Coinbase? Kraken? Bitstamp?
If you wanted to buy BTC back in 2012, these would be your main options. Today, the choice is overwhelming. With over 100 new platforms out there, how can you find the best cryptocurrency exchange?
Which Is the Best Exchange for Cryptocurrency?
From a glance, the top 10 exchanges seem to have similar features. As someone new to crypto, you wouldn’t notice much difference. But when trading larger amounts, it can cost you thousands of dollars.
Does that mean that cheaper is always best? It depends on what “best” means for you. Generally:
- Beginners prefer accessibility. A platform to trade with minimum commissions, multiple payment methods, and low withdrawal fees.
- Active traders look for functionality. An exchange with high transaction speed, investment features, and hundreds of currencies.
- Bigger investors prioritize security. A platform you can trust that doesn’t collapse on high-volume days, offers quality support, and has no recent hacking attacks.
The best exchange doesn’t need to be the best at all three (otherwise it wouldn’t be cheap). It needs to be the best on what you value. Here’s the best crypto exchange in terms of fees, variety, and security (with some alternatives).
Best for Low Fees: Binance
For years, Binance (and Binance US) and Coinbase have rivaled for worldwide adoption. As for 2021, Binance trades a total volume of $70 billion, ten times higher than Coinbase. While there are in-depth reviews, transaction fees make the difference.
0.1% order commissions (25% discount if paying fees with BNB). When you sign up under referral links, more discounts apply.
You could also save on crypto rewards, as there are always trading competitions.
While Binance isn’t available in the US, Americans can still use Binance US (fewer features, same transaction fees). If you want an alternative, KuCoin is its closest equivalent. And if you’re looking in Europe specifically, consider CEX.io.
Best for Coin Variety: Gate.IO
You can get the best returns in crypto by investing early in new projects (if you know how to research). The problem is, you won’t find these listed on platforms like Binance or Coinbase. And by the time they are, you’re no longer an early investor.
That’s because traders instead buy from platforms like Gate.io. There are 500+ cryptocurrencies listed, including future launches. If it has trading volume, it’s probably on Gate.io. ()
The platform claims to use both centralized and decentralized methods. Which in practice means:
- Gate.io isn’t regulated by any authority
- Transactions are faster and low-cost (0.2% fee)
- To complete orders, it uses liquidity pools and AMMs (see DEXs)
Like traditional exchanges, Gate.io stores your crypto in an exchange wallet. And because it relies on liquidity pools, cryptocurrency exchange rates will vary.
While Gate offers great variety, it’s not the best for withdrawals. It’s free to deposit crypto (unless you’re buying from the platform), but withdrawals require KYC. And while there’s no minimum deposit, there is a minimum to get out money.
You can only withdraw main tokens (unlike Binance). If you hold micro-caps, you need to convert them to BTC or USDT (0.2% fee).
Besides Gate.io, you can find similar features on the Godex crypto exchange and DEXs (Uniswap, Quickswap, Compound). You can add unlisted coins by copying their address from CoinMarketCap. ()
Best for Security & Support: Kraken
Kraken trades a total of $1.79B. And while it’s not the most popular, it’s one of the oldest exchanges that have never been hacked. Possibly the safest exchange wallet since June 2011.
When Bitcoin price is volatile, the big platforms are the first ones to collapse. You may find your stop-limit orders don’t execute, withdrawals get delayed, or pages don’t load. While Kraken is no exception, its $1.79B volume makes it more manageable than Binance (founded in 2017).
But if you had to pick one feature, Kraken wins in customer support. If you contact them on business days, they’ll respond within an hour (unless they get too many requests), solving your issue the same day. The same issues would take weeks of going back and forth if you traded on Coinbase or HitBTC (Binance is also improving on customer support).
Kraken charges 0 to 0.26% in fees (depends on your trading volume). New members get all basic features, and you can unlock more by verifying your account (KYC). Withdrawals are worldwide available: 20 USD minimum plus $4–$5 withdrawal fee completed in 1–5 business days.
Pro accounts (verified) get instant withdrawals with no minimum amounts nor fees.
The Best Exchange for Cryptocurrency?
Just like markets change all the time, so do exchanges. New platforms appear while the old ones update their features. The best exchange today may have nothing to do with what’s the best tomorrow.
Make sure you have enough options and not just stick to the most popular one. And if you have a favorite exchange, it’s smart to have a second one just in case.