The typical Australian cryptocurrency exchange has trading fees in roughly the 0.5% to 1% range, plus "hidden costs" in the form of widely varying exchange rates. In Australia, it's not unusual for cryptocurrency to be sold about 1% to 5%, or even more, above mid-market rates.
Fortunately, exchange rates is where Swyftx really shines. Comparing prices on Swyftx to several other brokers shows that Swyftx has considerably better rates.
And while its trading fees aren't outright the lowest, they're still quite competitive.
You can buy directly with AUD so there are no currency exchange fees, but there may be some costs depending on your deposit method and the amount of the deposit.
Using a non-free deposit method for a small deposit may add up a considerable percentage of the total, so it's worth bearing this in mind.
The slowest part of registering with a cryptocurrency exchange is typically verification times, where the exchange checks your identification. This will often take a full day if you're trying to sign up after hours, or several days if it's a weekend or the exchange has a verification backlog.
As such, the fastest possible purchases will typically be from exchanges that can offer instant verification 24/7. Coinjar is one of them. It's possible to breeze through your first purchase at Coinjar with quick sign-up (just verify your email), instant verification, instant deposits and instant purchases.
The catch is that you need to have Digital iD for instant verification. If you don't, it may take up to 24 hours to get verified.
If you aren't interested in using Digital iD, you may want to simply look for an easier or cheaper exchange instead.
Also, note that while you can buy cryptocurrency fast with Coinjar, after your first deposit there's a seven-day waiting period before you can withdraw the Bitcoin to an external wallet.
Cryptocurrency exchanges can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when it's a peer-to-peer exchange where buying means navigating the order books. Meanwhile, some cryptocurrency brokers will require users to have their own wallets, or burden users with too much detail or crowded interfaces.
CoinSpot does none of these things. It's a straightforward brokerage, with an optional peer-to-peer market on the side, and it provides its users with wallets for all supported cryptocurrencies. That it offers an exceptionally wide range of cryptocurrencies, all in one place, is an added bonus.
The registration steps are clear and the verification steps are clearly explained as part of the sign-up process.
Transaction histories are clearly displayed, fees are fixed and clearly shown, and you can denominate buy and sell prices in AUD or cryptocurrency as preferred.
CoinSpot has local customer service and it keeps extraneous features and information to a minimum, focusing on only the essentials. Plus, its palette is easy on the eyes.
This is a summary of how we chose the cheapest, fastest and easiest Bitcoin exchanges. Read the full methodology for a more comprehensive explanation of how we compare exchanges.
To find the cheapest exchange, we looked at overall cost-effectiveness when buying BTC with fiat currency, including exchange commission fees, deposit and withdrawal fees, exchange costs and any other applicable fees. We also considered whether a typical buyer is likely to lose money due to slippage in low-liquidity markets.
To find the fastest exchange, we looked at how quickly most customers can sign up, get verified and buy BTC.
We defined the easiest exchange as the BTC exchange that's closest to being usable by anyone without any prior experience in cryptocurrency, technology or finance. An exchange-provided wallet and customer service team are required for a platform to be considered in this category
You can buy Bitcoin in Australia in three simple steps:
Step 1. Choose a cryptocurrency exchange
The first step, if you've decided that buying Bitcoin is right for you, is to decide how and where you'll make the purchase. There are hundreds of platforms to choose from, but they can be separated into three main categories:
Bitcoin brokers are retailers that sell Bitcoin and other digital currencies. They offer user-friendly platforms and are the quickest and easiest way to buy Bitcoin. Brokers let you pay with fiat currencies (like AUD or USD) using familiar payment methods like a credit card or a bank transfer. Their main downside is that they often charge higher fees than other options. CoinJar and CoinSpot are two well-known cryptocurrency brokers.
Cryptocurrency trading platforms
These platforms, such as Binance and Independent Reserve, let you buy Bitcoin from other traders on the open market. Some exchanges let you buy with fiat currency, while others are for trading cryptocurrencies only and don't accept fiat deposits. They tend to offer lower fees and better rates than brokers, provide access to a more diverse range of coins and can also be used to actively trade cryptocurrencies. However, they're more complicated to use and require some basic familiarity with trading concepts, like the difference between limit and market orders.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges
Peer-to-peer exchanges are like noticeboards where people can post notices saying whether they're buying or selling Bitcoin, and what their price is. Buyers and sellers on peer-to-peer exchanges directly contact each other and make their own arrangements. This makes it possible to access a wider range of payment methods, such as cash, and trade with increased privacy. The downsides are that prices on peer-to-peer exchanges are often higher than the market exchange rate, and users need to be wary of scammers on these platforms. Examples of peer-to-peer exchanges include LocalBitcoins and Paxful.
Step 2. Buy Bitcoin
In most cases, the first step after choosing an exchange is to create an account by providing your email address. Depending on the exchange you use and the regulatory requirements it is subject to, you may also be required to provide your full name, contact information and proof of ID before being allowed to trade.
Once your account has been verified, you can make your purchase and pay for it. This looks different depending on whether you're using a broker, a trading platform or a peer-to-peer exchange.
When using a broker
Simply enter the amount of Bitcoin you want to buy, and the broker's website tells you how much it costs and what the available payment options are. Once you make your payment, the broker sends the Bitcoin to your account. From there, you can withdraw the Bitcoin to your personal wallet or send it anywhere else you want.
When using a trading platform
First, you need to deposit funds into your account. Once you've made the deposit, go to the market for the currency pair you want to trade. For example, if you want to buy Bitcoin with US dollars, you'd go to the BTC/USD section of the exchange website. To buy Bitcoin in that market, place a buy order. There are different order types, but if you simply want to buy at current market prices, you can place a market order.
When using a peer-to-peer exchange
Browse sell offers to find one with an acceptable price and a suitable payment method. Ideally, the seller will also have a good reputation score, and their notice won't raise any red flags. Contact the seller, tell them you want to buy Bitcoin and make a deal. Peer-to-peer exchanges usually use escrow services to protect buyers and sellers, but you should still be wary of scammers when using them.
After buying Bitcoin, it usually gets sent to your account on the exchange. While some people keep their Bitcoin in exchange accounts indefinitely, it's not the safest option. If the exchange goes out of business, gets hacked or if you somehow lose access to your exchange account, you could lose your Bitcoin.
That's why it's usually safer to store Bitcoin in a personal wallet.
To do this, you first need to create a personal Bitcoin wallet address. Then you can send Bitcoin from your exchange account to that personal wallet address.
Not all exchanges accept all payment methods, so if you have a specific payment method in mind, it can be helpful to specifically look for an exchange that accepts it.
Different payment methods have their own pros and cons.
Buying Bitcoin with your bank account
Most Australian cryptocurrency exchanges will accept bank transfers and related payment services such as POLi Payments, Osko and PayID. These transfers are often free and near-instant, so they can be an excellent choice where available. Australian exchanges that accept these options include CoinSpot, Independent Reserve, BTC Markets, Swyftx and more.
BPAY transfers are also accepted by some exchanges, but these are usually much slower and may incur fees.
When using an overseas cryptocurrency exchange, you may see bank transfer payment options referred to as wire transfer or SWIFT payment. These payments will usually be much slower (they can take up to a week) and will attract significantly higher fees than domestic bank transfers, including currency exchange fees. If you want to use a specific overseas exchange, it may be preferable to buy cryptocurrency domestically with local currency and then deposit cryptocurrency onto the exchange instead.
Many Bitcoin brokers let you buy Bitcoin using your credit card, including platforms like Coinbase and Coinmama, and using your credit card allows you to make quick and convenient purchases. Trading platforms such as Binance have also started letting customers directly buy cryptocurrency with a credit card via third-party payment integrations.
However, in all cases, credit card transactions attract relatively high fees, typically in the 1.5% to 3% range. On top of that, they can also incur cash advance fees. Banks often don't look too favourably on these transactions either, and some have blocked customers from buying crypto with plastic. Debit cards aren't as widely accepted as credit cards but can still be used to buy cryptocurrency on some platforms.
Credit cards aren't typically accepted on peer-to-peer exchanges due to the risk of chargeback fraud.
There are three main ways of buying Bitcoin with cash in Australia.
The most direct way is to use a peer-to-peer exchange, and arrange an in-person cash purchase with someone in your local area. Another way is to find a Bitcoin ATM near you, and deposit cash that can then be converted to BTC.
The third way is to pay with cash at a newsagent. Exchanges will generally refer to this payment option as "cash deposit" or "blueshyft". To use this, select the cash payment or blueshyft option on the exchange's website and enter the amount of Bitcoin you want to buy. The exchange will then create a QR code, which will typically be sent to your email address. Take this QR code to a participating blueshyft newsagent (there are over 1,000 participating newsagents in Australia), and let them know you're using the blueshyft service and which exchange it's for.
You can then pay the newsagent with cash, the newsagent can scan the QR code and the Bitcoin will be credited to your exchange account.
Australian exchanges that accept blueshyft payments include CoinSpot and CoinJar. Buying Bitcoin with cash can be as quick and convenient as other payment methods, but it also tends to be among the most expensive payment methods.
PayPal is rarely accepted by cryptocurrency exchanges or other sellers, given the risk of chargeback fraud. This is when someone buys Bitcoin, but then requests PayPal reverse their transaction after they get the Bitcoin, so they get their money back and get to keep the Bitcoin.
If you've got your heart set on buying Bitcoin with PayPal, there are still some options though.
It's unlikely, but not impossible, to find sellers accepting PayPal on peer-to-peer exchanges like Paxful. And if you're more interested in Bitcoin's price action than the underlying asset, you can also fund an eToro account with PayPal.
A potentially riskier third option is a relatively obscure peer to peer platform called xCoins, which was specifically designed to facilitate PayPal for Bitcoin transactions. It's a little vague on how it works though and doesn't have the best security track record.
If you just want to draw down on your PayPal balance, you can also link your PayPal account to a credit card and then buy Bitcoin with that credit card.
Using PayPal can incur additional fees, and it can be difficult to find exchanges that allow it. But if you really want to use it, there are still a number of options.
It's easy to swap other cryptocurrencies for Bitcoin, since BTC is listed on almost all crypto exchanges with a huge range of trading pairs.
You’ll need to search for exchanges that list your desired trading pair. For example, if you want to trade Ether for Bitcoin, you'd look for an exchange with a BTC/ETH pair. Once you’ve found a suitable exchange, you can buy Bitcoin by following a few simple steps.
Simply create an account, and deposit the cryptocurrency (such as ETH) into your exchange wallet. Then go to the market (such as BTC/ETH) and look for where it says "Buy BTC" or "Sell ETH" as the case may be.
Enter the amount you want to buy or sell and create a new order. If you want to aim for a specific exchange rate, you can create a limit order which may be executed when the market shifts enough that it's a good offer. If you just want to swap at current market prices, you can create a market order.
As a rule of thumb, cryptocurrency exchanges will always verify your identity if you are exchanging between fiat currency and cryptocurrency. As such, one of the most reliable ways of buying Bitcoin anonymously is by paying with another cryptocurrency on an exchange that doesn't require user verification. But this isn't much help if you're trying to convert fiat currency to cryptocurrency.
In that case, the most reliably anonymous way of buying Bitcoin is to pay with cash or another untraceable payment method, such as prepaid gift cards, on a peer-to-peer exchange.
Other methods, even if they don't involve identity verification, are only partially anonymous. Bitcoin ATMs have different compliance requirements in different countries, but they will often photograph their users or require them to present ID to a camera in the machine.
And while you can use exchanges such as Changelly to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card, without going through a formal identity verification process on the exchange, these purchases aren't anonymous. They typically require a 3D Secure card, which means buyers are still being identified.
From your CoinSpot account dashboard, click the “Deposit AUD” link. You’ll then be able to access the necessary details to transfer funds into your account via POLi Payments or BPAY. Alternatively, you can opt to deposit cash at a participating newsagency via blueshyft.
Click on the “Buy/Sell” tab at the top of the screen before clicking on the “Buy BTC” button. Specify how much Bitcoin you want to buy or how much AUD you want to spend, then take a moment to review the full details of the transaction before you click “Buy”.
How to choose a Bitcoin exchange
With hundreds of platforms to choose from, finding the best Bitcoin exchange for your needs is a challenging task. To make your choice easier, consider these key factors when comparing exchanges:
Where the exchange is based and how it is regulated. Using local exchanges can be a good idea where possible. They're more likely to accept the local currency and local payment methods, which makes it easier to avoid expensive international transfers and exchange fees that may be incurred when making a deposit to an overseas exchange. It may also give you more recourse in case something goes wrong as well as additional protections under specific exchange or financial services regulations and any applicable consumer rights laws in your country.
Security. Look at the security features a platform has to offer, such as 2-factor authentication and PGP-encrypted emails. Has it ever been hacked or linked to any suspicious activity?
Fees. Check the fine print to find out exactly how much your transaction will cost. Depending on the platform you choose, these could include trading fees and transaction fees as well as deposit and withdrawal charges.
Transaction limits. Are there any minimum or maximum limits on the amount of Bitcoin you can purchase? Does the exchange restrict the amount of funds you can withdraw from your account in any one transaction or 24-hour period?
Supported currencies. As the biggest digital currency in the world by some margin, Bitcoin can be bought and sold on a huge range of platforms. However, if you’re looking to acquire other cryptocurrencies as well as Bitcoin, check to see what other coins you can buy through the platform.
Customer support. If you ever have a problem with a transaction, will you be able to quickly and easily get in touch with the customer support team? Check what contact methods are available and find out how quick the team is at responding to enquiries.
Reputation. Research Bitcoin forums and online reviews to find out what sort of experience other users have had with the platform.
Buying from an Australian Bitcoin exchange: Pros and cons
There’s plenty of choice when selecting a Bitcoin exchange, and Australian users can choose from platforms based here at home or in countries all around the world. So, should you buy Bitcoin from an Australian exchange or from a foreign platform? To help you decide, consider the pros and cons of buying on an Aussie exchange.
Australian exchanges are regulated and must comply with AUSTRAC’s AML/CTF reporting obligations.
You can usually buy Bitcoin with AUD.
Australian exchanges support local payment methods, such as POLi Payments and BPAY.
You can access local customer support.
You get better consumer protection if your funds go missing.
You’ll need to provide your personal details and proof of ID – a disadvantage for people who want to trade anonymously.
Some bigger platforms based overseas offer much better liquidity.
AUD to crypto prices are often higher than USD to crypto prices, meaning you sometimes pay a premium for buying directly with AUD.
Some things are simply not available on Australian exchanges. For example, 100x leverage margin trading, and many altcoins.
Regardless of whether you choose an Australian or overseas-based crypto exchange, make sure you compare a range of options before deciding which platform to use.
The risks of buying Bitcoin
You wouldn’t invest in shares without doing your research first, so make sure you understand the following essential facts about Bitcoin before you buy:
It’s volatile. Take a look at a graph charting the price history of Bitcoin and you’ll see straight away that its value is capable of rising and falling sharply in a relatively short space of time. Not only is Bitcoin volatile but, as a very new asset class, it’s also highly unpredictable. This means there’s a high level of risk associated with buying Bitcoin.
Security is your responsibility. One of the core ideas behind Bitcoin is to remove intermediaries and middlemen from finance. It does this quite well, but this means that at the end of the day, you're solely responsible for the security of your Bitcoin. If you lose your private keys or get hacked, there's probably no one to help you and there's probably no way of getting your money back.
Bitcoin transactions can’t be cancelled. Once you’ve submitted a transaction to the Bitcoin network, it cannot be cancelled. With this in mind, make sure you double-check the receiving address before sending a Bitcoin payment.
Bitcoin is not anonymous. There’s a widespread misconception that all Bitcoin transactions are anonymous. This isn’t the case as your public address and the details of your transactions are visible to everyone. If anonymous transactions are an important feature for you, it may be worth researching privacy-focused coins, such as Monero.
There are tax implications. If you hold Bitcoin as an investment, you’ll be taxed on any capital gains you make when you sell it for AUD or another cryptocurrency. Tax obligations also apply to Bitcoin mining, professional Bitcoin traders and to a range of other scenarios, so make sure you’re fully aware of what you need to report to the ATO. You can also check out our crypto tax guide for more information.
Finally, it’s also worth remembering that Bitcoin is far from the only fish in the cryptocurrency sea. While it may be the biggest and best-known, there are more than 1,600 other cryptocurrencies available as of July 2018 (and growing). While the value of some of these coins is questionable, there are plenty of other digital currencies worth considering as alternatives to Bitcoin.
Bitcoin in brief
Bitcoin is the world's oldest and biggest digital currency by market cap. Created in 2009 by an unknown person (or persons) using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is a form of decentralised electronic cash designed to provide a viable alternative to traditional fiat currency.
Rather than having to deal with a centralised authority such as a bank to process transactions, Bitcoin holders can transfer their coins directly to one another on a peer-to-peer network. All Bitcoin transactions are tracked on a public ledger known as the blockchain, and people working as miners verify transactions and update the blockchain.
If you want to buy a large amount of Bitcoin, for example $50,000 or more, you may want to think twice before placing your trade on a traditional exchange. Not only will you be exposed to slippage, which can substantially increase the cost of your trade, but you’ll also need to accept the risks of hacking and theft associated with traditional exchanges.
Over-the-counter (OTC) brokers can offer better prices, increased transaction limits and faster processing times to large-volume traders. Check out our OTC cryptocurrency trading guide to find out how buying OTC works as well as the benefits and risks you should be aware of.
If you want to buy Bitcoin, start comparing a range of cryptocurrency brokers and exchanges. Look at their features, fees, security and overall reputation to decide which platform is the right fit for you.
You can then sign up for an account and get ready to start trading. However, make sure you research your purchase thoroughly and are fully aware of the risks involved before you buy.
It's possible that Bitcoin prices could skyrocket in the near future, but it's also possible that they could be about to plunge.
No one is entirely certain what Bitcoin prices will do, so it's impossible to say whether it's a good time to buy.
Yes. Each individual Bitcoin is divisible to 0.00000001 BTC, so it’s possible to buy a small fraction of a coin.
While you can store your Bitcoin on an exchange, it’s generally not recommended. Not only are crypto exchanges a popular target for hackers, but storing your coins on an exchange means that you don’t have control of your private keys. As a result, the safest option is to transfer your coins to a secure, private wallet.
The fastest way to buy Bitcoin is probably to use a Bitcoin ATM. If there’s a Bitcoin ATM near you, the process of depositing cash and having it converted to BTC is quite quick.
If there aren’t any ATMs close to you, the quickest way will probably be to use a service that doesn’t require any ID verification. For example, sites like Bitcoin Australia allow you to buy BTC by depositing cash at your local bank branch, with no need to go through a lengthy verification process.
The easiest way to buy Bitcoin in Australia is to use a trusted Bitcoin broker. These services make it as simple as possible to get your hands on some BTC. Their platforms are easy to use, you can pay with AUD using everyday payment methods like your credit card or a bank transfer, and transactions are generally processed quite quickly.
Yes. Bitcoin is a purely digital currency, and it lives entirely online. As such, most Bitcoin trading is done over the internet.
No. Bitcoin isn't a company, so it's not possible to buy shares or Bitcoin stock.
However, there are some Bitcoin-related businesses that trade publicly. For example, it's possible to buy shares in Bitcoin mining companies.
Historically, the share prices of publicly-traded Bitcoin-related companies rise and fall with Bitcoin prices.
Yes. The maximum supply of Bitcoin is limited to 21 million coins.
The time it takes to buy Bitcoin varies depending on the payment method and platform you use. For example, credit card purchases may be processed instantly while bank transfers may take one to two business days to clear.
Check the terms and conditions of your broker or crypto exchange for details of average processing times, and remember that the amount of activity on the Bitcoin network can also have an effect.
If you want to sell Bitcoin, you once again have a wide variety of platforms to choose from, including brokers and a long list of crypto exchanges. You also have the flexibility to exchange your Bitcoin for Australian dollars or to sell it for an extensive range of cryptocurrencies.
You can track Bitcoin’s price history on sites like CoinMarketCap.
Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly
volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of
future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information.
You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory
requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may
have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.
Tim Falk is a writer for Finder, writing across a diverse range of topics. Over the course of his 15-year writing career, Tim has reported on everything from travel and personal finance to pets and TV soap operas. When he’s not staring at his computer, you can usually find him exploring the great outdoors.
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