Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges: A Comprehensive Guide to the Top Options Available

Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges: A Comprehensive Guide to the Top Options Available

Getting into cryptocurrency isn’t an easy or intuitive process. It takes significant time and research just to simply grasp how and where to buy certain coins. As an example, if you are looking to acquire any of the three most popular coins—Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin—using fiat money, you will need to visit an exchange that allows you to convert your local currency into cryptocurrency. Then, if you want to purchase altcoins, like Ripple, Monero or NEO, you will most likely need to send your newly obtained Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin to a different exchange that can then be used to buy those lesser known coins. So as you can see, finding the right exchange is an extremely important step.

What to Consider Before Joining an Exchange

Cryptocurrency and the underlying technology, blockchain, is still a technology in its infancy and, for that reason, it’s important to understand that buying and selling cryptos is essentially the Wild West. Don’t expect many rules or regulations. And make absolutely sure you put in due diligence before choosing an exchange.

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when deciding where to buy, sell and trade cryptocurrency.

Reputation

Shady sites trading and selling Bitcoin and other coins are a dime a dozen. They’re everywhere. And if you haven’t heard of the Mt. Gox incident, it’s probably wise to read up on it and understand the inherent risk of trading cryptos. Basically, it’s paramount to understand that in a lot of cases there is absolutely zero recourse for consumers when an exchange decides to close their doors and run off into the hills with everyone’s investments. So, like we said before, put in the extra time and effort to sift through user reviews and pay very close attention to a given exchange’s reputation in the industry before registering.

Verification

Most Bitcoin and Ethereum trading platforms you encounter will require you to submit proof of your identity in order to make purchases as well as to deposit or withdraw holdings. This process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week, but exchanges that require ID verification tend to be more secure than those without it. But if it seems like too much effort or you simply just want to protect your privacy, some exchanges will allow you to remain anonymous when purchasing and selling.

Fees

Before joining an exchange, it’s vitally important to take into account how much you will potentially be paying in fees for trading, deposits and withdrawals. Be forewarned, some platforms have outrageous fees that can add up super quickly and, in turn, cut into your profits.

Payment Methods

As we noted above, most sites trading cryptos don’t allow for fiat to crypto purchases, which means moving your coins around to different exchanges will be an unavoidable reality—especially if you want to buy small market cap cryptos. Essentially, you should examine all the payment options available to you before you commit to any exchange and the digital currencies the platform offers. Can you buy using a credit or debit card? What about PayPal? And what specific coins do they list? These are all questions you need to consider when choosing an exchange.

Geographical Restrictions

Due to the uncertain and ever-changing regulations surrounding the trading of Bitcoin and others, many exchanges may only allow residents of specific countries to make purchases on their platform. So take the extra five minutes to see if you are eligible before wasting your time in the sign-up process.

 

The 15 Best Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Altcoin Exchanges

With so many different trading platforms to choose from, it’s hard to know which ones are the industry’s best. Here are our top picks based on reviews, reputation, security, fees, user-interface and customer support.

Coinbase

Coinbase

  • Pros

    Low transaction fees, highly respected, user-friendly and stored currency covered by Coinbase insurance.

  • Cons

    Customer service is hit-or-miss, only supports four coins and residents of many countries are restricted.

Coinbase is without a doubt the industry standard for buying, selling, transferring and storing digital currencies. The US-based broker exchanges Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash with fiat currencies. Its main draw, however, is its beginner-friendly interface, a rarity for most cryptocurrency exchanges and undoubtedly one of the main reasons it stands tall as the most popular exchange in the US, with more users than Charles Schwab Bank.

On top of its slick and easy-to-use interface, the platform also has a digital wallet app for both Android and iPhone that enables users to make purchases on-the-go. On top of that, another crowd-pleasing feature on the site is the ability to instantly purchase coins with a credit/debit card. Coinbase users can also buy using wire transfers, bank withdrawals and PayPal. Most cryptocurrency traders will buy Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin on Coinbase and then transfer those coins to a less prominent exchange to buy lesser known, up-and-coming altcoins.

Binance

Binance

  • Pros

    Large coin selection, secure, responsive customer support, straightforward interface, impressive referral program and high recognition.

  • Cons

    High withdrawal fees and annoying “dust” accumulation.

Binance is easily the hottest crypto exchange at the moment. Its user base has exploded since December 2017. And the reason is pretty simple: Binance offers a huge list of altcoins on a simple-to-use platform. In the past, to buy more obscure digital currencies, you would have to navigate to sketchy and hard-to-use sites. But now, Binance has bridged that gap and, as a result, has reaped millions of new users in past couple months.

In addition to being novice-friendly, Binance also wants its site to be suitable for experienced traders as well. To do this, the Tokyo-based exchange incorporated both a basic and advanced trading view. The advanced version of the platform gives traders with an extensive crypto know-how the additional tools any seasoned trader would need—like graphs, charts and other detailed information. The basic version, while not 100% beginner-friendly, is accessible to most starters with an easy-to-get-the-hang-of trading system that substantially streamlines the whole process.

Just watch out for Binance’s withdrawal fees. They can be downright criminal at times.

Kucoin

Kucoin

  • Pros

    Great coin selection, solid customer service, responsive interface, impressive referral program, high-level security and low fees.

  • Cons

    No fiat payment options and no margin trading.

Like Binance, Kucoin was the other huge winner from December and January’s massive influx of cryptocurrency adopters. And, on the surface, Binance and Kucoin are very similar: both are easy-to-use platforms with loads of different digital currencies and high-level security. Under the surface, however, there are a few key differences.

For one, the young trading platform based in Hong Kong has extremely low fees for withdrawals, unlike its rival. In fact, users can withdraw NEO completely free of charge, which is a huge plus if you move your currencies around to other exchanges often. On top of that, Kucoin is fast becoming the most legit trading platform for investors trying to get into early-stage listings, meaning coins that just went to market or that are hard to obtain due to being listed on very few hard-to-access exchanges.

Another great aspect of Kucoin’s site is its KCS token and the numerous benefits that come along with holding, or should I say hodl’ing, it. Essentially, Kucoin will distribute half of the trading fees charged on the site to KCS holders as a daily bonus. Also, traders who hold KCS tokens will pay less in trading fees on the site. And eventually, Kucoin plans to give KCS holders a customer support fast lane, one-on-one investment advice and several other exclusives.

Coinmama

  • Pros

    Fast, easy and secure Bitcoin and Ethereum purchases.

  • Cons

    Limited to buy-orders only, high fees, no wire payments, no mobile app and only supports the two coins mentioned above.

If you are simply interested in quickly buying Bitcoin or Ethereum to then transfer to another trading platform, Coinmama might be your best bet. The site streamlines the purchasing process by offering few frills but a straightforward user-interface. Simply open an account, thenquickly and securely purchase Bitcoin or Ethereum in minutes using your credit/debit card or Western Union.

While Coinmama allows for quick transactions, the site doesn’t support trading or selling cryptos. Users can simply purchase directly from Coinmama’s own Bitcoin and Ethereum holdings and then store those purchases or transfer them to a wallet or another exchange to make more trades.

And one unique feature that makes Coinmama more secure than most other crypto exchanges is that it forces its users to set-up a secure digital wallet and doesn’t store any of their users’ coins themselves. This is much smarter than exchanges that store digital currencies on their platform as they are often the target of hackers. Although Coinmama services 217 countries worldwide, unfortunately, residents of only 24 US states have access to the fast and easy brokerage.

CEX.IO

CEX.IO

  • Pros

    Supports most countries, beginner-friendly interface, an established reputation and easy buying process.

  • Cons

    High exchange rates, spotty customer service, nickel-and-diming fees and extensive verification.

CEX.IO is one of the oldest and longest running Bitcoin exchanges. Although the platform is primarily focused on servicing European countries, it also supports credit card purchases from many non-EU countries. With its huge reputation in the industry, you can be sure that it’s not a scam and all your purchases will be fulfilled.

It does need to be mentioned, though, that the verification process on the site can be a time-consuming and document-heavy slog. But if you do manage to get through it, you will no doubt be rewarded with an extremely noob-friendly platform that features quick and expedited Bitcoin purchases.

It’s also important to note that the fees on CEX.IO can be quite misleading and take fair bit of research to completely understand. For instance, if you want to buy coins directly from CEX.IO, you will be charged a 7% fee on the fiat you put forward, which is extremely high. And if you buy using its trading platform, you won’t have to pay that fee but you may have to pay a commission and credit card fee depending on the circumstances.

Also be mindful that as of Jan. 28, 2018, users on CEX.IO will no longer be able to withdraw USD from the exchange. So if you happen to be from the US, you probably want to avoid this exchange.

 

Changelly

Changelly

  • Pros

    Easy and quick coin swaps, intuitive interface, minimum verification needed, respectable customer support and low fees.

  • Cons

    Owners are anonymous, buying cryptos with credit/debit card is expensive and you will need an off-site wallet to store yours on.

Changelly gets right to the point: exchange cryptos with other cryptos in a timely and straightforward system. And they are pretty solid at what they do.

Essentially, the platform allows users to bring their coins and trade them directly with other coins, needing only an email address. And what’s best, unlike other prominent exchanges, your cryptocurrencies aren’t limited to only a few trading pairs. Instead of needing to trade multiple times to go from one altcoin to another, Changelly will take care of all the swapping for you, resulting in one semi-instant transaction. So more specifically, on Changelly you can trade one altcoin, let’s say Dash, straight-up for a different altcoin, let’s say Stellar Lumens, in one quick and easy transaction—all but eliminating the need to buy Bitcoin or Ethereum as a go-between. The site currently supports over 80 altcoins and each trade only incurs a modest .05% fee.

The major downsides of Changelly, though, are that users must use off-site wallets to store their coins on, as the platform doesn’t have a built-in digital wallet service yet, and that it is extremely costly to buy cryptos directly using fiat. But all in all, those are small gripes when you consider the value of being able to directly swap altcoins with a minimal signup process. Overall, Changelly is the perfect choice for quick and no fuss trades.

Gemini

Gemini

  • Pros

    High profile founders, intuitive and sleek design and low fees.

  • Cons

    Not many customer support options, can’t purchase using credit/debit card and very few crypto offerings.

If you know the story of Facebook’s creation, you’re probably familiar with the Winklevoss twins who famously sued Mark Zuckerburg after claiming he stole their idea. Nowadays, the Winklevoss twins own 1% of the world’s Bitcoin, and Gemini is their brainchild. The trading platform, unlike many exchanges, has the highest levels of reserves and is fully compliant with banking standards, making it one of the most legitimate trading platforms on the market.

  • Design and Functionality

    Much like Coinbase, Gemini values being a secure and easy-to-navigate exchange rather than being a trading platform filled-to-the-brim with advanced features. The interface itself, makes it super simple to view, monitor and track current prices and the balances of your account. And as for security, Gemini doesn’t cut any corners. The site supports two-factor authentication (2FA) and offers several tips on how to safely store your highly valued cryptos.

  • Currencies

    The currencies on offer at Gemini leave a lot to be desired and is by far the biggest turnoff to new users of the exchange. The only supported currencies are USD, Bitcoin and Ethereum.

  • Verification

    To register on Gemini you will need to create an account using your email address and then set-up two-factor authentication (2FA), link your bank account and upload your photo ID in order to comply with US banking regulations. Currently, users from 45 US states, Canada, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Korea and the United Kingdom can buy and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum on Gemini.

  • Fees

    Fees are typically 0.25% per trade depending on the volume. There are no fees for deposits or withdrawals.

  • Customer Support

    Although Gemini tends to respond quickly to emails, other support options are severely lacking outside of an in-depth FAQ. It should be said, however, that this isn’t too far outside of the norm for most cryptocurrency exchanges, as most don’t support online chat or phone calls for customer service.

Verdict

If you are looking for a straightforward place to buy and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum, then Gemini is a solid choice. It’s intuitive, beginner-friendly and seemingly in the good graces of the cryptocurrency public. Of course, not supporting smaller cryptos hurts its overall appeal but zero withdrawal fees ensures that transferring your Bitcoin and Ethereum won’t be a problem.

Bittrex

Bittrex

  • Pros

    Lots of currency offerings, solid team, no reported hacks, and simple verification.

  • Cons

    Mixed reviews from the community, poor customer service and design is uninspiring.

In terms of both users and trading volume, Bittrex is among the leaders in the crypto world. And, without a doubt, the main reason is that the site lists hundreds of altcoins as well as tons of various trading pairs—both very uncommon in the cryptocurrency world. In fact, most exchanges tend to support only a few coins offerings and even less trading pairs. For Bitcoin alone, there are 450 trading pairs on Bittrex.

  • Design and Functionality

    Despite lacking the fidelity of Binance and Kucoin, Bittrex’s design is serviceable and most beginners won’t be in over their head. And if you consider the vast amount of lesser-known altcoins on offer, you can’t really complain too much that it’s a tad barebones. On top of its many coins, Bittrex has top-of-the-line security that has prevented any successful hacks to date.

  • Currencies

    Bittrex’s bread and butter is its vast number of coin listings. It’s their calling card and makes it one of the best places to find up-and-coming options to potentially go to the moon with so to speak. And Bittrex doesn’t list coins just to list them. The team constantly tries to stay ahead of scams and pump-and-dump coins by constantly examining their source codes and de-listing those that are inactive.

  • Verification

    There are two types of accounts on Bittrex: Basic and Enhanced. For the basic account, users will have to divulge their name, address and date-of-birth, which will be cross-checked against public records. If it doesn’t conform to what’s on the system, Bittrex will require ID submission and selfies to comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) standards.

  • Fees

    Bittrex has a simple flat fee of 0.25% per trade.

  • Customer Support

    There are lots of complaints in the Bitcoin community and on various forums about Bittrex’s slow turnarounds on support tickets. In general, it seems like Bittrex could do a lot better when it comes to helping users solve their problems.

Verdict

Getting in early on a coin can be the difference between making 3x ROI and 10x. And if you are looking for an adequate trading platform to find these small cryptos with big potential, Bittrex is a solid choice. If there is an obscure digital currency or ICO that recently went to market, there’s a good chance Bittrex will have it. What’s more, Bittrexrecently announced that the site will roll out USD trading in the very near future.

Kraken

Kraken

  • Pros

    Good reputation, excellent security, low fees and multiple fiat pairings.

  • Cons

    Buggy and complex interface, nearly unusable iOS app and underwhelming customer service.

Kraken, headquartered in San Francisco, has two major selling points that make it stand out from other Bitcoin exchanges. First, the exchange has some of the lowest fees in the Bitcoin world. And, second, you can purchase 18 different cryptos on the site using a variety of fiat currencies, including USD, EUR, CAD, GBP and JPY. On top of that, residents of SEPA countries can deposit Euros onto the trading platform with zero fees. For this reason alone, it’s not surprising that the site has the highest Euro volume and liquidity.

  • Design and Functionality

    Late last year, Kraken was berated by the cryptocurrency community after a huge amount of bugs and errors plagued the site, making it nearly unusable. Part of this was due to the huge new influx of crypto investors using the platform. But, to put it bluntly, another part of it was poor design. In December, Kraken rolled out a huge site upgrade that cleaned up a lot of these problems but there are still too many complaints about recurring issues from the community. The interface is also unnecessarily complex, making it hard for starters in crypto to get a grasp of how to use it properly.

  • Currencies

    Kraken supports 18 different cryptocurrencies, ranging from the most popular cryptos—Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum—to lesser-known altcoins—Iconomi, EOS and Augur.

  • Verification

    There are five different account types—“tiers”—that require different levels of verification depending on the amount of money you will be trading. Unless you are playing with the big bucks, however, your name, date-of-birth, address and phone number will suffice.

  • Fees

    The fees you will pay on Kraken depend solely on your account tier, mentioned above. Put simply, the more money you will be trading, the fewer fees you will incur. But regardless the amount, Kraken’s fees are notoriously low, ranging from 0% to 0.26%.

  • Customer Support

    In the event you need to file a support ticket on Kraken, you can and should expect to wait a few days to hear back. On the plus side, though, Kraken features a huge customer support guide that should help you find what you need.

Verdict

While other exchanges probably have more intuitive interfaces, Kraken’s extremely low transaction fees and top-notch security make it appealing. And if you are an EU resident, you simply can’t beat depositing fiat free of charge. But for beginners who don’t want an overly complex trading platform, there are better exchanges to do your cryptocurrency trading.

Bitstamp

Bitstamp

  • Pros

    Well respected in the community, lower than average fees, supports a secure wallet option and is built for experienced, high volume traders.

  • Cons

    Few crypto offerings and a complex interface make it tough for newbies.

Bitstamp has been in the game a long time. And it is, without a doubt, one of the most respected exchanges in the industry for its low fees and quality support. Bitstamp’s reputation wasn’t always so pretty, however. In 2014 and 2015 the site was hacked multiple times and one hack led to the loss of 19,000 Bitcoins. But since then, Bitstamp has vastly improved its security measures and is now one of the most secure trading platforms you’ll find, with 2FA, a secure wallet for traders and most of the exchange’s funds held offline in “cold storage” at all times.

  • Design and Functionality

    Bitstamp certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. There are tons of built-in features for veteran traders who regularly buy and sell boatloads of Bitcoin. For this reason, inexperienced traders will undoubtedly feel overwhelmed and should probably stick to an easier platform, such as Coinbase. The learning curve is just too steep on Bistamp, so save yourself any potential headaches unless you already know a thing or two about crypto markets.

  • Currencies

    Bitstamp currently only supports four cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple. As for fiat currencies, Bitstamp only accepts USD and Euros.

  • Verification

    In order to deposit or withdraw on Bitstamp, users must submit a passport sized photo, national ID photo and proof of residency.

  • Fees

    When it comes to fees, Bitstamp is better than average. Deposit fees are 0.05% and trading fees are 0.25% at the highest. Just watch out for credit card deposit fees, which can be as high as 8%.

  • Customer Support

    As with most cryptocurrency exchanges, don’t expect too much from customer support on Bitstamp. To be fair, though, the exchange does have an online chat feature, a UK telephone support line and a decent FAQ, which is more than most trading platforms can cling to.

Verdict

All in all, Bitstamp is a solid exchange for traders who understand the various intricacies of cryptocurrency markets. And with competitively low fees and quality customer service, you can’t really go wrong.

Bitfinex

Bitfinex

  • Pros

    Good for experienced traders, extremely high liquidity, fair fees and lots of trading tools.

  • Cons

    Overly complex interface, history of hacks and no support for fiat transactions.

Bitfinex resembles Bitstamp in a lot of ways, mostly in its unique interface, which is designed for high volume and experienced traders. The trading platform also happens to be the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange by volume, which ensures a low spread, meaning you’ll routinely encounter the best bid and ask prices on the entire crypto market. But Bitfinex also has a troubled past that should give everyone second thoughts. In 2016, 120,000 Bitcoins were stolen from the exchange, the second largest Bitcoin theft in history behind Mt. Gox. But the difference is, in one year’s time, Bitfinex had fully compensated all of its users. And since that incident, Bitfinex has made a lot of necessary changes to their security features, resulting in a far safer environment for its traders. Bitfinex also has a fairly decent mobile app that allows trading on the move.

  • Design and Functionality

    Bitfinex regularly draws in sophisticated traders with its suite of advanced trading tools, including limit, market, stop, stop-limit and scaled orders as well as loads of graphs and a customizable GUI. It also has margin trading.

  • Currencies

    At the moment, Bitfinex lists 51 Bitcoin and Ethereum trading pairs and a decent amount of altcoins, including Zcash, Monero, Iota, OmiseGo, NEO and Qtum. The lack of fiat transactions is a huge downside, however.

  • Verification

    To trade on Bitfinex, one simply needs to verify an email address and deposit a supported cryptocurrency.

  • Fees

    Taker fees are 0.2% and maker fees are 0.1% on Bitfinex, while deposits are free and withdrawals are fairly modest.

  • Customer Support

    Support is adequate but nothing special. And reports of long waiting times for support ticket responses litter cryptocurrency forums.

Verdict

If you are new to cryptocurrency, understanding Bitfinex’s complicated interface is tantamount to reading in a foreign language. Put simply, it won’t make sense at all. But for proficient traders looking for an edge, Bitfinex has all the tools one would need and that, in large part, that is why it remains extremely popular among the crypto community.

GDAX

GDAX

  • Pros

    High-level trading tools, partner with Coinbase, well respected and low fees.

  • Cons

    Support is below average, very few cryptocurrencies, and residents of many countries are restricted.

Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX), a subsidiary of Coinbase, offers secure and direct coin trading among its users. And, also like Bitstamp and Bitfinex, it’s primarily aimed at providing advanced trading features for big-time cryptocurrency traders. Among the Bitcoin community, GDAX consistently receives rave reviews as the professional investment arm of Coinbase. Where Coinbase is simple and straightforward, GDAX is in-depth and full of complex trading tools. And since both are owned by the same company, you can simply log in to GDAX using your already created Coinbase credentials.

  • Design and Functionality

    Just like its sister trading platform Coinbase, GDAX features an impressive and crisp design that few other crypto exchanges can boast. And as for its advanced trading features, capable traders will find that they are easy-to-gauge and allow for more informed trade decisions.

  • Currencies

    The only cryptocurrencies supported on GDAX are Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. While that in itself is underwhelming, the trading platform does support three fiat currencies—USD, Euros and Pounds.

  • Verification

    To create an account for both GDAX and Coinbase, users will need to submit an ID, a telephone number, date-of-birth, their address and a verified email.

  • Fees

    GDAX’s fees are substantially lower than Coinbase’s, ranging from 0.1% to 0.25% per trade while it can cost upwards of 4% on Coinbase. For this reason, it’s a good idea to buy your Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum on GDAX and then migrate them over to Coinbase. It’s free, after all.

  • Customer Support

    GDAX’s support page offers a lot of helpful tips and answers but, like many other exchanges, loads of users report slow turnaround times and a bad overall experience.

Verdict

If you already have a Coinbase account and want to get your hands dirty with more advanced trading tools, then there’s no reason not to hop on the GDAX train. It’s secure, reliable, and earning a reputation that few other trading platforms can match. For those who don’t have the lowdown on cryptocurrency, however, it’s best to stick with Coinbase.

Poloniex

Poloniex

  • Pros

    Huge variety of coins, margin trading, majority of deposits stored offline in cold storage, and low trading fees.

  • Cons

    Questionable support, no fiat transactions and consistent withdrawal issues.

Poloniex, more commonly known as Polo, is a cryptocurrency exchange with a heavy focus on altcoins. Much like its competitors Binance, Bittrex and Kucoin, the amount of digital currencies and tokens listed on the platform is why it draws so many repeat customers. Users can buy both high market cap coins, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as more obscure coins that aren’t listed on hardly any other exchanges yet. But unlike its main competitors, Poloniex is an altcoin exchange built for seasoned traders who know how to analyze and observe market trends. Even with the recent surge in users migrating to Kucoin and Binance for their altcoin trading, the site still has the highest trade volume among those not named Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin.

  • Design and Functionality

    Binance and Kucoin really struck gold when they created altcoin trading platforms that were highly accessible. While Poloniex isn’t extremely difficult to get up to speed with, it’s still definitely not the most user-friendly. Overall, however, even though it significantly lacks any flair, the UI gets the job done in most ways.

  • Currencies

    Although Poloniex has hundreds of altcoins listings that can be traded against Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero and Tether, the site doesn’t support fiat withdrawals or deposits. Therefore, users must buy cryptocurrencies on a platform such as Coinbase, then transfer it over to Poloniex in order to trade for lesser-known altcoins.

  • Verification

    Since Poloniex only accepts cryptocurrency deposits, getting verified and opening an account only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require identification.

  • Fees

    Low fees are one of Poloniex’s main appeals, with the highest taker fee coming in at 0.25% and the highest maker fee sitting at 0.15%.

  • Customer Support

    Poloniex has a lot of good things going for it but, sadly, customer support is not one of them. Cryptocurrency forums are run amok with negative reviews and horror stories all having to do with Polo’s subpar customer service.

Verdict

If you are on the hunt for a specific altcoin that you really believe in, then there is a good chance that Poloniex has it. And, for that reason alone, the site is worth keeping an eye on. For cryptocurrency traders who are only interested in the most popular coins, there are many better options to choose from.

ShapeShift

ShapeShift

  • Pros

    No signup, quick trades and easy-to-use interface.

  • Cons

    High fees and no fiat support.

ShapeShift is an instant, no account necessary cryptocurrency swapping platform, very similar to Changelly. Although it currently allows users to exchange over 50 different cryptos, unlike Changelly, you cannot transact cryptos using fiat. On the other hand, transactions tend to go through significantly faster on ShapeShift than on Changelly. And ShapeShift is available worldwide.

  • Design and Functionality

    ShapeShift’s design is clean, crisp and very simple to grasp. In order to trade, all you need to do is choose two coins from the drop-down menus, then enter the amount and your corresponding wallet addresses. And boom. Easy as that.

  • Currencies

    ShapeShift supports over 50 different cryptocurrencies including both large and small market cap cryptos. But, unfortunately, ShapeShift doesn’t support fiat.

  • Verification

    No verification or account required to swap coins.

  • Fees

    Traders pay miner fees, which are typically higher than most fees on other exchanges.

  • Customer Support

    ShapeShift’s customer service is solid, consisting of a detailed FAQ and a general support form where you send your complaints.

Verdict

Overall, if you want a fast, private and ultra-convenient cryptocurrency exchange without any signup whatsoever then ShapeShift is right for you. That is if you don’t mind dealing with off-site wallets and higher than average fees.

COSS.io

COSS.io

  • Pros

    Eye-catching interface, above average selection, more than just an exchange and COSS coin dividends.

  • Cons

    No margin trading, low liquidity, subpar graphs and charts, hidden fees and weak customer support.

COSS, also known as the Crypto One-Stop Solution, is the new kid on the block and has already made significant waves in the industry with many early adopters citing it as their new go-to cryptocurrency exchange. Unlike every other crypto exchange, it also serves as a payment platform for merchants, a secure wallet and an ICO platform. COSS also features an ERC20 token of the same name that gives holders dividends from the platform’s exchange fees, similar to Kucoin Shares and BNB on Binance.

  • Design and Functionality

    The first thing you will no doubt notice when visiting COSS is its visually appealing UI and its streamlined trading functions. The exchange is definitely beginner-friendly. There is also an above average COSS app. But for seasoned traders who like to have a host of advanced charts, tools and other information on hand, COSS comes up short. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that COSS is still a very young exchange and will surely add more features as time goes on.

  • Currencies

    COSS offers over 30 of the most sought-after cryptocurrencies tradable in Bitcoin and Ethereum pairs. The platform doesn’t support fiat transactions of any type, however.

  • Verification

    Since COSS doesn’t support fiat conversions yet, the signup process is quick, simple and doesn’t require ID.

  • Fees

    Perhaps the most troubling aspect of COSS is that the trading fees aren’t very transparent. In fact, they are difficult to even locate on the site. On top of this, withdrawal fees vary by digital currency with some withdrawal fees being far too high.

  • Customer Support

    Although COSS’ customer service is pretty scant at the moment, there is some hope considering the developers maintain a strong presence on social media and are always looking to help fix common issues.

Verdict

Anyone who has traded on COSS will agree, the site is pretty good already and has loads of potential over the next few months. Even though there might not be anything that particularly stands out to lure new customers from competing exchanges, it’s clear that everyone should keep an eye on COSS’ progress. It definitely could become one of the most used digital asset exchanges on the market in the coming years.

Honorable Mentions

Bitsquare

Bitsquare

  • Pros

    Decentralized trading, completely secure from hacks, large selection of trading pairs and impressive fiat offerings.

  • Cons

    Hard-to-use and high fees.

Bitsquare is a decentralized crypto trading platform that allows users to trade in peer-to-peer fashion. Essentially, this means that since none of the funds are on the exchange itself, they can’t be hacked by outside parties. On top of being able to trade your cryptocurrencies for other coins with fellow users, you can trade them for FIAT currencies like USD, JPY, Euros and GBP.

  • Design and Functionality

    Bitsquare is not a simple-to-use trading platform. But for all of its complex intricacies, the exchange does offer real value through its design. For instance, Bitsquare is an open-source project totally powered by user contributions. And to make sure all trades are on the up and up and no-one gets ripped off, the site uses a 2-out-of-3 multisignature and security deposit system that is very effective.

  • Currencies

    Despite offering a fair amount of altcoin and fiat listings, users can only trade through Bitcoin pairings. This is a huge downside considering the staggering network and mining fees Bitcoin has become synonymous with in recent months.

  • Verification

    There are no requirements to get verified on Bitsquare as the platform is built from the ground up to protect users’ anonymity.

  • Fees

    Bitsquare’s fees tend to be on the higher end as they go to rewarding the moderators of each trade on the network.

  • Customer Support

    Other than an extensive FAQ, there is not much support on Bitsquare’s site. Those who need further assistance will need to post to forums or contact the developers on their social media pages.

Verdict

Bitsquare is rough around the edges but definitely serves a purpose. For those who don’t want to provide detailed information about themselves or want a more decentralized option that is less susceptible to hacks, Bitsquare is a good choice.

Localbitcoins

Localbitcoins

  • Pros

    Available worldwide, solid support, lots of payment options and well received by the crypto community.

  • Cons

    Have to be extra wary of scams.

Localbitcoins is another peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading platform that connects users wanting to sell and buy Bitcoins and other altcoins. Buyers and sellers can create listings and ads as well as communicate with those they are trading with to work out deals. Due to the nature of its eBay-like trading platform, it’s paramount that buyers and sellers vet who they are dealing with as much as possible to avoid scams. Localbitcoins currently features listings in over 240 countries.

  • Design and Functionality

    The layout and interface of Localbitcoins is bare-bones but its simple design gets the job done. Once you open an account on the site, it is easy to search and find Bitcoin sellers in your area. And on top of location, you can filter searches by accepted payment methods and ID verification requirements. Each seller’s reputation and trade history is highly visible as well, which incentivizes honesty and the fulfillment of trades.

  • Currencies

    Perhaps the biggest draw of Localbitcoins is that it allows users to buy cryptocurrencies with a huge variety of payment methods, including cash on delivery, cash via mail, PayPal, Western Union and wire payments.

  • Verification

    To register on Localbitcoins, users simply need to verify their email.

  • Fees

    Localbitcoins charges the seller a commission fee of 1%.

  • Customer Support

    On top of having a super responsive support team, the site also provides an escrow service and a service to resolve disputes between buyers and sellers.

Verdict

Cryptocurrency traders looking for a lax alternative to centralized exchanges should heavily consider Localbitcoins. This is also true for those who are looking to get into Bitcoin but are unable to do so due to their country’s cryptocurrency restrictions. But if you are a more straightforward trader, a prominent and more accessible centralized exchange will do the trick.

Cryptopia

Cryptopia

  • Pros

    Reasonable fees and hundreds of altcoins that have yet to make it on the most popular exchanges.

  • Cons

    Low volume, only fiat supported is New Zealand dollars and a lot of crappy coins.

Cryptopia, a New Zealand-based altcoin marketplace and exchange, is what it is: a trading platform that lists hundreds of obscure coins. And it’s undeniable, tons of their listings are pump-and-dump coins with no real-world use. But because of its liberal listings, it’s also very possible you’ll be able to find a true diamond in the rough with humongous ROI potential. This is the site where lots of traders find their x100 moonshots. Due diligence is an absolute must.

  • Design and Functionality

    Cryptopia’s bland design leaves a lot to be desired but the site’s functionality is sufficient in most cases. At its core, Cryptopia is a peer-to-peer trading platform that allows users to set their own prices rather than letting the market dictate it. This means that while you might find some bargain buys, you’re just as likely to find price gougers, so be careful. On top of being an exchange to find potential gems with low market cap, Cryptopia features a marketplace featuring every kind of real-world product from cars to mobile phones, purchasable with cryptos. The detailed Coin Info page is also a great source of information on each of Cryptopia’s many offerings.

  • Currencies

    In total, Cryptopia offers over 500 altcoins on its platform, from the most prominent to the least known. Unfortunately, NZD is the only supported fiat currency.

  • Verification

    To obtain the basic account with a $5,000 daily withdrawal limit, all that is needed is a verified email address.

  • Fees

    Since trades are occurring directly between users, there are no trading fees on Cryptopia. However, there are exchange and withdrawal fees to stay cognizant of.

  • Customer Support

    Cryptopia’s support is definitely above average. For one, the site has a dedicated live chat in addition to email support. The developers are also extremely active on social media, making it possible to have your gripes heard in a timely manner by the people who need to see them.

Verdict

If you are looking for massive returns on your investment, Cryptopia offers a ton of high potential coins that aren’t yet listed on more well-known exchanges. As a result, you can get in on the ground floor and watch as the cash flows in. If the digital currency is successful, that is. But be careful. For every solid option with a genuine use case on Cryptopia, you are twice as likely to run into a scam.

eToro

eToro

  • Pros

    Slick UI, beginner-friendly, margin trading, simple verification and more than just a crypto exchange.

  • Cons

    Bitcoin deposits aren’t supported, high fees, not a lot of options on offer and spotty customer service.

eToro isn’t just a cryptocurrency trading platform, it’s much more. In addition to buying and selling cryptos, users can trade stocks, commodities and fiat currencies within an easy-to-understand, intuitive interface. On top of being an all-in-one platform, eToro also brands itself as a social investment network, where users can copy other people’s successful trades, share their own trades and discuss trading in general. It’s definitely a completely unique feature in the crypto world.

  • Design and Functionality

    In general, eToro is extremely user-friendly and almost any level of cryptocurrency trader should be able to initiate trades without much guidance. But if not, eToro offers a host of educational videos to show how to utilize and get the most out of the site’s basic and advanced trading features. Unlike most other exchanges, eToro is also nice to look at.

  • Currencies

    eToro currently supports only seven options: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Dash, Litecoin and Ripple. On the fiat side of things, eToro only accepts USD. Payment methods include PayPal, credit/debit card and wire transfer.

  • Verification

    The sign-up process on eToro is simple and straightforward, all you need to start trading is a verified email address.

  • Fees

    The fees on eToro are outrageous when compared to other major cryptocurrency exchanges. For example, traders will have to fork up 0.7% per Bitcoin trade and 2%-5% for other altcoin trades. In addition, eToro only supports fiat withdrawals in USD, which cost a staggering $25 a pop.

  • Customer Support

    Customer support on eToro is below average. There is no live chat, only email support and an FAQ.

Verdict

You can’t complain about eToro’s look and design. It’s among the best in the industry; zero clunkiness and everything has a purpose. And the social media features are super impressive. With that said though, the fact that the site doesn’t support many cryptos, doesn’t accept Bitcoin deposits and charges exorbitant fees are huge drawbacks. If you aren’t looking to trade other assets in addition to cryptocurrencies, then a site like Coinbase or Binance is probably a better choice.

EtherDelta

EtherDelta

  • Pros

    Decentralized, respected by the community and loads of high potential tokens.

  • Cons

    Not user-friendly, unclear how to initiate trades, and Ethereum is the only trading pair.

EtherDelta is a tough beast to reign in and only the boldest cryptonauts dare to try and tame it. And the reason is simple, the decentralized, peer-to-peer exchange is super intimidating due to its severe lack of polish, bugs, slow transaction times and unclear interface. But for those brave enough, Etherdelta offers an incredible opportunity to obtain nearly every ERC20 token as soon as it goes to market. And, subsequently, traders who use Etherdelta to invest in a token early can watch as its value skyrockets and it hits more mainstream trading platforms like Binance, Kucoin or Bittrex. Etherdelta is the most popular decentralized exchange in cryptocurrency.

  • Design and Functionality

    Let’s just come right out and say it: Etherdelta is ugly, dysfunctional and extremely annoying at times. But that’s definitely not to say that it is unusable and doesn’t have a unique value in the cryptocurrency marketplace—it just takes time to get a handle on. Because, while it is wonky as heck, there are few sites that can offer as much bang for your buck as Etherdelta, thanks to its super quick listings of new coins built on the Ethereum backbone. But, like Cryptopia, a lot of them are garbage. So do extensive research before making any investments.

  • Currencies

    There are over 240 tokens currently listed on Ehterdelta.

  • Verification

    All that is required to start trading is a verified email.

  • Fees

    Etherdelta does not charge a fee for deposits, withdrawals or placing orders. Users will have to pay a 0.03% fee for executed orders and pay a fee in gas for the transaction.

  • Customer Support

    Support: Unlike most exchanges, Etherdelta does not offer an FAQ page to help address common issues. The site does have a public chat feature that is connected to other Etherdelta users and representatives but sometimes it can be hard to get a useful response.

Verdict

Etherdelta is unbelievably rough around the edges, but if you have the time and patience to master the site, you can find tons of quality options that have yet to make it to the masses. And, in turn, reap the large rewards if you pick the right investment. If you are easily frustrated, on the other hand, you might want to stick to Binance for your altcoin trading.

Coming Soon

FairX

FairX

  • Pros

    Fiat to crypto purchases, fast transactions, low costs and IBM backing.

  • Cons

    No working product yet.

When IBM Blockchain announced that they were launching a cryptocurrency exchange, of course, people took notice. And, from all indications, FairX looks like a gamechanger. Essentially, IBM is building this blockchain banking solution to facilitate cheap and fast cross-border payments between businesses and consumers using Stellar Lumens as the payment bridge. This is how Stellar explains it:

Suppose you are holding sheep and want to buy something from a store that only accepts wheat. You can create a payment in Stellar that will automatically convert your sheep into wheat. It goes through the sheep/wheat order book and converts your sheep at the best available rate.

You can also make more complicated paths of asset conversion. Imagine that the sheep/wheat order book has a very large spread or is nonexistent. In this case, you might get a better rate if you first trade your sheep for brick and then sell that brick for wheat. So a potential path would be 2 hops: sheep->brick->wheat. This path would take you through the sheep/brick order book and then the brick/wheat order book.

Imagine a world where, anytime you travel, you never have to exchange currency except at the point of sale. A world where you can choose to keep all your assets in, for example, Google stock, cashing out small amounts as you need to pay for things. Cross-asset payments make this world possible.

So to put it simply, instead of using a traditional cryptocurrency exchange that only supports a few trading pairs, on FairX you will be able to trade any crypto with any other crypto or any fiat with any cryptocurrency using Stellar’s exceptionally quick and low-cost transactions as a go-between. But, it’s also important to note, this is all speculative at this point. No official launch date has been announced but recent rumors seem to point to Q2 or Q3 of this year.

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