Bitcoin. Ethereum. Litecoin. And now Dogecoin. You’ve heard about these cryptocurrencies and want to dip your toes in. You may think it’s too late, but it’s not. Investing in crypto has proven to be a lucrative income stream for many investors. No longer considered a fringe investment, crypto has gone mainstream and is widely invested in by major financial institutions.
One of the first steps of investing in crypto is identifying the best crypto exchange, also known as a cryptocurrency trading platform. What is a crypto exchange, you ask? It’s simply an online platform to buy, sell, and exchange cryptocurrency.
With dozens if not hundreds of exchanges available, how do you choose the best one? We’ll share our picks for the best crypto exchanges and then give you some advice on how to choose which one to use.
Coinbase is one of the best-known crypto trading platforms, and for good reason. It is particularly ideal for beginners, thanks to its intuitive user interface. That said, experts also appreciate Coinbase for its reputation and familiarity. Most experts who use Coinbase, however, will opt for Coinbase Pro.
The only downside is that the fees are higher than some of the other platforms on this list. However, Coinbase makes up for this with its convenience and variety of payment methods. Users also appreciate that Coinbase has been around since 2012 and has maintained a strong reputation since then.
Traders will also love the extremely high liquidity on Coinbase. This helps with efficient trades. This is also one of the rare exchanges with insurance, which helps it earn a spot among the best crypto trading platforms. Specifically, Coinbase has insurance protection for data breaches and stores user cash in FDIC-insured accounts.
Bisq is the best crypto trading platform for those interested in cryptocurrencies because of their decentralization. In practical terms, this means that Bisq places its servers around the world, reducing the risk of attacks. In turn, that leads to great security.
Bisq also excels in terms of transparency, as you can view its source code on Slack or GitHub.
The only major caveat is that you can only deposit using wire transfers, not credit or debit cards like most platforms on this list. The other thing to consider is that transaction fees are at 0.10 percent for the maker or 0.70 percent for the taker. These can be halved if you pay in BSQ, the native token.
Active traders may also want to consider a different exchange, as Bisq has lower trading volumes. That said, most crypto traders will not have any issues.
Binance’s headquarters are in Malta, with locations around the world. The exchange has hundreds of altcoins to choose from, along with thousands of pairs. It also has enough features to appeal to beginners, experts, and everyone in between.
In addition to trading cryptocurrency with market orders, Binance also offers other options, including futures trading and margin trading. There are also advanced charting features that will appeal to more experienced traders or those who want to complete their own analyses.
No matter the type of trading you do, you can expect low fees of 0.1 percent. These can be even less if you have higher trading volumes, as low as 0.02 percent. There is also a fee discount if you pay them in BNB (the Binance coin).
Security is not a major concern with Binance, as you can use two-factor authentication. There is also a Secure Asset Fund for Users, Binance’s proprietary fund that protects your cryptocurrency from being stolen.
Vast selection of cryptocurrencies
Low trading fees
Americans have to use a separate website (Binance.us.)
Kraken stands out for its customer service, as well as its low fees and wide availability. Most users around the world can open a Kraken account with ease. This exchange has a great reputation as well.
One of the nice features of Kraken is the variable trading fees. They won’t be higher than 0.36 percent and can be nonexistent, depending on your trading volume. This makes Kraken particularly appealing to high-volume cryptocurrency traders.
Kraken also has a dark pool feature, which it uses to make trading easier.
Although it is not technically a cryptocurrency exchange or designed for trading, Hodlnaut makes our list of the best crypto trading platforms because of the potential profits you can earn. With Hodlnaut, you deposit or “hodl” your cryptocurrency on the platform and earn interest in it in exchange. These are called crypto savings account.
The Hodlnaut interest rates are subject to change, but they will let users know if they change. At the time of writing, you can earn up to 10.5 percent interest on a cryptocurrency just by hodling it on the platform.
The platform pays you interest weekly, letting it compound and grow. There are also no minimum deposits or lock-up periods. This means you can withdraw your cryptocurrency at any time to move it to another platform on this list and then trade it.
While most of the other options on this list are exchanges, Coinmama is a brokerage service. As such, you can use this platform to buy cryptocurrency from other Coinmama users. It has been around since 2013.
Coinmama is known for having very quick and safe transactions. This is also one of the best crypto trading platforms in terms of customer service.
The main downside is that the fees are fairly high, at 2.9 percent to 3.9 percent. You should also be aware that Coinmama offers fewer cryptocurrencies than some of the other platforms on this list.
Bittrex is among our best crypto trading platforms, as it is in the United States and run by former employees of big-name companies like Microsoft and Blackberry. Those former employees are security experts. That means Bittrex stands out from the other platforms with its high level of security. Another noteworthy strength is that Bittrex has insurance that will cover 80-90 percent of all user funds if a security breach occurs.
The fact that Bittrex is based in the U.S. also means that it is open to Americans without restrictions, something that is somewhat rare among crypto platforms.
Bittrex also offers a variety of features, including margin trading. The only downside is that this and certain other features are only available in limited regions. It is also worth noting that you can only deposit or withdraw fiat via wire transfers.
The trading fees are 0.25 percent, which is about average for crypto trading platforms.
Based in the United States and open to U.S. residents
Large trading volumes
Some features not available worldwide
Fiat deposits and withdrawals only via wire transfer
Gemini is the platform from the Winklevoss twins, and it was founded in 2015. It is also based in the United States and well-respected there. It stands out with its high security, low fees, and intuitive use. Just some of its security measures include hot as well as cold storage, encrypting user data, and hardware security modules.
One of the most impressive features is the insurance on USD accounts. Those previously mentioned low fees are just 0.1 percent, which is one of the best rates you will see.
There are only two downsides, and one will not matter to most people. You will need to submit your identification and provide personal data while signing up, so using Gemini is not anonymous or private. If you don’t want ID verification, there are plenty of other great choices on the list. The other issue is that the exchange has had one software crash, but that has since been resolved.
eToro is primarily known as a copy trading platform for forex, but it is also a great platform for trading cryptocurrency. The fact that it offers more traditional assets in addition to cryptocurrency appeals to users, as does the option of copy trading. This makes it great for anyone who trades cryptocurrency in addition to traditional fiat assets.
Because eToro did not start as a crypto trading platform, it has a longer history than most platforms on this list. It was founded in 2007.
Some people may see the fact that eToro does not focus on cryptocurrency as a drawback. However, this depends on your perspective. The variety means traders have more opportunities and get to take advantage of the perks of trading on a platform with a wider base, such as quick withdrawals.
The only real drawback is that eToro is fairly limited in terms of cryptocurrencies. While there are around 100 different cryptocurrency pairs, there are just over a dozen individual crypto coins to invest in. It is worth noting that eToro actively works to increase its crypto offerings.
BitStamp is another one of the older crypto trading platforms, as it was founded in 2011. You can sign up quickly and will get to take advantage of competitive fees. You can also make your deposit using your method of choice, with options like wire transfer, SEPA, and credit or debit cards.
The only real downside is that BitStamp did have a hack in 2015. However, this should not be a concern, as the exchange dramatically upgraded its security since then. Some of the newer measures include Multi-Signature wallets and two-factor authentication.
Range of payment methods
4 million+ users
KYC process is extensive
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Crypto Platform
As you look at the above best crypto trading platforms, you will have to figure out how to choose among them. Or maybe you heard about another platform that isn’t on our list and want to know how to evaluate it. There are some important factors to consider. You will notice that many of these are mentioned in our list of considerations as we compiled the list, but here we go into more detail.
Which Cryptocurrencies You Can Trade
Nearly every single crypto trading platform will let you trade Bitcoin and Ethereum. Most also have other major coins like Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Cardano. Most exchanges on our list have at least about 10–15 cryptocurrencies available. Some of the best, like Binance, have hundreds.
Importantly, not everyone needs access to hundreds of altcoins. It depends entirely on your trading strategy and preferences. Some people prefer to stick to the most popular cryptocurrencies because of their higher liquidity and the wealth of information available about them. If you are in that category, then just confirm that the exchange has the cryptos you want to trade, and you should be fine.
However, if you want to maximize your trading opportunities for the future, go with an exchange that has more variety. The more pairs available, the more opportunities you will have. It also becomes much more likely that the exchange will carry a specific up-and-coming cryptocurrency that you want to trade.
If It Is Offered in Your Region
Every country has slightly different laws and regulations regarding cryptocurrencies, so not all exchanges are available in every region. The good news is that a platform simply won’t let you sign up if you are in the wrong region, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the law.
That said, it is smart to confirm that your chosen exchange offers services in your region. This can prevent you from doing extensive research to confirm you like other features of an exchange, only to realize you can’t even use it.
How Secure It Is and Its History
Security should be a significant factor when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange. Remember that you will have to store cryptocurrency on the exchange and all cryptocurrency transactions are final. That means that if you deposit cryptocurrency on an exchange and it is hacked, you are out of luck unless they happen to offer insurance.
Speaking of insurance, if you plan on depositing fiat like USD instead of cryptocurrency, consider an exchange that is FDIC-insured (or insured by your country’s equivalent organization). This extra protection is always a plus as it helps keep your cryptocurrency secure.
You can get a general idea of how secure a platform is by looking at its history. If there have been no hacks, that is great. If there was one or two, but they were a long time ago and the exchange has corrected issues since then, that is also good.
The other important thing to look for is specific security features. You should always choose an exchange that encrypts data and offers two-factor authentication.
Your Preferred Privacy and Verification Level
This consideration is closely related to security. Many people feel more comfortable using an exchange that asks for ID verification. The idea is that ID verification reduces the risk of the platform getting used for illegal purposes.
However, other people prefer to trade cryptocurrency because of the anonymity and privacy related to it. Those people will not want to use an exchange with strict KYC requirements or ID verification.
The good news is that our above list of the best crypto trading platforms includes options with and without KYC requirements.
How You Can Deposit
All of the trading platforms on our list above accept deposits in fiat currency or let you transfer cryptocurrency into your account. There are also dozens of platforms that only accept deposits via cryptocurrency. While those are fine if you already have Bitcoin, they aren’t good for beginners who don’t own any yet.
Our choices for the best options all accept fiat so they can be beginner-friendly. This also makes it easier to increase your crypto investments in the future.
But not all exchanges that accept fiat are created equally. Some only accept wire transfers, while some also accept credit or debit cards. Some will accept PayPal, Zelle, or other methods. Some exchanges may even have options that let you exchange cash for a voucher in a third-party store, but that is much rarer.
The most important thing to think about when looking at deposit methods is to confirm that there is one that works for you. After all, you can’t trade cryptocurrency if you can’t get funds on the platform in the first place.
Of course, you should also pay attention to fees and transaction times for both deposits and withdrawals. If relevant, look at currency conversion fees as well.
How Much Liquidity the Platform Has
Liquidity is crucial when it comes to trading cryptocurrency regularly. More liquid platforms have higher trading volumes, making it easier for you to buy and sell cryptocurrency when you want to.
If you choose an exchange without enough liquidity, you may run into issues if you want to buy or sell crypto quickly. That could potentially lead to losses or missed opportunities.
Your Research Preferences
All crypto trading platforms will give you at least basic information on pricing and probably a few simple charts as well. Some, however, offer additional features that appeal to advanced traders. If, for example, you know how to do technical analysis and plan on using it for cryptocurrency trading, you need to choose a platform that lets you do it with ease.
Whether There Is a Mobile Application
Although not everyone will care, you should consider whether you prefer a trading platform that has a mobile application. Most platforms have at least a basic one, if not a more advanced option.
This consideration is likely only important for people who want to be able to trade on the go. Some people will be perfectly happy if they can only trade on their computer, and there is nothing wrong with that.
The Bottom Line: Choosing the Best Crypto Trading Platform for You
Because everyone wants something slightly different from a cryptocurrency trading platform, there is no single best platform. The platform that is best for beginners may not be the one that is best for advanced traders, as they want very different features.
Choosing any of the platforms on our list will be a smart decision. To figure out which one is best for you, think about your needs and preferences. Then, use our quick descriptions above to choose the platform that best matches them. You will then be ready to trade in no time.