How to Buy NFTs: Setting Up your Wallet for Buying NFTs
As NFTs become more popular, and major brands jump into the space, many people are learning to buy their first NFT. In this first part of our beginner NFT series, we’ll focus on setting up your crypto wallet and loading it with crypto to buy NFTs — or non-fungible tokens.
Since a majority of NFTs and sales volume are currently on Ethereum, that’s what we will be discussing in this series, though it’s a similar process for other platforms. This article will take you through the steps you need to get set up with a wallet that can buy Ethereum NFTs.
What is a Crypto Wallet?
Just like your regular wallet stores your money and credit cards, a crypto wallet is where you store your cryptocurrency and NFTs. You need a crypto wallet — which is identifiable by a wallet address — and cryptocurrency in order to purchase NFTs. When you purchase an NFT with crypto, the NFT is transferred to this crypto wallet.
Ethereum crypto wallet addresses are different than other types of crypto wallet addresses (like Tezos, Solana, Bitcoin). Note that you can only send Ethereum or other ERC tokens (like ERC-20) to an Ethereum wallet address, Bitcoin to a Bitcoin wallet address, etc.
Your crypto wallet comes with a public wallet address, which looks like 0x266e873… or a long string of numbers and letters. This public wallet address can be shared with others in order to send and receive cryptocurrency from anyone.
Things to Know about your Ethereum Wallet
Anyone who has your public address can see information on the blockchain through websites like Etherscan, like your wallet’s Ethereum balance, your latest transactions, and which NFTs and tokens you own. This is all part of the transparency of the blockchain.
Your crypto wallet also comes with a private key, known as a seed phrase (more on that later). This is like your PIN number or bank account password. You never, ever share this, because whoever has this can access (and steal) your entire wallet.
Types of Crypto Wallets for NFTs
There are three different types of crypto wallets: hot, cold, and custodial. Each have their pros and cons, but it’s important to distinguish between all three.
MetaMask — which we will give instructions on setting up later — is a hot wallet because it is a web browser extension, and lives online. Another example is Rainbow wallet. You can load crypto on these wallets directly from the browser extension, or you can transfer from a custodial wallet (such as Coinbase).
You can use these hot wallets to mint and buy NFTs from secondary marketplaces like OpenSea. In hot wallets, you hold the private key — otherwise known as the seed phrase.
These are physical devices such as Trezor and Ledger. These are wallets which you also own the private key (seed phrase) to, but you must have the device physically connected to your computer in order to interact with the tokens in the wallet. This “cold storage” increases security and reduces risk for a malicious actor to get access your most valuable crypto assets.
Note that cold wallets are not like a USB thumb drive, which literally holds files on the device. The cold wallet device only allows secure access to your assets in that wallet, which are still stored on the blockchain. As long as you have the seed phrase and address to the physical cold wallet device, you will be able to restore it through MetaMask or another hot wallet if you lose the device.
Coinbase is currently an example of a custodial wallet. Coinbase and other brokerages hold your cryptocurrency, but they have the private keys and they hold your crypto for you. However, you currently cannot buy NFTs directly through Coinbase. It can be used to buy Ethereum, which you can then transfer into your MetaMask wallet.
How to Set up Your MetaMask Wallet to Buy NFTs
Your MetaMask crypto wallet is a browser extension. I use it on Google Chrome, but it also currently works on Firefox, Brave, and Edge browsers. You can also get MetaMask on mobile in the App Store or Google Play. The setup process is nearly the same.
Step 1: Install MetaMask
Don’t Google “MetaMask” to find the install website. Some scammers buy Google ads and have a similar-looking link at the top, which is actually malicious. Go directly to https://metamask.io/download.html. Click “Add to Chrome,” and then “Add Extension.”
- Next, you’ll set up your wallet — a very important step. For these purposes, we will create a new wallet and Secret Recovery Phrase (also known as a seed phrase).
Step 2: Create your MetaMask Password
After you create a wallet, you’ll be asked to create a password. This will allow access to your MetaMask extension within the same browser. Please note this is different than your secret recovery phrase (or seed phrase). Note: Your password should be unique to your crypto wallet to protect your assets.
IMPORTANT: Let’s Talk About Seed Phrases
When you set up your MetaMask wallet, it will give you a list of words in a particular order. This is your private key to your wallet, or your seed phrase. Write this down and keep it in a safe place. If you lose this seed phrase, you lose all access to your wallet, all NFTs, and all crypto in your wallet.
Never — literally never — share your seed phrase with anyone online. Never store the seed phrase in the cloud or on your phone. MetaMask support will never need it in order to solve issues. Nobody who DMs you will ever need it. Nobody will ever need it except for whoever you want to have full access to your entire wallet and assets.
The seed phrase is different than your MetaMask password. If you forget your MetaMask password or change computers, you will need your seed phrase to recover your wallet.
As long as you have the seed phrase, you have the private key to interact with your NFTs and crypto in your wallet. That’s why it is so important to keep it extremely confidential.
Step 3: Save Your Seed Phrase
Next, you’ll reveal your seed phrase that is attached to this wallet. As noted above, when this is revealed, this phrase should be stored safely in a physical (like a safe) and digital location (like a password manager). If possible, this phrase should also be memorized.
Once you write your seed phrase down, you’ll also be asked to confirm your secret backup phrase by putting the words in the correct order.
Step 4: Time to Buy NFTs
And now you have your wallet! You can access it on your browser by clicking on the little fox icon in the top right of your browser.
You can always find your public wallet address by looking under your account name. You can quickly copy the address to your clipboard by clicking the stacked squares next to it.
How to Buy Ethereum for NFTs
Depending on what country you’re in, there may be restrictions on the crypto you can buy. Enter your country on the ethereum.org site here to check which wallets and exchanges where you can buy Ethereum. Some states in the U.S. also have restrictions.
If you want to get your feet wet trying out Ethereum, buying within MetaMask is a great place to start, but there are limits. If you want to buy larger amounts of cryptocurrency to load your MetaMask wallet, an exchange will be the best option, and there are many to choose from, such as Coinbase, Kraken, or KuCoin.
Option 1: Buying Ethereum in MetaMask
Clicking the Buy button in your MetaMask browser extension will give you some options.
Wyre and Transak are the services which let you use a debit card to deposit Ethereum into your MetaMask wallet. Follow instructions for either to use your debit card to purchase crypto, though there are limits on how much you can purchase through these options.
Option 2: Buying Ethereum in Coinbase or a Similar Exchange
We’ll use Coinbase as an example, which is available in 100+ countries. Setting up an account on Coinbase is straightforward, although you will need to go through an ID verification process and link a payment method. Step-by-step directions for this are here.
Once you set up a Coinbase account on the web or on mobile, you can purchase Ethereum using either method. Coinbase has a clear, step-by-step process to purchase Ethereum.
Buying Ethereum and then having it in your Coinbase account can take as little as three minutes or much longer, depending on network traffic and where you are located.
Transferring Ethereum to your MetaMask
Once you have the Ethereum in your Coinbase, you’ll need that MetaMask public wallet address we mentioned earlier, in order to send Ethereum from Coinbase account to your MetaMask wallet.
Make sure it is the correct wallet address and that you have Ethereum selected! It never hurts to double check. Once you send it, you can’t go back. It is not reversible. We suggest testing the process by sending a little bit before sending the rest. Then you can verify that you do in fact have the correct address.
This process is “on-chain,” meaning you will have to pay Coinbase a small network fee to process the transaction.
How to Buy Crypto on Coinbase Web
- On the Dashboard, select “Pay” from the left side of the screen.
- Select Send.
- Select the amount of Ethereum you’d like to send.
- Enter your MetaMask Ethereum wallet address to send to.
- Select “Pay With” and select your Coinbase account.
- Review the details and hit send now.
How to Send Crypto to MetaMask on Coinbase Mobile
- Select the blue button with the arrows at the bottom center of your Coinbase app, once logged in.
- Select “Send.”
- Tap Ethereum and type in the amount you’d like to send.
- Tap continue to review the details.
- Enter your MetaMask Ethereum wallet address as the recipient.
- Tap “Preview” and continue to follow the on-screen instructions.
- Photo below depicts Bitcoin as the currency; only use Ethereum.
It should take no more than 15 minutes for the Ethereum from Coinbase to reach your MetaMask wallet once you have sent the transaction. You will also get an email confirmation.
What’s Next after Wallet Setup?
Now that you have Ethereum in your MetaMask wallet, you can use these funds to mint Ethereum NFTs or buy NFTs on a secondary marketplace like OpenSea. You can research your NFTs by using tools on MomentRanks to discover data, rarity, and more information about all Ethereum NFTs.
Our Beginner NFT series will continue next with what NFTs are and why they’re important. Stay tuned to keep learning more about NFTs!