What are cryptocurrency exchanges?
Cryptocurrency exchanges act like brokerage firms where you can buy/sell or exchange your cryptocurrency or fiat (money) with other cryptocurrencies.
When joining an exchange, you should check out the fees, reputation in the industry, the platform performance, and if they support new, emerging cryptocurrencies.
Here We have compiled the list of our top 5 best cryptocurrency exchanges in our own perusal.
Coinbase Pro is a cryptocurrency trading platform owned and operated by Coinbase Global Inc., an American crypto exchange. Coinbase Pro, formerly known as GDAX, was launched as part of the Coinbase exchange and shares many of the same benefits that its parent company, Coinbase, has to offer. The crypto exchange has a good security system, is easy to use, and supports some of the market’s biggest digital coins, including Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, and Bcash trading.
Coinbase Pro has been active since its launch in 2015 and has been an excellent alternative for professional crypto traders and much more experienced or advanced traders. It has a minimalistic user interface and relatively lower transaction fees. Transactions on the platform are instant once cash has been deposited, and they allow a variety of advanced, high-volume trades.
Coinbase Pro doesn’t charge anything for Bitcoin deposits or withdrawals, making it one of the preferred exchanges for both retail and institutional traders, with institutional traders having the option to open a dedicated corporate account at Coinbase Prime.
Coinbase Pro boasts an excellent security system with numerous measures employed to keep funds and customer details very safe. The crypto exchange also offers regulatory security as all its deposits are FDIC insured (up to $250,000 for customers in the United States). Coinbase Pro has a Coinbase Custody service for institutional clients looking for the highest level of cold storage security for their crypto assets. The exchange has also never been hacked.
- A wide range of cryptocurrencies.
The crypto exchange offers access to over 50 cryptocurrencies to users who can buy and sell them in a fast and secure way. Traders can also trade digital coins like Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.
- Mobile App
Coinbase Pro also has a mobile wallet which is available on the Apple app store and the Google play store.
- Easy transition between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro
Users with a Coinbase account can log into Coinbase Pro with the same credentials and transfer funds between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro wallets instantly and for free.
- Coinbase Prime
Coinbase Prime mimics Coinbase Pro but is designed for corporate professionals.
- Support for Fiat currencies
Coinbase Pro accepts the US Dollar (USD), Euro (EUR), and British Pound (GBP).
- High Liquidity.
Coinbase Pro offers an excellent liquid trading platform. Users or traders can withdraw up to $10,000 per day from an individual account, and $50,000 per day from an institutional account. The exchange also allows higher withdrawal limits upon request and approval.
- Coinbase Pro is not decentralized, which can be a turn-off for some traders.
- Support can sometimes be slower and does not offer live support. Traders with issues are made to submit a request via the email associated with the account, choose the most relevant category and sub-category, and then provide as much detail as possible regarding your issue.
- Beginners or newbies may find the exchange complicated to use.
- Extensive KYC procedures
Gemini is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States. Legally known as Gemini Trust Company, LLC, the cryptocurrency exchange features interest-bearing accounts (enabling you to earn a high annual percentage yield on certain cryptocurrencies), online and offline storage options for individuals and institutions, and the ability to purchase with crypto at select retailers. The exchange is the only crypto exchange to offer interest-bearing account options to traders in all US states.
Gemini crypto exchange was founded by the Winklevoss twins in 2014 and has prided itself on security as it has FDIC protection for USD and has never been hacked. The exchange does not have an account minimum but charges different fees for web and mobile orders. Gemini also offers a learning hub, with lots of learning content on its platform. Its Cryptopedia educational library has one of the most impressive and in-depth collections of Bitcoin learning content. Gemini provides everything you need, from basic information about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to more complex debates about trading, blockchain technology, and more.
Gemini also has a distinct Active Trader platform for more experienced cryptocurrency traders. The exchange offers a wide range of cryptocurrencies to trade and also presents traders with an ecosystem with a suite of unique offerings such as Gemini Pay, Gemini Earn, Gemini Wallet, and more, which sets it apart from the other crypto exchanges.
- Low minimums
Gemini offers very low minimum order amounts. Users can make Bitcoin purchases as low as 0.00001 BTC.
- Wide range of cryptocurrencies
Gemini has over 40 cryptocurrencies for customers in the U.S. to buy, sell, and trade. This includes Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Chainlink (LINK), Dogecoin (DOGE), Polygon (MATIC), Dai (DAI), Uniswap (UNI), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Filecoin (FIL) and many others.
- Strong Security measures
Gemini’s security measures have always been one of its strong features, with the exchange adopting a security-first mentality. The exchange secures users’ digital assets through multi-layered security measures with the majority of the funds held in an offline, cold storage system completely safe from any breach or hack.
A tiny percentage of the funds are kept in an online hot wallet that is insured against theft from a security breach, hack, a fraudulent transfer, or employee theft. Gemini’s insurance policy, however, doesn’t cover losses from unauthorized access to a user’s account. The exchange allows users to make a list of approved addresses that restricts who can withdraw from your account (along with two-factor authentication), but if someone steals your identity, or figures out your password, you may not be able to recover any funds lost.
- Cryptopedia education hub
- A bonus of $150 is available for new users.
When new Gemini users deposit at least $1,000 in Bitcoin within 30 days, they will receive a bonus of $150 in Bitcoin.
- Gemini Pay
Gemini Pay allows users to spend their cryptocurrencies at more than 30,000 retail locations with zero transaction fees.
- Gemini Earn
Gemini’s Gemini Earn is a lending scheme that allows you to lend your cryptocurrency to institutional borrowers in exchange for interest of up to 7.4 percent APY. The exact rate, however, varies depending on the type of currency you deposit.
- Mobile App
Gemini has a mobile app that is available on iOS, Android, and Galaxy devices.
- Available in all U.S states
- Limited payment methods. Gemini has no debit card or credit card payments method and users can’t link either one of them to their accounts.
- Expensive for small trades
- Gemini’s fee structure makes it very expensive for small trades. A $5 worth of Bitcoin will cost a user a $0.99 transaction fee, which will roughly be 20% of the order amount.
- Limited international availability
- The platform may be complicated for absolute beginners
- Poor customer service
Founded in 2011, Kraken is one of the oldest and largest crypto exchanges across the globe. The San Francisco-based company has over 90 cryptocurrencies available to trade, including Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, and many more. Kraken, since its launch, has secured over $118 million in seed funding and has one of the best security systems in place. Kraken has never been a victim of any hack or cyber-attack and offers customers the ability to stake or loan out their digital coins for rewards, all at a relatively lower price than what many crypto exchanges have in place.
Kraken also has a wide array of additional services for both businesses, high-net-worth individuals, and institutions. These additional services include OTC trading, one-on-one consultation services, alongside expert market insights. Kraken is accessible to almost 200 countries across the globe. Kraken describes its OTC trading services as the ideal service for institutions and high-net-worth individuals (investors with at least $1 million) who need to make large orders that might be too disruptive for the open market/Kraken exchange.
Futures trading is also available through Kraken, which has a web platform and two mobile apps solely dedicated to futures trading. (Futures contract is a standardized legal agreement to buy or sell something at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future, between parties not known to each other). Kraken’s futures services also allow you to trade with a loan of up to 50 times your amount.
The crypto exchange comes with helpful tutorials as well as basic and extensive knowledge on cryptocurrencies and how to buy, sell, and trade them. There’s also a video section and a podcast that discusses cryptocurrency trends, markets, and related issues.
- Great Security
Kraken is committed to its security and even ranks first with a perfect score on CER, a crypto exchange security review site. Kraken has several security measures in place, which include storing 95% of deposits in an offline cold storage unit that is spread across the world. The exchange has never been hacked and keeps its servers in secure cages with 24/7 protection by armed guards and video monitor surveillance. Kraken also encrypts sensitive contact information at the system and data level and regularly carries out vulnerability testing of its own system.
- Additional/Advanced Investing Options
Kraken’s additional offer to its clients sets it apart from its peers. Its margin trading allows users to borrow money to fund purchases using their existing investments as collateral. Its futures trading provides another investment option for its users.
Kraken also provides the option of staking so customers can put their funds to work and earn rewards in their wallets as the exchange also has staking rewards in place. Rewards are paid out bi-weekly. Kraken has a WebSockets API that provides real-time market alerts.
- Support for Fiat
Kraken supports seven fiat currencies, which are the United States Dollar (USD), Euro (EUR), the Canadian Dollar (CAD), the Australian Dollar (AUD), the British Pound (GBP), the Swiss Franc (CHF), and the Japanese Yen (JPY). Deposit fees and minimums, however, vary for each currency.
- User-friendly interface
Kraken’s platform is very easy to navigate and takes just a couple of minutes for a user to sign up and be verified. The highest tier, Pro, can take several days as it requires certain documents to be reviewed manually.
- Several deposit methods
Kraken has in place numerous methods by which users can deposit funds into their accounts or wallet. Bank transfer (ACH), SWIFT, Fedwire Wire transfer, Google Pay, Apple Pay, SEPA, Debit/Credit card (excluding US residents), Bank transfer/OSKO, FPS/BACS, CHAPS, and SIC are all methods users can use to deposit funds.
- 24/7 Customer Support
Kraken has great customer support when compared to other exchanges. The exchange has a 24/7 Live Chat available and gives real-time responses unlike some exchanges that direct questions to automated. It is however, limited to live chat alone as there’s no direct phone contact available.
- Mobile App
Kraken has a mobile app that is free to download at the Google Play store as well as the iOS app store. The exchange, however, has three different apps with each performing a different task. The main app is called Kraken, which is the usual app users download, log in and start trading. KrakenPro, the second app, offers advanced trading features, including 5x margin trading, and advanced order types. The third app, Kraken Futures, is designed exclusively for people interested in futures trading.
- Trading fees are relatively higher than some competitors
- ID verification process makes the exchange less private as users’ private information is required.
- High fees for instant purchases
KuCoin is a third-party crypto exchange that allows customers to buy, sell and trade a wide range of cryptocurrencies. The crypto exchange was launched in 2017 and has since become one of the most popular exchanges in the crypto space. KuCoin is ranked 41 on the list of the best and largest crypto exchanges in the world.
KuCoin is super secured, has a user-friendly interface, a built-in P2P exchange, and lists over 400 tokens and digital coins including notable ones such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, as well as more obscure ones such as ERC-20 tokens. Kraken is regarded as one of the cheap exchanges with regards to its low trading fees and earned a reputation early on for adopting new digital coins.
KuCoin has no deposit fees and a 0.1 percent trading fee.Withdrawal fees, however, vary depending on the type of cryptocurrency in use. KuCoin, however, offers lower withdrawal fees relative to other exchanges. Users can buy crypto using a credit or debit card, and also enjoy instant exchange services, the ability to earn crypto by lending or staking through its Pool-X, and can participate in fresh initial exchange offerings (IEOs) via KuCoin Spotlight.
KuCoin also offers a great suite of crypto services, including the fiat onramp, peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace, futures, and margin trading exchange, IEO launchpad for crypto crowdfunding, non-custodial trading, staking and lending, and much more. The exchange also boasts of a native cryptocurrency called KuCoin Shares (KCS) which has a loyalty scheme for users as users holding the token are accustomed to a share of the platform’s profits. These revenues are linked to the fees Kucoin makes via its facilitation of trading.
KuCoin’s customers can also alternatively use either the platform for their daily crypto trading activities or buy and withdraw coins with their private Bitcoin wallets due to the wide range of coins available on the exchange.
- Wide range of coins
KuCoin has over 200 cryptocurrencies available alongside 450 trading pairs. The crypto exchange is also well-known for listing new digital coins that have completed their ICO.
KuCoin offers a Bank-Lever asset type of security. It employs several security measures, including micro-withdrawal wallets, industry-level multilayer encryption, dynamic multifactor authentication, and a special internal risk control department that oversees day-to-day data operations according to strict security requirements. Separate trading passwords, email confirmation on login, and encrypted client data are all top-level measures provided by KuCoin. The crypto exchange has also never been hacked.
- Mobile App
Kucoin has a mobile app that is available to download for free on both iOS and Android devices.
- Crypto Rewards
KuCoin offers crypto lending, Staking, Soft Staking, and KuCoin Shares (KCS) bonuses on how users put their funds to work to generate yield.
- Non-custodial trading.
KuCoin offers users the option of non-custodial trading directly from their private wallet, facilitated by the Blockchain protocol, Arwen.
- Beginner-friendly interface
KuCoin’s platform is intuitive and beginner-friendly. It has an excellent design and is easy to navigate.
- Great customer support system
KuCoin has a 24/7 customer support team in place. There is a live chat option, and users can also contact support through email.
- KuCoin Futures and Margin Trading
- No Bank Deposits
- KuCoin does not have the option of loading your wallet via a bank deposit.
- Not Regulated
- Kucoin is not a regulated exchange, and in the case of any hack, users could lose their entire fund, which may be a turn-off to newbies.
- No offline wallet is offered
- No Fiat trading pair
Started by Changpeng Zhao, Binance is the largest crypto exchange in the world. Binance exchange hosts crypto-to-crypto trades and is home to over 100 million users across the globe. The crypto exchange was started in China but later relocated to Japan after a battle with Chinese regulators. Its American arm, Binance.US, was launched in San Francisco in 2019 and has since grown to be amongst the 10 largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world by trading volume. The crypto exchange’s growth peaked back in January 2018 when they had to suspend new registrations because too many people were trying to open a Binance account.
Binance is now facilitating over a billion dollars worth of trades daily, which makes them the largest exchange for alt-coin trading. The crypto exchange also saw trillions of dollars worth of trading activity in the first six months of 2021. Binance offers over 100 different cryptocurrencies available for trading. This includes market giants such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC), as well as smaller coins like CyberMiles (CMT) and ZCoin (XZC). Users can also sell, buy and trade cryptocurrencies online through the Binance app.
Binance also offers a brokerage service, allowing users to buy cryptocurrencies directly with a debit/credit card or through a bank account transfer. Alongside its brokerage services is a cryptocurrency savings account, which allows users to earn interest on their digital currency investments.
Binance also offers a Visa-backed digital asset debit card as well as a cryptocurrency loan facility. If you currently have an allocation of digital currency, Binance offers a loan that allows you to access real-world cash. The maximum LTV (Loan To Value) allowed by several cryptocurrencies is up to 65 percent. Binance is also the creator of the Trust Wallet, an iOS and Android software that allows you to safely store your cryptocurrency.
The crypto exchange’s American arm also offers peer-to-peer trading as its OTC market in the United States allows buyers and sellers to trade directly. There are no transaction fees, but users are charged the spread between the purchase and sell price. In addition, the minimum trade value is quite hefty, at $10,000.
- Low Fees
Binance fees are among the lowest in the business when trading crypto-to-crypto, which is another great feature of the exchange. Customers are charged 0.1% of their trade value alongside Binance.US.’s 0.5% rate on instant buy/sell for traders in a hurry.
The exchange does not charge anything on deposits. Withdrawal fees, however, depend on the type of cryptocurrency involved in the transaction. Users using a debit or credit card will be charged a 1.8% fee. This is, however, relatively lower than the usual price of $3 and above that its competitors charge.
There are no limits to the value of deposits you make, but if you want to withdraw more than 2 BTC worth of cryptocurrency, then you would need to verify your account further. This can be done by submitting identification, such as your passport. Deposits have no limits, but if a user wants to withdraw more than 2 BTC, that person would need to verify their account by submitting proof of identity, such as your passport.
Binance has several security measures to make sure its users buy, sell and trade cryptocurrencies in a safe environment. The crypto exchange keeps the vast majority of client cryptocurrency funds in cold wallets, shielding them from any hack. There is a 2-factor authentication process that is required whenever a user attempts to log into their Binance account or make a withdrawal.
In addition to that, the crypto exchange also employs email confirmation which will require a user to enter a code that is sent to your registered email address. Binance also ensures a Device/Ip whitelisting as a user will have to go through another process when they attempt to log into their account from a new device or IP address.
Binance also has the SAFU (Safe Asset Fund for Users) in place, which will be put to use should the exchange experience any hack or cyber attack. Binance.US reportedly keeps users’ USD in FDIC-insured accounts, but posts on its official site containing that information have since been deleted. Binance covered all consumer losses after a $40 million hack in 2019, although its U.S. arm doesn’t guarantee the same in case of a breach.
- Number of cryptocurrencies
Binance.US has over 60 cryptocurrencies available for trade on its platform, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and many more.
- Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs
Binance has almost 60 crypto-crypto trading pairs with Bitcoin and nine other digital currencies, including Cardano (ADA), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Binance Coin (BNB), Ethereum (ETH), Chainlink (LINK), Litecoin (LTC), Uniswap (UNI), VeChain (VET) and Tezos (XTZ).
- ICO Launchpad
Binance is known for listing new cryptocurrencies as soon as their initial coin offering (ICO) is completed, making it a favorite amongst the corporate world. Binance, however, does not list just any cryptocurrency. It must first establish itself as a reliable coin before being included on the platform.
- High Volume Trading
Due to the huge number of trades happening on the exchange, as well as its popularity, users can sell, buy or trade their cryptocurrencies quicker if and when they need to.
- Visa Card from Binance
Binance offers a Visa debit card that gives users the option to spend their digital tokens in the real world. Users can use the Binance Visa Card at an ATM to withdraw cash, buy goods and services online, or make purchases in-store. The Binance Visa card also comes with no fees. Cryptocurrency holdings of a user will only be sold at the point of the transaction, so users won’t miss out on potential capital gains. The Binance debit card also comes with various cashback rewards.
- Mobile app
Binance has two mobile apps: the native Binance app, which is in both the Apple app store and the Google Play store. The second app is more of a carbon copy of the main Binance website, which has been fully optimized for smartphones.
Both apps allow users to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. Users can also perform technical research using the Binance app. The apps come with a good security system, including a two-factor authentication process, fingerprint login, and device whitelisting all supported. In December 2020, the exchange released an update of its mobile app to include live price tracking, the ability to automate recurring buys, and more customizable features.
Staking. Binance offers a staking tool that sees user funds locked for a certain period of time to help confirm cryptocurrency transactions. Derivatives. Binance offers both options and futures on Bitcoin and a small number of other digital coins.
- No Fiat Deposits or Withdrawals. Binance does not offer the option of users depositing funds through traditional payment methods. The absence of fiat deposits or withdrawals makes it extremely difficult for newbies to buy cryptocurrency for the first time. Users can also only withdraw cryptocurrencies from the Binance exchange.
- Customer Service. Although Binance has a live chat and email option, there is no phone support. The exchange has received mixed reviews as there have been numerous complaints about the delays in response.
- Not accessible in seven U.S. states. Although Binance.US is based in the United States, it does not provide services to all of its states. Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, New York, Texas and Vermont are states that do not have access to the crypto exchange.
- Regulatory issues . Binance has had some regulatory issues, a factor which saw it relocate from China to Japan. According to Bloomberg, Binance was under investigation by the US government for tax fraud and money laundering as recently as May 2021. Founder Changpeng Zhao, speaking at a tech conference in May 2020, claimed the parent company doesn’t have a headquarters because “Bitcoin doesn’t have an office.”