There are now quite a few ways to buye bitcoins. Here’ a summary of the quickest ways to get started:
In A Nutshell
In my experience, the eaisest way to create a Bitcoin wallet is to use Coinbase, which functions like Paypal for bitcoins.
The quickest way to transfer money into your account, is to make a cash deposit via BitInstant (currently available in USA, Russia, and Brazil). The entire process can take as little as 20 minutes if you’re near a deposit location. BitInstant charges a transaction fee of 3.99%
That’s it in a nutshell. Here are all the other ways to acquire Bitcoins:
Use The Original Bitcoin Client
You can download and install the Original Bitcoin Client. This is an application that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. You can find installation instruction on this page. The Bitcoin client is free, open-source software. The application will automatically create a wallet for you and start downloading and verifying the Bitcoin transaction history. This does take some time, but future versions will have a “lightweight” mode, that will speed up the process.
Use Bitcoin Wallet Service
Another way to get a Bitcoin wallet is to get one online at sites like: Coinbase, flexcoin, InstaWallet or MyWallet. These sites make it easier to create a wallet, and they also simplify the transaction process.
If you use one of these wallet services, you don’t have to install anything, but you have to take great care not to lose your password and you must trust that site will keep your wallet safe.
Once your wallet is set up, you’ll get your first Bitcoin address, and you are ready to receive bitcoins!
Smartphone wallets store your Bitcoins on your smartphone. You must be careful not to lose your phone or have it stolen. Apple block sBitcoin wallets from its App Store, but Android users have good options like BitcoinSpinner, Paytunia’ s App, and Blockchain.info’s App.
Get Bitcoins From A Local Trader
Get Physical Bitcoins
Yes, there are people who make physical Bitcoins (physical coins you can hold). They are made by companies like Casascius and BitBills. You’ll have to purchase the physical Bitcoins with digital Bitcoin, but you can buy them with a credit card via MemoryDealers. You’ll pay a markup for the production and delivery, but it’s a fairly easy way to get moderate amounts of coins, and physical coins can be given as a memorable gift.
Use Large Currency Exchanges
Buy Bitcoins At Convenience Stores and Banks
You can fund your exchange accounts or buy Bitcoin directly at one of over 700,000 locations worldwide via BitInstant.
Trade Bitcoins Directly With Others
If you prefer skipping the exchange and dealing directly with other people you can head over to Bitcoin OTC.
Things You Can Do With Bitcoins
You can find lots of Bitcoin-related services on the Trade page in the Bitcoin Wiki (scroll down a few pages).
Check out Bitcoin’s largest online auction house at BitMit.
Turn your Bitcoins into gift cards from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and many more at SpendBitcoins.com. You can get gift codes for services like XBoxLive, PSN or iTunes instantly online at Bitcoincodes.com.
You can buy music, ebooks, wallpapers and other downloadable content at CoinDL.
You might also want to check the Bitcoin Marketplace forum on Bitcoin.org.
Over-the-counter trading is being done via IRC chat in Bitcoin OTC (#bitcoin-otc on Freenode).