I am a complete noob at investing. I have never bought stock or invested in anything before but I have $300 I would like to turn into Ethereum. Could someone please tell me step by step how to purchase and own Ethereum using USD?

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    Consider making the answer as accepted, you can do it by checking the tick sign under votes. – niksmac Mar 25 '16 at 1:11
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    I hope you went and did it right after you asked the question... that $300 looks like about $4,000 now – StaringFrog Jun 6 '17 at 3:36

Hello and welcome to Ethereum!

I don't know how this comment became the de-facto guide, but it's really not the best as it doesn't have any pictures and doesn't introduce you to Ethereum properly.

Ethereum and digital currencies are a pretty new world and in this new world, things can be a little bit different. First, you are responsible for your stuff. Your investments, your choices, your security. There are no babysitters or undo buttons or a bank to call up and reverse your transaction. The power of the blockchain is this, but it's also a dangerous thing if you are expecting to have all the cushy things you've come to enjoy.

Secondly, most of the people involved in this world are pretty technical and sometimes forget how different things are. Take your time, ask questions, ask for clarification reach out for help, read the instructions, read the warnings, hang out, and try to learn new things.

  • Scams and phishing sites and malicious links exist. Trust messages and random links about as much as those in your spambox. Verify verify verify.

  • Always save & back up your private key in a separate location, like a piece of paper or a USB drive. Avoid cloud storage.

  • Be skeptical. Does the person have an ulterior motive? Is that too good to be true?

Still with me? Good! Let's dive deeper!

Now, the fun part! How-To Buy ETH

  1. Create an account on Gemini or Coinbase or Kraken.

  2. Verify that account. You will need to upload a wide variety of documents proving you are who you say you are and stuff. It's all regulatory stuff. Once you upload this stuff, verification takes about a day or two (time is dependent on how busy the service is. During times of price increases and tons of new users, it may take longer. Be patient.)

  3. Follow the instructions on the exchange to deposit USD into that exchange. This, depending on your bank and the wire transfer, will typically take 3-5 business days.

  4. Now you have USD in your exchange account and can buy ETH with it.

  5. Once you have all the ETH you want, withdraw that ETH into a wallet that you control. Exchanges are notorious for being hacked (although the ones mentioned above are very reputable) and you want your funds in a place that you have the private key to. So...

  6. ...While you are waiting for your verification and transfer, download and install Mist / Ethereum Wallet. Run it so it can sync the blockchain.

  7. When you run it, it'll prompt you to make a new account. Create a password that you will never ever forget and create the account. Then, it'll give you an address that starts with 0x.. This what you will enter on your exchange to move your ETH from their account to your own.

  8. To safely keep your account you have 3 pieces of information:

    • Your address (0x7573aB.....)
    • Your password
    • Your private key

The private key is like a password, but way more intense. Plus, it's a password that is protected by another password. In Ethereum Wallet, this private key is in the form of a keystore file. You need to make a backup of this in case anything happens to your computer.

In Ethereum Wallet, go to the top bar and find ACCOUNTS -> BACKUP -> ACCOUNTS. It'll open up a folder and inside you will see a file. This file is your private key. Copy this to a USB drive and safely store the USB drive in a different physical location than your computer (in case your house explodes).

Alternative steps 1-5:

If you already have BTC, you can use Shapeshift.io, Bity.com, or Changelly to convert your BTC into ETH. Start a BTC->ETH exchange and it'll tell you where to send your BTC. (If you have your BTC on an exchange, you can likely exchange them for ETH on that exchange without the need for Shapeshift.)

Then create a Ethereum Wallet account and back it up. In Circle or Coinbase, send all the BTC to that address. The ETH will appear in your ETH wallet in ~20 minutes.

Alternative steps 6-8:

Ethereum Wallet is highly recommended but some people have issues installing & syncing it. If for some reason you cannot get it to run, here is a list of easily accessible wallets. Follow the instructions provided by each of these wallets to back up your information. In Jaxx, that is a mnemonic. In MyEtherWallet, read this.


Refresher Course!

I have outlined the steps above like you should do it all as fast as possible. Stop. Breath. There is no rush. Take your time moving your funds from an exchange to your own wallet. Test with a small amount first. Get the feel for things and make mistakes with small amounts rather than all your money! If you skipped them earlier or didn't understand them, take the time to re-read it now.


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    Thanks for the answer. Coinbase.com now offers direct purchases of ETH via debit/credit card, bank transfer etc. So you don't have to buy BTC first. – Brian Armstrong Oct 5 '16 at 3:33
  • I went to coinbase as of your suggestion. Not disappointed until now. Clean interface and kinda fast verification process (~20-30 minutes). Bought 10 ETH and now I'm waiting for them to rise. :) I think ETH's are still massively underrated, but let's see how it turns out. I didn't try other solutions, they might be as easy as well. On Coinbase, when you register, you have an initial limit of 500 € (dunno $). Not sure if this is the case on other "platforms" too. – TrudleR Mar 19 '17 at 11:25
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    Coinbase has terrible customer service, and sometimes blocks transactions with no explanation. – nu everest Apr 25 '17 at 2:17
  • Coinbase does not allow me to by from Turkey. Says: > "Sorry! Buys not avaible in Turkey." Does Kraken or Gemini or some other site allow me to buy some ether if I am citizen of Turkey? @tayvano – alper Apr 30 '17 at 13:38
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    After a bit of research on the 3 accounts, it looks like Gemini have the best reviews :) – thatOneGuy May 19 '17 at 10:29

One way to do it is, you can use coinbase.com to buy Bitcoin and convert the BTC to ETH through shapeshift.io.

Also there is kraken.com, they claims to be the best Bitcoin Exchange.

The best bitcoin exchange is needed for serious and professional bitcoin traders. Bitcoin security must be impeccable. Banking relationships must be sound and reliable. The trading engine must be fast. Order types must be advanced. And profits must be able to be multiplied with Bitcoin margin trading so you can leverage long bitcoin positions or short bitcoin positions.

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    Update: Coinbase's GDAX always BTC/ETH and ETH/USD trading, though as of right now Coinbase does not provide ETH wallet service outside leaving it on the exchange. – FugueWeb Jul 10 '16 at 17:25
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    Coinbase.com actually lets you buy eth directly now via credit/debit card, bank transfer, etc. – Brian Armstrong Oct 5 '16 at 3:33

You should try kraken.com there are markets directly in ETH/USD or ETH/EUR and you can pay by credit card. It's also a very well known and reputable exchange.

But aware that it takes you a little while to verify your credit card / id / etc. so start the account creation asap and don't wait the moment you want to buy to do it.

Use a good BTC/USD exchange like Circle or Coinbase which allow you to purchase the BTC. Then you can send the BTC to an ETH exchange like Poloniex or BTC Markets where you can buy Ethereum.

Generally it is a real pain to make your first purchase.

As you want to use USD, you're probably a US citizen/entity, and the US government wants to make it as difficult as possible for you to use cryptocurrencies like Ether.

You can do it, just be vigilant!

TL;DR create an account at a prominent exchange. Some have been suggested above. Do your research, don't just join a random one.

You will have to go through an extensive proof-of-identity process with the exchange - the US government requires them to put you through this, they want to be able to track all of your transactions. You will wire money to an account, and 7-14 days later you will finally be able to use it to buy Ether.

The first time is the hardest. Once you get set up, you can wire money and convert it to Ether in 2-3 business days after that. But the first time can literally take weeks.

Good luck. :)

You can also buy ether with usd or eur using Bitpanda. But you will have similar issues verifying your account -I verified mine in just some hours- than using Kraken. Everyone out there recommends Kraken, so probably is just more trusted. Howerver, I had zero problems using bitpanda.

  • Bitpanda will not work for US customers, thus your USD won't be accepted. It will give you a notice that says "We are not allowed to service customers from your geolocation. The registration was blocked." – Ph0t0n Jan 13 at 6:41

protected by Afri Jun 19 '16 at 20:00

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