12 Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges – Buy Bitcoin & Altcoins

Which is the best cryptocurrency exchange for buying or selling Bitcoin or altcoins in 2020? We list and review 12 top exchanges worthy of your consideration.

When trying to decide on the best cryptocurrency exchanges, it is not simply a matter of ranking by volume or performing a broad comparison according to fees, accessibility, trading tools, or other common features.

The 10 Best Bitcoin & Crypto Exchanges
Find a Bitcoin exchange which suits your needs

Most exchanges aim to support a particular type of client based on their location, experience, payment method, need for anonymity and so on, while very few can be considered broad catch-all exchanges designed for a non-existent “average user.”

For example, if you are in Europe or the United states and you are a first time cryptocurrency user you may want to start with Coinbase or Kraken. If you are based in Asia then you may choose Bitfinex. If you already have bitcoin and you want to buy altcoins you may want to choose Binance. And if you want to trade on margin you may want to choose Bitmex, Bitfinex, FTX or Binance.

That is why we decided to offer a list of the best Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges to cover the needs of all our readers.

We will include the top major exchanges that offer the broadest range of services, as well as some smaller exchanges that focus on more specific types of clients.

This way, every reader will be able to find the best cryptocurrency or Bitcoin exchange for their unique needs.

With the Fed pumping trillions of dollars into the US money system in recent weeks, now is as good a time as ever to purchase Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. After all, Bitcoin doesn’t partake in quantitative easing, right? Let’s get started with our list of the top exchanges.

The 12 Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges

This table features the top 12 best Bitcoin and crypto exchanges:

RankExchangeDeposit MethodsFiat AcceptedCryptocurrency SupportedHQ
1Coinbase [Full Review]Credit card, debit card, bank transfer, Paypal, cryptoUSD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD & many moreBTC, ETH, XRP, LTC, BCH, ETC, ZEC, BAT, USDC, ZRXSan Francisco, USA
2Binance [Full Review]CryptoNoneBTC, BNB, ETH, EOS, XLM, ADA, LTC, XRP & 140+ more altcoinsValletta, Malta
3FTX (Full Review)BTC, ETH, Stable coinsNoneBTC, ETH, LTC,BCHHong Kong
4CEX.ioCredit card, debit card, bank transfer, cryptoUSD, EUR, GBP, RUBBTC, ETH, XLM, XRP, LTC, BCH, DASH, ZEC, BTG, GUSDLondon, UK
5LocalBitcoinsCash, bank transfer, Paypal, BTC + many othersUSD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD & many moreBTCFinland
6BitfinexBank transfer, cryptoUSD, EUR, GBP, JPYETH, BTC, LTC, EOS, XRP, NEO, DASH, XMR & more (40 total)Hong Kong
7BittrexBank transfer, cryptoUSDBTC, ETH, LTC, XLM, XRP, PIVX, POLY, REP & more (238 total)Washington, USA
8Coinmama [Full Review]Credit card, debit card, bank transfer, cashUSD, EURBTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, ADA, QTUM, BCH, ETCBratislava, Slovakia
9KrakenBank transferUSD, EUR, GBP, CAD, JPYBTC, ETH, XRP, XLM, USDT, LTC, EOS, ADA & more (20 total)San Francisco, USA
10ChangellyCredit card, debit cardUSD, EURBTC, ETH, XMR, XRP, LTC & many moreValletta, Malta
11Prime XBT [Full Review]CryptoNoneBTC, ETH, LTC, EOS, XRPSeychelles
12BitMEX [Full Review]CryptoNoneBTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, EOS, XRP, ADA, TRXHong Kong
Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Read on to find out the specifics of each exchange

Coinbase

Coinbase was created to be the most trusted name in cryptocurrency exchanges, and in this respect, it is more or less unrivaled in the marketplace.

Coinbase is regulated as a US financial institution, including FDIC insurance for US deposits of $250,000 or less, and is compliant with key EU financial regulations. Coinbase is also backed by major mainstream investors, such as banks and investment funds.

“The most trusted digital currency platform” – Source: Coinbase

This level of trust ensures that Coinbase is the exchange of choice for most beginner cryptocurrency investors, and features a simple design to accommodate this client base.

Unfortunately, this focus on trust means that Coinbase trades in only a limited number of cryptocurrencies, though it does trade in all the top names. Clients are also limited to a relatively small number of countries of origin in North America, Europe, and Oceania.

Coinbase has a fantastic track record when it comes to security, with only 2% of its customer’s funds held online at any one point. Along with its insure-policy, this makes Coinbase one of the safest exchanges to use for users looking to purchase cryptocurrency.

Recently, Coinbase have taken a proactive approach to adding new digital assets, and also support more fiat trading pairs – especially for European and British customers.

For example, Coinbase has just announced trading support for Algorand, Chainlink, Tezos, and added trading pairs in GBP and EUR.

Coinbase have also started taking advantage of the growing decentralized finance (DeFi) hype, which is one of the biggest trend in digital assets to date. Coinbase recently added Compound (COMP) trading, offering its customers access to some of the most exciting projects in crypto.

“At Coinbase, our first priority is to ensure that we operate the most secure and compliant digital currency exchange in the world.”
Brian Armstrong, Co-Founder & CEO of Coinbase
Brian Armstrong

Binance

Binance was founded by Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, a Chinese software developer who previously built systems for the Tokyo Stock Exchange and developed futures trading software for Bloomberg’s Tradebook.

Although initially based in China, a crackdown in regulations on cryptocurrencies there led the exchange to move to Japan. However, when Japan’s FCA issued Binance a warning, they decided to relocate to Malta.

Binance is the exchange of choice for coin-to-coin cryptocurrency trading with some of the largest numbers for available coin pairs and trading volumes in the industry. However since we first wrote this article it has added many new features and now many use it for margin and derivatives trading. As little as one year ago you needed to use Bitmex or Bitfinex to do that, but now it can all be done without leaving the exchange.

Screenshot of Binance’s ‘advanced’ exchange – Source: Binance

However, Binance flagship exchange also does not deal in fiat currency at all, making it a strictly cryptocurrency-based exchange. The base unit of exchange, then, is not USD, but rather Bitcoin itself.

Note: Binance has also launched two fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchanges named Binance Jersey and Binance Uganda.

Binance also boasts low fees for trades and withdrawals. Trading fees are discounted if the user is holding Binance Coin (BNB).

Level30d Trade Volume(BTC)&BNB holdingsMakerTakerMakerTaker
General< 100 BTCor≥ 0 BNB0.10%0.10%0.08%0.08%
VIP 1≥ 100 BTC&≥ 50 BNB0.09%0.10%0.07%0.08%
VIP 2≥ 500 BTC&≥ 200 BNB0.08%0.10%0.06%0.08%
VIP 3≥ 4500 BTC&≥ 1000 BNB0.07%0.09%0.05%0.07%
VIP 5≥ 20000 BTC&≥ 3500 BNB0.05%0.07%0.04%0.05%
VIP 8≥ 150000 BTC&≥ 11000 BNB0.02%0.04%0.02%0.03%

In 2017, Binance became the exchange with the largest trading volume, largely due to its huge selection of crypto assets available to trade. In February 2020, In an effort to sustain its impressive growth, Binance introduced margin trading, which is now available for BTC, ETH XRP, BNB, ETH and TRX.

Binance has made some interesting acquisitions over the years, including Trust Wallet in 2018 and CoinMarketCap in April, 2020.

In July 2020, Binance celebrated a 1 billion USD purchase volume on their Binance USD (BUSD) trading volume, which is a US dollar-denominated stablecoin. The billion dollar milestone for BUSD is a testament to how popular Binance’s trading products have become, as BUSD is an easy way to enter and exit positions.

FTX.com

FTX.com is a revolutionary new exchange which has stormed on to the scene in the last 6 months.

Founded by Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency quant trading firm, it has made a bunch of cool new products. Read our full review of it here: FTX exchange review

FTX has many amazing new crypto products

Leveraged Tokens – Special Erc-20 etheruem based tokens called ‘bull’ or ‘bear’ which represent either a 3x long or a 3x short on an underlying cryptocurrency.

Indexes – Baskets of coins which together represent a certain index and can be traded on perp contracts. For example the ‘Shitcoin Index’ which contains 58 altcoins.

Perpetual contracts – Until recently these were really only available in Bitmex, but FTX has taken these contracts to a new level, offering them on many smaller coins (LEO, TEZOS, BNB, ETC just to name a few.

Presidential 2020 – USA presidential election futures which allow you to either short or long your preferred candidate.

BTC Hashrate futures – Which is a futures contract based bitcoin mining rates.

They also have spot markets in BTC, ETH, BCH, TRX and others, but the focus is more on derivatives contracts.

One of FTX.com’s most innovative – and perhaps amusing – trading products is their Shitcoin Perpetual Futures. This index fund tracks a basket of low-market cap crypto assets, which are commonly referred to as ‘shit coins‘, to give traders either long or short access to 50 different assets at once.

These are just some of the cool features, but there are a bunch more. Since FTX.com’s release, it has consistently performed as one of the top volume crypto derivatives exchanges, and it’s also made great strides in trustworthiness and performance.

CEX.io

CEX.io is a fiat-to-crypto exchange that offers some advanced trading features while still being very friendly for beginners to use.
Otherwise experienced investors who are new to cryptocurrencies often use CEX.io for the kind of trading that they are accustomed to with traditional securities and platforms.

Reasons to choose CEX.io cryptocurrency exchange – Source: CEX.io

CEX.io allows for free bank transfers for verified accounts and charges a small fee for unverified accounts using VISA or Mastercard. CEX.io also features low trading fees.
Most CEX.io users are drawn to the advanced trading features that traditional cryptocurrency exchanges do not generally offer. CEX.io also offers margin trading, which is essential to many trading strategies.
CEX.io does have a limited offering of cryptocurrencies, though it covers all the major coins. It also allows for a variety of coin-to-fiat pairs, including EUR, GBP, and RUB, which most exchanges do not.

LocalBitcoins

best bitcoin exchanges
“Buy and sell bitcoins near you” – Source: LocalBitcoins

LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer exchange for trading between fiat currencies and Bitcoin.

As a peer-to-peer exchange, LocalBitcoins acts as a medium between two parties who decide for themselves how many Bitcoins to trade, at what price and through which method.

This means that people can make personal transfers of both fiat currency and Bitcoin while avoiding any regulations or taxes that they might face for making the same trade on a traditional exchange.

LocalBitcoins allows people from all over the world to trade Bitcoins for any fiat currency based on a peer-to-peer system regardless of local cryptocurrency laws or financial regulations.

LocalBitcoins operates by letting sellers place an advertisement for a percentage cost of the total value of the proposed trade. Buyers can then choose to trade with these sellers based on the offered terms.

Buyers and sellers both have reputation scores based on past transactions, and users must decide for themselves whom to trust.

Bitfinex

Bitfinex is among the most advanced fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto trading platforms, boasting some of the highest liquidity and trading volumes among exchanges.

Bitfinex has few rivals when it comes to cryptocurrency traders who are looking to implement advanced trading techniques and trade large volumes.

Bitfinex offers the full range of features that traders expect from a platform, including advanced order types, margin trading, and a vast range of coins and fiat currency pairs.

Screenshot of the Bitfinex trading platform – Source: Bitfinex

Bitfinex also boasts low fees that are geared toward high-value traders, with fees dropping dramatically as the trade value increases. It is super popular among large traders in Asia and probably has the deepest order books among all cryptocurrency exchanges.

Bitfinex has suffered two major hacks in the past as its massive volumes made it a prime target, but they have since paid back all losses to clients and significantly improved their security set up to be among the best in the industry.

Bittrex

Bittrex is a crypto-to-crypto exchange that was designed with one priority in mind above all else: security. Bittrex is one of the few exchanges that is founded and run in America, so it’s a great option for traders in the US, and it is fully compliant with US’ laws.

Bittrex was designed by a team with decades of experience in security for major software developers, such as Microsoft and Amazon. Bittrex also keeps most of its client funds in cold storage (inaccessible to hackers) and has a robust system for verification.

Bittrex outlines its core values “security first” & “robust trading” – Source: Bittrex

In addition to security, Bittrex focuses on offering an enormous range of crypto-to-crypto trading pairs. It used to have the highest volumes in the industry, but these days it has really lagged behind and lost much of it’s first mover advantage.

While Bittrex may not be the first choice for experienced cryptocurrency traders looking to trade major coins, it is arguably the best exchange for trading less popular coins.

Bittrex does have slightly higher trading fees than most exchanges and accounts can only be funded using Bitcoin, Ether or Tether.

Coinmama

Coinmama is a simple cryptocurrency broker that offers users a quick and easy way to buy coins using fiat currency without needing to store them on a third party exchange.

Coinmama is ideal for people who simply want to purchase a cryptocurrency using fiat money without delays, hassles, lengthy registration, or hacking risk.

“The honest way to buy cryptocurrency” – Source: Coinmama

Most often, people will make an initial cryptocurrency purchase using Coinmama, and then deposit the resulting coins from their personal wallet into a crypto-to-crypto exchange.

In early 2020, Coinmama announced a loyalty program for their highest volume users, offering a way to lower fees by up to 25%. Coinmama offers a three-tiered loyalty program which starts after a minimum purchase amount of $5,000 up to $18,000 over a rolling 90-day period. Users can become ‘crypto curious’ at the lowest tier, all the way up to a ‘crypto believer’ at the highest membership tier.

Coinmama does charge relatively high fees for its services, so it is only recommended for users that are willing to pay a premium for speed, discretion, and simplicity.

Kraken

“Trade smarter. Faster. Easier” – Source: Kraken

Kraken is one of the oldest and largest cryptocurrency exchanges. At one time we felt it was lagging, but it has recently improved a lot. It is also considered to be the most trustworthy exchange in the whole space. It is very good for both a fiat on-ramp and off-ramp.

It trades in both cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies, with a larger number of pairs available than most similar exchanges, though not by an enormous amount.

Kraken caters to advanced cryptocurrency traders by offering features like margin trading, OTC, and futures, though it does also make an effort to be accessible for beginners as well.

Advanced traders will find all the features that they expect from an advanced platform, as well as relatively low fees that scale down with volume size.

Kraken promotes its essential features as having:

  • A comprehensive security approach
  • An intuitive crypto trading platform
  • Fees as low as 0%
  • A global 24/7 support team
  • A range of funding options

Kraken did have some performance issues in 2018 that garnered it a slightly poor reputation, but it has performed problem-free since then.

Changelly

Changelly offers a rare service in the crypto space: fast and anonymous crypto-to-crypto transfers with no third party holding.

Changelly is not designed for investing or trading, but rather as a fast, discreet and efficient means for exchanging the coins in your private wallets.

Changelly is one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges
“The fastest way to exchange crypto” – Source: Changelly

Changelly works by offering you competitive exchange rates for a large range of coins and then making the transfer directly between your own private wallet.

For this service, Changelly charges a higher fee than most trading and investing exchanges, but not excessively so. The premium paid is for the anonymity and simplicity compared to a more traditional crypto-to-crypto exchange.

Changelly does also allow fiat-to-crypto exchanges, but these have notoriously high and opaque fees, and this service is not widely used.

Prime XBT

Prime XBT is a next-generation fiat-to-crypto exchange that offers cutting-edge trading tools, extremely high leverage and pooled liquidity from other cryptocurrency exchanges.

This combination of features makes Prime XBT a top pick among advanced traders looking to capitalize on short term price movements in the top 5 coins.

Screenshot of Prime XBT website – Source: Prime XBT

Prime XBT accounts can be directly funded with Bitcoin or indirectly funded through Changelly using fiat or other coins.

Prime XBT offers by far the lowest trading fees in the industry, as well as the highest liquidity by drawing on the trading volumes from the top 12 existing exchanges.

Prime XBT also has an extremely advanced interface, the ability to short crypto/fiat pairs and up to 100 times leverage, which is far more than the 2 to 3 times leverage offered by even the most competitive trading platforms.

BitMEX

For those who want to increase their purchasing power in pursuit of bigger and faster profits, BitMEX is undoubtedly the king in this area with its cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform that provides up to 100x leverage.

That means if your account balance stood at either $10,000 or 1 BTC, you would be able to trade with funds worth up to $1 million or 100 BTC respectively thanks to the leverage offered. We do not recommend using 100x leverage, as it is a gamble and basically the same as playing roulette in a bitcoin casino.

BitMEX – “The next generation of Bitcoin trading products”

You can see how this has the potential to hugely increase gains, and equally, massively increase losses! And with it widely reported that “95% of traders fail” and lose money across most financial markets, this leverage should definitely be utilized with caution.

Nonetheless, leverage certainly has its benefits and BitMEX is a vastly popular trading platform, so it’s definitely doing a lot right. BitMEX has excellent security, it’s easy to sign up, and allows its users to trade 8 different cryptocurrencies both long and short.

So, whether you’re an aggressive trader looking for big returns, or simply looking for a way to free up some trading capital or go short, BitMEX is definitely a leading exchange that’s worth checking out.

June 2020 update – Bitmex has started to lose its top dog position in the derivatives space due to increased competition and some big liquidation events. It will be interesting to see how the future unfolds for it.

References

  • Forbes – Kraken could be violating regulations
  • The Guardian – Bitfinex clients to share 36% loss
  • Business Wire – Coinbase announces bridge between futures and cryptos

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