If you’re new to cryptocurrency, then finding the best bitcoin exchange isn’t always easy. Everyone has different preferences. So what suits me might not be best for you. Some first-time investors are looking for easy to use exchanges, while more experienced traders might be trying to trade a specific currency.
Since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, we review all of the most popular exchanges and let you decide what’s best for your situation. Like it or not, the best bitcoin exchange depends mostly on what you’re looking for.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the top bitcoin exchanges in the world based on a variety of criteria so you can make an informed decision when deciding where and how to buy bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.
The most mature crypto exchange on the market. The user experience is fantastic. From design to functionality, Cex.io works as good as it looks. Currently, they only support a few currencies but they're actively polling their users to add new trading pairs.
Out of all the cryptocurrency exchanges on the market, Robinhood is hands down the best user experience without exception. Just like the Robinhood Investing App, Robinhood Crypto is easy to use, trusted, and crazy convenient. Since there was so much demand for the new app, unfortunately, it's limited to a few states in the U.S. Hopefully it will be available to everyone soon.
When it comes to cryptocurrency exchanges, size doesn't always matter. Some of my favorite exchanges aren't necessarily the largest in terms of 24-hour trade volume. As an American, I'm not even (technically) allowed to trade from several of them. But in the case of Binance, ranked 4th globally by trade volume, bigger might just be better. Larger volume means greater liquidity, which means faster order matching and a few other benefits.
I'm a big fan of Binance's beginner and advanced trading modes. I think both accomplish their purpose nicely. Overall, I can see why Binance has grown so quickly. It's a nice platform, that's easy to use, and offers excellent liquidity.
If you like to trade altcoins, Binance is a great bet.
GDAX is a sleek professional trading platform created by Coinbase. The automatic account integration with Coinbase makes it easy to transfer funds and adjust profile settings. The platform is incredibly simple to use and combines rich trading features with an intuitive interface. I highly recommend GDAX for anyone already using Coinbase.
Gemini is the first U.S. exchange licensed for bitcoin and ether trading. And while several other exchanges fled New York regulation, Gemini embraced it. Today, they are a regulated trust company by the New York State Department of Financial Services, which will give them a significant advantage as U.S. regulators start to crack down on exchanges in the coming years.
Overall, Gemini is easy to use, provides good customer support and fair fees. They currently offer a super limited variety of trading pairs but there's decent liquidity for those pairs. Gemini delivers on their promise of security, liquidity, and trust.
Coinbase is a stable, well-designed platform for buying and selling cryptocurrency. The founders have intentionally chosen stability over feature bloat. Long waiting periods for funding, few supported currencies and premium fees might deter some users but the overall experience is perfect for beginners.
Kraken offers great volume, responsive customer support and many advanced trading features. My review left me with some technical concerns and it sounds like I'm not the only one. If you're just starting out with trading cryptocurrencies, maybe start with a more beginner-friendly platform.
Initially, I was excited to use Poloniex because of the great variety of trading pairs. Getting verified and buying some altcoins was a straightforward process and I preferred the user interface over several other exchanges. However, after submitting a customer support request and never hearing back, I started to understand why users question the legitimacy of the exchange on social media.
HitBTC offers more than 150 trading pairs, including many newly added ICO tokens and futures. The European-based exchange is the 5th largest by 24-hour trade volume. The platform has low fees and doesn't require an account for basic crypto to crypto transactions, however with a history of hacks and customer support that leaves a lot to be desired, there's better platforms for just starting out.
Bittrex is one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges by 24-hour trade volume. While the platform's liquidity and variety of trading pairs are best-in-class, the user experience leaves a lot to be desired. If you're looking for a specific altcoin, Bittrex might be a good match, otherwise, I'd keep looking.
After buying and selling bitcoin on dozens of cryptocurrency exchanges, you learn a lot about their differences and similarities. For example, while some exchanges are excellent for a first-time investor they might not work at all for an institutional investor. Or if you’re planning on buying and selling a specific altcoin, you have far less options when it comes to exchanges. These seemingly subtle distinctions make a huge difference when it comes time to choose the best bitcoin exchange for your situation.
As a result, our reviews rank each bitcoin exchange against a variety of criteria to help give you an idea of what to expect when you make your final decision. Since our company is aimed at educating first-time investors we do give preference to easy-to-use exchanges. Here are the criteria we use to judge each bitcoin exchange:
The very best bitcoin exchanges are also usually the easiest to use for a brand new user. Our user experience score is based on how difficult it is to perform several basic operations like adding funds to our account, buying bitcoin, selling bitcoin, and withdrawing the funds to a digital wallet. While this sounds pretty basic, some bitcoin exchanges make this process much more difficult than others. In addition, we also look at how enjoyable this process is. Exchanges lost points when the navigation is confusing or basic features are hard to find.
One of the most common misconceptions about cryptocurrency is it’s “lack of security.” Ironically, one of the biggest benefits of blockchain technology, the technology behind bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, is that it’s virtually impenetrable. While the technology is solid, the company’s using it (i.e. cryptocurrency exchanges) sometimes are not. Unfortunately, a few infamous hacks have given rise to the notion that cryptocurrency exchanges are unsafe.
In order to quash this misconception, many exchanges have taken extreme measures to keep user funds safe at all times. This includes bank-level encryption, offline cold storage, and geographically distributed safety deposit boxes storing paper wallets to each account. Our security score can help you see at a glance who is keeping your funds the safest.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s not hard to waste a ton of money paying unnecessary fees at Bitcoin exchanges. Fees vary from free to completely outrageous, depending on the company. Our payment and fees section will help you understand exactly how much each exchange charges you to transact in cryptocurrency.
The technology score determines how reliable is a the Bitcoin exchange. Does their platform have frequent outages or 404 errors, and quickly do they respond to technical issues? The best exchanges usually have a dedicated page showing uptime and any other tech-related issues. When choosing the best Bitcoin exchange, it’s important they have it together from a technology standpoint.