How Do I Start Using Bitcoin?

Ready to start using Bitcoin? Now that you know how Bitcoin works, let’s talk about how you start owning and using BTC (hint: it’s probably easier than you think).

Step 1) Get a Bitcoin Wallet

A Bitcoin wallet is a piece of software that lets you store, send, and receive Bitcoins. There are plenty of different available, and each wallet has its own pros and cons.

Some Bitcoin users recommend keeping two wallets. One wallet for spending and the other for saving.

There are plenty of popular Bitcoin wallets out there. Bitcoin.org is the official site for the Bitcoin platform, and that site recommends different wallets for different platforms.

Bitcoin Core, Electrum, SIGNA, MultiBit, Armory, Green Address, and Ninki are all popular desktop clients available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Hive is the only desktop client available on Mac OS but not on Windows.

Bitcoin Wallet is a popular wallet for mobile devices, as are Mycelium, Green Address, Airbitz, and Hive.

Choose a wallet with an interface you like, then move onto the next step.

Step 2) Keep Track Of Your Bitcoin Address

Once you’ve created a wallet, you’ll see a QR code and long alphanumeric string on your wallet screen. This is your Bitcoin address, and it can safely be shared with anyone. It’s not like a credit card number. It’s more like a home address.

If you want to accept Bitcoins from someone, give them your address in the form of QR code or as that long alphanumeric string.

Step 3) Buy Bitcoins from a Bitcoin Exchange

Bitcoin exchanges let you exchange fiat money (like the USD and EUR) for Bitcoin. Buy some Bitcoin from one of these exchanges at a fair rate to fill up your wallet.

Step 4) Send Money

On the wallet screen, you’ll also see a section that says “Send Money”. Click on that tab and enter the number of Bitcoins you want to send, along with that person’s address.

Step 5) Consider Opening A Second Offline Wallet

Many Bitcoin users have a day-to-day wallet they use for online purchases. They also have a “cold” wallet that they keep offline for maximum security.

Coinbase Vault is one popular offline Bitcoin wallet. It stores your coins offline in secure locations around the world. If you want to withdraw your Bitcoins from Coinbase Vault, you’ll need to go through multiple layers of verification. You also need to wait 48 hours for each transaction – and that transaction can be cancelled any time within a 48 hour window.

Bitcoin is very safe, but someone can still guess your password and gain access to your wallet. An offline wallet is a good idea if you plan on collecting a lot of Bitcoin and want to keep it safe forever.

Step 5) Where Can You Spend Your Bitcoins?

In the early days of Bitcoin, you couldn’t really do much with the virtual currency expect buy illegal stuff over the internet.

Today, things have changed. You can buy all sorts of cool things with Bitcoin. Here are some of the companies that currently accept Bitcoin:

  • 1-800 Flowers
  • CheapAir
  • Dell
  • DISH Network
  • Expedia
  • Fancy
  • Namecheap
  • Newegg
  • Overstock
  • ProtonMail
  • Shopify
  • The Humble Bundle
  • TigerDirect
  • Twitch.tv
  • Wikipedia
  • WordPress

And many others. If you don’t want to buy anything from any of the above companies, then there’s a sneaky way to get around the restriction: there’s a company called Gyft that lets you buy gift cards with Bitcoin. You can buy gift cards for Target, Amazon, and many other retailers that don’t currently accept Bitcoin payments.