The Best Ways to Buy Bitcoin in the UK
If you’re looking to buy bitcoin in the UK, we’re going to make the assumption that you understand how bitcoin works and that you’ve potentially ordered yourself one of our recommended bitcoin wallets.
We believe it’s really important that you have a reasonable level of understanding before investing in any cryptocurrency.
You shouldn’t just buy bitcoin because you’ve heard all of the hype surrounding their rapid increase in price, or even because you’ve heard from a friend that the blockchain is the most perfect invention in the whole world (spoiler: it may be, but you need to understand why).
Please remember that you’re responsible for your own investments and this post is not financial advice.
If you’re not going to become a bitcoin miner then you only have one way to get hold of the precious digital gold — by purchasing some (or being lucky enough to be sent some by someone that has purchased or mined it).
The ease of buying bitcoin (BTC) depends a lot on the country you’re in.
For those of us in the UK, KYC and AML restrictions means that it can be hard for a complete beginner to buy bitcoin online in any reasonable volume.
Does this mean it’s impossible?
No, of course not.
It just means that us Brits have to jump through a couple of hoops. These hoops are not massive, just annoying. For the most part, you can’t just go online and buy cryptocurrency like you would buy a new laptop.
Our recommendation is to take a picture of your passport or drivers license and make sure you’ve got a copy that you can easily access when needed. This will help you to verify your accounts in the quickest possible time.
If you don’t already have a crypto wallet, now might be the time to get one ordered.
When you have bought your bitcoin, you’ll need to send it to a private wallet that only you control. This gives you full control and ownership of your coins.
If you really wanted, you could leave your BTC on the website you purchased from. However, this leaves your cryptocurrency at risk of theft from hackers.
We recommend the Ledger Nano S.
There are three different types of sites you’ll be buying or trading bitcoin on:
Firstly, you have sites that are like online stores. Here in Britain, these options are very limited.
Secondly, you have exchanges, where you can trade your bitcoin for other cryptocurrencies. The vast majority of existing cryptocurrencies can only be bought via exchanges. You are also unable to deposit into exchanges using GBP, but there are still plenty of ways that we can use them as UK citizens.
Finally, if you’re looking to buy in volume, you may be able to buy in cash from a local seller on a peer-to-peer site, similar to Gumtree or Craiglist.
Now you know the general options that you have and the types of things you need to consider, we’ll take a look at real examples of sites that you’ll be using.
This is undoubtedly the easiest place to buy and sell bitcoin when you live in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
Coinbase is the first place almost any beginner in the UK will go to purchase their first bitcoin (they also sell Ethereum and Litecoin, too).
If you don’t yet have an account on Coinbase…
If you sign up using the button above, we’ll both receive £7/$10 in free bitcoin if you buy at least £75/$100 worth in your first transaction.
You’ll need a copy of your photo ID in order to pass Coinbase’s basic verification check, but the good news is that their system is automated — you won’t have to wait for a member of customer service to manually review and approve your ID. The system will scan your ID to ensure it’s readable and then verify your account.
This option is perfect for beginners that want to purchase bitcoin in smaller amounts, i.e. anywhere from £100 to £2,500.
You don’t have to buy a whole bitcoin.
There are one hundred million satoshis in a bitcoin. It’s more than fine to buy 0.05 BTC, or 5 million satoshis.
When you first sign up to Coinbase, you’ll have a weekly deposit limit of around £250 to £500 per week. Unfortunately, you’ll need to supply further verification if you wish to raise this.
The further verification steps do take a little time, too. This means that if you’re looking to buy a reasonable amount of bitcoin on Coinbase, you may have to spread the purchases across several weeks (or even months) as a new user.
Still, if you’re not looking to buy in huge quantities, the site is undoubtedly the easiest option to buy and own your bitcoin.
They have almost no competition, due to quite strict regulation in the country. Unfortunately, the lack of competition does mean that Coinbase can be quite expensive to use; you’ll typically pay 3-4% in fees on each transaction.
However, you can easily buy your bitcoin and instantly transfer it to your wallet or to an exchange. No site makes this easier in the UK.
Binance is the first of two exchanges that we’ll be looking at.
On an exchange, you can turn your purchased bitcoin into altcoins (alternative cryptocurrencies). You can also turn your altcoins back into bitcoin. You are buying and selling with real traders, i.e. other people wishing to buy and sell their crypto.
Binance is our favourite exchange for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, their interface is extremely nice to use on both desktop and mobile. It’s always good to use sites that makes things easy for a user and looks nice whilst doing so, too.
Secondly, they list a large number of smaller coins when compared to our other recommended exchange.
If you want to be able to potentially make 1000% ROIs and more, quite often you’ll need to pick up the coins before they hit the rest of the major exchanges.
Binance are often one of the early adopters of altcoins, meaning you can pick them early. This is great for anyone looking to hold a range of cryptocurrencies in their portfolio.
Our other favourite exchange is one of the largest exchanges in the world; Bittrex.
It is not as pretty on the eye, in our opinion, as Binance. However, the size of the site leads to some other advantages.
Typically, when a coin is added to Bittrex, it will see a short-term pump (a sharp increase in price).
There is also lots of volume going through Bittrex’s exchange at all times, meaning your ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ orders will get matched more quickly.
This is an option for those that want to buy bitcoin in larger quantities.
It is also for those that want to buy in cash, or wish to have greater anonymity and privacy in their bitcoin purchase.
LocalBitcoins is a site similar to Gumtree and Craigslist, where sellers can list their cryptocurrency and you can arrange to meet with them to buy in cash.
Firstly, you must exercise caution on a site like this. It is, needless to say, much easier to be scammed on a site like this than it is on Coinbase.
Secondly, another downside is that you may pay slightly above the market price for your bitcoin here.
This is because you’re able to buy in greater quantity without KYC/AML restrictions, and you’re also able to gain much higher levels of privacy with the ability to purchase in cash.
If you’re looking to make an instant purchase of at least £10,000 worth of BTC, you’ll probably benefit from looking here.
To recap, if you’re a total beginner that wants to buy bitcoin today, you can’t go wrong with Coinbase.
If you wish to trade your new bitcoin from Coinbase, try out an exchange — there are over 1,000 different cryptocurrencies, but make sure you’ve researched your picks if you wish to invest in them.
If you’re looking to buy in large quantities, try LocalBitcoins.