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How to buy bitcoin, which has rocketed in value in recent months

Key Points
  • Bitcoin's value had been surging before it sank earlier this week.
  • It's easy to buy bitcoin using a popular app called Coinbase.
  • You can also use Coinbase to buy and sell other cryptocurrencies.
Coinbase is a popular option for buying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Bitcoin has been on a surge, although its value did skid Thursday morning, plunging $2,000 in less than 24 hours after the cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase experienced a Wednesday outage.

On Sunday, the digital currency soared above $11,000 for the first time in 15 months, climbing to $13,485.85. That's its highest price since January 2018 before a big crash in November 2018 wiped out 70% of its value and dropped the price below $4,000.

Bitcoin is highly volatile, as those figures show, and is still off its highs of about $20,000 reached in late 2017.

It's easy to buy bitcoin if you want to see what owning it is like. And if the price sounds too steep, you don't need to buy an entire bitcoin just to participate in the market. You can purchase just a small fraction of one bitcoin.

This is not an endorsement to own bitcoin, and you should talk to a financial adviser if you want to make a big investment, but if you decide to participate in conversations about it or just want to understand a little more about how buying bitcoin works, check out the guide below.

Coinbase is one of the most popular options for buying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, so we'll start there.

Create an account at Coinbase.com with the app

Despite its recent outage, Coinbase is back online. It has long been a go-to spot to buy cryptocurrencies. It's easy to create an account and get up and running in just a few minutes. Just enter in your name, email and password to sign up.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Add a payment account to Coinbase

Add a bank account or debit card to buy bitcoin in Coinbase.

You can add an account by tapping "trade" on the Coinbase website for the first time. This allows you to choose what you want to buy and how you're going to pay. I linked my bank account and a debit card. A bank account gives you a higher buying limit of $25,000, but your purchases will be on hold for a few days. A debit card gives you instant access to your crypto purchases, but you have a $3,000 buying limit.

Tap 'trade' on the top-right of the Coinbase website or app.

Choose how much bitcoin you want to buy. If I spend $15, at current levels, I'll get about 0.00112114 bitcoin. Next, pick how you want to pay, whether it's the bank account you've set up or your debit card. Finally, tap "preview purchase."

Confirm the details before you buy

Review what you're buying before you make a purchase. Also note teh Coinbase fee.

There was a $1.49 fee for my purchase, but the fees can be greater depending on how much bitcoin you buy and whether you use your debit card or checking account to pay for it. Then Tap "Buy now" to complete it. If the exchange range changes while you wait, the purchase will fail, so move quick if you want to buy at the current bitcoin price.

That's it!

I've purchased a fraction of a bitcoin for $15.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

That's all there is to buying some bitcoin. It's quick and easy. You can tap the "trade" button again to sell your bitcoin for cash to deposit back into your bank account, or convert it to other cryptocurrencies on the Coinbase exchange. Also, you can use the guide above to other cryptocurrencies supported on the exchange, such as ethereum, litecoin, XRP and more.

Again, this is not an endorsement to buy any of those. Do your research first.

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