It’s a question which surfaces daily on Telegram, Twitter, and Reddit: “Which exchange should I join?” The cheapest and most reliable means of purchasing cryptocurrency is generally through an exchange which will take your fiat currency and swap it for crypto. But with dozens of exchanges to choose from, each offering different features and currencies, the choice can be bewildering. The following guide will help you make an informed decision.
What’s in an Exchange?
There’s a number of factors to weigh up when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange. These include customer service, uptime, security, track record, currency pairs, ease of use and – most importantly – whether it’s accessible from your country. The following list provides a rundown of the features and benefits of some of the web’s most popular exchanges. It’s not exhaustive, and none of the sites included here are endorsed by news.Bitcoin.com. Bear in mind also that storing bitcoin on an exchange comes with its risks. To learn more about this, read our first Bitcoin for Beginners guide.
The world’s most popular bitcoin broker, Coinbase will also hook you up with litecoin and ethereum and operate as your online wallet. It’s not an outright exchange, however, so if you’re wanting to trade multiple altcoins, you’ll need to send your cryptocurrency somewhere like Poloniex or Bittrex. Coinbase is easy to use, has above average customer support and a good mobile app. It’s also one of the safer exchanges for storing your coins, thanks to full insurance and robust security. No exchange is impregnable, but Coinbase is about as good as it gets.
Bittrex – or ‘trex to its devotees – is where altcoin traders gather en masse. The site has a good security record, is user-friendly, and boasts hundreds of cryptocurrencies, paired against the U.S. dollar, bitcoin, litecoin, and ethereum. Bittrex has no mobile app unfortunately and of late the exchange has been slow to add new coins and tokens. Thus, if you want to purchase many of the latest ICO tokens, you’ll need to go elsewhere – usually to Binance.
Binance is the new Bittrex. It’s a community-focused exchange which exudes a friendly vibe, regularly lists new coins, and has high trade volume which recently surpassed $1 billion a day. Despite being one of the newest cryptocurrency exchanges on the market, Binance has built up a solid reputation. Traders can enjoy lower fees when they use the site’s native BNB token.
If Binance is the new Bittrex then Poloniex is the old ‘trex. This seasoned exchange is loaded with a vast array of altcoins including many that are hard to find elsewhere. Despite rumors of poor security, Poloniex hasn’t suffered any major breaches to date. Its customer service is notoriously bad though, and whatever you do, don’t try to download the Poloniex app on the Google Play store – there’s a good chance it will be a fake that steals your funds.
Bitfinex is the world’s largest exchange by volume, with high liquidity, an excellent trading engine, and a range of advanced features including margin trading. It lacks the choice of coins that the likes of Bittrex and Poloniex carry, but in almost every other respect, Bitfinex is the gold standard for cryptocurrency exchanges. There’s just one major problem – Tether.
To cut a long story short, some people question the liquidity of ‘finex, and are worried that it could collapse, dragging everything down with it. These rumors are probably false, but until Bitfinex clears up the matter, doubts will persist. Read up on the affair and then make up your own mind. Oh, and Bitfinex has been hacked before – three times to be precise.
Kraken would be an excellent exchange were it not for the fact that its trading engine is a piece of crap and the site is prone to crashing due to high volume at any given moment. The company is working to remedy these problems, but right now Kraken is patchier than grandma’s hand-sewn quilt. On the plus side, the exchange has high liquidity, a fine range of trading pairs, and its Twitter staffer is a hoot. If you like your exchanges humorless and corporate, use Bitfinex. If you prefer the human touch, try Kraken.
Europe’s largest bitcoin exchange offers trading pairs of bitcoin, bitcoin cash, and ethereum. The site has been hacked in the past, but as one of the web’s oldest bitcoin exchanges, Bitstamp has weathered the storm and is well regarded within the cryptocurrency community. Bitstamp is the most conservative exchange out there, so if you see the bitcoin price lagging behind that of other sites, you’ll know why. It’s for this reason that news.Bitcoin.com uses the Slovenian exchange as its reference price for bitcoin, cos when BTC passes a milestone here, you can bet that it’s the same story at every other online exchange.
The foregoing exchanges are accessible to customers from a vast number of countries, though check the terms and conditions for each site to ascertain whether you’re eligible to sign up. To round things off, here’s a few words on some of the world’s most popular regional exchanges:
Coincheck: Hugely popular Japanese exchange that offers trading of bitcoin, ethereum, and ripple against the yen.
Coinone: Major South Korean exchange with no trading fees that often leads the way for bitcoin cash rallies. The site generates significant trading volume and offers bitcoin, ethereum, and others priced against the Korean won.
Bithumb: One of the world’s largest exchanges, this titan dominates the South Korean market and offers bitcoin cash, ethereum classic, dash, and litecoin trading, to name a few. Bithumb has been hacked before, but this hasn’t dampened South Koreans’ enthusiasm for the site.
Bitmex: Famed for its futures trading with up to 100x leverage. Bitmex is based in Hong Kong and allows traders to go long or short on currencies such as bitcoin and bitcoin cash.
Bitflyer: Japan’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange now has a U.S. presence too. Bitflyer offers margin trading of ethereum and bitcoin.
GDAX: An offshoot of Coinbase, GDAX covers most U.S. states and offers bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin trading.
There’s many more exchanges that could make this list, but these are the main players at least. If you’d like to learn more about their trading volume and trading pairs, sites such as Coinmarketcap and Coincodex will tell you all you need to know. Good luck and safe trading.
What’s your favorite bitcoin exchange and why? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Author: Kai Sedgwick