Heading H1

Heading H2

Get Started with Bitcoin

Discover how to buy, store, and use Bitcoin.

How to Use This Guide

Use the left slides to get a quick overview.

Switch to the right slides to find out more.

How to Buy Bitcoin

It’s very easy to buy bitcoin. For beginners, we recommend starting with a bitcoin exchange.

Option 1 - Bitcoin Exchanges

Follow these easy steps to buy bitcoin from an exchange.

1) Pick a Bitcoin Exchange
2) Create an account
3) Add a payment method
4) Buy bitcoin

Step 1 - Pick a Bitcoin Exchange

Each exchange will have different ID verification steps, purchase limits, processing times, and fees. Generally speaking, most Bitcoin exchanges are very similar though. Here are some popular Bitcoin exchanges:

CoinBaseBittrexBitfinex | GDAX | Bitstamp | Kraken | Gemini | Poloniex | LakeBTC | BTCC

Step 2 - Create an Account

You can do this on their websites or through the exchanges’ apps.

Step 3 - Add a Payment Method

Depending on the country you live in and the exchange, you can use bank transfers, credit cards, debit cards, or bank wires to fund your account. Some exchanges may only accept other cryptocurrency as payment methods.

Step 4 - Buy Bitcoin

Here’s the fun part where you get your bitcoin! Bitcoin’s price changes all the time, so the amount you get for each dollar, euro, or yen will vary. Tip: You don’t have to buy a whole bitcoin. Instead you can buy a small fraction (e.g. 0.1 or 0.00001 bitcoin). So even if the price is high, you can still get started!

All Done!

Congratulations, once the transfer goes through you’re a proud bitcoin owner. Get excited! Next up: Make sure to check out how to store, use, and secure your bitcoin.

Option 2 - Bitcoin ATMs

Follow these easy steps to buy bitcoin from an ATM.

1) Pick a Bitcoin ATM
2) Add your wallet information
3) Verify your identity
4) Buy bitcoin

Step 1 - Pick a Bitcoin ATM

To make it easy, here is a popular Bitcoin ATM finder:

Coin ATM Radar

Step 2 - Add Your Wallet Information

Bitcoin ATMs look like normal ATMs, but there is a difference. Bitcoin is digital money, so it’s not physically withdrawn like cash. Instead, you transfer it from the ATM directly to your Bitcoin wallet. The ATM will ask you where to send the bitcoin you’re buying. You have two choices. Simply scan your wallet’s QR code or manually enter your wallet’s address. If you choose to enter the address, be careful not to make mistakes here!

Step 3 - Verify your Identity

The ATM will ask you to scan your ID. It may also ask for your name and phone number. The information required varies from country to country.

Step 4 - Buy Bitcoin

Here’s the fun part where you get your bitcoin! Depending on the country you live in and the type of Bitcoin ATM, you can pay with cash, credit cards, or debit cards.

Bitcoin’s price changes all the time, so the amount you get for each dollar, Euro, or Yen will vary. Tip: You don’t have to buy a whole bitcoin. Instead you can buy a small fraction (e.g. 0.1 or 0.00001 bitcoin). So even if the price is high, you can still get started!

All Done!

Congratulations, once the transfer goes through you’re a proud bitcoin owner. Get excited! Next up: Make sure to check out how to store, use, and secure your bitcoin..

Option 3 - Bitcoin Cash Sellers

Follow these easy steps to buy bitcoin from a seller.

1) Pick a Service
2) Deposit Cash
3) Get Bitcoin

Step 1 - Pick a Service

The three most popular ways to buy bitcoin for cash are local sellers, escrow services, and retail stores. Local sellers meet with you in person, which can be risky. Escrow services connect buyers and sellers and offer more protection. Retail stores take cash and send you bitcoin in exchange. Many Bitcoin ATMs also accept cash, see above. Here are some resources to find cash sellers:

LocalBitcoins | BitQuick | Wall of Coins | LibertyX | BitIt

Step 2 - Deposit Cash

Depending on the service you use you will give the seller cash directly, through a bank deposit, or by mailing it. Always beware of scams and stay safe (we recommend using escrow).

Step 3 - Get Bitcoin

Here’s the fun part where you get your bitcoin! Once the cash has changed hands, the seller will send bitcoin to your wallet. You might have to upload a deposit receipt first to prove that you paid. We explain how to set up your wallet right below.

All Done!

Congratulations, once the transfer goes through you’re a proud bitcoin owner. Get excited! Next up: Make sure to check out how to store, use, and secure your bitcoin.

Level Up!

You finished chapter 1 of 4

How to Store Bitcoin

There are several simple ways to store your bitcoin. If you’re a beginner, we recommend starting with and free and easy software wallet or a more secure hardware wallet.

Option 1 - Hardware Wallets

Bitcoin hardware wallets are easy to use and very secure, but they’re not free.

PROS:
Easy to use
Safest type of storage
Easy to backup
Offline storage

CONS:
Purchase required

Here’s how Bitcoin hardware wallets work: First, buy your Bitcoin hardware wallet. You can find some options right below.

Ledger Nano S
Trezor
KeepKey
BitLox
DigitalBitbox

Once the wallet is installed, set up your secret PIN and recovery phrase. The PIN is like your ATM pin and gives you access to the wallet. If you lose or break the laptop or phone with your wallet on it, the recovery phrase is used to restore your Bitcoin to a new wallet.

Write down the recovery phrase by hand on paper. Storing them on paper protects you against hacked computers and phones. Make sure to create backup papers and store them in at least two different, secure locations.

Your wallet is now ready! You can send and receive bitcoin with the wallet by scanning a QR code or by entering the Bitcoin address manually. Always make sure to carefully check transaction details for typos.

It’s smart to test your wallet right after setup: Before you add any funds, delete and restore your wallet using the recovery phrase to ensure everything works. If you successfully recover your wallet, you’re set!

Tip: Many wallets create a new public receiving address for each transaction to increase your privacy.

Each hardware wallet has a slightly different setup. Here are the official tutorials and FAQs:

Ledger Nano S
Trezor
KeepKey
BitLox
DigitalBitbox

Option 2 - Software Wallets

Bitcoin software wallets are free and easy to use, but less secure than hardware wallets.

PROS:
Free
Convenient
Easy to use
Easy to backup

CONS:
Online storage
Not as safe as hardware wallets (easier to hack)

Here’s how Bitcoin software wallets work: First, select a Bitcoin software wallet and download it to your mobile device or computer. You can find some options right below. 

Bread (Mobile)
Jaxx (Desktop, Mobile)
Armory  (Desktop)
Mycelium (Mobile)
Wirex (Mobile)

Once the wallet is installed, set up your secret PIN and recovery phrase. The PIN is like your ATM pin and gives you access to the wallet. If you lose or break the laptop or phone with your wallet on it, the recovery phrase is used to restore your bitcoin to a new wallet.

Write down the recovery phrase by hand on paper. Storing them on paper protects you against hacked computers and phones. Make sure to create backup papers and store them in at least two different, secure locations.

Your wallet is now ready! You can send and receive Bitcoins with the wallet by scanning a QR code or by entering the Bitcoin address manually. Always make sure to carefully check transaction details for typos.

It’s smart to test your wallet right after setup: Before you add any funds, delete and restore your wallet using the recovery phrase to ensure everything works. If you successfully recover your wallet, you’re set!

Tip: Many wallets create a new public receiving address for each transaction to increase your privacy.

Each software wallet has a slightly different setup. Here are the official tutorials and FAQs:

Bread
Jaxx
Armory
Mycelium
Wirex

Option 3 - Online Wallets

Bitcoin online wallets (also called web wallets) are free and easy to use, but less secure than hardware wallets. Online and software wallets often have similar security.

PROS:
Free
Easy to use
Easy to backup
Multiple device access

CONS:
Online storage
Not as safe as hardware wallets (easier to hack)

Here’s how Bitcoin online wallets work: First, select a Bitcoin online wallet. You can find some options right below.

Blockchain.info
BitGo
CoinSpace
Coinapult
CoinBase (Exchange) 

The first thing you do is set up your login for the online wallet. This gives you access to the wallet. Some online wallets will also give you a secret recovery phrase.

Write down the password (and recovery phrase, if applicable) by hand on paper. Storing them on paper protects you against hacked computers and phones. Make sure to create backup papers and store them in at least two different, secure locations.

Your wallet is now ready! You can send and receive bitcoin with the wallet by scanning a QR code or by entering the Bitcoin address manually. . Always make sure to carefully check transaction details for typos.

It’s smart to test your wallet right after setup: Before you add any funds, delete and restore your wallet using the recovery phrase to ensure everything works. If you successfully recover your wallet, you’re set!

Each online wallet has a slightly different setup. Here are the official tutorials and FAQs:

Blockchain.info
BitGo
CoinSpace
Coinapult
CoinBase

Option 4 - Paper Wallets

Bitcoin paper wallets were popular, however they make mistakes more likely. We’ve included them for completeness but would recommend a hardware wallet instead.

PROS:
Free
Easy to backup
Offline storage

CONS:
Hard to use
Not as safe as hardware wallets

Here’s how Bitcoin paper wallets work: A paper wallet is an offline document that contains your public and private keys. The public key is used to receive money and can be shared. The private key is used to send money and should be kept secret.

Most paper wallets also have a QR code of your public key that can be scanned to make receiving money easier.

The benefits of a paper wallet is that it’s stored offline and on paper (cold storage). So it can’t be hacked or disappear when your computer or phone gets lost. The disadvantage is that paper can be lost, burned, or degraded. If you lose a paper wallet and don’t have a backup, that Bitcoin is gone forever.

Here is how to set up a Bitcoin paper wallet. Keep in mind that this is NOT our recommendation and quite complex, but we’ve included it for completeness:

Go to bitaddress.org and save the website on your computer (simply right click and then click Save As). Downloading the website ensures that nobody can intercept your wallet information. Disable your internet connection - this specific website should work offline.

Open the local version of the website and follow the instructions. Move your mouse around until there is enough random data collected. Next, you will see your newly created Bitcoin address and secret private key.

Print or write down the Bitcoin address and secret private key by hand on paper. Storing them on paper protects you against hacked computers and phones. Make sure to create backup papers and store them in at least two different, secure locations.

Your wallet is now ready! You can receive bitcoin by sharing your public address with the sender. You can send bitcoin by going to blockchain.info and adding the full balance of your private key into your account on that website. You can see your balance by entering your public address at blockchain.info.

It’s smart to test your wallet right after setup: Before you add any funds, delete and restore your wallet using the recovery phrase to ensure everything works. If you successfully recover your wallet, you’re set!

Level Up!

You finished chapter 2 of 4

How to Use Bitcoin

New ways to spend and use your Bitcoin are created all the time. Here are the most popular ones.

Bitcoin Shopping

There are thousands of companies that accept Bitcoin for their products and services. Here are popular stores where you can shop with Bitcoin:

Microsoft, Dell, Newegg, Overstock, Subway, Reddit, Expedia, SoundCloud, Airbnb, Wikipedia, Oakley, Minecraft, Steam, Mint, Etsy, Shopify, Stripe

Bitcoin Debit Cards

If you want to spend your Bitcoin worldwide (where VISA is accepted), you can get a Bitcoin debit card. Here are popular places where you can get Bitcoin debit cards:

Examples: Shift, Wirex, Xapo, CryptoPay, BitPay, SpectroCoin, Uquid, Bitwala

Bitcoin Gift Cards

You can buy official gift cards for your favorite brands like Starbucks, BestBuy, and Gamestop using bitcoin. Here are popular places where you can buy Bitcoin gift cards:

Gyft, FoldApp, Purse.io, Cryfter, eGifter, InstaGift, Yes To Bitcoins

Bitcoin Investing

There are two ways to get started with Bitcoin investments. You can buy and hold (long-term investing), or you can frequently buy and sell (short-term trading). Because of the risk involved, Bitcoin investing of any type should only be done by experienced people and only for money you can afford to lose. Here is a list of popular Bitcoin exchanges:

CoinBase, Bittrex, Bitfinex, GDAX, Bitstamp, Kraken, Gemini, Poloniex, LakeBTC, BTCC

Bitcoin Donations

Feeling charitable? That’s awesome, you rock! Many non-profit charities accept bitcoin directly. Here are popular places where you can donate bitcoin:

EFF, Wikipedia, Bitcoin Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, Human Rights Foundation, Archive.org

Level Up!

You finished chapter 3 of 4

How to Secure Bitcoin

Bitcoin gives you full control over your money. But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. So always make sure that your bitcoin is secure. Here’s how!

Avoiding Hacks and Scams

The first step to protect your bitcoin is to use a secure computer and network. That means skipping that public hotel lobby computer and also the public WiFi at Starbucks. Use only your personal device and your own internet connection at home.

Next, avoid fake websites. Carefully type the URL of the Bitcoin exchange you want to visit into your browser. Always double check this and don’t click on random links online. Be careful, some search ads may lead to fraudulent sites!

We recommend not copy and pasting your Bitcoin recovery phrases and keys into your browser or other software. It’s best to store them offline on paper and manually type them, only when necessary. The browser may be infected, plus different software add-ons may be able to read the information.

Be skeptical and suspicious about Bitcoin money-making opportunities online. Often, they sound too good to be true for a reason. Be especially careful with shady cloud mining, hardware mining, and group investment offers. Watch out what you click and always do your due diligence.

When you get emails and social media messages from exchanges and other Bitcoin services you use, be extra careful. . If they ask you to share your password or other private details, it could be a scam or phishing email. The best way to contact your exchange is to go directly to the official website.

Wallet Security

The first thing you can do to improve the security of your wallet is to use a hardware wallet. This moves your Bitcoin access offline, meaning it’s no longer at risk for exchange hacks, phishing attacks, and exchange bankruptcy. In short, controlling your wallet can be much more secure than trusting it to a third party like an exchange.

Next, make sure to enable and use two-factor authentication whenever possible. It’s an important security step that makes hacks more difficult. Two-factor authentication can be done by text messages, but there are also free two-factor services like Google Authenticator that can be even safer.

All this security is meaningless if you lose your wallet and recovery phrase. Make sure to put both in safe locations where they can’t be lost or stolen. We recommend creating a backup of your recovery phrase and storing it in a second, safe location. There is no way to recover lost bitcoin. That also means it’s smart to keep old, empty wallets – just in case.

Next up, software updates. This is a no-brainer, both for your Bitcoin software and hardware wallets, and every other digital device in your life. Updates install important security patches, so run them regularly.

Last but not least, if you have a lot of bitcoin, it may be smart to create two separate wallets. One to store the bulk of your bitcoin, the other for smaller, daily transactions. This way you are less exposed to potential problems.

Transaction Security

Unlike traditional payments, there are no chargebacks in Bitcoin. Once you hit send, that bitcoin is spent and you can’t reverse the transaction! Always double check all transaction details before hitting send. Since Bitcoin is entirely decentralized, there is no customer service number to call if you have a problem!

As new Bitcoin transactions are created, they are bundled and processed in batches every 10-minutes. This 10 minutes-worth of transactions is placed into blocks that are added to the Blockchain. Once a block has been added to the Blockchain, it's called a “confirmation.” After 1 confirmation (10 min.) you can be reasonably sure the transaction is finalized. However, if you wait for more blocks to be added to the Blockchain, the transaction will become more and more secure until eventually, it is unalterable.

Therefore it is smart to wait for a few transaction confirmations before assuming money was securely sent. Wait for a minimum of 1 confirmation for small transactions (coffee, gas, etc.), 3 confirmations for larger transactions (computers, furniture, etc.), and at least 6 confirmations for high-value transactions (cars, robots, etc.).

More Security Tips

Many people assume that Bitcoin is 100% anonymous, but that’s not true. Just like cash, Bitcoin is only as anonymous as you make it. Remember that all Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly and forever on the Blockchain. The identity of the Bitcoin wallet address is not public, but it could be discovered  (for example by contacting the exchange you bought from with a warrant). So make sure to use Bitcoin responsibly and with the knowledge that it should not be treated as an “anonymous” form of currency.

Bitcoin is a new and experimental currency. That means you should expect it to be very volatile. It’s best only to invest what you can definitely afford to lose and also to expect big potential drops in price. You’re an early adopter of a new technology, so get ready for a rollercoaster ride.

Part of your Bitcoin security is to think about taxes and regulations. Make sure to check with your local government and financial experts what taxes you may owe for buying and selling bitcoin. In some countries, for example, using bitcoin to buy products and services could trigger capital gains or other taxes. Most governments require you to pay income, capital gains, and other taxes on anything that has value, including bitcoin. So please stay informed.

Level Up!

You finished chapter 4 of 4

Congratulations!

You’ve just learned how to use Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin Ethereum Blockchain
Share This Guide Now
Subscribe Now for FREE Guides & Tools
Get the Newsletter
We respect your privacy and never share emails.