Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges By Anna G
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Want to invest in crypto? The right platform can help you get started. Here are the best exchanges to safely buy bitcoin and other cryptos.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are super-hot right now. But, it comes with its risks. Getting started can seem pretty daunting, especially if you're new.
The truth is, modern platforms make it easy to start trading. If you're considering getting in on this investment, the first question is where to trade crypto safely and securely.
Whether you're looking to test the waters or trade more seriously, here are the best, trustworthy platforms and exchanges to start your cryptocurrency journey.
We've chosen safe websites with unique features. Read on to find the right one for you.
10 Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges and Platforms
- Most Popular: Coinbase
- Good for New Traders: eToro
- Earn Interest on Coins: BlockFi
- All-in-One Platform: Gemini
- Stock + Crypto Investing: Robinhood
- No-Fee Trading: Webull
- Strong Security: Kraken
- Most Coins: Binance
- Crypto IRA: iTrustCapital
- Many Payment Options: Coinmama
1. Coinbase: Most Popular
Coinbase is one of the largest crypto exchanges with over 35 million users. It's a trading platform and crypto wallet to store your digital coins. It has a simple interface that makes it beginner-friendly.
|Screenshot of Coinbase|
However, Coinbase's trading fees could get high. Every trade has a flat-rate or variable fee, whichever is greater. Fees are:
- Transactions $200 or less: flat fees of $0.99 - $2.99
- Payment with U.S. bank account: 1.49%
- Payment with Coinbase USD Wallet: 1.49%
- Payment with debit cards: 3.99%
It also charges a spread of 0.50% for crypto buys and sells. For cryptocurrency conversions, Coinbase charges a spread margin of up to 2%.
Coinbase supports over 45 different types of cryptocurrencies. The minimum trading amount is $2.
Why Coinbase is good for beginners: The simple user interface won't overwhelm newbies. It also has a learning program that lets you earn pieces of cryptos as you complete mini-lessons. You can earn up to $167 worth of crypto.
(3.9) Coinbase is a digital currency exchange where you can buy and sell cryptocurrency. Find out if it's safe, and how it compares to other crypto exchanges... Read full review
For more experienced crypto traders, Coinbase Pro is the advanced trading platform. It lets you place advanced order types and has lower trading fees.
2. eToro: Social Trading / Copy Top Investors
eToro is one of the most popular exchanges globally. The really cool thing about this platform is the social trading. You can view other users' portfolios and discuss and learn together.
|Screenshot of Etoro|
The unique CopyTrader feature allows you to copy the actions of top-performing traders. When they make a trade, you automatically trade too. This is great for new traders who aren't sure what to do.
You also get a free $100,000 virtual portfolio to practice your strategy before committing real money.
eToro charges no trading commissions - only a spread when you buy and adjusted when you sell. Each coin has a different spread. Bitcoin's 0.75% spread is one of the cheapest in the industry.
eToro supports the most popular 14 cryptocurrencies.
For investors who are performing well, you can apply to be part of the Popular Investor program. Then you get paid every time a user copies you!
(3.8) eToro is a cryptocurrency trading platform known for its popular CopyTrading feature. Find out if it's worth the fees and how it compares to other platforms... Read full review
3. BlockFi: Earn Interest on Your Digital Coins
BlockFi is a cryptocurrency exchange, savings account, and loan service all in one. The trading platform lets you trade with no trading fees.
|Screenshot of Blockfi|
The BlockFi Interest Account lets you earn up to 8.6% APY on any cryptos you're holding, which is way more than the average bank savings account. You'll start earning interest as soon as your trade is placed.
Another cool feature is that you can borrow against your cryptocurrency value. If you need funds, you can just take out a loan instead of having to sell your coins.
BlockFi currently supports BTC, ETH, LTC, USDC, USDT, GUSD, PAX, and PAXG.
(3.8) As one of the world's first "crypto banks", BlockFi lets you earn interest and borrow against your cryptocurrency. But is it safe? Read on to find out... Read full review
4. Gemini: All-in-One Exchange and Wallet
Gemini is an all-in-one platform to buy and sell, manage your crypto portfolio, store, and pay with your digital coins.
|Screenshot of Gemini|
It offers a basic platform for beginners, as well as an ActiveTrader platform for advanced investors.
Besides buying and selling crypto on the exchange, you can also negotiate trades off the exchange with another Gemini account. Gemini helps broker the exchange to mitigate risk.
There's a convenience fee of 0.50% per trade. Trading fees are:
- $10 or less: $0.99
- Over $10 but less than $25: $1.49
- Over 25 but less than $50: $1.99
- Over 50 but less than $200: $2.99
- Over $200: $1.49%
A cool feature is that you can pay with your digital coins at more than 30,000 popular retailers across the U.S., straight from the mobile app.
You can trade 26 different cryptocurrencies on Gemini. The first 10 withdrawals are free each month.
(4.6) Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange for investors who prioritize security. Find out if it's as safe as they claim and how it stacks up to other exchanges... Read full review
5. Robinhood: Stock and Crypto Investing App with No Trading Fees
Robinhood, the popular micro-investment app, also allows you to trade crypto with no trading fees. This is a big pro since crypto exchanges usually charge a fee.
|Screenshot of Robinhood|
One thing to note: Currently, Robinhood does not support coin withdrawals. You can buy and sell your coins, but you don't actually get access to your wallet. This feature is in the works for the future.
But Robinhood's simple app still makes it a good choice if you just want to try out investing in crypto.
There are 7 cryptocurrencies available for trading on Robinhood: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin.
(4.0) Robinhood lets you trade stocks commission-free and has no account minimums. Is it safe? Are there hidden fees? Read on for the pros and cons... Read full review
6. Webull: No Trading Fees
Webull is another brokerage with a crypto platform. There are no trading fees. You can buy and sell cryptocurrencies starting from $1.
|Screenshot of Webull|
So far, Webull offers Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
Your trades are instantly settled, and you can trade 24/7, seven days a week. Just like Robinhood, you're not able to withdraw coins.
(4.2) Webull offers $0 trades for stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies. But it's not perfect. Find out if Webull fits your investing needs... Read full review
7. Kraken: Strong Security / Leveraged Crypto Trading
The Kraken platform is very feature-rich. For beginners, it's intuitive enough for simple trading after setting up an account.
|Screenshot of Kraken|
But where it really shines is the leveraged trading options for advanced traders. It offers up to 5x margin trading and futures investing up to 50x leverage. You can even short cryptos. Just beware that these are riskier strategies, but have higher reward potential.
Kraken fees range from 0% to 0.26%. It supports over 50 different cryptocurrencies.
(3.9) Kraken is a cryptocurrency exchange with a reputation for low fees and high security. How do they compare to their competitors? Read on to find out... Read full review
8. Binance: Most Number of Coins
Binance.US supports over 50 different cryptos. It's especially good if you want to trade altcoins and cryptocurrency pairs.
|Screenshot of Binance|
It offers basic and advanced platforms based on your experience. But newbies may find that even the basic platform is not as beginner-friendly.
Binance fees are much lower than some other crypto exchanges. It charges a standard 0.1% trading fee, and 0.5% instant buy and sell fee.
Binance is the largest exchange in the world in terms of daily trading volume, but the global platform is no longer available to American users. Binance.US does not currently support users in CT, HI, ID, LA, NY, TX, VT, and WA.
(4.3) Binance is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. But is it a legit platform for trading your crypto? Find out before you sign up... Read full review
9. iTrustCapital: Invest in Cryptos in an IRA
iTrustCapital lets you trade and invest in cryptos for your retirement in an IRA account. This lets your gains grow tax-deferred or tax-free (depending on which type of IRA you choose).
Compared to other crypto IRAs, iTrustCapital's fees are transparent and a lot lower. There's a 1% trading fee for cryptos and $29.95 monthly account fee. The minimum opening deposit is $2,500.
iTrustCapital supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, XRP, EOS, Chainlink, and Stellar.
You can transfer an existing IRA or rollover an employer retirement plan. If you already have a crypto IRA, you can even do an in-kind transfer without liquidating your cryptos.
(3.4) iTrustCapital is a self-directed IRA provider which lets you trade in cryptocurrencies and precious metals. Is it a legit option for your retirement account?... Read full review
10. Coinmama: Many Payment Options
Coinmama is aimed toward beginner crypto investors. The buying process is made simple. And there's a support team to help at any time.
The biggest pro about Coinmama is the many payment options. You can buy coins with bank transfer, credit card, debit card, or Apple pay.
However, the fees are expensive. The commission fee can be as high as 3.9%. And purchasing with a credit or debit card can even incur another 5% fee.
Coinmama only supports 8 cryptos: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, Ethereum Classic, Tezos, and Eos.
(3.2) Coinmama is a well-known cryptocurrency broker with high-quality customer service. Are their relatively high fees worth it? Read on to find out... Read full review
How Do Cryptocurrency Exchanges Work
A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform where users can buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. Users can deposit fiat currencies (USD, EUR, CNY, etc.) from their banks, and use them to buy crypto.
They can also trade cryptocurrencies between one another, like from Bitcoin to Ethereum. Users can sell their cryptocurrencies and be paid in fiat, or withdraw them into crypto wallets.
Exchanges typically earn money by taking the difference between the bid and the asking price, a cost which is not normally visible to the user, and from fees, which vary widely from one exchange to another.
Types of Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Not all cryptocurrency exchanges work the same way. Here are the different types.
- Centralized exchanges
Centralized exchanges are regulated by a middleman that conducts the transactions. The exchange holds your coins and keep them safe (just like how a bank holds your money). These sites will require identity verification.
This is the most common way to trade cryptos. These exchanges have high activity and liquidity.
Examples of centralized exchanges include Coinbase, Gemini, and Kraken.
- Decentralized exchange
These exchanges are not regulated by any official authority, thus often called a "trustless environment." Users get full control of their coins. Users can directly trade coins with each other without a middleman. They focus more on anonymity.
We don't have any of these exchanges on our list, as they're better suited for more experienced traders.
You can now even trade crypto coins with some online stock brokerages (like Robinhood and Webull). This is a great option if you want to have your stock trading and crypto trading under one broker.
But the downside is that they're not digital wallets and you usually cannot withdraw coins to use.
What to Look for in a Cryptocurrency Exchange
Make sure the site has strong security features to keep your money and information safe. See how your coins are stored. Cold storage means your coins are stored offline, which prevents hackers from being able to get to them.
- Types of coins
Do you already know what coins you want to trade/invest in? Make sure the platform you choose supports that currency. Popular crypto like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are available on just about all sites. But the smaller coins won't be available everywhere.
Most crypto exchanges charge a fee per trade. If you plan to actively trade, you may want to pick a site with lower fees. If you're just buying and holding, it won't matter as much.
- Ability to withdraw
This is important if you want to be able to withdraw your coins and actually use them. If so, look for an exchange combined with crypto wallet. If you're investing through a broker (like Robinhood or Webull), you won't be able to withdraw into a coin wallet.
- Ease of use
Beginners will want to look for a platform with a simple user interface. More experienced investors will want a more advanced platform and extra features.
How to Invest in Bitcoin
Investing in Bitcoin for the first time may seem daunting, but the process is actually very simple.
The first step is to choose a cryptocurrency exchange. Beginners may want to go with an easy to use option like Coinbase, even if it's a little more expensive. Gemini and eToro are also good options for new investors.
Once you've signed up and verified your identity, a process that varies slightly between exchanges, you'll be able to fund your account with fiat currency. Then all that's left is to buy Bitcoin, which can usually be done via a simple 'buy' or 'order' button.
The Bitcoin will be transferred to your account, and you'll be a successful Bitcoin investor.
How to Deposit USD to Buy Bitcoin
When it comes to funding your account for Bitcoin purchases, you have a number of options. Not all of them are available on every exchange, and the fees they charge may vary.
- ACH Transfer: Before you can transfer funds, you'll need to verify your bank account, which can be done through exchange apps or desktop websites. Once your account is connected, you can deposit USD to purchase Bitcoin. It may take 3-5 business days for your funds to become available.
- Wire Transfer: The process for wire transfers is nearly the same as ACH transfers. You connect a bank account to your exchange, then select wire transfer to initiate a deposit. Funds wired before 1:00pm PT will be available the same day; funds wired afterwards will become available the next business day.
- Debit or Credit Card: Some exchanges will allow you to deposit via debit or credit card. Those that do will request your card and personal information to initiate a deposit. It's worth noting that some banks may charge additional fees for credit card deposits.
Cryptocurrency Exchanges vs Cryptocurrency Wallets
If you've been learning about investing in crypto, chances are you've come across the terms 'cryptocurrency exchange' and 'cryptocurrency wallet,' and you may have wondered how they differ.
- Exchanges are platforms to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrency. They may offer a storage service to users who trade on them, but storage isn't their main function.
- Wallets, on the other hand, typically offer storage only. Their whole purpose is keeping your crypto safe. And since there is no such thing as a crypto bank account, your only real choices are putting it in a wallet or leaving it on the exchange.
While some exchanges are insured, unless you're using an interest account or staking, best practices dictate that users keep their crypto in a wallet they personally control, because exchanges are very appealing targets for hackers and thieves.
There are two main kinds of wallets: 'hot,' or digital wallets, and 'cold,' physical wallets.
- Hot wallets are widely available online, and are connected to the internet. They generally accept more cryptocurrencies, but are less secure.
- Cold wallets, which typically resemble USBs, are not connected to the internet, are more secure, but typically support fewer currencies.
Cryptocurrency Survey: What Americans Want
Americans are more likely to own crypto than stocks, according to a May 2021 survey of over 1,000 Americans by CreditDonkey. 72.5% of respondents reported owning some form of cryptocurrency, but only 63.89% owned stocks.
Stocks were the most popular traditional investment by a fair margin. 42.87% of people reported owning bonds, while 40% had investments in real estate.
Easy, Safe, and on the Exchange
There's even more good news for cryptocurrency exchanges. Despite the common wisdom in the crypto sphere of personally holding your coins, respondents said they'd prefer to keep them on the exchange more than anywhere else:
- 32.96% of respondents wanted to keep their crypto on the exchange
- 22.69% of respondents had no preference
- 17.59% of respondents wanted to keep it in a traditional bank
- 17.59% of respondents wanted to keep it in a digital wallet
- 9.17% of respondents wanted to keep it in a hardware wallet
There's an opportunity for banks as well as exchanges. People are used to trusting banks with their money. If banks gave them the same convenience and security for their crypto as they did with their cash, more than a few would be interested in keeping their coins there.
The news may be less good for makers of popular hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor. Fewer than 1 in 10 respondents favored using hardware wallets.
The message seems clear. Americans are interested in crypto, but without the hassle or the stress of transferring it to a cold wallet, managing private keys, and potentially losing it all forever.
Americans Anticipate Financial Revolution
The majority of Americans (73.24%) believed that crypto would replace the U.S. dollar, and 20.93% expected it to happen in the next 10 years.
A further 23.43% believed it would happen in the relatively near term, between 10 - 50 years from now, while 28.89% expected it to happen in the distant future, more than 50 years out.
And it's not just crypto itself that Americans are in favor of. Nearly half (46.57%) supported the idea of decentralized finance (DeFi), while only 5.37% strongly opposed it.
The widespread adoption of blockchain technology could have big implications for banks, brokerages, exchanges, and other central financial intermediaries, who may find themselves increasingly left out of the equation.
That isn't to say that people are interested in going back to the Wild West. The majority of respondents (52.59%) were interested in stronger cryptocurrency regulation, while fewer than 1 in 5 (17.31%) opposed it.
Overall, the results indicate that Americans are very interested in crypto and the freedoms and opportunities it represents, as long as it's tempered with the safety that government oversight can provide.
CreditDonkey conducted the online survey of 1,080 Americans, age 18 and over, on May 24, 2021.
What Experts Say
CreditDonkey asked industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions on the future of cryptocurrency.
Here's what they said:
Investing in cryptocurrency may be all the rage right now, but make sure it's the right investment for you. Cryptos tend to be extremely volatile, so understand the risks.
To have a happy investment experience, pick the right platform for your needs. Don't only consider the fee. Pick a platform with features you want and an interface you're comfortable with.
- ^ Coinbase pricing and fees disclosures, Retrieved 2/1/2021
- ^ eToro Trading Fees, Retrieved 2/1/2021
- ^ Gemini Mobile Fee Schedule, Retrieved 2/1/2021
- ^ How trading fees work on Kraken, Retrieved 2/1/2021
- ^ Binance Fee Structure, Retrieved 2/1/2021
- ^ iTrustCapital Fees, Retrieved 2/1/2021
- ^ Coinmama Fees & Charges, Retrieved 2/1/2021
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