Easy Step by Step Guide to Getting Started with Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies

Introduction – Caution

The most important thing to remember when it comes to cryptocurrencies is that they give you full power and control of your money. However, with great power, comes great responsibility.

There is no helpdesk if you mess up.

So a good rule is to always start with very small transactions. Start with baby steps.

  • Send $2 worth of your coins from one wallet to a friend and have them send it back.
  • Buy $2 worth of BTC on an exchange to get familiar with the system and order entering.

My last tip, when sending any kind of crypto, since the addresses look like this:

0xb99c160514dfe68BCAbd6bF3045d3dd0F90eb0AC

Never type in the address, always copy it, and paste it into the wallet. It’s simply way too easy to make a mistake if you type it.

Step 1 – Get a Wallet

The reason this is step one is that you have to order a wallet and it will take anywhere from a few days to a couple months (the companies can’t keep up with demand right now).

I recommend the Ledger Nano S. That’s the one I use and I like it because it’s easy to use and holds a few coins.

The absolute safest is to order from the Ledger site directly: Ledger Nano S Cryptocurrency hardware wallet.

The reason to order directly is that you don’t want to take any risk that your wallet has been tampered with – which might allow someone to steal your coins.

The only other source I would trust is Amazon, which has the advantage of getting the wallets quicker than from Ledger.

 Ledger Nano S

Step 1.1 Get a Software Wallet

While you’re waiting for your Nano, you will probably want to get started with a software wallet. There are many choices depending on whether you want a mobile wallet for your phone or a desktop wallet.

Personally, I prefer not to carry any significant amount of cryptos in a wallet on my phone – for security reasons, but if I do for some reason, I use the Copay Bitcoin (only) wallet.

I’d recommend checking out this link about 10 popular wallets. It says they are for Android, but almost all of them also have Apple versions.

Exodus Wallet

The wallet I use most is called Exodus. The reason I like it is that it holds many of the most popular coins, and it allows you to control your own private keys. Which means if the Exodus company goes out of business AND your computer dies, you can go to another wallet, by another company and still access your coins by restoring your wallet from your private keys.

Another really cool feature about Exodus that I like is that you can exchange one coin to another from right inside the wallet. It isn’t the best exchange rate that you’ll find, but it’s not bad and it’s quick and easy if you need Bitcoin and all you have is Ethereum.

Step 2 – Get Started on An Exchange

Option One – Coinbase

Coinbase is where almost everyone starts. The main advantage is you can get set up quickly and they allow you to buy Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum with a credit card.

My personal invite page for my friends, where you can claim $10 of free Bitcoin!

Coinbase is the world’s most popular way to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

The main disadvantage is they make you start with very small amounts and building up to larger amounts can take weeks. The other disadvantage, for Canadians, is that it doesn’t allow funding via wire transfers, and it doesn’t allow withdrawals to Canadian dollars (or any other type of fiat money).

Option Two – QuadrigaCX

Especially for Canadians, is the exchange that I use. The advantages are:

  • Pricing of Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum in Canadian dollars
  • Easy ways to move funds into your account from your bank or Interact card
  • Easy to sell your coins to Canadian dollars and transfer back to your regular bank account. Once you’ve made your fortune, you may want to spend a bit of it 😉

Visit: QuadrigaCX and click the big red Register Now button to start the signup process.

You’ll need to validate your identity and go through several hoops to have access to all functionality. Step by step.

Once your account has been approved, the next step is to add funds. Beside the little Canadian flag, click the little orange downward facing arrow and select “Fund Account.”

This will take you a page that lists all the current funding options. You’ll need to decide which one suits your needs the best. I’d avoid the “voucher” option – it just seems like a crazy method. But the others are solid.

Notice the fees, as they can be quite high in some cases. Also, notice how long they take. With the price of Bitcoin going up rapidly sometimes, it may be worth a higher fee to get your funds in quicker.

Click the “Select” button next to your method and follow the instructions.

How to Buy Bitcoin on QuadrigaCX

Click the “Trade” tab and select the market (coin) with the little icon in the top right corner.

Note: QuadrigaCX uses “X?T” for Bitcoin.

buying bitcoin on Quadrigacx

Then all you have to do is enter the amount you want to buy and your price and click the green “BUY” button.

Remember my suggestion to start with a micro amount to make sure you get it right.

Option Three – Coinsquare Exchange (my current favourite)

I’ve just started using the Coinsquare exchange. I started using this exchange, one because it’s Canadian, and two because Quadrigacx wire transfer funding has become hit and miss.

They allow many funding options, including Interac Transfers which is almost instant.

I’ve made 3 large wire transfers into Coinsquare and it has been flawless. Customer support has been excellent as well.

One thing that I really don’t like about Coinsquare, is that they give their pricings backward.

Crazy backward pricing in Coinsquare

Instead of giving you a price for Bitcoin in Canadian dollars, they give a price for Canadian dollars in Bitcoin. This is completely messed up and I haven’t been able to get an answer from them for why they do it like that.

But their systems works well, and I’ve found the pricing to be pretty close to the market price once you convert it from being backward and compare to USD prices.

A Couple other Notes about Coinsquare

1.) DO NOT use their “Quick”  trade function. The prices in there are 5% higher than the “Advanced” trade system, which is A LOT to pay just to exchange fiat to Bitcoin.

Try very small dollar amounts on the Advanced system until you get comfortable.

2.) With their system, you can only buy Bitcoin with Canadian dollars, so if you want Ethereum, like me, you need to first purchase Bitcoin, then what I do is transfer to another major exchange, like Binance or Bittrex where you can trade BTC for almost any other coin.

Step 3 – Setup your Hardware Wallet

Once you have some coins, we want to follow the crypto best practice of not storing coins on an exchange (exchanges are targets for hackers) and the whole point of cryptocurrencies is to control your own money – which we cannot do if we have to trust an exchange.

If you have to leave them on the exchange while you wait for your wallet to arrive, it will be okay. But no longer than necessary.

The following video shows clearly how to set up your Ledger Nano S

Move your Bitcoin to your Wallet

(Note: If you’ve bought something that isn’t Bitcoin or Ethereum, then you’ll have to verify that the Ledger can store them. Currently, it will store Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and many altcoins, but not all of them, so check to be sure before you send any other coins to this wallet.)

Now that your wallet is set up, let’s get your coins off of Coinbase or QuadrigaCX (or any other exchange where you bought them).

Go to the coin you have purchased and select “Withdraw”

move coins off of exchange and onto your walllet

Put in your amount. I recommend the minimum for your first attempt. If you make a mistake, you’ll likely not recover it, so this first one will be a test.

Enter your wallet address. IMPORTANT: each coin has a different wallet address. If you sent Bitcoin to an Ethereum or Litecoin address, you will likely lose your coins.

Double check everything. If possible, copy and paste the address, or use the barcode to avoid typos. Check it again and press send.

Confirm the Funds are In your Wallet

Verify that the funds arrived in your wallet. This can take some time, it can be anywhere from 2 minutes to 12 hours depending on the coin and the congestion on the network.

Some exchanges also take several hours to process a withdrawal, so don’t panic. If it’s more than 24 hours, you probably made mistake somewhere, you can open a support ticket with the exchange to get help figuring out the problem.

Congratulations, you’re now part of the crypto financial revolution.

Have a question or comment, send a message.