The interest in cryptocurrency remains strong, and it’s no surprise that many people are hoping to learn how to invest in cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency exchanges make it easy to get started. If you’re looking for the right exchange for you and your personal finance goals, here are some of the best crypto exchange options available.
- Get $5 in free bitcoin when you place your first trade 1
- Invest over time by scheduling buys daily, weekly, or monthly
- Apps for Android and iOS
Best for altcoins
- Everything you need to buy, sell, and trade crypto
- Crypto guides help get you up to speed
- Crypto is held safely in cold wallets so bad actors can't reach it
Best for beginners
- Copy top traders with CopyTrader™
- Build a diversified portfolio with 27 of the most popular coins
- Manage your cryptos easily with a clean and simple interface
Best for low fees
- Designed for beginners, professional, and institutional traders alike
- Access real-time order books, charting tools, and trade history
- Cutting-edge platform security
The best crypto exchanges of May 2023
- Best Overall: Coinbase
- Best for altcoins: Kraken
- Best for beginners: eToro
- Best for low fees: Binance.US
- Best for strong security: Gemini
- Best for cashback rewards: Crypto.com
- Best for customer service: Coinmama
- Best for peer-to-peer: Paxful
- Best for liquidity: Uniswap
- Best for low fees: PancakeSwap
The best centralized exchanges
The best decentralized exchanges
The best crypto exchanges at a glance
|Main features||Cryptocurrency number||Trading fees|
||240+||Tiered maker/taker fee model between 0.60% and 0.0%|
Spot trading fees of 0.9% for stablecoins and 1.5% for all other cryptocurrencies
Tiered maker/taker fee model between 0.26% and 0.0%
||75+||Flat 1% trading fee|
$0 fees for trades between bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ether) and the U.S. dollar (USD), USD coin (USDC), or tether (USDT)
Tiered maker/taker model between 0.60% and 0.0% for other trading pairs
25% discount when using BNB coin (BNB) to pay fees
Tiered maker/taker fee model between 0.40% and 0.0% when using the ActiveTrader interface
Trading fees between $0.99 and $2.99 for orders under $200, or 1.49% for bigger orders
Tiered maker/taker fee model between 0.075% and 0.0%
discounts and rebates are available when using cronos (CRO)
||15+||Commission fees between 3.90% and 0.99% based on your loyalty level|
||3||$0 purchase fees and 1% to 5% sell fees|
||340+||0.30% swapping fee|
||3760+||0.25% swapping fee|
The best centralized exchanges
Best Overall: Coinbase
- Easy to use
- Wallet service
- Ability to earn rewards
- Fees can be a bit higher
- Some exchanges have more altcoins
Coinbase offers access to scores of popular cryptocurrencies, including altcoins. In addition to well-known cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC), litecoin (LTC), and ether (ETH), Coinbase also provides access to dogecoin (DOGE), solana (SOL), polkadot (DOT), and decentraland (MANA).
You can use Coinbase to buy, sell, and trade coins on the desktop platform and via their app. It’s also possible to earn extra rewards by receiving free coins when you learn about them and earn a yield on certain coins, like tezos (XTZ).
In addition to making it easy to engage in crypto investing and trading, Coinbase also has low account minimums and lets you buy fractions of popular (and expensive) coins. On top of that, Coinbase offers a wallet service that allows you to send and receive coins, as well as hold them. You can even directly trade supported pairs and access advanced trading that were previously only available on the retired Coinbase Pro platform.
For those looking for a simple way to buy, sell, and trade, Coinbase provides an easy way to make it happen, while you manage your cryptocurrency portfolio in one place.
... Or read our Coinbase review.
Best for altcoins: Kraken
- Wide variety of coins, including altcoins
- Advanced trading ability
- Several security features
- Limited available coins and features in the U.S.
- No wallet service
- Account funding can be slow
If you’re looking for a wide variety of altcoins on different blockchains, Kraken could be a good choice. In addition to offering digital currencies with significant market cap, such as bitcoin, ether, and litecoin, Kraken offers access to dogecoin, dash (DSH), monero (XMR), orchid (OXT), and more. However, it’s important to note that even though Kraken offers a wide list of altcoins, some of them aren’t available in the United States, and some coins, like ripple (XRP), can’t be traded by U.S. residents.
Kraken offers advanced features like margin trading and charges reasonable fees, and you can trade using the desktop platform or mobile app. However, you won’t get a wallet service with Kraken, which means you need to have your own crypto wallet before you get started.
Kraken uses strong security measures, including offline two-factor authentication via Google Authenticator and Ubikey, configurable account timeout to add more protection, and a settings lock to prevent malicious parties from making changes to your account.
In many cases, Kraken isn’t a very good trading crypto trading platform for beginners. Instead, advanced traders with experience in crypto are more likely to benefit from this exchange.
… Or read our Kraken review.
Best for beginners: eToro
- Learn from successful crypto traders
- Demo account
- Low account minimum
- Also offers stock and ETF trading
- Can only copy U.S. traders
- Limited number of available cryptocurrencies
- Not available in every U.S. state
If you’re unsure how to get started with cryptocurrency trading and want some ideas, eToro 2 makes it easy to get going. With a low minimum to start buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies, and an easy-to-use interface, eToro makes it simple to get started, whether you trade online or use an app.
eToro offers fewer coins in the U.S. than other exchanges. However, you can still get access to major coins like bitcoin, ether, and litecoin, along with some altcoins like cardano (ADA), dogecoin, and tezos.
Plus, there’s a social trading aspect to eToro that allows you to see what other traders are doing and even copy them. For beginners, this can be a valuable tool that allows you to get ideas and learn a few tricks before starting. Finally, eToro offers a demo account so you can practice before you actually risk your own money.
… Or read our eToro review.
Best for low fees: Binance.US
- Low trading fees
- Wide variety of altcoins
- Offers advanced trading features
- Limited crypto pairs in the United States
- Not available in some states
Binance.US offers the ability to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies online or via an app. This exchange is fast and offers advanced trading features, including charting. This can be useful to more experienced crypto investors.
While the parent Binance exchange offers a wide range of coins worldwide, the Binance.US exchange has a more limited offering. However, it’s still possible to access bitcoin, litecoin, and ether, as well as popular altcoins like dogecoin, polygon (MATIC), and tether (USDT).
For the fee-conscious, Binance.US could be a good choice. Binance.US is one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges available because it’s so inexpensive. Fees and spreads are some of the lowest among exchanges, making it attractive for frequent traders who want to save money. Plus, Binance.US offers discounts for people executing a high trading volume and for using its native BNB coin (BNB), which was previously known as Binance coin.
... Or read our Binance.US review.
Best for strong security: Gemini
- Available in all U.S. states
- Insurance on digital assets
- Variety of crypto services
- Fees are on the high side
- Not as many available cryptocurrencies
Gemini offers a solid range of different cryptocurrencies and pairs, although not as many as some other exchanges. However, you can access bitcoin, ether, litecoin, dogecoin, and other popular altcoins using the online exchange or by trading on the app.
On top of being one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges, Gemini also offers different services, including a crypto wallet, the Gemini Credit Card, and the ability to loan out your assets so you can earn interest on your crypto balances.
Gemini, though, takes security and hack prevention to the next level. In addition to holding your crypto in cold storage, Gemini applies a number of protocols to prevent hackers from gaining malicious access. Not only that, but Gemini insures its digital assets and submits to banking exams.
... Or read our Gemini review.
Best for cashback rewards: Crypto.com
- Access to up to 5% cashback with the Crypto.com Visa card
- Ability to receive rewards on crypto assets via staking
- Access to an NFT marketplace
- No cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency trading, so you can only trade using fiat currencies or stablecoins
- Not available in New York
Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Singapore, Crypto.com bills itself as the fastest-growing cryptocurrency app and offers various products related to decentralized finance (DeFi). In addition to the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, the exchange also features its own native coin, cronos (CRO), and offers access to an NFT marketplace.
One of the crypto-related products offered by Crypto.com is a debit card that offers up to 5% cash back on your spending, depending on the amount of cronos you hold. You can use a fiat currency or cryptocurrency to add funds to your card and earn your cashback rewards in the cronos cryptocurrency.
Crypto.com also allows you to earn rewards on more than 40 cryptocurrencies and stablecoins when you hold them on the exchange. The platform also gives you access to a DeFi wallet, where you control your funds and store your private keys.
... Or read our Crypto.com review.
Best for customer service: Coinmama
- Easy to get started
- Responsive customer service
- Extensive crypto education resources
- Doesn’t provide a wallet or an app
- Limited features for advanced traders
- Limited coin offerings
Coinmama is very easy to use online and makes it simple to buy your first cryptocurrency, though it doesn’t currently offer an app. You will also need to learn about wallets before starting because Coinmama doesn’t provide a wallet either.
However, if you’re interested in starting with the most popular coins, Coinmama offers access to bitcoin and ether.
Where Coinmama really shines, though, is its responsive customer support, which can be reached by email or phone. On top of that, Coinmama is known for its extensive library of educational resources. Coinmama breaks down various subjects related to cryptocurrency, making them easy to understand.
... Or read our Coinmama review.
Best for peer-to-peer: Paxful
- Accepts a wide variety of payment methods
- Trade directly with others
- Low fees
- Potential for scams
- Completely unregulated
- Can be difficult for beginners
Paxful is an interesting exchange in that it connects you with millions of people worldwide, so you can trade directly using the online exchange interface or a mobile app. More than 350 payment methods are available on Paxful, including the ability to fund your cryptocurrency purchases with coins you already hold.
Paxful users can only purchase three cryptocurrencies. You can buy bitcoin and ether. Still, there are over thirty different cryptos you can use to make those purchases, including altcoins like dogecoin and tether. Additionally, Paxful offers a wallet service, making it easy to manage your holdings.
When using Paxful, you only pay fees when you sell coins, although those fees can sometimes feel high. There is also a learning curve because you might have to search through offers to find the trade you’re looking for. And, even though Paxful does take steps to secure transactions, you need to be more on guard against scams when you use Paxful than you would with some of the other exchanges.
... Or read our Paxful review.
Best decentralized crypto exchanges
Best for liquidity: Uniswap
Uniswap is a decentralized exchange, meaning that there isn’t a single authority managing the exchange and the trades that happen through it. Instead, you hold your own assets and swap or trade directly with others participating in the exchange.
Uniswap uses a blockchain built on the ethereum blockchain. As a result, you can swap any token that uses the ethereum blockchain, including tether (USDT), chainlink (LINK), and warped bitcoin (WBTC). These tokens are known as ERC-20 tokens. The exchange also has its own native ERC-20 token, uniswap (UNI).
You can keep your cryptocurrency assets in your own wallet or store them on Uniswap to add them to a liquidity pool. When you contribute to the liquidity pool of a particular asset, you receive a portion of the fees people pay when they trade this asset.
Best for low fees: PancakeSwap
- Cryptocurrency earning through yield farming
- Access to cryptocurrency lottery and other prize events
- Ability to swap any token on the BNB Smart Chain
- No Android or iOS mobile app
- Complicated staking process
PancakeSwap is a decentralized crypto exchange platform built using the BNB Smart Chain. This allows you to swap any cryptocurrency compatible with the BNB blockchain, including Binance USD (BUSD) and swipe (SXP). PancakeSwap also uses its own token, pancakeswap (CAKE), and offers an NFT marketplace.
You can earn pancakeswap by locking up your cryptocurrencies in a liquidity pool that helps facilitate trades on the exchange in a process known as yield farming. When your assets are used to provide liquidity on the exchange, you receive a portion of the swap fees.
In addition to yield farming, the PancakeSwap exchange offers several ways to earn prizes. This includes a lottery and a prediction platform where you place bets on pancakeswap price movements.
Alternatives to crypto exchanges
In addition to our top picks for cryptocurrency exchanges that we’ve discussed, there are other ways to learn how to buy cryptocurrency and get exposure to coins:
PayPal now allows you to buy, hold, and sell crypto. However, the offerings are limited to bitcoin, bitcoin cash (BCH), ether, and litecoin. You simply make your purchase using your personal PayPal or PayPal Cash account, and you can then hold onto your coins as long as you want. It’s even possible to use the cryptos you hold in your PayPal account to pay for transactions.
If you use Cash App, it’s possible to buy and sell bitcoin using your balance. You can get a fraction of a bitcoin, so you don’t have to worry about the high price. It’s even possible to send bitcoin directly to someone else on Cash App. However, it’s important to note that this is the only coin available from Cash App.
Read our Cash App review to learn more.
For those interested in trading cryptocurrencies, you can get exposure to cryptos with Robinhood. With Robinhood, you can trade bitcoin, bitcoin cash, bitcoin SV (BSV), dogecoin, ether, ethereum classic (ETC), and litecoin.
However, it’s important to note that you don’t actually own the coins, and there’s no wallet service. You can’t send your holdings to a wallet. Instead, you have to convert your cryptocurrency to fiat before moving forward.
Read our Robinhood review to learn more.
What is a crypto exchange?
Centralized exchanges (CEXs)
- Easy to use
- Access to cryptocurrency using fiat money
- Simple storage options
- Reduced privacy due to the client verification process
- Fees may be higher
A centralized exchange (CEX) is an exchange operated by one authority, usually a company. These exchanges are designed to be user-friendly and make it easy to buy crypto with various payment methods.
This crypto exchange type is a good option for newcomers to the crypto world. Centralized exchanges offer a place to buy and store cryptocurrencies without worrying about dealing with complex systems or setting up external wallets.
The U.S. government regulates many centralized exchanges. Some exchanges even use FDIC insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to protect U.S. dollars held in your account against theft or exchange failure.
Decentralized exchanges (DEXs)
- Access to a wider variety of cryptocurrencies
- Ability to earn cryptocurrency by being liquidity provider to the exchange (yield farming)
- Full custody of your digital assets
- Low liquidity for lesser-known cryptocurrencies
- Fewer options for trading orders
- Complicated setup process for beginners
A decentralized exchange (DEX) is a marketplace that directly connects cryptocurrency buyers and sellers without the oversight of a single authority. Many decentralized exchanges use smart contracts to execute trades automatically.
Decentralized exchanges can be challenging for new traders or beginners. For example, trading requires you to set up an external wallet, fund this wallet with fiat money, then connect it to the decentralized exchange to place your orders.
On the positive side, decentralized exchanges offer more privacy since they usually don’t collect personal information about you. You may also access lesser-known cryptocurrencies as long as they’re compatible with the decentralized exchange you use.
Crypto wallet vs. exchange
A crypto wallet is a type of software that allows you to store your cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. Crypto wallets can be:
- Custodial: This wallet type is usually simple to set up and use, but you don’t have full control over your wallet. Another entity, often the centralized crypto exchange you use, manages the wallet for you.
- Non-custodial: This wallet type can be a bit more complicated to set up and use. In exchange, you get full control over your wallet and assets.
Your crypto wallet allows you to send and receive cryptocurrencies within the crypto ecosystem but doesn’t offer a trading marketplace.
Keep in mindA custodial crypto wallet comes with the added responsibility and risk of managing and protecting your crypto assets.
On the other hand, a crypto exchange gives you access to a marketplace where you can trade cryptocurrencies. You can connect your wallet to an exchange to trade the assets in your wallet. You can also usually send and receive cryptocurrencies between your wallet and the exchange you use.
Many centralized exchanges offer custodial wallets to make it easy for you to store your cryptocurrencies. However, having a non-custodial crypto wallet can help you store your cryptocurrencies outside the exchange and fully control them.
To learn more, check out our guide to cryptocurrency for beginners.
Guide to crypto exchanges
A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform that allows you to buy, sell, or trade cryptocurrencies. You can usually sign up for an exchange by providing information about your identity, address, and finances.
When choosing a cryptocurrency exchange, consider the cryptocurrencies you want to access, the fees the exchange may charge, and your experience with trading.
How to sign up for a crypto exchange
Each cryptocurrency exchange or brokerage will have its own requirements to allow you to open an account, but in general, you’ll likely need to provide your name, address, and other identifying information as a part of the know-your-customer (KYC) verification process. This is especially true for U.S.-based accounts, where you might need to provide your Social Security number.
You will also need to have a funding source. Depending on the exchange, this is usually a bank account or credit card. However, some exchanges will let you fund your account by transferring current crypto assets from an existing wallet to the exchange.
Also, check to see if the exchange offers a wallet service. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to get your own digital wallet ahead of time.
The good news is that most of the best cryptocurrency exchanges don’t have account minimums, and you can begin trading with a relatively small amount of money — as little as a few dollars in some cases.
For more info on specific digital currencies, check out our guides on:
Understanding crypto exchange fees
You may pay one or more types of fees when using a cryptocurrency exchange. This may include:
- Trading fees
- Deposit fees
- Withdrawal fees
The most common fees are trading fees. Many crypto exchanges use a tiered fee structure known as a maker/taker model based on how much you trade in a 30-day period. The more you trade, the lower your fees get.
You also pay lower fees when you’re a maker and higher fees when you’re a taker:
- Maker: Someone who puts an order on the books and doesn’t need it fulfilled immediately. The order is available until a match for this order is found. This order type adds to the liquidity of the exchange.
- Taker: Someone who puts an order for immediate fulfillment. The order type takes away from the liquidity available on the exchange.
Keep in mindSome exchanges may charge flat fees based on the size of your order.
You may also pay deposit fees or withdrawal fees. These fees often depend on whether you’re using an ACH bank transfer, a wire transfer, a debit card, or other deposit or withdrawal methods.
Many exchanges allow you to use ACH bank transfers for free but may charge a fixed amount for wire transfers and a percentage of your deposit or withdrawal for debit cards. Remember that trading, deposit, withdrawal, and other fees you pay can stack up.
For example, you may use a debit card on the Gemini mobile app to buy $150 worth of bitcoin:
- Deposit fee: Gemini would charge you a fee of 3.49% of your purchase amount, equal to $5.23 for this order.
- Mobile transaction fee: Gemini would also charge $2.99 for mobile orders between $50 and $200, bringing your total fees to $8.22.
- Convenience fee: Gemini adds a 0.50% convenience fee to the crypto market price of the asset you’re buying. For a $150 order, this would be $0.75 as of Jan 31, 2023.
- Wallet transfer fee: Gemini would charge you 0.0001 bitcoin to transfer the bitcoin you bought to your external wallet, which is about $2.29 as of Jan 31, 2023.
Your fees in this example total $11.26 for a $150 bitcoin mobile purchase using a debit card, or about 8% of your transaction value.
How to pick the right crypto exchange for you
When choosing among the best cryptocurrency exchanges, it’s important to consider your own needs and requirements.
Some of the items to consider as you evaluate cryptocurrency exchanges include:
- Available cryptocurrencies: Make sure the crypto you’re interested in is available on the exchange. Many of the main coins, like bitcoin and ether, are going to be available almost everywhere. Litecoins, however, might not be as widely available. The availability of different coins and trading pairs could impact the liquidity of your assets, meaning they could be easier or harder to sell when you need cash or want to invest elsewhere.
- Wallet service: If you don’t have your own digital wallet and you’re not interested in getting your own software or hardware wallet, consider an exchange that offers a wallet service, so you have a place to keep your crypto.
- Ease of use: Find out if the platform is easy to use. Look for a user-friendly platform that makes it easy to execute transactions and manage your portfolio.
- Fees: Review the fee structure because they can work very differently. Many exchanges charge based on the spread, which is the difference between the buy and sell price. Others might charge a flat transaction fee based on your funding source, or there might be a combination of a flat fee and spread. Many exchanges will let you know what fee is being charged before you complete your transaction.
- Other services and features: Figure out what’s important to you. Some exchanges offer rewards programs, the ability to stake your assets in order to earn interest, credit cards, futures trading, margin accounts, and even the ability to borrow against the value of your portfolio. Decide what matters to you and look for an exchange that offers those things.
In determining our list of the top crypto exchanges, we looked at popular services and platforms and evaluated them according to a set of criteria we consider critical to the consumer. We did not evaluate all services in the category. We used editorial judgment to determine what use or user each cryptocurrency exchange would be best for.
FinanceBuzz evaluation criteria include:
- Available coins: We reviewed coin availability and looked for exchanges that offer access to the most popular and most traded coins and altcoins.
- Ease of use: We considered whether an exchange was easy to use, as well as its functionality and how accessible it was online and via its crypto trading app.
- Fees: We looked at fee structures and rates, including spreads.
- Wallet services: Not every exchange offers wallet services, so we evaluated whether or not wallets were provided.
- Other features and services: In addition to cryptocurrency trading, we also looked at other services and features, including the ability to earn rewards, staking, credit cards, and margin trading.
While not comprehensive, we believe our list offers a variety of options that can appeal to most people interested in crypto, depending on various needs. Note that our recommendations aren't listed in a specific order or ranking.
Which is the best cryptocurrency exchange?
There is no one answer to what is the best cryptocurrency exchange or the best bitcoin exchange. We’ve provided a list of what we feel are great cryptocurrency trading platforms, but the best exchange for you will offer the coins you’re most interested in, and provide features and functionality that fit your preferences and individual financial strategy.
What happened to FTX?
FTX is a bankrupt cryptocurrency founded by Sam Bankman-Fried and Gary Wang in 2019. At its peak in July 2021, it had more than a million users and was one of the top three crypto exchanges in the world. However, in November 2022, the exchange experienced massive withdrawals amid reports of insolvency and suspicious connections with its sister company Alameda Research. The exchange filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to raise enough capital or find a buyer.
What's the difference between a crypto exchange and a crypto wallet?
A crypto exchange is a place where you can buy, sell, or trade tokens. A crypto wallet, on the other hand, is a place to hold your digital assets. Some exchanges offer wallet services, so you can have a wallet address through the exchange. However, not all exchange platforms offer wallet services, so if you want to manage your digital assets, you need a separate crypto wallet.
What crypto exchange has lowest fees?
It’s hard to determine which exchange has the lowest fees, but Binance.US is known for its low fees. Binance.US has low spreads and fees, while other exchanges like Coinbase might charge a percentage of the transaction plus a flat fee depending on your funding source. Carefully compare fee structures so you understand how you’re being charged in relation to the ideal trades or purchases you want to make.
Is Kraken better than Coinbase?
Whether Kraken is better than Coinbase depends on your needs and preferences. In general, Kraken can be a better choice for advanced traders, since there are functionalities like margin trading available through that exchange. However, Coinbase might be better for beginners and casual traders. Coinbase offers a wallet, while Kraken doesn’t, and Coinbase can be easier for less advanced traders to get started. To learn more, check out our Kraken vs. Coinbase vs. Gemini comparison.
Any time you invest, you could potentially lose your money. However, the cryptocurrency market is known for its volatility, as cryptocurrency is a new asset class.
There are a number of cryptocurrency exchanges that could help you get started with trading and make the most of your money. But learning the basics of how to invest money is a good first step before you risk any of it with cryptocurrency.
If you’re interested in getting started with cryptocurrency, make sure to do your research and limit the amount of your portfolio you’re committing to this asset class. You can also consult a financial advisor to guide your decisions. With the right approach, and when you know where crypto fits in your overall strategy, digital currencies can be a fun and smart investment.
Disclosure: The author has positions in bitcoin, ether, litecoin, monero, dogecoin, cardano, tezos, and tether.
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