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How to Buy Ethereum (ETH) in the UK in 2024

Kane Pepi
Kane Pepi | Verified by Alan Draper
Last updated: | 17 min read

While most crypto investors in the UK hold Bitcoin (BTC), it’s also worth considering Ethereum (ETH). Put simply, Ethereum is the world’s largest smart contract ecosystem, and the second-biggest crypto by market capitalization.

This beginner’s guide explains how to buy Ethereum in the UK. We also discuss the safest and cheapest places to invest, and what risks to consider before proceeding.

What is Ethereum?

Before delving into our how to buy Ethereum UK guide, let’s explore how this crypto project works. Ethereum was launched in 2015. Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum enables developers to build decentralized applications (dApps). In simple terms, dApps allow users to complete tasks without needing a centralized third party. For example, one of the most used dApps on Ethereum is Uniswap. The Uniswap platform enables traders to swap tokens anonymously.

There are thousands of other Ethereum dApps, ranging from decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystems and metaverses to play-to-earn games. All Ethereum dApps pay fees in ETH. This gives ETH intrinsic value, as dApps can’t operate without it. ETH trades on public exchanges like any other crypto asset.

What is Ethereum?

The value of ETH changes as every second passes. According to CoinMarketCap, ETH has increased by over 128,000% since its inception. Over the prior 12 months, ETH’s value has risen by 100%. In contrast, the FTSE 100 increased by 4% over the same period. Today, Ethereum has a market capitalization of over $435 billion.

This means that Ethereum is worth more than any single company listed on the London Stock Exchange. However, although Ethereum is the second-largest crypto by market capitalization, it isn’t without its challenges. Especially in terms of high transaction fees and low scalability. This is why other smart contract networks, like Solana, are increasing in popularity.

Ethereum, Ether, and ETH: What’s the Difference?

When exploring how to buy Ethereum in the UK, you’ll likely come across three different terms. Ethereum, Ether, and ETH are sometimes used interchangeably, but they refer to different aspects of the ecosystem.

  • Ethereum: The name of the blockchain ecosystem is Ethereum
  • Ether: Ethereum’s native crypto asset is called Ether
  • ETH: The ticker symbol of Ether is ETH

How to Buy Ethereum: 5 Easy Steps

Now that we’ve explained how Ethereum works, we can move on to our step-by-step buying guide. Read on to buy Ethereum in the UK in five simple steps.

Step 1: Select a UK-Supported Exchange

First, you’ll need to choose a suitable crypto exchange that lists Ethereum. Make sure the exchange is safe and reputable. It should also accept UK clients and fiat payments. Explore which deposit types are available and what fees you’ll be charged when trading Ethereum.

We discuss the best crypto exchanges in the UK further down. Nonetheless, our top pick is eToro, an FCA-regulated platform with over 3 million UK clients. eToro not only offers a safe place to invest but also a convenient one. This is because eToro supports fiat payments via local bank transfers, debit/credit cards, and e-wallets.

Is eToro a good place to buy Ethereum?

We’ll use eToro as our example platform for the remainder of this walkthrough. However, the steps are the same for most platforms. So, you’ll need to register an account before you can buy Ethereum. At eToro, this entails clicking on ‘Sign Up’ and entering some personal information

Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you should not expect to be protected if something goes wrong.

 

Step 2: Complete KYC Verification

eToro complies with UK anti-money laundering legislation, so it must legally ask for some ID verification documents. You’ll need to upload a copy of your passport or driver’s license. eToro also needs proof of address, issued within the past three months. Most UK clients use a utility bill or bank statement, but other documents are also accepted.

How Long Does KYC Take?

  • Know-Your-Customer (KYC) checks are now mandatory at most crypto exchanges.
  • In the early days of KYC, it would take exchanges several days to verify client documents. This is because the process was entirely manual.
  • Fortunately, KYC checks are now automated at most platforms. This means your identity will often be verified in seconds, rather than days.

Step 3: Make a Fiat Deposit

eToro is a regulated UK investment platform that accepts fiat payments.

UK investors can easily deposit funds with one of the following payment methods:

  • Debit/credit card issued by Visa, MasterCard, or Maestro
  • E-wallets via PayPal, Skrill, or Neteller
  • Local bank transfers

The minimum deposit requirement is $10 for UK investors, which is ideal for first-time buyers. However, do note that eToro charges an FX fee of 1.5%.

Step 4: Prepare ETH Order

You can now use the funds in your eToro account to buy Ethereum. Search for ‘Ethereum’ on the eToro website. Click on the ‘Trade’ button when Ethereum appears. An order box will then be shown on your screen. The order box might appear intimidating for newbies. Fortunately, there is only one field that needs to be completed.

You simply need to type in the investment size in the ‘Amount’ box.

Step 5: Place ETH Trade

Once you’re ready to invest click on the ‘Buy’ button. The order is set as a ‘market’ order, so eToro will place it straightaway. The US dollars will be deducted from your eToro account. The ETH coins will then be added to your eToro web wallet. You’ll notice the value of your ETH position rises and falls. This is based on real-time market prices.

Nonetheless, you can leave the purchased ETH coins in your eToro account or withdraw them to a private wallet. We discuss the best crypto wallets for UK traders further down.

Where to Buy Ethereum in the UK? The Best Platforms

Choosing the best place to buy Ethereum in the UK is crucial. Key metrics to consider include regulation, accepted payment methods, trading commissions, wallet storage, and customer support.

Our research shows that eToro, MEXC, and Coinbase are the three best options for UK traders. Read on to find out which of these Ethereum exchanges is best for you.

eToro – Safest Place to Buy Ethereum in the UK

First is eToro, our overall top pick for safety. eToro is authorized and regulated by the FCA. It has been trading since 2007 and is now used by 30 million clients globally (3 million in the UK). Moreover, eToro keeps client funds in segregated, tier-one bank accounts. It also offers two-factor authentication (2FA) and keeps client-owned coins in cold storage wallets.

In addition to safety, eToro offers a simple investment process. Simply open an account and deposit USD with a debit/credit card, e-wallet, or bank transfer. The minimum deposit is just $10, meaning eToro is an affordable option for most. However, eToro charges higher fees than many exchanges.

Buy Ethereum on eToro

You’ll also pay a trading commission of 1% when buying Ethereum. That said, many investors are happy to pay these fees for peace of mind. Moreover, eToro is accessible on desktop and mobile browsers. It also offers an iOS/Android app. eToro is ideal for diversification; it lists dozens of other coins, plus shares, ETFs, and commodities.

Pros

  • Authorized and regulated by the FCA
  • Instantly deposit fiat with a debit/credit card or e-wallet
  • Minimum Ethereum purchase of $10
  • Diversify into other cryptocurrencies, plus shares, ETFs, and commodities
  • User-friendly platform accessible on desktop and mobile devices

Cons

  • Trading commissions of 1% are higher than many other platforms

Exchange Payments  Commission to Buy Ethereum
eToro Directly accepts debit/credit cards, e-wallets, and local bank transfers. 1%

Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you should not expect to be protected if something goes wrong.

 

MEXC – Cheapest Ethereum Exchange for UK Traders 

We found that MEXC is one of the cheapest places to buy Ethereum in the UK. It charges just 0.1% on spot trading commissions. This means you’ll pay just $1 for every $1,000 worth of Ethereum traded. This is the case with all supported coins, whether that’s Bitcoin, Litecoin, Cardano, Solana, or Tether.

You can instantly deposit funds with a UK debit/credit card. Fees average 3% but will vary depending on the provider. MEXC is also a great option for making Ethereum price predictions. It offers real-time pricing charts and technical indicators.

Is MEXC available in the UK?

That said, these tools are best suited for intermediate-to-advanced traders. MEXC offers a mobile app for iOS and Android. This enables you to trade Ethereum while on the move. You can also access your account via a desktop device. Security features are robust at MEXC. Accounts are protected by 2FA, IP device whitelisting, and SMS verification.

Pros

  • The cheapest way to buy Ethereum in the UK
  • Spot trading fees of 0.1% per slide
  • Also supports some of the best DePIN coins
  • Robust security tools – including 2FA and device whitelisting
  • Offers a native mobile app for iOS and Android

Cons

  • Some fiat deposits are processed by third parties, so fees can be high
  • Many products aren’t available to UK traders – including leveraged futures

Exchange Payments Commission to Buy Ethereum
MEXC Some fiat payments are handled by third-party processors. Visa and MasterCard can be used. Fees are determined by the processor, but average 3%. 0.10%

Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong.

Coinbase – Fastest Way to Invest in Ethereum 

We found that Coinbase offers the fastest way to invest in Ethereum. From start to finish it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. After opening an account and uploading some ID, you can instantly buy Ethereum with a debit card. The ETH coins will then be added to your Coinbase wallet, which you keep there or withdraw.

Buying Ethereum instantly will cost you 3.99% of the transaction amount. This makes Coinbase expensive. However, there is a considerably cheaper workaround. This is because UK investors can deposit fiat instantly via Faster Payments. Make sure you enter your unique reference.

How to buy Ethereum on Coinbase

The commission is reduced to 0.5% when switching to Coinbase Advance. This is the professional trading dashboard offered by Coinbase, but it’s fairly simple to use once you know how. Coinbase is also one of the safest exchanges in the UK. It has FCA approval and has been trading since 2012. Coinbase is also listed on the NASDAQ exchange.

Pros

  • One of the fastest ways to buy Ethereum
  • Invest instantly with Visa or MasterCard
  • Fiat deposits via Faster Payments are processed almost immediately
  • Reputable exchange with tier-one security tools
  • Supports more than 100 other cryptocurrencies

Cons

  • A 3.99% fee is attached to debit card purchases
  • You’ll need to use Coinbase Advanced for the lowest fees

Exchange Payments Commission to Buy Ethereum
Coinbase Directly accepts debit cards (3.99%) and Faster Payment (Free) transfers. 1.49% (Standard), 0.5% (Coinbase Advanced)

Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong.

 

How We Ranked The Best Places to Buy ETH in the UK

ETH is listed on hundreds of online exchanges, so we compiled a methodology to rank the best providers. Here’s what to look for when exploring how to buy and sell Ethereum in the UK.

Compliance with UK Regulations

Safety was our main priority when researching Ethereum exchanges. Although crypto assets are unregulated financial products, UK investors are advised to stick with FCA-regulated providers.

This is why eToro is the safest place to invest in the UK. Not only is it authorized by the FCA, but it is also regulated. This keeps eToro in check, ensuring that accounts are kept safe and that client funds are held in segregated bank accounts. What’s more, we expect all exchanges to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. This means asking for ID verification documents from new customers.

Exchanges serving UK clients should also remember the new Crypto Travel Rule, as per the FCA. This requires exchanges to collect information when transferring crypto to another wallet address. Previously, wallet transfers were anonymous.

Cheapest ETH Trading Fees

Low trading fees are a must when investing in Ethereum. We mentioned that MEXC is one of the most competitive, charging just 0.1% per slide. This means you’ll pay just $1 in commission when buying $1,000 worth of Ethereum.

Some exchanges offer lower fees when trading larger volumes. It’s also possible to get discounts when holding the exchange’s native token. In addition to commissions, investors should also incorporate deposit and withdrawal fees into their calculations.

How to Safely Store Your Ethereum

Ethereum is a virtual currency that’s stored digitally. There are several storage options available to you after you’ve invested. The best option will depend on your personal circumstances, financial goals, and prior experience.

  • For instance, beginners might decide to leave their ETH coins in their exchange account. However, you’ll need to factor in counterparty risks.
  • As such, withdrawing the ETH coins to a private wallet is the better option.
  • You’d then need to decide between hot and cold storage.

Let’s explore the best ways to store Ethereum in a lot more detail.

Holding ETH on Exchanges (Active Trading)

The easiest option is to buy Ethereum on an exchange and leave the coins there. This is similar to buying shares and leaving them in your stock brokerage account. However, unlike shares, Ethereum is a decentralized asset. This means your coins are at risk if the exchange is hacked.

This is a common occurrence in the crypto industry. Your ETH coins are also at risk if the exchange runs into financial issues. While the riskiest option, leaving the ETH coins in your exchange account is also the most convenient. When you decide to sell you simply need to log into your account to close your position. Plus, you won’t need any knowledge of how wallet security works.

Hot Wallets (Convenient)

Withdrawing Ethereum to a private wallet gives you full control of your coins. You’ll remove the counterparty risk and won’t need permission to transfer funds. You’ve got two options when choosing a wallet. The most convenient is a ‘hot’ wallet. This means the wallet is always connected to a live server, as it’s software-based.

For example, one of the best hot wallets is offered by Zengo. This comes as a mobile app for iOS and Android, making it seamless to send, receive, and store ETH. Zengo uses MPC technology and multi-factor authentication, so is considered safe.

Alternatively, you might also consider MetaMask. It comes as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Brave. This means MetaMask will appeal to device users. Both Zengo and MetaMask are free.

Cold Wallets (Recommended)

Cold wallets allow you to store ETH offline. This is because cold wallets are never connected to live servers. Unless you’re using a paper wallet, cold wallets come as a hardware device. The leading providers are Trezor and Ledger, which have several different models.

best wallet for ETH

In all cases, the private keys are stored within the device. You’ll need to type your PIN onto the device when making transfers. This makes cold wallets super secure. After all, nobody can hack your cold wallet remotely. Ultimately, storing your ETH coins in a cold wallet is the best option, regardless of prior experience.

Never Share Your Private Keys

  • Using a private wallet to store ETH is always the best option. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the risks.
  • Your private wallet will be protected by private keys. This is similar to an online banking password.
  • However, unlike an online bank account, Ethereum is decentralized.
  • So, if somebody gets hold of your private keys, they can withdraw the ETH coins to their own wallet.
  • Put otherwise, if somebody hacks your private keys remotely, your ETH coins will be stolen.
  • Therefore, make sure your private keys are written down and never kept on a device that’s connected to the internet. This will make remote hacking attempts redundant.

What Can You Use Your Ethereum For?

Most people buy Ethereum as an investment. Similar to other cryptocurrencies, a profit will be made if the price of ETH increases. That said, ETH has several other use cases, which we’ll cover in the sections below:

Network Fees for Smart Contracts

ETH’s most important use case is as a transactional currency. Put simply, dApps built on the Ethereum blockchain must pay network fees in ETH. This is a requirement wherever a new smart contract is executed.

This means that the demand is substantial. For instance, consider a dApp that allows users to swap tokens. A new smart contract is needed every time a new token swap is executed. This means more Ethereum network fees.

Staking Ethereum

Ethereum is a proof-of-stake network, meaning you can ‘stake’ your ETH coins. This helps keep the Ethereum network safe. You’ll earn a share of new ETH coins generated by the blockchain. Meaning – staking is a popular way to earn passive income.

The minimum Ethereum staking requirement is 32 ETH, or about $90,000. That said, this is reduced significantly when using a third-party platform.

Trading ERC-20 Altcoins

There are thousands of tokens built on the Ethereum network. These are known as ERC-20 tokens. Some of the most popular include Tether (USDT), Shiba Inu (SHIB), Polygon (MATIC), Chainlink (LINK), and Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC).

Trade ERC20 tokens on Uniswap

ETH is required to trade ERC-20 tokens on decentralized exchanges. Once again, this is because smart contract fees are payable in ETH.

Buying NFTs

The best NFTs to buy operate on the Ethereum network. This means ETH is often the required currency. OpenSea, which is the largest NFT marketplace, prices NFT prices in ETH. This further increases the use case for ETH.

Conclusion

In summary, Ethereum continues to outperform traditional asset classes, including the FTSE 100, gold, and real estate. If you want to invest in Ethereum in the UK today, be sure to use a regulated and trusted platform.

eToro, an FCA-regulated platform with over 30 million clients, is our top pick. It takes minutes to open an account and deposit funds with a debit/credit card or e-wallet. Then it’s just a case of typing in your investment size and confirming the order.

Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you should not expect to be protected if something goes wrong.

 

FAQs

How do you buy Ethereum with fiat?

Open an account with an FCA-regulated platform like eToro. Deposit funds with a debit/credit card, e-wallet, or bank transfer. Finally, search for ‘Ethereum’ and decide how much to invest.

What is the cheapest way to buy Ethereum in the UK?

The cheapest way to buy Ethereum in the UK is with a crypto exchange. MEXC, for example, charges just 0.1% spot trading commissions.

Is Ethereum legal in the UK?

Yes, Ethereum, like all crypto assets, is legal in the UK. The only restrictions for UK investors are Ethereum derivatives, such as CFDs and perpetual futures.

What is the safest way to buy Ethereum?

The safest way to buy Ethereum is via an FCA-regulated platform like eToro. This ensures your Ethereum investments can be made in a secure and licensed environment.

How to buy Ethereum with PayPal?

Yes, you can buy Ethereum with PayPal at eToro. After transferring funds from your UK Paypal account you can buy Ethereum instantly.

References

  1. The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (Legislation.Gov)
  2. What FCA crypto changes mean for UK investors (The Times)
  3. FCA sets out expectations for UK crypto asset businesses complying with the Travel Rule (FCA)