The Best Sites and Bitcoin Exchange Options to Buy Bitcoin
Bitcoin (also know by it’s symbol, BTC) has continuously seen a huge rise in popularity, over the past few years. With this rise in popularity, there’s been no shortage of new sites created to help users Buy Bitcoin.
While many of these sites are legitimate methods to safely buy Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies”, there are also many site’s you should avoid. There are a good number of sites offering more service to customers, as well as some outright scams.
The goal of this site is to help users find the best and safest options, while identifying the scams. Whether you’re looking for a Bitcoin Exchange or a simple method of buying bitcoins, like Coinbase, we’ve rated all of the options. On this site you can also find more information about the Bitcoin technology and the specific sites used to purchase this cryptocurrency.
|Site||Location||Beginner Friendly||Trust Grade||Rating|
|San Francisco, CA, USA||A+||4.8|
|San Francisco, CA, USA||A||4.4|
|Seattle, WA, USA||B+||4.1|
|San Francisco, CA, USA||A+||4|
|Wilmington, DE, USA||B||4|
|New York, USA||A||3.8|
|Prague, Czech Republic||B||3.6|
How these Sites Were Rated
The goal with our ratings is to help users identify safe and easy methods to buy Bitcoin.
Many factors were considered when rating these sites and exchange options. The most important factors of our ratings are the trustworthiness, solvency, customer service, and legitimacy of the companies behind these sites. After selecting companies rated highly in these factors, we chose to identify beginner friendly and simple to use sites.
Here’s a full list of the factors that were considered when rating these sites.
- Site Legitimacy and Transparency
- Company’s Solvency.
- Beginner Friendliness
- Community Sentiment
- Customer Service.
- Payment Methods and/or Trade Pairings
- Purchasing Limits.
- Fees associated with using the services.
- Location of the Company and its Governing Bodies
- Locations Served
How to Buy Bitcoin
The easiest way to get Bitcoin is to purchase it from a Bitcoin exchange or a site like Coinbase. Sites like Coinbase and CEX.IO offer simple options to buy cryptocurrencies, without having to use a traditional exchange.
3 Simple Ways to Purchase Bitcoin
Unlike traditional exchanges, this list of options work more like cryptocurrency stores. Users are able to instantly place orders at agreed upon prices. Typically these sites allow you to use Credit/Debit cards and bank transfers to make purchases. While a more simple option than an exchange, prices on these sites are still tied to current market rates.
Each one of these sites operates somewhat differently from the others. You can find more information on specific sites below or on their websites.
Before using these sites you may have to verify your identify. This is required to allow these services to operate legally as regulated financial services.
Coinbase is our top recommended option for easily buying Bitcoin (as well as Ethereum and Litecoin). They have served over 7 million customers, since their launch in 2012. The company is located in San Francisco, California and has received over $100M worth of investments from some of the world’s leading investors.
Coinbase allows you to buy cryptocurrencies with credit/debit cards and bank transfers. Because the company is a U.S. based regulated financial service, you may be required to verify your identity before making purchases. This process is not unique to Coinbase and is typical of sites that use fiat currency (USD, EUR, Etc.). Once your account is verified with Coinbase, you’ll be able to buy and sell cryptocurrencies instantly.
When you create an account with Coinbase, a wallet will be created to store your BTC. You can secure your account with multiple 2-factor authentication methods.
In addition to offering account security measures, Coinbase also secures coin reserves. 98% of customer crypto funds are stored in secure offline cold storage. These cold storage wallets are kept in safe deposit boxes and vaults around the world. The remaining 2% of funds kept in “hot wallets” are insured.
Coinbase offers customer service through email and twitter. In our personal experience, their support has been helpful and easy to deal with. Most customers agree in this, giving Coinbase many longtime customers.
Coinbase also offers a FREE $10 worth Bitcoin when you purchase or sell $100 or more worth of cryptocurrency on their site.
- The easiest method of buying Ethereum.
- Trustworthy with a long track record.
- One of the most popular crypto sites.
- Credit/Debit cards and bank transfers can be used to make purchases.
- Online Wallet.
- FREE $10 of Bitcoin when you purchase or sell $100 or more cryptocurrency on their site.
- Due to being a regulated U.S. company, their verification process may be slightly more intense than competitors.
CEX.IO was started in 2013 as a cloud mining service. Since this time, they’ve expanded their company to offer a cryptocurrency exchange, as well as simple buy and sell cryptocurrency options. CEX.IO is based out of London and has served over half a million users.
Their service works similarly to Coinbase and they serve some locations Coinbase does not. It is worth noting though, that they do not serve all of the United States.
CEX.IO allows users to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum instantly, using a credit card or bank transfer. They also offer an online wallet for storing BTC and ETH. Wallet security measures include 2-factor authentication. Like Coinbase, CEX.IO keeps excess coins in secure cold storage.
- Easy method of buying cryptocurrency.
- Trustworthy with a long track record.
- Offer services to some locations that Coinbase does not.
- Credit/Debit cards and bank transfers can be used for purchases.
- Online Wallet.
- Strict verification required before you purchase Crypto.
- They don’t serve customers located in a good portion of the United States.
- Less popular than Coinbase.
LocalBitcoins works differently from all of the other sites on our list. It works as a marketplace, allowing users to buy and sell BTC from each other.
As the name implies, you can meet users in your area to trade in cash, but they also offer the ability to make online trades. For online trades, they offer the widest variety of payment options of any exchange, assuming you can find someone willing to trade that option with you.
Online payment options include:
- Cash by Mail.
- Cash Deposits.
- Western Union
- Gift Cards
- And just about anything else.
The biggest downside to LocalBitcoins, is the potential for scams. When you use their site, you’re trading with individuals, without the guarantee of a company. You have to be careful about who you trade with, similar to how you would approach an eBay exchange. The site gives information on users, such as how many successful trades they’ve had and how they’ve been rated by other users. Be very careful to review the profiles of users you may trade with.
Although there’s some risk to using LocalBitcoins, many people have given this site their stamp of approval.
- Easy method of purchasing BTC
- Available around the world.
- The most payment options accepted of any exchange.
- Online Wallet.
- Risk associated with trading with other individuals.
The Best Bitcoin Exchange Options
Bitcoin exchanges operate the same way Forex and stock exchanges do, only they offer cryptocurrency trading. On a Bitcoin exchange, you’re able to trade trade fiat currency (USD, EUR, GBP, Etc.) and/or other cryptocurrency (Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Etc.) in exchange for Bitcoin.
When placing an order, you’re able to set the amount you want to buy and the price you want to pay for it. To successfully buy Bitcoin on an exchange, another user(s) must accept the price of your bid order.
Some exchanges even offer more complex trading features, like limit orders and margin trading.
The downside to using a Bitcoin exchange, is that it can require more technical knowledge than the sites listed above. For this reason, we have not listed these exchanges as beginner friendly methods of buying Bitcoin.
In addition to simple purchasing methods, CEX.IO also offers a cryptocurrency exchange.
Our rating of CEX.IO was for their simple purchase methods, but they’re also a great option for those of you who are looking for an exchange. If you’re new to the world of cryptocurrency and think you may want to do frequent trading in the future, CEX.IO is a great option for you. You can start by using their simple buy features and move onto their exchange when the time comes. This will save you the hassle of setting up and verifying a second exchange account.
The CEX.IO exchange allows you to trade BTC and ETH, as well as USD, EUR, GBP, and other fiat currencies.
Based out of San Francisco, Kraken is our top rated exchange option. Kraken is one of the most popular exchanges in the United States.
On Kraken, you’re able to fund your account via bank transfer or with cryptocurrency. You can trade over 15 different fiat and cryptocurrency methods.
Kraken accounts can be secured with multiple 2-factor authentication methods. Most of the cryptocurrency is stored in secure cold storage, with limited amounts being held in “hot wallets”. Customer funds are also stored separately from company operational funds.
- Trustworthy with a long track record.
- Popular in the crypto community.
- Online Wallet.
- More pairings than some competitor exchanges.
- Can’t use credit/debit cards.
- More complex and less suited for beginners.
Bitfinex is based out of Hong Kong and it’s another great method to buy bitcoin. English speakers need not worry about using the site, as there is an English version available.
Bitfinex offers trading for 8 cryptocurrencies, as well as fiat currency. Users wishing to trade with USD, will have to verify their account, as is customary for most exchanges. The verification requirement is to ensure the exchange is compliant with U.S. financial regulations.
It’s important to note that, in August of 2016, Bitfinex was hacked and 119,756 Bitcoins were stolen. This of course initially raised fair questions about the trustworthiness of the exchange. Despite the hack, we’ve still rated Bitfinex highly, due to how they handled the situation.
All of the stolen funds were paid back in full to Bitfinex users. Bitfinex also changed their security procedures, now keeping 95.5% of their funds in secure offline cold storage. After the initial worry, users have flocked back to Bitfinex. Their traffic has nearly quadrupled over the last 6 months, according to SimilarWeb (as of writing this portion of the page, in May 2017).
The site offers user accounts 2-factor authentication features as well as other new security measures.
- Building strong trust in the community.
- No verification required for crypto to crypto trading.
- A very large number of pairings.
- While the site repaid funds and improved their security, the site was hacked in August 2016.
- Credit and Debit cards can’t be used.
- More complex than other methods.
3) Other Top Bitcoin Exchange Options
Poloniex is typically a leader in trade volume among all exchanges, but recently there have been many customers complaining about their customer service. The customer service issues are likely due to Poloniex’s rapid expansion as of late.
While we’re sure it’s difficult scaling a cryptocurrency exchange, their current level of customer service has resulted in us lowering their ranking. We’ll monitor the situation and edit their rating if customer service improves.
Bittrex has recently been gaining customers from Poloniex, as customers become frustrated with Poloniex’s customer service. Bittrex offers a similar product to Poloniex, offering hundreds of cryptocurrencies to trade on their exchange.
Bittrex was launched in 2014 and is currently based out of Seattle, Washington.
GDAX is owned by the same company as Coinbase and is their exchange offering. While a very trusted option, GDAX offers far less trade pairings than some of our other exchanges.
Bitstamp is one of the oldest Bitcoin Exchanges, founded in 2011. Since this time, it has gained a great reputation among the cryptocurrency community. One large downside to Bitstamp, however, is that it currently only offers fiat to Bitcoin to fiat trading.
How to Use These Sites to Buy Bitcoin
All of our recommended options should have detailed instructions on their sites.
For our top option, Coinbase, you can buy Bitcoin in just a few steps.
- Create and account.
- Connect your bank account, credit card, or debit card.
- Buy Bitcoin at the current set rate.
(You’ll likely also be asked to verify your identity to comply with U.S. financial regulations. This is customary for all sites dealing in USD.)