Purchasing cryptocurrencies with cash is one of the more obscure ways to acquire Ether. Largely due to the reliance on trust, cash purchases are conducted by sending value to a seller holding Ether (commonly another individual) with the expectation that Ether will be sent to a designated wallet upon the purchase clearing.
Seeing as Ether is entirely digital, there must be a seller already possessing Ether that is willing to transfer it to the buyer’s wallet. There is no inherent way to buy Ether with cash directly from the Ethereum platform as Ether can only be earned through block rewards and transaction fees.
This means that all Ether being purchased with cash has been previously acquired by a seller and is simply being resold and transferred at any agreed upon value.
In order for cash purchases to be successful, the buyer must have a means of storing Ether such as a browser wallet like MetaMask or a cold wallet like a Ledger Nano X. Without a proper wallet in place, there will be nowhere for the seller to send newly purchased Ether.
Cash purchases can either occur in person by physically handing a seller cash or via an online bank transfer by routing cash to a predefined bank account. In both scenarios, the seller is expected to transfer Ether to the buyer’s Ethereum wallet once the cash payment has cleared in the seller’s account.
The 3 best ways to buy ETH with cash
1. Via a Cash Exchange
LocalCryptos is a highly reputable peer-to-peer exchange in which traders can search for sellers using location and payment methods (including cash) as filters. Liquidity of Ethereum cash purchases is small but is growing rapidly thanks to the expansion of LocalCryptos, whose platform accepts anyone from anywhere in the world.
The LocalCryptos service also offers a built in escrow where funds are stored in a non-custodial wallet and released to the appropriate party once the transaction is complete. This escrow service charges an extremely competitive fee of just 0.75%.
2. Via Bitcoin
The lack of liquidity for ETH cash purchases can make finding a good price very difficult. To make matters worse, larger orders may struggle to be filled, particularly for new buyers who have yet to build a positive reputation on the LocalCryptos platform.
In this instance, it is possible to look to buying Bitcoin with cash before then converting it to Ether at an exchange. The one major to competitor to LocalCryptos (which also allows for Bitcoin cash purchases) is LocalBitcoins, a peer-to-peer exchange which was founded in June 2012. LocalBitcoins is dedicated only to Bitcoin and cash markets for this cryptocurrency can be highly liquid.
Once a purchase has been made at LocalBitcoins, the acquired BTC can then be traded at one of many online exchanges for ETH. Find a good price by comparing it to the price at ethereumprice.org/eth-btc/.
3. Via an ATM
Perhaps the only reliable alternative to LocalCryptos and LocalBitcoins are cryptocurrency ATMs which may provide the option to purchase Ether directly for cash. With these machines, buyers will provide their wallet address in the form of a QR code. Once a destination address has been established, buyers can insert cash relative to the ATM’s purchase limits. Once the desired amount of cash has been deposited, the ATM will prompt the owners to send an equivalent amount of Ether (less a service fee charge) to the destination address. A list of ATMs which sell Ether for cash can be found here.
The first rule for buying Ether with cash is dealing with individuals or entities that have a vetted reputation. Sites like LocalCryptos allow buyers to view the amount of trades any given seller has performed along with reviews from other users. As a general rule of thumb, the more successful trades a seller has done, the smaller the likelihood that there will be any issues.
Many peer-to-peer platforms leverage escrows – third parties responsible for ensuring both sides of a trade are holding up their end of the deal. When buying Ether for cash, using an escrow is a great way to ensure that your cash is protected (and ultimately refunded) in the event that the seller does not provide the proper amount of Ether. When using an escrow, buyers transfer cash to the escrow account. The seller will also send Ether to an account owned by the escrow who will then swap the currencies, commonly with a small service fee, once the proper amount of value has been provided by each side of the trade. For the vast majority of cases it’s essential to use an escrow service, ensuring that you wait until the escrow (not the seller) has confirmed that the trade can be completed.
When buying Ether in person, it’s recommended to meet in a busy public place. This includes popular coffee shops, public malls or restaurants. By meeting in an environment surrounded by others, the likelihood of theft or robbery becomes far small. Similarly, a seller who is unwilling to meet in a public location is a strong signal that you may not be dealing with someone that can be trusted.
Other Payment Methods
As may have been gathered from this article, buying Ethereum with cash – at least in large quantities – can be very awkward. Here are some of the other payment methods that are typically faster and easier to use.
Exchanges allow Ether to be purchased using a credit card. Companies such as Simplex provide the functionality for credit card purchases and commonly charge high spot rates and service fees for their service. Similarly, Ether purchased with a credit card is often categorized as a cash advance, meaning interest is charged from the moment the purchase is completed.
With this in mind, credit card purchases can be a convenient (albeit more expensive) way to acquire Ether in real-time. Upon purchasing Ether with a credit card, the currency will be sent to the exchange wallet conducting the transaction.
With many credit card purchasing services, buyers may have to undergo a Know Your Customer (KYC) check to ensure that the individual is not on any Anti-Money Laundering (AML) list(s) and that the card being has not been reported for fraud.
Fiat on-ramps such as exchanges allow buyers to transfer cash to a bank of their choosing. Upon a successful transfer, buyers will have a “cash balance” in the account that can be used to purchase Ether. Bank transfers often incur long deposit windows and high service fees although this is not always the case. Those in the UK can take advantage of the country’s Faster Payments network to make immediate deposits and withdrawals at little-to-no cost.
The time and cost associated with a bank transfer largely various on the exchange being used to purchase Ether. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the waiting period, the cheaper the bank transfer or deposit will cost. To paint a better example, many banks will charge a flat free for same day wire transfers.
PayPal and Venmo
Certain sellers on platforms like LocalCryptos may allow for cash payments to be made using popular applications like PayPal or Venmo. These payment methods are relatively unpopular as sellers have often found themselves struggling with “charge-back fraud“.
Many users looking to buy Ethereum typically prefer bank transfers or credit/debit card payments over cash or PayPal.
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