Cryptocurrency has really taken off in recent years, with more and more people forgoing traditional stocks to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies instead.
While there are many cryptocurrency exchanges to choose from online, many have been hacked in the past and continue to operate with sub-standard security features.
Here we bring you the 8 best crypto exchange platforms with high levels of security. We also answer your cryptocurrency FAQs!
8 Best Crypto Exchanges in 2021
- Best overall, low fees – Binance
- Best customer service – Kraken
- Crypto meets forex – eToro
- Simple brokerage service for popular coins – Coinmama
- Popular for Bitcoin – Coinbase
- Good trading volumes – Bittrex
- No ID required – Bisq
- Strong security features – Gemini
1. Binance – Best Overall Crypto Exchange
Depending on where you live Binance has two websites:
- Nearly 200 cryptocurrencies traded
- Native Binance Coin (BNB)
- 0.1% flat trading fees
- SAFU (Secure Asset Fund for Users)
Based in Malta with branches all over the world, Binance is one of the best crypto exchanges for both beginners and seasoned traders alike. With around 200 coins (including the usual ones like Bitcoin) and their own native coin (BNB), you’re really spoiled for coins here.
Binance offers futures trading, margin trading, interest-earning savings accounts, and much more. They have a flat fee of 0.1% on most transactions, though they offer a credit card brokerage service to buy and sell cryptocurrency more conveniently (with higher fees).
If security is your main concern, Binance actually has a system called SAFU (Secure Asset Fund for Users) that is essentially insurance for users if their funds are stolen. However, the 2FA and ID verification system is a mess and takes forever to set up properly, so keep that in mind.
2. Kraken – Best Customer Support of Any Crypto Exchange
Founded in 2011, Kraken prides itself on fast bank withdrawals, low fees, and being available worldwide (well, mostly). Fees range from 0-0.36% depending on the type of trade you’re making and your past 30 days’ trading volume.
The more you trade, the lower your fees.
Kraken also has a dark pool for discreet trading, which is another reason it’s so hugely popular. Nonetheless, the user experience isn’t the best compared to other crypto exchanges and there are some annoying bugs that need fixing in the UI.
3. eToro – Best For Crypto & Forex In One Place
eToro is a unique all-in-one copy-trading platform that is extensively used by fans of both cryptocurrency and forex trading. If you’re the sort of trader who likes a diverse portfolio with your fingers in many pies, then eToro is a great platform for you.
The site has a mobile and web platform, as well as its own dedicated crypto wallet app with multisig authorization for extra security when investing with other parties. This versatile platform gives you so many options for trading and making money.
Established in 2007, eToro has quite a good reputation for itself online. The only downside is that they support just 14 crypto coins (albeit the most popular ones) so they’re a little limited in that respect.
Still, for your big-name coins like Bitcoin, it doesn’t get much better than this.
4. Coinmama – Best Bitcoin Brokerage Service
- Buy Bitcoin from Coinmama directly
- Live pricing in USD & EUR
- Excellent customer support
- Supports 10 cryptocurrencies
Okay, so Coinmama isn’t technically a cryptocurrency exchange, but a crypto brokerage service.
Essentially, this means that you buy Bitcoins directly from them, instead of other users. This makes transactions fast and safe, though the 2.9-3.9% fees are pretty steep to compensate.
You can buy 10 different coins through Coinmama, and the exchange rate is pretty competitive.
They also have an excellent customer support team, though there is no mobile app version and the system favors European users in some ways, so it’s not the ideal platform for US traders.
- UI is easy for beginners
- 30 million users worldwide
- Best place to buy Bitcoin
- Credit card, debit card, wire transfer accepted
Coinbase is one of the best Bitcoin exchanges online, with many beginners using Coinbase as a place to exchange fiat currency into digital currency for the first time. As such, it’s most widely used for deposits and withdrawals of Bitcoin – the most popular crypto coin on the market.
Founded in 2012 with over 30 million users to date, Coinbase allows you to trade popular cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Chainlink. The UI is excellent and easy to understand, with fast deposits and multiple payment methods.
This platform is popular for a reason!
However, the transaction fees are a little higher than the best crypto exchanges, charging a 0.5% premium followed by a fee based on the amount you’re trading. Still, I guess that’s the price you pay for a well-designed UI and popular crypto trading platform.
What’s the difference between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro?
Coinbase Pro (formerly called GDAX) is a separate cryptocurrency exchange app that is designed for professional and experienced cryptocurrency investors.
It’s more restricted regionally than regular Coinbase, so it’s only available in 42 countries due to local laws and regulations around digital asset crypto trading apps.
6. Bittrex – Best For High Security
- Has NEVER been hacked
- Many currency pairs
- Good trading volume
- Compliant with US laws
Founded in 2013 in Seattle by security experts who used to work at Microsoft and Blackberry, Bittrex is one of the best crypto exchanges in terms of security. In fact, they’ve NEVER had a breach or lost anyone’s money, which is very rare in the trading platform world.
That’s something worth noting!
Bittrex charges a flat 0.25% trading fee, which is so-so in terms of price. They’re also available worldwide, though some more advanced features (such as margin trading) are not available.
Oh, and you can only do USD deposits and withdrawals via wire transfer, which may be a dealbreaker for some.
Still, it doesn’t get much more secure than this crypto trading platform, with 80-90% of USD user funds fully insured in the unlikely event of a breach.
7. Bisq – Best Decentralized Cryptocurrency Exchange
- Can’t use credit cards
- Limited coins supported
Bisq is a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, which basically means that the servers running it are spread out all over the world, making it virtually impossible to hack. As a result, this is one of the safest places to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies online.
Their trading fees are a little unique – they actually charge you 0.001 BTC plus some small mining fees for each transaction, no matter whether you’re buying or selling.
The service is generally easy to use and the source code is openly discussed on Slack and GitHub, so it’s all very transparent.
The main downside? You can’t use credit cards for deposits (wire only) and after Bitcoin and Litecoin, the other coins supported are negligible.
8. Gemini – Good For US Traders
- Strong security features
- USD accounts insured
- 0%-1% fees
- Easy to use platform
- ID required
- Personal data needed
- Some crashes in the past
Founded in 2015 by the twins who sued Mark Zuckerburg for allegedly stealing the idea for Facebook, Gemini is a trading platform based in New York that is actually quite well respected in the US.
With strict trading security and relatively low fees, Gemini remains a popular crypto exchange.
Mainly specializing in Bitcoin and Ether (i.e. Ethereum ETH), Gemini is easy to use for new and experienced traders alike. However, ID and personal data are required to sign up, so it’s not ideal if you’re looking to keep your identity a secret from prying eyes.
Trade with caution!
How Do I Choose a Crypto Exchange? 9 Factors To Consider
It goes without saying that the best crypto exchange is the safest one. Don’t be dazzled by new cryptocurrency exchanges with cute graphics and a fancy app – look for the big names that have shown themselves to be a trusted and secure platform over time.
For example, Bittrex has the rare feat of never getting hacked or losing anyone’s money.
Look for ID verification, 2FA (2-Factor Authentication) and user reviews.
There’s also the issue of whether the platform is centralized or decentralized. We’ll explain that in more detail later, but decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges are generally a much safer option.
Bitcoin and Ethereum are available on basically every trading platform, but what if you want to get into more obscure coins like Dogecoin, SushiSwap, and BakeryToken?
If you want a large cryptocurrency list, then Binance is your best crypto exchange, with around 200 coins currently in use.
According to Coin Market Cap, some of the coins traded on Binance include:
- Binance Coin
- Bitcoin Cash
… and many, many more. If you’re after a rare altcoin, it’s probably on the Binance Exchange.
States & Countries Covered
The laws and regulations around cryptocurrency exchanges vary, so do your research and make you find a platform that you can legally use in your country.
Most of the time, it’s best to find a crypto platform based in your country of residence. For example, Gemini is based in the US, so it’s a good option for US traders.
How can you make deposits to your account? Payment methods vary for different cryptocurrency exchanges depending on local regulations and their business model.
Common payment methods include:
- Credit cards
- Debit cards
- Wire transfers
Figure out which method is best for you and find an exchange that supports it.
Buying Limits & Liquidity
Some cryptocurrency exchanges place a limit on how much currency you can buy, though this tends to be extremely high (i.e. $100,000 USD) and is more intended for high-stakes investors and traders.
It won’t usually apply to casual users.
Liquidity is also important for some traders. If a cryptocurrency exchange has high liquidity, that means that you can quickly cash out into fiat currency (i.e. dollars) when you need to.
On the other hand, a platform with low liquidity will mean that it takes a lot longer to cash out because your digital assets aren’t as readily available – they’re not as “liquid”.
What Is A Cryptocurrency Exchange?
Put simply, a cryptocurrency exchange is an online trading platform where users can exchange fiat money (i.e. “real money” like pounds, euros, dollars) for cryptocurrency, a type of virtual money that is constantly fluctuating in value.
There are many different cryptocurrencies, just like there are different forms of paper money around the world. Each one has a unique value that fluctuates up and down, similar to regular money like pounds or USD.
Bitcoin is the one you’ve probably heard of.
Fiat to Crypto Exchanges
These platforms allow you to exchange government-backed paper money (dollars etc.) for cryptocurrency. You can also exchange it back into fiat when the market price goes up or down, potentially making a profit or loss with fiat cash.
This is the most common type of exchange.
Crypto to Crypto Exchanges
Some of the best crypto exchanges only allow you to exchange cryptocurrencies with one another.
In other words, you could trade Bitcoin for Ethereum but you couldn’t trade it for dollars. If you want to use one of these platforms, you would first need to purchase crypto with real money, and then transfer this crypto over to the relevant platform.
Centralized Vs Decentralized Exchanges Explained
Centralized exchanges are the most popular type of cryptocurrency exchange – 7 out of the 8 exchanges on this list are centralized. Coinbase, Binance, Gemini and many others are all centralized exchanges.
But how do they work?
These sites are run by private companies and you are required to supply ID in order to trade. These platforms are run by local “central” servers owned by the company – this makes them vulnerable to hacks and attacks.
On the other hand, a decentralized exchange is run by servers spread all over the world that are operated by many different users. An attack is basically impossible because even if you attack 1 server, lots of others will still keep the service running.
It’s very effective.
These platforms are not regulated and their ownership constantly changes. They also don’t require ID. This often makes them into online black markets for illegal products, though some people do use them innocently.
What is the Best Cryptocurrency Exchange for Beginners?
Coinbase is the best cryptocurrency exchange for beginners because the UI is simple and the platform explains everything in plain English for new users who aren’t familiar with all the jargon.
If you want to know how to buy bitcoins, I would start with Coinbase.
It’s also one of the most popular crypto exchanges by far, with 30 million users spread out across 102 countries worldwide.
Best Crypto Exchange Reddit Users Love
Though we think the crypto exchanges above are the best you can get, we browsed Reddit to find some other people’s opinions too:
“For a first time buyer I would recommend Coinbase. It has the easiest UI to use and you can get your crypto instantly if you want. Every exchange has some horror stories but Coinbase is the most widely used.”
“If i had to choose: Binance – best for low fees, Kraken – best for fast withdrawals to your bank, Coinbase – high fees but easier to use”
“coinbase is always down, fees are enormous no thanx, try to pay attention to Binance.”
“The best crypto exchanges are actually decentralised exchanges where users are in control of their keys and in custody of funds vitex and uniswap are very good examples. Long term centralised exchanges like Binance could also be considered safe but not a 100%”
“Coinbase is great to use if you only want to use the most mainstream cryptos. IMHO Binance.com is the best exchange because it gives you a chance to invest in wayyyy more Alt cryptos and Mainstream cryptos.”
Conclusion – What Is The Best Crypto Exchange?
It’s hard to nail down the “best crypto exchange” because it depends on your region, the coins you want to buy, the trading features you want, and much more.
You can’t please everyone!
Hopefully you enjoyed this guide to the best crypto exchange online. Whichever cryptocurrency exchange you end up using, we hope you find the platform that suits your needs. Good luck!
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This story was originally published April 22, 2021 11:31 AM.