Beginner’s Guide: How to pick the right Cryptocurrency Exchange

Beginner’s Guide / 17.12.2018

Your first step into the wonderful adventure of cryptocurrencies is often through an exchange, therefore, choosing the right cryptocurrency exchange can be a difficult task. It’s not a fast and easy process, it’s actually hard work. There are many available exchanges that you can buy cryptocurrencies by, and there’s a number of factors that you have to consider in ensuring that you’ve opened the right exchange based on your expectations, requirements, and what’s best for you.

Cryptocurrency exchanges are websites where you can buy, sell or exchange cryptocurrencies for other digital currency or traditional currency like US dollars, Euro British Pounds or Japanese Yuan. There are multiple types of exchanges, such as:

  • Trading Platforms Exchanges – These exchanges connect buyers and sellers and take a fee from each transaction.
  • Direct Trading Exchanges – These exchanges offer direct peer to peer trading where individuals from different countries can exchange their currencies. These platforms won’t have a fixed market price, because each seller sets their own exchange rate.
  • Atomic Swap Exchanges – Atomic swap exchanges or atomic cross-chain trading are based on a smart contract technology that enables exchange of one cryptocurrency for another without using centralized intermediaries.
  • Broker Exchanges – These exchanges will have the cryptocurrency prices set by the broker. Their services are similar to foreign exchange dealers.

The most common ones and used by most of crypto investors are Trading Platforms Exchanges which connect buyers and sellers and take a fee from each transaction. These exchanges are split into:

  • Centralized Exchanges (CEX) – because they handle your money and your coins, and in addition to crypto-to-crypto trades, they usually also offer fiat-to-crypto trades (US Dollars, Euros, and most government-backed currencies to be traded for cryptocurrency) or vice versa.
  • Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) – without a central authority where you have full control over you coins; they usually do not offer fiat-to-crypto trades.

Depending on what cryptocurrency you are trying to get, you may need to use multiple exchanges, mainly because exchanges offer different cryptocurrencies due to both internal listing processes and laws and regulations around certain coins, especially if the exchange provides FIAT services. Each exchange has different pros and cons, so the best exchange for you, might not be the best for another person. There are multiple factors you should seriously take into consideration before navigating to an exchange, such as:

  • Reputation – This should be top factor to consider when choosing an exchange. The best way to find information about an exchange is to search through reviews from users and well-known industry websites. There are a few dedicated cryptocurrency forums where you can find useful information, you can try Bitcoin-talk, Reddit and even simply searching on Google.​
  • Security – The level and type of security mechanisms used by an exchange is vital in ensuring the safety of your coins. Industry best practice include cold storage, 2FA, verification and e-mail encryption. (Read also: Guide to Cryptocurrency Security: Activating 2FA)
  • Customer Support Quality – A good customer support would save you lots of time and anxiousness, especially in this environment. Issues with the verification process, deposit/withdrawals, funds reflection and/or trading orders are to be solved quickly, or it could cost compromise you time, money and well-being.
  • Geographical Restrictions – Some exchanges will offer specific user functions and services based on user’s country. Make sure the exchange you want to join allows you full access to all its services and tools.
  • Graphical User Interface – The user interface of the exchange should be easy to use and clean, to avoid any confusion.

Based on the above we have selected 10 Cryptocurrency exchanges which are trustworthy and easy to use to get you started building your cryptocurrency portfolios.

Binance

Binance is one of the most a popular cryptocurrency exchanges and the biggest exchange by volume. It started in China but recently moved their headquarters to the crypto-friendly Island of Malta in the EU. Binance is popular for its crypto to crypto exchange services. While the company is still fairly new on the market (it launched in 2017), it has managed to gain a lot of popularity thanks to its impressive number of Initial Coin Offering listings, professional attitude and friendly CEO and also due to its low trading fees.

It has a wide range of cryptocurrencies available to purchase and trade and has a basic and advanced view which you can switch between easily. They allow you to register and trade immediately without having to verify your account first. However, you will only be able to make withdrawals of up to 2 BTC per day and if you want to withdraw higher amounts you will need to pass KYC (Know Your Customer) by sending them a photo of your ID and a selfie picture. Check out our full review here.

OKEx

OKEx is multi-cryptocurrency exchange with a suite of algorithmic trading tools designed for the professional traders. It’s among the biggest and most trusted exchanges and provides, crypto-to-crypto trading, FIAT trading and digital asset-based futures with multiple leverage choices. OKEx offers a comparatively wide range of trading pairs and the ability to trade directly to and from fiat currency. OKEx is also taking steps to develop the cryptocurrency derivatives market by offering futures.

OKEx is the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by volume. OKEx offers several different verification levels, each with its own set of requirements and privileges. A level one verification grants access to most portions of the OKEx site with a transaction limit of $2,000, and it requires only a nationality, username, and ID number. A level two verification comes with access to all trading functions and a limit of $200,000. This is at the cost of a photo of yourself and your identification materials. A level three verification ups your transaction limit to $500,000 and requires a video verification of your identity. Check out our full review here.

Coinbase

Coinbase is one of the most trusted cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world, the largest digital asset exchange platform in the world and supports more than 33 countries with more than 4 million active users. Traders are allowed to purchase and sell bitcoins using their bank account, credit card, PayPal, and other payment methods. Coinbase is a beginner friendly platform but before purchasing cryptocurrencies, you will have to set up your account and you are required to link a valid bank account.

Currently, Coinbase supports 9 cryptocurrencies (BTC, BCH, ETH, LTC, ETC, ZRX, USDC, ZEC & BAT) and has recently expressed interest in adding up to 30 new cryptocurrencies such Stellar Lumens, EOS, XRP, Cardano and more. Unfortunately, not all countries are supported by Coinbase, therefore make sure you check your country’s eligibility before opening an account. Check out our full review here.

KuCoin

Kucoin is a multi-cryptocurrency exchange with Service Centers based in China. The offer crypto-to-crypto services only with a wide range of cryptocurrencies. Kucoin strives to separate itself from other similar cryptocurrency exchanges via its outstanding features. Between the powerful interface, the excellent customer service, and the experience of the team, there are many key features worth trying at Kucoin. Kucoin is easy to use, offers good security, has a mobile app and low trading fees.

What’s even more interesting about this exchange is that it follows a profit-sharing system and distributes 50% of their daily overall trading fee revenue to users holding their exchange-based token, Kucoin Shares (KCS). In a similar fashion to Binance, Kucoin offers relatively low tradings fees and incentives for holding (or trading) its native cryptocurrency. Check out our full review here

Bittrex

Bittrex is a well-established and highly regarded crypto trading platform, with many coins and tokens to choose from. The interface is not for complete beginners, but you should be able to find your way around after a little while. Bittrex was founded in 2014 by Bill Shihara, who previously worked as a security engineer at Amazon and Blackberry, and the exchange places a special emphasis on reliability and preventing security breaches. All Bittrex accounts must be verified before requesting and withdrawal.

To date, Bittrex holds almost 300 cryptocurrencies, features fast deposits and withdrawals, FIAT trading (which is being rolled out to its customers in phases) and a solid customer support. Bittrex sees itself as a next generation crypto trading platform and aims to deliver the fastest and most secure trading service available. Check out our full review and guide.

CoinMama

CoinMama is a large bitcoin brokerage that allows users to acquire coins with their debit or credit cards. It is a beginner friendly exchange which stands out as one of the fastest and easiest ways to buy Bitcoin or Ethereum, Litecoin, Cardano, QTUM, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin Cash and Ripple XRP directly with your credit card. Coinmama doesn’t provide build-in wallets, instead, users are asked to provide their personal wallets. See our guide here if you’re missing any wallet.

The platform issues small fees for transactions. To make up for this, however, the limits for how many bitcoins a user can buy are much higher in comparison to Coinbase. Users can acquire up to $5,000 of coins per day or up to $20,000 per month. All users need to do to use CoinMama is to set up an account, log in, and navigate to the profile page section to fill in personal information.

LocalBitcoins

LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange used in most big cities around the world. The general principle behind this exchange is that you can find people who live in your area or city and meet with them in person to conduct an exchange. The platform also offers options for purchasing digital currencies via PayPal, Square, direct-to-bank transfers, and many other payment-processing methods. The platform charges a small fee of 1 percent per transaction in cases where sellers apply their own exchange rate.

LocalBitcoins is one of the best exchanges for users concerned with their privacy. Bitcoin can be purchased in person without linking an identity to an exchange. Trades first must undergo an escrow process to ensure that nobody will be scammed by using the platform. Once everything is verified, the funds and cryptocurrencies transfer between traders.

CEX.io

CEX.io is one of the oldest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges currently operating. It was launched in 2013 in London and initially operated both as a Bitcoin exchange and cloud mining service, however in January 2015 the website closed its mining services to operate solely as a cryptocurrency exchange. One of the primary reasons its popularity is that its website provides users with a very easy to use interface, making it ideal for beginners. It also provides a multi-level account system that is customizable and suitable for institutional traders.

The platform is registered with the FINCEN and applies KYC and AML principles. In other words, users have to completely verify their identity before they can get involved in any trades with this platform. Currently, the platform supports purchases with credit cards, wire transfers, or SEPA transfers for European residents.

Kraken

Founded in 2011, Kraken is one of the oldest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges currently in operation. The exchange has built a reputation as being a secure destination for anyone interested in trading cryptocurrencies and it is also a popular choice for both traders and institutions across a variety of locations. Kraken retains an international appeal and provides efficient trading opportunities in numerous fiat currencies. Kraken is also the current world leader in terms of Bitcoin to Euro trading volumes.

Kraken allows for deposits and withdrawals via CAD, EUR, JPY, and USD, with fiat currency payments being conducted via Bank Transfer. For users with a bank account within the European Economic Area, the SEPA payment system is also supported. Check our full review here.

Bitpanda

Bitpanda, is an exceedingly popular exchange, especially in Europe, that sells Bitcoin, BCash, Dash, Ethereum, Litecoin, IOTA, Komodo, Ripple, Ethererum Classic, and more for US Dollars, Euros, British Pounds, and Swiss Francs.

The exchange has several payment methods such as bank transfers, credit cards, debit cards, Skrill, Neteller and more. Bitpanda has 3.98% fees on credit and debit card purchases. Bitpanda has a remarkably simple user interface, making it easy for beginners to successfully invest in cryptocurrency.

Bitpanda has recently removed transaction fees for sending cryptocurrency between accounts on the exchange, making it convenient for sending lower amounts of cryptocurrency.

Conclusion

So, picking the ideal cryptocurrency exchange platform for your specific needs may be a difficult and time-consuming process. Remember to pay attention to the fees, reputation, security, verification processes, and geographical services an exchange platform has to offer. As you are not limited to using only one cryptocurrency exchange, you can use all of the exchanges we have proposed.

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Born in Bucharest, Marius is the founder of Crypto Adventure. Since his first contact with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, he never stopped believing that they are one of the most important innovations of our time, which will forever change the way business is done.