If you’re aware of the risks and still willing to take the plunge, this is what you need to know about investing in bitcoin: Cryptocurrencies exist in an unregulated, decentralized digital sphere without involvement by (or protection via) a central bank. This is part of bitcoin’s appeal. People or entities can buy and sell cryptocurrency anonymously, and there are fewer middlemen taking a cut of transactions. But it also means you can’t just buy bitcoin via mainstream investing tools like a brokerage account.
First one piece of good news: You can buy fractions up to the eighth decimal place of bitcoin. That means you don’t need to plunk down the nearly $7354 you often see quoted as the price for a full bitcoin — which is probably for the best, as we noted above.
Beyond that, for most people, the best (i.e. simplest) way to invest in bitcoin starts with setting up a cryptocurrency wallet. Some of the better-known sites where you can do this are Coinbase, Bitstamp and Bitfinex, although there are a number of other platforms out there, as well. Once you establish an account, connect it to your payment source — a bank account or a credit or debit card — via two-factor authentication. Of note: It’s important to use a tool like Google Authenticator rather than just relying on text-based authentication, which can be more vulnerable to cybertheft, when investing in bitcoin.
Once you have purchased a bitcoin, it stays in your digital wallet until you trade it — either by using it as currency for a purchase, or by selling it (which is technically “trading” it for American dollars or another currency of your choice).