Buying bitcoin has always been cheaper through largely adopted exchanges, but funding your account and processing bank transfers can take between a couple of days to an entire week depending on your bank and your country. In such a volatile market, these delays can be the difference between making a loss and coming away with profit.
Crypto cards are fiat debit cards linked to mobile wallets and exchanging services. Owners are therefore able to instantly buy or sell cryptocurrencies on the go, and pay for daily expenses and purchases with their local fiat currency. Read on for a short review of each of the leading providers, and stay tuned for more updates as new ventures go live!
Best for cashback and crypto interest: Crypto.com
Crypto.com is truly an all-in-one solution, incorporating multiple cards with crypto cashback, up to 8% interest crypto to crypto on various coins and even automated investment plans.
The company is offering $50 worth of MCO for signing up through a referral link here. The MCO tokens will be initially blocked until the user deposits and stakes 50 MCO or more depending on the card he wishes to order. Additionally, users can earn $50 worth of MCO for every user they refer that signups, verifies within 72 hours and stakes 50 MCO as described above.
Crypto.com cards grant 1% to 5% cashback (paid on MCO) on all spending, free international withdrawals, 100% cashback on Spotify & Netflix subscriptions, 10% cashback on Airbnb and Expedia. Although the crypto cards are only available in the US and Singapore; Asia Pacific, Europe and Canada are next in the roadmap.
Bonus update: We have now confirmation through their CS agents that the cards will be available in Europe by the end of 2019.
Aside from unlocking the sign up reward and the 2% cashback debit card, staking 50 MCO will double the interest earned through Crypto Earn, the passive crypto interest program of the platform. There are currently 3 investment plans that users all over the world can benefit from: a flexible plan of up to 2% p.a. that allows users to withdraw at any time, a 1 month and 3 month lock up plan of 4% and 6% respectively, whereby users won’t be able to withdraw until the time is up.
Update: Upgrading the stake to 500 MCO for the Indigo or Jade cards will yield a 6% p.a. on the staked MCO amount, 3% cashback and an additional 2% bonus interest on top of the standard interest earned on Crypto Earn staked coins.
Remember you can upgrade your Crypto earn interest up to 8% p.a. on BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, BNB, LINK, BAT, MKR, up to 12% p.a. on PAX, TUSD, USDC, DAI, USDT and up to 18% p.a on CRO & MCO.
Available in: Singapore, US, will be launched in Europe by the end of 2019
Issuance fee: 0 USD
Monthly fee: No fee, but token staking is required from 0 up to 50000 MCO
Card funding fee: 0%
Pros: Interest plans, automatic investment, cashback, customer service, fee-less crypto swaps.
Cons: Limited geographical availability.
Best global card: Crypterium
Crypterium offers the first globally available, privacy focused USD debit card that can be funded by buying & selling crypto to fiat through the Crypterium app and funding the card on the go.
Users purchase cryptocurrencies with their traditional bank debit/credit cards instantly as transactions are made off-chain. Currently, Crypterium users can purchase BTC, ETH, LTC and CRPT with a 0.5% transaction fee, paid in CRPT and burned, effectively reducing the supply of the platform’s native token.
While the bitcoin buying price on Crypterium is quite high (unlike the selling one) compared to mainstream exchanges it is a great alternative for users living in countries underserved by exchanges and with high premiums on the price of bitcoin.
Now, the cashing out process is where the platform shines. Crypterium’s prepaid card has been issued in collaboration with UnionPay in the Philippines, which is an additional privacy feature as the Philippines are not part of the Common Reporting Standards CRS and therefore are not required to disclose user’s financial information with foreign financial agencies. The Crypterium bitcoin selling rates are much closer to the prices of the main exchanges, which makes it a great alternative for instantly cashing out your bitcoin anywhere in the world.
To incentivise crypto to fiat transactions, Crypterium has recently launched a Monthly Loyalty Rewards program that redistributes 30% of crypto-fiat transaction fees based on individual transaction volume and the amount of CRPT held. Based on the amount of CRPT (native token of the platform) held in the Crypterium wallet, users will get assigned to one of the 4 echelons with increasingly juicier rewards; although holding CRPT is not mandatory for the reward program users will still have to make a crypto to fiat transaction in order to participate.
Issuance fee: 9.99USD or 0 USD through a subscription plan
Monthly fee: 0 USD or 2.99 through a subscription plan
Card funding fee: 2.5% (includes Crypto to fiat fee: 0.5%)
Pros: Privacy, instant transactions, globally available, monthly loyalty program.
Cons: Customer service
Best in Europe (so far): Wirex
Wirex is probably the first choice for our readers currently living in any of the countries in the EEA European Economic Area. The app supports multiple crypto & fiat currencies and offers a standard 0.5% cashback in BTC for fiat in-store purchases, regardless of the brand or establishment. In addition, the cashback percentage can be increased from 0.5% to 1.5% by holding WXT, the native token of the platform, which also provides users with fee discounts and a premium Wirex card.
Available in: Europe
Issuance fee: Free
Monthly fee: $1.5
Card funding fee: 1%
Crypto to fiat fee: 0.5%
Cons: Only available in Europe, glitchy app and in-store-only cashback
Best for convenience and security: Coinbase
Coinbase, one of the most popular centralised crypto exchanges, has also released a crypto card. Initially, it was only available in the UK, but now those in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain can get their hands on a coveted card.
The Coinbase Card is linked to the Coinbase Exchange’s account, which is a very convenient feature for the users of the exchange. The card doesn’t have to be preloaded with fiat; instead users can designate a cryptocurrency balance to pay with, which will be immediately converted into fiat money for the merchant, on the go.
Available in: Half of Europe
Issuance fee: 4.95€ or £4.95
Monthly fee: N/A
Card funding fee: Free for domestic purchases, 0.2% for intra-EEA (European Economic Space) purchases and 3% for international purchases
Crypto to fiat fee: N/A
Pros: Security and convenience of linking your Coinbase account
Cons: Only available in some countries of the EEA and expensive fees
Buying bitcoin is the easiest way to join the biggest economic revolution since the invention of paper money. Fortunately, gone are the days when purchasing your coins required expert-level IT skills and weeks of waiting.
Bitcoin is by far and large the most valuable cryptocurrency in the world. It is also the most widely accepted as means of payment - so much so that most other cryptocurrencies are indexed and accessible only via bitcoin trading.
There are two ways you can get bitcoin: mining newly minted coins, or buying it in the open market. Mining can be an expensive and complicated process, so it’s recommended that you start by buying your first coins. This article will focus on the ways you can turn your money into bitcoin to help you start betting in no time.
Turning your fiat currency (USD, Euro, etc) into BTC (bitcoin's ticker within the crypto exchange ecosystem) used to be a challenging endeavour, but its ever-growing popularity means there are new, friendlier options popping up every day. It only takes three steps:
Setting up a bitcoin wallet: don’t worry, we’ll explain everything.
Choosing where to buy: this will depend on the availability in your country and your general preferences regarding anonymity, price, speed and security.
Choosing a payment method: this will depend on your options and will have an impact on your anonymity levels.
Let's dig into each of these steps.
Step 1: choosing and setting up a bitcoin wallet
Choosing and setting up your bitcoin wallet of choice is the first step to getting your bitcoin. Much like your bank account, a wallet is necessary in order to receive or send funds in the bitcoin network. And much like your bank account, they come in many flavours, depending on your needs.
For beginners we recommend Copay - a free, open source wallet that holds both bitcoin and bitcoin cash, with the added bonus of allowing you to sync the same account throughout all major platforms - Windows, Mac, Linus, iOS and Android are all supported.
Just download the software to your preferred platform (desktop and/or mobile) and follow the installation instructions. Make sure you create a strong password, perform a backup and most importantly, write down your seed words for recovery. In case you need more details on how to do that, we put together a guide to choosing your wallet, as well as to how to set it up and start transacting right away.
Even if some online services boast their own web wallets, it’s good practice to always keep your funds in a wallet for which you control the private keys, preferably not online, to mitigate the risk of losing your money to a hack or bug in the third party’s servers.
After getting yourself acquainted with yours, it’s time to move onto buying your bitcoin.
Step 2: choosing where to buy
Choosing the best place to buy bitcoin depends primarily on the country you live and the legal status of bitcoin in your jurisdiction. Although legal in most countries, bitcoin regulation is still in its infancy, and the resulting uncertainty means some providers may be unable (or unwilling) to offer their services in certain countries.
The main places you can buy are exchanges, dedicated OTC (over-the-counter) marketplaces, unmediated P2P (peer-to-peer), and ATMs. Options vary greatly according to your preferences, so apart from availability you might want to consider user-friendliness, payment methods, costs/fees, security and anonymity.
Generally speaking, exchanges and verified vendors on OTC platforms are the easiest, cheapest and safest places to go, which make them our recommendation for beginners. In exchange for this convenience and security, they usually require identity verification to comply with local and international laws - which makes them less-than-anonymous entry points.
If you are a more advanced user or if your focus is on privacy (and you don’t mind paying a little extra for that), then you can look up the closest ATM, or explore the more private methods on OTC platforms.
Lastly, going directly P2P is very risky, and it’s not for the inexperienced or the faint hearted. However, it’s the most flexible and anonymous choice, going straight from wallet A to wallet B. If you’re new to bitcoin, we strongly discourage you from taking this approach unless you personally know and trust the seller.
Cryptocurrency exchanges are the most common way to buy bitcoin. They work as an intermediary between buyers and sellers, taking commission for the service. You may already be familiar with betting exchanges, who function in a similar way by bringing together a backer (someone wanting to bet) and a layer (someone wanting to take a bet).
Factors you might want to consider when choosing an exchange are security features, history, fees (deposit, withdrawal and trading commission), trading pairs, accepted funding methods and requirements to open an account. Generally, buying through a regulated exchange is not really anonymous, as you must submit documents and go through a verification process (KYC) in order to fund your account.
Note that not all exchanges accept fiat money, and are thus unfit to start. Some of them are crypto-only, meaning you effectively need some digital token to start trading.
If you would like to start at an exchange, we recommend using Coinbase Pro, the advanced version of Coinbase, formerly known as GDAX. While Coinbase is not one of the first licensed platforms, it has a proven track record of security, is fully compliant, offer competitive fees and is making strides to introduce newcomers to the crypto space.
The difference between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are the capabilities of the platform and the fees. Coinbase Pro allows its users to place different order types to benefit from the market swings, with significantly lower fees (0.1%-0.25%) than the beginner Coinbase app (up to 4%).
It is not necessary to create a second account in Coinbase Pro as every Coinbase user has access to both platforms and is able to transfer funds between the two platforms instantly, without fees.
Once users have funded the account through a bank transfer or using a debit/credit card through the Coinbase app, they just have to select the pair they wish to trade (1), carefully choose the order type (2), type in the amount to be bought (3) and execute the trade (4).
Now unless you have a magic crystal ball that can predict when the price of bitcoin will rise, it is worth using a Dollar Cost Averaging strategy, which consists of splitting the capital into several fractions and purchasing an asset regularly over days, weeks or even months. Rather than buying an asset as you get disposable capital, the purpose of dollar cost averaging is to lower the average entry price.
Dedicated OTC (over-the-counter) marketplaces
The alternative to buying bitcoin from an exchange is to use what is called an over-the-counter service. An OTC will put you directly in touch with sellers offering their coins. Once you take an offer, the coins will be held in escrow until you submit proof of your payment. The seller will then proceed to release your bitcoins to your wallet.
The best thing about these marketplaces are that they offer access to resource if there are any problems with the transaction. The most well-established OTC platform, and one that Cloudbet recommends, is Localbitcoins as it has the most extensive options for buying bitcoins. They offer bank transfers, online wallets, Paypal, prepaid debit cards, cash by mail, Transferwise and a host of other payments. Here's a video of how to use the website to buy bitcoin:
As you can see, purchasing bitcoin here is simple and straightforward. You need to register an account, which comes with a Localbitcoins web wallet. Make sure you take advantage of two-factor authentication for extra security, choose your preferred region/currency then navigate to the main menu where you will find different sellers offering bitcoin at slightly different prices which will vary in relation to the payment method offered.
Reputation and trade history are the first key factors to consider when choosing a seller. We recommend that you start by trading with reputable sellers and always use the platform for communications and deposits, in case you should ever need to create a dispute.
|This option involves meeting strangers in real life, and you may be risking not only your funds, but also your life. Our suggestion is, if you are a beginner, don’t take this path. However, if you’re still reading this it means you are seriously considering it, so at least take all the necessary precautions. Always meet in a crowded, public place and try to bring a friend or two along.|
P2P trading can take place both online and in real life (IRL), and you can find traders pretty much anywhere you can find people chatting: friends who already own bitcoin, Telegram and Whatsapp groups, Facebook pages, specialised forums like Bitcointalk.org, and probably even down the proverbial dark alley.
Online P2P-direct transactions are the bread and butter of hackers, scammers and Nigerian princes. Sending money (or anything else) to a stranger online without an escrow is a leap in the dark, since you are effectively trusting them to not disappear with your funds, but at least your wallet is the only thing in danger. Always remember the golden rule: if an offer is too good to be true, it’s because it probably isn't.
To reduce that risk, both parties can agree to meet IRL, where money gets exchanged in person while two complete strangers sit uncomfortably in a Starbuck’s booth waiting for a bitcoin transfer to clear. The pros are, P2P direct transactions are anonymous (unless one of you is being followed) and there are no fees involved. However, that level of privacy offers little comfort if you end up with a knife to your neck in a shady part of town, so avoid that if possible. The bottom line is, watch out for scams and don’t ever compromise your security.
There are some decentralised services where you can actually rely on a reputation-based system, like Mycelium wallet's Local Trader (Android only) that matches buyers and sellers locally through the wallet app. But since they still require you to trust or meet with a stranger, it can be less-than-safe. We can’t vouch for this method, since they depend on who you trade with, so if you absolutely must, do so at your own risk.
These are, perhaps not surprisingly, ATMs where you can buy or sell bitcoin. Being new kids on the block(chain), these machines are still very thinly spread (mostly restricted to major urban cities), so you should count yourself among the lucky few if you have one near you.
ATMs are an easy, convenient and potentially private way of buying bitcoin (if you pay in cash instead of a card). On the flip side, they usually charge high fees (8.18% in average). These being machines, don’t expect to haggle down the price. Also, they usually have a low daily limit for anonymous transactions (anywhere from 250 to 5,000 dollars).It’s worth noticing that distribution is very uneven, with almost 75% of active ATMs deployed to the US and Canada and 21% to Europe. Still, with an average of five installations per day, keep your eyes open; one of these may pop up close to you in the near future.
Another thing to keep in mind is, since there aren't that many of them, they may offer an easy target for criminals and surveillance, so it doesn’t hurt to take a look at your surroundings before using one.
You can check here if chance has put one close to you.
Step 3: choosing a payment method
After checking your available options, you’ll need to take into account the accepted payment methods for each category of bitcoin marketplace. Different payment types have different implications for security, anonymity, price and transaction time. As a rule of thumb, the more anonymous your choice is, the higher the price and the uncertainty level you’ll get.
Let’s take a look at the options.
Favoured by most exchanges, bank transfers are an easy and secure way to have your money turned into bitcoin. You can also pay by bank transfers in OTC marketplaces (straight into the seller’s account) and in P2P direct transactions. Being traceable, bank transfers are unsurprisingly not anonymous.
When transferring to an exchange, the transaction may take anywhere from a few minutes to over a week (for international wire transfers). Fees are not always transparent and tend to add up, so it’s better to check with your bank before sending any money abroad.
- Easy to use
- Can be slow
- Not anonymous
- Can be expensive
Verdict: use this if anonymity isn’t a problem and you don’t mind waiting a bit.
Cards are an easy, quick and secure way to pay for your bitcoin, though they aren’t as widely accepted as good old bank transfers. This convenience comes at a cost, of course: places that do take them usually add a considerable commission to the final price tag. Adding insult to injury, some credit card issuers will consider these transactions to be a cash advance, incurring in even higher fees. Yes, they can be really expensive. Also limits are usually very low, so if you’re looking for larger amounts, this is probably not your best choice.
- Easy to use
- Very high fees
- Not anonymous
- Fewer choices and low limits
Verdict: use this if anonymity and price aren't a problem and you’re buying small amounts.
PayPal, Neteller and other online payment platforms
While some exchanges may accept the odd digital payments platforms as a funding option, these are not widespread. PayPal is mostly restricted to OTC marketplaces or P2P, due to risks of scams from its chargeback policy plus the irreversibility of BTC transactions.
Since using it is basically adding another intermediary, they often cost more than a simple bank transfer. Depending on how the banking system of your country works, this may mean less sellers are willing to use digital systems, although this may not be true for places where banks are more hostile towards bitcoin.
- Easy to use
- Few options
- Secure (for buyer)
- Uncertainty (for seller)
Verdict: better off using traditional bank transfers, unless that is not an option.
One of the appeals of bitcoin is that, much like cash, it can allow for a high degree of anonymity. However, that anonymity depends on following some best practices and avoiding associating your physical identity with your newly acquired bitcoin, and the first bottleneck is your entry point.
If you would like to keep your purchase anonymous, then you should choose an anonymous entry point: either cash or gift cards. Bear in mind that this choice will impose a big restriction your market options, and also incur in substantially inflated prices.
Regulated services like exchanges or brokers have to comply with anti-money laundering laws, so don’t expect them to take either. Bitcoin ATMs do take cash, though many also require some form of identification, and as bitcoin continues to go mainstream, this trend is likely to continue.
That leaves us with OTC marketplaces, such as Localbitcoins, and P2P direct. Cash can either be sent (by mail or bank deposit) or exchanged in person. If sent, cash confirmation may take a couple of days, so don’t expect fast transactions.
If you decide to go for an in-person transaction, please be aware that it can be a risky deal, especially if you have never met your seller before. Take some time and read our warning on the P2P direct section above.
- Highly anonymous
- Fewer choices
- Can be unsafe
Verdict: use it if you value anonymity and don’t mind paying more for it; be careful if meeting in real life.
Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of bitcoin!
If your bitcoin were sent to a web wallet on a third party service, make sure you withdraw it to the wallet you set up. Now you can simply hold onto your bitcoin (it is a great store of value), trade it for another cryptocurrency, of spend it on goods and services.
Alternatively, you could open a CloudBet account and start betting on a huge range of sports markets or playing in our exciting bitcoin casino, where your initial investment could turn into something much greater.
It must also be noted that whilst this guide should be of universal help to you bitcoin buyers out there, some countries do have have their own peculiar ways in which one can buy bitcoin. Here at Cloudbet we strive to keep you updated, so if you're from one of the following countries, check out these articles for a more localised approach: