Buying Ether to use on the Ethereum network can be as simple as buying Bitcoin, or if you already own Bitcoin, it can be even simpler. But as with any cryptocurrency there is some special care that you need to take to keep your coins safe. If you are new to cryptocurrencies, go slow and get familiar with the software and services and how they work before buying a large amount.
If you already have some Bitcoin or other altcoins, Ether can be bought through these established exchanges. It is possible to buy Ether directly with US dollars, Euros, or other fiat currency by sending a bank wire to Kraken or Bitfinex.
- Poloniex.com (based in the U.S.)
- Kraken.com (based in the U.S. Can buy with USD, EUR, GBP, CAD and JPY. A useful graphical guide is here)
- Bitfinex.com (based in Hong Kong, interesting discussion here)
You can also buy Bitcoin through the following websites and then send it to one of the exchanges above to buy Ether. On these services you’ll need to link your bank account, send a wire transfer, or use a debit or credit card where indicated below.
- Coinbase.com (based in the U.S. – $1000 instant buy is handy)
- Circle.com (based in the U.S. – accepts debit & credit cards for small amounts)
- Bitstamp.net (licensed throughout the E.U., based in Slovenia. Wire transfers accepted in Euros or USD, or residents of United Kingdom, Slovenia, Germany, and Italy can use credit and debit cards.)
- There are lots of other places to buy Bitcoin but be sure you use a trustworthy site, and check the transaction fees before you buy.
On all of the above services you’ll need to verify your identity, which can take a few days.
Once you have purchased Ether, you can store it on the exchange or in a wallet. Many people advise not storing it on an exchange in case the exchange gets hacked or turns out to be dishonest. While this is good advice, also keep in mind that it is possible to lose the password to your wallet, which is just like losing the cash in your real wallet or purse. If you lose your password, the Ether is gone if you can’t find it again.
Most importantly – practice makes perfect. Before you send 100 Ether to your wallet, send 0.1 Ether and then be sure that you can send it back. That way you know you are entering your passwords correctly for both inbound and outbound transactions.
MyEtherWallet.com is a simple way to generate a wallet, but be sure to read the instructions and back up your password (keeping a paper copy is a good idea). The official Ethereum software is named Mist, and if you install it be sure to back up your wallet and your password. See also these advanced features. Jaxx.io offers desktop and mobile wallets that are in beta.
To keep your passwords safe, there are many programs on the market that will store them in an encrypted fashion. I like 1Password by AgileBits, which works on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
One final tip – be careful when copying and pasting your Ethereum address. While the Mist wallet will tell you if you haven’t entered a valid address, your password storage software and other websites and services probably won’t. I usually spot check the first 4 characters and the last 4 characters. Ethereum addresses start with 0x and can end with anything, so your address will look like 0xA2…F2Bc. If you check the first 4 and last 4 characters, you’ve probably copied everything in the middle OK.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything out there, and this page will be updated as new information comes along.