This is a step-by-step guide on how to buy Ethereum without paying any fees. Although I bought in the United Kingdom, the exact same process applies if you are buying in Euros or US dollars.
If you follow this life-hacking blog you probably know that I hate paying high premiums. The market frenzy around cryptocurrencies has led exchanges to charge very high fees and rip off customers. Time to change all that!
Technically, you can follow this guide to buy Ethereum, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin without paying any fees whatsoever. What you see is what you get.
Be careful though. I only treat it as a small gamble and I’m prepared to lose everything. This is not investment advice and you should do your own research before buying any cryptocurrencies. They are speculative investments and are very risky! I’ve written my thoughts on crypto here.
Let’s now see how we can buy Ethereum as an example.
The simplest option is to follow what everyone else is doing. Sign up for Coinbase, top up the account using your debit card and hit the Buy button. If you sign up using this link we both get $10 worth of free bitcoins. I won’t blame you since this is the most hassle-free choice but it will cost you ~5% in fees. If you’re buying a small amount of crypto maybe that’s ok, but for large amounts, percentage fees hurt!
For those of us who want the more advanced but free option, read below.
How to buy Ethereum without fees
- Sign up for Coinbase
- (UK only) Transfer funds to Revolut
- Make a bank transfer to Coinbase
- Move the money from Coinbase to GDAX
- Buy Ethereum using a limit order with zero fees
Step 1: Sign up for Coinbase
The only reason we need to sign up for Coinbase is to use their GDAX exchange. This is the interface advanced users use to buy and sell Ethereum, Bitcoin and Litecoin every day. In other words, they trade on GDAX.
Why Coinbase? They’re one of the biggest well-known exchanges and they’ve been around for a while. 5 years to be exact.
GDAX and Coinbase are the same company and you can transfer money between those two instantly and for free. After you sign up for Coinbase, they’ll ask you for a proof of ID. The verification took a day for me to complete.
[UK only] Step 2: Transfer funds to Revolut
If you have a Euro or a US dollars bank account, happy days! You can skip this step.
Those of us living in the UK need a EUR bank account to avoid paying exchange fees when paying into the EUR-based Coinbase account. Another reason is that you can only buy Ethereum using Euros otherwise you have to go through Bitcoin and then convert them, which is more hassle. I assume you could make a GBP bank transfer to Coinbase’s EUR account but this is a zero fee guide after all 🙂
Revolut is a free mobile app which acts as an online prepaid card. You can open one instantly online which gives you the option to exchange from GBP -> EUR at market rates. Plus, they will give you a EUR IBAN so you can deposit money to Coinbase as if you’re a EUR account holder. Just click on the white lines with dots icon naer the top -> Add EUR account.
I initially thought that perhaps you can also use Transferwise to deposit EUR at Coinbase. However, many Reddit users warned me that Transferwise doesn’t allow deposits to crypto exchanges. It’s a shame because Transferwise is awesome. I really like the work they’re doing. That’s what I used for my NY trip earlier in 2017.
Step 3: Make a bank transfer to Coinbase
Time to finally load up Coinbase.
Make a bank transfer from your EUR (or Revolut in UK) or USD bank account to the Coinbase account bank. When making the transfer, make sure you type in the reference number you were given.
Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with the Coinbase customer service to find out why your money is not there yet…
If you have a Revolut app, you can make a transfer like this: From the main screen click on the Payments icon -> To Bank account and fill in the recipient bank details. Do not forget to add the reference number.
You can always send a small amount like 10€ first to test the waters and once you’re confident enough send the real amount. The money showed up in my Coinbase account a few hours after the bank transfer.
Step 4: Move the money from Coinbase to GDAX
We will be using GDAX to buy Ethereum without fees. Therefore, we need to move the money from Coinbase to GDAX once the bank transfer completes. As mentioned earlier, GDAX is the same company as Coinbase and they share accounts. No need to register again.
Step 5: Buy Ethereum using a limit order with zero fees
Now that you have your money in GDAX a limit order has zero fees. What’s a limit order? You basically place an order that says: “I want to buy X Ethereum when the price drops to Y”. Let’s say I want to buy 0.5 Ethereum.
As you can see, 637.80 is the price people want to buy at and 638.03 the price people want to sell. To have your order filled as soon as possibile, type in the green top price.
That’s it! After a few seconds your order will be filled and you will be 0.5 Eth richer 🙂
What if I want to buy other cryptocurrencies (Monero, Dash etc)?
GDAX only supports 4 cryptocurrencies. However, there is an awesome service called Shapeshift.io where you can transform your coins to other coins. You only pay the miner fee which is typically less than a cent.
You send your coin from GDAX to shapeshift and they transform it to your desired coin, sending it to your wallet address.
If you prefer to buy via an actual exchange like GDAX, sign up to Binance that lists hundreds of coins. It doesn’t require verification but you can only deposit coins to Binance, not fiat currency (EUR, GBP etc).
You can repeat the above limit orders for buying Bitcoin cash, Bitcoin and Litecoin without paying any fees. This is a great way to buy or sell your cryptos without the middleman.
Of course, it’s not the most convenient thing at first, but once you’re verified at Coinbase and have some funds in, then it’s the best way to buy Ethereum.
Only buy using money you can afford to lose. Cryptocurrencies are very risky and very volatile. This article is not investment advice. Do your own research!
If you’re looking to make some money on the side, check out my Matched Betting series for a risk-free profit. No betting experience required.