What Are the Best Bitcoin Exchanges?

It isn’t easy to find the best Bitcoin exchange.

Why is this so? Simply because many of the best sites to buy Bitcoin are rather new. This means they haven’t had time to get the word out about their services and products.

I’ve been studying cryptocurrencies for a long time, and I’ve unearthed a number of exchanges that aren’t on the radar of most of the other so-called “experts.”

In this article, I’ll walk you through the best exchanges I’ve found, how to use them, and how to ensure your Bitcoin purchases and trading are fast, easy, and secure.

Let’s get started!

How to ensure you’re trading securely

Most people learning about exchanges first want to know how to buy Bitcoin online securely. This is a good starting point. Let’s see how.

The first thing to consider when looking for the top Bitcoin exchange is how safe the website and server are. This boils down to asking two questions.

First, is it a trustworthy exchange providing transparent data of coins in cold storage (more on this later)? Second, are customers happy? These two questions will give you all the answers you’ll need to make your decision.

It’s also good to look out for which currency pairs are available: are you looking to trade Bitcoin for USD, Euros, or other fiat currencies? The location usually gives an idea of what’s on offer.

However, the largest Bitcoin sites usually have many options for buying Bitcoin with government-issued currency as well as altcoins.

Although you should always do your own research before investing, I hope this review guide helps. Below is the table of the best exchanges to buy Bitcoin online. If you are new to cryptocurrency exchanges then keep an eye on the the ‘beginner-friendly’ column.

Secure exchanges that are trustworthy and have good user ratings will rank higher than their peers. Extra points are given for sites to buy Bitcoin with PayPal, as many users request this feature.

Ranking preference is also given for sites to buy Bitcoin with credit card. Check out each option on the following best Bitcoin exchange list. Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference.

[table of exchanges]

Have I missed something? Let me know!

How to buy Bitcoin using this list of exchanges

Hopefully the list of Bitcoin exchanges above will be of good use for how to trade Bitcoins. Each outstanding site should have detailed instructions.

From here, you can easily figure out how to buy Bitcoin with credit card, PayPal, cash, or bank transfers. Once you have got some coins then it is a good idea to store them offline and not on an exchange.

For “cold” vs “hot” storage options, you need to understand the best kind of wallet. When buying or selling it is safer just to transfer in and out of your ‘cold’ (offline) wallet to the ‘hot’ (online) exchange.

Remember that so long as a cold offline wallet’s keys have not been compromised, then those coins cannot be taken.

What is the best site to buy Bitcoin in the above list?

This is a tough question in my opinion. Each exchange has an upside compared to others.

Check a few out and look up on forums to see what users are saying about the service provided, and which the forum users think are the best sites to buy Bitcoin easily.

LocalBitcoins.com is a really cool P2P Bitcoin exchange for beginners wanting to buy for their first time. The service is all over the world, meaning you can use euros, pounds, yen, australian dollars, swiss francs, canadian dollars, krona, rubles, lira, rupees and so on.

LocalBitcoins com Fastest and easiest way to buy and sell bitcoins

If you pay by physical cash then you get to meet the person in real life. This allows for a great experience and sense of community.

Alternatively, you can do a fast bank transfer and the site will hold your coins in escrow for you once it goes through.

Obviously there are simpler ways to start off. Some like to buy with PayPal, but not many leading Bitcoin exchanges accept this because of chargebacks.

Which are the largest exchanges?

Generally the biggest Bitcoin exchanges will be toward the top of the above list. For example Bitfinex, GDAX, Bitstamp, Coinbase (also the best USD Bitcoin exchange) all represent large volume proportions.

Daily volume varies, and therefore the world’s largest exchange vary each day.

Go to Bitcoinity for a good list of all the top Bitcoin exchange site and their proportional volumes.

Bitcoin trading volume Bitcoinity org

Some find this handy for arbitrage between markets.

What about the best cryptocurrency exchange?

Sadly, with the demise of Cryptsy there is a need for a new major first-rate cryptocurrency exchange for alternatives to Bitcoin, or altcoins.

Having many medium-sized cryptocurrency exchange sites is a better situation than having one large amazing option.

Bittrex has now replaced Poloniex as the largest option. Its platform is functional enough to have attracted tens of millions of new customer every month. Things feel smooth when using Bittrex.

All big and small trading pairs are offered and it is now possible to do cryptocurrency margin trading on major altcoins. This is a neat feature, but use it with caution as leveraged trading has a certain risk factor.

Keep in mind that some of the best Bitcoin exchange sites also do altcoins. Yobit, Bittrex, and Changelly, are great options worth checking out.

Some even offer short selling on major coins. You may also like to check the market capitalizations and compare them to others listed there.

Cryptocurrency Market Capitalizations CoinMarketCap

Where to find the most secure Bitcoin exchange?

This is an important question to ask. Yes, putting the words “trustworthy Bitcoin exchange” in the same sentence seems like an oxymoron, especially when remembering the once-glamorous days of MtGox.

While the Bitcoin protocol has never been hacked, many peripheral businesses have.

Perhaps the best question to ask would be, which are the least secure Bitcoin exchange? Generally, those listed here are optimum and of good standing, but please proceed with caution.

Remember never to leave more BTC online than you can afford to lose. And since the world of Bitcoin is constantly changing, keep up with the discussion. I recommend listening to Andreas Antonopoulos on the LetsTalkBitcoin podcast, and check out r/btc on reddit.

The best Bitcoin exchanges in 2018

Binance.com

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Binance is a Chinese exchange that’s attracted a lot of attention recently. While you might be initially hesitant to trust a Chinese exchange, there’s no need to worry with Binance.

Because it’s competing against some huge names, Binance is working hard to compete by slashing their exchange fees. They also have a huge list of initial coin offerings.

Pros

  • Low exchange fees
  • Incredible selection of ICO listings and tokens
  • Simple and fast signup process

Cons

  • More complex user interface designed for the more advanced trader

Coinbase.com

Buy Sell Digital Currency Coinbase 1

Coinbase combines an attractive interface, a great site to get Bitcoins with a debit card, and multiple online wallets for your digital currency.

Over 4,800,000 users are signed up, including 45,000 merchants and 9,000 developer apps. Coinbase works well for European, American, and Canadian customers.

Pros

  • Really easy to use
  • Lots of long-time customers
  • Online wallet available

Cons

  • Slightly more work needed when verifying account

Bittrex.com

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Update: I’ve unlisted Bittrex from the ranking while new account registrations remain closed. I’ll be re-listing the exchange once new sign-ups are allowed.

Bittrex has earned its place as the new contender to the throne of world’s largest crypto exchange. Years of hard work and some lucky circumstances (BTC-e shut-down, Poloniex exodus, Cryptsy) have compounded a steady inflow of new users.

You can read more details elsewhere, but suffice it to say that Bittrex is here to stay.

Pros

  • Nearly 200 trading pairs
  • Currently the most visited altcoin exchange
  • Trusted by millions of traders
  • High volumes available for big trades

Cons

  • Heavy vetting requirements – especially for a non-fiat exchange
  • Minor scaling issues as users flow in to signup

LocalBitcoins.com

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LocalBitcoins is quite a popular for person-to-person transactions all over the world. Simply put, you interact directly with the guy selling to you.

Out of all the Bitcoin sites listed here, this is one of the first and most reputed. Escrow and dispute resolution is provided by the site.

Pros

  • Great way to meet people
  • PayPal also available
  • No verification needed
  • Popular in most countries

Cons

  • May take longer to conclude transaction
  • Risks associated with anonymous transactions
  • Some bank accounts have been suspended after receiving money

Cex.io

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Update: Cex has been removed from the top exchanges as new account registrations are currently disabled. I’m following the situation closely.

CEX is one of those international Bitcoin exchanges accepting euros, British pounds, US dollars, Russian Rubles, Ethereum, Zcash, and Dash.

Needless to say, CEX is very popular within those currency regions. There is a no-nonsense landing page, giving you the option to buy or sell $100, $200, $500, or $1,000 USD worth of Bitcoin.

I like the transparency given to users about how much they will actually pay – even before they sign up. Good security practices, a modern and simple user interface, and both bank transfer and credit card purchases are available.

CEX is indeed a good beginner-optimized alternative to Coinbase.

Pros

  • Bank transfer and credit card deposits
  • Very easy to use and great for beginners
  • Users know how much they will pay before even signing up
  • Buying and selling Ethereum is available

Cons

  • Recently Litecoin was unlisted

Kraken.com

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Warning: Kraken is no longer listed here due to persistent UI and trading engine issues.

Kraken once worked well through SEPA (wire transfers), had an easy verification process, and was very knowledgeable when it come to cryptography and security.

In early 2017, this platform began re-positioning itself as a crypto exchange by adding multiple new altcoins.

Pros

  • Cryptographic communications
  • Cheapest rates for trading, depositing and withdrawing
  • Works well for Europeans and North America

Cons

  • Increasingly severe issues with Kraken trading engine, page timeouts, generating new deposit addresses
  • Recently disabled stop-loss and other trading features without giving explanation to the community
  • Site not as visually intuitive

Bisq.io

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Bisq (formerly Bitsquare) is a must-see for the technically advanced. A decentralized P2P platform that keeps you super safe.

Over 60 crypocurrencies can be traded and you can even purchase BTC using a bank transfer, escrow, and trusted third parties.

Pros

  • Incredibly advanced technologically
  • P2P and decentralized
  • Trusted escrow system for bank transfers

Cons

  • Advanced level of IT comprehension needed

GDAX.com

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GDAX is great for technical traders and offers good liquidity. Deposits are in USD and can be processed just as rapidly as withdraws.

GDAX also happens to be the best ethereum exchange for serious players in this space.

Pros

  • An integral part of the trusted Coinbase brand
  • Optimized to be a serious trading site

Cons

  • More ID processing steps than on Chinese trading platforms

Bitstamp.net

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Bitstamp is big in Europe and, since 2011, has moved from Slovenia and the United Kingdom in search of sound regulatory environments.

Bitstamp offers good volume on high level trades. It’s been well received by people using SEPA (wire transfers) and credit cards. Both euro and US dollar deposits are accepted.

I like Bitstamp because they started by focusing on being a pure Bitcoin-only exchange. They only added other cryptocoins in 2017.

Pros

  • Card purchases available (visa mastercard and visa) in Europe and the USA.
  • HQ located in Luxembourg
  • Good for large transactions yet easy to use for beginners

Cons

  • Not available outside of EU and the USA

EtherDelta.com

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Etherdelta is a recent addition to my list. You absolutely must check out this decentralized exchange (DeX).

Created by developer Zack Coburn in 2016, Etherdelta has become the community’s favorite place to trade Ethereum ICO tokens without using custodial accounts or centralized services.

More than 325 ERC20 tokens are listed. Daily trading volumes are respectable for the most popular ICO coins. Using this DeX requires the Metamask Chrome browser extension.

The best part is that your money is always under your control. Such infallibility comes from the storing of all personal funds in smart contracts – over which only you have control of the private keys.

Pros

  • Funds are extremely safe on this fully-decentralized exchange
  • No ID, real name, or registration of any sort is required
  • High-volume ERC20 exchange for trading Ethereum ICO tokens

Cons

  • Beginners will have to watch a tutorial to understand how to use EtherDelta

Paxful.com

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Paxful gets over 2 million monthly visits, with 50% originating from the USA. It’s a peer-to-peer Bitcoin marketplace connecting buyers with sellers similar to the one above.

Over 150 payment methods can be used, which is impressive!

Pros

  • Hundreds of payment methods such as Paypal, Skrill and NetTeller, cash – or even iTunes and Amazon gift cards
  • P2P (person to person), similar to LocalBitcoins

Cons

  • Higher fees than elsewhere

CoinATMradar.com

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Coin ATM Radar provide a global map of Bitcoin ATMs. This allows you to use cash to buy in person at a physical machine

This is one of the most underrated means of purchasing, since many ATMs don’t require ID verification, and allow users to stay anonymous. With over 869 ATMs spread around the world, there is probably a bATM near you.

Pros

  • Find Bitcoin locations near you
  • No ID needed in some cases
  • Explains how a Bitcoin ATM works

Cons

  • Not always possible to find a machine nearby
  • You’ll have to leave your house!

CoinMama.com

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CoinMama is a popular site for buying Bitcoin or ethereum from those far-out tricky countries that are not accepted by the larger exchanges.

Note that users cannot sell back to the site – only buy.

Pros

  • Credit card purchases from nearly all countries

Cons

  • Fees are higher than most sites
  • Not possible to sell cryptocurrency back to the exchange

Poloniex.com

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Poloniex was once the best cryptocurrency exchange. Why has it taken such a sharp turn for the worse?

Recently, customers have been migrating to Bittrex following reports of withdraw problems on Poloniex.

Nevertheless, Poloniex has been seeing extremely fast traffic growth since the demise of its rival Cryptsy in 2016, and especially since the recent altcoin bubble of early 2017.

Traffic more than quadrupled over a period of a few months, from 7 million monthly visits in February 2017 to 30 million in May 2017.

Poloniex has the nicest trading interface out there. This will work wonders for both mobile and desktop users.

Please note that because Poloniex is a pure “crypto” exchange, it is not possible to deposit government (fiat) currency. You’ll need to first buy Bitcoin elsewhere, and then deposit it to be able to trade.

Pros

  • The 2nd most popular crypto exchange, after Bittrex
  • Margin trading (up to 4x) available on largest altcoins
  • One of the best trading interfaces for mobile and desktop browsers
  • Has the large volumes for all major altcoins including Ethereum.

Cons

  • Losing significant customer-base due to reports of user withdraw issues and lack of customer support
  • Not possible to deposit fiat currency

Bitmex.com

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Bitmex is the leading Bitcoin margin trading site.

Users can trade cryptocurrency derivatives with up to 100x leverage. Pairs include BTC/USD, Yen, Monero, Ripple, Dash, and Ethereum.

Bitmex CEO Arthur Hayes has used his experience as an equity derivatives trader for Deutsche Bank to design, build, and maintain exactly the type of platform that users are looking for.

Granted, this platform is for experienced and seasoned traders. Beginners should avoid trading coins here without knowing the implied volatility risks.

Pros

  • Leading platform for Bitcoin derivatives and margin trading
  • Great and functional user experience throughout the site
  • Up to 100x leverage

Cons

  • With such high leverage it’s easy to overlook the implied risk factor

How to choose the best Bitcoin exchange

If you’re ready to jump into the world of cryptocurrencies, you need to start off with a solid understanding of the best exchanges available.

There are a lot of options out there, but I recommend starting with one of the exchanges I’ve listed here. You’ll save a lot of time and hassle using a recommended exchange than finding one on your own.

That said, you should do your own research before blindly taking an exchange at my word!

The world of cryptocurrencies is shifting every day, and it’s possible to discover new changes to an exchange even a day after I write this. Do your research before you start investing any money.

Once you find the right exchange, go ahead and spend some time learning the ropes before placing your first order. You don’t want to misunderstand a term that ends up costing you money.

Once you have a solid understanding of the exchange you want to use, get started. Welcome to the world of Bitcoin trading!

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