How To Buy Bitcoins In The United States
It’s easy to buy Bitcoin in the United States. In fact, most of the world’s Bitcoin companies are headquartered in America. Today, it’s easy to buy BTC in the USA whether you’re buying with cash, bank transfer, or credit/debit card.
- 1 How To Buy Bitcoins In The United States
- 1.1 Coinbase
- 1.2 CoinMama
- 1.3 GDAX
- 1.4 CEX.io
- 1.5 LocalBitcoins
- 1.6 BitQuick
- 1.7 Bitstamp
- 1.8 Gemini
- 1.9 Wall of Coins
- 1.10 Kraken
- 1.11 BTC-e
- 1.12 LibertyX
- 1.13 Bitcoin ATMs
- 1.14 Purse.io
- 1.15 VirWoX
- 1.16 CoinBTM
- 1.17 itBit
- 1.18 Bitfinex
- 1.19 Mycelium Local Trader
- 1.20 ShapeShift
- 1.21 Xapo
- 1.22 Bitcoin-OTC
Coinbase is one of the most popular Bitcoin exchanges in the United States. Like all other exchanges on this list, it charges a small fee for all transactions. For Coinbase, that fee is 3.99% for credit and debit card purchases. One thing to like about Coinbase is that you get access to your Bitcoins immediately. A 3.99% fee is certainly high, but other methods on this list charge fees as high as 5 or 10%.
American customers have one additional payment method they can use to save fees. You can connect your bank account to pay a 1.49% transaction fee. With this method, however, your coins take about 5 days to deliver.
Pros Of Coinbase
- Easy for newbies to buy
- Can purchase with credit card, debit card, or bank transfer
- Gain access to Bitcoins instantly when paying by debit or credit card
Cons Of Coinbase
- Bank transfer BTC purchases can take up to 5 days to complete
- It’s not totally anonymous
CoinMama is available to customers across the United States and in virtually every country in the world. That international compatibility comes at a price: CoinMama charges some of the highest fees in the Bitcoin world at 8% fees for each credit or debit card purchase.
One nice thing about CoinMama is the anonymity: if you’re buying less than $150 USD worth of Bitcoins, then you won’t need to verify your identity. It’s ideal for small, anonymous purchases – but the high fees make larger purchases relatively expensive.
- Works in all countries
- High limits for Bitcoin credit card purchases
- Reputable, long-standing broker
- High fees
- Built mostly for those outside of the United States
GDAX is a Bitcoin exchange owned and operated by Coinbase, which we just mentioned above. GDAX is one of the largest and most popular BTC exchanges in the United States. It gives you a diverse range of transfer options – including SEPA or bank wire – combined with good prices and low fees. GDAX has an overly complex interface that can scare away newbies, but it’s certainly become easier to use over the years.
- Low fees for customers in the United States and EU
- You can buy Bitcoins with a 0% transaction fee
- Confusing UI, especially for newbies
- GDAX may close your account if you’re using GDAX-purchased Bitcoins on shady websites
CEX.io is a Bitcoin exchange available to customers in the United States, Europe, and certain South American countries. You can buy Bitcoin with ACH bank transfer, SEPA transfer, cash, or AstroPay. If you buy with credit card, then you can receive access to your Bitcoin funds immediately.
- Supported in the United States, Europe, and some parts of South America
- 0.2% trading fees
- Reputable, long-standing exchange
- Extensive verification process that requires lots of personal information as well as a photo
- Low liquidity in certain currency markets (GBP users often complain about liquidity problems)
LocalBitcoins is less of an exchange and more of an escrow service. It facilitates the trading of Bitcoins for real-world money between two buyers, and holds the amounts in escrow until the transaction is confirmed. The most common method of payment on LocalBitcoins is cash deposit – although you can be connected with users who use virtually any payment method.
If you need Bitcoins in your hand as soon as possible, then a cash deposit with LocalBitcoins is one of the fastest ways to do it.
- Fast and easy
- No personal information required for in-person trades
- Low fees
- Fast BTC transactions via cash deposit
- You can get scammed
- It can be dangerous to meet someone in person with a large amount of cash/Bitcoins
- Harder to buy large amounts of Bitcoins compared to other exchanges (you need to find a buyer willing to sell that amount of BTC)
BitQuick is another fast and popular way to buy BTC in the United States through cash deposits. You log onto BitQuick, browse through a selection of offers at various prices, then choose a seller/buyer. Once you’ve connected with someone, the buyer visits a bank to make a cash deposit to the seller’s account. You’ll typically receive your Bitcoin within the hour.
- Fast and easy way to buy/sell Bitcoins in the United States
- Better physical security than other cash payment methods, because one person pays money to a bank teller
- 2% fees make BitQuick more expensive than most other cash trading services
- Prices vary widely, and you can find rates that are much lower (or much higher) than the average exchange price
Bitstamp is one of the oldest Bitcoin exchanges on the internet. It’s one of the best-known exchanges online today. You can make deposits through bank transfer, SEPA transfer, and international bank wire. Bitstamp also recently started to accept credit cards. The exchange also offers surprisingly low fees of just 0.25%, which can drop as low as 0.1% if you trade frequently.
- One of the longest-running Bitcoin exchanges on the internet
- Low 0.25% transaction fees, which can drop as low as 0.1% if you’re trading frequently
- Multiple deposit and withdrawal options
- Lots of liquidity, which means the Bitstamp exchange rate is close to the internet’s fair market rate
- Works with a range of altcoins
- Has been hacked in the past, so you should avoid storing funds on the exchange wherever possible
- Small credit card purchases have an 8% fee, although larger purchases have a 5% fee
- Designed more for traders than first-time BTC buyers
Gemini is a New York City-based Bitcoin exchange that accepts customers from the United States, Canada, UK, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. You can make a deposit using wire transfer, SEPA, or ACH transfer. One restriction with Gemini is that it only accepts customers in 44 states. They’re currently seeking regulatory approval in the remaining US states. States. The 6 states that aren’t covered include Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Wisconsin. You can check the status of the company’s regulations here.
- Trustworthy, long-standing exchange
- You can make instant deposits to buy Bitcoins (although you can’t withdraw and access your BTC instantly)
- Low fees for customers in the United States and Canada
- Not available to residents of 6 US states
- Can be confusing for first-time BTC buyers
Wall of Coins
Wall of Coins is an international cryptocurrency escrow service that serves customers throughout the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Poland, the Philippines, Romania, and Latvia. It’s a straightforward, relatively anonymous exchange that only requires your phone number to start trading.
Wall of Coins Pros
- Easy to use
- You only need a phone number to confirm your account
Wall of Coins Cons
- Only available in 12 countries
- Not as liquid as some of the larger exchanges
Kraken is one of the EU’s most popular Bitcoin exchanges, and it has particularly strong liquidity in the EUR/BTC pair. However, the exchange also serves customers from around the world, including the United States, Canada, UK, and Japan. You can only make a bank deposit from Japan, but other customers can make deposits through bank wire, SEPA, and SWIFT.
- Long-lasting exchange (founded in mid-2013)
- Taker fee of just 0.25%, which falls to 0.1% if you trade frequently
- Low maker fee, which falls all the way to 0% with sufficient volume
- Very good liquidity for European buyers
- Known for its security
- Publishes proof of reserve audits
- Intimidating user interface
BTC-e is a Bulgarian Bitcoin exchange with anonymous owners. Unlike some of the more transparent exchanges on this list, BTC-e focuses on anonymity. However, BTC-e is one of the longest-running Bitcoin exchanges on the internet, and it’s never encountered any major trouble over the years.
The main drawback with BTC-e is that its owners are anonymous and unverified. There’s nothing stopping them from running away with all of the funds on the exchange at some point in the future. That’s why you shouldn’t leave funds in the exchange at any time.
BTC-e is known for accepting a wide range of payment options, including US bank wire, SEPA, credit cards (VISA and MasterCard), Liqpaym, Unikarta, WebCreds, PerfectMoney, Ukash, and Webmoney.
- It’s survived many years with virtually no trouble or major events
- Low trading fees of 0.2%
- Good liquidity in EUR, USD, and RUR
- Surprisingly large range of payment options
- Owners are anonymous, and the exchange isn’t as transparent as other services
- BTC-e is unregulated and does not comply with AML/CTF
- Bank transfers require ID verification, so BTC-e isn’t totally anonymous
LibertyX is a unique way to buy Bitcoins in the United States. You download the LibertyX app, then use it to find a location near you that sells LibertyX codes. Then, you enter your LibertyX code into the app along with your Bitcoin address. Soon after, your Bitcoins are in your address.
One of the weird perks of LibertyX is that you get a bonus for connecting your LibertyX with Facebook. If you connect a Facebook account to your LibertyX app, you get fee-free purchases for your first $1,000 spent. Otherwise, purchases come with a 1.5% fee and a $3 flat fee.
- Fast and easy way to buy Bitcoins using cash or other ordinary payment methods
- 1.5% fee (although stores will charge their own fees) when using cash
- $1,000 daily limit
- Connect to Facebook to save money on transaction fees
- You might not have a participating store near you
- Stores charge their own variable fees, and some stores can charge very high fees
- LibertyX requires verification, which lowers the privacy of the service (piracy is further reduced if you choose to connect your Facebook account)
Bitcoin ATMs can be found in virtually every major city in the world. View a Bitcoin ATM map, then roll up to the location and buy Bitcoins using your desired payment method. The main advantage of Bitcoin ATMs is that they’re private. That privacy and convenience comes with a cost, as most ATMs charge fees between 5% and 10%.
Bitcoin ATMs Pros
- Easy to find a Bitcoin ATM in (almost) any major city
Bitcoin ATMs Cons
- High fees of 5% to 10% per purchase
Purse.io is another unique way for Americans to buy Bitcoins. It’s unlike any other Bitcoin exchange listed here. Basically, Purse.io lets you purchase Bitcoins with a credit or debit card indirectly by connecting you with a buyer who needs stuff from Amazon. You use your ordinary debit/credit card to purchase things from the seller’s Amazon wish list. Once the seller receives the items, you receive BTC equivalent to the value of the Amazon items.
Purse.io’s transaction service is available to customers in the United States, Canada, Japan, Brazil, France, Italy, India, China, and Spain.
- Unique way to purchase Bitcoins without feeling like you’re doing anything illegal
- Offers more privacy than other exchanges
- High fees when purchasing items with a credit or debit card
- Delivery speeds range widely, but this typically takes a long time (seller has to wait for items to arrive from Amazon)
VirWoX is another unique way for Americans to buy Bitcoins without actually buying Bitcoins directly. It’s also one of the few ways for Americans to buy Bitcoins using PayPal.
VirWoX isn’t technically a Bitcoin exchange. Instead, it’s an exchange for Second Life Lindens (SLL), the currency used in the MMORPG Second Life. You can buy SLL using any normal payment method, then sell SLL for Bitcoins through the exchange.
The main reason to use VirWoX is if you have a lot of money in PayPal that you want to exchange into BTC. By the end of your VirWoX transaction, you will have paid about 10% in fees. Keep in mind that it violates PayPal’s Terms of Service to purchase BTC with your PayPal balance.
- You can use your PayPal balance to buy Bitcoins
- One of the only ways to buy Bitcoin using Skrill
- 10% transaction fees make this process nearly as costly as Bitcoin ATMs
- It violates PayPal’s Terms of Service to buy Bitcoins using your PayPal account balance
CoinBTM is a local Bitcoin ATM provider only available in certain parts of the United States. So far, CoinBTM has 30 Bitcoin ATM machines located across New Jersey. You can visit the company’s website to learn more about locations, fees, and hours.
- Great for people who live in New Jersey
- Like other Bitcoin ATMs, you only need your phone number
- Like other ATMs, you can expect high transaction fees
itBit is one of the most reputable Bitcoin exchanges. It’s also one of the safest and more trusted ways to buy large amounts of BTC (you can buy over 100 BTC in one transaction). That reputability comes at the cost of privacy: itBit requires more information than most other exchanges. itBit is an international Bitcoin exchange that’s available around the world and in all US states except Texas. The exchange is also licensed with the New York State Department of Financial Services.
- It’s easy to buy large amounts of Bitcoin
- Strong liquidity makes it easy to get a fair market price
- Very low fees, including 0% for market makers and 0.2% for market takers
- OTC brokering service comes with fees of just 0.1%
- Not as many payment options as other platforms
- Caters more towards traders than first time BTC buyers, and the interface can be intimidating and confusing for newbies
- Requires ID verification
Based in Hong Kong, Bitfinex is one of the world’s largest Bitcoin exchanges with USD. Bitfinex’s major drawback is its funding options: you can only make deposits by bank wire. However, the exchange charges just a 0.1% fee for all bank wire deposits.
There’s one big problem with Bitfinex: the company made headlines worldwide for being hacked in August 2016, when 30% of users’ funds (approximately $75 million USD) were hacked and lost. So you probably shouldn’t store money on the exchange. Some Bitcoin users will tell you to avoid Bitfinex until they fully compensate users for the lost currency.
- Very low fees even when you’re not buying a lot of BTC (0.1% for makers/0.2% for takers)
- Very easy to buy large amounts of Bitcoin
- You can lend fiat or Bitcoin to margin traders to earn interest
- Deep liquidity makes it easy to exchange USD/BTC and other fiat currencies
- Support for multiple altcoins
- Suffered a major hack in August 2016
- Caters mostly towards traders instead of first-time buyers
- Just one deposit option (bank wire)
- Some people refuse to deal with Bitfinex until they compensate all customers
Mycelium Local Trader
Mycelium Local Trader is a unique service that connects you with local Bitcoin sellers in your area. You use the service to find a seller, then meet the person to conduct the trade. The main advantage of Mycelium Local Trader is that there are no fees: it’s just a free classifieds service. The platform works well in highly-populated areas, but you’re going to have trouble finding sellers/buyers in smaller cities or rural areas.
Mycelium Local Trader Pros
- No transaction fees
- No personal information is required beyond your phone number
Mycelium Local Trader Cons
- Difficult to use in smaller cities or sparsely populated areas
- There are always security concerns when meeting someone in person
ShapeShift is ideal for buying Bitcoins in the United States using altcoins like Litecoin or Dogecoin. ShapeShift works in most countries around the world. The only real restriction is that you need another cryptocurrency in order to purchase Bitcoins. One nice part about ShapeShift is that exchanges happen instantly. ShapeShift never actually holds onto your cryptocurrencies – it just immediately exchanges them.
- It’s the fastest way to buy Bitcoins using altcoins like Litecoin or Dogecoin
- Reasonable fees for large traders
- You need to buy altcoins or other digital tokens first
Buying Bitcoin in the United States is easy with Xapo, a global Bitcoin exchange based in Switzerland. The platform works with most countries worldwide and offers deposits via SWIFT transfer along with low fees. However, watch out for high transaction fees when you send SWIFT transfers to XAPO – that’s where the platform nails you.
One perk of Xapo is that you can get a Bitcoin-funded debit card that works just like an ordinary debit card.
- Before it was a BTC exchange, it was a vaulting service with a claimed security investment of over $20 million
- Easy for first-time buyers to use
- Deep liquidity means you get prices that are close to market rates
- You can get a BTC debit card
- Trading fees are more confusing than other exchanges, and are difficult to find on the website
- Requires ID verification
Bitcoin-OTC is kind of like Craigslist for Bitcoin. It’s an “over the counter” marketplace that connects you with buyers or sellers. You can create ads or browse through local ads to find Bitcoin buyers/sellers. Unlike Craigslist, Bitcoin-OTC is a little difficult to use.
Why would you use Bitcoin-OTC in the United States? Well, most Americans wouldn’t use Bitcoin-OTC. However, if you live in a country without an exchange, then Bitcoin-OTC may be the only way to get access to Bitcoins.
You can use the exchanges, services, and platforms listed above to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin anywhere in the United States!