Bitcoin miner fees are small amounts of bitcoin given to incentivize bitcoin miners (and their operators) to confirm bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin miners are the special pieces of hardware that confirm and secure transactions on the bitcoin network. Miner fees pay miners for the service they provide. Miner fees do not go to BitPay.
What do bitcoin miner fees do?
Bitcoin miners confirm and secure transactions by adding blocks to the blockchain. A block is a group of transactions. The blockchain is Bitcoin's shared public record of all transactions. Miners must add transactions to the blockchain so the transaction becomes final. No one is able to reverse a transaction after miners add it to the blockchain. How do bitcoin block confirmations work?
Miners use the miner fees attached to transactions to decide which transactions to confirm first. A sufficient miner fee makes it more likely that your transaction will confirm in a short period of time. If you use a low miner fee (or no fee at all), your transaction may take days or even weeks to confirm. The bitcoin network may even reject your transaction altogether and return the funds to your wallet.
Why are miner fees so high?
Bitcoin miner fees rise (or fall) due to bitcoin network demand and limited bitcoin network space.
Only a limited number of transactions can be added to the bitcoin blockchain at a time. With more people sending more transactions, the cost for getting into the next block of bitcoin transactions rises higher and higher.
You can view current and historical average bitcoin miner fee costs from bitcoinfees.info.
How do I send bitcoin miner fees?
Most true bitcoin wallets include a bitcoin miner fee in all outgoing transactions. To make sure your wallet includes a correct miner fee, change your settings to include a dynamically-calculated fee. That will help make sure your transaction arrives on time, even when the bitcoin network is busy.
Wallets like the BitPay Wallet include this setting by default. If you would like to customize your bitcoin miner fee on the BitPay Wallet, check out this video. Remember that you can only customize the fee immediately before you make a transaction. Why is my recommended bitcoin miner fee so high?
Note: some bitcoin exchanges won't send a miner fee when they transfer funds. Instead, they will deduct the miner fee cost from your outbound transaction.