Finding the best cryptocurrency exchanges are a big thing these days. Ever since Bitcoin, Ether, EOS and other crypto tokens came along and changed, the way people do business and look at money. Fortunes have been both made and lost with cryptocurrencies and billions of dollars worth of crypto tokens are traded all over the world every single day.
Getting into cryptocurrency trading is certainly very tempting; that means doing this type of crypto business and there are hundreds of them out there.
So how to choose one? Which is the best crypto exchange to buy altcoins? In this article, we’ll be comparing the seven most important types. Read on to find out which is the best.
Best Crypto Exchange Comparison Table
* Many exchanges adjust their trading fees, offering lower fees according to trading volume, token traded, or other considerations. The fees shown are for new users with low trading volumes.
Best Crypto Exchange Reviews
Founded in China but now headquartered in Malta, Binance is one of the biggest crypto exchanges in the world by volume, with over 1.5 billion dollars’ worth of tokens traded every day. Initially a crypto-only exchange, it has recently added support for purchasing of some cryptocurrencies with fiat.
Binance offers plenty of trading options and low fees. Additionally, Binance offers a good mobile app for both Android and iOS devices for on-the-go trading. Binance has its cryptocurrency too.
The Binance Coin (BNB) can be used for getting discounts on trading fees or traded like any other crypto token. The user interface isn’t the most beginner-friendly, but novice traders shouldn’t take too long to figure it out and get used to it. Currently, US citizens aren’t allowed to trade on Binance.
BitMex started operations in 2014 with headquarters in Seychelles. One of its founders was the first person in the UK to become a billionaire by trading bitcoins. Bitmex is a premium bitcoin trading platform with many advanced options targeted at expert crypto traders.
Trading fees are among the lowest you can find but only seven coins are listed: Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, EOS, Ripple, and Litecoin. Because of its target, there is no beginner-friendly interface available. Like Binance, US citizens are not allowed to trade on BitMex, although they were subject to investigation in 2019 for breaking regulations and allowing Americans to trade.
Bitstamp has been around for a while. It was founded in 2011, making it one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges. Despite having been around for so long, they still trade in only five crypto tokens: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Litecoin and Ripple.
Bitstamp has a mobile app that doubles as a wallet and trading app and also offers an API that lets you connect other mobile trading apps if you don’t like their native one or if you want to use one app to connect to several exchanges at once.
The user interface isn’t particularly beginner-friendly, and there are no advanced options for expert traders either. Trading fees are also on the higher side. Bitstamp had to interrupt services in 2014 and 2015, the latter after a hack that stole 19,000 Bitcoins. They have since performed several upgrades on security features, and no further incidents have been reported.
Changelly is the only decentralized exchange covered in this article. Decentralized exchanges store no tokens, which means they don’t provide you with wallet addresses; you must use your own. Not storing tokens means they are less tempting targets for hackers. But it also means you will have to create wallet addresses for every token you are going to trade-in.
Like other exchanges, Changelly was initially crypto-only but has recently added support for buying crypto with fiat currencies. The interface is as simple as it can get so even first-time traders will have no problems. No advanced trading features are available. Transactions are fast and easy. Transaction fees are higher than other exchanges’ but there are no deposit or withdrawal fees.
5. Coinbase / Coinbase Pro
Coinbase is two separate services: Coinbase and Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). The former is a cryptocurrency brokerage service that lets you buy crypto tokens with fiat currencies and the latter is a proper crypto exchange. Coinbase accounts automatically link to Coinbase Pro, which means both services work as one.
Indeed, over 27 cryptocurrencies are available for trading, which isn’t a lot if you compare it to the thousands in existence or even to the number listed on exchanges like Binance or Changelly, but more than those offered on other competing exchanges. Their 0.5% trading fee for new, low-volume traders is among the highest out there, but you can level up to the point where transaction fees are all but nonexistent.
At the moment, Coinbase is only available to users from 42 countries, although the US is one of them (it’s based in San Francisco, after all).
Kraken is another one of those exchanges that have been around for some time. It started operating in 2013 and, like Coinbase, is US-based. The interface is simple enough for novice traders. But, there are advanced features for more experienced traders. One of the more secure exchanges in the industry.
Here, you can buy crypto tokens with several fiat currencies (US and Canadian Dollars, Japanese Yen, and Euro). It lists 20 different cryptocurrencies and has lower trading fees than similar exchanges. It is available in many countries, but not available in Afghanistan, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Japan, North Korea, or Tajikistan. US citizens from New York and Washington states can’t use Kraken either.
LocalBitcoins is different from the other entries in this article because it’s not truly the best cryptocurrency exchange, but instead a peer-to-peer exchange service. This means that LocalBitcoins doesn’t perform the actual exchange. They just put together buyers (who usually have fiat currency and want to buy crypto) and sellers that have crypto and want fiat. Besides getting both parties in contact with each other,
Local holds the funds being traded in escrow until the buyer and seller both confirm that everything has been properly executed. LocalBitcoins is one of the few crypto exchanges (and the only entry in this particular list) where anonymous trading is still possible.
The interface is very simple and many people have gotten into crypto buying their first bitcoins here. Due to its nature, there are no advanced trading options. It is primarily a place for buying Bitcoins, although a few other tokens show up. At 1%, the trading fee is very high.
What to look for in an Exchange?
Not only are there many different exchanges, but there are also different types and not all of them offer the same set of features. There may not be one single exchange that is the absolute best for everyone, but anyone can find an exchange perfect for them. So what are we looking for?
This is a given. Nobody wants to put their money in the hands of any website or service unless they are sure it is safe to do so. With exchanges, this includes things like protection from hacks, guarantees that your money is safe even if the site is hacked or otherwise compromised.
There are many ways and protocols to be used to ensure security. Based on their features, reputation, and history, all of the exchanges in this article are considered safe and trustworthy.
2. Ease of Use
This is important mainly for people beginners and people not too familiar with financial markets. But generally speaking, no one likes a service or website if it’s too hard to use. Some exchanges have very simple interfaces that are simple even for first-time traders. Others are more complex but offer features that appeal mote to advanced traders. Most of them offer two versions: one with a simple interface for beginners and one for experienced crypto traders.
3. Low fees
This is one area where exchanges can differ quite a bit. Of course, the owners need to make money too. So exchanges will charge some fee for every trade. These fees will be added to those fees that are built-in to the blockchains themselves. Some exchanges charge flat fees, while in others the fee will depend on the specific token being traded.
4. Fiat Currency Support
If you’re just getting started with crypto trading, you likely want to use fiat currency like US Dollars, Euro, British Pounds or Japanese Yen to buy your first crypto tokens. Exchanges allow you to do that, at least for the big cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ether. Others are pure cryptocurrency exchanges, meaning that you must already own some tokens to use them.
This can be a huge issue for some. Traders who hold millions of dollars worth of crypto tokens tend to keep a low profile; that includes doing their operations anonymously. However, the downside to decentralized currencies and trading, is that it can be used for less than noble purposes.
In response to this, many governments have imposed regulations on crypto exchanges that no longer allow them to provide their users with anonymous trading. Most of them will require you to provide proof of identification to start trading. Perhaps, still, let you remain anonymous.
6. Advanced Trading Options
Margin trading, futures trading, and other advanced options are strategies that pro traders use to maximize the amount of money they can make. Not everyone that uses an exchange, is looking for these features. Some people are simply looking to exchange some crypto tokens for fiat currency to spend in regular stores. But experts appreciate exchanges that offer advanced options and interfaces.
There are thousands of different cryptocurrencies out there and no exchange lists them all. Some tokens, like Bitcoin or Ether, appear on every exchange. Others are so little known that they may appear on only one exchange. Of course, more showed tokens means more options for trading.
8. Type of Exchange
There are a few different types of cryptocurrency exchanges. First, there are centralized exchanges, that provide users with wallet addresses and can store tokens (but it’s generally not recommended to keep your tokens on exchange wallets, especially if you own a lot of them) and decentralized ones, where you need to use your wallets when trading; no tokens are stored on the exchange itself.
There are peer-to-peer exchanges, that just let buyers and sellers meet up; the trade itself happens directly between the users. And, finally, there are exchange aggregators, that connect you to several other exchanges at the same time, helping you find the best deal.
Like we mentioned earlier, exchanges are subject to regulations. In some cases, a country’s laws may restrict trading in certain areas. In the US, for example, citizens from the state of New York can’t trade on some that don’t fully comply with state regulations.
In other cases, whole countries may be affected by sanctions that prevent them from offering their services to those countries’ citizens. For example, citizens from most South American countries aren’t allowed to trade on Coinbase, and a few months ago Bittrex suspended service to citizens from Venezuela. An exchange might have all the features you want but if you aren’t allowed to use it, it’s not for you.
We’ll be using these features to compare seven of the big hitters (Binance, BitMex, Bitstamp, Changelly, Coinbase, Kraken, and LocalBitcoins) to find out which is the best cryptocurrency exchange.
So what is the best crypto exchange?
We’ve taken a glimpse at seven of the more popular cryptocurrency exchanges. Looking at these options you can see that there is no single exchange that can be called “perfect for everyone”. If you’re just getting into crypto trading or are just looking to make a quick, simple exchange, then Changelly is surely an option.
If you’re a little more confident, more experienced, want to explore more options, and don’t live in the United States, then Binance is for sure the best crypto exchange.
If you are a US citizen, then you may want to take a look at Coinbase or Kraken. But this list is by no means comprehensive and there are many other fine options to explore. You should feel free to do it. Cryptocurrency is, above all, about freedom and decentralization. Go ahead, explore, and happy trading!