Step 1 - Get a wallet

There are many wallets to choose from and here are our recommendations:

Web Wallets - Web wallets are the easiest & most convenient to use, but are potentially less secure than wallet software run on your own computer.

    Blockchain (Recommended)
    Coinbase
    Coinjar
    Coinpunk
    Coinkite

Software Wallets - Software wallets are downloaded and run from your computer. They're considered more secure because the user has more control and doesn't depend on a 3rd party service. Most software wallets require nearly a full day constructing a local copy of the blockchain before use.

    BitcoinQT - The original Satoshi wallet from bitcoin.org
    Armory - (Recommended) Armory is the most mature full featured wallet.
    Multibit - This is the easiest to use because it doesn't require a full download of the blockchain.

Mobile Phone Wallets - iphone & Android apps are available.

    Blockchain (Recommended)
    CoinJar
    Coinpunk (Use as a web application on iphone & Android)

Hardware Wallets - Hardware wallets are the most secure because they don't expose your private keys to the network.

    Trezor - (not yet available, coming soon)
    BitSafe - (not yet available, coming soon)

Step 2 - Get Bitcoins

Purchasing Bitcoins - Although it's not yet easy to buy bitcoins, it's getting simpler every day. Here are our recommendations:

    LocalBitcoins.com - This fantastic service allows you to search for people in your community willing to sell bitcoins to you directly.
    How To Buy Bitcoins - An international directory of bitcoin exchanges.
    expresscoin - Recommended for fast, simple service.
    Coinbase - Bitcoin exchange based in the United States. (Highly rated).
    BitStamp - A multi currency bitcoin exchange based in Slovenia. (Highly rated).
    CoinJar - CoinJar allows direct bitcoin purchases on their site. They're based in Australia but serve an international clientele.

Earn Bitcoins - Many people find that the best way to get bitcoins is to accept them as payment for the products or services they already sell. Just give your customers the option to pay in bitcoin.

To make it easy, you may want to sign up for a bitcoin merchant account which allows you to send invoices and integrate bitcoin payments into your online order pages for most of the popular shopping cart systems.

    BitPay - (Highly Recommended) - Merchant account services
    CoinBase - Merchant account services
    Coinkite - Merchant Terminal / POS system

Mining Bitcoins - Mining bitcoins requires an investment in specialized bitcoin mining hardware designed to process double round sha256 hash verifications at high speed. Many excellent systems are available.

It's important to point out that bitcoin mining is highly competitive and risky for would be participants. Please see our bitcoin mining page for more detail.

The manufacturers who have successfuly shipped bitcoin mining hardware in volume are:

    Butterfly Labs
    Avalon
    BitFurry
    KNC

Step 3 - What can I do with my bitcoins?

Bitcoins can be used to purchase just about anything you want. Dental services, a brand new car, travel and even luxury real estate.

We recommend searching the merchant directories below to locate the merchants you're interested in. You can buy gift cards with bitcoin and spend them in most of the stores you already use.

Merchant directories

    coinmap - Find bitcoin friendly merchants near you
    bitpay merchant directory - Over 12,000 businesses and charities.

Gift Cards - Available from Gyft.com and spendable at:

    Amazon
    CVS Pharmacy
    Target
    Staples
    Banana Republic
    Sears

Bitcoin Store - Electronics & everything else for Bitcoin

    Laptops
    Televisions
    Home Appliances
    Everything else

Charity

    Bitcoin Foundation - The Bitcoin Foundation standardizes, protects and promotes the use of Bitcoin cryptographic money for the benefit of users worldwide.
    BitGive - BitGive is a non-profit foundation that is accepting donations from the Bitcoin community and providing charitable gifts to environmental and public health causes worldwide.
    Bitcoin Development Fund - A charity devoted to helping further the development of bitcoin, the open source community and causes of humanity.

Step 4 - Keeping up to date with bitcoin

Here are some good places to keep up with bitcoin news and discussion:

    r/bitcoin - Bitcoin links and discussion by the Reddit community
    Coindesk - An excellent source of bitcoin news
    Bitcoin Magazine - Insightful articles with deep technical credentials
    BitcoinX - Bitcoin headlines, market rates & charting resources
    The Video - An excellent primer for anyone curious to understand the bitcoin phenomenon


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