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Now over twelve years old, bitcoin continues to grow and mature as an alternative asset. After peaking at over $18,000 per coin in late 2017, bitcoin retreated in price, then surged back to claim record price highs above $28,000 in late December 2020. As of publishing, the total value of all bitcoin is nearly $500 billion.
This guide explains what bitcoin is, how to buy bitcoin, and summarizes the best cryptocurrency brokers to trade bitcoin CFDs.
What is bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a form of public internet money or electronic cash, known as cryptocurrency. It was first launched on January 3rd, 2009 after its design was published in a white paper. Bitcoin’s supply is limited, and every bitcoin comes into existence through mining, where anyone from the public can verify transactions to help secure the network.
Thanks to its use of blockchain technology, all transactions are public. Furthermore, bitcoin is highly-resistant to any form of censorship, and forged transactions are impossible.
Best Bitcoin Brokers for 2021
Based on over 105 different variables, here are the best forex brokers to buy cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin.
- eToro - Best overall for crypto trading
- Swissquote - Trusted global brand, diverse offering
- IG - Excellent offering, most trusted
- City Index - Great all-round offering
- AvaTrade - Multiple trading platform options
- XTB - Best customer service, great platform
- HYCM - Over 60 crypto CFDs offered
Best overall for crypto trading
eToro is excellent for cryptocurrency trading and copy trading and is our top pick for both categories in 2021. Furthermore, eToro offers a user-friendly web platform and mobile app that is great for casual investors, including beginners. Read full review
Trusted global brand, diverse offering
Traders willing to pay a premium to have their brokerage account held with a Swiss bank choose Swissquote for its competitive, multi-asset offering. Swissquote's cryptocurrency trading and wallet service are available from its eTrading account, but is segmented away from its forex and CFD trading offering. Read full review
Excellent offering, most trusted - Visit Site
IG is the ultimate forex broker, finishing 1st Overall in our 2021 ranking. Alongside finishing third for Platforms & Tools and second for Research, IG finished Best in Class (top 7) for Cryptocurrency Trading, Offering of Investments (19,000+ tradeable instruments), Commissions & Fees, Education, Mobile Trading, and Professional Trading. Read full review
Great all-round offering
Backed by GAIN Capital, City Index is a trusted brand that traders choose for its advanced trading platforms, excellent mobile app, diverse market research, education, and extensive range of markets. Read full review
Multiple trading platform options
AvaTrade is a trusted global brand best known for offering traders an extensive selection of trading platform options. Our testing found AvaTrade to be great for copy trading, competitive for mobile, mostly in line with the industry average for pricing and research, and a winner for investor education. Read full review
Best customer service, great platform
As a trusted multi-asset broker, XTB offers traders outstanding customer service and an excellent trading experience overall thanks to the xStation 5 trading platform. 25 cryptocurrencies are offered. Read full review
Over 60 crypto CFDs offered
While its storied history is impressive, when it comes to trading forex and CFDs across its global brands, HYCM fails to impress. Effective spreads are high across all account options, and research and education are sub-par. That said, HYCM offers over sixty cryptocurrency CFD pairs. Read full review
How do you buy bitcoin?
There are three primary ways to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like bitcoin:
- 1. Buy bitcoin (the underlying asset) - The most common way to buy bitcoin is to buy physical bitcoin from an online bitcoin exchange such as eToro. Your bitcoin is then held and secured in a digital wallet provided by the broker.
- 2. Buy a bitcoin CFD (Contract for Difference) - Another popular way to trade bitcoin is to use CFDs. With a CFD, you do not own the underlying bitcoin. Instead, you are betting on the direction that bitcoin’s price will go, either up or down, and profiting when you are right.
- 3. Buy an exchange-traded note (ETN) - While far less common and not available in many countries, exchange-traded notes (ETNs) are very slowly growing in popularity. ETNs are similar to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), meaning they trade like stocks on a formal stock exchange. Like ETFs, ETNs aim to mirror the price of the underlying asset they track. For more on bitcoin ETNs, including pros and cons, see this guide from Xena Exchange and this guide from ETF.com.
How much does it cost to trade bitcoin?
Fees for buying bitcoin can become quite high across many websites and un-regulated exchanges, which is why we only suggest using a regulated broker. While fees may vary to buy bitcoin, the costs will consist of any per-trade commission, along with the difference between the bid/ask price, known as the spread.
The fees to trade bitcoin generally start at anywhere from 0.002% to as much as 2% of the trade value, depending on where you trade and the trade size.
Brokers that charge a commission will usually have lower spreads, while commission-free brokers will have higher spreads to make up for the difference. For example, if you buy $25,000 worth of a bitcoin CFD, with a spread of $50, that would be commission equivalent 0.002% of the trade value. In other words, whether via spread or commission, bitcoin involves trading costs.
What does a bitcoin broker do?
Bitcoin brokers enable you to buy or sell cryptocurrency. Without a broker, you cannot safely trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. To avoid scams, using a trusted broker is crucial when you are trading bitcoin.
What is the best forex broker to trade bitcoin?
For bitcoin CFD trading, including the ability to go long or short, we recommend forex brokers such as IG or City Index due to their competitive pricing. Conversely, traders who wish to purchase the underlying physical bitcoin will find that eToro is a great option, followed by Swissquote Bank.
Which forex broker offers the most cryptocurrencies to trade?
Our research found that eToro offers the most cryptocurrency pairs to trade. With eToro, investors can buy and sell bitcoin (underlying asset), trade crypto CFDs, and even copy trade other investors. Behind eToro, other crypto brokers that offer dozens of cryptocurrency CFDs to choose from include XTB and HYCM.
Which crypto exchange is the safest?
Among brokers offering bitcoin underlying, Swissquote, regulated as a Swiss bank, is the safest broker. Founded in 1996, Swissquote is publicly-traded (SIX: SQN) and regulated in four tier-1 jurisdictions. Behind Swissquote, IG is another safe broker for bitcoin trading. While not a regulated Swiss bank, IG is publicly traded (LON: IGG) and regulated in six tier-1 jurisdictions.
How much is one bitcoin worth?
Powered by Blockchain technology, the price of one bitcoin reached a new all-time high above $28,000 in December 2020. The price gains were mostly attributed to new institutional investors entering the market and buying bitcoin.
I first wrote about cryptocurrencies in 2013 when bitcoin was still a novelty. Yet, as I’m writing this, the combined market cap of cryptocurrencies is over $600 billion, with bitcoin accounting for over 70%. According to data from Coinmarketcap, the price of bitcoin fluctuates widely across various trading venues.
Is buying bitcoin risky?
Despite the potential for large gains, buying bitcoin remains risky. The main risk is significant volatility (price swings). For example, if you buy bitcoin and the price drops by a lot, it can create a substantial loss of your money. Adding any leverage (trading with borrowed money) will only further increase the risk when buying bitcoin.
Also, bitcoin remains a complex financial product. Many investors have lost money by losing their private keys, whether through exchange hacks or not securing them properly in self-hosted wallets. Using a regulated, reputable broker is essential for safely trading bitcoin.
How do I know if a crypto broker is regulated?
To avoid scams, you should only use regulated bitcoin brokers. To verify a broker's regulatory status, first, determine the broker's legal name and country, then find the appropriate regulator website to look them up. For example, a broker in the UK must be authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Here on ForexBrokers.com, we track, rate, and rank brokers across 20 international regulators.
How do you sell bitcoin short?
To speculate that bitcoin's price will fall, you must open a forex brokerage account with a broker that offers bitcoin CFDs. Using a contract for difference (CFD), you can open a sell order (bet the price will go down) and then place your trade. To make a profit, the price of bitcoin must fall. If bitcoin rises in price, you will lose money.
If CFDs are not available, using a futures or options contract can be an alternative way to bet against bitcoin. However, bitcoin futures and options are very complex instruments, not widely available, and should only be traded by professionals.
Should I buy physical bitcoin or use CFDs to trade bitcoin?
If you are a long-term cryptocurrency investor, buying the underlying physical bitcoin is the safest and lowest-cost way to invest in bitcoin. For more active, short term trading, Contracts for Difference (CFDs) can be suitable. Just remember, CFDs are not ideal for holding long-term positions (months or years) because the financing charges add up.
Is trading cryptocurrency legal?
In some jurisdictions, cryptocurrency is banned or illegal to purchase, trade, or own. Meanwhile, in other countries, it is perfectly legal. For example, in the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK), it is legal to buy cryptocurrency from regulated brokers. However, CFDs are illegal to trade in both countries. The UK ban on bitcoin CFDs went into effect on January 6th, 2021.
How do you safely store bitcoin?
If you do not want to keep your bitcoin with your online broker, you need to store it safely. To secure your bitcoin, you must choose a hot (online) or cold self-hosted (offline) wallet.
Personally, for a hot wallet (online, internet-connected), I use Blockchain.com, which provides a mobile and web-based version. For cold storage, I use Ledger, a hardware device that allows you to keep the bitcoin private key offline (including creating a backup recovery phrase in written format).
Do I need a broker to buy bitcoin?
Yes, always use a regulated bitcoin broker to buy bitcoin. Using a regulated broker, you will protect yourself from scams, and your bitcoin will be secure. To avoid scams, never buy bitcoin from someone directly on a third-party website or marketplace.
Here's a summary of the best forex brokers for crypto trading.
For our 2021 Forex Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 27 international forex brokers. Each broker was graded on 108 different variables and, in total, over 50,000 words of research were produced.
While encouraged, broker participation was optional. Each broker had the opportunity to complete an in-depth data profile and provide executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting.
All data submitted by brokers is hand-checked for accuracy. Ultimately, our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .1% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.
Forex Risk Disclaimer
"There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading securities. With respect to margin-based foreign exchange trading, off-exchange derivatives, and cryptocurrencies, there is considerable exposure to risk, including but not limited to, leverage, creditworthiness, limited regulatory protection and market volatility that may substantially affect the price, or liquidity of a currency or related instrument. It should not be assumed that the methods, techniques, or indicators presented in these products will be profitable, or that they will not result in losses." Learn more.