How To Buy Bitcoin in the UK – A Simple Guide

buy bitcoins UK
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Are you baffled by Bitcoin and confused by crypto? Well don’t be!

The world of cryptocurrency has moved on dramatically in the past few years and it’s never been easier to buy Bitcoin in the UK.

You can easily start as a beginner and simply buy and store some coins in the same way as you might put money into say a stocks and shares ISA.

If you’re a bit more tech savvy and familiar with buying and selling shares you can experiment with trading crypto on an exchange.

Whatever you decide, you’ll find that crypto is far more accessible than it used to be.

Anyone who’s familiar with managing online financial products, such as bank accounts or pensions, should be up and running within minutes.

So if you’re looking to buy Bitcoin in the UK this simple step-by-step guide will help you join millions of others already dabbling with digital currencies.

Getting started with Bitcoin

There are a few decisions you’ll need to make before you get started on your journey buying Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

These include:

  • Which coins you want to buy. Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETC) and Cardano (ADA) are some of the largest cryptocurrencies by market cap, but there are thousands of others to choose from, including meme coins, such as Shiba Inu, and stablecoins. However, not all of these altcoins are supported by the mainstream exchanges.
  • How much you want to spend. Cryptocurrency is high risk and is subject to wild price fluctuations. Understand what you’re buying and never invest more than you can afford to lose.
  • Where you’re going to buy your coins. Most people who are new to crypto buy through a mainstream cryptocurrency exchange.
  • Where you’re going to store your crypto. The main options are an online exchange, a non-custodial wallet or a hardware wallet (Don’t worry, I’ll explain the different methods further on).

Which crypto should I buy?

Deciding what crypto to buy is something many people agonise over as there are so many on the market.

If you’re completely new to crypto and simply want to dip your toes in the water, then it’s probably best to stick to one of the top 10 coins by market cap.

Most people start by buying Bitcoin as it’s the oldest and best known crypto on the market.

It’s very easy to buy Bitcoin in the UK – even money transfer platforms like PayPal allow customers to buy and hold Bitcoin, together with a few of the other main coins.

Also, nearly every cryptocurrency exchange supports the token and it’s possible to spend it with many online retailers as well.

How much should I spend on crypto?

It’s crucial that you consider exactly how much you can afford to invest in crypto before taking the plunge.

There are many stories circulating online about people who’ve lost everything because they spent more than they could afford and bought at the wrong time.

As I’ve already said, crypto can be highly volatile and just because it has seen a huge increase in price since its inception in 2009, doesn’t mean this will continue.

When buying crypto, start small and only spend what you’re happy losing completely (although this is highly unlikely to happen).

You can dip your toes in the water with very small amounts to start with to learn the ropes and familiarise yourself with the processes and technology involved.

If you want to invest more, you can at any time – buying and selling Bitcoin is instantaneous and as it’s decentralised you don’t need to go through a broker, bank or agent to do it.

Bu remember, the world of cryptocurrency is largely unregulated.

This means that although it’s completely legal to buy and sell crypto in the UK, any investment you make will not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Before you take the plunge, you may want to study the current Bitcoin prices and the latest Bitcoin news to assess whether it’s a good time to invest.

Related links:

Where to buy Bitcoins in the UK

The easiest way for beginners to buy Bitcoins and cryptocurrency in the UK is through what’s known as a centralised exchange.

There are a number of exchanges that operate in the UK so you’ll be spoiled for choice.

If you’re new to crypto it might be wise to choose an exchange for simplicity and customer service over one which charges slightly lower fees.

If things go wrong, you’ll want to know the issue will be resolved quickly and professionally.

So, go with an established company – you’ll thank me in the long run!

An exchange that’s become popular in the UK is Coinbase.

Although it’s not the cheapest place to buy crypto, it’s still my favourite exchange because it’s so easy to open an account and get started.

Yes, this post does feature an affiliate link but that’s not why I’m recommending Coinbase.

It’s from personal experience and from others I know who’ve found it super simple to set up an account.

It’s perfect for complete beginners, and you have the security of using a global company to buy you Bitcoin.

Coinbase also offers a £150,000 guarantee scheme which protects your coins in the event of a hack for added peace of mind.

Buy Bitcoins UK with Coinbase
Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange that’s ideal for beginners, although not the cheapest.

Once you’ve opened an account, you can use a debit card or bank transfer to pay for your coins and your purchase will be completed straight away.

If you’re feeling more confident, you can open a free Coinbase Pro account where you can make your purchase using a professional trading platform. At the time of writing Coinbase and Coinbase Pro were being amalgamated into a single platform.

There’s a bit of learning curve here, but buying Bitcoin this way is cheaper than through the basic Coinbase platform.

My advice is to start with the standard version and make sure you’re comfortable buying crypto here before moving on.

Related link: Coinbase review

How to choose a crypto exchange to buy Bitcoin in the UK

As I’ve said, there are plenty of exchanges you can choose from, but as with all financial products and services, do your own research first.

For example, you may come across Binance, another global exchange that’s available to UK investors, during your research.

This is a great exchange for buying more obscure coins that aren’t available on Coinbase. It’s also cheap to use.

But it’s more complicated and there have been issues with UK residents being able to fund their accounts or withdraw cash to their bank account, although crypto transfers have been unaffected.

Although I personally use Binance and have had a good experience, I can’t recommend it for beginners.

Another good option for beginners is PayPal as I’ve already mentioned.

PayPal allows customers to instantly buy and sell crypto through their standard accounts and store it online.

There are limitations as to what you can do with your coins, but anyone who wants to buy a small amount of one of the main cryptos quickly should consider this option.

Other popular crypto exchanges available in the UK include:

  • Gemini
  • OKX
  • eToro

You can also check out the top 5 exchanges to buy and sell cryptocurrency >>

Buy Bitcoin from an ATM (cashpoint)

You can also buy Bitcoin from one of a growing number of ATMs that are springing up around the UK.

Bitcoin ATM
A growing number of Bitcoin ATMs are being installed across the UK.

Even small convenience stores are getting in on the act – there may even be one near you.

If you have a Bitcoin ATM (or BATM) nearby then you can always buy your Bitcoins here, although you’ll still need to complete Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks as you do when setting up an account on an exchange.

Where to store Bitcoin

My advice to beginners who are buying a small amount of crypto is to store it on the exchange you bought it from.

As long as you acquire your digital coins through a reputable platform, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Throughout the short history of crypto there have been several large-scale thefts from exchanges.

But this mainly happened in the early days, and security is much tighter now.

All large exchange store much of their assets offline putting them out of reach for hackers.

And there are dozens of other security measures in place to ensure your crypto is safe.

That’s not to say that the risk is completely mitigated, but if your coins are stolen it’s likely you’ll get them back.

However, one thing that crypto purists hate about exchanges is that they maintain control of your public and private keys – the crucial bit of information that gives you access to your coins and proves your ownership.

The original ethos behind Bitcoin was to create a completely decentralised form of money free from the interference of banks or other financial institutions.

Sounds great, but there are downsides:

  • If you lose your keys, your crypto is gone forever. No ifs nor buts, it’s lost and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  • You’ll also need to keep a careful record of your recovery phrase as well. This is a series of words automatically generated when you create a new wallet. Lose this and your coins will be irretrievable.
  • Selling your coins is trickier and more expensive. You need to get your coins back onto an exchange before you can sell them which involves an additional transfer and fee.
  • Technological barrier. For beginners, running a wallet can feel like a step too far. It adds an additional layer of complexity to the process of owning and storing your crypto.
  • No insurance – as I’ve mentioned, some exchanges now cover your coins in the event they are stolen. This is something you don’t get if you run your own wallet.
  • Missing out on interest. A growing number of platforms are offering customers interest on their crypto deposits. They do this because they lend your crypto out. It’s a good way of earning a passive income on your crypto without lifting a finger.

Related link: The top 5 interest paying crypto accounts

There are dozens of non-custodial wallet apps available for free online.

These include:

Metamask is perhaps the most complicated to use out of the three mentioned above, but it offers access to the vast universe of altcoins and blockchain apps, as does Trust Wallet.

Another way of keeping your crypto safe is by using a hardware wallet.

These are small devices that you can leave unplugged from your computer for an added layer of security.

Trezor One review seed phrase
Hardware wallets, such as the Trezor, offer an added layer of protection for your crypto.

The same process applies to using a wallet app – and this method comes with the same downsides as well.

You also need to consider that your hardware wallet might be stored securely somewhere.

If you want to sell your coins fast you’ll need to retrieve it first before you can move your crypto to an exchange.

There’s no doubting that keep your crypto completely air gapped from the internet is a very secure storage method, especially if you have a large amount.

If you’re comfortable with the technology, you can mix and match where you store your portfolio to spread the risk.

But for some, it’s too steep a learning curve and can be off putting.

The storage facilities offered by exchanges like Coinbase are perfectly adequate for most people who’re planning to buy a small amount of crypto.

Related links:

Other considerations

Owning Bitcoin can be exciting, especially when the price is going up.

You’ll become part of a digital revolution and owning a small piece of history is thrill.

But it’s still not as easy as managing a bank account, even though your Bitcoin wallet address is effectively your account number.

And it can be stomach-churning to watch your investment plunge in value in a few short hours, as is the way with crypto.

Keep this in mind before you invest and you’ll know what to expect.

Another piece of advice is to not be too quick to sell if the price drops.

Crypto goes up and down like the stock market and trying to time the market is virtually impossible.

As many financial advisers are wont to say – time in the market not timing the market pays off over the long run.

What else do I need to know?

There are a few other things to consider if you own Bitcoin, such as passing on your crypto to loved ones when you die, the taxes you may need to pay and getting assistance with your portfolio if you need it.

Check out the following posts to learn more:

Other Posts

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial or investment advice.

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