Learning how to use Bitcoin takes patience and a lot if time. We’re going to break things down and show you the basics of using Bitcoin to send and receive payments.

how to use bitcoin

Get a Bitcoin Wallet

In order to send or receive Bitcoin, you’ll need a Bitcoin wallet. Creating a bitcoin wallet is the easiest way to get a bitcoin address.

Bitcoin wallets contain private keys, which create Bitcoin addresses. Bitcoins are sent from one address to another. An address starts with either a 1 or 3 and looks something like this:



Bitcoin addresses are often displayed as QR codes:

bitcoin address

A Bitcoin address and its equivalent QR code.

By creating a Bitcoin wallet, you also create Bitcoin addresses that you can use to receive payments. Bitcoin wallets provide the interface needed to send payments to other addresses and make accepting payments easier.

How to Send Bitcoins & How to Use a Bitcoin Wallet

In order to send bitcoin, you must first have Bitcoins that you’re able to spend. If you don’t have any bitcoins, learn how to earn some or buy some.

Since you want to send bitcoins, you need the address of the recipient. Addresses can be displayed as a 26-character string starting with a 1 or 3 or as a QR code. Let’s use the address above as an example: 13CmGgFMfx7fUbfBhPwwekAW6oW23xvZWk.

We’re going to open up that address in a block explorer called blockchain.info. A block explorer makes all public Bitcoin transactions easy to see and verify.

Open blockchain.info and paste the address above into the search bar. You should now see a page that looks like this:

bitcoin address

The QR code on the right side can be scanned with your wallet application. Bitcoins will be sent to this address.

Sending bitcoins is really as easy as 1) getting the recipient address 2) scan or type address into sending wallet and 3) send!

If you think the process of having to ask recipients for an address is annoying, you’re definitely right. Developers are currently working on solutions like reusable payments codes that make sensing bitcoins more private and less repetitive.

How to Receive Bitcoins

If you read the section above, you probably already have a good idea on how to use Bitcoin to receive payments. You’ll need to get your Bitcoin address to the sender so the sender knows where to send payment.

Getting a Bitcoin address is as easy as downloading or Bitcoin wallet software on your phone or computer. Once you have an address, just let the sender know where to send payment.

Best Practices

Don’t re-use addresses

Make sure to use a new address for each payment, especially on the receiving end. Since all Bitcoin transactions are public, address reuse makes it easier for others to connect your payments together and understand more about your finances. Bitcoin is private, but only as private as each user wants.


Confirmations can be confusing. Each time a miner successfully solves Bitcoin’s proof of work problem, a new block is created. A transaction is only considered secure once at least one confirmation is received. Generally, 3-6 confirmations is enough to consider the transaction complete.

Less confirmations are fine for smaller transactions. If making larger transactions, wait for more confirmations. Anything above about $10,000 worth of bitcoins should only be considered complete after 6 confirmations.

Now that you understand the basics of using bitcoin, use it for whatever you want.

How to Use Bitcoin to Buy Things

As Bitcoin’s price increases, more and more merchants want to accept Bitcoin online or in-store.

To buy with bitcoin you need bitcoins and a wallet in order to send payments. Merchants will display QR codes or addresses than can be scanned or copied into your Bitcoin wallet with ease, just like we showed you in the example above.

Once the merchant’s address has be entered in your wallet, just send the proper amount. Most merchants create QR codes or BIP70 payment codes that automatically import the amount due to your wallet.

Here is an example of an online retailer’s Bitcoin payment page:

bitcoin address

To find places to buy with bitcoin, check out merchant directories like Coinmap.org or AirBitz.