How to Buy Bitcoin in Canada

Bitcoin is the protocol and bitcoin is THE cryptocurrency. At the time of writing, it represents about half of the whole cryptocurrency market, that is itself composed of a thousand+ cryptocurrencies and tokens. On this page, I list different options to buy bitcoins in Canada. These are options that I've tried and can recommend. Other options exist that I have either tried and cannot recommend or that I haven't tested yet. I will add untested options at the end of this article. Whatever options you use, make sure to move your bitcoins to your own (hardware) wallet after purchase; not your private keys, not your bitcoins.

1. ShakePay

ShakePay is both an exchange and a digital wallet based in Montreal. It is available as a web or mobile app – and only in Canada. ShakePay is licensed as a money service business (MSB) by FINTRAC and AMF, so is subject to regulatory oversight. It offers fast transactions, secure cold storage, easy conversion between bitcoins and Canadian dollars, and a simple fee structure. Support is available seven days a week.

Pros: Canadian-based; transparent; low trading fees; many funding options; many withdrawing options; responsive customer support

Cons: KYC requirements and process are not clear

2. Coinsquare

Next up is Coinsquare, a cryptocurrency exchange located in Toronto. Coinsquare differs from ShakePay and Coinbase in that it started out operating exclusively as a retail exchange. In the years since its founding, Coinsquare has gone on to expand its offerings to include capital market services, and investment advice.

Pros: Low trading fees; good security; strong financial backing

Cons: Excessive credit card fees

3. Kraken

Kraken was one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges on the market. It dates to 2011 when exchanges were still in the early adoption stage. Over the years it has been instrumental in defining how exchanges should operate.

You might be interested in Kraken if you are looking for an exchange with a long track record. Note that this platform allows you to buy Bitcoin and other cryptos in numerous fiat/crypto pairs. However, you may not appreciate its software that has been known to prone to operational problems. That said, they recently went through a complete redesign.

Pros: Trusted brand; privacy conscious

Cons: US-based; limited fiat funding options for Canadians

4. Coinbase

Coinbase is arguably the world's most recognized Bitcoin broker. It is similar to ShakePay in that it acts as a combination of exchange and digital wallet. With recent changes in its business model, Coinbase now offers services to large institutions looking for cryptocurrency custody.

Coinbase comes recommended for its high liquidity and buying limits, ease-of-use, and speed – although it’s not entirely true for Canadians. Coinbase can be accessed through any browser or through their dedicated Android and iOS apps.

Pros: Security; trusted brand; strong financial backing

Cons: Big fees; only accepts credit cards for Canadians; Canadians cannot go back to fiat via Coinbase; US-based

5. ATMs

Finally, you can purchase bitcoins through any cryptocurrency ATM. This works just like getting fiat cash from a bank ATM. You insert cash to buy your bitcoins, scan the QR code with your mobile hot wallet and that's pretty much it. If you don't have a wallet yet, most ATMs will create one for you. Just be sure to record the information. You will need to write it down or use your smartphone to scan a QR code.

Pros: Requires cash*; no KYC

Cons: High fees; requires cash*; in person transaction (security risk)

*Can be a pro or a con depending on your situation.

6. Other Options to Buy Bitcoin

Others that we have not yet personally tested:

  • Bitbuy
  • Bull Bitcoin
  • Coinfield
  • Coinsmart