How Do I Convert Bitcoin to Cash: a Step-By-Step Guide

Published: September 19, 2023 | Last Updated: April 18, 2023

Markos Koemtzopoulos

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.
How do I convert bitcoin to cash

In this article I will walk you step by step how you can convert you precious bitcoin into cash. Now people mean different things when they say cash. It could mean you want to convert your bitcoin into dollars so you can withdraw it from an online exchange. Or it could mean you want the crypto you have in your wallet to become physical cash in your hand. Or it might mean you want to put your crypto up for collateral and get a loan in dollars.

In this guide I am going to walk you through all of these options

Option 1: Sell bitcoin for cash and withdraw to your bank account

Similar to the concept of foreign exchange (forex) for traditional fiat currencies, there are cryptocurrency exchanges for trading cryptocurrencies. On these platforms you can easily convert bitcoin into US dollars. Once you sell you bitcoin you can withdraw it to your bank account.

There are four types of exchanges

  • Crypto trading platforms
  • Payment gateways 
  • Peer-to-peer exchange platforms
  • 3rd party exchanges

Let’s take a look at each

i. Most common way: Cash-out on a crypto trading platform

How to cash out on crypto exchange

These are digital asset marketplaces where buyers and sellers meet to exchange cryptocurrencies just like on a stock exchange. They operate like securities exchanges such as New York Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, etc. 

Some of the most comming crypto trading platforms where you can get bitcoin for cash are:

Pros

  • More secure than peer-to-peer platforms
  • A high volume of transactions compared to peer-to-peer platforms

Cons

  • High platform fees
  • Crypto-fiat currency pairs are limited by the platform

Steps to convert you bitcoin to cash on an exchange

  1. If you have your bitcoin on a wallet you first need to transfer it onto an exchange. Check out my article on what is a crypto address if you are clueless on how to go about this.
  2. On the exchange select you crypto and click on trade
  3. Select the BTC/USD trading pair and make the swap.
  4. When you check your balance you should see USD instead of BTC. Now you can use that to purchase another crypto currency. Otherwise you can select the option to withdraw.

ii. Use a Crypto payment (swap) gateway

Converting Bitcoin into cash can be a remarkably straightforward process when utilizing crypto payment gateways. These gateways function similarly to a shopping cart, providing a user-friendly and streamlined experience that is comparable to exchanging traditional fiat currencies. Additionally, the added convenience of having your bank account serve as the delivery address makes the experience even smoother.

One dominant feature of crypto payment gateways is that they have a currency converter at the front end with a gateway processor at the back end. 

a. Currency converter

The currency converter has two adjacent sections each with a drop-down box where on one side you pick the currency that you have and in the other drop-down box you pick the currency that you want to exchange. 

In our case, you pick bitcoin as your crypto and indicate the amount of bitcoin you want to exchange, and in the other dropdown box, you pick your fiat currency, and the amount you will receive is automatically computed and indicated. Once you agree with the exchange rate, you press the okay button and you are redirected to a details form where you fill in the required details including your bitcoin address, and the bank account to which you want the converted amount to be sent. 

b. The back-end processor

The back-end processor, or a payment processor, is the one that does the bulk of the transaction. It is the one that interacts with the blockchain network and the merchant bank to fetch the crypto from your digital wallet and convert it to the fiat currency of your choice for onward transmission to your fiat bank account. 

Pros 

  • User-friendly
  • Wide selection of crypto/fiat matching pairs
  • Straightforward transactions
  • Uncluttered (especially the mobile app)
  • More secure 

Cons

  • More expensive as the payment gateway charges an exchange fee (typically 1%) in addition to the blockchain network fees
  • An extra layer of bureaucracy 

Top 5 crypto payment gateways

Some of the well-known cryptocurrency payment gateways include:

Currency converters linked to different gateway processors:

iii. Swap bitcoin for cash on a Peer-to-peer (p2p) exchange platform

This is a currency exchange system where sellers and buyers interact directly without the platform acting as an intermediary. P2p platforms do not set prices as they do not hold an order book to match currency order pairs. Instead, users post their offerings in terms of what they are buying or selling and the currency they want in exchange. 

Best peer-to-peer exchange platforms 

  • Localbitcoins – this is by far the most popular peer-to-peer platform due to the availability of local currency for almost all countries of the world. It is probably the oldest p 2 p exchange. 
  • OKX p2p – is the most powerful LocalBitcoins competitor. It is one of the most modern p 2 p platforms in the crypto space today. 
  • p2pb2b.com
  • LocalCoinSwap
  • Paxful
  • Binance p 2 p exchange platform 
  • You may have also heard of LocalCryptos but this platform is winding down.

Pros 

  • Peer-to-peer transactions are relatively less expensive since intermediary costs are avoided
  • You are more likely to get a local currency of your choice 
  • Flexible means of cash deposit and cash withdrawal in a fiat currency of your choice 
  • P 2 P transactions are much faster in terms of conversion to local currencies.
  • P2P exchanges are ideal for small transactions

Cons

  • Hard to match buyers and sellers on the peer-to-peer exchange platform
  • Riskier – no proof of id is required. One has to rely on the user profile based on trust. 
  • Generally, higher price quotes compared to ordinary crypto exchange platforms. 
  • A relatively higher number of scammers 

iv. Third-party exchange brokers

These are brokers who offer a wider range of financial services and investment options than crypto exchanges, which typically focus solely on buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies. While online brokers may also offer cryptocurrency trading, they usually provide access to a broader range of assets, including traditional securities like stocks and bonds. Additionally, brokers are often regulated by financial authorities, while many cryptocurrency exchanges are not. This means that online brokers may be subject to more stringent requirements and oversight, providing clients with a higher level of security and protection.

Some of the most popular broker exchanges include:

  • SwissQuote – regulated by Swiss Bank, this is one of the most reputable brokerage firms in the crypto market. There is almost zero chance that you can be scammed. 
  • eToro – has built a reputation for many years, even before the advent of bitcoin. Here you are not only likely to get cash but also non-crypto assets to invest in. 
  • Robinhood
  • Interactive Brokers
  • WeBull
  • SoFi
  • Uphold

Pros

  • They are friendly to new crypto investors
  • They provide some of the best combinations of digital assets that can easily enable you to quickly build a diverse portfolio
  • They have a much wider variety of fiat currencies than ordinary trading platforms – only surpassed by peer-to-peer trading platforms. 
  • They are the safest. However, make sure you vouch for the broker’s reputation. Scammers can also pose as brokers. 

Cons

  • It may take a few days to convert your bitcoin into USD
  • They charge extra costs in addition to the blockchain network fees. 
  • You cannot transfer bitcoin from one place to another. Everything happens in the backend so you don’t own the keys. This means that the only way to move your bitcoin off the exchange is to convert into dollars and then buy again on another platform.

Ok that sums up what you can do with various exchanges.

Option 2: Convert Bitcoin to Cash in Hand

If you want cash on hand there are three options. The first is to just withdraw your cash from the exchange where you sold your bitcoin that we just described above. You sell your bitcoin in exchange for fiat currency and then make a bank transfer to withdraw cash.

The second is to withdraw cash from a bitcoin ATM. The third is to pay for stuff directly with a debit card. Let’s start with that last one.

i. Pay in cash using a Bitcoin Debit Card

A bitcoin debit card is like other debit cards, except that the primary currency is bitcoin. You can use the card to make fiat payments as if you have an ordinary Visa or Mastercard. The conversion from bitcoin to the fiat currency happens automatically at the Point-of-Sale (PoS). Thus, funds not yet used remain in bitcoins. 

To minimize the risk of your bitcoin wallet being emptied by hackers, use a bitcoin prepaid debit card which allows you to determine the maximum amount of money available to the card. Furthermore, a prepaid card is not directly linked to your crypto wallet, a prepaid card is just another wallet altogether. This way, in case of hacking, you can only lose the amount on the prepaid card, not in your crypto wallet since the prepaid card is delinked from your wallet. 

Some of the most popular bitcoin debit cards include:

  • Coinbase – best for security
  • BitPay – best for those domiciled in the US
  • Binance – best for cashbacks
  • BlockCard – best for low-fee
  • Nuri – best for no-fee transactions
  • Crypto.com – best for the widest variety of digital currencies
  • Wirex – best for enticing benefits

ii. Withdraw cash through a bitcoin ATM

bitcoin atm cash withdrawal

Bitcoin ATMs are strategically located in easily accessible physical locations in crypto-friendly countries. This is mostly determined by the density of the user base within a given location. 

A bitcoin ATM is similar to traditional ATMs in many ways. However, bitcoin ATMs are highly customized. Different bitcoin ATMs have different facilities and ways of operating. There are four main ways of accessing cash:

  1. Bitcoin ATM debit card
  2. Bitcoin ATM QR card
  3. Bitcoin ATM app
  4. Bitcoin ATM dongle

Bitcoin ATM debit card

Some crypto exchanges and banks provide bitcoin ATM cards. Using this card to withdraw cash is by far the easiest way to get hard cash from a bitcoin ATM. 

Unlike regular debit cards that you can use on most traditional ATMs, you can only use bitcoin ATM debit cards on bitcoin-branded crypto ATMs. Only crypto-friendly countries have them and only a few of them. This makes bitcoin ATM an extremely limited option for cashing out your bitcoins. 

Bitcoin ATM QR card

A few bitcoin ATMs accept bitcoin ATM QR cards. The primary difference between a bitcoin debit card and a bitcoin ATM QR card is that a bitcoin ATM QR card is actually a plastic wallet with QR Code storing the wallet details. 

This works like traditional debit/credit cards except that instead of inserting the card, you flash the card’s QR Code against the ATM scanner when prompted. The ATM QR code scanner captures details about your bitcoin account and then you are prompted to feed the required data to the ATM console for processing of your cash. 

Bitcoin ATM app

Some other bitcoin ATMs require you to use a mobile cash App instead of a Card such that the ATM provides the QR Code which your mobile app scans for you to feed the required information through the app. This app is attached to your mobile bitcoin wallet. 

Bitcoin ATM dongle 

This is the rarest means of withdrawing cash from an ATM. A bitcoin ATM dongle is actually a hardware wallet that you insert into a provided slot on the bitcoin ATM. Once the dongle is detected, the ATM prompts you to feed its console with the details necessary for you to withdraw cash. 

The biggest drawback of this is that you are exposing your entire crypto assets stored on the hardware wallet to the likelihood of hacking. 

Pros and cons of Bitcoin ATM cash out

Pros

  • The entire process is much shorter than that of any other method of withdrawal
  • The only way and the fastest method to get hard cash directly
  • The most anonymous method of bitcoin cash withdrawal
  • Cases where cash disappears between an online cryptocurrency exchange and the intermediary are quite common. The ATM gets rid of the intermediary. Thus, provides a good level of safety against cash disappearing midway along the transaction process.

Cons

  • Hard to find a bitcoin ATM within your locality. Due to the legal grey area in most jurisdictions, very few countries have or can allow this facility. 
  • You have to contend with strict withdrawal limits
  • You have no way of finding or negotiating the best exchange rate

Option 3. Leverage bitcoin for cash

Sometimes you just want cash but you do not want to sell or exchange your bitcoin. What do you do? The good news is that you can leverage your bitcoin for cash without losing the potential capital gains should the value appreciate. That is, you can use your bitcoin as collateral to get personal loans in cash with the anticipation that by the time you finish paying back, you will have a net gain. 

It can also be about acquiring a bitcoin on loan when the price is high to return it later when the price is low. Immediately after acquiring the bitcoin, you then convert it into cash. When the price is low, you buy the same unit of bitcoin to repay your borrowing. In this case, you are not only able to get cash for your needs but also at a profit. For example, when the bitcoin price was $60,000, and you acquired it from a broker with the promise to return it any time within one year. You then convert it to cash. When the bitcoin drops to $40,000 you buy the same unit from the market and return it to the broker. This way, you’ve made $20,000 in gross cash gain. 

The advantages of leveraging bitcoin for cash

  • Potential to earn from bitcoin appreciation – while you can lose from a bitcoin price drop, you are more likely to gain from a bitcoin price hike. You won’t reap this if you’ve sold your bitcoin or withdrawn it. 
  • Potential to earn interest on staking – a few platforms allow you to leverage crypto assets that you have already staked. Staking allows you to earn interest. You can get a cash loan from staked cryptos and if the gains you earn (including interest, bitcoin appreciation, and windfall gains) are higher than the interest charged on your cash loan, then, this is a net gain.  
  • Potential to reap windfall gains – these are those gains not due to normal activities. These include gains such as airdrops, dividends, bonuses, rewards, etc. that arise from your crypto asset investment. Selling or withdrawing your bitcoins means that you forfeit the potential to earn from these gains. 

Platforms that allow you to leverage bitcoin for cash 

Most DeFi platforms (and some centralized exchange platforms) allow you to leverage bitcoin for cash. As a rule of thumb, those DeFi platforms that allow staking and provide crypto-collateralized personal loans will allow you to leverage bitcoin for cash – provided that they have fiat currency as a withdrawal method. 

The 5 best DeFi lending platforms are:

You can also borrow on platforms that are centrally managed. The most famous of these are BlockFi and Celsius finance both of which have gone bust. The last one still standing is Nexo.com so you might want to try your luck with that one if you would rather not borrow from a DeFi platform.

Conclusion

In conclusion, exchanging Bitcoin for cash to buy other cryptocurrencies is a common practice in the cryptocurrency market. Crypto trading platforms, payment gateways, peer-to-peer exchanges, and third-party brokers are the main avenues for making such exchanges. Each of these methods has its pros and cons, with trading platforms offering high security and high volumes but at high platform fees while peer-to-peer exchanges offer lower costs but with a higher risk of scams. Payment gateways offer ease of use, but are more expensive due to exchange fees, and third-party brokers offer negotiation flexibility. It is important to do due diligence before engaging in any exchange to ensure safety and avoid scams.

FAQs

Is it hard to convert Bitcoin to cash

No, converting Bitcoin to cash is pretty easy to do. On a crypto exchange it involves selling your bitcoin and then making a wire transfer of the cash into your account. Additionally, if you have a bitcoin debit card or access to an ATM it is very easy to get cash in hand. However, it is important to note that fees and processing times may vary depending on the chosen method.

Can I send Bitcoin directly to my bank account?

It is not possible to send Bitcoin directly to a bank account. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that operates independently of banks and financial institutions. However, it is possible to sell your Bitcoin for fiat currency, such as USD or EUR, and then transfer the funds to your bank account. This can be done through a cryptocurrency exchange or broker that offers a cash-out option. The process usually involves selling your Bitcoin for fiat currency, then withdrawing the funds to your linked bank account.

Do banks accept bitcoin?

Banks do not generally accept Bitcoin as a form of payment or hold it as an asset. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that operates independently of traditional financial systems, including banks. However, some banks may allow their customers to buy and sell Bitcoin through their banking platform or ATM services. Additionally, some banks may work with cryptocurrency exchanges or brokers to provide services to clients who want to invest in or trade cryptocurrencies. However, it is important to note that regulations and policies regarding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies vary by country and financial institution.

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

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