In this article, we are going to compare the top cryptocurrency exchanges by ranking and analyzing them in several categories.
Before we get started, we are going to answer five of the most commonly asked questions about cryptocurrency exchanges.
What Is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform that allows for the trading of cryptocurrencies against each other and other assets. It is very similar to a conventional financial exchange since its main idea is to allow for the exchange of digital assets.
What Type of Cryptocurrency Exchanges Are There?
Currently, there are more than 250 cryptocurrency exchanges available. The exact number is difficult to pinpoint since new ones can be created and several are still in their start-up phase. However, there are more than 250 cryptocurrency exchanges that are currently active.
Which Bitcoin Exchange Is Safest?
The answer to this question depends on the definition of “safest.”
There are several exchanges that never have been hacked or those that have been hacked but have repaid their customers in full. If we create criteria based on past security issues, insurance fund, and brand recognition, the safest exchanges would be:
Is Bitcoin a Good Investment 2019?
The answer to this question depends on the time-frame on which you plan on taking out profits.
Bitcoin is known to be extremely volatile, especially if we analyze it on short-term time-frames.
However, our long-term view of BTC remains bullish.
Which Bitcoin Exchange Has Lowest Fees?
Several exchanges offer rates below 0.1 percent and even zero percent in some cases. Out of the exchanges listed below, the smallest fees are given by Huobi, Kucoin, and Binance.
The full list of exchanges that we will analyze are listed below:
Getting started with Stormgain only takes several minutes. All you need to register is an e-mail.
Stormgain offers cryptocurrency trading for five cryptocurrencies:
The fees for trading are fixed at 0.25 percent for BTC pairs and 0.08 percent for USDT pairs.
StormGain’s best feature is definitely its margin trading. It offers very satisfactory leverage rates from 5x-100x. This was the highest rate from the analyzed exchanges.
The fees for leveraged trading depends on the cryptocurrency pair. They are between 0.15 percent and 0.25 percent. On top of this, there is the daily rate which is between 0.004 percent and 0.04 percent — likewise depending on the cryptocurrency pair.
StormGain allows cryptocurrency deposits but does not allow fiat deposits.
The minimum deposit for each currency is as follows: 0.05 BTC, 0.160 BCH, 0.200 ETH, 0.550 LTC, and 160 XRP.
The interface is extremely easy to use and very suitable for beginners.
The phone application has a built-in wallet. The exchange has two-factor authentication for individual users.
Binance is a cryptocurrency exchange based in Tokyo, Japan. It launched in 2017.
The exchange supports more than 150 trading pairs.
Fees are generally one percent. If a user uses BNB for trading he receives a reduced fee. The amount of reduction depends on the time that you have been trading and the total amount of BNB you hold. The exact fees are based on the past 30-day trading volume, whether the order is a market maker or a taker and BNB holdings. They range from 0.02 percent to 0.1 percent for the maker and 0.04 percent to 0.1 percent for the taker. If you are using BNB for trade then the numbers change to 0.015-0.075 and 0.03-0.075.
The withdrawal fees are quite small. For Bitcoin, they are 0.0005 BTC with a minimum of 0.002 BTC withdrawn. For Ethereum, the fees are 0.01 ETH per withdrawal with a minimum withdrawn of 0.02 ETH.
Withdrawal limit depends on the level of verification. It is two BTC for non-verified accounts and increases to 100 for verified accounts.
There are no deposit fees. You can deposit fiat currencies with a fixed fee of 3.5 percent per transaction or $10, whichever is higher.
Finally, the exchange offers Margin trading with up to 3x leverage. It has a very helpful “margin meter,” which shows you how close you are to having your funds forcibly liquidated.
For BTC, the maximum borrowing limit is 10 BTC — with a daily rate of 0.019-0.02 percent.
Binance employs the Binance launchpad and supports the listing and purchasing of new Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs).
Binance has its own chart interface and the one powered by TradingView. The exchange is advanced and has several interesting tools, but is not preferred for beginners. The exchange offers basic conditional orders, such as stop-limit orders, but does not have a trailing stops.
Binance employs two-factor authentication for individual users.
The exchange was hacked in May and lost $40 million, but it repaid its users.
Bittrex is a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in Washington. It was founded in 2013.
Bittrex supports upwards of 200 coins and is available in around 190 countries.
Bittrex does not charge any extra fees for deposits or withdrawals of cryptocurrencies or USD deposits.
However, in order to be able to deposit or withdraw USD the account needs to be verified by submitting a request. Besides that, the only accepted method of depositing is through a bank transfer. The minimum withdrawal amount is $10.
All trades have a fixed fee of 0.25 percent.
Bittrex offers stop-limit orders, but not trailing stops. Furthermore, it does not offer margin trading.
The minimum trade size is 50,000 satoshis, and there is no maximum trade size.
It is possible to submit a coin for listing on Bittrex through the support team. In order to be listed, the coin has to go through several reviews. Bittrex does not require a commission for listing on the exchange.
Additionally, Bittrex has the right to remove a token from the exchange. However, it is required to notify the users at least 14 days in advance, in order to withdraw the tokens that are being delisted.
The chart options offered by Bittrex are quite extensive, providing drawing tools, different time-frames and the inclusion of several built-in indicators. Comparing it to a premium chart, it is only missing long-term time-frames (4h is the maximum offered) and the ability to split the graph into two parts.
Also, it is the personal opinion of the writer that the interface is not user-friendly for beginner traders.
One of the best features is the ‘Biggest gainers’ list on the main market page, which allows for identifying lesser-known coins that have been increasing at a high rate.
The process of opening an account is relatively straightforward.
You can also verify your account in order to increase your allowance to 100 BTC per day. The verification process can take up to ten minutes. Bittrex uses a multi-stage wallet strategy that ensures that the bulk of the funds of the exchange’s users are saved in cold storage.
Additionally, the first time you log in you are required to verify your IP, and this process is repeated every time you log in from a different IP address.
Kraken is a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange that was founded in 2011.
Kraken offers 18 trading pairs against BTC and USD and 10 trading pairs for Ethereum (ETH).
For stablecoins like Tether (USDT), the fees range from 0-0.2%, without regard to whether you are a maker or taker.
Kraken also allows margin trading.
The levels of leverage are between 2x and 5x, depending on the pair you are trading.
The margin fees are a fixed rate of 0.01% + an added 0.01% every four hours for BTC and 0.02% + 0.02% every four hours on trading pairs.
While the daily deposit allowance for cryptocurrencies is the same, the withdrawal allowance changes based on the verification level. There are three verification levels — Starter, Intermediate, and Pro. In a period of 24 hours, there is a $5000 withdrawal limit (worth in cryptocurrency) for the starter account, $500,000 for intermediate, and $10,000,000 for Pro accounts.
Additionally, Kraken allows depositing fiat currencies into the exchange. The deposit limits are $100,000 daily for the Intermediate account and $10,000,000 for the Pro account. If you only have a starter account, you are not allowed to deposit any fiat currencies.
A bank/wire transfer is necessary in order to do a deposit since Kraken does not support credit cards.
The fees for depositing (worldwide) are 35 USD + 0.125%, and take 1-5 business days to be completed. There is a minimum deposit allowance of $150.
For U.S. residents, the Fedwire method allows better conditions, with a minimum deposit of only $20 and a fixed fee of $5. The deposit takes only 1-3 business days to be completed.
The borrowing limits for EUR/USD are $5000, $50,000 and $500,000 for the starter, intermediate, and pro accounts respectively.
For BTC, the values changes to 2.5, 25, and 250.
Additionally, there are six trading pairs available for margin trading.
The chart offered by Kraken is quite advanced, offering a vast number of technical indicators and different time-frames. It also offers conditional trading including stop/limit orders. Finally, Kraken offers future trading, a way to amplify profits with 50x leverage, over the counter desk, and cryptocurrency indices.
While there is no official Kraken phone application, it offers mobile trading support on the cryptowatch platform.
Kraken is registered with FinCEN in the U.S. as a Money Services Business (MSB). Kraken Futures (CryptoFacilities) is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK’s primary financial regulatory body.
The process of opening an account is straightforward. You only need an e-mail address in order to receive the activation mail. However, it does not serve the following countries: Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Japan, North Korea, Tajikistan.
Coinbase is one of the most well-known cryptocurrency exchanges and available in 32 countries. The full list can be found here.
Coinbase offers 16 cryptocurrency trading pairs.
For depositing, Coinbase first charges a spread of 0.5 percent for all purchases.
In addition, it charges a variable fee depending on the transaction type, amount, and region.
The flat fee is between $0.99 and $2.99, depending on the total transaction amount.
The variable fee depends on the country and the method of payment. For example, in the U.S., the fee is 3.99% for a credit card payment and 1.5% for a bank transfer. In the UK, the credit card fee is the same, 3.99%, while the bank transfer is free.
Deposit limits are $25,000 with a verified account, and there is no withdrawal limit.
For crypto to crypto transfers, Coinbase charges a spread margin of up to two percent.
The minimum limit is $2.
Finally, the exchange does not support Tether (USDT), rather opting for USD coin (USDC), a stablecoin pegged to USD.
Coinbase recently issued a debit card in the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. The cost for the card is €5 and allows users to spend funds from their cryptocurrency wallets available on Coinbase. It can be used in anywhere that supports Visa.
The card has a daily ATM withdrawal limit of €500 and daily use limit of €10,000. The monthly withdrawal limit €20,000, while the yearly limit is €100,000.
Fees for domestic withdrawal are free for funds up to €200 and 1% after that. The international fees are the same for up to €200 and increase to two percent after.
Fees for domestic transactions are 0.2 percent, while those for international transactions are 3%.
Coinbase prioritizes the security of its customer’s funds. All digital currency that Coinbase holds online is insured. If Coinbase were to suffer a breach of its online storage, the insurance policy would cover any funds lost as a result. Coinbase holds less than 2% of its customers’ funds online. The rest is held in offline storage.
Bitfinex is a cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in Hong Kong that was created in 2012. It is worth pointing out that since its inception, the exchange has been embroiled in several lawsuits and hacks.
The trading chart is powered by TradingView, offering the exact same indicators. In addition to traditional conditional orders, it also offers ‘one cancels other,’ trailing stop, and hidden’ orders.
Upgrading to a ‘Pro’ account offers helpful assistance in deposit/withdrawal speed and customer service. However, it does not offer much in advanced trading tools.
Bitfinex currently offers 90 trading pairs with BTC.
The trading fees depend on the volume 30 days prior and whether the order is a maker or taker. The fees range from 0-0.1 percent for market makers and 0.05-0.2 percent for takers.
Bitfinex also offers margin trading with up to 3.3x leverage. However, the funding is on a peer-to-peer platform. It is decided in the financing trading order book which is independent of the orders trading book.
Initial equity is 30%. If the net value of your balance drops to 22.5 percent of the initial value of the margin you will get a margin call. If the value drop to 15 percent, the positions will be forcefully liquidated.
Using the same peer-to-peer platform, you can also offer to fund other users. You will be given a 15 percent charge on all generated fees received by margin providers.
Bitfinex allows fiat deposits, however, a verified account is required in order to deposit.
There are no fees for cryptocurrency deposits.
For fiat deposits, the fee is 0.100 percent with a minimum deposit of $10,000 USD.
For deposits on less than $1000, a small deposit fee is applied. For BTC, this fee is 0.0004BTC.
An overview of the small deposit fee schedule can be seen here. Withdrawal fees are the same as small deposit fees.
The Bitfinex cold storage maintains approximately 99.5 percent of user funds in an offline, multisignature wallet.
The online wallet only maintains the necessary funds to fulfill withdrawals that are already queued.
For individual user security, Bitfinex offers two-factor authentication and IP change detection.
Kucoin is a relatively new exchange. It opened in 2017 and offers its own coin called Kucoin Shares (KCS). Holding KCS offers several benefits to users.
Kucoin offers close to 200 trading pairs with BTC.
Fees are based on the prior 30-day trading volume, amount of KCS held, and whether the order is a maker or taker.
They range from 0.0125 percent to 0.1 percent for market makers and 0.03 percent to 0.1 percent for market takers.
Kucoin allows depositing cryptocurrencies, but not fiat currencies. There are no fees for depositing cryptocurrencies.
For withdrawing, the fee is 0.0005 for BTC and 0.01 for ETH. A full list of fees is given here. As for the withdrawal limits, they depend on the verification of the account.
A non-verified account has a withdrawal limit of two BTC in a span of 24-hours. The limit increases to 100 BTC for a verified account, while an institutional account is allowed to withdraw 500 BTC.
The interface is quite advanced. It offers various indicators and several time-frames that are not present in other exchanges.
The exchange offers conditional orders such as stop limits but not margin trading.
Finally, Kucoin allows listing tokens. It reserves the right to de-list any token if it meets certain criteria with 30 days prior notice
Kucoin offers two-factor authentication. Even though it is still new, it has not had any security issues.
CEX.io is a cryptocurrency exchange established in the UK in 2013.
CEX offers 16 USD and 14 BTC pairs.
Fees for trading depend on volume 30 days prior and whether the order is a maker or taker.
For a market maker, fees range from 0-0.16 percent, while for takers they range from 0.1-0.25 percent. CEX does not offer conditional orders. Additionally, margin trading is still in its beta phase.
The exchange allows depositing fiat funds in order to buy cryptocurrency. It has a fixed commission of 2.99 percent for credit card payments.
The limits for depositing depend on the type of verification on the account. They range from $1000-$10,000 on a daily basis and $3000-$100,000 on a monthly basis. Additionally, Cex.io is available in every country except for Iceland, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
You can also use ACH payment without any commission only if you are a resident of the USA.
The trading interface is extremely simple and misses several key indicators.
CEX also allows listing coins and reserves the right to delist any coin with prior notice of 30 days.
Editor’s Note: If you want to buy cryptocurrency with fiat, it is recommended to do so on the ‘Trade’ page instead of the homepage. Doing so on the homepage will take a fee of seven percent, even though it only places the order for you instead of you doing it manually.
Opening an account is straightforward. In order to verify the account, which greatly enhances your depositing/withdrawal capabilities, you need to send a picture with a government-backed ID and a scanned picture of said ID.
CEX states that user ID’s and credit card details are stored for at least five years after accounts are deleted.
CEX claims to use offline cold storage to store users’ funds, although it does not provide additional detail on where or how it undergoes this process. The platform offers two-factor authentication.
The exchange suffered a hacking incident in 2013 when it was in its infancy. The vulnerability was solved at that time, and there have been no reported security incidents since.
Huobi is a Hong Kong-based exchange that opened in 2013.
Huobi possesses a very good community, with its own Telegram channel, Subreddits, and Instagram.
Huobi provides 57 trading pairs.
For normal users, the fees range from 0.07 percent to 0.18 percent, depending on how much Huobi Coins you have and the previous 30-day volume. For professional users, the fees range from 0.011 percent to 0.07 percent for market makers and 0.022 percent to 0.085 percent for market takers.
For crypto-fiat trading, the fees are 0 percent for market makers.
For market takers, the fees are 0.1 percent for BTC and ETH, 0.2 percent for EOS/LTC/XRP and 0.7 percent for others.
For withdrawals, the fees are quite small. For example, withdrawing BTC has a fee of 0.0005 BTC.
The withdrawal limits are 0.1 BTC per day for unverified accounts and 200 BTC per day for verified accounts.
Huobi allows for the deposit of fiat currency through the Huobi OTC. The fees are fixed at 3.5 percent of the total amount of the transaction with a minimum fee of $10.
The daily limit for depositing is $20,000 while the monthly limit is $50,000, without regard to whether the account is verified or not.
Huobi also offers margin trading with leverage up to 5x. The daily interest is 0.1 percent.
The interface offers different time-frames and several indicators. It is both user-friendly for novices and offers more advanced tools for seasoned traders. An interesting feature is that it shows statistics for coins, such as whitepapers and circulating supply.
Huobi Wallet is a cold storage professional multi-chain wallet. Its users have full control over their assets since there are no third parties involved in managing the private keys. Huobi Wallet users have sole control over their own private keys and thus have full control over their assets. ID verification is available, as is two-factor authorization for trades and withdrawals.
In case a hack happens, Huobi keeps 20,000 BTC stored in order to repay users.
BitMEX is a cryptocurrency exchange opened in 2014, mostly used for leverage trading.
It offers margin trading with leverage up to 100x, tied for the most in the exchanges we have analyzed.
The fees depend on whether you are a market maker or taker. The market maker fee is 0.025 percent while the taker fee is 0.075%. The rolling fee for margin trading is 0.1 percent every eight hours. Finally, there is a 0.05 percent settlement fee.
BitMEX offers different leverage rates for different cryptocurrencies:
- 20x: Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Cardano (ADA), EOS (EOS), Tron (TRX)
- 33x: Litecoin (LTC)
- 50x: Ethereum (ETH)
- 100x: Bitcoin (XBT), Bitcoin-Yen (XBJ), and Bitcoin-Yuan (XBC)
BitMEX does not allow fiat depositing. However, you can deposit cryptocurrencies without a fee.
The interface is above average. It offers stop limits, trailing stops, and different types of orders.
All of the funds are kept in cold storage. In addition, all of the BitMEX addresses are multisignature. No private keys are kept in cloud storage.
Finally, every single withdrawal request on BitMEX is audited by at least two BitMEX employees before being sent.
Bitstamp is a Bitcoin exchange that was opened in 2011 based in Luxembourg.
Opening an account is quite straightforward. However, you need to verify the account in order to do simple trades. This is in contrast with other exchanges that put limits on deposits/withdrawals but allow you to use your account. In addition to the ID verification, Bitstamp requires proof of residence in one of the countries that are supported.
With a verified account, there are no deposit/withdrawal limits on Bitstamp.
Bitstamp offers only five trading pairs: BTC, XRP, LTC, ETH, and BCH.
The trading fees depend on the previous 30-day volume, ranging from zero percent to 0.5 percent.
The minimum order size is 25 USD/EUR for USD/EUR-denominated trading pairs, and 0.001 BTC for BTC-denominated trading pairs.
Bitstamp allows fiat depositing via three methods: Credit card, SEPA, and international wire transfer.
The credit card fees are fixed at five percent.
The fee for a wire transfer depend on whether you are depositing or withdrawing. The deposit fee is 0.05 percent while the withdrawal fee is 0.1 percent.
SEPA has no fee for depositing and a fixed fee of 3 EUR for withdrawals.
Cryptocurrency deposits are free, while withdrawal fees vary on cryptocurrency.
The fee for BTC is 0.0005 BTC, XRP is 0.02 XRP, while LTC, ETH, and BCH are 0.001 of the underlying currency.
The exchange does not allow listing coins and does not offer margin trading.
The trading interface offers basic conditional orders, but no trailing stops or other advanced conditional orders.
The chart is basic, offering key indicators but has an unusual feel to it. There is a beta version that is powered by TradingView, which is easy to use and offers a plethora of indicators and drawing tools.
Using a ‘Pro’ account for institutional traders offers an advanced interface, more aggregators, and more indicators.
Bitstamp offers a mobile app which has a secure mobile wallet. It also allows sending and receiving cryptocurrencies for free. All of the digital funds are placed in cold storage. Bitstamp has been the victim of hacks in the past, most notably in 2014 and 2015. In the latter instance, 19,000 BTC were stolen.
A table presenting all of the information about the summarized information on this article is given below:
|Margin||Fiat Deposit||Trading Pairs||Fees|
|CEX||No (Beta testing)||Yes||15||0-0.25%|
Where do you think is the best place to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? Did we miss your preferred cryptocurrency exchange? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
[Full Disclosure: StormGain is an exchange partner of BeInCrypto.]