Bitcoin is very much moving into the mainstream and increasingly people are looking to invest in the cryptocurrency, despite its notorious price volatility.
But how do you get started? Do you need Bitcoin (BTC) in the first place, or can you buy some using your debit or credit card, or even a bank transfer?
Buying Bitcoin is a very straightforward process and even complete beginners can easily be a part of the digital currency revolution.
Here, we list the 5 of the most popular and best exchanges for buying and trading Bitcoin and other cryptocoins and answer your questions about how to get started.
Further on, we’ll also tell you how you can earn up to 12% interest on your cryptocurrency once you’ve bought some.
Coinbase is a great place for those new to the world of cryptocurrency.
You can buy Bitcoin and a growing list of altcoins instantly with your debit or credit card in GBP and they’ll be in your wallet straight away.
You can also transfer funds directly to your Coinbase account from your bank. This does, however, take longer than the method above.
Coinbase also provides Bitcoin and crypto addresses for you to send and receive coins from others and calculates the mining – or transaction – fee for you. There’s also an exchange facility for swapping coins instantly.
As you grow in confidence you can switch to Coinbase Pro, which offers a professional trading screen with more complex functions.
There’s also a standalone Coinbase Wallet app for on the go crypto, which enables you to stake coins and earn interest as well.
Coinbase is one of the world’s largest exchanges and is backed by a host of big-name investors making it a secure place for your cryptocurrency.
Read our full Coinbase Review here.
Binance is another popular exchange that has risen to prominence since launching in the UK in 2020. It offers a comprehensive trading experience and is one of the cheapest available.
The trading platform gives you access to a vast range of altcoins, alongside the better known cryptos such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. It also offers its own currency, Binance Coin (BNB).
Beginners will find the platform more complicated than Coinbase and navigating between the various screens takes some getting used to.
Like Coinbase, you can buy a limited number of cryptocurrencies with a debit/credit card, although it’s cheaper if you do a bank transfer.
However, if you want to trade in some of the more obscure altcoins, in most cases you’ll need to convert your GBP into a stablecoin such as Tether and use this to buy your coins.
The same applies to the mobile app, which can be quite fiddly when it comes to using trading strategies such as limit orders.
eToro is Perhaps one of the best-known trading platforms in the UK, although mainly associated with stocks and shares.
However, alongside a range of markets, such as ETFs, Indices and Commodities, the all-in-one platform also allows clients to trade crypto.
At the time of writing 23 cryptoassets were available to trade, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Dash and Litecoin.
eToro offers a clean, user-friendly platform. However, you need to deposit money using a bank transfer before you can trade, meaning there will be a delay.
It also offers an interesting copy trading feature which allows you to buy into pre-designed portfolios designed by other traders.
eToro charges a spread on crypto transactions, which starts at 0.75% for Bitcoin, rising to 5% for Tezos. This makes it one of the more expensive platforms to buy crypto on.
Instantly recognisable as the brainchild of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss of Facebook fame, Gemini is a fully-functional digital asset exchange.
Like other exchanges, Gemini offers both simplified and professional trading options depending on your level of experience, and access to a wide range of cryptos.
Gemini also owns Nifty Gateway, a marketplace for Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) which have exploded in popularity in recent months.
The exchange places a huge amount of emphasis on security, billing itself as “the most secure cryptocurrency exchange in the world”.
It also offers its own digital currency called Gemini dollars (GUSD) which is a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar.
For basic trading fees start at 75p for trades under £7.50 and rise to 1.49% on anything over £150. You can buy directly with debit card or via a bank transfer
An interesting feature of Gemini is the ability to earn interest on your crypto while it sits in your account. This does mean converting your fiat to one of the supported cryptos though which leaves your investment susceptible to price fluctuations.
Kraken has been in the crypto space for the longest out of any of the companies on this list.
Launched in the US in 2011, it now operates in more than 175 countries around the world and offers a substantial list of coins to trade.
Like Coinbase, it features a simplified ‘Buy / Sell / Convert’ option for those wanting easy access to handful of coins, although you’ll have to fund your account with a bank transfer first so there will be a delay.
If you want to delve into the more complex aspects of trading, Kraken features a professional trading platform that you can access with the click of a button.
One of the reasons that Kraken features on this list is that it enables you to stake a selection cryptocurrencies directly through the platform.
This means you can earn a passive income on your coins and grow your investment, which will further benefit from compounding.
In terms of fees, Kraken charges 0.9% for stablecoins and 1.5% for other cryptos. There’s also a 3.75% payment card fee and a 0.5% bank transfer processing fee which means it isn’t the cheapest exchange to use.
Investing in Bitcoin is very much like using a currency exchange. You are swapping one currency for another.
In the UK, people will mainly be swapping GBP for their choice of crypto. On some exchanges though, you may need to first swap GBP for a stablecoin such as Tether before using it buy other crypto, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Exchanges like Coinbase make it incredibly simple to buy your first crypto using a card so don’t be put off by some of the more complicated areas of trading.
If you want to simply buy some Bitcoin like you would an item in a shop and store it on an exchange you can do so quickly and easily.
To get started, check out our beginner’s guide to buying Bitcoin here for all the information you’ll need to make you first crypto investment.
If you’ve taken the plunge and bought some Bitcoin or altcoins you might want to earn a passive income by earning interest on it.
When deciding which exchange to use you might want to consider how quickly you can transfer funds over so you don’t miss out on a dramatic price rise.
Bank transfers can take from a matter of minutes to several days depending on the exchange meaning you could lose the profits you would have made if you’d bought sooner.
Remember that none of your crypto is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and cryptoassets are consider a very high-risk investment.
*This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial or investment advice.
Adam is the founder of The Crypto Adviser which offers experts guides and reviews on all things related to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
Adam is Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA) Level 4 qualified, a Member of the London Institute of Banking and Finance (MLIBF), and has worked for many years as a journalist and PR consultant, having studied with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).