So you’ve just picked up your first bitcoins and ether, and now you’re looking to start diversifying your cryptocurrency portfolio by trading into some promising altcoins. Welcome to the new wave of crypto traders.
The good news? There’s lots of intriguing altcoins to trade into right now, and trade volume is booming globally like never before. The even better news? There’s an array of respectable cryptocurrency exchanges that have the liquidity and listings you’ll need to “spread the love,” as it were.
And while all exchanges are different in what they bring to the table, you’ll find that each one has their own perks and cons. It’ll be up to you to decide which ones you like best.
Until then, though, we’ll walk you through the top cryptocurrency exchanges so you can start making up your own mind.
Based out of Asia, Binance just launched in 2017, but it’s been exploding in popularity ever since. It’s become a first-mover exchange for listing new altcoins earlier than just about anyone else in the industry.
We are big fans of Binance here at Blockonomi and recently added them to our Best Exchanges for Beginners roundup.
So, if you’re keen on getting stakes in altcoins immediately post-ICO before most other investors do, definitely sign up for an account on Binance.
Read our full review of Binance here.
Unlike with some other exchanges, when you’re dealing with Binance you’ll have the opportunity to interface with two different trading UIs. One “basic” and one “advanced.” Don’t let that distinction fool you, though, because both of these UIs are a bit more confusing than other popular exchange UIs.
Once you get the hang of these interfaces though, the advanced set-up has a lot of great perks. For one, it allows you to conduct historical and projective technical analyses on given cryptocoins at your leisure.
As far as verification levels go, Binance is straightforward. For new users who haven’t passed the first level, you’ll be subjected to a 2 bitcoin daily withdrawal limit. Pretty fair. However, if you achieve level 2 verification, then you’ll be allowed to withdrawal as many as 100 bitcoins each and every day. It’s worth it to verify if you’re doing massive trades, then.
KuCoin is another exciting new cryptocurrency exchange that’s based out of South Korea. They’ve angled themselves similarly to Binance, in that they list new altcoin projects earlier than most other international crypto exchanges.
Another cool perk? KuCoin confirms your crypto deposits super fast. Traders can get to trading right away! That’s because KuCoin promised to have digital assets credited to your account after only seconds of your transaction being initially confirmed.
One of the most interesting proprietary aspects of the exchange is its KuCoin Shares (KCS) ERC-20 token. The exchange incentivizes the use of these tokens by giving users a great discount on platform fees for making trades in KuCoin Shares instead of, say, BTC or ETH.
And what’s even better is that 90 percent of the exchange’s fees are returned to users through the KCS token. Users get “dividends” of ETH just for holding KCS, then.
Another advantage that KuCoin has over other exchanges? 24/7 customer support that addresses problems in minutes.
BitMex is an exchange for more advanced traders who wish to utilize margin trading which allows you to trade with a bigger balance than you have available and go “long” or “short” on Bitcoin, essentially betting on the movement of prices. We recommend you take a look at our detailed review of this platform before trading on BitMex.
GDAX is an outlier, in that it provides fewer trading pairs than other popular exchanges: you’ll only be able to trade between Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and fiat currencies like USD and EUR. But it’s got all the volume you need and a level of professionalism that other exchanges are trying to emulate.
Only cool point worth highlighting is the fact that Coinbase is going to begin launching support for Bitcoin Cash (BCH) starting on January 1st, 2018. This is in line with the company’s recent declared intentions to add new altcoins soon.
As far as buying crypto on Coinbase, you have two different payment options. The easier and more straightforward option is using a credit card. However, if you’re seeking to do some more serious buying and selling, then you can link your bank account to the exchange. All that will take is Coinbase sending your bank account two microtransactions. Once you tell Coinbase how much these transactions were for, you’ll be linked up!
The major advantage of Coinbase is that it’s arguably the most secure cryptocurrency exchange presently available. In being a U.S.-based exchange, Coinbase can’t flout regional and national regulations in the same way that off-shore exchanges can. That means Coinbase has to hold itself to higher safety standards in every way compared to typical exchanges.
Billing itself as the “next-generation digital asset exchange,” Gemini is a U.S.-based and U.S.-focused cryptocurrency trading exchange, as it only allows American investors to become members. Keep that in mind before you sign up.
The exchange was founded by the tech venture capitalist Winklevoss twins back in 2015 as an outlet for providing U.S. traders with an accessible crypto trading interface.
Signing up for Gemini is very easy, which is great. All you’ll need to do to start is to send them your email address. They’ll follow that up by sending you a so-called “registration token.” You redeem this token back on the Gemini site at which point you’ll set up your phone as well as two-factor authentication. After you’ve got these parts down, Gemini will send you a text message with a code. Input this code on the exchange, and you’ll be all set up!
One cool benefit of the exchange? No deposit or withdrawal fees. The only fee you have to contend with is a trading fee. This fee is .25 percent per buy and sell.
Read our Full Review of Gemini Here.
Bittrex is another U.S.-based trading exchange that has the perk of offering over 250 trading pairs. That’s a lot of altcoins you can invest into for being just a single exchange!
That dynamic is obviously Bittrex’s most obvious advantage. And the exchange has been really good about crediting customers’ accounts with hard-forked coins, so they’ve demonstrated trustworthiness and a desire to take care of their users.
Read our full review of Bittrex here.
Unsurprisingly, Bittrex’s most popular trading pairs are BTC and ETH. It must be noted that the exchange currently does not offer any kind of fiat-to-crypto pairs, e.g. with U.S. dollars, euros, or British pounds). One thing investors can do is buy USDT (Tether tokens) via wired bank transfers in order to use USDT for crypto-to-crypto exchanges.
However, you’ll need to be fully verified and willing to slap down at least $10,000 USD for Bittrex to even consider the transfer. And we here at Blockonomi don’t remind this approach anyways; there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Tether lately, and it’s best just to stay away for now until further developments actualize.
Bitstamp is a Luxembourg-based crypto exchange that caters to European clients. For now, investors can trade in U.S. dollars on the site, but it’s compatible with the European Union’s Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) which is convenient.
And with API customization, investors can fine-tune how they use and facilitate their accounts. That’s a big perk for big-time traders.
And Bitstamp is extremely trustworthy, being one of the space’s oldest exchanges after opening in 2011. Indeed, Bitstamp was originally created to compete with the now-infamous Mt. Gox exchange, so you can clearly see who won that competition!
We don’t recommend this particular exchange for complete beginners, though. The user interface is a bit complicated and can prove slightly overwhelming for new users in the ecosystem. If you don’t mind getting over the learning curve, then Bitstamp is excellent for European customers because the exchange is fine-tuned to service European bank accounts.
Coinone is the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea. As such, it handles some major volume because South Korean investors are driving a huge amount of the globe’s crypto trading volume right now.
It’s trading pairs are based on the Korean currency KRW, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.
You’ll find staples like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Ripple, QTUM, Litecoin, and IOTA on coinone, and the exchange’s low fees are attractive to many. So attractive that some users swap dollars or euros into bitcoins and then buy KRW to send remittances to family and friends. Innovative, right?
While operating out of the U.S., Kraken is an exchange that services investors in America, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Accordingly, they offer crypto trading pairs for USD, EUR, GBP, and JPY.
They’ve dubbed themselves the “world’s largest bitcoin exchange in euro volume and liquidity.”
And Kraken is known for its strong security measures, so they’ve got that going for themselves. That’s because Kraken is meticulous, holding virtually all of their bitcoins offline in “cold” wallets. This prevents the kind of devastating attacks that many exchanges can be prone to. This means Kraken only holds what it needs for trading, making everyone’s holdings safer.
And after Mt. Gox’s fiery implosion, Kraken went through the trouble of completing a third-party audit that cryptographically verified the integrity of Kraken’s holdings. And that’s not all either. Kraken also has its servers distributed in multiple locations and uses armed guards and hi-tech verification practices to ensure these servers can never be physically or remotely compromised.
Formerly a cloud mining company, CEX.IO has shifted into the cryptocurrency exchange industry and hasn’t looked back since. Now, the European-based exchange provides its traders with listings of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dash (DASH), Zcash (ZEC), and Bitcoin Gold (BTG).
Worth noting is that CEX.IO has implemented Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) measures. These means you’ll need to verify your identity before trading.
Read our Full Review of CEX here.
One of the downsides of using this particular exchange is that its fees for purchases made through credit cards is a bit painful. The trade-off is that it’s convenient to use a credit card, so it’s a give and take dynamic. And their are other painful fees that may turn off many investors. Consider how U.S. users have to endure a $50 withdrawal fee. That’s not very popular as you can imagine.
A cool advantage of using CEX.IO is that it allows investors to simply buy denominations of bitcoin according to preset fiat amounts. For example, the exchange lets you buy BTC in $200 and $500 increments. That can simplify the buying process for newcomers considerably.
Bithumb has the distinction of facilitating the highest amount of cryptocurrency trading volume in South Korea. Which is already saying something, since South Korea has had an explosion of volume in recent months.
One of the cooler aspects of Bithumb? The exchange lets you buy Bitcoin vouchers as gift cards that you can then give to family members, friends, and co-workers.
The accessibility is why Bithumb carries over 75 percent of all bitcoin trading volume in South Korea as of late. That also means that South Korean buyers are now responsible for over 10 percent of bitcoin’s international trading volume. Woah! Even 50 percent of the nation’s Ethereum volume occurs through Bithumb.
These are impressive numbers to say the least, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the exchange. Bithumb was hacked in the summer of 2017, and more than 30,000 users tragically had their on-site addresses emptied. The company will need to crackdown so something like this can never happen again.
Poloniex is yet another U.S.-based crypto exchange. And in trying to play by America’s rules, Poloniex also has stringent KYC and AML guidelines that users have to adhere to.
So, traders won’t enjoy perfect anonymity on Poloniex, but it’s a solid option if you’re shopping around for what exchange feels best to use. People like different things, and Poloniex might be right for you.
If you decide to sign up for Poloniex, you need to provide your nation of residence, your full name, and your email. At this point, you should have you account confirmed soon, and you can start trading. The first verification level on the exchange will let you withdrawal as much as 2,000 USD per day.
Taking things a step further, you can get tier-two verification by forking over your:
- phone number
- ID scan
- a picture of you holding your ID
If you get accepted at this point, you’ll be able to withdrawal 25,000 USD every day.
Our final cryptocurrency exchange to be discussed today is HitBTC. It’s a European-based exchange that’s been open for several years now, having started in London back in 2014. That’s practically ancient history in the cryptocurrency space.
Thus in having been open for so long, HitBTC has been able to build trust with its users in ways newer exchanges haven’t been able to yet.
The exchange offers all the usual trading possibilities, with other coins as well like Monero (XMR).
The most interesting aspect of HitBTC is that it lets users do demo trading. Instead of having to put any money on the line, you can learn the ropes of crypto trading by playing with demo crypto on the site. Very useful for newcomers! As such, this particular exchange is a great place to start if you want to get comfortable with how trading feels like before you actually put any actual money on the line.
Words Of Warning For Traders
No matter how convenient or trustworthy these exchanges seem, you have to realize that if you don’t have direct, sole control of your crypto private keys, then you don’t have sole, complete control of your holdings.
Exchanges have been hacked in the past. Passwords are forgotten. Rogue employees can compromise wallets. Bugs can trigger flash crashes that cause investors to lose millions of dollars.
Indeed, loads of different “black swan” events are in play for exchanges while the space is still so premature.
The safest thing you can do with your cryptocurrency investments is to park them offline in a hardware wallet. But if you’re determined to get some trading done, just do so with the full cognizance that you’re taking on a fair degree of risk.
The most important thing you can do is to try avoiding keeping your holdings on trading exchanges indefinitely. These exchanges are NOT designed for long-term crypto holding.
At most, keep a trading stack on the exchange or exchanges of your choice so you can trade quickly if you need to. But your trading stack should never be your entire portfolio.
You should get your desired trades done quickly, and then get your funds into a wallet you control. That way, if your favored exchange experiences any catastrophic events, your hard-earned crypto trove will be safe and sound indefinitely.