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Get Started with Ethereum

Discover how to buy, store, and use Ethereum.

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 Ethereum

It’s very easy to buy Ether (Ethereum’s native currency).

Ethereum Exchanges

Follow these easy steps to buy Ethereum (AKA Ether) from an exchange.

1) Pick a Bitcoin Ethereum
2) Create an account
3) Add payment method
4) Buy Ether

Step 1 - Pick an Ethereum Exchange


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

CoinbaseBitfinex | GDAXPoloniex | Bittrex | HitBTC | Kraken | Gemini

Step 2 - Create Account

You can do this directly on the exchange website or through the exchange’s app. Signup will often involve providing personal information like your name, social security number, and a photo of your ID. In many countries, exchanges are required by law to collect these.

Step 3 - Add 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 bitcoin as a payment method.

Step 4 - Buy Ether

Here’s the fun part where you get your Ether! Ether’s price changes all the time, so the amount you get for each dollar, Euro, or Yen varies. Tip: You don’t have to buy a whole Ether coin. Instead, you can buy a small fraction (e.g. 0.1 or 0.0001 Ether). So even if the price is high, you can still get started!

All Done!

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

Level Up!

You finished chapter 1 of 4

How to Store Ethereum

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

Option 1 - Hardware Wallets

Ethereum 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 Ethereum hardware wallets work: First, buy your Ethereum hardware wallet. Here are some popular options:

Ledger Nano S
Trezor
KeepKey

Once the wallet arrives, 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 hardware wallet, your recovery phrase is used to restore your Ether to a new wallet.

Write down the recovery phrase by hand on paper. Storing it on paper protects you against hackers stealing it from your computer or phone. Make sure to create at least one handwritten backup paper and store it in a secure location.

Your wallet is now ready! You can send and receive Ether with the wallet through its software. When entering Ethereum addresses, 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

Option 2 - Software Wallets

Ethereum 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 Ethereum software wallets work: First, select an Ethereum software wallet and download it to your mobile device or computer. Here are some popular options:

Jaxx (Desktop, Mobile)
Coinomi (Mobile)  
Etherwall (Desktop)
Exodus (Desktop)

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 Ethereum to a new wallet.

Write down the recovery phrase by hand on paper. Storing it on paper protects you against hackers stealing it from your computer and phone. Make sure to create at least one handwritten backup paper and store it in a secure location.

Your wallet is now ready! You can send and receive Ether with the wallet by scanning a QR code or by entering the Ethereum 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:

Jaxx
Coinomi
Etherwall
Exodus

Option 3 - Online Wallets

Ethereum online wallets (also called web wallets) are free and easy, but less secure than hardware wallets.

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 Ethereum online wallets work: First, select an Ethereum online wallet (can be an exchange). Here are some popular options:

MyEtherWallet (Desktop)
Mist (Desktop)

Online wallets use either a username and password or a PIN and recovery phrase. Because the wallet is stored on the server of a company, you can’t lose the wallet - but make sure to safely store your login information.

If the wallet provides you a recovery phrase, make sure to carefully write it down by hand on paper. Storing it on paper protects you against hackers stealing it from your computer or phone. Make sure to create at least one handwritten backup paper and store it in a, secure location.

Your wallet is now ready! You can send and receive Ether with the wallet by scanning a QR code or by entering the Ethereum 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, log out and back into your wallet to ensure everything works. If you can log in and see the wallet, you’re set!

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

MyEtherWallet
Mist

Option 4 - Paper Wallets

Ethereum paper wallets used to be popular. However, they are complicated to use and make mistakes more likely. We’ve included them for completeness but would recommend a hardware wallet instead.

PROS:
Free
Easy to backup
Offline storage (cold storage)

CONS:
Hard to use
Not as safe as hardware wallets

Here’s how Ethereum paper wallets work:

A paper wallet is a physical, offline document that shows 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 that can be scanned to make receiving money easier.

The benefit of a paper wallet is that it’s stored offline and on paper. 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 over time. If you lose a paper wallet and don’t have a backup, your Ether is gone forever.

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

First, go to myetherwallet.com.

Enter a strong (AKA long and complex) password, making sure not to forget it. Click the "Create New Wallet" button.

Next, create the so-called “Keystore / UTC” file. Print the created information (keys and QR code).

Make sure the printout includes your Ethereum address and secret private key. Also, create backup printouts and store them in different, secure locations.

Your wallet is now ready! You can receive Ethereum by sharing your public address with the sender. You can send Ether by going to myetherwallet.com and entering the information from your printout.

It’s smart to test your wallet right after setup: Make sure you can access the wallet and that it works before sending or receiving any funds.

Level Up!

You finished chapter 2 of 4

How to Use Ethereum

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

Ethereum Shopping

There are many companies that accept Ether for their products and services. Here are popular stores where you can shop with Ethereum:

Microsoft, Intel, Samsung, Toyota, Brave, MasterCard, CreditSuisse

Ethereum Debit Cards

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

MonaquoTenXUquid | TokenCard

Ethereum Investing

There are two ways to get started with Ethereum investments. You can buy and hold (long-term investing), or you can frequently buy and sell (short-term trading). Because of the risk involved, Ethereum 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 Ethereum exchanges:

CoinbaseBitfinex | GDAXPoloniex | Bittrex | HitBTC | Kraken | Gemini

Level Up!

You finished chapter 3 of 4

How to Secure Ethereum

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

Avoiding Hacks and Scams

The first step to protect your Ether 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 at home.

Next, avoid fake websites. Carefully type the URL of the Ethereum exchange you want to visit directly into your browser’s address bar. 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 Ethereum recovery phrase or private key into your browser or other software. It’s best to store them offline on paper and manually type them into the address bar. The browser may be infected, plus different software add-ons may be able to read the information.

Be skeptical and suspicious about Ethereum 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 Ethereum 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 Ethereum 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 Ether. 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 Ethereum 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 Ether, it may be smart to create two separate wallets. One to store the bulk of your Ether, 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 Ethereum. Once you hit send, that Ether is spent and you can’t reverse the transaction! Always double check all transaction details before hitting send. Since Ethereum is entirely decentralized, there is no customer service number to call if you have a problem!

As new Ethereum transactions are created, they are bundled and processed in batches. This set 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 a few confirmations 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.

It is smart to wait for a few transaction confirmations before assuming Ether 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 Ethereum is completely anonymous, but that’s not true. While Ethereum may become more anonymous with future updates, currently Ether is only as anonymous as you make it, just like cash. Remember that all Ethereum transactions are stored publicly and forever on the Ethereum Blockchain. The identity of the Ethereum wallet address is not public but it can be discovered with effort (for example by contacting the exchange you bought from with a warrant). So make sure to use Ethereum responsibly and with the knowledge that it should not be treated as an “anonymous” form of currency.

Ethereum is a new and experimental technology. That means you should expect its price 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 wild ride.

Part of your Ethereum 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 Ether. In some countries, for example, using Ether 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 Ether. So please stay informed.

Level Up!

You finished chapter 4 of 4

Congratulations!

You’ve just learned how to use Ethereum.

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin Ethereum Blockchain
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