What are the best Bitcoin trading platforms?
UPDATE 29 April 2019 – CoinSchedule has recently announced a game changing trading platform rating system, which rates crypto exchanges based on their popularity using several metrics (not just reported volume) combined into a single score called CSRating. We recommend you visit the CoinSchedule Crypto Exchange Ratings, if you want to find the best platform in your country.
Whether you’ve decided to dip your toe into Bitcoin or you’re preparing to make the leap into full-scale trading, you’ll need to find the right exchange for your needs. There are a bewildering number of exchanges out there, so how do you choose the right one? This article will explain what you should consider and list a few highly rated exchanges.
The first decision you have to make when choosing an exchange is what your needs are. Beginners will want an exchange that is easy to understand, for example, while a day trader will be keen on the lowest fees possible. Some users will want to trade multiple currencies or trade between cryptocurrencies, while others are just interested in one.
Choosing an exchange
Start by doing some research on the exchange that you are interested in to make sure that it’s reputable. The exchanges we have listed below are considered reliable at the time of writing, but things change, and you should do your own research too. Look for positive reviews from users, a verifiable history and information about who runs it and where they are based. Does it offer the privacy protection that you expect?
Location is important for other reasons, too. You’ll want the exchange website to be in a language that you speak well enough to understand the details of buying and selling cryptocurrencies, and you’ll want it to be in a jurisdiction that makes it easy for you to resolve any problems that might arise.
Next, consider the fees. Generally, fees are higher for sites that deliver your currency quickly, so if speed is important then you might need to pay for it. Some exchanges have minimum and maximum purchase limits, so make sure the one that you plan to use fits the amount you want to spend. Also, check that the exchange accepts the method of payment that you want to use. Some sites charge higher fees for certain payment methods, such as credit cards.
If you are going to use the exchange regularly then look at the kind of information it provides. Does it offer enough detail for you to make investment decisions? Can you break down your investment performance to focus on certain periods? Does it present the information in a way that is easy to understand? Finally, can you customise the information so that you see what matters to you?
The last thing to consider is what currencies the exchange supports. Obviously, you will want it to accept the fiat currency that you use, and you will want to be able to buy Bitcoin. Beyond that, are you likely to want to buy other cryptocurrencies too? And if so, will you want to use the same exchange for each one?
With those questions considered, the next step to do is investigate some exchanges. We have selected a few below to get you started.
Founded in Malta in 2017, Binance was set up by Changpeng Zhao, who had previously founded a company in China that built high-frequency trading software for brokers. The site claims to have the most volume of any cryptocurrency exchange and is known for having very good mobile apps. Binance is a pure cryptocurrency exchange, which means that you can use it to trade between cryptocurrencies but not with fiat currencies.
Hong Kong based Bitfinex has been operating since 2013 and serves most of the world. It supports a broad range of cryptocurrencies in addition to Bitcoin, offers a mobile app and a fully customisable desktop information system. Bitfinex even offers more advanced features, such as margin trading and margin funding.
A European exchange that offers Bitcoin and a range of other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum and Ripple. It is popular for its low fees and broad range of payment methods. The service is fully automated, so transactions are carried out quickly. Bitpanda was founded in 2014 and has more than 800,000 users.
Based in Seattle in the United States, Bittrex has been operating since 2013 and was founded by three ex-Microsoft employees. It offers a wide range of coins and has good trading volume across all its pairs. Although it is not regulated, Bittrex says it complies with “all current US regulations that help prevent, detect and remediate unlawful behaviour by customers and virtual currency developers”.
Founded in London in 2013, CEX.IO trades cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, for fiat currencies including GBP and USD. It initially offered a cloud-based mining service, allowing people to join a pool to mine Bitcoin, but this ceased in 2015, and CEX.IO continued as a trading platform only. Like some of the more advanced platforms, it offers margin trading and customisable reporting.
A pure cryptocurrency exchange, Changelly is based in Prague in the Czech Republic, and was founded in 2013. What’s unique about Changelly is that you don’t actually need to deposit coins. Instead, you tell Changelly how much of a coin you want to buy and the site tells you how much that will cost in the coin that you are paying with. This means you can lock-in a particular rate without having to wait until your deposit has cleared with the exchange.
Coinbase/ Coinbase Pro
Probably the best known exchange, Coinbase is US-based and was founded in 2012. It’s available in 32 countries and exchanges Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies with fiat currencies. Customers in certain countries, including the USA and UK, can even buy cryptocurrencies with a credit card or a bank transfer. In addition, the company runs Coinbase Pro, designed for professional traders and featuring very low fees for those who trade in high volumes.
If fast transactions are a priority, then Coinmama is worth taking a look at. Owned by Bit Ventures and currently based in Israel, Coinmama was founded in Slovakia in 2013. It operates in almost every country of the world. It’s accepts credit cards and allows high spending limits.
Supporting a huge number of cryptocurrencies and offering low trading fees, Cryptopia is another popular pure cryptocurrency exchange. Its website is a little complicated, meaning that it can be quite difficult for newcomers to get to grips with. The exchange, which is based in New Zealand, was founded in 2014 and offers a very quick initial verification process so that new customers can get going quickly.
Founded in 2014, Gemini is based in New York and regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services. It operates in the US, UK and a handful of other countries but the only fiat currency it accepts is the US dollar. Users can buy Bitcoin, Ethereum and Zcash and the exchange has low fees that decrease as an individual’s trading volume increases.
Another US-based exchange, Kraken is one of the world’s oldest Bitcoin exchanges. It was founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell after he visited the Mt Gox exchange and, seeing how poorly run it was, decided that an alternative was needed. It’s a little difficult for newcomers to understand but popular with established traders.
An alternative to online exchanges, LocalBitcoins is an online marketplace that lets users arrange face-to-face sales. It offers a reputation and feedback system, as well as an escrow facility and conflict resolution service for user protection. Users of the site post what they are looking to buy or sell and by what method. The face-to-face nature means that users are advised to check the reputation of a buyer or seller and arrange to meet only in public places. However, this can be particularly useful in countries where access to exchanges is limited.
Available in 40 countries, Luno is particularly popular in countries where other exchanges are not available, in part because it was the first exchange in South Africa. The London-based exchange was founded in 2013 and claims to have more than two million customers, who can trade fiat currencies for Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.
Supporting around 100 cryptocurrency tokens, Poloniex is one of the world’s largest exchanges. It was founded in 2014 in Delaware, in the USA, and in February 2018 it was acquired by Circle, a Boston based payments startup backed by Goldman Sachs. Poloniex is a pure cryptocurrency exchange.
Founded in 2003 in Cyprus, XTrade is an unusual entry on this list because it handles all kinds of other trades, as well as Bitcoin. You can deal with commodities, CFDs, Forex and many other options. It offers a welcome bonus for new members and a learning section.