If you’re anything like millions of people around the world right now, you’ve probably spent the past few months, or past few years, deeply immersed in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mania. And more likely than not, you’ve probably come out the other side with the oddly comforting knowledge that cryptocurrency – and the societal-transformative blockchain technology behind it – is not only not a bubble, but is only just getting started. You may even now be ready to make your first Bitcoin or altcoin purchase and looking for the best cryptocurrency exchanges to get started on.
If that sounds like you, be aware that the impulse for many new speculators has been to hop on the first exchange that will allow them to sign up and start firing away, but in a space as volatile as cryptocurrency trading, it’s important to take a minute (or week) to look around the industry and consider both what is on offer and what will be the easiest, safest, and most cost-effective way to begin investing. Failure to do so could have significant impact on your bottom-line.
Take site #7 from the list below, Bitmex, a popular exchange that offers Bitcoin ‘futures’ contracts and up to 100x leverage (not for the faint of heart or light of wallet) where failing to use an affiliate link like ours, will cost you an additional 10% on all trading fees. But that annoyance pales in comparison to the true danger of using an unknown exchange and ending up with non-existing customer-support, low trading liquidity, and, most dangerously, security breaches and/or insolvency.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the largest and most established exchanges currently servicing the cryptocurrency industry and highlighted some of their key features and offerings. But of course, seeing as no bitcoin exchange is immune to suffering a security breach, as you learn how to buy bitcoin and decide which cryptocurrency exchange is best for your own needs, make sure to invest in a bitcoin wallet and keep only the amount needed for active trading on the exchanges themselves. Doing so will ensure that you are in complete ownership of your Satoshis and are protected in the case of a major hack like the infamous Mt Gox scandal.
Twelve Of The Most Popular Cryptocurrency Exchanges
When looking at some of the best cryptocurrency exchanges, it’s important always to consider the following criteria:
- Payment/Deposit Options
- Transaction Fees
- Currency Selection
- Trading Volume
- Site Stability
- Customer Satisfaction
With that in mind, here are some of the best cryptocurrency exchanges where you can trade Bitcoin and other popular altcoins in 2018.
If you’ve heard of Bitcoin, you’ve probably heard of Coinbase. This American exchange allows you to purchase several top cryptocurrencies with ease through their mobile phone app. Their fees are not always low, and they’ve had their share of run-ins with the crypto community in regards to which currencies they support, but for those just starting out with cryptocurrency and wondering which exchange is the best one to make your first bitcoin purchase, Coinbase and its native trading platform GDAX are as good of a starting point as any.
Started by the Winklevoss twins in 2015— yes, those Winklevoss twins — Gemini was the first licensed ether exchange in the world, offering trades for Bitcoin, Ethereum and USD. With most holdings stored offline, a dynamic fee schedule, and a heavy focus on security, Gemini is legitimizing the crypto space while making the Facebook fiasco a laughing matter for the now beyond rich Winklevoss boys. Although service disruptions have occurred during peak times, this exchange could very well rival Coinbase in the near future.
Bitstamp is based out of Luxembourg and offers a similar trading platform to Coinbase, focusing only on the top cryptocurrencies in the market. So although they may not have a big selection of coins like some of the other exchanges in this list, they do have one of the highest trading volumes for Bitcoin, and are often setting the tone for BTC’s market value. Bitstamp prides itself on its security, with most of their currencies stored offline, and with no hidden fees, Bitstamp will continue competing for bitcoin market-share.
For those who already have Bitcoin and are looking to invest in some other currencies, Bittrex is another American exchange that offers a wide selection of coins that can easily be purchased with the Bitcoin you already have. With high trading volumes, an intuitive interface, and stable platform, Bittrex is one of the easiest exchanges to trade on. You may have to get on a waiting list to register, but it will be worth the wait.
Binance is one of the fastest growing cryptocurrency exchanges on the planet, and offers two different trading platforms for beginners and expert traders. Although their site stability has sometimes been questionable during peak trading sessions, their growing coin selection and simple interface makes them one of the top cryptocurrency exchanges available. Binance is also making regular improvements to the site and recently started accepting new accounts after an overwhelming interest in their services resulted in a temporary halt to new sign ups. This may soon become an issue with other exchanges (as it already has with a number of others on this list), so it’s best to sign up early to avoid missing out.
Based out of Hong Kong, Bitfinex is another top exchange that offers a growing selection of currencies to trade, and its user interface is not hard to master. Despite a hack in 2016, and some withdrawal issues that followed, Bitfinex has been steadily improving their services and offerings since and have become a top destination for new traders, tether noise be damned. Bitfinex also offers margin trading on a wide selection of cryptocurrencies, though only up to 3x, a large difference from the next exchange on the list.
Like Bitfinex, Bitmex also offers margin trading, allowing members to ‘borrow’ currency towards their trades, which are all done with Bitcoin. However, unlike some of the other exchanges, Bitmex allows traders to use up to 100x margin, a dangerous but exciting game best left to highly experienced traders. You won’t be able to trade for other currencies here, but you can trade against their market value. Bitmex is also one of the only exchanges that offer Futures trading, making it possible to earn more Satoshis by predicting where bitcoin price will be a few months in the future (as well as a number of other currencies such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and XLM Stellar. As mentioned above, you can reduce your trading fees by taking advantage of our affiliate code.
Based out of Boston, Poloniex is easy to use and offers a good selection of coins to trade against BTC, ETH, XMR and USDT. Poloniex also offers margin trading and a Bitcoin lending platform and with some of the lowest trading fees amongst the large cryptocurrency exchanges, is a popular stop for seasoned investors.
HitBTC hosts trades for more than 475 different currencies, and is often a starting point for new coins hitting the market, making it a great place to get in on the ground floor of a project ahead of the price boost it receives from being listed on one of the larger exchanges. HitBTC also has some of the lowest trading fees in the industry, making them a great place to trade for any coin that peaks your interest. Just make sure to do your due diligence because with this many currencies available, it’s more than a little likely many will not make it out alive.
OKEx is quickly growing into one of the most popular trading platforms out there thanks to its aggressive partnership approach. Based out of Hong Kong and primarily servicing Asian countries, OKEx has partnered with some top Chinese companies and have an extensive coin selection, offering trades for over 400 cryptocurrencies. OKEx also offers Bitcoin and Litecoin futures trading.
Kraken is a leading American currency exchange that offers a secure trading platform for some of the top cryptocurrencies on the market. The pros are that bank deposits are easy once you’re verified, their fees are competitive compared to other exchanges, and they offer a slightly larger selection of coins than Coinbase and Bitstamp. On the con side, Kraken’s UI leaves a lot to be desired with frequent lag issues making life difficult during times of high volatility. For their part, Kraken has assured users that it has been working hard to upgrade its servers to eliminate these issues, and if it can do that, it may be able to quickly move its way up this list.
Finally, after years of development comes one of the newer exchanges on our list, KuCoin which now hosts trades for more than 280 cryptocurrencies. With no deposit fees, and a reasonable 0.1% trading fee, KuCoin is a great place to start trading those lesser known coins you’ve been researching before they make a splash on the big market.