The Best Ways to Buy Bitcoins

Exchanging BitcoinsAs soon as people learn a little bit about Bitcoin and how the system works, they will probably become enticed and begin to wonder how they can get some of this innovative cryptocurrency. They might like the fact that the value of the Bitcoin is on the rise or the idea of sending lots of money over long distances cheaply and almost instantly. Perhaps it is because they want to send money anonymously or just try out this new experiment.

Regardless of their reasons, lots of people want to buy Bitcoins, and it is important for them to explore and try to find the best way to do that. There are several methods available and they all have varying strengths and weaknesses. It would be impossible to list them all, but here are a few of the most popular ways to get Bitcoins.

Exchanges: Coinbase

Coinbase Exchange LogoExcept for trading personally with trusted friends, Coinbase is easily one of my favorite ways to buy Bitcoins. MtGox used to be the most popular exchange but after a series of crashes and monetary issues, that company is no longer the clear front runner. [Update: Gox is bankrupt, but you probably already know that.] Many people say that Bitstamp is now the best commercial exchange and that may be true for some people, but I still prefer Coinbase. In just seconds, the service can be linked to your bank account, making it extremely easy to buy and sell Bitcoins.

Of course many people, especially those involved with Bitcoin, do not like revealing banking information to anyone. Coinbase requires proper identification for instant purchases and that is a no-no for many Bitcoin users. Those who do not verify their identities will have to wait four business days before any purchased Bitcoins are available for use. Occasionally Coinbase will freeze up as well causing withdrawals to be delayed for up to 24 hours, which can be a huge pain sometimes. Despite these drawbacks, Coinbase is still attractive to many, including myself. The low exchange rate and minimal fees at Coinbase make it one of the cheapest and easiest places around to buy Bitcoins.

Personal: #bitcoin-otc

Many people prefer to buy Bitcoins more personally as well, which can be better for a variety of reasons. My favorite personal exchange is #bitcoin-otc, which really involves all kinds of exchange methods. You can read a more detailed description of the IRC channel to learn more about how things work there. All kinds of payment methods are accepted there, including banks transfers, Paypal, cash in the mail, and more. However, it may be a little hard for a new user to find a good deal there because he will lack trust ratings. In fact, scams are relatively common on the IRC channel, so always remember to be careful with your money.

I must admit that Paypal is one of the best and one of the worst payment methods out there. On the plus side, it is one of the few ways that you can easily send cash instantly, to practically anyone, and often for no fee. Unfortunately, Paypal is also home to a whole bunch of scammers because of the easy chargebacks.

Another popular personal method is LocalBitcoins, which was originally intended to connect buyers and sellers in the same geographic area, who would meet in person and trade cash for Bitcoins. The service has since expanded to make use of a whole range of payment methods, including Western Union, Moneygram, cash deposits, and lots more. The service also has built in rating and escrow systems to help prevent scamming.

A Few Others, formerly known as GetBspendB, is a new service that allows you to buy Bitcoins by purchasing items for other people at Amazon. The service is relatively unique and I expect that it will become popular eventually, but at the moment it is still growing. You can read much more about it if you are interested.

Lastly I want to mention the most natural way to obtain Bitcoins, which is through mining. It used to be that anyone could mine Bitcoins on their computer, but with the mining difficulty rising at an extreme rate, it now requires a fairly significant investment. This method is probably not for beginners, and many would argue that it is not even profitable anymore, but it can still be fun! Plus, if you have real confidence in the cryptocurrency then you might be willing to make the investment hoping that in a few years, a much higher exchange rate will make you a rich man.

These are only a few of the ways to get Bitcoins. In reality there are probably hundreds of methods available to exchange currencies, but these are some good ideas to get you started. If you are not doing anything illegal and you are willing to trust the commercial exchanges, you should have no problem at all pocketing a some Bitcoins within a few days. If you would rather trade more personally, you can do that as well through the OTC chat channel or another service. If you are feeling extra adventurous, you might even want to try your hand at mining and wait a few years for your investment to pay off. Good luck!

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