Updated April 19, 2020
Cryptocurrency can be used in various ways. We will discuss some of the more common uses below.
There are several ways to obtain cryptocurrency.
Purchasing from an exchange
A number of exchanges sell cryptocurrency. However, not all are exchanges are equal. Below are some factors to consider when selecting an exchange:
- types of cryptocurrency offered
- reviews from other users
- payment methods accepted
- restrictions related to withdrawal and deposit
- geographical restrictions - some exchanges limit features, or exclude participation altogether, based on your geographical location
- buy/sell restrictions
The best place to find information about an exchange is from the exchange’s site itself. Below is a list of cryptocurrency exchanges:
- Binance (non-US only)
- Binance.US (US only)
- Coinbase & Coinbase Pro
- Mercado Bitcoin
- The Rock Trading
Purchase with a credit card
There are several businesses that allow you purchase cryptocurrency with a credit card. Below is a list.
Purchasing from an individual or business
Cryptocurrency can be purchased from individuals or businesses. In this sense, this is a currency exchange with an individual or business and is generally much riskier than purchasing from an exchange. The safest manner is to use an escrow service or P2P exchange service. Below are some popular exchange services.
As the result of a sale
Cryptocurrency can also be obtained through the sale of a good or service. See "Receiving Cryptocurrency" below for more information.
Mining can be used to obtain cryptocurrency from "rewards" and/or transaction fees for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether (often incorrectly referred to as its underlying platform "Ethereum"), Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Litecoin, Zcash, and many others. For more information on mining see our mining pages: Mining Basics, Most Profitable Cryptocurrency, Mining GPU Selector, GPU Rig Guide, GPU Guide, ASIC Rig Guide, and Solo Mining Vs. Pool Mining.
Running a node (staking)
Running a node or "staking" involves confirming transactions in exchange for cryptocurrency. This can be performed for cryptocurrencies such as Dash, Bitconnect, PotCoin, and others.
Disposing of cryptocurrency
There are several ways you can dispose of cryptocurrency.
Selling on an exchange
Most all of the exchanges that sell cryptocurrency listed above also sell it. The same considerations noted above apply.
Selling to an individual or business
The same considerations related to purchasing cryptocurrency from an individual or business listed above also apply to selling cryptocurrency to an individual or business.
This is an easy and convenient way to convert cryptocurrency into fiat currency. The funds are loaded onto a card that can be used like traditional credit and debit cards. Below is a list of common cryptocurrency card issuers.
Purchasing a good or service
Cryptocurrencies can be used to purchase items and services from a number of merchants. Visit our Where to Spend page to learn about online and local businesses that accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Making a donation
Many charities and businesses accept cryptocurrency as a donation. You can even make a donation to us to help support this site.
Cryptocurrency is typically sent using a software wallet or hardware wallet. Information on wallet types and uses can be found on our Wallet page. Once a wallet is obtained and setup, cryptocurrency can be sent by entering some basic information such as an amount and a recipient (typically identified by an address). Some additional information such as a transaction fee may be required before the transaction will be executed.
Some cryptocurrency exchanges also provide the ability to send cryptocurrency. Coinbase is one example. Other exchanges in the list above may offer similar functionality. The procedure for sending funds using an exchange is similar to using a wallet, but will likely vary from exchange to exchange. However, it is highly recommended that exchanges not be used for this purpose and instead that you use a wallet to send cryptocurrency.
There are two primary ways to receive cryptocurrency: by providing an address; and using a payment processor.
Provide an address
Individuals and businesses can receive cryptocurrency by simply providing an address to the sender. The address is typically an encrypted version of hashed data, and addresses are commonly provided as plaintext either electronically or on paper, as a URI, or as a QR code.
To increase anonymity and security, it is recommended to use a new address for each transaction. Addresses can be generated easily and quickly using a wallet.
Use a payment processor
Payment processors can help businesses to more efficiently and securely accept payment in various cryptocurrencies. There are differences among the payment processors, so businesses should research each one before making a decision. Some features to compare include fees, accepted cryptocurrencies, invoicing capabilities, and hardware requirements. Below is a list of payment processors for businesses:
- Coinbase Commerce