When it comes to first steps into crypto, buying Bitcoin is usually where you start. If you are looking for a quick guide with step-by-step instructions on how to purchase your first Bitcoin (or even Litecoin or Ethereum!) then you have found the right place! Follow The 'Stache as I break each step down for you and show you how to buy Bitcoin with the lowest fees.
Step 1: Preparation
When most people first learn about Bitcoin or crypto they want to jump right into the deep end of the pool and many times end up struggling to stay afloat. The first thing to remember is the Golden Rule: Never invest more than you can afford to lose. Once you understand that you of course need to have a bank account with some funds that you want to invest. I recommend a local credit union and also keep it to personal accounts (see my article about my bad experiences here).
Step 2: Get A Cryptocurrency Account
(UPDATE: Coinbase Pro has recently increased their trading fees so much that I can no longer recommend them! The new fees are now 0.5% and some of the highest in the entire crypto industry. This is disappointing to myself and to all that I have recommended Coinbase in the past. I would now recommend Binance America as one of the better places to trade with the lowest fees in the US. )
The next step is to sign up with an online exchange to convert our USD into Bitcoin. While these instructions are for USD I will also provide some places for other countries to make their first purchase. If you are in the United States then I highly recommend Coinbase as the best place to get your feet wet for the first time as a complete beginner in cryptocurrency. They are free & have an easy to understand interface and make it super simple to get started. Click here to sign up using my code and you will get an EXTRA $10 worth of Bitcoin when you make your first purchase.
3. Connect Your Bank
Now that you are signed up with Coinbase the next step is to connect your bank account (You may have to do step 4 first if you went with something besides Coinbase). Coinbase may have you confirm a small deposit by them to your account to verify if you don't have an online username & password to connect. This is ALWAYS going to be the cheapest way to buy Bitcoin. Many of the places offer you to purchase with credit card immediately versus wait the amount of time for a bank transfer, but you pay a lot more in fees. To buy Bitcoin with the lowest fees you want to do a bank transfer or wire.
4. Get Verified
While you are waiting for your bank connection to confirm you should now get verified. Just about every place online that does fiat conversions has some sort of verification process. This is typically sending in photos of your ID and giving them some basic information. It is a pain in the ass, but it is pretty much the law of the land and you will have to do it for all the popular & trustworthy exchanges.
This is NOT a quick process!
Expect verification to take up to 5-7 days in many cases. That is not to say that some people have been verified in as little as a day. No matter what, this first stage of converting your money for Bitcoin can be a long and frustrating one, especially if you have FOMO! The key here is to have patience, whatever coin you want to buy WILL have another opportunity. Once you are verified you are pretty much golden! Many times depositing does not require you to get verified, but you almost always have to be verified to withdraw.
5. Deposit Fiat
Now that you have your bank account verified you can deposit money into your accounts USD wallet to buy Bitcoin. If you are just starting out I always suggest to start small and gradually increase your amount of deposits/withdraws. This is just good practice in my opinion. Of course there are some deposit and withdraw limits, but bank deposits have the highest overall limit. This typically takes 3-5 business days (maybe a little less for a wire). If there is high traffic it may take even longer. Coinbase does not charge for a bank deposit. This is a patience game in the beginning so it makes a difficult hurdle to jump over, but once you are in crypto things are very different.
6. Buy Bitcoin
Now that you have made your fiat deposit you are ready to buy Bitcoin! All these prior steps may have taken a week or so, but this way you will ensure the LOWEST FEES so I think it is worth it! If you are on Coinbase I actually recommend that you move your USD or fiat to Coinbase Pro (Coinbases' connected exchange) to buy Bitcoin (Litecoin or Ethereum) there. The reason for this is lower fees as explained in this article I previously wrote. The transfer to Coinbase Pro is free and if you plan to buy Bitcoin and then send it somewhere else this is the best way to go as well.
If you are completely new to trading this may be a little daunting at first, but you just want to focus on the order form. If you don't know how to read trading charts, see my article here. For Coinbase Pro you just need to input the amount you want to purchase and it will place an order for that amount at the current going price. Telling you how to purchase is MUCH easier than WHEN to purchase, so I will leave that up to you, but I never recommend buying at an all time high! On Coinbase Pro/GDAX the most fees you will pay are 0.25% which is not bad. If you want to get even LOWER fees, you can use a "Limit" order and make sure it is set to "Post Only" as you see in the screenshot above. This way when your order fills you will be considered a "Maker", which means you facilitated the trade, and you only pay a fee of 0.15%!
You did it!
You have successfully bought Bitcoin for the first time! It is a big step and buying Bitcoin (or Ethereum) is the gateway to a huge altcoin market. You can only buy/sell Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum & Bcash on Coinbase Pro, but if you transfer to a place like Binance, Bittrex, or Cryptopia you can purchase a huge array of coins. It is best to do your homework first though before just diving in.
If you are looking for more great cryptocurrency resources, check out my dedicated Crypto Resources page where I list out all the tools & websites that I use daily. I couldn't live without most of these resources and I keep it updated regularly so you have the BEST tools to help you achieve financial freedom!