How To Get Bitcoins

Bitcoins offer all kinds of benefits, but where can you find them?

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Bitcoins offer many benefits, and many people may want to acquire them purely so that they can say they’ve tried them. But how do you get them? There are several ways that you can get your hands on this exciting cryptocurrency. Here are a few.

Mine Them

Mining bitcoins is something that you can do from the comfort of your desk. Or even your bed, actually, as all you have to do is press the ‘go’ button and let your computer do the rest of the work for you.

The problem with bitcoin mining is that it isn’t always profitable, and in fact it’s far harder to see a return on it these days than it was in the early days when bitcoin started. Find out how to choose a miner here, and read about whether you can make a profit at it here.

Buy Bitcoins on an Exchange

The other popular way to accrue bitcoins is simply to buy them. Most commonly, people will do this via an exchange set up to trade bitcoins for US or Canadian dollars, pounds sterling, or whatever your national currency is.

This can work well, but there are regulatory hurdles. Governments are extremely nervous of bitcoin’s potential for anonymity. Concerns about terrorist financing and organized crime have forced reputable bitcoin exchanges to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your client (KYC) regulations.

All of this translates into lots of paperwork for the user, and potential cross-border hurdles.

In addition, some exchanges won’t take certain kinds of payment, because they want to stop fraudulent transactions.

Buy Bitcoins at an ATM

You can buy bitcoins from over 300 bitcoin machines in the world. They're not banking ATMs. These are specialist machines, installed in coffee shops, retailers and other outlets.

For more details, read my guide to bitcoin ATMs, which teaches you how they work, and where to find them. 

Buy Bitcoins From Someone Else Directly

The alternative to an exchange is to buy from someone directly. Sites like Local Bitcoins connect you with people locally who want to sell bitcoins for your local currency. These merchants will typically charge you more than the exchange rate, because they know they’re giving you the convenience of a quick and easy trade.

Earn Them

There are ways to earn bitcoins without buying them. One way is to do something sufficiently awesome to warrant a bitcoin tip.

Do you have a YouTube account with a decent following? How about a blog that people appreciate, or perhaps you’re a helpful individual in forums like Reddit? Displaying your bitcoin address in your signature or at the bottom of a web site enables people to send you bitcoins directly. Alternatively, Changetip is a free system that enables you to send and receive bitcoin tips instantly, without even using a wallet.

You can also find contract jobs where people pay workers in bitcoin. BitGigs offers a selection of jobs, as does Coinality. There’s also a listing forum for bitcoin-paying gigs on Reddit.

Coinworker also offers tiny fractions of bitcoins for tiny jobs.

Buy Things For Other People and Have Them Pay You in Bitcoins

You may not have bitcoins, but you probably have an Amazon or eBay account and a credit card. Brawker matches people that want to buy ​ecommerce goods using bitcoins with people who want to buy bitcoins. Here’s how it works:

  1. Jim wants to buy a $300 games console on Amazon but wants to spend bitcoins rather than dollars. He posts an offer to Brawker, asking someone to buy the product from Amazon for him.
  2. Alison wants bitcoins, and $300 fits her requirements. She accepts Jim’s offer and buys the product, having it shipped to Jim.
  3. When Jim confirms that he has the goods, Alison gets the bitcoins delivered to her bitcoin address.

Exchange Things for Them

Got some stuff in the house that you’d like to get rid of?

There are a couple of sites online that can help you divest your possessions in exchange for a bitcoin payment. OneWallet launched in late 2014, while CryptoThrift offers an eBay-style auction service.

Whichever way you get your hands on bitcoin, you’re going to want to manage them effectively. Be sure to keep them safe.