A Helpful Guide to the Top Cryptocurrency Exchange Platforms
The fast growth of cryptocurrency has been the rage for quite some time now, with investors wanting in on the promising profits of digital currency.
However, there has been skepticism around the credibility of some crypto trading platforms, especially considering how easy some systems are to hack.
No one wants their Bitcoin stolen by hackers. Whether you are already a crypto investor or you’re new to it and want more info on crypto trading, this article reviews the 10 best crypto exchanges on the market right now.
10 Best Crypto Exchanges in 2021: First Look
- Best exchange overall – Binance (Binance.us For USA users)
- Buy Bitcoin for beginners – Coinbase
- Top Bitcoin exchange – Kraken
- Crypto meets forex – eToro
- Great sign-up bonus – Crypto.com
- Brokerage service for popular coins – Coinmama
- Best for privacy – Bisq
- Low-cost cryptocurrency exchange – Robinhood
- Best trading options – Trade Station
- Best for USA crypto traders – Gemini
1. Binance – Best Cryptocurrency Exchange Overall
- 50+ cryptocurrencies
- Low fees
- Easy-to-use website interface
- Good security
- Not available in 7 US states
- Not ideal for beginners
- Poor customer service
Launched in China, in 2017, Malta-based Binance is among the most popular crypto trading exchanges globally. In 2019, Binance US was launched in San Francisco for US residents.
Binance allows you to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrency, charging 0.1% on trades. You have the option to earn interest on your coins by staking them for a while and earning an interest rate of between 0.5-10%.
You can purchase crypto using bank deposits, bank transfers, and credit/debit cards, so there are a lot of payment methods to choose from. However, a heavy 4.5% fee is charged on debit card purchases.
For security measures, Binance has an asset fund as insurance in case user funds are stolen and a 2-Factor Authentication system (2FA), although reviews have reported glitches with the authentication system.
Nonetheless, there are 50+ coins available on Binance, so you’ve got a ton of options if you’re looking to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum and many other coins.
2. Coinbase – Best Place To Buy Bitcoin for Beginners
- See all your coins in one place
- Simple UI for beginners
- Buy Bitcoin easily
- Good variety of altcoins
- Expensive compared to other crypto exchanges
- Few payment options
- Custodial wallet
Launched in 2012, in San Francisco, California, Coinbase has accrued over 30 million users worldwide, with users cutting across 103 countries.
This crypto exchange mostly caters to inexperienced investors looking to trade in cryptocurrency, so this is perfect if you’re a beginner who’s looking to learn the ropes without being overwhelmed by graphs and data all over the screen.
Coinbase allows for bank deposits, bank transfers, PayPal, and credit/debit card transfer payments. However, the exchange has rather expensive fees at $0.99-$2.99 for purchases under $200 and an additional 0.5% fee depending on the amount traded.
On matters of security, Coinbase has FDIC insurance that allows users to be fairly compensated if the company ceases to exist, and cold storage is used to set aside 98% of user funds, so theoretically only 2% of your money could ever be stolen at any time.
They’re good odds!
If you’re looking to get started as a crypto beginner, there’s no better place than Coinbase, in our opinion.
3. Kraken – Best Customer Support of Any Crypto Exchange
- Good security features
- Stylish user interface
- Reputable site
- 7 fiat currencies
- 50+ cryptocurrencies
- Not for beginners
- Slow account verification
- Poor customer support
Based in the US, Kraken launched in 2011 and relaunched in 2013. The exchange currently offers 50+ cryptocurrencies, so you’ve got plenty of options to trade with.
Kraken offers 3 packages of accounts: starter, intermediate, and pro. The starter account allows for deposits, exchanges, and withdrawal of cryptocurrency.
Perfect if you’re just getting used to crypto!
There are average fees on trades: between 0.9%-1.5% depending on the amount of the trade. This makes it one of the cheaper crypto exchanges that’s a good reputation.
On the downside, although customer support assures users of 24/7 availability, there are some bad reviews about the service.
You are required to provide ID for any deposit for account verification, which is great for security, and there are 7 fiat currencies accepted at the time of writing (USD, EUR, CAD, GBP, CHF, JPY, and AUD).
4. eToro – Best Trading Platform For Crypto & FOREX
- No commission on cryptocurrency
- Easy-to-navigate user interface
- Easy for US crypto investors to sign up
- Multiple coins traded (BTC, ETH, etc.)
- High trading fees
- Poor customer service
- One account-based currency
eToro was established in 2007 in Tel Aviv, Israel, as a social trading exchange. It now has its headquarters in London, with 17 million users globally spread over 100 countries. In 2018, it launched in the US with a cryptocurrency-only platform.
The exchange offers 6 crypto coins (Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin, and XLM) for investors. While it’s not a lot, these are the biggest crypto coins that most people are looking to trade, so it makes sense.
On crypto charges worth $1,000, eToro offers a $50 bonus. However, eToro charges a high 0.75%-2.90% trade fee, depending on the trade amount.
No platform is perfect!
Deposits take about 7 days to be cleared for use, with only one standard currency ―USD. All foreign currency deposits and withdrawals are subject to a fee, so it’s definitely best if you’re a US trader.
Nonetheless, if you want a simple and reputable system that allows you to trade the biggest coins on the market, then eToro might be the cryptocurrency exchange for you.
5. Crypto.com – Best Sign-up Bonus
- Good security
- Low fees
- Huge crypto coin collection
- Up to $50 sign-up bonus
- Regular promotions
- Complex app system
- Poor customer service
- Poor privacy
- Unclear source of funding
Founded in 2016 and based in Hong Kong, Crypto.com is a popular cryptocurrency platform that allows its users to trade, buy, sell, and spend. The exchange service is most popular for its remarkably low fees of between 0.04%-0.20%.
Crypto.com allows you to have a non-custodial DeFi wallet that has a separate app of its own. With it, you can link that account to your main one for ease of transfer of funds.
The exchange service also offers a program called Crypto Earn where users can stake their coins for a renewable period of 1 or 3 months and earn interest of up to 12%.
Typically, the longer you stake, the more interest you can earn.
In case of inquiries, Crypto.com boasts 24/7 customer care with options of in-app live chat, email, and phone support. However, slow customer service has been the source of their biggest criticisms, with some users reporting calls going unanswered or delayed services.
Crypto.com runs on mobile apps only, so you’d better be an on-the-go trader!
6. Coinmama – Best Bitcoin Brokerage Service
- Good customer care
- Easy-to-navigate website interface
- Live pricing
- Bitcoin sold directly
- Comes in many languages
- No mobile app
- High fees
- No crypto-crypto transactions
- Can’t sell Bitcoin without an EU bank account
Launched in 2013 in Tel Aviv, Coinmama is a cryptocurrency brokerage with 2 million worldwide users spread over 188 countries.
Unlike exchanges, brokerages sell their crypto to investors. Coinmama offers 10 cryptocurrencies (including Bitcoin) that they can sell to you at great rates.
What’s more, you can pay using a debit/credit card, bank transfer, wire transfer, and Apple pay. However, a 5% and 5.5% fee is charged on all deposits and purchases, respectively.
It’s convenient ― but at a price.
However, when it comes to security, you get a private e-wallet key to protect yourself from hackers. This leaves your money much less vulnerable to attacks, so you can sleep soundly knowing that your digital currency is protected.
7. Bisq – Best Decentralized Crypto Exchange
- Decentralized exchange
- Good security
- Variety of payment options
- Low fees
- Not geo-restricted
- Low liquidity
- Open for fraud
Bisq was launched in 2014 and is a decentralized exchange ― servers are distributed all around the world as opposed to having a headquartered central building. In other words, it’s basically impossible for someone to steal your money.
Bisq offers 120+ cryptocurrencies and many fiats too.
Unlike other exchanges, Bisq doesn’t need personal user information, as it does not need verification. That’s both good and bad, depending on your motives.
To work, a crypto trader places an order to another trader, or a trader takes an order from someone else. Although many payment options are available, traders have to agree to what the mode of the payment would be for funds to be accepted.
A trader who makes an order pays a commission of 0.1%, and a trader who takes the offer pays a fee of 0.3%, making it about 0.00005 Bitcoins in fees at the least.
8. Robinhood – Best Low-Cost Trading Platform
- Easy user interface
- No commission fee
- Good security
- Instant access to cash deposit
- Takes many fiat currencies
- Funds are not withdrawable
- Only 7 cryptocurrencies
- No anonymity
- Hidden fees
Launched in 2013 and based in the US, Robinhood was started as a broker company for stock traders. However, in 2018 it started offering crypto services and appealed to mostly young and inexperienced investors looking to try crypto trading.
You probably know it from that whole GameStop fiasco.
The crypto exchange, which currently offers 7 main cryptocurrencies, receives most of its reputation for its pleasant user-friendly mobile app interface and no fees charged on crypto trades.
Robinhood also has decent security measures, with two-factor Google authentication to ward off hackers and a device management system that allows you to remove access to other devices that you don’t authorize.
On the downside, although most of the services are free, some users have pointed out hidden charges with claims that fees charged by intermediary companies are delegated to the users.
And although quite big among crypto beginners, Robinhood does not offer withdrawable crypto funds, so you’re forced to transfer funds to other external accounts. Not ideal.
9. Trade Station – Most Varied Trading Options
- Good quality educational tools
- Crypto trader community
- Advanced tools
- Only 4 cryptocurrencies
- Poor customer service
- Unclear pricing structure
- Not a crypto-specific exchange
Based in Florida and founded in 1982, Trade Station has gained popularity due to its longevity and credibility. It is most popular among advanced and intermediate crypto investors.
Although mostly known for stock trading, Trade Station allows users to buy, sell, invest, trade, and earn, offering just 4 cryptocurrency options: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and USD Coin.
So yeah, a little limited on the coin front.
Still, this brokerage offers a 6% interest rate, accruing daily and paid monthly, allowing you to deposit and trade assets to your heart’s content while building up decent interest.
The mobile app comes with an easy-to-navigate interface that you can customize to your preferences, and they have 24/7 customer care, though many reviews allege sloppy customer care.
10. Gemini – Best Crypto Exchange For US Traders
- Good security
- Easy-to-use interface
- No deposit fees
- Good liquidity
- Serves limited countries
- Needs a lot of personal information
- Higher fees than other exchanges
Launched in 2014 n New York, Gemini is a crypto exchange with 20 cryptocurrencies and over 25 fiat currencies.
This cryptocurrency exchange offers a bonus of $10 on sold or bought Bitcoins worth $100, and it also runs a Gemini Earn promotion for users to earn up to 3.5% interest with Bitcoins when they save crypto.
However, Gemini accounts have a $5,000 daily deposit limit and a $30,000 monthly deposit limit, so it’s not ideal for high rollers. You can also withdraw a maximum of $100,000 daily.
For security, assets are stored in cold storage, and user funds are insured by FDIC.
However, a fee of 0.50% is charged on trades, and a fee of between 0.99%-1.49% is charged on transfers. That’s pretty good compared to some of the best crypto exchanges, but there are better rates out there.
How Do I Choose a Crypto Exchange? 8 Factors to Consider When Looking at Cryptocurrency Exchanges
How secure is your money?
Your money’s security should be the most important consideration when selecting a cryptocurrency exchange.
It is critical to be sure that a crypto exchange has no history of cyberattacks or theft.
Priority should be given to exchanges that openly expose their management, regulatory licenses, company location, and team.
Is this platform well designed and easy to use?
One of the most important aspects for the average cryptocurrency trader is the user interface and functionality.
Whether you are an experienced cryptocurrency trader or purchasing crypto for the first time, a clean interface and a pleasant user experience make user actions on the exchange more informed and efficient.
User experience is subjective, and different people will appreciate different things ― make sure you find a UI that you like the feel of before committing fully.
What’s liquidity like?
BTC is traded on a market where investors and traders look for opportunities to buy and sell the currency. As a result, it is important to consider the liquidity of the exchange.
In this case, liquidity refers to the ability to sell or buy an asset without significantly affecting prices. This, in turn, leads to a likely drop in prices.
When there are more buyers and sellers, there is more liquidity.
Is there an insurance fund?
Insurance funds are safe havens that protect traders from unforeseen losses, which can result in traders losing more money than they have made.
Insurance funds are used to prevent shared losses, potentially giving you added peace of mind that there won’t be any unforeseen disasters.
Traders typically do not need to be concerned about shared losses when using a well-capitalized insurance fund.
Are there fees to pay? How high or low are they?
Transaction costs are a significant component of crypto trading, particularly if you are an active trader. Understanding the various fee structures used by crypto exchanges can help you save a significant amount of money.
Trading fees on cryptocurrency exchanges are typically charged based on the order types sent to the market. These are referred to as taker and maker fees.
How many coins are on this crypto trading platform?
You want to choose an exchange that offers a diverse range of coins, whether it’s in terms of cryptocurrencies offered or crypto contracts.
Common crypto coins include:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- ChainLink (LINK)
- Tezos (XTZ)
And many more.
Having a large range allows you to diversify your trading options, which is particularly important now that cryptocurrencies are receiving more mainstream attention than ever.
What countries are accepted?
While it might seem evident, not all cryptocurrency exchanges are available globally and supported in all countries/states.
This is because the cryptocurrency industry is heavily regulated by local financial regulations.
For example, even though a cryptocurrency exchange based in Australia accepts AUD, NZD, and USD deposits, an investor from New Zealand is often unable to deposit funds.
What are the possible payment methods?
Buying Bitcoin differs depending on the platform.
Some exchanges need bank transfers, while others take PayPal, credit cards, and debit cards, and others only accept Bitcoin for purchases.
If you do not have any cryptocurrencies before joining an exchange, you must find a platform that accepts fiat currency (USD, EUR, GBP, etc.) to participate in the market.
Crypto & Bitcoin Exchanges FAQs
What Is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
Cryptocurrency exchanges are online marketplaces where you can trade one type of digital asset for another based on their market value.
Binance is one of the most popular crypto exchanges at the moment.
What Are Fiat to Crypto Exchanges?
Buying cryptocurrencies with fiat money (USD, GBP, EUR, etc.) is referred to as fiat to crypto.
Many online trading platforms were only permitted to trade crypto for crypto a few years ago, which is why this is even a thing.
What Are Crypto to Crypto Exchanges?
Trading cryptocurrency for cryptocurrency is termed crypto to crypto. Cryptos have different value, i.e., 199.55 Litecoins = 1 Bitcoin
Most exchanges that only offer crypto to crypto tend to be for more advanced and experienced traders.
What Is the Difference Between a Centralized Exchange and a Decentralized Exchange?
A centralized cryptocurrency exchange is a platform where digital assets may be bought and sold. In this case, you must rely on a third party to oversee the transaction and protect the assets on behalf of the buyer and seller.
These exchanges are also headquartered in one central location, leaving their servers vulnerable to hackers and rogue agents in the building.
A decentralized exchange connects cryptocurrency buyers and sellers through a peer-to-peer marketplace.
In contrast to centralized exchanges, decentralized platforms are non-custodial, which means that when transacting on such a platform, a user retains possession of their private keys.
A decentralized exchange uses smart contracts that self-execute under certain conditions in the absence of a central authority.
These exchanges are spread across servers all over the world, making them nearly impossible to hack.
What Are the Best Crypto Exchanges for Beginners?
Coinbase is one of the most popular bitcoin exchanges and is perfect for beginners, with millions of users regularly.
The site is designed in such a way that newcomers can easily browse through the platform. The Coinbase UI is incredibly user friendly and intuitive. With superb website performance, trade is always just a click or two away.
What Is the Safest Cryptocurrency Exchange?
Various crypto exchanges come with different measures, but Coinbase seems to offer the most security with all assets held in its hot storage and insured and a 98% user fund in cold storage.
Which Bitcoin Exchange Has the Lowest Fees?
Binance has the lowest fees, with 0.02% to 0.10% purchase and trading fees and 3% to 4.5% for debit card purchases.
How Do Crypto Exchanges Make Their Money?
Exchanges source revenue from different sources such as:
- Market making
- Fund collection
- Initial Coin Offerings
- Initial Exchange Offerings
- Tokens, etc.
Conclusion – What Are the Best Crypto Exchanges in 2021?
The best crypto exchanges need to have a little bit of every positive thing around various crypto exchanges.
All the reviewed crypto exchanges have their unique attributes. However, Binance just edges the rest with its all-around features.
With 50+ coins and low fees, Binance is the best crypto exchange all around.
Still, if you’re a newbie looking to learn the ropes, you can’t go wrong with the simple interface of Coinbase. It’s perfect for crypto beginners.
Whichever website you end up choosing, we hope you find the best cryptocurrency platform for your personal needs!