There are a few ways in which you can buy Bitcoin or other popular cryptocurrencies such as using exchanges, ATMs and in person.
Each method of purchasing Bitcoin has its own pros and cons to using them.
Once you purchase your Bitcoins you will of course need a place to securely store them.
There are also various ways to store Bitcoins such using a mobile/web wallet, hardware wallet and finally a paper wallet for cold storage.
In general different wallets provide a trade-off between convenience and security.
Buying Bitcoin Via An Exchange
The easiest way to get Bitcoin is to buy them at an exchange such as Coinbase.
An exchange is where you can fund accounts either through wire transfer or credit cards.
When you first sign up for an account you will need to provide some identification and bank information.
After signing up you simply go to the buy sell page, enter the amount you wish to purchase and then click the Buy button.
Fees for exchanges can vary, for example Coinbase charges a 1% fee for their exchanges.
Buying Bitcoins Via ATM
Exchanges are normally the most convenient and cheapest way to buy bitcoin but you can also purchase Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM.
On these sites you can find maps that will give you details about the costs, limits and which direction the ATM operates.
Unlike regular ATMs though most Bitcoin ATMs only work in one direction which is cash in and Bitcoins out and not the other way.
Buying Bitcoins In-person
Another good way to buy bitcoins is to find others willing to buy and sell through Bitcoin meetups.
There is also a website similar to eBay called localbitcoins.com that helps buyers and sellers find each other and it also has a reputation system.
It also facilitates online trades by operating an escrow service that holds funds until a transfer is verified.
ATM and in-person trades will end up costing much more than using exchanges and a 10% fee or higher is not uncommon.
If you decide to purchase bitcoins locally or at an ATM then the bitcoins are normally held in what is called a wallet.
A wallet allows you to send and receive money as well as listing your balance and transactions.
If you wanted to receive money then you would open your wallet application and click on the receive button, you will then be presented with a QR code.
This code can be shared to another person that has a phone based wallet to scan or used at an ATM to scan.
You can also copy and paste the Bitcoin address provided with the QR code and then send that in an email.
The QR codes from the wallet also allows you to include a request amount, upon scanning the code the other wallet will then auto fill the amount you requested.
Wallets don’t just come in the form of smartphone apps, there are also online web page based wallets such as blockchain.info.
These online wallets contain many of the same features including a transaction log and forms to send and receive money.
When choosing a wallet a great resource is bitcoin.org which lists many of the main wallets along with their pros and cons.
Many wallets have differences in terms of features and security so doing research prior is key.
Whatever wallet you use it’s important to make backups especially if using a wallet whose developer or company does not have access to the private keys.