Finding the best crypto exchange is not as easy as you would think, mostly because the whole scene is still in early stages with very little regulation. Some of the exchange's owners are fully anonymous, not having top security features, and other issues. This makes you vulnerable to fraud. Maybe the most famous case - Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange "lost" 850,000 bitcoins belonging to their customers. Now worth over $5 billion.
Read my guide and don't let anyone to steal your money. Make sure to bookmark this page as it will be frequently updated.
When it comes to investing in certain coins you should always do detail research. I'm preparing multiple guides, but for now the information below will help in identifying the best exchanges.
Your number 1 concern while buying bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies online should be how secure and trustworthy the exchange is.
- 1 How to buy bitcoin / cryptocurrencies from the exchange?
- 2 The Best Exchanges in 2018
- 3 The Best Specialized Exchanges
- 4 The Best Exchanges For Niche / Small Cryptos
- 5 The largest exchanges
- 6 The best exchange to buy altcoins
- 7 The most secure bitcoin exchange
How to buy bitcoin / cryptocurrencies from the exchange?
Bitcoin exchange sites will almost always have their own detailed instructions to guide you through the process. Once you know the process you need to establish how you want to buy the bitcoin; credit card, cash, PayPal or bank transfer. Always keep your coins stored offline in a “cold” wallet and when it comes time to exchange you can safely transfer to your “hot” online exchange. The coins in your offline wallet will be completely safe so long as the keys have not been compromised.
The Best Exchanges in 2018
This is one of the favorites to get bitcoins with use of a debit card. The site features and attractive interface as well as multiple online wallets for your digital currency. Coinbase.com has over 4,800,000 users which includes 45,000 merchants and 9,000 developer apps and works for American, Canadian and European customers.
- Very easy to use
- Long time customers that remain loyal
- Multiple online wallets offered
- When verifying your account, some additional and time-consuming work is required
Kraken serves many markets and is gradually becoming one of the more reputable brokers. The site works well with SEPA and has a simple verification process making Americans and Europeans love it. Additionally, it is very knowledgeable about cryptography and security. Currently, this exchange is re-positioning itself as a crypto exchange by offering multiple new altcoins.
- Cryptogaphic communications
- Great for Europe and North America
- Has the cheapest rates for trading, deposits and withdrawals
- The site is not as visually intuitive as others
CEX is an international bitcoin exchange accepting euros, British pounds, American dollars, Russian rubles and Zcash and Dash. This site takes a very no-nonsense approach and you are clearly given your options upfront in a very transparent manner. In fact, you know what you are going to pay before you even sign up. This site offers a modern and simple interface as well as good security and options to use both bank transfers and credit cards.
Bank transfers and credit card deposits
Easy to use and perfect for beginners
You get to know what you pay before signing up
Buying and selling of Ethereum is available
Recently Litecoin was unlisted
Also known as Bitsquare, this site is ideal for the more technologically advanced traders. Offering a decentralized p2p platform, there is essentially nothing safer. Over 60 cryptocurrencies can be exchanged through bank transfer, escrow and trusted third parties.
Incredibly advanced (not recommended for beginners)
p2p and the site is decentralized
Trusted escrow system for bank transfers
An advanced level of IT comprehension is required
This exchange is ideal for technical savvy traders and offers good liquidity. Deposits are made in US dollars and can be processed rapidly as can withdrawals. This exchange also happens to be the best Ethereum exchange for all the serious players out there.
An integral part of the trusted and reputable Coinbase brand
Optimized and considered a serious site
More ID processing steps required than on Chinese platforms
The Best Specialized Exchanges
Each site has their own pros and cons so it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Ideally, you want to check out a few and research what people have to say about the services in online forums. Localbitcoins.com is a great p2p bitcoin exchange for beginners and it services all across the world. This means that you can use just about any currency you can think of; euros, pounds, yen, Australian dollars, rubles, Canadian dollars, lira, rupees and Swiss francs to name a few.
Another added bonus to this site is that should you decide to pay in cash, you will get to meet the person in real life. You can also do a quick bank transfer and the site will hold your coins in escrow for you. Using methods such as PayPal is more simple, but there are not many leading bitcoin exchanges that accept this method due to the chargebacks. If this is your preferred payment method, be sue to verify tat the exchange site accepts it first.
Bitcoin - Localbitcoins.com
This site is favored among p2p (person to person) exchanges all over the globe. People prefer the idea of working directly, person to person since you interact directly with the person selling to you. Escrow and dispute resolution are available on this site and of all the exchanges listed here, Localbitcoins.com was one of the first and remains one of the most reputable today.
Excellent way to meet people
PayPal is accepted
No verification is needed
Popular in most countries across the world
Transactions may take longer to conclude, given the p2p logistics
There are some risks associated with protected transactions
Risk of some accounts getting suspended after money has been received
You can sign up right here
The Best Exchanges For Niche / Small Cryptos
Bitstamp is big in Europe and has moved from Slovenia and the United Kingdom trying to find sound regulatory environments. This site offers good volumes so is a sound choice for larger trades. Both euro and US dollar deposits are accepted and people using SEPA and credit cards prefer it too. Bitstamp used to primarily focus on being a purely bitcoin exchange which is rare to see these days. However, recently they have started adding popular cryptocoins.
Card purchases are available in Europe and the United States
Headquarters are located in Luxembourg
Easy to use for beginners
Great for large transactions
Not available outside of the EU or the USA
This decentralized exchange created in 2016 is a newer one and is definitely worth checking out. This site has become the favorite for Ethereum use, without having to use custodial accounts or centralized services. Daily trading volumes are good for the most popular coins and over 325 ERC20 tokens are listed. You must have a Metamask Chrome browser to use this exchange. The best part of this exchange is that your money is always under your full control. This is thanks to the fact that you can store funds in smart contracts to which only you have the private keys.
Funds are very safe on this decentralized platform
No identification, real name or registration is required
High volume ECR20 exchange for Ethereum tokens
Beginners will need to watch a tutorial in order to understand how to use this platform
Paxful gets over 2 million monthly visits, and 50% of those coming from the United States. It is a peer to peer marketplace connecting buyers and sellers and over 150 payment methods can be used. Methods like PayPal, Skrill and NetTeller as well as cash or even iTunes and Amazon gift cards are allowed.
More payment methods than any other exchange
Has higher fees than most other exchange sites
This service gives you a global map of ATMs which allows you to use cash to buy in person at a physical machine. With no verification of ID and by getting to remain anonymous, this is one of the most hidden yet lucrative means of purchasing on the market.
Over 869 machines spread over each continent
You can easily locate locations near you
No ID required in some cases
Provides easy explanation as to how these work
It is not always possible to find a nearby location, depending on where you are
You have to leave your house (not required for other exchanges)
This is the site of choice for those far out countries that are not accepted by the larger exchanges. With this exchange, you can only buy and not sell back.
Allows credit card purchases from nearly all countries
Fees are higher here than on most sites
You cannot sell cryptocurrency back; only buy
This originally was the best cryptocurrency exchange offered. Poloniex has sped through rapid growth since its major rival Cryptsy fell and with the recent addition of the altcoin bubble, it has continued to stay close to the top. Despite people starting to filter over to Bittrex, Poloniex has the nicest interface of any exchange and is ideal for mobile and desktop users. This site is purely a crypto exchange site so you need to remember that there is no depositing of government currency.
The second most reputable crypto exchange
Margin trading is available on largest altcoins
One of the best interfaces for both mobile and desktop users
Has large volumes for all major altcoins, including Ethereum
Reports of user withdraw issues are causing people to leave
Not possible to deposit fiat (government) currency
This is the leading margin trading site. You can trade cryptocurrency derivatives with close to 100x leverage. The designer used his previous skills as an equity derivatives trader to design, build and maintain the perfect platform for users. The idea was to give them exactly what they wanted, and it is the reason Bitmex is so popular. This site is for experienced traders so beginners should avoid it unless they fully comprehend the volatility risks.
Is the leading platform for derivatives and margin trading
Great and functional user experience
Up to 100x leverage offered
The high leverage makes it easy to overlook the implied risk factor, so care needs to be taken.
The largest exchanges
The largest reliable exchanges includes Bitfinex, GDAX, Kraken and Coinbase, each of these representing large volume proportions. Since daily volume will vary, the largest exchange for each day will also vary. When it comes to arbitrage between markets, it is best to monitor the frequent changes and the sites proportional volumes regularly.
The best exchange to buy altcoins
After Cryptsy disappeared, there has been a need for a new first-rate crypto exchange (altcoin), although many feel that having more medium sized exchanges is better than one large one. Bittrex currently seems to be the top dog because of its platform attracting tens of millions of new customers each month. People like Bittrex because the process is smooth and both big and small pairs are offered. Additionally, you can now do cryptocurrency margin trading on major altcoins. Always be careful if you choose to do this because leveraged trading has certain risks. Remember that when looking for the best altcoin exchanges, you can check the top bitcoin sites too; Changelly and Poloniex are examples of two sites that cover both.
The most secure bitcoin exchange
The trust factor is a big one when it comes to exchanges and for many the concept of bitcoin is not synonymous with that of trustworthy. This is understandable given that many peripheral businesses have been hacked. It is important to remember that the protocol itself, never has. Instead of trying to locate the most secure exchange, it is probably easier to locate the least safe and then avoid them.