A cryptocurrency exchange refers to a website that allows you to trade, that is to purchase, sell, or exchange cryptocurrencies either for different cryptocurrencies or prominent fiat currencies like the American dollar or Euro.
Those traders who are particularly keen on trading professionally and have advanced trading tools at their disposal had best subscribe to reputed exchanges that requires national ID verification to open an account.
There are basically two types of exchanges: ones that require ID verification and the ones that don’t. The reason for this is that whenever there is fiat money (USD, EUR) involved, they have to check your identity. In order to get started with crypto trading, you will have to first deposit fiat money.
You can do this on exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken. While these exchanges aren’t the best for trading altcoins, you may want to move the newly purchased coins to another exchange that offers the altcoins you want to buy.
There is no exchange that offers both: fiat money deposit and withdrawals and high number of tradable altcoins (other coins than Bitcoin). This means that you will have to use at least two exchanges.
Let us now look into a few different types of exchanges that would be more suited to the specific needs of traders.
Types of Exchanges
- Trading Platforms/Exchanges: Websites that match buyers with sellers and retain a commission from every transaction.
- Brokers: These refer to online websites that you can visit to purchase cryptocurrencies at a price that is set by the broker.
- Direct Trading: These are platforms that facilitate direct trades between persons. That includes traders trading from different countries. There is no fixed market price here, only the exchange rates set by the seller.
What To Look For Before Signing Up With A Crypto Exchange?
Research is always helpful. You never know when you might uncover something that could alter your entire perspective on the subject or change your mind just a little. It all adds up to a better end result. Here are some crucial factors of a cryptocurrency exchange that you should explore thoroughly before you join them.
- Reputation: Exchanges are constantly reviewed by their users as well as the experts. Head over to Q&A forums like BitcoinTalk or Reddit to clarify answer any questions you might have.
- Requirements for verification: Most Bitcoin trading platforms in both the UK and the US require some kind of ID before allowing for any deposits or withdrawals. However, there are some that allow users to remain anonymous. Verification can take as long as a few days which can be irritating. However, it does come with protection against various scams and money laundering.
- Methods of payment: This is particularly important. You need to know that the exchange you are signing up with accepts your preferred methods of payment. It could be via credit/debit card, bank wire transfer or PayPal. If the number of payment of options at your exchange is strictly limited, you may want to consider using another. Also bear in mind that buying cryptocurrencies with your credit card always comes with an ID verification as well as a premium price due to the risk of fraud, higher transaction, and fees for processing. Using a bank wire transfer to purchase cryptocurrency will take a relatively long time due to the processing speed of the bank.
- Fees: Your cryptocurrency exchange should not be shy about containing information regarding fees on its website. It will help you get your eye in on how deposits, withdrawal, and transaction fees will work before you join. The fees are not all the same with each exchange. They can differ substantially.
- Exchange Rate: Rates differ for different exchanges. If you take the time to really figure out your options, you could save yourself a lot more money. It is not at all an anomaly for rates to fluctuate as much as 10% or higher on certain occasions.
- Geographical Restrictions: Some of the more specific services from exchanges are only available in certain countries. So make sure that the exchange you sign up with provides your region with full access to the tools and functions of its platform.
Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Now that we have covered what cryptocurrency exchanges are and what you should think about before signing up with one, we can focus on what the best cryptocurrency exchanges are.
The list of short reviews detailed below has been compiled from extensive research and also draws from reviews by users that cover fees, security, accessibility, and overall user-friendliness. So without further delay, let us get into the list.
1. Coinbase Review
Being accessible from many currency zones, CoinBase has come up with a simple and stress-free process for purchasing Bitcoin.
It was first launched in 2012 and is represented in more 30 countries. The largest customer bases for Coinbase reside in the United States, United Kingdom, and Brazil.
It is also highly reputed for its level of security and trustworthiness as a platform. It easily qualifies itself here as one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges. This is one of the cryptocurrency exchanges that takes USD.
- 2 digital wallets available
- Easy trading of cryptocurrency with other traders
- Deposits are ensured, except in the event where an account is hacked with the user password.
- Strict security measures mean that your account can be frozen from time to time causing you to wait a while before using it
- Withdrawals are always tracked, which discourages the use of Bitcoin purchases for gambling and other shady transactions.
2. CEX.IO Review
CEX.IO is a trusted cryptocurrency exchange for over 700,000 users worldwide, particularly those who are interested in the Bitcoin trade. CEX.IO is renowned for its simplicity. You can easily deposit funds using your credit or debit card. You can also transfer funds by having your account checked to your CEX.IO account and just like that, you just about ready to begin trading in cryptocurrency. This exchange does make the top 5 list in the minds of many people.
- Reputed for being among the best Bitcoin trading platforms for its ability to enable virtually instant trading
- Users can purchase BTC with good payment methods like Visa, MasterCard, bank wire transfer, and of course, cryptocurrency
- Currently operates only for Bitcoin exchange due to the closing of cloud mining activities at the beginning of 2015
- The platform operates on a ‘Fill or Kill’ or FOK basis which means that what you have agreed to pay initially is indeed what you will end up paying. Changing your mind is not an option.
- May not necessarily retain the best exchange rates for cryptocurrencies. You will probably find better rates on a site that allows you to make purchases from other traders.
3. Coinmama Review
Many users of cryptocurrencies have declared Coinmama to be the easiest Bitcoin market for opening a new account and getting straight into coin exchange. Its popularity has been rising significantly since its launch back in 2012. At the time, it was one of the very few trading sites for Bitcoin that accepted deposits via a Western Union transfer.
- One of the top-rated and reliable sights for purchasing Bitcoin online
- Exquisite quality of service
- You can easily open an account after depositing funds with your credit card
- With the credit card method being so simple, there are higher user fees being charged – as high as 6.5% – depending on your method of payment.
- If you rely on alternative payment options, you are better off seeking out another site that chargers lower commissions
4. Localbitcoins.com Review
Are you in search of a reliable BTC trading site that connects you with other traders in your region for making cryptocurrency exchanges? Localbitcoins.com could be exactly what you are looking for. Unfortunately, it is yet to be available worldwide. However, since its launch in 2012, it has managed to extend its services to over 248 nations. Chances are, you live in one of them.
- The fees structure is very simple – 1% per transaction paid by the seller. There is also a network fee in addition to the transaction fee. The seller usually includes the transaction fee as part of the asking price.
- Escrow service guarantees fairness for both buyers and sellers of Bitcoin
- Signing up requires nothing more than your valid email address. No personal information needs to be submitted. However, other users can require seeing identification prior to trading with you
- Not particularly suitable for inordinate purchases of Bitcoin. You may want to try out another site which makes bulk purchases a lot easier and less expensive
- Platform is not particularly user-friendly for novice traders
- The probability of being scammed is relatively high so you will need to keep yourself informed of the latest safety precautions as well as methods of approaching other traders
5. Changelly Review
One of the better-known features of this site is its ability to keep track of transactions. Its interface is considered by many to be simple and user-friendly, containing some unique features such as low exchange rates, the exchange of bitcoin into other acceptable cryptocurrencies, and of course, keeping track of the transactions.
- Transactions are made quick and easy
- Trusted exchange for thousands of cryptocurrency traders
- Very low fee rate. Changelly charges a mere 0.5% for an exchange between cryptocurrencies.
- Since not all transactions happen in real time, you could end up purchasing BTC online for and be given a lower amount due to the exchange time.
- Purchasing cryptocurrency with Changelly using a credit or debit card carries fee rates that can be as high as 40%. Therefore, you may want to consider more inexpensive alternatives.
6. BitPanda Review
BitPanda was initially known as Coinimal. It is a widely recommended site for purchasing and selling the most popular cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum. The options to purchase either of them is available 24 hours a day for all 365 days of the year. Also, there at least 10 methods of payment available including Visa, Mastercard, Amazon, Skrill, Neteller, and Sepa.
- Fantastic online customer support
- Bitcoin wallet is freely available
- The Bitcoin transaction executed swiftly making this one of the best sites for purchasing BTC
- You will be required to submit some form of identification prior to making a purchase which is not ideal for those concerned about their privacy
- While many other sites will display the fees cost separately, BitPanda includes it as part of the price you pay
7. Coinhouse Review
Traders looking to exchange Bitcoin will appreciate this company for making the payment process a simple one. Simplifying the process involves Coinhouse purchasing Kraken crypto and selling it to its users. This is beneficial because Kraken trading can be rather confounding. Plus, it does not accept credit or debit cards. In order to validate your account with Coinhouse, you must submit government-issued identification and then you can purchase BTC.
- Reputed for being a reliable, solid Bitcoin broker
- Contains great and highly responsive customer service
- By far, the best method for purchasing bitcoin in Europe with a credit card
- Fees are relatively high, so purchasing Bitcoin in bulk can be problematic
- Your capacity for making purchases is limited on a monthly basis
8. Kraken Review
Kraken is a renowned Bitcoin website which charges lower fees and is the choice of many professional traders all across the world. It boasts some formidable security features as well as healthy connections with banks and the capacity to make transaction quick and easy. It is the preferred choice for millions of Bitcoin buyers. All of these features help place Kraken among the top 10 highest-rated trading platforms in the industry, which is also very encouraging for prospective users.
- One of the reliable and reputed options for purchasing Bitcoin anywhere in the world
- Security for your trades and exchanges is high since you will be signing into the service with a two-factor authentication
- Has managed to cultivate a good reputation and remain competitive ever since its launch in 2011
- The fee structure is rather complex to get around since there is slippage, conversion, deposit and withdrawal fees concerning both Bitcoin and Kraken.
9. Bitstamp Review
Not unlike Kraken, Bitstamp was also launched in 2011 and remains to this day one of the best BTC exchanges you can find. The main reason you can be assured financial security by using Bitstamp is that over 98% of the digital funds are kept in offline places. Bitstamp also makes cryptocurrency exchanges quick, safe, and hassle-free no matter what amount you decide to purchase.
- Ranked high on most rating lists since it has never been reported to scam its users with any hidden fees
- Bitstamp was the first nationally licensed exchange for Bitcoin
- One of the easiest options for buying Bitcoin since users can make purchases with credit cards
- Customer service is highly responsive, at least within an hour of being contacted
- Margin trading and exchange of Altcoin is not available
- Transaction times are not very consistent. Users have reported the first couple or so transactions to appear within minutes and then extend to as long as 5 days after that.
10. HitBTC Review
HitBTC is a more recent cryptocurrency exchange to join the industry, launching only in 2015. It is headquartered in London. Despite being fairly recent, its numbers have been rising consistently ever since it started. It offers good security measures for its users with a two-factor authentication process and variable trading fees going by the time when a transaction is executed. For those interested in a UK BTC exchange, HitBTC is becoming a fast favorite.
- Platform is easy to use even for novice traders
- Backups for software can be accessed on a daily basis through a computer as well as a mobile device
- Professional traders can enjoy the benefits of low fees and high liquidity
- There have been reports claiming that this is not one of the safest options for purchase of Bitcoin
- The reviews have not been consistent regarding the quality of services and responsiveness of the customer support team
11. 247exchange Review
247exchange is renowned for providing a user interface that is easy to access and highly transparent on matters like fees so traders can feel more knowledgeable and relaxed when they sign up for it. Also, once you are through the process of verification, you will be entitled to purchasing Bitcoins with your credit card. However, it falls somewhat short of making it as one of the best exchanges since it makes the process of verification and other documents available in English only.
- User interface is simple and easy to use and is accessible from your computer and mobile devices
- Customer service is good, particularly with the verification process
- Verification does involve revealing your phone number which can be easily managed with a text message
- Verification for credit card can take as long as a couple of days
- You may encounter some trouble with the verification documents if you are not familiar with the English language
- There is room for improvement regarding communication of the verification process
12. POLONIEX Review
The poloneix cryptocurrency exchange is based in the United States and promises great security with the use of monitoring programs that are active all day, every day. There plenty of reviews online that regard Poloneix as a safe and reliable service. In fact, it is so highly regarded that it has actually been overloaded with users giving its customer service team a very hectic schedule.
- Altcoin exchanges are available
- Good liquidity available
- Capable of serving international customers even if the primary focus is on the US market
- Fiat trading is not available
- Customer service takes a while to respond due to the surge in popularity which has caused an overload of customers
13. BitBay Review
Bitbay is an exchange for Bitcoin that is based in Poland. It is important to know upfront that this not an exchange that offers any international trading services. It is also not exactly the cheapest option for purchasing Bitcoin, but it charges fees that are lower compared to the majority of its competitors. You can assess the fee rates more accurately after comparing them to several more sites.
- Enables transaction to be instant so that you will receive the prevailing market price
- You can have bot do the trading for you in case you cannot do it on your own
- User interface easy to use thanks to some great features that help make Bitcoin exchanges immediately
- Traders are allowed to set whatever price they content with paying as well as how much cryptocurrency they would like to buy
- Not the ideal option for you if you are not residing in Poland
- It has been reported by some users that the site is somewhat unstable
- Debit card or Mastercard privileges are restricted only to users operating from Poland
14. Bitfinex Review
Bitfinex is based in Hong Kong and is an immensely popular exchange site for traders seeking to trade cryptocurrencies in US currency. Bitfinex has been listed consistently among the highest ranking cryptocurrency exchanges since 2014. It prides itself on its transparency of services, policies, and user-friendliness. It is certainly one of the most prominent players in the market for cryptocurrencies.
- Trading on margin and margin-funding are available
- One of the largest platforms for cryptocurrency exchange
- Access to a wealth of useful trading tools
- There is just one method of making deposits and that is via SWIFT along with a bank transfer
- Customer service does not have a swift response time
- Withdrawals often take more than a day to process
15. CoinCorner Review
CoinCorner was created only in 2014, and it is well known for making it an easy process to purchase and sell Bitcoin. It also contains a very generous affiliate program offering a commission rate as high as 25% along with daily payments in Bitcoin as well. Management of this exchange is handled by peers that work tirelessly to keep the platform open-source allowing anyone to make a purchase.
- Customer support is very responsive not merely to inquiries but also posts on other forums
- Interface is user-friendly even for novice traders
- Account verification can make the process rather slow
- Setup help videos are of little help.
As you can see, there is no shortage of good cryptocurrency exchanges for you to try. All that is left do is pick the one that is the closest match to your specific trading needs and carry fewer risks.