What is a cryptocurrency exchange?
Cryptocurrency exchanges are websites where you can buy, sell or exchange cryptocurrencies for other digital currency or traditional currency like US dollars or Euro. For those that want to trade professionally and have access to fancy trading tools, you will likely need to use an exchange that requires you to verify your ID and open an account. If you just want to make the occasional, straightforward trade, there are also platforms that you can use that do not require an account.
Types of crypto exchanges
- Trading Platforms – These are websites that connect buyers and sellers and take a fee from each transaction.
- Direct Trading – These platforms offer direct peer-to-peer trading where individuals from different countries can exchange currency from their bank account. Direct trading exchanges don’t have a fixed market price, instead, each seller sets their own exchange rate.
- Brokers – These are websites that anyone can visit to buy cryptocurrencies at a price set by the broker. Cryptocurrency brokers are similar to foreign exchange dealers.
What to look out for before joining crypto exchanges
It’s important to do a little homework before you start trading. Here are a few things you should check before making your first trade.
- Reputation – The best way to find out about an exchange is to search through reviews from individual users and well-known industry websites. You can ask any questions you might have on forums like BitcoinTalk or Reddit.
- Trading Fees – Most exchanges should have fee-related information on their websites. Before joining, make sure you understand deposit, transaction and withdrawal fees. Fees can differ substantially depending on the exchange you use.
- Payment Methods – What payment methods are available on the exchange? Credit card? Debit card? Wire transfer through your bank account? PayPal? Can you trade with USD EUR? If an exchange has limited payment options then it may not be convenient for you to use it. Remember that purchasing cryptocurrencies with a credit card will always require identity verification and come with a premium price as there is a higher risk of fraud and higher transaction and processing fees. Purchasing cryptocurrency via wire transfer will take significantly longer as it takes time for banks to process.
- Verification Requirements – The vast majority of the Bitcoin trading exchanges both in the US and the UK require some sort of ID verification in order to make deposits & withdrawals. Some exchanges will allow you to remain anonymous. Although verification, which can take up to a few days, might seem like a pain, it protects the exchange against all kinds of scams and money laundering.
- Geographical Restrictions – Some specific user functions offered by exchanges are only accessible from certain countries. Make sure the exchange you want to join allows full access to all platform tools and functions in the country you currently live in.
- Exchange Rate – Different exchanges have different rates. You will be surprised how much you can save if you shop around. It’s not uncommon for rates to fluctuate up to 10% and even higher in some instances.
Which crypto exchanges are best to buy bitcoin?
Today there are a host of platforms to choose from, but not all exchanges are created equal. This list is based on user reviews as well as a host of other criteria such as user-friendliness, accessibility, fees, and security. Here are ten of the best crypto exchanges in no specific order.
Best cryptocurrency exchange list:
Backed by trusted investors and used by millions of customers globally, Coinbase is one of the most popular and best crypto exchanges in the world. Coinbase platform makes it easy to securely buy, use, store, and trade digital currency. Users can purchase bitcoins, Ether, and now Litecoin from Coinbase through a digital wallet available on Android & iPhone or through trading with other users on the company’s Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX) subsidiary. They can easily sell their crypto as well and receive money directly into their bank account. GDAX currently operates in the United States, Europe, UK, Canada, Australia, and Singapore. GDAX does not currently charge any transfer fees for moving funds between your Coinbase account and your GDAX account. For now, the selection of tradable currencies will, however, depend on the country you live in. Check out the Coinbase FAQ and GDAX FAQ
- Pros: Good reputation, security, high trading volume, easy to use, reasonable fees, beginner-friendly, stored currency is covered by Coinbase insurance. It’s easy for novice users to trade and buy bitcoin since it allows fiat currency trading.
- Cons: Customer support, limited payment methods, limited countries supported, non-uniform rollout of services worldwide, GDAX suitable for technical traders only.
If your focus is to conduct crypto-to-crypto trading, Binance is one of the best options. Ranked as one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide, they provide you with impressive offerings along with an extremely low trading fee. Although the Binance platform is a young entrant into the market, it is rapidly growing and holds a huge selection of altcoins with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tether pairings.
The exchange offers its own coin termed as BNB (Binance coin). Being a centralized exchange, you can get decent discounts while conducting trade with their token. Binance offers a standard trading fee of only 0.1% which can even be reduced further if the payment is made within BNB.
- Pros: Ubiquitous platform, platform token, very cheap to transact, available worldwide.
- Cons: No fiat trading, limited payment options.
Located in San Francisco, Huobi is operated by HBUS Holdco, Inc. (“HBUS”), a U.S. company and strategic partner of Huobi Global, one of the world’s best cryptocurrency exchanges. At the time of writing, Huobi is only available to Chinese and US residents excluding those residing in Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington, and all U.S. Territories. Huobi offers a plethora of token trading options (Over 50 pairings). As we all know, crypto doesn’t sleep and neither does Huobi as they offer their customers 24/7 free customer support. Fees for USD trades are .1% regardless of being maker or taker, all crypto to crypto trades is .05%. Huobi has offices in Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan.
Huobi supports a wide range of cryptocurrencies and ICO tokens including all major coins like bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin Cash (BCH), bitcoin Gold (BTG), Dash (DASH), EOS (EOS), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Lisk (LSK), ICON (ICX), Litecoin (LTC), NEO (NEO), NEM (XEM), Qtum (QTUM), Ripple (XRP), Tether (USDT), Zcash (ZEC), Tron (TRX), etc. Huobi offers more than 100 altcoin trading pairs and offers trading by BTC, ETH, and USDT. Apart from Huobi.pro the firm has also launched Huobi Autonomous Digital Asset Exchange (HADAX). While the pro site list more than 100 cryptocurrencies and tokens, HADAX though being just more than a few month’s old lists a wide array of small coins and tokens. HADAX allows traders to vote for the tokens they want to see on the platform by using Huobi tokens.
Pros: One of the best customer support, high-quality analytics, high liquidity, easy to use trading platform.
Cons: Only Available to Chinese and Some US Residents
ChangeNOW is a registration-free instant cryptocurrency exchange platform for limitless crypto conversions. ChangeNOW has been on the market for more than a year now and has earned a reputation for reliable service with great rates. The exchange platform does not require account creation, processing fast transactions for more than 170 cryptos, as well as fiat-to-crypto purchases. ChangeNOW stays honest with its customers and collects no hidden or inflated fees. The timing of the transaction remains rather short. Depending on the transaction volume, the processing speed can take as little as 2 minutes.
- Registration-free – no account needed
- More than 170 cryptocurrency coins and tokens listed – more than 36000 trading pairs
- No limits – no maximum exchange amount
- 2 cryptocurrency exchange flows: standard and fixed-rate
- Convenient purchase with credit cards
- 24/7 support
- Mobile application
- No leverage. ChangeNOW does not offer leveraged trading on cryptocurrencies
Established in 2013, CoinJar is the easiest way to buy, sell, store and spend cryptocurrency. CoinJar’s iOS and Android apps allow users to trade cryptocurrencies on the go, while CoinJar Exchange and CoinJar OTC Trading Desk cater to professional traders, as well as individuals and institutions looking to make larger transactions.
- iOS & Android apps that let you trade
- Free & fast bank transfers
- Fees 0.1% – 1% depending on trading volumes
- Established in 2013
- Good customer support
- No leverage trading available.
- ID verification is required in order to trade.
OKEx.com is a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, and
other cryptocurrencies safely and easily. The intuitive platform with a sleek user-interface makes it easy to
do market buys, check cryptocurrency prices, and more. The exchange focuses not only on spot and
margin trading, but also has advanced features for derivatives like futures, perpetual swaps, and
The Malta-based exchange operates in over 100 countries providing cryptocurrency liquidity and market
buying options to millions of users and supports hundreds of different trading pairs.
● Free registration and easy to use
● Over 400 trading pairs with high liquidity
● Low fees with incentives for market makers
● Many different payment methods supported
● Great user-interface with a sleek design
● Trusted and well-known exchange
● 24/7 customer support
● Not available in some countries
● Some advanced features may intimidate beginners
● No fiat on-ramp
Xcoins.com is a European-based leading cryptocurrency exchange platform. Since its launch in 2016, the easy-to-use platform has served over 250,000 satisfied customers worldwide. Xcoins offers a quick and secure solution to purchase cryptocurrencies with 24/7 live support. They cater to beginners, as well as experienced crypto-veterans, and support more than 167 countries. With exceptional customer service and one of the quickest transaction processes, it’s easy to see why Xcoins has been growing exponentially since its inception. No matter your level of experience or where you are in the world, Xcoins.com is a safe and reliable way to get your hands on cryptocurrencies.
- 24/7 live support
- Low fees
- Simple & secure registration and verification
- Quick processing and transaction processes
- Available worldwide
- Only offers BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, BTC Cash
Founded in 2011, Kraken is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in euro volume and liquidity and is a partner in the first cryptocurrency bank. Kraken lets you buy and sell bitcoins and trade between bitcoins and euros, US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, British Pounds, and Japanese Yen. It’s also possible to trade digital currencies other than Bitcoin like Ethereum, Monero, ethereum Classic, Augur REP tokens, ICONOMI, Zcash, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ripple, and Stellar/Lumens. For more experienced users, Kraken offers margin trading and a host of other trading features. Kraken is a great choice for more experienced traders. Check out the Kraken FAQ.
While the crypto exchange is based out of San Francisco, USA, they still have one of the largest Euro-to-crypto markets in the world. Kraken is available to residents of the US, Canada, Japan, and various European nations. Kraken does not currently accept deposits via credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, or similar services. In 2014, Kraken became the number one exchange in the world when it comes to Euro trade volume. They also pioneered the first verifiable cryptographic proof of reserves audit system and were also listed on the Bloomberg Terminal within the same year. It has a solid, yet non-beginner-friendly crypto trading platform.
- Pros: Good reputation, easy to use, high trading volume, decent exchange rates, low transaction fees, minimal deposit fees, feature-rich, great user support, secure, supported worldwide.
- Cons: Limited payment methods (does not currently accept cash, debit card, credit cards, PayPal), or similar services., not suitable for beginners who want to get started with trading, unintuitive user interface.
Cex.io is one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges that provide multiple payment options for using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The platform lets users easily trade fiat money with cryptocurrencies and conversely cryptocurrencies for fiat money. So, if you are a beginner, this is one of the best crypto exchanges that you can use to get started. For those looking to trade bitcoins professionally, the platform offers personalized and user-friendly trading dashboards and margin trading. Alternatively, this crypto exchange also offers a brokerage service that provides novice traders in an extremely simple way to buy bitcoin at prices that are more or less in line with the market rate. The Cex.io website is secure and intuitive and cryptocurrencies can be stored in safe cold storage. Check out the Cex.io FAQ
- Pros: Good reputation, good mobile product, supports credit cards, beginner friendly, decent exchange rate, supported worldwide, API solutions for automated trading. Available in the US, Europe, Hong Kong, and certain countries in South America. Allows crypto trading with multiple options, including debit card, USD EUR.
- Cons: Strict verification rules, fees vary with the payment method.
Swapzone is a cryptocurrency exchange aggregator. Our job is to provide the users with a platform allowing them to make an informed choice when exchanging crypto assets. To make this possible, we gather the information on the service providers, select the parameters for comparison, aggregate and sort out the deals. and present all the options in one interface. We aim for making the swap space transparent, understandable, and, most importantly,
How to use Swapzone?
We are creating a common user flow for non-custodial exchange services. By uniting different interfaces into one, Swapzone acts as a bridge connecting the exchanges to the user.
- Wide range of coins and tokens to choose from (including Stablecoins)
- Multiple exchange partners with the possibility to choose among service providers
- The exchange offers sorted by the best rate, time, and service rating
- All the communication with the services held through Swapzone – we are here to help
- Geared towards advanced users
ShapeShift one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges that supports a variety of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, Zcash, Dash, Dogecoin, and many others. Shapeshift is great for those who want to make instant straightforward trades without signing up for an account or relying on a platform to hold their funds. ShapeShift does not allow users to purchase crypto’s with debit cards, credit cards, or any other payment system. This crypto platform has a no-fiat policy and only allows for the exchange between bitcoin and the other supported cryptocurrencies. Visit the Shapeshift FAQ
- Pros: Good reputation, beginner friendly, Dozens of Cryptos available for exchange, fast, reasonable prices that can allow you to get started with trading.
- Cons: Average mobile app, no fiat currencies, limited payment method, and tools.
Founded in 2014, Poloniex is one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges. The crypto exchange offers a secure trading environment with more than 100 different Bitcoin cryptocurrency pairings and advanced tools and data analysis for advanced traders. As one of the most popular trading platforms with the highest trading volumes, users will always be able to close a trade position. Poloniex employs a volume-tiered, maker-taker fee schedule for all trades so fees are different depending on if you are the maker or the taker. For makers, fees range from 0 to 0.15%, depending on the amount traded.
For takers, fees range from 0.10 to 0.25%. There are no fees for withdrawals beyond the transaction fee required by the network. One of the unique tools on the Poloniex crypto exchange is the chat box which is constantly filled with user help and just about everything. Any user can write almost anything but inappropriate comments are eventually deleted by moderators. It can sometimes be hard to distinguish the good advice from the bad, but the Chatbox is a great tool that will keep you engaged.
- Pros: Fast account creation, feature-rich, BTC lending, high-volume trading, user-friendly, low trading fees, open API.
- Cons: Slow customer service, no fiat support.
Bitstamp is one of the best bitcoin exchanges based out of Europe. It was founded in 2011 and is one of the first generation bitcoin exchanges that has built up a loyal customer base. Bitstamp is well known and trusted throughout the bitcoin community as a safe trading platform. It offers advanced security features such as two-step authentication, multisig technology for its wallet, and fully insured cold storage. Bitstamp has 24/7 support and a multilingual user interface and getting started is relatively easy. After opening a free account and making a deposit, users can start trading immediately. Check out the Bitstamp FAQ and the Fee Schedule
- Pros: Good reputation, high-level security, robust trading platform, high trading volume, worldwide availability, low transaction fees, good for large transactions.
- Cons: Not beginner-friendly, limited payment methods, high deposit fees, user interface.
CoinMama is a veteran crypto exchange platform that anyone can visit to buy bitcoin or Ether using your credit card or cash via MoneyGram. CoinMama is great for those who want to make instant straightforward purchases of digital currency using their local currency. Although the CoinMama service is available worldwide, users should be aware that some countries may not be able to use all the functions of the site. CoinMama is available in English, German, French, Italian, and Russian. Check out the CoinMama FAQ.
Unlike other exchanges, Coinmama doesn’t have an in-built BTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, ETC, XRP, QTUM, ADA wallet. If you want to trade in the cryptocurrency exchange, then you must have your own wallet for each of the available cryptocurrencies. This could be perceived as both a good thing and a bad thing. While it encourages users to make their own wallet, which is a lot more secure, it is not the most convenient option.
- Pros: Good reputation, beginner friendly, great user interface, good range of payment options, available worldwide, fast transaction time.
- Cons: High exchange rates, a premium fee for credit cards, no bitcoin sell function, average user support.
Bitsquare is a user-friendly peer-to-peer exchange that allows you to buy and sell bitcoins in exchange for fiat currencies or cryptocurrencies. Bitsquare markets itself as a truly decentralized and peer to peer exchange that is instantly accessible and requires no need for registration or reliance on a central authority. Bitsquare never holds user funds and no one except trading partners exchange personal data. The platform offers great security with multisig addresses, security deposits, and a purpose-built arbitrator system in case of trade disputes. If you want to remain anonymous and don’t trust anyone, Bitsquare is the perfect platform for you. Check out the Bitsquare FAQ
- Pros: Good reputation, secure & private, a vast amount of cryptocurrencies available, no sign-up, decent fees, open-source, available worldwide, good for advanced traders.
- Cons: Limited payment options, average customer support, not beginner-friendly.
LocalBitcoin is a P2P Bitcoin exchange with buyers and sellers in thousands of cities around the world. With LocalBitcoins, you can meet up with people in your local area and buy or sell bitcoins in cash, send money through PayPal, Skrill or Dwolla or arrange to deposit cash at a bank branch. LocalBitcoins only take a commission of 1% from the sellers who set their own exchange rates. To ensure trading is secure, LocalBitcoins takes a number of precautions. To start, the platform rates each trader with a reputation rank and publicly displays past activities. Also, once a trade is requested, the money is held on LocalBitcoins’ escrow service. After the seller confirms the trade is completed the funds are released. If something does happen to go wrong, LocalBitcoins has a support and conflict resolution team to resolve conflicts between buyers and sellers. Check out LocalBitcoins FAQ.
This cryptocurrency exchange uses 2-factor authentication or 2FA to add extra security. This is a handy addition that will help prevent account hacks. This feature is not activated by default. It has to be done by the user. It keeps a record of the IP address of the computer which was used for account creation. The exchange will also keep a record of the browser which is constantly used for logging into the account. If the user uses a new IP address (say they move to a new location), then a verification process is done via email to confirm identity. All the transaction done between the parties uses LBC as an escrow to store the funds. The funds are only released when the transaction has been confirmed to be complete.
- Pros: No ID required, beginner-friendly, usually free, instant transfers, available worldwide.
- Cons: Hard to buy large amounts of bitcoin, high exchange rates.
LinkCoin is an Over-The-Counter (OTC) cryptocurrency exchange that was developed by Yesbit Ltd in collaboration with Bibox. Based in Toronto Canada, the exchange processes transactions autonomously via smart contracts. Plus, with a fully functional website, and Android + iOs apps, the platform has the necessary technological infrastructure to provide users with a service that meets all of their investment needs. Linkcoin has 7 cryptocurrencies available for purchase (BTC, ETH, BCH, ETC, LTC, LKN, BIX) plus, with some of the indsutrie’s lowest transaction fees (zero buyer fees + 0.6% seller fees), they make buying and selling cryptocurrencies as affordable as possible. Accessibility is something Linkcoin also values. This is why they accept Interac e-Transfer, Bank Wire, AliPay, and WeChat Pay. Users can also pay in either CAD, USD, CNY, JPY, or HKD.
- Pros: No ID required, very cheap to sell, platform token, free to buy, high privacy and security, lots of payment options.
- Cons: Lack of altcoins, limited volume, not beginner-friendly.
Co-founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Gemini is a fully regulated licensed US Bitcoin and Ether exchange. That means Gemini’s capital requirements and regulatory standards are similar to a bank. Also, all US dollar deposits are held at an FDIC-insured bank and the majority of digital currency is held in cold storage. Gemini trades in three currencies, US dollars, bitcoin, and ether, so the platform does not serve traders of the plethora of other cryptocurrencies. The exchange operates via a maker-taker fee schedule with discounts available for high-volume traders. All deposits and withdrawals are free of charge. The platform is only fully available to customers in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the UK.
Check out Gemini’s FAQ
- Pros: Security & Compliance, slick/minimalistic, high trading volume, and user-friendly design, great analytics, high liquidity, and one of the more reputable crypto exchanges.
- Cons: Limited currencies, small community, average customer support, limited worldwide availability, no margin trading.
Cryptocurrency Exchanges: Conclusion
Picking the best cryptocurrency exchange platform for your specific needs may be a difficult and time-consuming process. Remember to pay attention to the fees, reputation, security, verification processes, and geographical services an exchange platform has to offer. Remember that you are not limited to using only one cryptocurrency exchange. Hopefully, the information provided will assist you in deciding which exchange platform to use. Bookmark the article and refer back to our list of best cryptocurrency exchanges whenever you want to try a new alternative during your trading journey.