Bitcoin is the most popular and widely used cryptocurrency in the world, but it also has some drawbacks. One of them is the high transaction fees that users have to pay occasionally when they want to send or receive bitcoins.
Transaction fees are the amount of money that users pay to the miners, who are the people and companies that process and validate the transactions on the Bitcoin network. Transaction fees are necessary to keep the network secure and decentralized, but they can also be a burden for users who want to use Bitcoin for small or frequent payments.
Why Are Bitcoin Transaction Fees So High?
There are several factors that affect the transaction fees on Bitcoin. One of them is the limited space in each block, which is the unit of data that contains the transactions. Each block can only fit a certain number of transactions, and the blocks are created every 10 minutes on average. This means that there is a limited supply of space and a high demand for it, especially when the network is congested with many transactions. When this happens, users have to compete for the space by paying higher fees to the miners, who will prioritize the transactions that pay more.
Another factor is the size of the transaction itself, which depends on the number of inputs and outputs it has. Inputs are the sources of bitcoins that are being spent, and outputs are the destinations of bitcoins that are being received. Each input and output adds more data to the transaction, which makes it larger and more expensive. For example, if you want to send 1 bitcoin to someone, but you have 10 inputs of 0.1 bitcoin each, your transaction will be larger and more costly than if you have 1 input of 1 bitcoin.
A third factor is the price of bitcoin itself, which affects the dollar value of the transaction fees. When the price of bitcoin goes up, the fees also go up in dollar terms, even if they stay the same in bitcoin terms. For example, if the average fee is 0.0001 bitcoin, and the price of bitcoin is $10,000, the fee will be $1. But if the price of bitcoin rises to $50,000, the same fee will be $5.
How to Reduce Bitcoin Transaction Fees?
There are some ways to reduce the transaction fees on Bitcoin, depending on your needs and preferences. Here are some of them:
Choose a wallet that allows you to set custom fees
Some wallets have a fixed fee or a fee estimator that may not reflect the current market conditions. By setting your own fee, you can adjust it according to the urgency of your transaction and the state of the network. You can use tools like bitcoinfees.earn or mempool.space to check the current fee levels and the expected confirmation times.
Use SegWit transactions
SegWit is a technology that reduces the size of the transactions by separating the signature data from the rest of the data. This allows more transactions to fit in a block, and thus lowers the fees. SegWit transactions are also compatible with another technology called the Lightning Network, which is a layer 2 solution that enables fast and cheap off-chain transactions. To use SegWit transactions, you need a wallet that supports it, such as Electrum, Trezor, or Ledger.
Batch your transactions
If you have to make multiple transactions, you can save on fees by batching them into one transaction. This way, you can reduce the number of inputs and outputs, and the size of the transaction. Batching is especially useful for businesses or organizations that have to pay many recipients at once. Some wallets and services offer batching features, such as [BitPay], [Coinbase], or [Blockstream Green].
Use a zero-fee cryptocurrency exchange
If you want to trade bitcoin for another cryptocurrency, or vice versa, you can avoid paying high network fees by using an exchange that does not charge any fees for deposits or withdrawals. Some examples of such exchanges are Bitstamp, Poloniex, or Binance. However, you should be aware of the other risks and costs involved in using an exchange, such as security, liquidity, or spread fees.
Timing is Key
Transactions compete for limited block space, so choose strategically. Weekends and peak business hours often see higher fees. Early mornings or weekdays might offer calmer seas.
Use transaction fee estimators to gauge current costs and prioritize urgent transfers. Delay non-critical transactions for calmer periods.
RBF to the Rescue
Replace-by-fee (RBF) allows adjusting your fee after submitting the transaction. If fees drop, you can bump your bid to secure a faster confirmation. (Not all wallets support RBF, so check before relying on it.)
RBF basically allows you to increase the fee of an unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction in order to speed up its confirmation. Some of the wallets that support RBF are:
Bitcoin Core: This is the original Bitcoin wallet that has RBF support in both the command-line interface and the graphical user interface.
Electrum: This is a popular Bitcoin wallet that lets you right-click on an unconfirmed transaction and choose to increase the fee or cancel the transaction using RBF.
Blockstream Green: This is a secure and user-friendly Bitcoin wallet that has RBF support built-in.
Samourai Wallet: This is a privacy-focused Bitcoin wallet for Android that has RBF support in the settings menu.
BlueWallet: This is a simple and easy-to-use Bitcoin wallet that has RBF support implemented as “Bump Fee” and “Cancel Transaction” options.
Specter Wallet: This is a desktop Bitcoin wallet that works with hardware wallets and has RBF support.
Sparrow Wallet: This is a desktop Bitcoin wallet that supports advanced features like RBF, CoinJoin, and multisig.
There are also some other wallets that support RBF, such as NBD’s OBW, Peach, Coinb.in, ConIO, Nunchuk, Mercury Wallet, Fully Noded, and Armory. Some of these wallets and those already mentioned feature fee estimators, enabling you to properly plan your transaction timing. Other helpful features are fee customizers enabling the manual adjustment of fees and alternative fee market like Replace-By-Fee Priority (RBF-P) or Child Pay for Parent (CPFP), which offer competitive rates based on miner preferences.
Consider Alternative Cryptocurrencies
Bear in mind that you can also explore alternative cryptocurrencies that are cheaper such as litecoin and dogecoin. You may need to exchange your Bitcoin for any of the many cheaper tokens with faster blockchains and save yourself from the delay that may be occasioned by the congestion of the Bitcoin blockchain.
Bitcoin transaction fees are a trade-off between security, decentralization, and usability. They are necessary to keep the network running, but they can also be a challenge for users who want to use Bitcoin for everyday payments. Fortunately, there are some ways to reduce the fees and optimize the transactions, depending on the situation and the preference of the user. By choosing the right wallet, the right fee, the right technology, and the right exchange, you can save money and time when using Bitcoin.