What is bitcoin?
Learn from the horse's mouth, Bitcoin.org, how it works.
Okay, that was a little confusing. Here it is, simplified.
Visual learner? Yeah, me, too:
Okay, now that I have a handle on what bitcoin is, how do I get some?
If you're in the United States, then Coinbase is definitely for you. I think of it like Paypal without the banks.
|See? Very intuitive and not scary at all (click image to enlarge)|
Don't want to give up your banking info to The Man? See who's in your area and buy bitcoin person-to-person and/or face-to-face at LocalBitcoins.com.
Of course, you could go to the exchanges. Many people like Bitstamp or exchanges that are fairly specific to their respective countries
If you want to compare price across exchanges, you can always keep an eye on them at BitcoinWatch. Bitcoin ATMs are even getting to be popular; find one near you!
Now that I have bitcoin, how do I keep mine safe?
Security is a big issue in the bitcoin community; the more paranoid you are the better. Cold storage, or storing bitcoin "offline", is the most secure way to keep your bitcoin. Leaving your bitcoin in web wallets or exchanges like Bitstamp and Coinbase is not advised.
There are three types of cold storage:
- Paper Wallet: Create a paper wallet from Bitaddress.org and send any bitcoin you've acquired or are in the process of acquiring, to the address on the paper wallet. It's a little tricky to do, so try these steps. Since transferring money from paper wallets is a bit confusing, consider these type of wallets best to use for long-term storage.
- Offline: Electrum is a lightweight software wallet that can be set up to be used in a most secure fashion for offline storage and transactions. Armory also provides a similar service, but Electrum is even simpler. Here's a handy guide to setting up your secure, offline Electrum wallet.
- Hardware Wallet: The tech behind these are pretty complicated but, basically, it's the concept of easy to use, plug-and-playish type dongles that automatically handle storing bitcoin securely. The most commercially celebrated of these, the Trezor, made its real world debut in 2014. Personally, I'm hoping Santa brings me a Ledger Nano S for Christmas 2017.
Keep in mind, you want to keep some bitcoin available in your web wallets so you can gift and spend them. But if you're a long-term hoarder of bitcoin like I am, you will want the bulk of your holdings in cold storage.
I've secured my bitcoin - now what?
Stretch. You've been at this awhile - it's a lot to take in. Take a break!
Okay, that was nice. Now I own bitcoin. What can I spend it on?
Nowadays, you can spend bitcoin on just about anything. Gyft takes bitcoin for gift cards to many of your favorite retailers. Sites like CoinMap and Coinjabber can show you where to spend your bitcoin. If you have the taste - and means - for the finer things in life, go price a private island or an beach home on BitPremier. You will see that more and more large retailers like Overstock.com are now accepting bitcoin directly. There are even several debit cards you can use that will convert bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) into local currency as you spend it, like Xapo, Coinbase's Shift card, or ANX.
Wow, that's a lot of information. But wait - there's more!
With bitcoin and cryptocurrency going parabolic in 2017, it's necessary to update this page with cool new stuff invading the bitcoin space that can help us all, including those just starting out. Behold! Cool, new stuff!
What about altcoins, tho?
Glad you asked. Coinbase may be good for the top 4 coins (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash), but where can I get them altcoins, bruv??
Gemini - One of the most professional, US-regulated exchanges with easy-to-use USD-to-crypto on- and off-ramps. Currently only offers BTC, ETH, BCH (Bitcoin Cash), LTC, and ZEC (ZCash).
Binance - The favored alternative to Bittrex. Has all the most popular alts and always accepting new investors.
Altpocket - A socialized, gamified platform to track your cryptocurrency investments in real-time. NOT a wallet, just a financial and crypto tracking site.
Exodus - A multi-cryptocurrency online wallet, supporting BTC, ETH, LTC, DASH, and others.
Coinpayments - Where you can sign up your business to accept crypto for a low fee.
Upfolio - Dead simple explainers on thousands of crypto assets and the blockchain.
And if you want to convince your friends to get into crypto...
Hit 'em with this: Why It's Never Too Late to Buy Bitcoin.
Have we missed anything (probably - technology moves fast)? Let us know what you absolutely need to know in getting started with bitcoin by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org!