Guides / How To Buy Bitcoin In The UK With A Debit Card

How To Buy Bitcoin In The UK With A Debit Card

How to buy Bitcoin in the UK with a debit card

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In this guide, we’ll show you the quickest and easiest ways to buy Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin, using a credit or debit card.

We’ll look at four of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges and explain what they ask for in terms of verification requirements, what fees they charge to deposit, buy, and withdraw, and how to safely store the digital assets you buy in a wallet.

Please remember that not all cryptocurrencies can be directly purchased with a card; you may have to buy another cryptocurrency first and then trade it to get the coin or token you want.

We’ll be discussing the following things:

  • Debit vs Credit card; What you should know
  • How to buy
  • Where to buy
  • Verification requirements
  • How much can you buy on a card?
  • Fees to deposit, buy, and withdraw
  • Storing in a wallet

Debit vs Credit card; What you should know

Where possible, we recommend that you avoid using a credit card to buy bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as you will likely be charged extra fees by your card issuer.

In 2018, Mastercard changed the Merchant Category Code (MCC) for cryptocurrency purchases meaning that most crypto transactions are now treated as cash advances, and you can expect to pay a lot more compared with using a debit card.

Most cash advances incur a fee of more than 3% and attract a higher interest rate than normal purchases. This interest accrues immediately (there is no grace period) and cash advances aren’t usually included in promotional offers, such as 0% on purchases within a certain time frame.

We suggest that you check with your card provider how they categorize bitcoin and crypto purchases before you make a purchase, and opt to pay with a debit card where possible.

How to buy

In this section, we’ll run you through the basic process of buying bitcoin or other popular cryptocurrencies with a debit or credit card in the UK or Ireland. The exact process will vary from one exchange to the next, but overall, it’s fairly straightforward.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A valid email address.
  • A valid mobile phone number.
  • A photo ID such as a passport or driving licence.
  • Access to a camera or scanner.
  • A UK or Irish bank account (ideally with internet banking)

Now let’s run through the process step-by-step.

We’re using Coinbase as an example as it’s one of the most popular options for people looking to buy Bitcoin or cryptocurrency with a credit or debit card in the UK, but most exchanges have a similar process.

Step #1. Register with the exchange

The first step is registering with the exchange you want to buy from using your email address. Enter your email address, choose a strong password, and the exchange will send you an email with a confirmation link.

Step #2. Confirm your email address

Log into your email account and open the email from the exchange. Click on the confirmation link to confirm your email address and complete your account registration.

Step #3. Verify your identity

Not all exchanges require you to verify your identity, so this step varies between exchanges. But most exchanges will require you to complete various tasks such as adding your phone number, enabling 2FA (2-Factor Authentication), uploading a scan of your passport or driving licence, or taking a selfie of yourself holding one of these documents.

Step #4. Add a payment method (i.e. your credit or debit card)

The fourth step is simply adding your credit or debit card. Some exchanges, like Coinbase, give you the option of using either a bank account or card and will make a small charge (£2) to confirm that you own the account. This step isn’t necessary for other exchanges.

Step #5. Make a purchase

The fifth step is simply making a purchase. If the exchange offers a web wallet service (like Coinbase) you can simply transfer pounds sterling (GBP) from your bank account to your GBP wallet on the exchange and use the funds to purchase Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, or Litecoin.

Exchanges that don’t offer a web wallet service will require you to have your own software or hardware wallet for the type of cryptocurrency you want to buy. They will send any bitcoin or cryptocurrencies you purchase directly to your wallet.

Where to buy

Five of the most popular and trusted cryptocurrency exchanges offering credit and debit card purchases in the UK and Ireland are:

  1. Binance
  2. Wirex
  3. Changelly
  4. Coinbase
  5. CEX

Binance

Binance is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange and is one of the best places to buy Bitcoin and crypto with a credit or debit card in the UK. Binance is due to launch a new exchange platform in the UK this autumn and aims to give people in the UK and Ireland a new local ‘on-ramp’ into Bitcoin and crypto using GBP and Euros (EUR). Binance is registered with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and complies with Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer practices and standards.

You can use a VISA or Mastercard to buy the following cryptocurrencies from Binance:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Ripple (XRP)

On average, it takes 10-30 minutes for the cryptocurrency to reach your Binance wallet.

Wirex

Wirex is based in London and offers mobile-based payments services with both fiat and digital currencies. It is a broker exchange, meaning that it sells you bitcoin or crypto from reserves under its control.

You can use a debit or credit card to buy the following cryptocurrencies from Wirex:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Ripple (XRP)
  • Waves (WAVES)
  • Wollo (WLO)
  • Dai (DAI)

Wirex offers a free web wallet service, so any digital assets you buy will initially be stored in your exchange wallet.

Changelly

Changelly is a fast and secure way to buy Bitcoin and over 150 other cryptocurrencies using a credit or debit card. Simply choose the type of crypto you want to buy and Changelly will scan a variety of trading platforms (MoonPay, Banxa, Coinify, Indacoin, and Simplex) to find the best offer on the market for you.

Before buying Bitcoin or crypto from one of Changelly’s partners, you must have your own software or hardware wallet to store the type of crypto you want to buy. For example, if you want to buy Bitcoin, you’ll need to have a Bitcoin wallet. (Creating a free Bitcoin software wallet is simple on Bitcoin.org).

Once you find the best rate offered by one of Changelly’s partners, enter the wallet address for the type of crypto you want to buy and you will be sent to the website of the platform you wish to buy from. Once you complete the payment, the crypto will be sent directly to the wallet you entered.

Coinbase

Coinbase is one of the largest and most trusted places to buy bitcoin and crypto in the UK and Ireland. Coinbase is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and allows users to use a bank account or card to purchase Bitcoin and several popular cryptocurrencies. Like Wirex, Coinbase is a broker exchange, meaning that it sells you bitcoin or crypto from reserves under its control.

You can use any VISA, Mastercard, or ‘3D secure’ credit card to buy the following cryptocurrencies from Coinbase:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Cash (ETC)
  • Litecoin (LTC)

Like Binance, Coinbase offers a free web wallet service and any cryptocurrency you buy will initially be stored in the relevant exchange wallet on your account.

CEX

CEX is consistently rated as one of the most secure and trusted places to buy crypto with a card in the UK and Ireland. It uses award-winning security features to keep your account secure. As a broker exchange, CEX lets you buy the following cryptocurrencies with your credit or debit card in just a few clicks:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Dash (DASH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Ripple (XRP)
  • And 17 more (XLM, TRX, BTT, MHC, ONT, ONG, ADA, NEO, GAS, ATOM, BAT, XTZ, MATIC, WABI, LINK, ZRX, and USDT)

Buying bitcoin or crypto on CEX with a card takes less than five minutes and your crypto will appear on your CEX.IO balance within minutes.

Verification requirements

In this section, we’ll walk you through the verification requirements of each exchange.

Binance verification requirements

Binance has a simple two-stage verification process.

Start by registering on Binance using a valid email address and confirm your email using the verification link that Binance sends you.

To complete Basic Verification, Binance will ask you for your:

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Residential address

To complete the advanced identity and facial verification, Binance will ask you to :

  • Upload a photo of your ID (passport or driving license)
  • Take a picture of yourself to verify your identity.

The entire process takes less than 10 minutes and is fully explained here.

Wirex verification requirements

Wirex has a very quick verification process. When you open an account, you’ll be asked to verify your:

  • Phone number
  • Identity
  • Residential address

You can confirm your mobile phone number using the SMS code Wirex sends you when you register. To verify your identity, you will need to take a clear photo of the information page of your passport and a selfie that clearly shows your whole face. Simply upload both of these photos onto Wirex’s Verification screen when prompted to do so.

Verification on Wirex usually takes less than five minutes and the whole process is outlined here.

Changelly Verification requirements

Each of Changelly’s partners have their own verification requirements.

Simplex, for example, will ask for your:

  • Card details
  • Billing address
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • An additional requirement is to have a valid passport or driving license, as Simplex may ask you to submit a picture of it.

Coinbase verification requirements

Coinbase has a simple, four-step verification process.

  • Start by registering on Coinbase using a valid email address and confirm your email using the verification link that Coinbase sends you.
  • Next, add your phone number and confirm it using the SMS code that Coinbase sends you. This enables Two Factor Authentication (2FA) on your account that Coinbase will use to secure your account. However, you can also set up the Google Authenticator app later. This is considered to be safer than relying on SMS-based 2FA.
  • The third step is uploading a scan of your photo ID such as the information page of your passport or your driver’s license. This helps Coinbase comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws.
  • Lastly, you need to add a bank account or credit or debit card to make your first purchase on Coinbase. Coinbase protects your data by complying with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For added security, Coinbase verifies UK bank accounts by making a small charge (£2) to confirm that you own the account.

CEX verification requirements

To get started on CEX, simply register with your email address and click on the link in the confirmation email that CEX sends you to confirm your email.

Once you enter your name and date of birth, your account will be upgraded to an ‘Intro’ account. This lets you deposit or withdraw up to $100 per day, and make unlimited crypto deposits.

To buy Bitcoin or any one of 22 other cryptocurrencies, simply enter your 16-digit VISA or Mastercard number and expiry date, and your address and postcode. This links the card to your account and you can start buying crypto in just a few clicks.

To increase your daily and withdrawal limits, you’ll need to go through additional verification stages.

Upgrading your account to Stage One, Identity verification, requires you to fill out a short form and submit copies of your identity document, such as your passport or driving licence. It takes about five minutes and lets you deposit the equivalent of up to $3,000 per day and withdraw up to $10,000.

Upgrading your account to Stage Two, Address verification, requires you to fill out a short application and provide a document that confirms your residential address. This takes around five minutes and lets you withdraw up to $50,000 per day.

How much can you buy on a card?

Each exchange has different limits about how much bitcoin or crypto you can buy on a credit or debit card.

ExchangeLimits
BinanceBinance limits VISA or Mastercard purchases to the equivalent of US$5,000 per 24 hour period.
WirexWirex supports all ‘3D secure’ debit and credit cards and there are no purchase limits.
ChangellyChangelly’s partners have no purchasing limits on purchases made by VISA or Mastercard.
CoinbaseThere are no purchase limits on Coinbase when using a ‘3D secure’ credit card or debit card, provided you have completed all four steps in the verification process.
CEXWith a basic ‘Intro’ account, CEX lets you deposit or withdraw up to the equivalent of $100 per day. If you complete the identity verification step, you can deposit up to $3,000 per day, and if you complete the address verification step, this rises to $50,000 per day.

Fees to deposit, buy, and withdraw

Each exchange charges different fees to deposit, buy, and withdraw. This section will look at each of these fees in more detail.

Binance fees

Binance charges 3.5% per transaction or 10 USD, whichever is higher, on all credit/debit card purchases. This transaction fee includes all associated costs and there are no deposit fees for fiat purchases.

Withdrawal fees are dynamic and change according to the state of the relevant blockchain network. They vary according to the cryptocurrency and are generally less than or equal to one US dollar.

Wirex fees

Wirex is one of the cheapest ways to buy Bitcoin and crypto with a debit card in the UK or Ireland. It charges a nominal 1% admin fee on all transactions. However, Wirex’s live prices have quite a large spread and their markup of 1.5% is included in this rate. This gives a total effective rate of ~2.5% to buy Bitcoin or crypto with a card.

Before purchasing bitcoin or crypto on Wirex, be sure to select ‘GBP’ as the currency in which you want to complete the transaction. If you don’t, the transaction will be settled in USD and this will incur additional fees. Most UK banks charge a ~2.75% non-sterling transaction fee and a ~£1.25 non-sterling purchase fee on all non-GBP transactions.

Wirex offers its own Wirex debit card that allows you to spend any cryptocurrencies you own. If you want to open a Wirex debit card, they will charge you a £1/month maintenance fee to keep the account open. This isn’t necessary and you can still buy Bitcoin with a debit card without having a Wirex card. However, you cannot sell your Bitcoin back to Wirex without having a Wirex card.

Changelly fees

Changelly’s partners charge no deposit or withdrawal fees as all digital assets are sent directly to a software or hardware wallet that you control (or one of your choice). You choose the rate you want to pay, enter your wallet’s public address, and Changelly’s provider will send the crypto to this address after you complete payment.

Changelly’s partners offer different options to buy crypto and the fees you pay will depend on which partner you choose to buy from;

MoonPay has a very simple pricing structure and charges 4.5% on all credit/debit card transactions.

Simplex typically charges 5% or less, depending on the cryptocurrency you want to buy.

Changelly charges a 0.25% service fee on top of any fees charged by its partners.

Coinbase fees

You can complete an ‘Instant Buy’ purchase on Coinbase using a debit card for a flat fee of just 3.99%. There are no deposit fees as any cryptocurrency you buy is deposited into the relevant Coinbase web wallet, which is provided free of charge.

As an additional benefit, Coinbase covers all cryptocurrency deposits under its own insurance policy, for added peace of mind.

Coinbase’s withdrawal fees are 1.49% and this amount is deducted from the amount of cryptocurrency you wish to withdraw. Transferring cryptocurrencies to different wallet addresses will incur network transaction fees. These fees are passed onto you and disclosed when you make the transaction.

CEX fees

Buying Bitcoin or crypto from CEX with a VISA or Mastercard costs a flat 2.99%. CEX is a broker exchange, meaning it sells you crypto from its own reserves and sets its own rates.

Withdrawals to a VISA card incur a service charge of up to 3% and £2.10, plus a commission charge of up to £2.90.

Withdrawals to a MasterCard incur a service charge of up to 1.8% and £2.10, and a commission of up to 1.2% + £2.90.

Storing in a wallet

In this final section of this guide, we’ll look at the process of storing any Bitcoin or crypto you buy in a wallet.

BinanceBinance offers a custodial wallet (or web wallet) service. When you buy Bitcoin or crypto, it is initially deposited into the relevant wallet on your account.
WirexWirex offers a free web wallet service. Cryptocurrency wallets are created for you when you register with the exchange. Any Bitcoin or crypto you buy on Wirex will automatically be sent to the relevant wallet on your account.
ChangellyChangelly’s partners do not provide a custodial or web wallet service. Any Bitcoin or crypto you buy will be sent directly to a wallet of your choice. This means that your crypto is under your control from the moment you buy it.
CoinbaseCoinbase also offers a free web wallet service. When you join Coinbase, you automatically get five cryptocurrency wallets; one each for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Cash, and Litecoin. When you purchase one of these assets, they will automatically be stored in the relevant web wallet.
CEXCEX offers a web wallet service and stores any Bitcoin or crypto you buy free of charge. This makes buying crypto as easy as shopping online. You simply log in and open the Buy/Sell page, choose the crypto you want, and click Buy. The crypto you purchased will appear on your CEX.IO balance within a few minutes.

Moving your crypto

The web wallets provided by Binance, Coinbase, CEX, and Wirex are extremely convenient. The main benefit is that you don’t need to remember or store your wallet’s private keys and therefore cannot lose or forget it. Instead, you get a familiar username and password and can still gain access to your wallets if you forget your password by following a series of security steps.

However, the disadvantage is that you don’t have full control over these as you don’t have access to their private keys. That’s why using these wallets to store significant amounts of cryptocurrency can be risky.

At a bare minimum, you should:

Set a strong passwordUse a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The stronger, the better. Keep your password safe and change it regularly.
Use a password managerWriting down and storing your exchange password in a physical location can be risky. A password manager helps you easily keep track of complex passwords with a minimum of fuss.
Enable 2FA2-Factor authentication requires a code when you log in to help keep your funds safe. Make sure you enable this on your account and use a trusted solution, such as the Google Authenticator app.

The current best security practice for storing significant amounts of bitcoin or cryptocurrency is to move it out of a web wallet and onto a wallet that you control, such as a software or hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano X.

Final thoughts

Overall, each exchange has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of fees, ease of use, privacy, and speed.

Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange and this ensures that your buying experience is fast and reliable.

Coinbase is the safest exchange as it mandates the use of 2FA on all accounts (via the Google Authenticator app) and provides free insurance on all crypto deposits. Coinbase also rivals CEX for ease of use but comes with higher buying fees (3.99% vs. 2.99%).

Wirex is the cheapest exchange with an effective rate of ~2.5% on all debit and credit card purchases. However, you’ll need to apply for your own Wirex card (£1/month) if you want to sell your Bitcoin or crypto back to Wirex

Changelly is the best option if you value privacy when purchasing Bitcoin or crypto. Its partners have lower ID requirements than other exchanges, however they typically charge higher fees (4.5%+) for credit/debit card payments.

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