Best Cryptocurrency Exchange Begginer’s Guide

best cryptocurrency exchange

Do you want to buy crypto, and don’t know where to start? Here’s a handy guide to some of the best cryptocurrency exchange websites to help you find yor way.

Here is a list of some of the leading crypto exchanges as a starting point. It’s by no means comprehensive—there are literally hundreds of crypto exchanges, all serving different markets. Nor is it ranked in any way that represents a value judgment. Here a list of some of the leading exchanges out there, particularly for those new to the space.

Remember: Investing in crypto is still high-risk. You should only put in what you can afford to lose—if you choose to invest at all.

Before to begin, let’s have a quick recap of what an exchange actually is. They’re platforms (web sites and, usually, mobile apps) that let users buy and/or sell cryptocurrency, either through trading for other digital currencies or using traditional fiat assets. Some exchanges accept deposits via credit card, bank account, or wire transfer, while others trade in crypto only. Some offer withdrawals to your own wallets, while others do not, and have varying arrays of coins, fees, and apps.

There are also more complicated exchanges that enable users to trade in crypto derivatives, or decentralized exchanges (DEXs) that offer peer-to-peer transactions between users with no intermediary.

With all that said, let’s take a look at some of the biggest names.

Coinbase

What is Coinbase?

One of the most well-known and widely used exchanges in the world, Coinbase was founded in 2012 and reached record highs at the end of 2020, with $89B in trading volume. Because it lets users purchase popular coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum with fiat, Coinbase is often the starting point for most people on their crypto journey. Coinbase itself is more of a brokerage that also offers a virtual wallet. For more experienced users, there’s Coinbase Pro, a more traditional exchange where users can trade with each other using more sophisticated tools such as limit and stop orders.

What coins can I buy on Coinbase?

Coinbase has a total of 75 cryptocurrencies available across its regular and Pro exchange. These include the likes of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), XRP, DASH, DAI, Tether (USDT) and Dogecoin (DOGE).

The exchange also shies away from listing some privacy coins; Zcash (ZEC) is not available to trade for Coinbase users in the UK, while Monero (XMR) is unavailable in any region, with CEO Brian Armstrong stating that regulators are uncomfortable with the cryptocurrency.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Coinbase also doesn’t list rival exchange Binance’s BNB cryptocurrency.

What are the fees like?

You can check out a full rundown of Coinbase and Coinbase Pro fees here and here, but here’s a summary of the fees in general.

How easy is it to use?

The regular flavor of Coinbase is one of the easiest ways for anyone to buy crypto, as it supports fiat purchases using your bank or card details. Coinbase Pro is slightly more complex in that you have to create sell/buy orders, but that’s bread and butter stuff for any exchange, and is one of the first things that neophyte traders learn. The fact that you can transfer assets from Coinbase to your Coinbase Pro account is another handy bonus.

Does it have an app?

Coinbase actually has three different apps, with different functions and target users in mind. Coinbase (for iOS and Android) lets you buy crypto with fiat, while storing them in an in-built wallet. Coinbase Pro, also available on iOS and Android, unlocks the more advanced trading options with buy/sell orders. Coinbase Wallet (available on, you guessed it, iOS and Android) is a third app that actually lets you possess your own coins, using your own private key. This is far better than storing your coins on an exchange wallet, and is always recommended.

 

Kraken

What is Kraken?

Launched in 2013, Kraken is now one of the largest exchanges in the world—the fourth-largest in fact. Available in 48 US states and 176 countries, it was founded by crypto enthusiast Jesse Powell, who was prompted to create his own exchange after the infamous Mt. Gox security breach.

What coins can I buy on Kraken?

Kraken currently sells 77 cryptocurrencies, including BTC, DAI, AAVE, ETH, DASH, and DOGE. Decentraland players can also buy and sell MANA, if they so wish. Brave Browser users can also trade their earned BAT (or snap up some more). Notable coins that are missing from the exchange include Binance’s BNB (spot a recurring theme?) and VeChain (VET).

What are the fees like?

Kraken charges fees for a number of different things. Here’s a general overview:

Kraken’s full set of fees can be found here.

How easy is it to use?

Kraken’s super-clean interface and layout make it one of the best-looking exchanges around. Beginners should find it less overwhelming than other offerings, with fewer charts, graphs and buttons cramming the screen. As with most other exchanges, you’ll need to provide some information and official ID if you want to do anything more than the most basic trades, but once you’ve passed KYC checks, everything is clearly laid out and explained.

Does it have an app?

Kraken offers iOS and Android apps which provide users with a finger-friendly mobile version of the exchange. Having said that, the app isn’t available in certain countries, including the US.

 

Gemini

What is Gemini?

Gemini is another US-based crypto exchange. Headquartered in New York City, it was founded in 2014 by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. In 2016 it became the world’s first licensed ETH exchange. It prides itself on its security measures, which include private keys, password protection, and storing only a small percentage of the exchange’s Bitcoin supply online, to reduce the risk of losses through hacking.

What coins can I buy on Gemini?

Gemini has a total of 68 coins available to trade at the time of writing. These include heavy hitters like BTC and ETH, as well as DAI, BAT, AAVE, Cardano (ADA), Uniswap (UNI), Litecoin (LTC) and more. As with a few other exchanges on this list though. The exchange recently added Dogecoin, though some notable coins are missing from the list, notably Monero, VeChain and (yet again) BNB.

How easy is it to use?

Gemini is a clean-looking exchange, which makes navigation and use easy for beginners and pros alike. The signup process is relatively straightforward, and you’ll need to supply personal information like your name, address, email and more. You’ll also need to complete KYC (Know Your Customer) verification. Unlike other exchanges which accept things like driving licenses, Gemini will only accept valid passports. Proof of address requirements are less strict, and can include things like bills and bank statements.

Does it have an app?

Gemini has an app that puts the features of the exchange in a smartphone-friendly form factor. It’s available on both iOS and Android, and even the Samsung Galaxy Store too.

Binance

What is Binance?

Next to Coinbase, Binance is one of the most recognizable crypto exchanges around, and is the number one exchange in the world in terms of trading volume. Founded in China in 2017 by Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the company moved its headquarters and servers from China to Japan ahead of China’s ban on crypto trading in 2017. Over the years its headquarters have moved, and it was, until early 2020, located in Malta. While it has lots of offices with staff in over 50 countries, its officially registered headquarters is now in the Cayman Islands.

What coins can I buy on Binance?

Binance lists hundreds of coins for users to trade, including BTC, ETH and LTC, along with, of course, its own native BNB tokens. The exchange is continuously growing its collection of listed coins too, and is often seen as the holy grail of exchanges for coins to get listed on, especially by enthusiastic coin communities. And yes, DOGE is also listed, as is Shiba Inu Coin (SHIB), which has found its way onto the exchange despite Binance CEO CZ describing it as “super high risk”.

That’s perhaps no surprise; Binance is adept at rapidly responding to emerging trends in crypto, and quickly listing the latest hot coin; one reason why its list of supported coins is so comprehensive.

What are the fees like?

Binance’s fees are some of the lowest in the industry, made possible, no doubt, by the fact that it’s the world’s best cryptocurrency exchange.

How easy is it to use?

The sheer size of Binance’s coin and trade offerings can be overwhelming for beginners. There’s a hell of a lot to take in, and it can be a bit confusing. Once you understand the basic concept of sell and buy orders though, it’s easy to use, though not quite as accessible as the regular version of Coinbase (which isn’t really a fully-fledged exchange anyway). Binance Academy is a best resource for newbies to learn about cryptocurrency exchange in general, as well as offering in-depth guides to all the trading options that Binance has to offer.

In 2021, regulators around the world turned their attention to Binance; the UK’s FCA issued a warning that the exchange was not permitted to undertake “regulated activity” in the country, while Japan’s FSA warned that Binance was operating without registering with the regulator. Italy’s securities regulator also warned that Binance is “not authorized to provide investment services and activities in Italy.”

While none of these actions amounts to a ban on trading using Binance, several payment channels to and from the exchange have been disrupted. UK banks including NatWest, Santander and Barclays have blocked fiat deposits to the exchange, while Binance has suspended SEPA Euro bank deposits. The Faster Payments service has also been disrupted. Practically, that means it’s now difficult for many people to use Binance as a one-stop shop for buying, selling and trading crypto; instead they’re forced to use the exchange purely for trading, making use of other channels to actually purchase or sell crypto with fiat currency.employ

Does it have an app?

Binance has both an iOS and Android app, both of which bring the functionality of the desktop site to your pocket. The app is highly rated across both platforms—just make sure you’re downloading the official one and not a dodgy copy, especially if you’re an Android user.

FTX

What is FTX?

Launched in May 2019, FTX is a relatively new entry, and is one of the best cryptocurrency derivatives exchange in the world. This means it’s different from your traditional exchange in the sense that users can trade contracts on crypto assets, or buy tokens representing other assets or funds. One example are futures—investments which provide users with an obligation to buy or sell assets at an agreed future date.

What coins can I buy on FTX?

While FTX is primarily a derivatives exchange, it still offers a spot market (more traditional buying and selling orders). It currently offers just over 100 coins including BTC, BNB, UNI, ETH, BAT, and DOGE, with trading pairs including BTC, USDT, and AUD, EUR and USD. Exceptions on the spot trading market include XMR and VET, although they are supported in the futures market. In July 2021, FTX announced that it would limit users to a maximum leverage of 20x.

What are the fees like?

FTX has a tier-based fee structure that’s based on trading volumes in USD.

How easy is it to use?

FTX is a slick, polished exchange, but there are no two ways about it—if you’re a beginner then the options of futures, stocks, leveraged tokens, volatility and more will make for a very confusing and intimidating first impression. That’s not a knock against the exchange itself, it’s just that it’s aimed at experienced crypto users looking for something beyond simple trading.

Crypto.com

What is Crypto.com?

Founded in 2016, Crypto.com was previously known as Monaco, but was rebranded one year later after the (expensive) acquisition of the crypto.com domain. While it’s best known for its Visa card, which allows users to convert their cryptocurrency and spend it anywhere that Visa is accepted, it also has other features—including an exchange.

What coins can I buy on Crypto.com?

Crypto.com has over 120 coins and tokens available to trade at the time of writing against USDT and the exchange’s own native token, CRO. BTC-tradable pairs are reduced to around 26 coins.

Exceptions include XMR, and while BNB is supported in some states, it’s not available in Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont, Washington, Georgia, and Oregon.

What are the fees like?

As with a number of other exchanges, Crypto.com’s fees are volume-based, which means they decrease as your trading volume increases.

How easy is it to use?

The main exchange is easy to use for anyone who’s got to grips with basic trading options. The interface is clean and minimal, and should be easy to pick up. Things get more complicated if you click around and find the likes of derivatives trading of course, but that’s purely due to the experience required to find yourself at home there.

Does it have an app?

Crypto.com has apps on both iOS and Android which makes for a handy way to keep on top of trading, while also checking your Crypto.com card information, if you decide to sign up for one. If you do, you can get up to 8% cashback as well as earning interest on your crypto assets.

eToro

What is eToro?

Founded in 2007, eToro is an Israeli multi-asset brokerage company. It has offices registered around the world, including the UK, the US, Australia, and Cyprus. It added cryptocurrencies to its investment options in 2014, with a crypto wallet for Android and iOS launching in 2018. You can also use the site to trade stocks, currencies, and commodities.

What coins can I buy on eToro?

Currently, eToro lets you trade 28 coins, including BTC, ETH, LTC, DASH, XLM and BNB. That’s the lowest offering on this list, but we expect it to grow over the coming years. It’s also recently added Dogecoin to its roster, though some key omissions include XMR, DOT and SUSHI.

What are the fees like?

The only trading fees eToro charges are for spreads.

How easy is it to use?

eToro is fairly straightforward to use, and it also handily offers a free practice account. Registered users can play around with trading with a fake balance of $100,000, which is a great, unique way to get to grips with everything. Not only that, but you also have the option to copy other successful traders’ investments, with the obvious caveat that there are risks involved.

Does it have an app?

eToro has an app that’s available on both iOS and Android, with the Android app rating a little higher based on user feedback.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.

 

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