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The Ultimate List of the Best Bitcoin Exchanges in 2018
2017 has been an outstanding year for cryptocurrencies, particularly bitcoin.
Bitcoin is now bigger than the Nasdaq in Market Cap, its price has surged up to 1000% this year alone. The more it grows, the more exposure to a wider audience it has, which leads to more growth, the snowball affect!
So how do you find bitcoin exchange sites to cater for all your needs? It’s not easy but below is our pick of recommended exchanges you should check out.
Exchange Bitcoin on the Best Bitcoin Sites
Bitcoin exchanges provide different features, different interfaces, and also differ when it comes to security, regulation, and privacy.
Bitcoin is listed on nearly all major cryptocurrency exchanges, which means you have plenty of choices.
Too much choice can be daunting, our guide will help you select the best bitcoin exchange and bitcoin sites, based on your requirements, experience, risk tolerance, location, and other factors.
If you are uncertain about what bitcoin is, we advise making sure you clarify any questions you may have before moving forward or to speed up the process check out the FAQ section at the bottom of the page.
What is an exchange?
Bitcoin sites normally have two purposes; an informative site or a bitcoin exchange. An exchange is basically a marketplace where you find different financial instruments to be traded. Our focus is on cryptocurrencies (particularly bitcoin).
For an exchange to add any cryptocurrency, there’s an extensive process to prove that the cryptocurrency is useful, has enough demand, is secure, and has an open-source code that can be audited and incorporated into the exchange system.
The main function of a bitcoin exchange (or a cryptocurrency exchange) is to provide all the means to trade pairs of financial instruments, in other words, to trade bitcoin for altcoins or fiat currency.
A bitcoin exchange digitally connects buyers and sellers that are interested in investing and trading the digital coin by placing orders to buy and sell as needed.
Each cryptocurrency exchange will vary in the payment methods they offer, the bitcoin exchange you choose may accept credit/debit cards, wire transfers, PayPal, etc. Some bitcoin exchanges are only based on cryptocurrency, this means that you cannot exchange anything with fiat currency.
In order to participate in such an exchange you must buy bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies on a different exchange and then send them to the wallet address of the exchange you want to use. Exchanges like Coinbase are often recommend for this process because they have a very good reputation for reliability.
When it comes to choosing a bitcoin site or exchange, we need to know what factors we should be considering when making our decision. Below we have summarised some important aspects you should look at when deciding how to exchange bitcoin.
Bitcoin Exchange Fees
You should always consider exchange fees when choosing your ideal BTC exchange, however it shouldn’t be the ultimate factor, it should be a combination of all that makes your decision. High fees are sometimes balanced with a great customer service, robust trading tools, etc. For example, eToro has high spreads to cover fees but also offers one of the best services in the market of bitcoin exchanges.
Enjoying your trading experience is a crucial factor to choose and stay with a particular bitcoin exchange. Many brokers like eToro offer the best user experience and performance for trading. They provide you with advanced tools to do technical analysis and social features like copy trading.
You also need to account for the speed of the transaction, the quicker it is the less chance that you will be slipped by the speed of the market.
Available in your Country
This is a decisive factor when it comes to choosing a bitcoin exchange. Some exchanges are US-based or Europe-based and won’t be available to buy bitcoin in your country. LocalBitcoins, CEX.io, and eToro are some of the bitcoin exchanges that are available in most countries around the globe. For US citizens, click here to find out which bitcoin exchanges are on offer to you.
Bitcoin Exchange Regulation
A well-regulated platform will be always helpful because it means that your investment is secured and that the exchange/broker you’re using are not a scam. One of the exchanges with more regulations and licenses to operate around the globe is IQOption, but eToro and Coinbase are also outstanding options to get started. eToro is regulated by both CySec and FCA, arguably one of the most difficult regulators to be accepted by.
Does the exchange or bitcoin site you choose have a reliable history, how long have they been up and running? The longer an exchange has been operating, the more return clients they will be getting, showing you that users are happy with the service provided. I would recommend staying away from brand new exchanges until you can read some reviews and feedback.
Know Your Customer (KYC)
Does your bitcoin exchange know you? For security reasons, most exchanges will ask for personal information to verify your identity and address. We recommend that you stick to bitcoin sites that require this from you. As we mentioned, it adds a layer of security to proceedings.
Best BTC Exchanges and Bitcoin Sites
We’ve collected the top bitcoin exchanges to use in 2017 (updated in November). There’s no particular order as this is not meant to be a ranking, the intention is to provide as much information as possible so the readers choose the platform that better suits their needs.
✅ Well-regulated platform: eToro is a licensed broker that works under strict regulations that make it a secure platform to buy and sell digital assets.
✅ Advanced tools for trading: eToro offers tools that enable higher control over your investments, e.g., trailing stop loss.
✅ Copy trading: if you’re not much of an expert, you can follow and copy all the trades made by popular and successful investors.
✅ Large portfolio: more than 1,000 financial instruments available.
✅ Multiple payments methods to deposit funds, e.g., PayPal, credit/debit card, wire transfer, etc.
❌ Since you buy cryptocurrencies as CFDs, you don’t get actual bitcoins. This is a disadvantage if you want to use bitcoin for buying products, services or trading altcoins.
❌ High spreads: the difference between the buy and sell prices is significant. That won’t work if you want to open short positions and use methods like micro-trading.
eToro one of the biggest brokers and places to buy bitcoin in the market. As a broker, eToro offers bitcoin as a contract for difference (CFD). This means that you’ll invest in the possibility of the asset price to move up or down, instead of buying the actual asset. It is important to understand that you won’t own bitcoin if you trade through eToro because you’re only speculating on bitcoins price. Based on the agreement with the broker when the contract is opened (when you buy) and terminated (when you sell).
Nonetheless, if your intention is to profit by trading bitcoin (rather than owning bitcoin), eToro is one of the best bitcoin trading sitesavailable on the market. It’s a very secure and well-regulated platform with more than 6-million users.
eToro is strictly regulated by the Cyprus Securities & Exchange Commission (CySEC) under license number 109/10. It also operates in the UK, where it is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), under firm reference number 583263. Funds are also stored at top-tier European banks; this basically means that your investments are free of fraud and you can trade securely.
✅ Bitcoins and altcoins: Bittrex is one of the biggest marketplaces to trade bitcoin and altcoins. It has high liquidity and provides some handy features that provide a medium control over your investment.
✅ Easy to register and start operating. It also provides some security features like elastic multi-stage wallet strategy, which ensures that 80-90% of funds are secured offline. You can also enable two-factor authentication.
✅ Large portfolio of crypto-coins: Bittrex provides an intuitive platform to trade more than 200 digital coins available with BTC, ETH, and USDT pairs.
❌ One of the biggest cons of Bittrex is that users are not able to deposit funds directly in fiat currency. To trade on Bittrex, you’ll have to buy bitcoin at another bitcoin exchange like Coinbase, and then transfer your BTC to Bittrex. Bittrex uses Tether (USDT) as an alternative to US dollars.
❌ Financial transparency seems to be an issue that concerns users when it comes to Bittrex. As an unaudited platform, some big customers don’t feel the same confidence to trade as they do in highly regulated platforms like eToro.
If you’d like to choose a bitcoin exchange site where you can also trade other crypto-coins, Bittrex is one of the best alternatives available. It is operated in the United State and is one of the most secure and popular platforms to trade cryptocurrencies. It has a fast and easy-to-use trading engine:
“Our custom trading engine was designed to be scalable using elastic computing. The Bittrex platform processes and executes orders as soon as they are placed so you will never see a crossed order book or delay in processing of any trades.”
✅ Coinbase is one the biggest bitcoin exchange sites on the market: +13 million users provide high liquidity in transactions.
✅ Secured funds: According to the information on their website: “All digital currency that Coinbase holds online is fully insured. This means that if Coinbase were to suffer a breach of its online storage, the insurance policy would pay out to cover any customer funds lost as a result.”
✅ It is the top bitcoin exchange for buying using fiat currency.
✅ Easy-to-use: the process for buying, storing, sending, and receiving crypto-coins is quite simple. It accepts basic payment methods like wire transfers, credit/debit card, and PayPal (US customers only).
❌ It is not available to trade in some countries. Currently, you’ll be able to use Coinbase only if you are based in US, Canada, EU countries, UK, Australia and Singapour.
❌ You can’t place limit orders at a specific price using the Coinbase platform directly. If that’s your case, you can use GDAX, a trading tool from Coinbase, which is more difficult to use.
❌ Verification may take up to 2 business days. You can’t buy bitcoin unless your account is verified by Coinbase, so this is a downside of this bitcoin exchange.
“Founded in June of 2012, Coinbase is a digital currency wallet and platform where merchants and consumers can transact with new digital currencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin. We’re based in San Francisco, California.”
In a nutshell, Coinbase is the best bitcoin exchange if your intention is to buy the actual asset (BTC). Once you have your bitcoins available at Coinbase, you can send them to a more versatile exchange in case you want to trade them. You can also use GDAX, a trading platform by Coinbase.
✅ Available in Underserved Countries: Luno.com is available in Europe, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Malaysia.
✅ Accepts Fiat Currency: Few major exchanges (other than Coinbase) allow users to buy Bitcoin/Ethereum with fiat currency.
✅ Awesome iPhone App: The fully featured app is a wallet and Bitcoin exchange, just like the PC version.
❌ No Customer Service: If you have trouble, you’ll have to try to contact Luno on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Instagram.
❌ Not Available in the US: Luno.com is based in London and is not licensed to sell in the United States. Americans can use the Luno wallet.
If you are looking for a great alternative to Coinbase, Luno.com is the exchange you should absolutely try. Like Coinbase, Luno is one of the few exchanges which accept fiat currencies to buy cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash. This exchange has also a learning platform (www.luno.com/learn/en/) with some fantastic resources for whoever might be interested in learning about everything crypto.
✅ Buy Virtual Currency are currently the leading bitcoin exchange site on the market for customer service. Making it one of the easiest to use when it comes to buying bitcoin online.
✅ They offer around the clock personal service where you are given an account manager who will handle all your purchase.
✅ Great for beginners because they will explain all the risks and rewards and help you set up your first crypto wallet. Also allows you to buy whatever cryptocurrency you want using credit/debit card or bank transfer.
✅ Portfolio building. Account managers all have experience working as a trader, broker or market analyst and so can help you build your own crypto portfolio.
❌ Do not offer Paypal as a payment method
❌ Cannot accept citizens based in the US.
Fresh impetus has been put onto the customer service team to give clients the best possible service available on the market. With support staff available round the clock and on weekends, you are only a phone call away from their staff.
Albeit LocalBitcoins can’t be considered as a bitcoin exchange, it’s worth mention for the users that are based in countries that are excluded from popular brokers and BTC exchanges. If that’s your case, you’ll probably want to get bitcoins using your local currency and LocalBitcoins offers the means for doing so. This platform simply connects people from different countries so they can exchange their local currency to bitcoin.
✅ LocalBitcoins has the largest offer of bitcoins/fiat currency pairs. It is available in more than 248 countries with different currencies.
✅ As it involves people, you will find a lot of payment methods available (you can even set a meeting with a seller to exchange bitcoin for cash).
✅ LocalBitcoins provides a bitcoin wallet to store your bitcoins. A part of your transaction will be held in a guarantee deposit that will be released when the seller confirms that he/she received your payment.
❌ Bitcoin prices on this platform are much higher when compared to traditional bitcoin exchange sites. If the seller has a good feedback and history, prices will be even higher.
❌ LocalBitcoins do its best to provide the users with some security features, but when involving humans into transactions, there’s always a risk of scam and fraud.
✅ Available in most countries around the globe: unlike other bitcoin exchange sites, CEX.io is available in 99% countries in the world. This is one of its biggest advantages.
✅ Margin trading: CEX.io allows users to set 1:2 and 1:3 leverages borrowing funds to trade with higher amounts. The platform has a negative balance protection when using this option.
✅ CEX.io is very secure: it provides users with anti-fraud protection and refund policy in case of issues. In addition, is a well-regulated platform with a FinCEN registration,
❌ Transactions fees for deposits and withdrawals are relatively high. The verification process is tedious.
❌ It is recommended for more advanced users since the operations might be a little trickier compared to other exchanges.
❌ Payment options are limited and liquidity is not as good as in platforms like Coinbase.
CEX.io is a cryptocurrency exchange site established in 2013 as the first cloud mining provider. Currently, it is used by more than a million users and allows users to buy bitcoin and altcoins via a bundle interface. This is also a great bitcoin exchange to trade securely, but not many people know this platform.
✅ Margin trading: this is basically trading with borrowed funds or leverage. Poloniex offers margin trading on bitcoins and some altcoins. This is an advantage, but remember that these operations are considered as high-risked. However this does make Poloniex a leader in bitcoin trading sites.
✅ Poloniex provides one of the most advanced trading platforms online. It provides top-notch graphs with many options for technical analysis. This exchange became very popular in 2016, but a lot of users migrated to other bitcoin exchanges because of security breaches discovered in 2017.
✅ Low fees: depending on your trading volume, you will get different fees, but they are essentially low. The fees for buying can go from 0.25% to 0.05%; the fees for selling vary from 0.15% to 0%. You can find more information about Poloniex’s fees here.
❌ Some users reported bugs and slow performance at the trading platform.
❌ Poloniex lost popularity when a huge amount of users migrated their funds to other cryptocurrency/bitcoin exchanges.
“We are a US-based digital asset exchange offering maximum security and advanced trading features.”
Half a year ago, most traders would have said that the best bitcoin exchange was Poloniex. However, this situation changed when many users migrated their funds to similar bitcoin exchanges like Bittrex. Users reported bugs, issues for funds withdrawals (“Awaiting Approval” message stuck for days), and frozen accounts.
The issue was reported by users on social media and by cryptocurrency news sites like The CoinTelegraph and News BTC. And even though Poloniex has managed to solve the issues and be operational again, many users do not longer trust Poloniex as a safe bitcoin exchange.
✅ Exchange bitcoins to altcoins: Cryptopia’s not a simple bitcoin exchange. It provides users with more than 450 crypto-coins that are really hard to find at any other exchange.
✅ Low fees: the platform will only charge 0.20% on each transaction.
❌ The trading platform of Cryptopia doesn’t run as smoothly as all the other exchanges we’ve mentioned thus far.
❌ Low volume: you won’t be able to place orders for big amounts of money, this sometimes leads to low liquidity and marketplace manipulation. Check the volume of the exchange pair of your interest before placing any order.
❌ Just like it happens on Bittrex, there is no option to trade bitcoin for fiat currencies. Cryptopia offers Tether’s USDT (US Dollar) and NZDT (New Zealand Dollar) instead.
If you’re looking for a bitcoin exchange where you can also trade other altcoins (many new crypto-coins are listed here), Cryptopia is one of the best options to trade the freshest in the market.
“Cryptopia, written from scratch and designed from the ground up to be a by the users for the users one-stop hub for all things cryptocurrency related. We believe that in order for cryptocurrencies to become widely adopted and prosper they need to be easily accesible, user-friendly, and above all usable for actual goods and services.”
Bitcoin exchanges available in the US
The US Dollar versus bitcoin is the most commonly referred to pairing when talking about bitcoin price, the shortcode will look like this; BTC/USD (or BTC/USDT) in most bitcoin exchanges.
However, some BTC exchanges are not available in the US, whilst others are only available to US-based users. Below is a list of top bitcoin exchanges that are available in the US.
It is important to understand the terminology for trading. An “exchange pair” represents the two parties that are exchanged. One may trade bitcoin against other popular cryptocurrencies or fiat currencies (local currencies at different countries around the globe).
The most popular exchange pair for trading bitcoin is BTC/USD (Bitcoin/United States Dollar), but there are other popular exchange pairs on bitcoin exchanges that move a large volume of transactions:
BTC/KRW (Bitcoin/South Korean won).
BTC/JPY (Bitcoin/Japanese yen).
There are many other exchange pairs for bitcoin, but the ones listed above are the most popular and with the higher volume of transactions.
What is Tether (USD₮)?
What is Tether (USD₮)?
Some bitcoin exchanges don’t offer means to exchange bitcoin for fiat currency. But there’s a new cryptocurrency that’s been out for a while and has the intention to provide a mean to convert bitcoin (or other crypto-coins) into a cryptocurrency that’s absolutely equivalent to fiat currency. It is called Tether, and it was incorporated to the blockchain via the Omni Protocol, “open source software that interfaces with blockchains to allow for the issuance and redemption of cryptocurrency tokens, in our case, ‘tethers’“.
This system protects from the intrinsic volatility of cryptocurrencies by backing up actual fiat currency assets in their reserve account. Actually, you can sign up for their platform and exchange your Tether to the base fiat currency on a 1:1 basis. The base currencies supported by Tether are US Dollars (USD) and Euros (EUR). Tether currencies are denoted by adding a ₮ at the end of the base currency ISO code: USD₮, EUR₮.
If you’ve been into markets on bitcoin exchanges like Bittrex or Poloniex, you’ve probably seen USD₮ Markets. In fact, the BTC/USDTpair has an important volume of transactions on bitcoin exchange sites, since many people want to protect their profits in fiat currency, that if it’s not available, now you know you can use Tether instead. You can check an example below:
Bitcoin Price at Exchanges
Bitcoin Price at Exchanges
The price of bitcoin may vary from one exchange to another, based on the offer and demand. You will also notice a difference between the buy and sell prices, the latter always higher. In the following image, you can notice the difference between the Buy (Ask) and Sell (Bid) prices at different bitcoin exchanges:
Bitcoin price at different BTC exchanges. The snapshot was taken at the same time on all of the exchanges.
Which bitcoin exchange has the largest volume?
Bitcoin Exchange site by Volume
Currently according to coinmarketcap.com, Bitfinex has the largest amount of bitcoin volume going through it. For the exact volumes see below:
Bitfinex bitcoin volume – $1,680 million
Bithumb bitcoin volume – $831 million
GDAX bitcoin volume – $579 million
BitFlyer bitcoin volume – $452 million
Bitstamp bitcoin volume – $304 million
What is the spread?
The “spread” is the difference between the bid and the ask prices of a financial instrument on a particular broker. This value changes from one platform to another, and depends on multiple factors like supply & demand and may be also affected by a broker rules. For instance, as observed in the figure above, eToro has the highest spread, this is because eToro’s fees are included in the spread and charged at the closing of a position (when an operator sells his/her asset).
The typical spread for bitcoin at eToro is 0.70%. It is really important for the traders to check the spread at the bitcoin exchange they are going to use; e.g., if the spread high, then the bitcoin site is not a good option for placing short positions.
Bitcoin exchanges: how to create an account to trade?
Bitcoin exchanges: how to create an account to trade
The typical process to get started at a bitcoin exchange (or any broker/exchange) is as follows:
Create an account: the first step—as you may have imagined—is creating an account on your favourite bitcoin exchange (you can trade at two or three different bitcoin sites, of course). The process is quite similar and you’ll likely need to provide your full name, email, phone, and a password to log in.
Verify account: once you have your account to log in to the bitcoin exchange, you’ll need to provide further details to verify your account and start trading. Some bitcoin exchanges may allow trading without verification, but some options and tools are limited, so it is advisable to complete verification when registering (you’ll have to do it anyway). For example, you can start trading at eToro before verifying your account, but you won’t be able to use the “Copy People” feature, make withdrawals, and you will be limited to deposit up to $2,250. Other bitcoin exchanges won’t even ask you for verification in the first place, but you’ll probably find the option by going to Settings. For instance, on Bittrex you have basic (withdrawal up to .4 BTC/day) and enhanced verification (withdrawal up to 100 BTC/day): if your account has none, you won’t be allowed to withdraw any amount. The bitcoin exchange will ask you for personal and legitimate information throughout the process of verification. Depending on the platform requirements, you may need to provide: personal information (birthdate, full address, etc.), identification document (ID-card, driver’s license, passport), utility bill as a proof-of-residence, and even a selfie with your ID-card on hand (seriously, you’ll have to do that if you register at CEX.io).
KYC (Know Your Customer): other platforms, mainly brokers, will have you complete a questionnaire about your experience as a trader, economic situation, risk tolerance, etc. That way, the broker determines whether you are suitable to trade and which products are the best for your current situation.
Funds: you will have to deposit funds in order to start trading bitcoin. You will likely get started with fiat currencies like the dollar, euro, or pound. Payment methods differ from one platform to another and this is an important factor while choosing a proper BTC exchange. Other platforms will allow you to transfer altcoins via addresses on crypto-wallets and exchange them for bitcoin later (or vice-versa, which is the most common situation).
Start trading: once you have your funds available at your bitcoin exchange, you can start placing selling and buying orders using the appropriated exchange pair.
Withdraw funds from your account: this is the last step when trading at a bitcoin exchange, i.e., withdrawal of funds either in bitcoin, altcoins, or fiat currency. Depending on the BTC exchange/broker, you’ll be able to withdraw your funds to another crypto-wallet, to your bank account, PayPal account, etc. The fees for carrying out this operation vary but rest assured the broker will charge you fees on this one.
How to trade and place orders on a bitcoin exchange?
How to trade and place orders on a bitcoin exchange site
Even though the graphical interface on each bitcoin trading site is different, the process for placing orders is similar. Some bitcoin exchanges will provide advanced options like trailing stop losses. In general, there are two types of orders:
Market order: this order will be executed at the best price on the market by the time of placing it. It is the easiest way to buy bitcoin, but you won’t be able to manage the buying price and set targets for it. In addition, if the offer is not enough to fill your order (lack of liquidity) you will fall into “slippage“, which increases the price considerably. A typical buy market order looks like this:
Limit order: you can place a limit order if you want to buy or sell bitcoin at a specific price. It’ll only get executed if the price is met by the market during the period in which the order is open. The obvious advantage of a limit order is that, in case you’ve made a technical/market analysis, you’re able to set a good entry point that leads to further profits.
A common limit order for buying at a bitcoin exchange looks like this:
There are many tools and options that allow an advanced management of your investment. The most important are:
Stop Loss: as suggested by its name, it sets a value (price) in which the trader won’t afford further losses. This protects the trader from losing too much money in case of sharp drops in price.
Trailing stop loss: this option is available and based on the value set at the stop loss. Is a tool designed to protect gains by enabling the stop loss to move dynamically should the market price is moving in your favour, i.e., if the price increases, the stop loss value will move according to the number of pips set in the first place. That way, you can furtherly protect from a volatile market like bitcoin’s.
Take profit: it is the opposite of stop loss. You set the price you want to sell your bitcoins at “take profit”, based on your profit expectations. That way, you can protect your earnings before the price falls again.
Leverage: we’ll use eToro’s definition of leverage: “is a temporary loan given to the trader by the broker. Using Risk Level you are able to open a trade of a larger size than the actual amount of funds you invest in it. Leverage is presented in the form of a multiplier that shows how much larger than the invested amount* an open position is.” Keep in mind that using leverage is very risky in cryptocurrencies markets due to its natural volatility, so be cautious if you’re going to use it at a bitcoin exchange.
These options will be available mainly in brokers, if you need to set stop losses in bitcoin exchanges, you’ll need to set a conditional order that will be opened when the price meets a certain condition (the price is greater/less than or equal to a specific value). You can see an example on Bittrex below:
Model of a typical conditional order at a bitcoin exchange site (Bittrex) to sell Bitcoin when the price drops below $7,000. It can be used to emulate a stop loss. Conditional orders won’t be visible in the order book.
The Ultimate List of the Best Bitcoin Exchanges in 2018