How to Buy, Sell, and Keep Track of Bitcoin

2020-01-14 23:12:54

So you want to buy some cryptocurrency. The blockchain-based digital currency has experienced some crazy ups and downs since last year’s skyrocketing price craze, so if you’ve waited this long to buy in, you can scoop up some coins for far less than at the height of Bitcoin madness.

How can you get some? You’ll need to use an exchange to buy and sell the cryptocurrency, and a wallet app to store it securely. If you’re in the US and want to quickly buy some Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, or forked coins such as Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum Classic, Coinbase is the most popular and user-friendly option.

The exchange is also exploring support for a range of other crypto assets, but only for wallet storage, not for trading. Here’s how you get started buying and selling cryptocurrencies on Coinbase.

Choose an Exchange

Coinbase only supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin for the moment, so if you want to stick with those three cryptocurrencies you can simply download the Coinbase app.

However, there are plenty of other exchanges. Bitfinex and Kraken are popular options that support those three, as well as dozens of other cryptocurrencies including Dash, Iota, Monero, Ripple, Stellar, Zcash, and more. Other options include Gemini, Bitstamp, and Bitwage, to name just a few.

Wow, Look at All Your Virtual Money

Wow, Look at All Your Virtual Money

Look at you go! You’re rolling in the cryptocurrency now. Just tap over to the Accounts tab and check out the balances in your respective wallets.

The company also has its own standalone Coinbase Wallet app for Ethereum, which lets you hold coins bought and sold on the Coinbase exchange and other ERC20 tokens. Coinbase Wallet is also a DApp browser for interacting with decentralized Ethereum-based applications.

Buy Some Bitcoin Cash

Buy Some Bitcoin Cash

Coinbase also supports Bitcoin Cash. An easy way to tell the difference is by ticker symbols: Bitcoin is BTC, whereas Bitcoin Cash is BCH. Buying and selling works the same way as the other cryptocurrencies. You’ll now see a BCH tab on the page as well as a new Bitcoin Cash wallet, into which you deposit your coins.

Buy Ethereum Classic

Buy Ethereum Classic

The fifth cryptocurrency to get Coinbase support is Ethereum Classic (ETC), a coin forked from the Ethereum blockchain and separate from ETH. You can buy it the same way as all the other coins.

Tracking Prices

Tracking Prices

Coinbase also helps you proactively track coin prices. Sites like CoinMarketCap track the real-time price changes of every cryptocurrency out there, but in the Coinbase app itself you can check the Prices tab for at-a-glance values or tab over to the Alerts icon to set a price alert.

Roll Safe

Roll Safe

There is plenty of inherent risk with investing in cryptocurrency. Coinbase will even tell you so. Price surges may incapacitate the exchange temporarily, transactions take time to process, and if you’re using the default Coinbase wallets, your encrypted coins are not under your control. Exchanges are also prime targets for hacking, and there are plenty of cautionary tales to prove it.

All the more reason for you to take advantage of as many built-in security and verification features as your exchange and wallet apps offer. Go to the Settings tab in the Coinbase app to access advanced passcode settings or add additional identity documents.

There will always be a risk in using online cryptocurency exchanges and wallet apps. Unless you’re using cold storage and holding your own private keys, that’s simply the reality of dabbling in cryptocurrency. Whether you’re serious about investing or simply want to have some fun and stash some Bitcoin as a long-term holding, apps like Coinbase make it easy to get started. In minutes, you can begin wheeling and dealing Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin from the comfort of your smartphone.

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