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How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy Cryptocurrency?

If you’re a high school student (or younger!) and you’re interested in purchasing cryptocurrency, give yourself a pat on the back for exploring new ideas and developing an interest in investing. Investing may serve you well into the future!

On the other hand, if you’re a parent who is wondering about buying cryptocurrency for young people, you may have wealth-building on the brain for that child early on. You should also pat yourself on the back! 

But can you buy cryptocurrency at any age? What are the risks of cryptocurrency? Finally, what are the steps to get crypto into a child’s portfolio? Let’s dig into this alternative option to the traditional stock market. 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy Cryptocurrency?

What are the age restrictions for a crypto exchange? 

There are technically no age restrictions for trading or mining cryptocurrencies. However, crypto platforms like Coinbase and Paypal impose a minimum age restriction. They require you to be at least 18 in order to get involved in purchasing crypto, whether you want to buy Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum, Dogecoin, Ether, Litecoin or another type of digital currency.

Not only that, but it’s important to understand the implications of putting your money into a volatile investment, which you may not understand when you’re young. (And as a parent, you may only be able to appreciate this view from your vantage point as an adult. You may just have to think back to your own questionable investments as a twenty-something or younger to remember, however painful that might be. You might even rehash your first attempt to buy bitcoin before you even really understand the word “blockchain” or “decentralized exchange.”)

Here’s what Coinbase’s website says, for reference: “As of July 25, 2017, you must be 18 or older to access Coinbase services. Underage Coinbase users who opened accounts under our old policy will be notified of this change and will be given ample opportunity to remove funds from their accounts before the accounts are closed.”

You can review Coinbase’s User Agreement for more details.

Crypto for Kids: What You Need to Know

The truth is, there are several risks involved in buying cryptocurrency: 

  • Speculative: Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, which means that prices can move up and down and all around on any given day or even within minutes. This means that you can experience wide losses.
  • Not “real” money: Cryptocurrency is only “worth” something because people are willing to assign it value. Warren Buffett has even gone as far to say that Bitcoin has no unique value at all. What will happen someday if everyone decides it’s not worth anything at all?
  • May face regulation problems: Cryptocurrency may come into serious question in the future due to regulatory concerns. The U.S. government may get involved in further regulation in the future. 
  • Scams: It’s possible to run into scams, particularly if you are inexperienced when you trade bitcoin or deal with other blockchain technology.
  • Fees: Check on transaction fees — these can cost you! You may also face larger fees than if you were to buy stocks, bonds or mutual funds. 

These are only a few of the risks of cryptocurrency; you can dig up more. Ultimately, it’s worth considering the risks before you choose this very new, very volatile investment option.

How Do You Explain Crypto to a Child?

It’s challenging to explain crypto to kids because it’s… well, invisible. You may be at a loss to explain cryptocurrency to kids because even for microscopic concepts such as cells, you can still show them to kids under a microscope. (You know the old onion skin and dyed cheek cell tricks.) 

However, what you can do is show them your own cryptocurrency account values if you have them yourself, just like if you have money in the stock market. It’s very likely that if you show them your money in the stock market, you also can’t actually show them all your money because it’s “tied up” for retirement or earmarked for other goals. However, it’s possible to show the value of those investments and show them that if you were to sell bitcoin, it would be worth money. You could also explain it by comparing them to Amazon gift cards. These gift cards are worth money, but not until you purchase something with them.  

How to Gift Crypto to Your Kids

As a parent, you may have already purchased crypto and want to give it to your child. Typically, you can either set up a UGMA custodial account and name your child as the beneficiary, create a designated digital wallet for your child or give your child a hardware wallet. 

You can also consider using UNest Legacy, which will empower parents to invest in children with crypto. Parents can buy cryptocurrencies in accounts you manage for your children. Take a look at the steps to buy cryptocurrency, below.

How to Buy Cryptocurrency for the First Time 

There are ways to maneuver around age restrictions by using bitcoin ATMs or other methods. However, your best bet may be to purchase cryptocurrency for the first time with your child as an educational approach.

Take a look at a few steps to purchase cryptocurrency below: 

  1. First, you’ll need to choose an exchange like Coinbase. When you’re just starting out investing in cryptocurrency, you want to choose exchanges that offer an easy-to-use platform easy for beginners to decipher. You may want to choose from a wide range of cryptocurrencies as well, so check to see that the platform offers what you need. 
  2. Next, you’ll create your account. Here, you’ll enter your email address and password, as well as enabling two-factor authentication for security. You may also have to submit identity verification in order to set up your account. 
  3. Fund your account. If you’ve ever set up a brokerage account before, you’ll probably know intuitively that your next step involves funding your account. This might involve connecting your account to your bank account, though you may be able to use a different payment method, such as a credit card or debit card, depending on the cryptocurrency exchange you choose. 
  4. Get a bitcoin wallet. You want to have a crypto wallet to store your bitcoins. Just like parking money in your purse or wallet, a crypto wallet allows you to hold onto your digital assets.  
  5. Finally, the fun part! It’s time to buy cryptocurrency! Once you have money in your account, you can make your first purchase. However, it’s really important to do your research ahead of time so you know exactly what you want to invest in and what’s best for your portfolio.


If you choose to work through these steps with your underage child, it might be worth allowing them to hang over your shoulder. You might even have them actually enter the information into the computer so investing never feels intimidating to them. Actively going through these steps with your child can make them feel comfortable with online investing no matter how active they choose to get in investing.

Consider Cryptocurrency for Your Child’s Future

If you’re pretty set on giving your child cryptocurrency as a gift (and you’ve done your homework) it’s one of the many, many options you can choose to provide for your child’s future.

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This material is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. You should consult your own financial, legal, and tax advisors before engaging in any transaction. Information, including hypothetical projections of finances, may not take into account taxes, commissions, or other factors which may significantly affect potential outcomes. This material should not be considered an offer or recommendation to buy or sell a security. While information and sources are believed to be accurate, UNest does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information or source provided herein and is under no obligation to update this information.