The world of cryptocurrency is a pretty exciting one. With hundreds of alternative currencies available to choose from when it comes to buying, selling, or investing, those that are interested in such assets are spoilt for choice.
As world currencies continue to experience problems and governments and banks increase their control over who has what and what they can do with it – more and more people are turning to decentralised digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to make investments, transactions, and purchases.
One of the first steps in cryptocurrency investment should be finding the best cryptocurrency exchange.
It’s the most secure and reliable way of acquiring cryptocoins and making sure that your transaction does not facilitate the dark web.
What Is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
If you want to get involved in the world of cryptocurrency, then you are going to need to find an exchange.
A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform where you can exchange various cryptocurrencies for fiat currencies, or even for other cryptocurrencies.
Think of it as an online equivalent to changing your money for another currency at the airport or the bank before you go on holiday. The difference is here you are exchanging digital coins as opposed to the traditional dollars, euros, or pounds.
There are, however, several types of exchange out there, and which one you use will depend on what the purpose of your exchanges are.
You can choose from direct trading exchanges, cryptocurrency brokers, cryptocurrency funds, and the most popular and the focus of this article – traditional cryptocurrency exchanges.
These are built around the same concept of stock exchanges where buyers and sellers trade currency based on the current market price and value. These types of platforms usually take a fee for each transaction and allow users to exchange with fiat currencies as well.
How to Choose a Good Cryptocurrency Exchange?
There are an awful lot of crypto exchanges on the market and knowing which one to pick, can be a daunting and confusing task.
All exchanges are slightly different; therefore the question of “which is the best” is somewhat subjective, depending on your requirements and needs.
First off you need to put some thought into what you are doing, how you are doing it and why you are doing it – then from there, you can begin to narrow down options that will be most suited to your needs.
Firstly, you need to consider your location – the regulations in different countries can affect the running of such platforms.
Some exchanges will be available in your country, whereas some will not. Hence, there is no use painstakingly choosing an exchange, only to discover it isn’t able to be used where you are. Therefore, location is one of the first things that you should consider.
Next up, you need to consider the type of payment method you will use to make deposits, and also withdraw.
As with any good decision, particularly when it comes to money, you need to take your time and not rush. Figuring out which is the best method of payment to use, and how many fees you will incur as a result will save you a lot of money as well as reducing the possibility of you making a poor decision.
An example is that few exchanges allow you to may payments or purchases with debit or credit cards, and if they do, they make you pay for it dearly with rather pricey fees.
You then need to consider what cryptocurrency you want to buy. As mentioned earlier, there are quite simply hundreds of different currencies available on the market, and it is up to you to consider your options carefully before you buy.
Before you part with your hard-earned fiat currency it is always advisable to do your research and see which is the best for you – this will also help you decide which exchange to use.
As they need liquidity or a certain amount of a particular currency to be able to offer it, it is wise to make sure that the exchange of your choice has enough of the currency you wish to trade in.
An example being, if you are going to trade cryptocurrency actively, you need to make sure that your exchange has an acceptable 24 hours, round the clock trade volume. Likewise, if you intend to buy and then hold your assets, then you should not keep them in exchange wallet.
Last but not least, you need to make sure you do some independent research into the exchange you want to use. It is all very well and good checking out the exchange’s website, but you need to dig a bit deeper.
Look for user reviews and feedback and independent reviews on the services and the pros and cons. This will help you finalise your decision.
Which Are The Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges?
There are lots of exchanges on the market, and which one is “best” really depends on what you are looking for. That said, we have compiled a list of some of the best all-rounders and provided you with some pros and cons to help you narrow down your search:
BitPanda is one of the most popular exchanges, and it has quickly cemented its place as one of Europe’s most famous brokers for the cryptocurrency.
Based in Austria, they offer a wide range of payment options and trading in popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The exchange was launched in October 2014 under the name Coinimal and it offers a fully automated platform with instant transactions.
Another key selling point is that it is suitable for beginners due to its easy to use interface.
Downsides include the fact that only members from the EU can purchase cryptocurrency, it is not open source, and there is a lack of transparency around the fees that they charge.
Read our BitPanda review for more details.
Perhaps the most well known out of all of the cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitfinext has an excellent reputation.
You can purchase all the leading currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, DASH, IOTA, Bcash and many lesser-known coins
They offer a leverage of 3.3% across the board and are renowned as one of the most secure online trading platforms.
Available on Android and iOS, it is an excellent trading platform for the slightly more experienced traders. Launched in 2012, it offers trading services for clients from China, Europe and the US.
One of the drawbacks with Bitfinex is the fact that the only currently supported fiat currency is USD, but this is balanced by selling points such as its user-friendly interface, easy verification, demo accounts, and no withdrawal or deposit fees for cryptos.
Coinbase is not only a broker but an online wallet as well. It started in June 2012 and is available to users from 32 countries.
With over 4 million customers and $6.5million worth of exchanges, Coinbase has excellent liquidity and is well known for being easy to use and having an intuitive design that is suitable for novices.
It offers a P2P platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, and it also provides API issuance to developers and merchants which enables them to build APPS.
Read our Coinbase review for more details.
A P2P Bitcoin exchange that allows buyers and sellers agree on trade terms and the LocalBitcoins platform is used as Escrow to ensure security.
When it comes to privacy when purchasing Bitcoins, this platform is one of the best, and you can do so with a wide range of payment methods. Unfortunately, due to its P2P nature, it is open to scams, so users need to be cautious and buy and sell with care.
The fees can also be quite high when it comes to paying with cash as many people are willing to pay the extra for the privacy that LocalBitcoins offers.
Another great plus point is the fact that there are no buying or selling limits imposed although they will sometimes ask for extra verification when conducting more significant transactions.
Read our LocalBitcoins review for more details.
CoinMama is one of the top Bitcoin and Ethereum marketplaces on the web with over 200,000 regular customers. Known as a stable platform, you can purchase your cryptocurrency with a credit card, but you cannot sell them on the same site.
The fees can also be a bit pricey, mainly if you are using it a lot – there are cheaper options out there.
That said, it is supported in 226 countries worldwide and offers users the chance to purchase fractions of currency down to as little as 0.1%.
The Kraken exchange platform offers trading in 15 of the main cryptocurrencies and offers payments in wire transfer, Swift, SEPA, BTC, USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, and JPY.
With 2 factor authentication and PGP email encryption, they take security seriously as well as requiring you to prove your identity upon sign up.
The platform is available on PC as well as iOS and Android, and it is suitable for beginners and professionals. One of the drawbacks is the customer service which is a little slow, due to it being slightly overwhelmed.
This Swiss-based exchange has cemented its position as one of the fastest growing online brokers in the cryptocurrency market.
Founded in 2013, it is available globally and offers dozens of blockchain tokens on both web and mobile platforms.
ShapeShift supports three types of transactions; bitcoin-altcoin, altcoin-bitcoin, and altcoin-altcoin. It also supports Ethereum, Monero, Dash, Zcash and Dogecoin and its available to users in the USA.
One of the drawbacks is that it only facilitates crypto-crypto exchanges meaning you cannot exchange your fiat currency for crypto ones which means you have to purchase your coins elsewhere before you access ShapeShift.
Not one of the most popular exchanges, but it is still a viable option for those looking to buy and sell cryptocurrencies online.
It is quick and easy to use and offers efficient switching between altcoins. The level of anonymity is pretty decent, and it provides support for all of the main cryptocurrencies.
When it comes to fees, their’s are some of the lowest at just 0.05% regardless of the amount you are exchanging.
They are also renowned for offering the best exchange rate as well as not requiring verification for purchases in cryptocurrencies.
Offering anonymous accounts, Poloniex is excellent for those that want extra privacy when it comes to their cryptocurrency activities.
Providing support for over 90 different crypto coins, there is no minimum deposit, and for Bitcoin, the max is the equivalent of $25,000 for withdrawals.
Drawbacks include not an exceptional level of support, and it is advisable only to use Poloniex if you are a more experienced trader.
It is a shame it is also not available on mobile application, but it does offer leveraged trading up to 2.5x.
If you live in Europe and intend on making SEPA deposits, then BitStamp is the one for you as all SEPA transfers are entirely free.
They also offer very low transfer fees – 0.5% under $500 and only 0.2% on transfers over $150,000.
Their user interface is slick and easy to use as well as providing a great range of features such as the order book. It also supports multiple currencies such as US dollars, GBP and Swiss francs.
These are just some of the options available, but in our opinion, they are some of the best.
Offering a diverse range of features such as no fees, low fees, mobile apps, order books, and more, you can pick your cryptocurrency exchange based on the features you need.
Remember to do as much research as possible and to read reviews and user opinions before parting with your money.
Choosing the best cryptocurrency exchange is a key to a successful crypto investing. Remeber, you don’t want to become a victim of a scam or overpay on the charge fees.
Once you choose a suitable cryptocurrency exchange, check our choice of the safest cryptocurrency wallets.