How to buy Cardano (ADA) – A Beginner’s Guide
By: Ofir Beigel | Last updated: 11/2/21
Cardano is an open-source, decentralized cryptocurrency that began in 2015 and only became available for trading on October 2017. In this post I’ll explain a bit about what Cardano is, its currency (ADA) and how to buy it online.
Don’t like to read? Watch Our Video Guide Instead
How to Buy Cardano Summary
Here’s how to buy Cardano (ADA):
- Get a Cardano wallet (Ledger Nano X, Exodus)
- Locate your ADA address
- Find an ADA exchange (CEX.io, Coinmama)
- Withdraw the ADA to your wallet
If Coinmama doesn’t work out for you here are a few additional buying options:
That’s how to buy Cardano in a nutshell. If you want a deeper explanation of Cardano and the buying process keep on reading, here’s what I’ll cover:
- What is Cardano
- How to buy ADA in 3 steps
Cardano is a cryptocurrency and smart contract platform that aims to solve the issues confronted by the current smart contract leader – Ethereum.
Cardano has a foundation layer that, similar to Bitcoin, is used for settling payments. On top of that there is a control layer which runs smart contracts. It’s as if you rolled Bitcoin and Ethereum into one network.
Cardano aims to create a cryptocurrency and smart contract platform that is sustainable, scalable and interoperable (i.e. to allow the exchange of assets between different blockchains, similar to atomic swaps).
The platform uses ADA as its currency in order to run smart contracts, similar to how Ether is used to run contracts on Ethereum. The ADA circulation is limited to 45 Billion coins.
Cardano was created by the company IOHK (Inputs, Outputs, Hong Kong) and Charles Hoskinson, its CEO, which has been one of the pioneers of Ethereum as well.
Cardano works on a Proof-of-Stake model, which means that instead of mining, you can stake your Cardano in order to participate in the consensus process of the network. The process of staking your Cardano will allow you to generate income from it, however you’ll need to stake a large amount of Cardano to make it worthwhile.
Cardano and ADA have made their way to the top of the cryptocurrency charts while trying to win the battle for the best smart contracts platform alongside EOS, IOTA, NEO and more. The first official use case of Cardano was announced in December 2017 with the potential for Greek student diplomas to be stored and verified on the Cardano blockchain.
Cardano is a young project that’s still very much under development. For this reason, there are very few wallet options available for storing ADA, the Cardano currency.
Cardano Hardware Wallets
If you’re looking for a secure solution to store your ADA you can use a hardware wallet. Hardware wallets keep your private keys offline on the hardware device itself. This makes hardware wallets much more resistant to hacking than software wallets that are connected to the Internet.
Cardano Software Wallets
The easiest way to store ADA alongside other cryptocurrencies would be to use a free software wallet such as Exodus which is pretty intuitive and supports both desktop and mobile versions.
Another great option is Atomic Wallet, a software wallet available for desktop and mobile that allows you to store ADA and over 300 additional cryptocurrencies. The wallet also allows you to exchange your assets via non-custodial Atomic Swap with a decentralized order book.
Finally, Daedalus is the official Cardano desktop wallet, Daedalus can be downloaded via its official website. It’s an open-source cryptocurrency wallet for ADA. The idea behind the wallet is that it will grow with the community, becoming a universal wallet, blockchain application platform, and app store.
Daedalus wallet is available for Windows and Mac.
Locate Your Cardano Address
Once you have your Cardano wallet make sure to locate your ADA address. It’s a very long string of letters and characters that starts with a “D”. Here’s an example:
As Cardano matures more and more exchanges allow you to buy and trade ADA including several established market leaders:
CEX.io is a cryptocurrency exchange that has both an “instant buy” option for beginners and an advanced trading platform for more seasoned traders.
The excahnge allows you to buy Cardano with a credit card, debit card, SEPA transfer, ACH and wire transfer. If you want to save on fees it’s better to use the trading platform and not the instant buy option. You can read my complete CEX review here.
Coinbase allows you to instantly buy Cardano with your debit card, bank account and Paypal. The exchange is available for users from over 100 countries globally and claims relatively low fees (especially when using ACH transfers withing the US).
Coinbase has been around since 2012 and has a solid reputation, with the exception of the quality of its support; It seems like the company has a lot of room for improvement there, with no live support available and an offline response time that’s somewhere between ‘slow’ and ‘no response at all’.
Still, Coinbase is probably the cheapest and fastest option for buying ADA – as long as its services are available in your country.
Coinmama is one of the oldest crypto exchanges around. Coinmama acts as a broker, meaning they instantly send you your coins instead of holding them in a dedicated account like other sites may do.
Coinmama allows you to buy Cardano with a credit card, debit card or SEPA transfer. Verification is relatively quick and the fees are pretty low compared to the competition. You can read my complete Coinmama review here.
Binance is a Shanghai-based cryptocurrency exchange that has become one of the most popular crypto exchanges around. On Binance, you can find dozens of cryptocurrencies, including ADA, that can be bought with BTC or ETH.
Recently Binance added the option to buy coins from its exchange with credit or debit card, however it’s not possible to buy ADA this. What you can do, is buy Bitcoin with a credit card and then exchange it to Cardano. You can read my complete Binance review here.
Here’s how to buy Cardano on Binance:
- Sign up to Binance
- Go to “Funds” -> “Deposits” and locate your Bitcoin address
- Deposit Bitcoin to your Binance Bitcoin address
- Wait for the coins to show up in your account
- Go to “Exchange” -> “Basic”
- Search for the ADA/BTC pair
- Go to “Market” and type in the amount of ADA you want to buy
- Click “Buy ADA”
Uphold is an all-in one platform that enables users to trade cryptocurrencies including Cardano, as well as commodities, equities and fiat currencies. Although it doesn’t have the greatest range of additional cryptocurrency features, Uphold is perfect for those who wish to trade all kinds of assets within the same platform.
Uphold users can fund their account instantly using a debit or credit card, or alternatively link a bank account for easy transfers. The hidden spreads for Uphold trading can be relatively high, so if you plan to make a lot of trades, you may want to pick another platform.
You can read our complete Uphold review here.
eToro is probably the easiest way to go if you’re into Cardano only for speculative reasons (buying low and selling high for a profit). eToro, one of the leading companies in the cryptocurrency space, gives users the option to buy and sell many different coins at low fees and with a variety of payment options (PayPal, credit card, etc.).
The main thing to keep in mind when dealing with eToro is that it’s a bit complicated to withdraw the coins themselves to your own wallet. With eToro you can easily withdraw fiat currency (i.e. USD, EUR). Therefor, if you’re using eToro you might as well skip Step 1 of getting a wallet.
You can read my complete eToro review here.
eToro disclaimer: This ad promotes virtual cryptocurrency investing within the EU (by eToro Europe Ltd.), UK (eToro UK Ltd.) & USA (by eToro USA LLC); which is highly volatile, unregulated in some EU countries and the UK, no EU or UK consumer protections & not supervised by the EU or UK regulatory framework. eToro USA LLC; Investments are subject to market risk, including the loss of principal.
68% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
CFDs are not available to US customers.
Bittrex is a US cryptocurrency exchange with a huge number of cryptocurrencies listed. On Bittrex you can buy ADA by trading it for BTC, USDT and also USD. Bittrex accepts wire transfers only. You can read my complete Bittrex review here.
Buy Cardano with cash
There isn’t currently a way in which you can buy Cardano ADA with cash. What you can do is buy Bitcoin with cash then exchange it for Cardano on one of the cryptocurrency exchanges listed above.
How to Buy Cardano with PayPal
You can buy Cardano with PayPal on either Coinbase or through eToro, though with eToro it would be more difficult to actually withdraw your coins. It’s expected that there will be more options in the future, as cryptocurrencies continue to grow in popularity.
Step 3 – Withdraw the ADA to your own wallet
Once you’ve finished buying ADA make sure to move the coins to your own non-custodial wallet (i.e. a coin that gives you access to your private key). Leaving your coins on an exchange exposes you to the risk of fraud or theft (which have happened numerous times in the past).
One the coins hit your wallet, you’ve successfully completed the process of buying Cardano.
Cardano is a cryptocurrency that continues to grow in popularity. While it’s still at an early stage, the project shows some promise and should become easier to buy, sell, and store as cryptocurrency enjoys more widespread adoption.
It’s hard to say if Cardano will continue to stay in the top of the cryptocurrency list in the future, with such fierce competition from Ethereum, IOTA, EOS and others.
Have you used any of the above wallets or exchanges? What do you think of Cardano as a project? Let me know in the comments below!