​The Best Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrency) Exchanges 2018 | Try These 11 We Recommend

Do you want to start buying, selling, or exchanging Bitcoin (and other coins) today, but aren’t sure which exchange to use (or what one even is)? This complete guide to the best Bitcoin exchanges of 2018 includes:

  • What a digital currency echange is
  • How to choose the right exchange for YOU
  • In-depth reviews of all of the major names, their pros and cons, and everything else you need to know to make an informed decision in this confusing marekt
Bitcoin trading meme

​As of December 2017, there are over 100 cryptocoin exchanges with a 24-hour volume totaling nearly $10 BILLION dollars.  

Each one comes complete with unique geographical restrictions, coins on offer, payment methods, speeds, limits, and security measures. Some are exchanges just like a traditional stock market, others are brokers that only sell digital currencies at a set price. Some don’t even buy or sell anything at all!

3 Best Exchanges We Recommend

This is why so many people new to digital currencies (and many seasoned veterans) have so much trouble choosing the right exchange. And if you don’t choose the right digital currency exchange, you’ll lose money on fees, waste time, and limit your earning potential. You might even open yourself to security issues —a trustworthy exchange might be all that stands between you and hackers.

The insane complexity of the world of Bitcoin exchanges was the inspiration for this guide. Use it, and you will be full of information, experience, and confidence. Forsake it, and you will be alone in a cruel world.

First, let’s cover some basics…

What is a Digital Currency Exchange?

A cryptocurrency exchange is an entity that allows customers to buy, sell, or otherwise exchange digital currencies. Typical means of exchanging crypto are fiat currency (USD, EUR, GBP, etc.) or other coins. In a general sense, think of a Bitcoin exchange as the middleman between two people that facilitates the deal—the seller has crypto, the buyer has either fiat or crypto, and the exchange merely makes it happen (kind of). 

Warning: Never store large amounts of crypto on an exchange.

An exchange can go bankrupt, get shut down by the government, or become vulnerable to a hack. That’s why security, stability, and reputation are paramount. If the worst happens, your money is gone for good (unless insured). More on how to choose an exchange later in the article.

There are 3 types of exchanges:

  • Traditional Exchanges: In traditional exchanges, the exchange is the middleman between the buyer and the seller. The deal is made based on the current market price of the coin, and the exchange takes a fee for its troubles. Think of one as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wall Street.
  • Brokers: Unlike an exchange, a broker deals directly with its customers. The broker sets the price and customers either buy or sell currency directly with them. If exchanges are like the NYSE on Wall Street, then brokers are like those international currency exchange kiosks all around Manhattan.
  • Peer-to-Peer: Also known as direct trading, these “exchanges” are for person-to-person deals. Each seller sets their own price and deals directly with the buyer via various means.
The environment inside of NYSE: The New York Stock Exchange

The environment inside of NYSE: The New York Stock Exchange

How to Choose the Best Bitcoin Exchange for You

Your choice of crypto exchange will have a major repercussions, including:

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    How safe your fortune is
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    Which currencies you can trade in
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    How quickly you can trade
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    How quickly you can get your money
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    How intense your customer service headaches will be

In short, it’s extremely important. So before you go off creating an account, you should do a bit of homework (or read this blog).

Before joining an exchange, you must consider:

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    Reputation: Do some research, read reviews, and talk to your peers. Find out if the exchange has a good reputation for security and customer service. For example, I’ve recently heard of complaints about several exchanges where it took weeks to verify an identity. Visit Bitcoin Reddit, scour trusted industry sources, and head to the exchange to see for yourself.
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    Fees: Nobody likes paying fees, and they add up to a major chunk of change over time. Low-fee exchanges typically charge around .25% for buyers while more expensive ones can charge 1% or more.
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    Transparency: You want to be sure that the exchange has the money to cover all sales. This proves they are liquid. See if the exchange is transparent about its audits and really has the reserves it claims to have.
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    Location: It’s always recommended to do business with an exchange located in your country. However, if you don’t, you must consider other location issues. Do they even work with customers from your state/country? What is the political climate surrounding BTC in that country? Is it even politically stable?
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    Payment Methods: Each exchange comes with a unique set of payment methods. This will directly affect your ability to buy/sell crypto. Do they support wire transfer, credit/debit cards, PayPal, etc.? An exchange with limited options won’t be convenient.
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    Anonymity: Being anonymous is important to some people; however, most exchanges require identity verification to protect against scams and fraud. It’s a pain, but worth the time it takes to get verified. If you don’t like it, take your risks with exchanges that don’t require it.
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    Exchange Rates: Just as how you shouldn’t use the currency exchange at the airport, you shouldn’t just use the first Bitcoin exchange you see. Rates are known to fluctuate by up to 10%. Shop around a bit.

The Best Digital Currency Exchanges 2018

We’ve aggregated personal experience, customer reviews, industry expertise, and a multitude of other criteria from fees and security to user-experience and beginner-friendliness. The results for the best Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) exchanges going into the new year are:

Type: BROKER

Coinbase identifies itself as the world’s most popular way to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin—they aren't lying!

The San Francisco-based platform is the world’s largest Bitcoin broker with over $50 billion in digital currency exchanged. It’s available in over 30 countries, and new users can get their cryptocurrency within the hour. Not to mention their cool referral program.

Aside from being popular, trusted, and fully insured, a major reason that Coinbase is popular among cryptomaniacs is its high liquidity and transaction limits. If you’re fully verified, you can buy up to $50,000 of Bitcoin daily. EU members can have up to €30,000 Euro in their account.

All in all, it’s one of the easiest ways to buy, sell, and store digital currency. It’s even connected to its own traditional exchange, GDAX, so you can buy or sell with other users and move money between accounts (more on this at the end).

Coinbase registration process
Pros:
  • Great reputation
  • High security
  • Comprehensive insurance
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    Reasonable fees
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    Associated mobile app
Cons:
  • Not worldwide
  • Limited payment methods

Verdict: With great ratings around the web, Coinbase is a good place to start your crypto trading career.

#2 Cex.io

Type: Exchange

With worldwide coverage, easy purchasing options, credit card payments, and high liquidity, Cex.Io offers the best of both worlds to customers. For beginners, their brokerage service allows you a quick and easy way to buy cryptocurrencies. For professionals, their advanced tools, margin trading, and user-friendly dashboard are excellent.

The website is well designed and the platform is intuitive. Depending on your level of verification, your limits can be anywhere between $2,000 - $100,000.

CEX.io exchange
Pros:
  • Intuitive interface
  • Great tools
  • Credit cards
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    Worldwide coverage
Cons:
  • High card fees
  • Not available in some states

Verdict: A great way to get cryptocurrency fast via a credit card, but the fees are high.

Type: BROKER

Coinmama is an Israeli digital currency broker that is considered the go-to for credit card purchases. In fact, their tagline is “buy Bitcoins with credit card!”.

Time to buy Bitcoin meme

One of the oldest names in the business, they are well known for their reputation and security. Anyone can can buy Bitcoin or Ether with Visa or Mastercard quickly and easily.

Their instant, straightforward purchases come with high limits (relatively). For credit cards, up to $5,000 can be purchased per day or $20,000 total in one month. The simple business model and interface make it great for newbies.

The downside is the high fees (6%). In terms of privacy, purchases under $150 require no verification.

They serve 217 countries and many US states. Check if yours is served here.

Coinmama exchange
Pros:
  • ​Fast & secure transactions
  • Simple & seamless
  • High limits for credit cards
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    Straightforward interface
Cons:
  • Not available in all states
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    Support is under a heavy load as the site expands
LocalBitcoins.com logo

Type: PEER-TO-PEER

Shrouded in mystery, highly private, untraceable—if these words appeal to you, then LocalBitcoins is the network for you.

The Finnish startup is a peer-to-peer (P2P) network where buyers and sellers agree on trade terms and the platform is used as escrow. It is one of the most popular Bitcoin exchange platforms due to its high level of privacy and anonymity. It requires no personal information to engage in trading. The downside is of course the high security risk; there are scams everywhere. Still, it’s extremely popular and mostly safe.

Aside from being available worldwide, it allows ANY PAYMENT METHOD YOU WANT, and charges a flat fee of 1% on all trades. Did we mention that there were no transaction limits either?

Pros:
  • ​Flexible
  • High liquidity
  • Worldwide
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    Anonymous
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    Good support
Cons:
  • ​Scams abound
  • High fees for cash
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    Reversible payment methods (PayPal) are a no-go
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    You must manually check each user’s reputation

Verdict: HIGH-RISK/HIGH-REWARD

Type: EXCHANGE

Poloniex offers maximum security, advanced trading features, and more than 100 different Bitcoin crypto pairings. With massive volume (it claims to be “the world’s most active digital asset exchange”) and with a collection of hard-to-find altcoins on offer, seasoned traders swear by Poloniex.

The chat box is another interesting feature, even if it is often full of your typical internet trolling. I’ve caught a lot of interesting news and insight during my time on the main page.

Their volume-tiered fee schedule ranges from 0 - .025% depending on whether or not you are a maker or a taker. Not sure what those terms mean? Check out this video on makers and takers.

Poloniex exchange
Pros:
  • Feature-rich
  • High-volume trading
  • Low fees
Cons:
  • Poor customer service
  • Confusing interface for beginners

Verdict: Poloniex is a great exchange, but its features and interface are best used by experienced traders.

#6 Binance

Type: EXCHANGE

This newcomer on the market has already built up a solid reputation and devout following—primarily for its low trading fees and friendly competitions with amazing prizes. What’s better than trading BTC AND winning a Maserati?

Aside from its fees and competitions, it is well respected due to its wide range of currencies and associated tokens (don’t understand crypto tokens? Read this explanation). Not only that, but it also offers two views: Basic and Advanced. The Advanced view comes with more in-depth analytical features like charts and tickers.

The site has a native token that can be used to pay for fees. This will cut the price in half.

The friendly vibe, robust features, and nifty giveaways earn Binance a safe spot on the top Bitcoin exchange platforms list.

Binance exchange
Pros:
  • ​Low fees
  • Endless coin options
  • Great competitions with major prizes
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    Native token
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    In-depth view
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    Fast engine
Cons:
  • ​Not user-friendly
  • Average customer support

Verdict: A great place to trade with no major downside

Type: EXCHANGE

“The next-generation digital currency exchange” provides its customers a world-class experience for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. Based in the USA and fully compliant with regulations, Bittrex has made a name for itself in terms of stability and security.

Saying their currency stable is robust would be an understatement (they support over 190!). Bittrex is an exchange where the buyers and sellers determine the price and the platform charges a small fee (.25%).

Account verification is fast and the platform offers several advanced tools to help traders extract max value. The only downside is that they are “crypto-only”, so you can’t deposit “regular” currency.

User-friendly, high security, and extensive tools and currency options make it worthy of the rex in its name.

Currencies that can be traded on Bittrex
Pros:
  • ​190 + cryptocurrencies
  • Fast verification
  • User-friendly
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    Robust features
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    Reasonable fees
Cons:
  • ​Crypto-only
  • No mobile app

Verdict: Currencies galore, advanced tools, and crypto-only policy make this the playground of expert traders. Beginners might want to look elsewhere.

Type: EXCHANGE

This EU-based exchange encourages its users to reach for the digital currency stars. It helps them get there by offering a safe and highly reputable platform for trading BTC, Ripple, Litecoin, Ether, and BTC Cash.

Security features that all traders love are multisig, two-step authentication, and fully-insured cold storage. Getting started is relatively quick and easy, and fees for trading pairs are modest (.10-.25%).

Founded in 2011, it’s one of the longest-running exchanges around. It’s also fully-licensed by the nation of Luxembourg. As you may have guessed, this means verification is a bit intense; however, it’s worth the extra security.

Bitstamp exchange
Pros:
  • ​​Reputable
  • ​Fort-Knox security
  • Low (albeit confusing) fees
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    Good for large transactions
Cons:
  • ​Extensive verification
  • Cumbersome user interface
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    Limited payment options

#9 Kraken

Type: Exchange

This legendary sea monster of an exchange allows you to sail the high seas of success. Success with buying, selling, and trading Bitcoin, that is.

Kraken is the largest Bitcoin exchange in Euro volume and liquidity, and it supports customers across the EU, US, Japan, and Canada. It also offers a range of other currencies such as Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and more. For supported currencies, see their fee schedule.

It’s a regulated platform which means high security and stringent verification requirements. It has two levels of verification but Tier-1 verification is severely limited. This means you’ll have to fully verify your personal details and address to really get started.

A unique feature that helps beginners is the “Simple” order form that greatly simplifies the buying or selling process. But don’t be fooled, this platform can get extremely complex! Margin trading, long and short bitcoin positions, and in-depth charts are favorites of seasoned traders.

Pros:
  • ​Great reputation
  • Low fees (.16-.26% for most users)
  • Worldwide
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    Great support
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    Feature rich
Cons:
  • ​Not beginner friendly
  • Limited payment options

Verdict: Overall a great exchange but perhaps best for serious traders.

#10 Gemini    

Type: Exchange

Gemini markets itself as the Bitcoin platform built for businesses and investors. You can buy, sell, and store Bitcoin with superior trading features, security, and regulatory oversight.

Co-founded by the Winklevoss twins, Gemini is a fully-regulated exchange that operates much like a bank. All US-dollar deposits are FDIC-insured. The downside to Gemini is that it only trades in US dollars, Bitcoin, and Ether. So, if you’re into other currencies, it’s not for you.

For institutions, Gemini has unique features such as auctions and custodial services. Their real-time, dynamic maker-taker fee schedule is incentive based and offers a transparent trading experience.

Pros:
  • ​High security and stability
  • High liquidity
  • Great business tools
Cons:
  • ​Limited currency options
  • Small community
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    Relatively poor customer support
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    Limited areas of operation

Verdict: Limited options for currencies but an overall trustworthy and useful platform.

Bitsquare is an open-source P2P exchange that allows customers to buy and sell BTC in exchange for fiat currency or other crypto. What makes this user-friendly desktop application so unique is that it allows new users to download and start trading within 10 minutes!

Unlike traditional exchanges, “Bisq” strives to be instant, private, and easy. It likes to market itself as fully decentralized, but that doesn’t mean it skimps out on security. It offers tight security with multig, secure deposits, and an arbitrator system for disputes. 

Bitsquare exchange
Pros:
  • Anonymous
  • Fast
  • OK fees
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    Available worldwide
Cons:
  • Limited payment options
  • Support isn’t good
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    Not beginner-friendly

Verdict: Perfect for those who want their BTC fast and want to remain anonymous.

Honorable Mentions

Life is full of borderline decisions, and sometimes even great choices miss out. That’s what the honorable mentions section is for. These top 11 might not be for everyone, so we’ll add a few words about other popular exchanges.

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    GDAX: An offshoot of Coinbase, Global Digital Asset Exchange provides an easy way for traders of all levels to exchange digital assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It’s connected to Coinbase, so you can easily move money between them. Highly recommended.
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    Shapeshift: Simple, fast, and easy, Shapeshift is an exchange that allows instant trades without signing up. You can only trade supported cryptocurrency though. No fiat money allowed.
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    Bitflyer: They are #1 in Bitcoin volume in Japan and offer lightning quick transactions. You can even create an account with Facebook! They’re fully insured and support is known to be good. There’s even a mobile app. Light fees are also a plus.

The question shouldn’t be “which one is the best Bitcoin exchange?”, but rather “which is the best Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrency) exchange for me?”. Each one has its pros and cons, and each serves its own purpose. It all depends on what you need. The important part is setting up a wallet and starting to trade on the exchange of your choice.

What do you think? Is it time to start trading and making serious money? If so, CryptoPositive is the place to go to learn serious Bitcoin and other crypto trading tips to help you start making money today.