How to Buy Bitcoin & Ethereum on Coinbase: Step by Step Guide

Coinbase is the largest and most popular of the cryptocurrency exchanges when it comes to investing in cryptocurrencies. However, at the time of this writing you can only buy a few of the higher priced altcoins on Coinbase such as Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCC or BCH), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC). You cannot buy Ripple (XRP), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Tronix (TRX) or other popular cryptocurrencies; at least not yet.

To buy a cryptocurrency other than the ones Coinbase offers, you can buy Bitcoin or Ethereum on Coinbase, transfer it from Coinbase to a different cryptocurrency exchange called Binance, and then exchange it for Ripple, Stellar Lumens, or any of the other digital currencies Binance supports.

How to Buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin

Is Bitcoin the Best Cryptocurrency to Invest In?

Many investors want to buy the cheaper-priced virtual currencies simply because the upside potential seems so much greater. After all, which seems easier to you: doubling your money with Bitcoin, where the price has to increase from somewhere around $15,000 to $30,000 per coin, or doubling your investment with Ripple, where the price needs to increase from somewhere around $2.50 cents to $5.00?

For this reason, many investors buy Bitcoin (or Ethereum), transfer their Bitcoin or Ethereum to Binance, and then exchange it for Ripple. However, if you want to pay smaller transaction fees and complete the whole process of buying Ripple faster, you’ll want to buy Ethereum instead of Bitcoin, and then exchange it for Ripple by following the instructions below. Before investing anything, you should read our article entitled¬†10 Questions You Need to Ask Before Investing in Bitcoin.

Step 1. Sign Up for an Account on Coinbase

Head on over to Coinbase.com (and get $10 of Bitcoin Free when you sign up using this link) and click “Sign Up” in the upper right corner of the screen.

Coinbase Sign-Up

Create your Coinbase account by filling in the blanks. Add your first name, last name, and email address. Then choose a password (make sure it’s a strong password), select your state, click the box for “I’m not a robot,” review the user agreement and privacy policy and click the box, and finally click “Create Account.”

Create a Coinbase Account

A window will appear asking you to verify your email.

Verify Your Email

A verification email will be sent to the email address you entered on the form. Open that verification email and click to “Verify your email address.” If you don’t see the verification email in your inbox, check your spam folder.

Coinbase Verification Email

Once you’re logged into your new Coinbase account, begin by selecting the account type, whether you’re an “Individual” or a “Business.” For this tutorial we will select “Individual.” Once selected, click “Next.”

Individual or Business

Choose a country, enter your mobile phone number (enter a mobile phone number that allows you to receive texts), and click “Next.”

Choose a Country and Enter a Phone Number

Coinbase will then send an SMS (text message) with a 7-digit code to your mobile phone. This code is used to verify your phone number. Enter that 7-digit code into the box on Coinbase that says “Enter your 2-step verification code.” Click “Verify Phone Number.” Note: every time you sign into your Coinbase account you will receive a new text message with a new 7-digit code that must be entered to login to your Coinbase account. So if you’re on a desktop computer, be sure to have your mobile phone handy whenever you login.

Verify Phone Number

Verify Your Identity

The next step is to verify your identity. Some people can get a little freaked out by this, but it’s a fairly simple process if you follow the steps below.

Select an ID type. For this tutorial we’ll select Photo ID, but it’s the same process no matter what type of ID you select.

Select ID Type

Choose an upload method: Webcam or Mobile Camera. If you have a webcam, select Webcam. If not, you’ll need to use your mobile phone to take a picture of your ID. We’ll show you how to upload your ID using both of these methods.

Choose Webcam or Mobile Camera for Coinbase Upload Method

Method 1 – Webcam: Select “Webcam.” A new window will open (see image below). Press “OK,” hold up the front of your Photo ID to the webcam, and click “Take Photo.” Repeat this process if requested to take a photo of the backside of your Photo ID. Note: Sometimes, due to the glare from the computer screen, this method may fail. If it fails, you can retake the photo. If it fails consistently, you will need to upload your Photo ID using your mobile phone (see below).

Photo of Front of ID Card

Method 2 – Mobile Camera: If you already uploaded your Photo ID using a webcam, you can skip this step.

Take a photo of both the front and back of your Photo ID with your mobile phone.

Select the Mobile Phone option. A link will be sent to your mobile phone. Click the link that was sent to your mobile phone, and upload the photos to that address (the photos you just took). This is usually the easiest way to upload the photos.

Upload Photo to Coinbase

Repeat this step when requested to submit other forms of ID. For example, if they ask for a utility bill (electric bill, gas bill, etc.), take photos using the webcam or a mobile phone as explained above, and upload them. The utility bill photo should include your name, address, and at least some identifying information about the utility company (their name and logo on the bill, etc.)

Select a Payment Method

Note: You need to verify your identity as explained in the previous step before you can add a payment method.

Select your payment method. You can choose to buy digital currency using a bank account, debit card, or credit card.

Bank account: If you use a bank account, it may take 4 to 5 days, and possibly even longer, to verify your account. This means you won’t be able to buy cryptocurrencies until your bank account has been verified. However, once it has been verified, a bank account will allow you a higher buying limit, meaning you can buy more cryptocurrencies than with a credit or debit card. If you want to buy a cryptocurrency right away, you can add a bank account, and then while waiting for the bank account to be verified you can use a debit or credit card for your initial purchase.

Debit or Credit Card: If you want to buy digital currencies immediately, you can use a debit or credit card. However, a debit or credit card gives you a lower buying limit and you’ll have to pay a credit card fee of approximately 3.75% when you buy cryptocurrencies. If you want to purchase more cryptocurrency than Coinbase will allow with a debit or credit card, you’ll need to add a bank account to your Coinbase account. But if you only want to invest a small amount of money, adding a bank account is not necessary.

Coinbase Bank, Debit, or Credit Card

Step 2. Buy Bitcoin or Ethereum in Your Coinbase Account

The next step is to buy cryptocurrency in your Coinbase account. If you want to buy Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, or Litecoin, here are the steps:

1) Login to Coinbase and click the “Buy/Sell” tab at the top of the page
2) Click to select the cryptocurrency you prefer. Note: we’ll use Ethereum for this example because Ethereum transactions are faster and cheaper than Bitcoin transactions when exchanging them for other cryptocurrencies. However, if you want to buy Bitcoin, it’s the same process as buying Ethereum.
3) Select the payment method (for this example we’ll use a credit card).
4) Enter the amount you want to spend (click inside the “Amount” box and enter the amount. If you want to buy the maximum amount allowed with a credit or debit card, once you click inside the “Amount” box you will be able to select “Buy Max.”
5) Click the “Buy Ethereum Instantly” button.
6) Verify that the information is correct and then click to “Confirm” the buy.

Buy Bitcoin or Buy Ethereum

Click on “Accounts” in the navigation bar at the top of the page to see your wallets. Wallets are where your cryptocurrencies are stored. Your wallets are listed in the left column and any completed transactions will be listed in the right column. If you decided to buy Ethereum, you will see the amount of Ethereum you now own in your “ETH Wallet.” If you decided to buy Bitcoin, you will see the amount of Bitcoin you now own in your “BTC Wallet.”

Bitcoin Wallet and Ethereum Wallet

You now own Ethereum (or Bitcoin, etc.). And if that’s all you want, you’re done. However, if you want to buy Ripple, Stellar Lumens, Verge, Tronix, or a host of other cryptocurrencies, you’ll need to exchange your Ethereum for one or more of those other digital currencies. At the time of this writing, you cannot exchange Bitcoin or Ethereum in Coinbase for the other crypto currencies that were mentioned above, so you’ll have to transfer your Ethereum (or Bitcoin) to a different exchange where Ripple is traded. And that exchange is Binance.com.

If you’re ready to exchange Ethereum or Bitcoin for Ripple (or another cryptocurrency) you can check out our in-depth article, with step-by-step, illustrated instructions: How to buy Ripple on Binance.