Hard Forking for Dummies: Two Simple Rules to Access Your Bitcoin Cash

There are two cardinal rules bitcoin holders should follow to prepare for the bitcoin hard fork. These rules will help users protect their bitcoin and gain access to bitcoin cash after the fork resolves.

Also read: Fork Watch: Korean Bitcoin Exchanges Divided on ‘Bitcoin Cash’

Bitcoin.com has had a lot of people inquire about how to protect their bitcoin and gain access to bitcoin cash with the popular wallets Breadwallet and Blockchain.info specifically, which will be addressed at the end of this article.

Forking For Dummies: 2 Simple Rules to Access Your Bitcoin Cash

The hard fork is happening Monday. Bitcoin cash is being created by the fork. It is a new and different token (coin) than “bitcoin legacy” (the current Bitcoin network).

Do not panic, though. Your coins will not just evaporate into thin air. You will have options on how to handle the consequences of the fork no matter what happens. Here are the two cardinal rules.

Rule 1: Protect Your Private Keys

The most important thing to remember: do not keep your coins on a custodial wallet. This will ensure you will have access to your bitcoin after the fork. Make sure you store your coins in a wallet where you KEEP THE PRIVATE KEYS.

Keys are not the same thing as “password”. You can use a password to login to a service (like an online wallet). “Keys” refer to the actual code used to control your funds (your coins) on the Bitcoin blockchain. As long as you have the key, you can always use that key (in almost any Bitcoin-compatible wallet) to access your funds.

To keep your private key private all you need to do is to use a wallet where you create a seed code or generate a password that protects your private keys. Many wallet applications provide information on whether they are custodial or not.

How to Protect Your Bitcoin During the Hard Fork and Access Bitcoin Cash

As a rule of thumb, any trading platform, exchange, or web wallet generally manages user’s keys themselves. They do not give you access to the keys, so in reality they control all the coins on their site — much like a bank would control your assets if they are kept inside.

For clarification, a word code or seed code basically acts a replacement for your private keys. In the event that you lose your private keys, the seed code is used to regenerate that key and gain access to your coins.

When the fork occurs, possessing the private keys means you will be able to access also bitcoin cash. The amount you can control will be the equivalent amount of bitcoin you had the keys to at the time of the fork. If you do not have your keys, however, the custodian or web wallet controller will make that decision for you (whether to credit you with the new bitcoin cash coins or not).

Waiting Period: Obtaining Bitcoin Cash After the Fork

Furthermore, after the fork completes, each wallet provider may provide (or have already provided) information on how to manage bitcoin cash. Usually, this will just involve each service/app creating a tool or application that allows you to access your newly minted bitcoin cash. The user can simply wait until the service in question provides that tool. Read the news blog of the company behind the wallet you are using to check their latest statements. If there is no statement on Bitcoin Cash and they don’t reply to questions on the matter, it might be advisable to move coins to a wallet that explicitly supports bitcoin cash.

If the company does not, it is still possible to extract your private keys (in most cases, not all) and use them to claim bitcoin cash in another wallet, although this process requires some technical knowledge of command line or code. It may be best for most users just to keep their keys in wallets that have already announced support for bitcoin cash. Coinbase.com, for instance, currently does not support bitcoin cash.

Another option, although a bit riskier, is to place your coins at an exchange that’ll support bitcoin cash (they’ll credit your account with the same amount of bitcoin cash). Here is a list.

Rule 2: Do not Transfer Bitcoin During or Immediately Following the Fork

How to Protect Your Bitcoin During the Hard Fork and Access Bitcoin Cash

The second rule: Users should not to do any bitcoin transactions — send or receive coins — during or directly following the fork. All users should wait until two or three days after the fork before sending funds (maybe longer depending on network stability). This is important because the network may be unstable and vulnerable to attacks during this period. However, any vulnerabilities cannot be easily exploited if users are not sending funds around.

If you follow the two rules cited above, you should be well protected both during and after the fork, as well as be able to access bitcoin cash. Stay tuned to Bitcoin.com for more information regarding the fork as the situation develops.

Obtaining Bitcoin Cash on Breadwallet and Blockchain.info


Some users are confused about how they will obtain bitcoin cash on Breadwallet. This should be a simple process. After the fork, Breadwallet will develop a new wallet application specifically for bitcoin cash. A user will then just use their seed code from their original wallet with the new one to gain access to their bitcoin cash.

It is still unclear how long it will take Breadwallet to develop the application. However, after the dust settles, users should still be able to send and receive their “legacy” bitcoin. Their bitcoin cash amount — at the time of the fork — should remain safe until Breadwallet’s application goes live.

Bitcoin.com spoke with Aaron Lasher, the CMO of Breadwallet. He clarified:

Subsequent to a persistent fork, bitcoin experts and coders can access their private keys using the BIP39 protocol and their 12-word recovery phrase. Retail customers will need to wait a little longer for us to release a separate version of the app that segregates the coins in a user friendly manner.


In the case of Blockchain.info, users must first make certain they generate their private keys on the security settings page (a 12-word seed phrase). This will guarantee the user retains access to their funds after the fork. Blockchain.info has not provided details on how they plan on supporting bitcoin cash. Founder, Peter Smith, tweeted users can choose their fork at Blockchain, but did not provide more details.

Blockchain.info could still opt not to develop a tool or application to give users access to their bitcoin cash funds. If this occurred, users would have to extract the private keys to later gain access to their coins via another wallet that supports bitcoin cash. Currently, it would be recommended that users keep their bitcoin with wallet providers that have detailed how they are going to provide access to bitcoin cash. This will make obtaining it easier after the fork resolves, without having extra technical/coding skills.

How to Protect Your Bitcoin During the Hard Fork and Access Bitcoin Cash

Not Keeping Bitcoin Cash

All users must also bear in mind they are not in any way obligated to access or try to keep any bitcoin cash. If you just want to access your bitcoin, all that is recommended to do is wait for the fork to finish and the dust to settle. When the fork resolves, you should be able to continue using or saving your bitcoin like nothing happened.

If you have any further questions about this process, please post them below! We will do our best to answer questions and help users secure their bitcoin and bitcoin cash. 

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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  • George Harraca

    Does that mean if i have 5 bitcoins pre the fork, that i will have 5 bitcoincash?

    • ricardo santos

      Yes, 5 bitcoincash = 5 usd

      • Daxx10

        lol 😉

      • Matt Black

        I heard BCC will be $600 bro

        Send me some bitcoin please 1KHWW6A1XsZHxEeiC2Gkc768vhubX2jDKt

      • I guess you were wrong. 5 Bitcoin Cash = 5 * $800 = $4000 if you sold when I did. LOL! I know a secret …

    • Daxx10

      Yes, 5 + 5.

    • Gio

      No. If you have 5BTC you still have 5BTC after the fork. It will be up to you to move your BTC to the predominant chain after the fork.

      Should you decide to move your BTC to BCC, then yes, your BTC would be converted into exactly same amount of BCC. Bear in mind, though, that right now, BCC is worthless, thus, same amount does not mean same value.
      Right now, many miners, on-line wallets and exchanges companies are not suppporting BCC. At the end, though, only after the fork we’ll know the “winner”.

    • samljer22

      it means you will have both.

  • john

    Will the bitcoin core Qt wallet allow me to get both coins

    • Daxx10

      You’ll have both but it doesn’t have support for splitting, yet.
      If you spend one bitcoin from your core wallet on Aug 1, you will spend one bitcoin + one bitcoin cash (combined), which is probably *not* what you would want to do. In other words, because you spent one bitcoin, you gave away the right to the one free bitcoin cash that goes with it. We need to wait for some way of splitting. I suspect there will be many exotic methods 😉

      • Jetsz

        That is incorrect. After the split, you can spend or move your original Bitcoin anyway you like. The new Bitcoin Cash will REMAIN at the old address. The point is that each current pre-split address will suddenly (at the point of the split) become present within TWO SEPARATE blockchains. What you do with your original Bitcoin at that address on the OLD blockchain will not impact the ledger of what exists on the NEW blockchain. Here’s the key thing to remember: The private key for that address will be the same on the OLD and NEW blockchains, and you’ll simply unlock either on two different wallets — one for the original Bitcoin and the second for the new Bitcoin Cash.

        • Daxx10

          In your contradiction, you “simply unlock either on two different wallets”.
          How does this other wallet that magically occur from john’s Qt wallet.
          Yes, *after* some way of splitting, your description becomes true.
          Spend before splitting and you’ll have no way to access the mirrored coins on the alt chain (i.e. they don’t belong to you any more).

          • Jetsz

            I may have misunderstood what you were saying. Here’s what I’m saying (and we may agree):
            1) If you spend a Bitcoin before the split, then you’ve effectively spent 1 BTC + 1 BCC.
            2) If you spend a Bitcoin after the split, then you’re only spending 1 BTC. The 1 BCC that exists at that address will remain at that address (unless you spend that as well in a separate transaction from a BCC-capable wallet).

          • Daxx10

            Agree – Thanks for clarification.

      • allen smith

        That’s wrong. I’m no expert, but if you have a wallet that you’ve been using all along, and you don’t loose the private keys to, August 1 and after, you can spend btc from it, even though it doesn’t support Bitcoin Cash. Your spending won’t go on the Bitcoin Cash chain, because the software has to flag it to do so. Bitcoin Cash chain will not accept btc, only bcc. So, say you spend all your btc balance, and your wallet is showing 0, now download a wallet that supports bcc, import the private keys from your empty btc wallet, and you’ll see you have bcc for all the btc that had been in that btc wallet.

    • Matt Black

      YO Send me some bitcoin 1KHWW6A1XsZHxEeiC2Gkc768vhubX2jDKt

      I will pay you back, my kids are sick and i need cancer drugs for my daughter, and herpes drugs for my boy.

  • Great article, I saw this question everywhere, is better to always prepare yourself in advance.

    • Matt Black

      Hey do a little favor and Send me some bitcoin please 1KHWW6A1XsZHxEeiC2Gkc768vhubX2jDKt

    • Sterlin Lujan

      Thank you. It is important information for people to know, especially bitcoin newcomers.

  • I’m in the USA and have the private keys to my wallet. Is Breadwallet where we go to obtain BCC or is there other options? My current wallet will not have BCC on their platform but I can export keys.

    • Matt Black

      Send me some bitcoin please 1KHWW6A1XsZHxEeiC2Gkc768vhubX2jDKt

    • Jetsz

      No, Judy, if you have your private keys, then there will be MANY options. In other words, Breadwallet won’t be the only option.

      • @Jet@disqus_N2O5Cestpm:disqus , thanks my friend for your prompt reply. This is confusing and I haven’t read much about where you can go to cash the BCC in. You’re a gem!

    • Sterlin Lujan

      Yes, there will be plenty options, but you have to have some technical knowledge to export the keys and gain access to bitcoin cash.

      I recommend using a wallet that is already signaling support for bread wallet if you want easy access to it after the fork.

  • Matt Black

    I wants my bitcoin cash

  • Mandy

    I do have x amount of bitcoins in my blockchain wallet. I took backup of it and have the recovery phrase. Now should i transfer it somewhere else or leave it as it is. Please revert. Regards

    • Sterlin Lujan

      Hi Mandy! If you just leave your coins on blockchain.info they will be fine. You will have access to your Bitcoin no problem. Just make sure you don’t move them aroInd during the fork or immediately following it.

      However, if you want access to bitcoin cash, it may be best to move them to a wallet like Bread. That’s because blockchain hasn’t provided specific info on how they are going to support bitcoin cash. You could still access bitcoin cash if they decide not to support it, but you would need technical knowledge of command line to gain assess to bitcoin cash.

      • Mandy

        Thankyou for your help Sterlin. One more thing i have to ask. If i leave BTC in blockchain only then will i get bitcoin cash of same amount? And also bread is as safe as blockchain?

        • Sterlin Lujan

          Yes. Breadwallet is as safe as blockchain. In my personal opinion, it would be better to just store your bitcoin on Breadwallet prior to the fork, because they will eventually create a new app where you can just use your seed code to access your bitcoin cash.

      • Mohammad Shahsahebi

        How can I learn how to use command line to acces BCC if my coins can’t get out of Coinbase before the folk?

  • Ayham

    Hello if I exchange my bitcoins on poloniex to ETH or any other Altcoin before the bitcoin hard fork and later after the the network is stiblized I re exchange my Altcoin to bitcoin .. how will that be effecting me ???

    • Roger Ver

      It won’t affect you at all.

    • I guess you will miss the opertunity to recieve your share of the “free” Bitcoin Cash.

    • Daxx10

      As Øystein Rustad said, you will not be eligible for the “free” BitcoinCash.

  • X90

    Mr. Lujan,

    How is it possible for Bitcoin cash, BCH. to issue an equivalent amount of anything?

    Would you not have to make a decision to convert to BCH and effectively buy into BCH, Bitcoin cash?

    It makes no sense that anyone would be issued BCH for free. And if you keep Bitcoin it should not matter as long as it is not instantly converted to BCH by a custodian. If it was legit BCH would be available no matter what at any point in the future.

    To make it out like you have to execute this whole event a certain way makes it sound like you can hack this and get BCH and BTC on both sides, free money, and if you don’t do it then you lose out.

    That is a scam to me cause there is no reason or logic in allowing people to be issued free BCH. Logic is that you keep your BTC or convert it to BCH.

    • It’s not exactly “free Bitcoin Cash”. BCC takes away from the value of Bitcoin. It’s basically a copy of the Bitcoin chain with some minor changes and its value comes from people who think that it will be useful.

      If everyone just sells off their BCC then it will be worth nothing.

      • X90

        Okay, so if the developers who issue the new BCH coins issue themselves a billion dollars worth of the BCH, they could sell it all off and cash out.

        Could they issue themselves a bunch of coins and do this?

        I don’t understand how they could issue a “FREE” coin. I could understand that they would split and then start trading at market demand type prices in which you could trade out Bitcoin for BCH or vice versa. But issuing a automatic coin sounds like a scam.

        It is not in anyway Bitcoin and only carries with it a history of completed transactions.

        Everything is a copy of Bitcoin. None of this sounds legit.

        • People could mine BCC, but that’s about it. And the coin is only free in the sense that all your bitcoins will also exist on the BCC chain after it forms. So you’ll have both Bitcoin and the new “Bitcoin Cash”

          • X90

            But if the developers of BCH already had a ton of Bitcoin they could issue BCH by creating it. And then cashing out. Which is what they did.
            Scam of the century my friend.
            BCH scam, Bitcoin Cash scam

        • Luke

          Developers don’t issue coins, miners can obtain from mining. If developers own a billion BTC they could own a billion BCH but the cost would be outrageous. “Supply and demand” my friend, think, what would you do if you got something for free you can’t use? Sell it. BCH will get dumped hard, it has no usage at the moment. If everyone was aware of this and knew the coin has no use noone would buy it thus the demand falls and the price falls so it’s not technically ‘free money’ because it is worthless.

          • X90

            The guys that developed BCH, Bitcoin Cash already had a ton of Original Bitcoin. They issued themselves the BCH by creating it with intentions of cashing it out and doubling what they had.
            They had the relationships with the exchanges that ended up supporting it and the ability to sell it off right away. Most likely kicking back a decent chunk of cash to the exchange owners for getting them out first.
            It is genius. They probably rolled it all back into Bitcoin, hence the huge spike.
            Scam of the century.

      • It was free for me yesterday and today. I found an exchange that opened its BCH/BCC wallet. I deposited. I sold. I bought. I had fun. I went from $400 to $800 in no time flat selling freakin air. And BTC didn’t cough a bit. While BCH went from $200 to $400 to over $800 back down to $400 and the roller coaster continues. Just sit back and relax or play the volative speculative game.

  • Dr. Bubó

    After the fork, can I spend both my BTC and BCC the same time?

    • samljer22

      its going to be 2 completely different coins
      and the amount of coins in the new one you have will be equal to the exact
      amount you had when the fork occurred.

  • Gabriel Henry

    can i send my bitcoin from blockchain now to electrum wallet

  • Rubens Blajberg

    Ok, if i have my bitcoins in a blockchain wallet, how to extract my bch? they´re not supporting it yet.

  • russell UK

    “The most important thing to remember: do not keep your coins on a custodial wallet. This will ensure you will have access to your bitcoin after the fork. Make sure you store your coins in a wallet where you KEEP THE PRIVATE KEYS.” – yes and this piece of advice cost many people lots of money. If you had left your Bitcoin on Kraken for example you would have had access to your Bitcoin Cash shortly after and been able to trade them at a high price instead of waiting ages to try and deposit them into an Exchange to get a very low value.

  • Jean-Pierre Brault

    I had my Bitcoins on a Branded special edition of the Nano S and the Spliting process provided by Ledger does not work for my device. Since this is a cold storage device, I do not have access to my private keys but I do have a 24 word recovery seed phase. So I restored my keys with my seed phrase using Electrum and I now have access to my private keys and I can export them. What do I do from here to split my coins ?