Buy Bitcoin in the United States
By: Eliot Prince | Last updated: 2/9/22
Trying to buy Bitcoin in the United States? This guide covers all the information on Bitcoin’s status in the United States, plus what is the best exchanges to use.
Buy Bitcoin in the USA Summary
The United States is home to some of the largest Bitcoin exchanges, offering you plenty of options to buy and trade cryptocurrency. Although not considered an official currency, Bitcoin is legal in the US and continues to grow into the mainstream. To buy Bitcoin in the US, follow these steps:
- Register for a Coinbase account
- Deposit funds into your Coinbase wallet
- Choose Bitcoin from the “Buy and Sell” tab
- Enter the amount of Bitcoin you’d like to purchase and click “Buy BTC”
If Coinbase isn’t a good fit for you here are some additional Exchanges for buying Bitcoin in the United States:
That’s how to buy Bitcoin in the US in a nutshell. For a more detailed review keep on reading, here’s what I’ll cover:
- Bitcoin legal status in the US
- Bitcoin popularity in the US
- Bitcoin communities in the US
- Buy Bitcoin in US exchanges
- Buy Bitcoin in International exchanges
- Bitcoin ATMs in the US
- Invest in Bitcoin IRA
1. Is Bitcoin Legal in the US?
Bitcoin gets a mixed reception in the US, with regulation tightening on cryptocurrency companies. Whilst it is legal and subject to the same taxes as any other currency, many companies have complained about confusing regulations.
This situation led to many operations removing their American services, at least for the time being, reducing options for users.
That being said, it is still home to some of the biggest corporations in the Bitcoin industry, including user-friendly easy options like Coinbase and Gemini.
2. How popular is Bitcoin in the US?
Bitcoin is very popular in the US, with the country holding some of the largest trading volumes in the world. The chart below shows the weekly trading volume for the United States on LocalBitcoins.
During 2018/2019 volumes regularly hover around and exceed the $6 million mark. Popularity and trading volume appear to have fallen since 2017, which peaked at $12.4 million. Some Bitcoin users have been spooked by the 2018 crash, while a lower asset price results in smaller reported volumes.
Interest in Bitcoin in the US is shown below by Google Trends, using the search term Bitcoin. Interest score seems to hover steadily around the 25 line, with one significant spike occurring in the last 12 months.
This June interest spike correlates to a price movement which saw Bitcoin return to over $10000. Low-interest preceeds this, once again correlating to a relatively low asset price point:
3. Main United States Bitcoin communities
American’s have an abundance of online communities with which they can stay updated about Bitcoin. Various forums and social groups provide support, information and discussion on a number of Bitcoin subjects. This includes gaining first-hand advice and reviews on Bitcoin exchanges and wallets.
Here is a selection for you to check out:
4. US-based Bitcoin exchanges
US customers enjoy a strong selection of Bitcoin exchanges. This includes large well regulated options with high industry reputations.
Coinbase has been in operation since 2012 and is often considered as the place to go for first time Bitcoin buyers. As a US-based operation, US customers have extensive functionality for dealing with USD purchases.
Users can deposit funds via bank transfer, debit and credit card, plus PayPal withdrawals are also available. Fees are generally fair at just over 2%, although cheaper options do exist.
The platform is user-friendly for the ‘non techy’ amongst us. Bitcoin is supported, along with a selection of other altcoins. Coinbase is one of the biggest Bitcoin companies in the industry and therefore is fully regulated; complying with KYC and AML laws.
The only criticism is its lax customer support, which has trouble dealing with the requests of a huge customer base. You can read my full Coinbase review here.
Gemini was launched in 2015 by the Winklevoss twins, the brothers who sued Mark Zuckerburg for the creation of Facebook. They’ve built one of the most trusted Bitcoin exchanges, and it’s even based out of the highly regulated state of New York.
In a unique move, Gemini built the exchange to comply with regulation and remains fully compliant. The company now works with regulators to develop new legislation.
Gemini’s trading platform is a little more complicated than Coinbase, with an order book trading style. Fees are cheap with at 0.25% combined with free deposits. You save a decent chunk for a little extra trading effort. You can read my full Gemini review here.
Kraken is another stalwart of the US Bitcoin industry. Running out of San Francisco, it provides an advanced trading platform for Bitcoin and a huge selection of cryptocurrencies.
The trading exchange does lack accessibility for first-time buyers but fees are attractive at 0.26% for a standard Bitcoin trade. Deposits can be made via bank transfer.
Kraken operates across most of the US with the exception of Washington State and New York where tighter licensing exists. You can read our full Kraken review here.
5. International exchanges available in the US
International exchanges offer added options to US customers with many supporting US dollar and helpful deposit methods. Here is a top selection available to you:
Coinmama may be based in Israel, but it’s available in a huge number of countries, including the US. It was launched in 2013, and it offers convenience: you can buy Bitcoin with a debit or credit card.
The downside is that the fees are on the high side at 5.5% per transaction and 5% per credit or debit card transaction. You can read my full review of Coinmama here.
CEX.IO is available in most countries around the world. Founded in 2013 with its headquarters in London, this cryptocurrency exchange allows users to buy and sell Bitcoin as well as a selection of altcoins.
Both credit cards and bank transfers are accepted payment methods, with low fees of 0%–0.2% on trades. CEX.IO offers both a trading platform and a brokerage service, both entail different fees. You can read my full CEX.io review here.
Paxful is a P2P marketplace, which allows buyers and sellers to meet online and trade Bitcoin directly with each other. Founded in 2015, by now they have offices in multiple cities around the world.
Sellers on Paxful accept over 300 payment methods, including bank transfers, Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal. If you’re buying Bitcoins on Paxful, you won’t have to pay any fee to the site itself, but the price of Bitcoin is traded at a premium because of this. You can read my full Paxful Review here.
Changelly is a crypto only exchange, founded in 2015. Signing up for an account doesn’t require any personal information, and you’ll then have a quick and easy way of exchanging cryptocurrency from one wallet to another.
There’s a fixed fee of 0.5%, which is slightly higher than many other Bitcoin exchanges. You can read my full Changelly review here.
6. How many Bitcoin ATMs are there in the US?
As of 2019ֿ, there are over 3,500 Bitcoin ATMs in the US, according to CoinATMRadar. California is a particular hotspot with over 500 Bitcoin ATMs.
7. Invest in Bitcoin IRA
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency IRAs, in general, are an extremely powerful investment tool that lets you save a lot of taxes from your cryptocurrency trading and investment operations. A Bitcoin IRA is a tax-free investment account that allows you to invest money in order to trade in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The account is aimed at building wealth toward your retirement and the money in it cannot be withdrawn before retirement age without incurring a penalty. There are two main types of Bitcoin IRAs – a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, you can read more about what is a Bitcoin IRA in our beginner’s guide here.
On the whole, Bitcoin has a positive reputation in the United States although it has got its issues. The general public and business sectors appear to be excited by the prospects of new technology.
However, there is still great resistance from banks and governments who are slowly building legislation. This is illustrated by the Facebook Libra project running into problems with the government.
Unfortunately, confusing regulation has led to many companies withdrawing their stateside service. There is still a decent choice of platforms to trade Bitcoin, but this has certainly been reduced during 2019.
Happily, some US-based companies are working with regulators to build a brighter future, with Gemini and Coinbase leading the way.
Know of any change in Bitcoin’s legal status in the US? Do you have experience with the exchanges I’ve mentioned above? If yes, let me know in the comment section below.