Not so long ago, I also had trouble getting the whole concept of buying cryptocurrencies right.
I bet even the veterans out there might agree with me that the process could be quite confusing when starting out.
However, in this cryptocurrency exchange reviews, I will show you how to get started on some of the best cryptocurrency exchanges so you can start trading today.
Let’s get right to it!
What is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform where users get to buy, sell, or exchange cryptocurrencies for other virtual currencies or fiat currencies such as the USD.
Users who would like to trade professionally and enjoy fancy features on trading platforms may be required to set up an account with an exchange that requires you to verify your account with documents such as your personal identity card or your driver’s license.
However, if all you need is to make an occasional type of trade, there are exchanges that cater to that too. Such platforms do not require one to set up an account before gaining access to the exchange.
Types if cryptocurrency Exchanges
Exchanges can be classified based on tradable currencies.
In this case, we classify these platforms as fiat exchanges and crypto-to-crypto exchanges.
Crypto-to-Crypto Exchange: This type of exchange only permits the exchanging of one cryptocurrency for another. One of the commonly traded pairs is Ethereum and Bitcoin.
Fiat Exchange: In this type of an exchange, cryptocurrencies are exchanged with state-backed currencies such as the Euro and the USD.
Cryptocurrency exchanges can further be classified as follows.
Trading platforms: These are platforms that connect cryptocurrency buyers and sellers and charge transaction fees on members’ transactions.
Direct Trading Exchange: This type of exchange provides a platform for person-to-person trading where traders from all around the world can exchange currencies. On such platforms, sellers are allowed to set prices for their respective coins.
Brokers: Broker exchanges are any websites that any trader can acquire coins at a price set by the broker. These are more or less the similar to foreign exchange dealers for fiat currencies.
What to Look Out for Before Joining an Exchange
It is vital to understand the type of exchange you wish to join before making any form of commitment. Below are some of the things to consider when looking to join an exchange.
Reputation: This is the first thing you need to consider prior to transacting on any platform. One of the best ways of getting to know the true reputation of any exchange is by analyzing the various reviews both online and offline regarding an exchange. You can also drop a question about an exchange on forums such as Reddit or ICO Watch List and collect reviews from the answers provided.
Fees: You should expect all websites to charge you some form of fee for using their platform. Prior to signing up on a crypto exchange, make an effort of finding out about all the types of fees charged for various transactions on a given platform.
Verification Requirements and Security Measures: These two parameters are very important if you’re to operate on any platform successfully. A good number of exchanges will require identity verification when signing up using documents such as a passport, proof of residence, driver’s license, or related documents prior to joining their platform. A rule of thumb is that the more complex the verification process, the safer the platform.
Payment Methods: What payment methods does a platform offer? Do they accept credit or debit cards? What about PayPal and wire transfers? If the payment methods are too limiting, it may not be convenient for you to trade on it. One thing to have in mind is that when purchasing cryptocurrencies using a credit card, you will be required to verify your identity and, most likely, you will be charged a premium for risks associated with fraud.
Another thing is that banks take longer to process wire transfer transactions relating to cryptocurrency purchases due the longer verification process involved.
Exchange Rates: Most exchanges have different rates and you may be surprised at how much you can end up saving by shopping around for the best rates. It is not surprising to find rates fluctuating up to 10% or higher among crypto exchanges.
Region: You’ll need to identify an exchange that operates in your geographical location. You may find an exchange supporting all the countries in North America but none in Asia or vice versa. If you’re a resident of the US, for instance, be sure to go for the best platform operating in the US.
That said, let’s now look at some of the best cryptocurrency exchanges in the market.
Top-Rated Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Coinbase is one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges backed by trusted investors and used by millions of individuals across the world.
It allows users to conveniently and securely purchase, use, store, and trade digital currencies.
With the use of a digital currency, users can buy Ether, Bitcoin, and Litecoins from Coinbase through trading with other users on the Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX) of the company.
When using GDAX, Coinbase doesn’t charge any fees for transfers between a GDAX account and your Coinbase account.
Coinbase Payment Methods
Coinbase has flexible payment modes. This is in fact, one of its unique advantages.
As at the time of piecing about this article together, Coinbase permits purchases using debit and credit cards, SEPA transfers, ACH transfers, and Xfers transfers.
However, at the moment, US residents are not allowed to make purchases on the platform using credit cards. You may find it useful to know that most other exchanges also have this measure in place.
One awesome feature with Coinbase purchases is the ability to make recurring buys. This means that you are allowed to select an interval to average your cryptocurrency purchases. Cost averaging provides the mean price of a currency over a certain period of time, which can be quite useful in covering cryptocurrency volatility.
Transaction Limits and Coinbase Fees
Coinbase applies the same transaction fees for every trader.
But when it comes to transaction limits, users can increase their limits by adding more information about them on the platform.
This can mean adding a valid phone number and confirming your email address to increase your daily or weekly limits.
Here is a breakdown of Coinbase Fees and Limits.
|Payment Method||Debit Card||Credit Card|
|Delivery Time||Instant||3.8 days|
|Weekly Limits||Initially $100 but can be increased.||Initially $2,000 but can be increased.|
Is Coinbase Safe?
So far, Coinbase has had no known hacking history. The platform limits the risk of enticing hackers by keeping only 2% of the cryptocurrencies in the online exchange – the rest is maintained on a cold storage device.
However, if any loss of cryptocurrencies occurs on Coinbase, they are fully insured by Lloyds of London.
Any account with $250, 000 and below is also FDIC insured.
In addition, Coinbase has a two-factor authentication that allows its users to link a second device when signing up. The device receives a code upon signing up; the code must be entered before expiry during the sign-up process.
Users are advised not to use SMS for the two-factor authentication since it’s not very secure. Google and/or Authy authentication are highly recommended.
How to Get Started on Coinbase?
To start using the Coinbase exchange, you’ll need to create an account.
The initial stages of the sign-up process will only require a few details.
You will have the option to create a personal or an institutional account. Users who wish to use Coinbase merchant services will be required to create an institution account.
After filling in the required information, click on “create account”. You will need to verify your account details such as your email address and your phone number.
Once this is done, link a payment method and you should be ready to start trading on Coinbase.
Features of Coinbase
- Easy-to-use interface: Coinbase offers a very user-friendly interface that makes it easy for beginners to find their way around the platform. The tool offers a clean design that allows for faster navigation with all the tools you need right at your fingertips.
- Lists trusted cryptocurrencies: Coinbase has over time earned a name in the industry. Coins listed on this platform undergo thorough scrutiny. Coinbase currently offers only four types of cryptocurrencies – users of the platform can purchase Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. The reason behind listing a limited number of coins is because Coinbase prefers to list guaranteed cryptos or commodities. The exchange doesn’t open its doors to coins that could potentially be securities or equities. It’s very rare for Coinbase to add a new coin.
- It accepts fiat currencies: Most traditional exchanges do not accept fiat currencies. Coinbase, on the other hand, accepts a variety of fiat currencies on its platform for trading its four listed coins. The fiat currencies accepted by Coinbase include the Euro, the GBP, and the USD.
- Instant exchanges: Coinbase offers an instant exchange for users who would like to send money in the form of Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash but wish to transact with fiat currencies. The feature is called “Instant Exchange” and it allows you to pay using fiat, and the amount will be converted to cryptocurrency at no extra cost.
- Top-notch security: As much as your money is never 100% safe on any online exchange, Coinbase has managed to maintain one of the most secure exchanges with 98% of their crypto assets stored offline at a cold storage device that is less prone to hacking.
Pretty cool, right?
If so, you might also want to check out this Bloomberg interview with the Coinbase CEO as he shares some great insights on the future of digital money.
- Simple-to-use interface
- Accepts some fiat currencies
- Lists only trusted coins
- Has multiple payment methods
- Still working in spreading to all countries
- Limits to how much you can withdraw per week
Coinmama is a veteran cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to purchase Bitcoin or Ether on their platform.
Established in 2013, the exchange deals in both fiat and cryptocurrency-related transactions with their main focus on debit and credit card transactions.
The exchange opened its doors to users all around the world allowing purchases through their user-friendly payment portal.
Despite spreading its operations across the world, Coinmama doesn’t operate in all countries.
The platform offers its services in five languages, namely English, German, Italian, French, and Russian.
Since its inception, the platform has attracted over one million users hailing from over 180 countries across the world.
Coinmama has cemented its name in the industry and earned a spot among the 10 most trusted cryptocurrency exchanges.
Coinmama offers one of the most secure ways of purchasing cryptocurrencies using a debit or a credit card on a non-traditional cryptocurrency exchange.
The platform is compatible with Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards. These modes of payment are meant to cushion the user against the long waiting times related to bank and wire transfers.
Coinmama doesn’t maintain user funds on its exchange for security reasons – instead, it sends the funds directly to the user wallet.
Coinmama Fees and Transaction Limits
Coinmama offers an instant and easy process of buying coins. The exchange charges 5.5% of all transactions made on the platform. In addition, the payment processing application linked to Coinmama charges a further 4.5%, making it a total transaction fee of 10%. Many users prefer this service due to its reliability when it comes to obtaining the crypto assets they need.
Transaction limits are categorized into three on Coinmama.
The first category offers a buy-up level of up to $15,000, the second level offers up to $50,000 (after spending at least $10,000), while the third level offers a buy up of up to $1,000,000.
The monthly limit is calculated as a moving total of the past 30 days.
Is Coinmama Safe?
Although Coinmama is a relatively small coin in the crypto space, the platform has not experienced any major challenges as far as safety is concerned. The platform doesn’t hold any cryptocurrencies on behalf of its users; thus, making it less prone to hacking.
How Does Coinmama Work?
Coinmama has been around for over half a decade now, and the process of transacting on the platform is quite straightforward.
The first step is to create an account on their website. You will be required to fill in your name, email address, and country of residence.
After keying in all the required details, submit as much personal verification details as possible to enable you to qualify for higher trading limits.
Once that is done, you can start buying your cryptocurrencies.
Just to add to your checklist, make sure you have a verified digital wallet before you start transacting on this platform.
- Coinmama operates in nearly all the countries across the world. As at this day, the exchange operates in 226 countries in total.
- The platform features an easy-to-use interface on a mobile device, PC, and a tablet.
- It has one of the biggest purchasing allowances of $5,500 USD/Euro.
- Coinmama has an average documentation approval time of about 15 minutes during working hours or days. This is faster than most exchanges around.
- With a standard fee of $10 per transaction, the platform is more likely to favor users with large trading volumes.
- The platform has a great customer support team.
- Easy to use.
- Accepts both credit and debit cards.
- Great for beginners.
- Coinmama only sells BTC and ETH.
This is one of the oldest and most popular exchanges in operation today.
Kraken was founded by its current CEO Jesse Powell in 2011 but was officially launched in 2013.
2014 was one of the most pivotal years for Kraken as it became the best exchange by Euro trading. In the same year, the exchange pioneered the first verifiable cryptographic proof of research and got listed on Bloomberg within the same year.
Kraken is popular in the US, Canada, Japan, and various European countries.
The platform has also managed to outshine its competition by dealing in fiat currencies, including the Euro, the USD, the Canadian Dollar, the Japanese Yen, and the British Pound.
Kraken has so far maintained a great reputation due to its resilience to any major industry attacks and was chosen as the exchange through which the Mt. Gox exchange could receive its claims.
The exchange permits the following methods of payment:
- USD Bank Transfer Deposits
- SEPA Transfers
- Crypto Deposits
- JPY Bank Deposits
- Euro Bank Wire Deposits
Funds can be withdrawn from the platform using the above-stated methods. However, the exchange doesn’t support debit and credit card transactions.
Kraken Transactions and Fees
The fees schedule for Kraken is tier-based – the higher the trading volumes, the lower your fee on subsequent trades. The other key factor that determines the fee per transaction is whether you’re a maker or a taker.
A maker is a user who offers liquidity by placing a limit order while a taker is a user who fills the maker’s order by taking the liquidity away.
For a detailed breakdown of Kraken fees, check out this link to their website.
How safe is Kraken?
So, is Kraken safe? If there was anything Jesse Powell and his team learned from, it was the past hacking of Mt. Gox exchange.
Just like most other exchanges, Kraken maintains most of their crypto portfolio offline.
Also, it offers a two-factor authentication to its users for the safety of their accounts.
How to Get Started with Kraken
Getting started on Kraken requires you to sign up on the platform’s website and fill in the required fields. They include a username, your name, and password.
Please note: Do not use passwords such as MYPASSWORD123, you’re better than that!
After filling in the details, click on “sign up”. You’ll receive an email with an activation code in it.
Enter the code, your username, and your password to activate the account.
Congratulations, you now own a registered Kraken account!
Kraken has 5 tiers of verification, and just like most other exchanges, the more the verification details you provide, the higher your transaction limits.
- Kraken features cold storage techniques to help secure crypto assets, as well as GPG/PGP encryption. It also offers two-factor authentication for its users.
- The exchange provides a basic interface and a detailed guidance process to help its new users and charts for its advanced users.
- Kraken provides for Bitcoin Margin Trading with a leveraged trading of up to 5X. Further, the exchange allows for advanced order types such as automated trading and stop-loss orders.
- The exchange has an international presence, currently operating in the US, Japan, Canada, and numerous other European countries.
- Kraken boasts of high liquidity levels and trading volumes. The platform also conducts Proof of Reserve Audits and plays a big role towards cryptographically verified auditing.
- The platform enjoys a good reputation in the industry.
- The two-factor authentication enhances more security on the platform.
- Has a wide geographical coverage.
- Kraken has numerous crypto/fiat pairs.
- Closed the Yen funding option.
- No provision for debit and credit card options.
Binance is yet another popular cryptocurrency established in China but currently headquartered in the crypto-friendly Malta island.
This exchange has experienced an enormous growth in its operations, having reported a profit of over USD 200 million in the second quarter of 2018.
Despite being fairly new in the industry, it has managed to fight its way on top of the food chain thanks to, among other factors, its low trading fees, professionalism, and an impressive number of Initial Coin Offering listings.
Binance Payment Methods
For you to deposit funds into your Binance account, you will need to deposit it in cryptocurrency form as the platform does not allow for deposits through conventional ways such as using debit and credit cards.
The best way would be to purchase Ethereum or Bitcoin and send it directly to your Binance exchange account.
Fees and Limits
The transaction limits will depend on the two account tiers provided by this exchange. The first tier only requires basic information when signing up and allows users to withdraw up to 2 BTC per day. The second tier allows for a withdrawal limit of up to 100 BTC per day.
When it comes to transaction fees, this exchange has some of the lowest in this space. The standard fee stands at 0.1% and it can be reduced by 50% if the user enables the option of paying with BNB for fees.
The fee reduction has a schedule, which decreases each year. You can visit the Binance website and find out more about their current fees for withdrawals and deposits.
Is Binance Safe?
While Binance has not been around for that long, the exchange has gained popularity in the crypto community. It two-factor authentication is always a nice sight as well as its multi-tier system architecture.
How it Works
Binance has two account levels: Basic and Advanced. There are a few differences between the two with the notable one being able to do a more detailed analysis of transactions in the advanced view.
Beginners might find this platform a bit complex even at the basic level.
The dashboard features several graphics and charts including order books, trading history, and a candlestick chart.
To get started, you’ll need to create an account and have it verified.
Next, you’ll be required to fund the account by clicking on the “Deposits Withdrawals” link under the Funds tab.
Binance will provide you with a public wallet to use to send money to your account. Once this is done, choose the cryptocurrency you wish to fund your account with on the Deposit and Withdrawals page.
It is recommended that you choose Ethereum or Bitcoin since they are the most traded pairs. It also grants you greater trading flexibility.
Once your account is financed, you can start trading on the platform.
- Binance has high-performance capabilities of about 1.4 million orders per second.
- All major coins are available on this exchange: BTC, ETH, LTC, BNB, and more.
- The platform is available in various languages: English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.
- Binance has one of the most competitive trading fees of 0.1% of the transaction amount.
- The exchange has an excellent support team.
- The platform caters for both beginners and advanced users with its basic and advanced account tiers.
- It has very low transaction fees.
- It contains multiple languages.
- Supports close to 100 cryptocurrencies.
- Collects and stores user data such as login IP address.
- Some users have reported bugs when using their Android mobile app.
ShapeShift is a leading exchange that supports a broad spectrum of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, and Dogecoin, among others.
The platform is suitable for users who prefer instant and direct trades without having to sign up for an account or relying on a platform’s wallet to hold their funds.
ShapeShift has no fiat policy, meaning that users cannot purchase coins using debit or credit cards or other related payment methods.
It only permits the purchase of coins using other coins and only exchanges Bitcoin and other listed coins.
The Swiss-based company provides exchange solutions to users across the world.
Users can also use the platform’s API to create custom software to access and use their exchange.
ShapeShift Payment Method
Since ShapeShift doesn’t transact fiat currencies; funds traded on the exchange are sent to users via a deposit address set up by the exchange.
Transactions on this platform are instant and both deposit and withdrawal methods are the same.
Fees and Limits
Each and every transaction has a set limit by ShapeShift. If a transaction exceeds its set limit, it will be returned automatically to the address it was sent from. Tiny deposits such as amounts less than $0.10 may also be returned to the sender.
Despite all these, ShapeShift doesn’t disclose the exact minimum and maximum limits.
Fees charged by the exchange will vary from one coin to the other. Here’s the complete fees breakdown for the respective coins.
How Safe is ShapeShift?
ShapeShift has always been seen as one of the most private crypto exchange platforms on the market.
The exchange does not require one to set up an account or disclose their personal details. Those who consider user privacy as a security measure will definitely love this exchange.
No cases of cyber breaches have been reported and with the company having acquired a hardware wallet (KeepKey wallet), the platform’s security is greatly enhanced by granting the users an option to own the hardware wallet and use it for the trading on the platform. To use the wallet, you’ll need to visit the KeepKey website and purchase the hardware wallet.
How ShapeShift Works
ShapeShift does not require one to sign up to get started. The platform doesn’t retain its users’ data either.
This means that traders on the platform remain anonymous at all times.
All you need to do is to receive your public address from ShapeShift to use to send your coins to the platform. You will also need to provide the address of your wallet.
Once that is done, you can send funds to the platform and start trading.
- ShapeShift offers instant transactions and users rarely have issues converting cryptocurrencies using ShapeShift.
- The platform can be accessed in 14 major languages including English, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and French, among other languages.
- It offers a variety of coins for its users to enable them to diversify their cryptocurrency portfolios.
- ShapeShift only charges the mining fee from its users – they have a whole list of websites with the transaction fees for every cryptocurrency.
- High privacy levels
- A wide range of altcoins
- Instant transactions
- No cumbersome sign-up process
- Lacks clarity on deposit limits
- Does not support fiat currencies
All legitimate cryptocurrency exchanges serve the purpose of allowing their users to buy and trade listed currencies. The only existing differences are associated with transaction fees, supported coins, and supported countries.
For these reasons, you will not be wrong when you sign up on multiple exchanges.
However, the most important thing to take away from this cryptocurrency exchange review is the difference between the two main types of exchanges: fiat exchanges and crypto-to-crypto exchanges.
And in case you’ve forgotten the difference between the two, you can refer to the “Type of Cryptocurrency Exchanges” section of this detailed review.
Until then, let’s keep trading!