usually give you the best exchange rate with low fees.
Don’t own a BitBox yet?
Keeping your crypto secure doesn't have to be hard. The BitBox02 hardware wallet stores the private keys for your cryptocurrencies offline. So you can manage your coins safely.
The BitBox02 also comes in Bitcoin-only version, featuring a radically focused firmware: less code means less attack surface, which further improves your security when only storing Bitcoin.
Shift Crypto is a privately-held company based in Zurich, Switzerland. Our team of Bitcoin contributors, crypto experts, and security engineers builds products that enable customers to enjoy a stress-free journey from novice to mastery level of cryptocurrency management. The BitBox02, our second generation hardware wallet, lets users store, protect, and transact Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with ease - along with its software companion, the BitBoxApp.