While the market for cryptocurrency appears to be in a buoyant level with not much activity, you might consider it is an excellent time to join in and trade cryptocurrency.
Although it is quite straightforward, you still need to consider your needs and to choose the best crypto exchange that will meet these needs.
Here we have scoured through all the best crypto exchanges, and done all the legwork for you.
While reading below, you should be able to decide where to buy cryptocurrency with your hard-earned cash, or at least, you will know which crypto exchanges to cross off your list.
What is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
A cryptocurrency exchange is a website where you can buy, sell or exchange cryptocurrencies for traditional currency like the US dollars or any other form of paper money. You can also trade them for other digital currency.
- What is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
- Types of exchanges
- What to Look for in A good Exchange
- Top Cryptocurrency Exchanges
- 1. Coinbase
- 2. Kraken
- 3. Bittrex
- 4. Binance
- 5. Coinmama
- 6. Cex.io
- 7. Bitstamp
- 8. Gemini
- 9. Bitfinex
- 10. LocalBitcoins
- Where should I store my Cryptocurrency?
- Final Verdict
For individuals who want to trade professionally, you can have access to trading tools, but you’ll need to use an exchange that requires verification when you open an account with them.
If you only want to make occasional and straightforward trades, there are platforms you can use which don’t require an account to be opened.
Types of exchanges
- Trading Platforms – These websites connect buyers and sellers and take fees from every transaction. These are what go to make up the current largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
- Brokers – These sites are available to anyone who wants to buy cryptocurrencies at prices set by brokers. The cryptocurrency brokers are similar to a foreign exchange dealer.
- Direct Trading – These platforms offer direct person-to-person trading of the top digital currencies. Individuals from different countries can exchange currencies. These direct trading exchanges don’t have fixed market prices. Instead, each seller will set their own price.
The best places to buy Bitcoin are exchanges that are ideally located in your home country. They should also offer an easy means of buying and selling coins, and if possible, they should allow an easy withdrawal method to your home currency.
The best crypto exchanges offer the best trading platform pairs or support for the top cryptocurrency list, so you are dealing with the most fluid coins on the market.
What to Look for in A good Exchange
There are a few factors to consider when you are looking where to buy cryptocurrency. Not all exchanges are equal, and most come with their good and bad points. Here’s an exchange list of essential things to check while you’re making your decision.
Good exchanges will have a solid reputation, and this isn’t necessarily how long they have been open, though this does help. You will learn more from user reviews and reputable industry websites. If you have questions, you can quickly get these answered on Reddit or BitcoinTalk.
The security and the legitimacy of any trading platform should be right at the top of your list. Hacks happen, and to make sure you aren’t affected by these, you need an exchange which offers tight security with their funds.
Many of the top exchanges don’t keep funds on their exchange, and the safest cryptocurrency exchange would have a strict security protocol they would follow in case of an attack.
Often users think this is a pain. However, it is one step exchanges go through as part of their security measures. Most US and UK exchanges have one form of ID verification as standard, and it does help eliminate scams and money laundering.
Some functions of exchanges are only offered in specific countries, payment methods being a prime example. Even US states have restrictions on some exchanges, so this is an important thing to look into while you are searching for a good crypto exchange.
A lot of exchanges will post varying rates for cryptocurrencies. Some are well known to offer regular higher prices, and often up to ten percent higher. However, there are some, who offset this by having a lower fee rate.
A crypto exchange with the lowest fees isn’t always the best one to opt for. While no one wants to pay extra against their trading, or transaction fees.
It is something which is there, so it is something you need to consider carefully. Along with this can be your payment methods, some only allow bank transfers, which can be restrictive for some users. Credit or debit card purchases are frowned upon by some regions and exchanges, so your method of payment needs to be clarified.
Top Cryptocurrency Exchanges
The name Coinbase is high up in the worlds crypto exchanges because of the low Coinbase fees, and the ease of use, especially for beginners.
The exchange is actually more of a brokerage because users don’t actually trade with other investors.
Trades are made with Coinbase itself, this has been seen to limit more prominent investors (day traders) because they have no analysis, and are constrained into the types of trades they can make.
A solution is GDAX (Coinbase Pro) which is similar to Coinbase because it is a sister company. They are more geared to this type of investor.
- Beginner Friendly
- Clean and simple to use interface
- Low Fees
- Supports 32 countries
- Has mobile apps
- Best Litecoin exchange
- A limited number of coins supported
- Not Day Trader friendly
- Slow Customer support
- No longer accepts Credit card purchases if you live in the US
Coinbase new coins are on the companies wish-list, but they are holding back until there is more clarification on the laws from the government.
How long does it take to send bitcoin from Coinbase? If you are sending to another exchange or sites like Coinbase, the transaction can be completed in minutes. However, if you are making a purchase by traditional means (bank transfers), you can wait up to 12 calendar days.
- Location: San Francisco, California
- Fees: 1.49% on Bank Purchases – 3.99% on Credit Card or Debit Card Purchases
- Supports Coins: 4
How Safe is Coinbase?
As the site is geared up for new users, it’s often asked, Is Coinbase insured in case things go wrong. For an account which holds $250,000 or under, they are FDIC insured. The Coinbase insurance for all their funds is done privately through Lloyds of London.
Only 2% of the exchanges cryptocurrency is kept online, the remainder is stored in cold storage.
Support for Customers
Coinbase customer service is their major weak point, it can take up to 3 days to get a response for your support ticket.
Overall the company does a lot of things right and is strong against Coinbase alternatives such as CEX.io, Bitstamp, and Coinmama.
Most Kraken reviews rate this exchange pretty high up, and it’s easy to see why. You can quickly trade Bitcoins, and also trade between USD, Canadian Dollars, BGP and Japanese Yen and even between the cryptocurrencies which they offer.
Some reports show users receive a “Kraken amount too low” error message. This is purely the base amount doesn’t reach the minimum. A full list of these can be found in their FAQ’s.
- Location: San Francisco, California
- Fees: Trading fees are between.16% and .26%
- Supports Coins: 15 crypto pairs
- Fiat currency Support
- Margin Trading
- Full set of features
- 24/7 365 customer support
- Kraken fees – low to moderate depending on trade
- Hard to use user interface
- Doesn’t allow credit or debit deposits – limited payment methods
- No mobile app or wallet
- Not suitable for beginners
How Safe is Kraken?
Is Kraken safe? To start there are 5 levels of authentication for users. The Kraken exchange is often rated as the number one for security.
Some users though have reported, when you delete Kraken account, the firm isn’t deleting your data when they have been instructed to. However, users might forget about data retention laws, so how to delete Kraken account in its entirety might not be possible in the US.
The company is praised for their top class customer support which is 24/7 365. Kraken customer service is helpful even if they don’t offer phone support. They have an extensive FAQ’s section. This is where you would also find how to close Kraken account. You fill in the contact form and send
If you read any Kraken exchange review, you will end up with the same conclusion. It is a decent exchange and is only let down by the lack of mobile apps and an awkward interface.
Being one of the older crypto exchanges, it’s easy to see why Bittrex supports so many cryptocurrencies. Unlike a lot of crypto exchanges, the Bittrex location is in Seattle rather than in sunnier climates.
This doesn’t matter though, and it doesn’t matter where is Bittrex located, they support a vast number of global countries. The company also saw so much rapid growth in 2017 they closed their doors for new investors, how to trade on Bittrex was a no-go for new investors who were placed on a waiting list.
- Location: Seattle, USA
- Fees: 0.25% on all trades
- Supports Coins: 190+
- Suitable for traders who want the most extensive variety of cryptocurrencies
- Good interface full of information
- Good customer support although slow
- High security – no exchange hacks and how to buy on Bittrex comes with 2-factor authentication
- Bittrex trading fees high compared to rivals
- Slow new user adoption – waiting list
- Still waiting for IOTA on Bittrex
How to trade on Bittrex can be taken a step further if you have the know-how. Users can make use of a powerful and simple API (Application Programming Interface). With this, all the functions of the web interface can be utilized with trading bots and other tools.
Recently they allowed individual users to deposit Fiat currency to the exchange, although, How to buy coins on Bittrex is straightforward, but it would mean having BTC in another location from where you can transfer.
How to sell on Bittrex is all based on the base currency, this is limited to USD, BTC or Ethereum. It is easier to stick to denominations in USD because this is the easiest way to follow, it is also one of the best exchange for altcoins.
This is one of the newer exchanges, and the Binance location is in Hong Kong, this in a way should make users a little wary, especially when the Chinese government was banning crypto exchanges.
Luckily Binance is registered outside of China. Where is Binance located? As mentioned, they are based in Hong Kong but have offices scattered around the globe.
Binance was initially funded by its own Binance Coin which makes it unique compared to other exchanges.
- Location: Hong Kong
- Fees: 0.1% regardless of maker or taker
- Supports Coins: 190+
- Binance fees are deducted of 10% which is stashed as protection against hacks.
- Low Fees across the board
- Unique platform
- The tailor-made Binance desktop app as well as a mobile Binance app for Android and iOS
- No FIAT money used – how to buy on Binance means sending coins from another location
- Not suitable for investors who don’t want the worry of Chinese crypto regulations
- No Binance Margin trading – strictly real-time crypto to crypto trading
Is Binance Safe?
Aside from the fund they keep, you might ask, is Binance safe? They are well known for being one of the most secure exchanges around. They have their own automated security system which has been proven to stop theft.
How to use Binance is the question on new users lips. This is simple on their interface, you hover over funds, and this is the start of how to buy on Binance.
From here all of the old cryptocurrencies and the Binance new coins are listed, so there is no need to worry if a crypto isn’t there.
From this menu is also where you sell, deposit or withdraw. A Binance withdrawal fee is charged per coin, so each comes with a differing value.
Beginner friendly and focus on credit and debit card purchases. It is open worldwide and makes it easy with the use of their payment portal.
Because users can buy crypto with credit and debit cards, they might ask “Is Coinmama safe?” Although they accept payments this way, none of the funds are held on their exchange, and they are sent directly to another users wallet.
- Very easy to use
- Simple to sign up and get verified
- Secure and trustworthy
- Unable to sell coins for Fiat currency
- Not available in all US states
- Slightly high fees
- No wallet
- Location: Israel
- Fees: 5.5% on transactions. Payment processor takes a fee on top of the initial fee, this makes a 10% fee.
- Supports Coins: 8
Every Coinmama review applauds their customer support. The staff are available 24/7 and is easy to communicate with and very helpful.
This goes all the way to the Coinmama verification systems which are in place. As soon as you make an order, you are asked to verify your account.
The customer service will go through all your submitted credentials, and the Coinmama verification time should be no longer than 24 hours. After this, you can buy freely.
Is Coinmama Safe and Legitimate?
As we have mentioned some security, the company uses. There is still the question is Coinmama legit?
They are only a new company, but they are a reliable company, and it should be a safe place to put your cash. Also, the customer base continues to grow even if the Coinmama fees are a little higher than many other exchanges. Convenience is worth paying that bit extra for.
This quick Cex.io review looks at one of the oldest trading exchanges which were established back in 2013. It was originally a mining pool which closed its doors back in 2015. Is Cex.io safe because it was hacked a few years ago?
The hack was minor, and the company has a lengthy verification process, but once all your information has been filed, the response is pretty quick.
- Location: London
- Fees: 0.1 to 7% trading fees. Deposit fees between 1.2 and 5% of the transferred amount. Cex.io fees 0.2% open fee 0.01% rollover fee.
- Supports Coins: 8
- High trading volume
- 24/7 chat support along with ticket and email
- Good security
- Supports Fiat currencies USD, EUR, GBP, and the Russian Ruble
- Excellent website with easy to use trading interface
- Mobile apps for Android and iOS
- Bad Customer support
- Inflated prices, up to 10% above market price
- Cex.io verification process over complicated
- Bad customer reviews
- Been hacked in 2013
- Doesn’t support all US states
Cex.io has changed itself to multi-functional crypto exchange, it offers cross-platform trading through the website, mobile apps, WebSocket and the Cex.io API which is open to users.
The company doesn’t provide a Cex.io wallet so all coins will need to be stored in personal wallets. If any users ask is Cex.io legit?
It is well reputed, and the only gripes are what appears to be hidden charges. When these are in the open, the fees aren’t much different from alternate sites. It also operates in one of the strictest countries in the world.
This exchange has been around for a few years and has gained a solid reputation for being safe and secure. It has grown to be one of the world’s best for buying and selling Bitcoin.
The Bitstamp location is in the small county of Luxembourg in the middle of Europe, but due to the popularity of the exchange, it hasn’t been held back.
This Bitstamp review looks at what is called a “Big Four” exchange, and it was the first exchange in the world to be fully licensed.
- Location: Luxembourg
- Fees: 0.1 to 0.25% when trading, Deposit fees 5% credit card, Wire transfer 0.05%
- Supports Coins: 5
- Globally recognized bitcoin exchange
- Enables crypto-to-fiat and crypto-to-crypto transactions
- Highly liquidity
- Low transaction fees
- Not be suitable for beginners
- High deposit fees on small amounts of money
- Limited payment options
- Limited altcoin support
- Slow support when busy
Safety and Legitimacy
Luxembourg is in the middle of nowhere, so “is Bitstamp legit?” As was just mentioned, it was the first licensed exchange in the world, so that is a testament to its legitimacy, so after this, “is Bitstamp safe?” again, they have been around a few years and are seen as one of the safest platforms where to buy and sell bitcoin.
They have 2-factor authentication for Bitstamp login, and there are plenty of money-laundering guidelines set out for users to follow. They also store most funds in cold storage which is fully insured.
Getting started with Bitstamp is easy, you can create a free account. You are then asked to complete the Bitstamp verification, this is adding personal information and picture id. This doesn’t take long, although it might be a little slower due to demand.
Once cleared, you can trade from anywhere in the world. Although, the site is geared more to larger traders and the interface isn’t the easiest to navigate. Bitstamp fees can also be deemed high for deposits regardless of the amount.
Although only a couple of years old, this exchange has already made a splash. It was founded by the Winklevoss twins who were the ones suing Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook.
The Gemini exchange is fully registered and compliant and sticks to the highest banking standards making it one of the best US-based crypto exchanges.
Is Gemini exchange safe? It sticks to all the regulations, and US dollar accounts are insured by the FDIC whereas funds are held in a New York-chartered account.
Assets are in cold storage, and all online parts of their exchange are hosted on Amazon Web Services which brings with it a host of other security measures.
- Location: New York, US
- Fees: 1%
- Supports Coins: 3
- Trustworthy & Secure
- Transparent & Reasonable Fees
- High Volume Exchange
- Fiat Deposits & Withdrawals
- Easy to Use
- Limited Currencies Available
- No Phone Support
- No Margin Trading
- Only US Dollar Transfers.
Using the Gemini Exchange
All it takes to open an account is a name, email address, and password. Once you verify your email, you can set-up 2-factor authentication as well as entering location and telephone number.
Payment methods are limited, and you have a choice of bank transfer or wire transfers to make deposits. This can make it really easy to sell Bitcoin for USD.
Next upload ID details so Gemini can comply with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti Money Laundering (AML).
Once all this is done and verified, you can make your Gemini login and fund your account.
Deposits are free which can make Gemini trading more cost-effective. However, they only deal in the three cryptocurrencies so it might not be broad enough for a lot of users.
Withdrawals from the exchange are free up to 30 per month, but there might be additional bank charges.
The Gemini crypto exchange maintains a solid reputation and continues to grow steadily. They are focused on safety, security and with deposits and withdrawals directly to a bank account, they make everything easy.
The Bitfinex exchange caters to more intermediate and advanced traders and aims to be the premier destination for seasoned cryptocurrency traders. The Bitfinex location is Hong Kong, and they recently announced they will no longer support US investors.
- Location: Hong Kong
- Fees: 0.1% for makers and .2% for takers
- Supports Coins: 200+
- Low Fees
- High Volume Exchange
- Lots of Trading Options
- Good Trading Interface
- Good for Advanced Traders
- Concerns about Transparency
- Past Hackings
- Stopping Servicing US customers
- No Fiat currency deposits
Is Bitfinex Safe?
This exchange has been the culprit of many hacks with the first back in 2015. Is Bitfinex safe knowing this?
Since these hacks, their security has been beefed up, and over 99% of clients funds are held offline in cold storage. Where is Bitfinex located about these storage systems? They are multiple secure locations which require a multi-signature sign-in function.
Client accounts are secured by 2FA, U2F, and PGP email encryption. There is also further security measures in place such as limiting access based on IP address and emails to report on suspect malicious activity with a link to freeze your account.
Trading with Bitfinex
There is a comparison which can be made between Bitfinex Vs. Bittrex as they are quite close in the rankings but very different from there on.
Bittrex doesn’t accept fiat currencies but supports almost 200 cryptocurrencies, and then there is Bitfinex where it won’t serve US residents and has been the victim of multiple attacks.
Bitfinex fees are determined by trading volume over the past 30 days along with the maker and taker status. This means they can change on a regular basis, it can though make it the cheapest way to buy Bitcoin.
Verified users are not subject to any Bitfinex withdrawal limits, but these are monitored to help protect against attacks. This is where the IP address comes into play along with a confirmation step which is immune to browser malware.
This LocalBitcoins review looks at an exchange which differs a little. It provides alternative ways to purchase and trade Bitcoins. It is a pure peer-to-peer exchange which is the best-decentralized exchange for trading BTC.
With the nature of how LocalBitcoins operates, there might be the occasion of asking “is LocalBitcoins safe?”
The site itself has an excellent reputation for being reputable and safe, although, there could be unscrupulous vendors who use the site.
For this reason, any transactions should come with a warning to thoroughly check the other party involved. It does, however, provide much more anonymity than other exchanges.
- Location: Finland
- Fees: 1% from the seller. BTC prices will be higher than other exchanges.
- Supports Coins: 1
- Escrow Service
Good customer support
Plenty of Payment Options
- Higher than average fees for Cash
- A need to be Vigilant
LocalBitcoins fees are minimal, and they only take 1% from the seller in the transaction. Bitcoin prices are slightly higher as a means of generating revenue. It is also there to mitigate risks of vendors starting a PayPal chargeback.
Payment methods are quite broad and include COD, PayPal, Webmoney, Western Union, Wire Exchange and cash via mail.
Although these payment methods are direct, the LocalBitcoins site acts as an Escrow service where nothing is passed until payment has been received.
When looking at how to use LocalBitcoins, things couldn’t be easier. Either you post an ad for coins you wish to sell, or you reply to an advertisement for coins you want to purchase.
This is simple after you’ve made your LocalBitcoins login, and then you can begin searching for buyers or sellers in your area. The site allows searches based upon seller location, accepted payment methods, and levels of ID verification.
If things weren’t easy enough, users can even make use of the LocalBitcoins app and conduct their trading on the go.
Where should I store my Cryptocurrency?
Although many exchanges provide wallets on their sites, this means all of your investment is in their hands. It can be convenient to do so, but with the number of hacks that have happened, and happened quickly, there is a more reliable option.
Before committing to any exchange, you should check reviews for the best bitcoin wallet. This alone can take up a few hours of your time to choose the right one. To make it easy, it should be a hardware wallet that you decide upon.
These are secure devices that will store all of your coins offline. For any long-term investment, or for any amount of money which you wish not to lose. The best hardware wallet will pay for itself in no time.
Peace of mind is worth a few dollars, and you know, no one is going to be taking any of your cryptocurrency online or offline.
With all of the above sites to look into further, you should have an idea of the top Bitcoin sites that will meet your needs.
However, a lot of this will depend on which coins you wish to trade in. You’ll see not all offer a vast range of altcoins on their platforms, so a cryptocurrency comparison still needs to be made.
A lot of the hard work has been done already, and you can quickly see which sites are safe and come with the best customer support, should you ever need it.
A lot of your decision would stem from how much trading you wish to do, from the casual purchase to trading on a regular basis as a means of building up your portfolio.
Hopefully, we have done our job correctly, and the best place to buy cryptocurrency for you is on one of the exchanges listed above.