Once you have a bitcoin wallet, you can use a traditional payment method such as a credit card, bank transfer (ACH), or debit card to buy bitcoins on a bitcoin exchange. The bitcoins are then transferred to your wallet. The availability of the above payment methods is subject to the area of jurisdiction and exchange chosen. Below is a screenshot of the bitcoin interface on Coinbase showing how to buy and sell bitcoin and also Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin, which are other popular virtual currencies. The user clicks the "Buy" tab to buy digital currency and the "Sell" tab to sell digital currency. You select which currency you are buying/selling and which payment method (your bank account or credit card) you want to use.
P2P Exchanges: Unlike decentralized exchanges, which match up buyers and sellers anonymously and facilitate all aspects of the transaction, there are some peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange services which provide a more direct connection between users. Local Bitcoins is an example of such an exchange. After creating an account, users can post requests to buy or sell bitcoin, including information about payment methods and price. Users then browse through listings of buy and sell offers, choosing those trade partners with whom they wish to transact. Local Bitcoins facilitates some of the aspects of the trade. While P2P exchanges do not offer the same anonymity as decentralized exchanges, they allow users the opportunity to shop around for the best deal. Many of these exchanges also provide ratings systems so that users have a way to evaluate potential trade partners before transacting.
Depending upon the exchange, there may be benefits and disadvantages to paying with cash, credit or debit card, or bank account transfer. For instance, while credit and debit cards are among the most user-friendly methods of payment, they tend to require identification and may also impose higher fees than other methods. Bank transfers, on the other hand, typically have low fees, but they may take longer than other payment methods.
Remember that the bitcoin exchange and the bitcoin wallet are not the same things. Bitcoin exchanges are similar to foreign exchange markets. The exchanges are digital platforms where Bitcoin is exchanged for fiat currency—for example, bitcoin (BTC) for U.S. dollars (USD). While exchanges offer wallet capabilities to users, it is not their primary business. Since wallets must be secure, exchanges do not encourage storing large amounts of bitcoin or for long periods. Therefore, it is advisable to transfer your bitcoins to a secure wallet. Because security must be your top priority when choosing a bitcoin wallet, opt for one with a multi-signature facility.
After you’ve set up your wallet with a payment method, you'll need a place to actually buy bitcoin. Users can buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from online marketplaces called “exchanges,” similar to the platforms that traders use to buy stock. Exchanges connect you directly to the bitcoin marketplace, where you can exchange traditional currencies for bitcoin.