If you are a bitcoin-seeking UK resident, the appropriate exchange very much depends on the amount of bitcoin you intend to buy.

UK banks have been opposed to accommodating bitcoin exchanges with local accounts.  This means that even exchanges with btcgbp markets must hold funds abroad, incurring international transfer fees.

A UK resident can expect to pay between £25-35 wire fees, both to the exchange and back again. If you are buying a relatively large amount of bitcoin this amount will usually be offset due to better pricing of international exchanges.

If you are looking to buy small amounts it makes more sense to go through a local peer to peer exchange.  These exchanges connect local sellers and buyers and accommodate direct transactions. The cost of bitcoin is general higher than at international exchanges – though that is changing for small amounts – but there are no international wire fees involved.   

Peer to Peer Exchanges

There are four p2p exchanges worth taking a look at. Our top two choices, Bisq and Local Bitcoins, are the cheapest options but usually have only a bitcoin or less available. Bisq particularly offers no KYC, so it is a very convenient option.

Bitbargain and bittylicious have more bitcoin available for purchase – you can buy up to 5 if you go through the entire KYC process – but it is definitely pricier, and at that level it makes sense to go to an international exchange.  We offer details on all four below.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Dash
Fees
  • 0.2%
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD, CHF, INR, SEK
Deposit
  • Bank Wire, SEPA, interac, OKPay, Perfect Money, Skrill, Sofort

Bisq is an entirely decentralized exchange in which buyers send money directly to individual sellers – almost entirely via UK bank transfers – after which the bitcoin is released directly to the buyers external wallet. Usually these transactions go off without a hitch – in the rare event of a dispute, Bisq arbiters gather proof of payment/lack thereof from either side and resolve the issue.

The bank transfers look like simple payments to the banks involved, so absent some sort of red flag everything runs smoothly.  Additionally, the GBP market is pretty liquid, and the prices offered are usually market rate, determined by Bisq using a blended index. Provided you mean to buy a smaller amount of bitcoin, this is an excellent service.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
Fees
  • Set by seller
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, BRL, CAD, CHF, CNY, DKK, HKD, HUF, IDR, INR, JPY, KES, KRW, MXN, MYR, NGN, NIS, PLN, RON, RUB, SEK, SGD, ZAR
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, ACH, SEPA, Paypal, Debit Card, interac, Cash, OKPay, Perfect Money, Crypto Only, e-transfer, Neteller, Skrill, Money Transfer

Local bitcoin is a bit pricier than Bisq at the moment, but as a more established exchange there is a greater amount of bitcoin for sale on the market.  Buyers are easily able to source a bitcoin or two, and generally speaking it will only cost about 1, 1.5% more than Bisq. Sellers list their offers in the lobby, and both buyers and sellers are able to check their counterpart’s reputation based on reviews and the number of successful transactions.

This leaves us with two additional p2p exchanges, bittylicious and bitbargain. These exchanges were very early movers in the UK market; however, they did not really keep up with the competition in our opinion.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
Fees
  • 1% seller, buyer fee by seller
Target Market
  • United Kingdom
Currencies
  • GBP
Deposit
  • Bank Wire, Neteller, Paym, Pingit

Bitbargain operates similarly to local bitcoins and Bisq, connecting buyers and sellers directly, while offering a reputation management system which helps determine the trustworthiness of counterparts. However, the pricing is a bit high – you can expect to pay 5-10% more than bisq, though there is generally a lot more bitcoin available for purchase.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Dash
  • DigiByte
  • Feathercoin
  • Monetary Unit
  • Peercoin
  • Stratis
  • Syscoin
  • Vertcoin
Fees
  • Set by seller and undisclosed
Target Market
  • United Kingdom
Currencies
  • GBP
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, Paym, Pingit

Bittylicious usually has better pricing than bitbargain, and it manages the matching system in the backend. Some might appreciate this simplified process. We find to be a bit counter to the p2p spirit. However, if you are looking to buy more bitcoin than is available at Bisq or Localbitcoins, it probably makes sense to just go with an international exchange.

Mainstream options to buy bitcoin with GBP

The first option we want to highlight is one of our overall favorite brokers, Cubits.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
Fees
  • 0.9%
Target Market
  • Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, BRL, CAD, CHF, CNY, DKK, HUF, INR, JPY, KRW, MXN, MYR, PLN, RUB, SEK, SGD, ZAR
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, SEPA, Debit Card, OKPay, Neteller, Skrill

Cubits is an easy to use brokerage accepting GBP deposits. Their commission is fixed at 0.9%, and their pricing is based on an index of major exchanges, though the exact composition is not transparently shown. Bank wires are charged a flat €16 fee, and if you feel like going the SEPA route, there is no charge, though you need to account for GBP->EUR conversion.

If you are looking for a straight GBP exchange, Coinfloor is probably your best bet.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
Fees
  • Maker: 0.1-0.15%; Taker: 0.3-0.38%
Target Market
  • United Kingdom
Currencies
  • GBP
Deposit
  • Bank Wire

Coinfloor is one of three exchanges to offer btcgbp markets, two if you exclude Coinbase who disallowed GBP depositing.  Coinfloor is a UK-first product, with offices in London’s financial district. They have good pricing and liquidity, but take note that the deposit minimum to use the exchange is £5,000 or bitcoin equivalent. Wire costs are fixed at £5.00 for deposits, £60 for withdrawals, and take care to indicate the Coinfloor GBP account details to avoid incurring additional costs.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Cardano
  • Dash
  • Decred
  • EOS
  • Ethereum Classic
  • IOTA
  • NEO
  • Qtum
  • Tether
  • Zcash
Fees
  • Maker: 0.0-0.1%; Taker: 0.1-0.2%
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP, JPY
Deposit
  • Bank Wire

Bitfinex is a leading bitcoin exchange globally, and their recent launch of a gbpbtc will be welcome news to UK traders. ING bank recently confirmed that Bitfinex has opened a Netherlands-based account with them, which should eliminate many of the depositing issues western customers faced when attempting to work with Bitfinex’s old East Asian banking partners. In terms of fees, platform quality, and liquidity, Bitfinex is tough to beat. They  charge .1% with a minimum £20 on both deposits and withdrawals.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
Fees
  • Maker: 0%; Taker: 0.25-0.1%
Target Market
  • Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, ACH, Faster Payments

Coinbase is really an all around excellent product, and is usually the market leader in all countries in which they operate.  The gbpbtc market remained active despite not accepting GBP deposits –  rejoice, they have now, as of August 3rd, 2018, reinstated GBP deposits via Faster Payments!

 

To recap, small bitcoin purchases can be easily made using p2p exchanges such as Bisq or Local Bitcoins.  If you are interested in buying larger amounts conveniently from a brokerage, Cubits has done an excellent job of simplifying the process, and the cost is not too much higher than one might expect from an exchange. And lastly, the top exchanges servicing the UK market are pretty decisively Coinfloor and Bitfinex.