Cardano (ADA) received a lot of interest from investors and crypto enthusiasts in mid-2021 when the blockchain underwent a major upgrade to its underlying technology. Cardano’s Alonzo hard fork introduced smart contract capabilities to the network, allowing the blockchain to become a competitor to Ethereum, Solana and other DeFi-focused coins.
Cardano is one of the most actively developed cryptocurrencies out there. Next in line is the Cardano Basho upgrade, which will add sidechains to the network, improving the scope for blockchain scalability. Those considering adding ADA to their crypto portfolio can discover all about the coin, how it works and the best places to buy it in this 2022 guide.
The easiest and safest way to purchase Cardano (ADA) is using an exchange and by following these steps:
- Compare and select a crypto exchange. Find and compare cryptocurrency exchanges that are available within the specific country and support the fiat currency that is to be converted into ADA. Each exchange will have different deposit options to fund an account with money. Other important considerations to finding the right exchange are the deposit, trading and withdrawal fees, account and wallet security and customer support.
- Register an account with the exchange. Create an account with a crypto exchange using a valid email address or mobile number. Before making a deposit in fiat currency, exchanges have a mandatory Know Your Customer (KYC) process that will need to be completed. This is to meet the international Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) requirements. It is also recommended to activate 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) for additional account security.
- Deposit funds to a wallet. Choose a payment option that offers the best fees and reasonable speed for the funds to arrive in the exchange wallet. The most common payment methods include a bank transfer, wire transfer, debit card, credit card and PayPal. Existing crypto investors can also deposit Bitcoin or stablecoins (e.g. USD, USDT or BUSD) which can be converted into Cardano using the exchange.
- Buy Cardano. Browse the supported assets and choose Cardano. Use the funded account to choose an amount to spend. Finalize the transaction by clicking on 'Buy'. The amount of Cardano will be determined at the selected price and transferred to the user's ADA wallet.
Cardano has been a consistent feature of top-10 cryptocurrency lists (when sorting by volume or market cap) and is one of the most popular altcoins out there. Due to this, the vast majority of reputable exchanges and brokers will offer ADA for purchase. This should give investors some confidence when buying ADA, as they will have a wide range of trustworthy and long-running platforms to choose from that will meet their cryptocurrency needs.
The top-rated crypto platforms are a good starting point for investing in Cardano. There are a select few criteria to help narrow the decision down. For instance, the best exchanges for buying Cardano should firstly list ADA tokens, support a preferred payment method, has competitive fees and include a secure wallet.
|Exchange||Crypto Assets||Trading Fees||Rating||Promotion||Website||Review|
$5 BTC bonus (USA only)
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20% off trading fees
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0.02% / 0.07%
5% off trading fees
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None available at this time
eToro USA LLC; Investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal. Archived, "Virtual currencies are highly volatile. Your capital is at risk."
Cardano came to life in 2017 as a decentralized blockchain, named after two prominent historians. The blockchain, Cardano, is based on the Italian mathematician Gerolamo Cardano, while the coin ADA is a reference to the world’s first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace.
Learn more: What is Cardano & what are ADA tokens used for.
Cardano was founded by Charles Hoskinson, a major player in the blockchain industry who was also a co-creator of Ethereum a few years earlier. Cardano utilizes a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism and is one of the highest-volume/cap cryptocurrencies to do so.
The addition of smart contracts to Cardano in 2021 was a major turning point for the blockchain. The modernization of the network brought in support for decentralized apps, on-chain staking and greater integration with the burgeoning DeFi world.
ADA is the native token of the Cardano ecosystem and performs a number of vital roles in preserving blockchain health. ADA is primarily a governance token, and holders can vote on upgrade proposals and participate in the Cardano community. It is also an entry point to access Cardano’s growing list of dApps and can be staked to help secure the blockchain.
Cardano reached peak hype in September 2021 when the smart contract upgrade was slated for release. A number of bullish investors predicted a massive jump in price, and they were briefly correct, with ADA hitting its All-Time-High (ATH) of US$3.10 a couple of weeks prior to the update. Unfortunately, the long-term outlook for Cardano wasn’t as successful and the coin has been trending downward quite substantially ever since.
There’s no denying that Cardano’s upgrade didn’t reach the price heights anticipated by many, and as a smart contract platform it has quickly been usurped in popularity by competitor Solana. That said, Cardano is still one of the most popular coins out there and consistently ranks in the top 10 by market cap and trading volume. It has an invested, dedicated community (their Reddit has 700k subscribers) and an experienced development team with strong ideals. The infrastructure behind Cardano is constantly being upgraded and use-cases are added all the time.
We can’t definitively say that Cardano is a good investment given its poor performance over the past 12 months, however, a dip in the market does equal an opportunity for investors to average down their buy price. There are a lot of things going right for Cardano with a clear development roadmap that should create more value behind the tokens in the years ahead.
Getting back to US$1 is the first step for Cardano to achieve on its journey forward, after sitting around this value for the best part of 2021. Whether it can re-reach this milestone in 2022 is up in the air, given the substantial bear market cryptocurrency has stumbled into.
A bear market is any long-term downward trend for an overall market as has been the case throughout 2022. Cardano has been one of the hardest-hit coins during this time, dropping over 100%. While bear markets typically don’t tend to last as long as bull markets, there is potential for Cardano (and the crypto market as a whole) to turn things around before the end of 2022. Industry experts have alluded to a reasonable expectation for Cardano’s price by the end of 2022 is 80c. Although there is scope for ADA to keep dropping and fall below 40c if the bear market continues.
Although buying ADA from a centralized exchange is the recommended method, more experienced investors may wish to leverage other buying methods for adding ADA to their portfolios.
- Decentralized exchange. Cardano doesn’t have the biggest decentralized finance ecosystem, however, a couple of exchanges exist that allow users to swap between coins native to the Cardano network. The catch of using a DEX is investors will already need cryptocurrency and a non-custodial wallet before buying ADA, which isn’t suitable for crypto novices. However, the best crypto DEXs will often offer lower trading fees in comparison to swapping using a centralized exchange.
- Brokers. Cryptocurrency brokers are a lot like centralized exchanges. The key difference is in order matching. On an exchange, an algorithm utilizes an order book to find buyers for sellers at certain prices. Alternatively, all trades made on a brokerage are executed against a single seller – the broker. Brokerages usually require much more capital than traditional crypto exchanges, making them useful for high-volume investors.
- P2P. Peer-to-peer (P2P) sales can theoretically be conducted anywhere by anyone. The seller could be a family member, friend, or complete stranger. While direct sales can be executed (for example, buying 50 ADA from a friend who transfers it straight into a supported Cardano wallet), it is a good idea to use a trusted third-party platform that will protect buyers from scammers. These marketplaces are very similar to Gumtree or Craigslist.
The simplest solution for most investors is to simply leave their ADA in an exchange wallet once purchased to go up (or down) in value. This is a solid strategy for those with minimal cryptocurrency experience, however, it is less-than-optimal.
Cardano’s addition of smart contracts to the blockchain has substantially expanded the scope and potential use-case of ADA tokens. Those that have taken a keen interest in the Cardano operations may wish to use their ADA to participate in the community. This can be as simple as briefly locking up ADA to vote on governance proposals. This gives investors a way to shape the future direction of Cardano, much like a major shareholder might with a traditional business.
There’s a broad range of categories for interested voters to browse through, including project development, dApp integrations, GameFi, and migrating applications from Ethereum to Cardano.
2. Decentralized apps
There are only about 70 dApps that have been developed atop the Cardano infrastructure, but there are still gems to be found that can make the most of ADA being held in a wallet. P2P trading on AtomicSwap, NFT collecting on Artano and earning via a P2E game are all viable options. A full list of dApps on the Cardano blockchain can be found here.
3. Stake ADA
ADA holders can maximize their investments by participating in staking. ADA can be transferred to a supported wallet – such as Daedalus – and then lent to a staking pool in order to earn additional ADA as a reward. Alternatively, certain exchanges will offer in-house staking, meaning users won’t have to go through a third-party application.
The rewards for staking Cardano are largely dependent on how many others are already staking. Cardano has quite an active community, and about 70% of the staking limit is being staked as of mid-2022. Stakers that delegate to a pool can expect rewards of around 5% per annum.
4. Pay for goods and services
ADA can be used as a medium of exchange and has found some success with this. The network has very competitive gas fees, usually around 20 cents USD per transaction, which makes it much more efficient than the likes of BTC and ETH. An industry-specific use-case for Cardano is in the agricultural sector, where businesses use it as a supply chain management tool to track produce.
5. Earn interest on ADA
Investors can earn different interest rates on Cardano depending on the crypto interest platforms. Providers such as Nexo allow its users to earn up to an 8% interest rate on Cardano. There are certain requirements to obtain the highest interest rate on Cardano, however, the rate of return is better than leaving the ADA tokens idle in a wallet. With Cardano interest accounts, the rewards will not offset losses in a bear market but can provide a great source of passive income in the long term.
1. Compare and select a crypto exchange
Once Cardano has been thoroughly researched, the first step to buying some will be selecting a cryptocurrency exchange. Centralized exchanges that accept direct fiat deposits are the easiest way to add ADA to a crypto portfolio, although there are alternatives for more experienced investors, such as decentralized exchanges (DEXs), P2P platforms and brokers.
Reputable and popular centralized exchanges such as Binance come with a native wallet that can hold any cryptocurrency purchased on the platform. This gives new investors an easy and stress-free way of managing their assets without needing to worry about wallet addresses and networks. Certain platforms come with a suite of features for optimizing crypto investments, including earning protocols, bundles and instant coin swaps.
For the purpose of this article, we will demonstrate buying ADA using Binance. This is not intended as a recommendation of Binance, and individual investors may choose a completely separate platform depending on their specific cryptocurrency needs. That said, Binance is a high-volume, long-running and well-trusted exchange that will likely be a solid choice for most looking to buy ADA.
2. Register an account with the exchange
To get started buying ADA, register an account on the exchange of choice. Most platforms allow customers to get started by entering an email or phone number directly on their homepage.
Along with a valid email address and phone number, new exchange users will likely also need access to some government-issued identification. This is used for passing Know-Your-Customer (KYC) protocols which are a requirement for the majority of exchanges that accept fiat deposits. Supported documents typically include a driver’s license, proof of residency, bank statement and passport.
Once an email and mobile number have been verified, it will be time to pass KYC protocols. This process will require some basic information such as residential address and date of birth, as well as the aforementioned documents. Occasionally customers can manually input numbers from their identification documents, but more often than not they will need to upload images to the exchange.
Generally, this process is conducted automatically and should only take a few minutes. However, certain flags (such as a blurry photo) can trigger a “manual review process”, which can take 24+ hours. Once KYC protocols have been passed, the account should be ready for use. It is a good idea to immediately activate Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) to help prevent hackings and loss of funds.
For Binance users, there are a few authentication options to choose from. The default is a mobile phone, however, third-party mobile apps can also be used. To access 2FA options on Binance, navigate to Profile>Security.
3. Deposit funds
The next step to buying ADA is funding the exchange account. The process for deposits will vary depending on the platform chosen, and the customer’s bank account. The majority of popular crypto exchanges will support “Instant deposits” – a process that utilizes third-party companies to perform online bank transfers within seconds.
Other common deposit methods include:
- Bank transfer (24–48 hours)
- Wire transfer (24–48 hours)
- Credit card instant purchase (30 minutes)
- Cash deposit (24–48 hours)
- OTC trading (requires direct communication with the exchange, varies in wait time)
- Crypto (depends on network congestion, usually less than 1 hour)
There are deposit limits to be aware of. Many exchanges have both a minimum and maximum figure that can be added to an account per transaction. It is also valuable to check if the platform has any withdrawal or deposit fees prior to adding money to an account.
Adding funds to a Binance account is a straightforward process. First, head over to the “Wallet” tab and select “Deposit” from the top of the page. From there four different deposit methods will appear to choose from – Fiat, Crypto, Instant Buy with Debit/Credit, or P2P. For most beginners, Fiat will be the option of choice, but more experienced investors can leverage the other deposit methods if it is of benefit.
Next, select the fiat currency and input the amount to be deposited. Review the transaction, ensure all the numbers are correct and confirm the transaction. The funds should appear in the Binance account within a few minutes if an “instant deposit” option was selected.
4. Buy Cardano
An exchange account has now been funded, so it’s time to complete the buying process and purchase ADA. This process should be intuitive for most users.
To proceed, most platforms will come with a hub that lists their supported cryptocurrencies. This page may come with a name like “Markets”, “Assets”, “Cryptocurrencies” or even just “Buy Now”. From here, all investors have to do is scroll down to ADA, confirm how much they wish to buy and verify the transaction, taking note of any transaction fees.
More advanced investors may wish to utilize certain order options, such as Stop-Loss or Market-Limit. Additionally, some exchanges will offer a range of trading pairs (eg. Crypto–Crypto and Fiat–Crypto) which can be useful for those wishing to swap cryptocurrencies while leveraging advanced trading options.
After a few minutes, the order should be executed and ADA will appear in the exchange’s native wallet. It’s possible that the newly-purchased ADA will not be received into an account quickly – if it takes over an hour for the transaction to be processed, it may be worth consulting customer support.
When deciding which crypto exchange to use to purchase ADA, here are a few factors worth considering:
- Security. This is possibly the first criteria that should be addressed before purchasing cryptocurrency from any exchange. Comprehensive research on security measures should be performed independently. Find out if the platform has undergone third-party audits, whether they keep some of its cryptocurrency assets in cold storage and whether they have an insurance fund. Finally, keep an eye out for any historical hacks and breaches and observe how the platform reacted to these hacks.
- Supported cryptocurrencies. Naturally, if an exchange does not offer ADA for sale, it should not be considered an option. That said, the vast majority of major centralized exchanges will list Cardano.
- Fees. Fees are one of the biggest considerations for investors, although the impact of these rates will vary based on volume. High net-worth traders with large quantities of cryptocurrency will need to pay a bit more attention to platform fees than first-timers. That said, optimizing cost-efficiency is always a good idea and cheaper fees are worth looking out for. It’s also important to take note of “spreads”, which is the difference between a coin’s price at the time of purchase, and the price it is actually sold for.
- Supported fiat currencies and deposit methods. Certain exchanges are “region-locked” and only offer a limited range of deposit options/fiat currencies. An example of this is Coinbase for Australian customers – Australians cannot sell crypto or deposit AUD on the platform. Some US states and countries (like China) also have restrictive crypto regulations which means only a few exchanges serve residents from there.
- Customer service. Researching customer service ratings on websites like HedgeWithCrypto, TrustPilot and Reddit can go a long way to narrowing down potential exchanges. Some investors, particularly newcomers, will prioritize helpful customer support as a necessity on their crypto journey. Other elements to check are live chat and average wait times for other avenues to customer support.
The selling process for ADA coins is almost identical to buying them. The easiest way to sell ADA is through a centralized exchange.
Those that transferred their Cardano assets to an external wallet will need to transfer them back to the exchange’s native wallet prior to selling. This can usually be done by accessing the exchange wallet and selecting the “receive” option. This will present a wallet address which is where the ADA should be sent to. Always ensure that cryptocurrency is being sent via the correct network. Most exchanges and third-party will have instructions on how to do this, but if uncertain, reach out to an exchange’s customer support team.
Now that the exchange wallet is filled with the ADA to be sold, the process should be easy. Navigate to the wallet and select Cardano. Most exchanges will allow the sale of cryptocurrency directly from the wallet, simply by pressing “Sell”. If this is not the case, users may have to go to the “Markets” tab and select a trading pair like ADA/USD. Traders can also swap their ADA balance for another cryptocurrency like Ethereum or Bitcoin by following this method.
Input the amount of ADA to be sold and confirm the transaction. The funds should hit the exchange account within a few minutes. If the transfer takes over an hour, it might be worth consulting the platform’s customer service team.
Yes, investors can purchase ADA directly on supported exchanges. Certain platforms offer “Instant Buy”, which is the process of buying cryptocurrency with a credit or debit card. This is a convenient method, as interested investors don’t have to transfer fiat to their exchange accounts prior to purchase. Direct purchases can be costly though, with fees frequently exceeding 4% per transaction.
The most secure way to buy Cardano is through a trusted, reputable centralized exchange. If ample research on the exchange is performed, and it is suitable to the investor’s specific cryptocurrency needs, it is a reliable and safe method of purchasing ADA.
Cardano has been dubbed as an “Ethereum killer” due to its introduction of smart contracts. Cardano’s blockchain doesn’t suffer from congestion and gas fees the same way Ethereum’s does. However, Cardano has a substantially smaller market cap, community and list of supported dApps in comparison to Ethereum. Additionally, new competitors like Solana and Polygon have put pressure on Cardano to continue evolving if it's any chance of usurping Ethereum.
Cardano is one of the most-hyped altcoins out there, consistently sitting in the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap. Although it has experienced a rocky start to 2022, investors won’t be too alarmed given its excellent long-term potential, active community and roadmap to improve the underlying technology. Cardano’s stature in the crypto industry has made it relatively easy to safely purchase, store and sell ADA for even complete novices.
Kevin started in the cryptocurrency space in 2016 and began investing in Bitcoin before exclusively trading digital currencies on various brokers, exchanges and trading platforms. In 2019, he started HedgewithCrypto to publish informative guides about Bitcoin and share his experiences with using a variety of crypto exchanges around the world.