Buy Bitcoin Cheaply in the UK

Want to buy bitcoin without getting ripped off?

Although it’s simple and convenient to buy bitcoin with a debit or credit card, it’s NOT the cheapest way.

Although there are some exceptions (e.g., Wirex), most places will charge upwards of 4% in fees when buying bitcoin with a debit or credit card in the UK.

In this guide, I’m going to walk through some popular, well-recommended, and cheaper ways that you can buy bitcoin in the UK.

Remember: I’m not a financial advisor. Check out my full disclaimer here.

Who is the Cheapest Bitcoin Seller?

Before you can determine the cheapest bitcoin seller in the UK, you’ll need to consider:

  • How close is the asking price to the real BTC to GBP exchange rate?
  • Are there any fees (fixed or percentage-based)?
  • Are you purchasing in GBP or EUR?
  • Is there a minimum deposit?

If you don’t ask these questions, you’ll probably end up getting fewer bitcoins (or satoshis) than you otherwise could.

Exchange Rate

The real BTC to GBP exchange rate is the average mid-market rate across popular bitcoin exchanges. It’s also known as the Bitcoin Price Index (BPI or XBP). It’s an honest indication of what the value of 1 bitcoin currently is.

I use Preev to check the BPI.

When you buy bitcoin from many places, they’ll (almost 100%) sell you bitcoin at a rate which doesn’t match the real BTC to GBP exchange rate.

Why? That’s their profit margin.

You can quickly compare prices (and their relative % above the BPI) with BittyBot.

Let’s put this in perspective.

At the time of writing, the real BTC to GBP exchange rate was £5652.

If you were buying 1 bitcoin with a debit/credit card through Coinbase, you’d pay an additional £225. Paying such high fees is 100% unnecessary. You’re just throwing money away.

There are much better things to waste your hard-earned pounds on.

Fees

While most services charge percentage-based fees, some do charge fixed-rate fees instead.

Your preference for either depends on how much bitcoin you’re intending to buy.

Consider this example:

  • “Seller A” charges a fixed fee of £20.
  • “Seller B” charges a percentage fee of 2%.

Who should you choose?

PurchaseSeller A: Fixed Fee (£20)Seller B: Percentage Fee (2%)
£10020% of Purchase£2
£1,0002% of Purchase£20
£10,0000.2% of Purchase£200

Your choice of seller depends on how much you’re intending to buy:

  • If you’re buying larger amounts of bitcoin, then fixed-rate fees are probably better.
  • If you’re buying smaller amounts of bitcoin, then percentage-based fees are probably better.

GBP or EUR?

GLORY TO THE EMPIRE

Many popular exchanges, like Kraken and Bitstamp, don’t accept GBP deposits. If you want to buy bitcoin on these exchanges, you’ll need to send EUR instead.

When you do this from a GBP bank account, your bank will handle the GBP to EUR exchange for you. Unfortunately, UK banks will exchange between these currencies at a terrible exchange rate. It’s not uncommon for people to lose more than 5% of their money when exchanging currencies with a UK bank.

To add insult to injury? Some UK banks still charge fees to send EUR with a SEPA transfer. This varies from bank-to-bank, but Santander charge £15 and Barclays charge £5.

When looking to buy bitcoin, we must take account of these hidden fees. If we don’t, it distorts our impression of what is really the cheapest option.

Cheapest Purchase Options

There are three best options if you’re looking to buy bitcoin in the UK for the best possible price.

Option #1: Coinbase Pro

Coinbase Twitter header

 

Coinbase Pro (previously GDAX) is the cheapest place to buy bitcoin in the UK.

Coinbase Pro was the first major bitcoin exchange to receive an e-money license from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means they now accept GBP deposits through the UK Faster Payments Service. Coinbase has now completed their rollout of GBP support for all UK customers.

The bottom line?

  • You can now send GBP to Coinbase Pro and it’ll be credited in less than 2 hours.
    • When I’ve made deposits, it’s taken just 30 minutes.
  • You’ll be able to buy bitcoin at the best possible rate and without incurring any fees.

Signup Bonus!

When you signup to Coinbase through this link, you’ll receive a $10 (approx. £7) bonus (paid in bitcoin) when you buy more than $100 (approx. £77) of bitcoin.

It’s 100% worthwhile to take advantage of this signup bonus.

If you signup through this link and bought £100 worth of bitcoin on Coinbase (not Coinbase Pro), you’d actually end up with £107’ish worth of bitcoin.

It’s an absolute no-brainer.

Guide

Want to see how it works? Check out these guides.

FYI: All images can be enlarged by clicking them.

Verify Your UK Bank Account

  • Login to your Coinbase account.
  • Go to: Settings > Linked Accounts
  • Select: Link a New Account

  • Select: UK Bank Account

  • You’ll be asked to enter your UK bank account’s sort code and account number.
  • Once you’ve done that, select: Continue

  • You’ll now see some payment details.
  • To verify the UK bank account, send a small payment (£2) to the details provided.
  • When you’ve completed the payment, select: I’ve Sent It

  • Once Coinbase received this small deposit, your UK bank account will become verified.
    • Although it says it can take up to 2 hours, I’ve had multiple deposits credited in about 30 minutes.
    • You should receive an email when the deposit has been received.

Deposit Funds

Once you’ve verified your UK bank account, it’s possible to deposit GBP directly to Coinbase Pro.

Just follow these steps.

  • Login to Coinbase Pro.
    • You can login to Coinbase Pro with your Coinbase details. Both these services are operated by the same company.
  • In the left sidebar, select: Deposit 

  • Select: British Pound > UK Transfer
  • You’ll now see some payment details.

  • Send GBP funds to the account details provided.
  • Within 2 hours, the deposit should be credited to your Coinbase Pro account.

Buy Bitcoin

If you want to buy bitcoin without incurring ANY fees, then you’ll need to submit a limit order on Coinbase Pro.

This might seem a little overwhelming at first. Don’t be discouraged though – it’s easier than it appears to get started.

Until you’re comfortable with the process detailed below, consider buying the smallest amount possible. At the time of writing, that’s 0.001 BTC.

  • Login to Coinbase Pro.
    • You can login to Coinbase Pro with your Coinbase details. Both these services are operated by the same company.
  •  In the top left, check that you’re on the BTC-GBP market.
    • If you’re not:
      • Click: Select Market
      • Select BTC-GBP from the drop-down that appears.
  •  In the left sidebar, select: Buy > Limit
  •  To ensure you pay no fees, check that Post Only (under Execution) is selected.

  • In ‘Order Book’, select: the highest green number.
    • This will autofill the limit price box in the left sidebar.
    • The highest green number is the highest price currently submitted to the order book for a BTC purchase.
  • In the left sidebar, enter the amount of BTC you want to purchase at that price.
    • If you want to spend your entire GBP balance, click: Max
  • At the bottom of the left sidebar, you’ll see the fees and the total cost to submit this order.
    • If you want to spend less/more, modify the BTC amount you previously entered. 0.001 BTC is the minimum.
  • Happy with all the details? Click: Place Buy Order

  • You’ll find this buy order under ‘Open Orders’.
  • You’ll also see the size (in BTC) of this order appear in ‘Order Book’.
  • Wait a few minutes.
  • If the status of the order hasn’t changed after 2-3 minutes, cancel (by clicking the small x) and re-submit the order.

Once the order has been filled:

  • The status of the order will change (from Open to Filled).
  • You’ll see a summary of the completed order in ‘Fills’.
  • In the left sidebar, you’ll see that your balance has changed!

Advantages

  • Cheapest way to buy bitcoin in the UK.
    • Deposits are free and credit in <2 hours.
    • Fund with GBP via Faster Payments.
    • Real BTC to GBP exchange rate.
  • Support:
    • Bitcoin (BTC).
    • Ethereum (ETH).
    • Litecoin (LTC).
    • Ethereum Classic (ETC).
    • Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
    • Basic Attention Token (BAT)
    • 0x (ZRX)
  • Reputable and trusted exchange (recently awarded FCA e-money license).
  • High limits.
  • Don’t need to verify identity with multiple companies (just Coinbase).

Disadvantages

Option #2: Revolut Route

Revolut allows you to exchange from GBP to EUR without any hidden fees.

Your second option is long-winded and nowhere near as convenient as option #1, but it’s another cheap way to buy bitcoin in the UK.

It’s been a popular workaround used by UK residents to buy bitcoin as cheaply as possible since mid-2017.

It goes something like this:

  1. Open an account with Revolut (mobile banking app) and Bitstamp (cryptocurrency exchange).
  2. Add EUR account in Revolut:
    • Select:
      • More (in bottom bar).
      • Profile (in top bar).
      • Account Details.
      • Add Account’
      • Search for EUR and tap on it.
  3. Activate your EUR account in Revolut.
    • Select:
      • More (in bottom bar).
      • Profile (in top bar).
      • Account Details.
      • EUR.
      • Activate.
    • Details should populate, with the beneficiary (your name), IBAN, and BIC.
  4. Transfer funds from GBP bank account (via transfer or debit card) to your GBP Revolut account.
  5. Exchange GBP funds in Revolut to EUR (at the real exchange rate, instantly).
  6. Transfer funds from your EUR Revolut account to Bitstamp
  7. Buy bitcoin on the BTC/EUR market at the best possible rate.

Guide

Before doing this, make sure you’ve activated your EUR wallet in Revolut.

1) On Bitstamp, click ‘Deposit’ at the top of the page.

2) Select ‘EU Bank (SEPA)’ in the left navigation bar.

3) A warning will pop-up.

  • This will ask you to confirm that the transfer is coming from an account in your name.
  • As long as you’ve activated your Revolut EUR account (see above for instructions), you shouldn’t have a problem.

4) Enter some details about the transfer, then click ‘Deposit’.

  • Confirm the first and last name on your Revolut EUR account.
    • You can check this by:
      • Swiping to EUR on the Revolut dashboard.
      • Clicking on your EUR balance.
      • Scrolling down.
  • Under ‘Account Balance’, select ‘Euro’.
  • Under ‘Amount’, enter how much you wish to deposit.

5) You’ll now see the deposit details.

6) Plug these details into Revolut:

  • To add a new beneficiary:
    • Open Revolut
    • Select: Pink transfer button
    • Select: ‘To bank account’
    • Select: ‘Add a new beneficiary’

7) When you’re ready, select this new beneficiary.

8) Input the desired amount and make sure that you enter your reference number (provided by Bitstamp) in the highlighted area. If you don’t, your payment might be delayed or rejected.

Make sure you put in your reference!

9) Double check everything and send the money over. It’ll usually be credited in 1 business day, but can take longer.

Advantages

Disadvantages

I’ve written a follow-up post which answers some of the most FAQs received here.

Option #3: OTC Services

If you’re taking this route, LocalBitcoins is usually the cheapest.

 

Your third best option is to buy bitcoin through over-the-counter (OTC) services with a GBP UK bank transfer.

Popular and well-recommended options include:

While you won’t get the best possible price when using these options, they are still quite competitive. Most of these options are usually selling at rates which are no more than 2.5% above the real BTC to GBP exchange rate.

This is still better than many options recommended across YouTube, Reddit, and other websites. For example, Coinmama charges you more than 10% in fees when buying bitcoin. That’s somehow shocking, insulting, and amusing all at the same time.

Advantages

  • Convenient, quick, and easy (once you’re verified).
  • Competitive prices (usually less than 2.5% above the real exchange rate).
  • No hidden/extra fees.
    • You might need to pay network fees (< £0.10).
  •  Purchase with GBP, avoiding complication of GBP to EUR exchanges.

Disadvantages

  • You’ll need to verify your identity (ID, bank card, and maybe more) with most of these services.
  • Bitcoin prices will be above the real BTC to GBP exchange rate.

Which Option Is Best?

If you want to buy bitcoin at the best possible price, then buying through Coinbase Pro (option #1) is a no-brainer. While getting verified can be a bit of a headache, it’s worth the effort to avoid getting ripped off.

Since the introduction of support for UK Faster Payments, Coinbase Pro is now the cheapest way to buy bitcoin in the UK.

But what about if you don’t want to use Coinbase Pro?

The other options I’ve mentioned are still competitive. In fact, they’re only becoming more competitive with the popular exchanges.

When I was updating this post, BeyondCC were advertising rates at less than 0.75% above the real BTC to GBP exchange rate. Some reputable Localbitcoins sellers were selling at about a 1% premium. These are still excellent rates.

What Next?

Although not mandatory, hardware wallets are popular and well-recommended across the crypto-community. Hardware wallets are small USB devices which help keep your hard-earned cryptocurrency secure.

I personally use the Ledger Nano S. It’s affordable (£74), supports more than 28 coins, and makes securing your cryptocurrency really easy. I think it’s 100% worth the money.

Check out my recent write-up to learn more about the Ledger Nano S.

Amendments

Change #1
Thanks to nanonanouk for clarifying that BittyBot includes all fees in their price comparisons. I had originally stated that this wasn’t the case.
Change #2
promil1 shared their experience that transfers from Revolut to Coinbase don’t take longer than 24 hours (usually less). Originally, I’d stated that transfers to exchanges take somewhere between 1-2 days.
Change #3
As pointed out by Woodseh, it’s critical that you add Coinbase’s reference number when sending a payment through Revolut. I’ve amended the guide to emphasise this.

Have a Question?

Have a problem you can’t solve? Or a question you can’t find an answer to?

Comment below and let me know! I usually respond within 24-48 hours.

Anything to Add?

Did I miss something? Or did I make a mistake?

Let me know in the comments below or tweet me.

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