Are you wondering if you can buy part of a bitcoin? If so, let me save you some trouble.
The short answer is: Yes, you can.
If you want an answer that is a little more detailed, then this is the right article for you.
You may have heard that 1 bitcoin costs tens of thousands of dollars, and then thought “that’s too expensive for me to afford”.
But it is absolutely possible to own only a fraction of a bitcoin, such as owning 0.02 BTC, or to buy only $100 of bitcoin.
Bitcoin is Very Divisible
That’s important since there are fewer than 21 million bitcoins available and way more than 21 million people want to own bitcoin.
Just how divisible is Bitcoin?
Each bitcoin is divisible down to one 100 millionth.
There are different names for the different subunits of bitcoin, listed here:
|bitcoin||BTC or ₿||1|
|satoshi||sat or ㋛||0.000 000 01|
This was how bitcoin was designed from inception.
It was created to be highly divisible so that even in the case of large value increase, it would still be easily tradable in useful divisions.
That’s a good thing, since bitcoin has appreciated tremendously over the past decade.
It’s worth noting that millibits and bits are not very commonly used any more.
Usually people just refer to bitcoins and satoshis, or “sats”.
While satoshis are the smallest divisible unit for transactions that occur directly in bitcoin blocks, even smaller sub-units are possible on bitcoin’s various second layer technologies.
For example, the lightning network is a payments layer that allows for faster and cheaper transfers of bitcoin.
It uses millisatoshis as the smallest divisible unit. 1000 millisatoshis equals one satoshi. Or, 1 millisatoshi is 0.000 000 000 01 of a bitcoin.
Buying only part of a bitcoin is very easy.
You don’t even need to understand all of the subunits explained in the previous section.
If you are buying bitcoins on a cryptocurrency exchange, you can simply deposit your fiat currency, and then purchase that amount of BTC.
The exchange should then credit you with the equivalent amount in bitcoin.
For example, today, bitcoin is worth $16,900.
If you have $200 USD on the exchange then purchase the bitcoins, then the exchange should credit you with about .0118 BTC (minus whatever trading fees the exchange charges).
If and when you withdraw your BTC to your own non-custodial wallet, then the withdrawal transaction should send you that appropriate fraction of a bitcoin, which will automatically be received by your wallet.
You should never keep your coins on an exchange after buying them, even if its just a partial bitcoin.
Always transfer purchased coins to a wallet you control.
This is why, if you ever see amounts from bitcoin transactions, it is quite rare for whole bitcoin amounts to be sent - you rarely see transactions of 1.0 BTC, or 60 BTC.
In most contexts, you’ll see transactions sending 1.45638240 BTC, or 0.00462351 BTC.
Fun fact: because the satoshi is the smallest unit of bitcoin usable for on-chain transactions, you will often see amounts listed in BTC going to 8 decimal places - specific right down to the satoshi!
One thing to keep in mind is that because bitcoin’s price relative to fiat currencies is always changing, your fraction of a bitcoin may not reflect the same dollar value over time.
For example, if you bought $170 of bitcoins and received 0.01048956 BTC in the morning, you might check back later that day and see that you now have $172 of bitcoin.
This depends on how your wallet or service displays your holdings.
It is not uncommon for beginners to get confused or alarmed when they see that this dollar amount has changed.
If you check the amount in bitcoin, it should still be 0.01048956 BTC. That is, you still own the same amount in bitcoin, it’s just that the exchange rate has changed.