Hackernoon logo10+ Best Crypto & Bitcoin Exchanges Traders Loves [Apr'21 Upd.] by@dmitry.leijko

10+ Best Crypto & Bitcoin Exchanges Traders Loves [Apr'21 Upd.]

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@dmitry.leijkoDmitry Leiko

Entrepreneur, product owner, SEO specialist, cryptocurrency enthusiast. All you need to know;) [email protected]

Cryptocurrency has impacted the entire finance industry since it came on the radar in 2009. From trading below $0.1 in its debut year to climbing north of $50,000 in March 2021, bitcoin has proven to be a reliable store of wealth and a haven for investors in a pandemic crippled economy.  This makes cryptocurrencies sought more than ever before. 

Many thought leaders have also backed cryptocurrencies to be a reliable solution to cross-border payment problems. And true to that, several notable companies now accept crypto tokens as legal tender. An example of such companies is Microsoft, which now allows its customers to pay for its products using cryptocurrency. Also, the number of fintech companies leveraging cryptocurrency to facilitate cross-border transactions between buyers and sellers worldwide is alarming.  

Blockchain’s anonymity, store of value, and ability to solve cross-border payment issues continue to gain traction in the mainstream media. 

This makes cryptocurrency adoption an all-time high. People wish to know what it is and why its value keeps rising. Most importantly, they want to know how to buy, sell, or store cryptocurrency to make profits. That is where crypto-exchanges come in. 

Cryptocurrency exchanges allow you to buy, sell, or exchange crypto tokens for other virtual currency, traditional fiat currency, or another altcoin. There are several crypto exchanges in the market, each with its unique functionality and limitations. The presence of far too many crypto exchange platforms makes it challenging for traders to select the best one for their needs. 

Coinbase is the overall best crypto exchange in 2021. Cash App and CEX.io are the best exchange for beginners. Traders looking for a crypto exchange with an extensive collection of crypto and currency pairs should go for Binance. BitFinex has robust security and advanced trading tools that help professionals facilitate their trades at lightning speed. It is a tough choice between Localbitcoin and Paxful for the best peer-to-peer crypto exchange, but my personal favorite is Paxful. 

I will dig deep into the best crypto exchanges for the rest of this post to buy or sell crypto coins in 2021. Before I proceed, let me quickly walk you through the different crypto exchanges, how they work, and what to look out for in a reliable crypto exchange. 

Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges

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Today, there are dozens of crypto exchanges. Each one has distinct features that endear them to various traders and seasoned investors. 

I have researched and tested many of the cryptocurrency exchanges. My conclusion converges with many other users’ and experts’ opinions. And you will come to find out the factor that informed my decision later in this article.  

According to my research, here are the best crypto exchanges in 2021.

  1. Coinbase - Best Overall;
  2. Paxful - Best for Peer-to-Peer trading;
  3. Binance - Best for Altcoins;
  4. BitFinex - Best for Institutional Trading;
  5. Coinmama - Best For Fast Transactions;
  6. CEX.io;
  7. LocalBitcoin - I Usually Use for P2P Exchange for Cash;
  8. Kraken;
  9. Crypto.com;
  10. Gemini.com - Most Legitimate & Transparent;
  11. Cash App;
  12. Bisq.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cryptocurrency Exchange

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The cryptocurrency market is so diverse, volatile, and a little complex to understand. It is no surprise that different exchanges keep springing up to fill the gap. There are also other players in the multi-trillion-dollar crypto trading market, each with his unique preferences. 

While some traders want a safe exchange platform to keep their crypto tokens, others want a crypto exchange that grants them access to several altcoins. And some people buy and sell large volumes of crypto daily. You will expect that such people just want a safe and flexible marketplace to trade their coins. Not to worry, this list has a suitable crypto exchange for every category of traders. 

Before we go into the discourse’s meat, here are the factors to consider before settling for a crypto exchange. Understanding this concept will help you pick the most suitable crypto exchange for your trading style and strategies now and even when time passes on them. Let’s get into it. 

1. Trading Fees & Commissions

The platform providers may charge you a certain fee when you make a deposit or withdrawal.  

Now, some exchanges charge a fixed amount on every transaction. The best of them calculate the rewards as a percentage of your transaction volume. 

You should pay close attention to commission & fees policies before joining a crypto exchange platform. These fees can quickly eat deep into your profits, especially if you trade often. 

The good news is that most exchanges have information about their fees on their websites. So, you will know what you’re getting into. 

However, if you are unsure of where to find it,  you can send a mail to the exchange’s support team. 

Not to worry, I have provided the fees the exchange will charge you if you decide to trade your coin with them. 

Binance, Kraken, and BitFinex are your best friend when it comes to flexible fees and commissions, especially when you trade large volumes daily. These exchanges charge between 0.1% to 0.5%. 

2. Payment Methods

Before choosing an exchange, you need to know what payment methods are available on the platform. 

Payment methods are the number of secure deposit channels and fiat currency options available on the exchange. 

This tells on the ease and convenience of trading on the platform. An exchange with several safe deposit options will attract more buyers and sellers alike. 

Usually, most exchanges accept deposits made with major fiat currencies like USD, EUR, and GBP. Some platforms also allow you to trade in other currencies and crypto. 

So, it is crucial for people who reside outside the United States and Europe to look out for platforms that allow them to trade using their local currency. 

Binance and Paxful trump the other exchanges when it comes to ease of payment. 

3. Altcoin Reach

Bitcoin is the most prominent cryptocurrency today. But it certainly isn't the only coin on the market. 

There are dozens of crypto coins that are viable alternatives to bitcoin. Ethereum, Litecoin, Cardano, Polkadot, Dogecoin are some of the more popular options. These alternative coins are sometimes collectively called Altcoins. 

Each altcoin offers a world of opportunity. The fact that a coin is unknown today does not mean that you may not be interested in it in the future. You never know which one is going to catch on next.

So, I will advise that you look out for the number of altcoins available for trading on the platform while choosing your exchange.

4. Verification Requirements

The ease of verification process is an essential factor to consider when signing up on a crypto exchange. This involves the submission of crucial documents to verify your identity. 

A few exchanges allow you to remain anonymous. But most will want to know their customer before they become a member.

This is not to scare you away. In fact, verification does more good than harm. It enables the platform to maintain a safe community of buyers and sellers. 

The verification process varies in complexity from one exchange to another.  Some exchange platforms will only require a selfie, or a copy of your passport’s first page may be sufficient on some platforms. Other providers may take as long as a week to complete your verification process. 

Hence, you should learn about the verification process of an exchange provider before signing up. 

Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, and Paxful currently have the most straightforward verification processes.

5. Geographic Restrictions

Some platforms may restrict specific user functions to a certain number of countries. 

It is not unusual that some exchanges also limit their operations to certain countries. 

The geographic restriction limits your ability to trade with other people across the world. 

It can also limit your access to trading if you travel out of the specified countries for work or leisure. 

Hence, it would be best to join an exchange that offers full access to all platform tools and functions in as many countries as possible. Most importantly, the crypto exchange must support operations where you reside. 

Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, Bitfinex, and Paxful are accessible from most nations worldwide. 

6. Complexity

The cryptocurrency market could be complex to the untrained eye. So, it is crucial to choose a platform that enables you to navigate the market quickly. 

On this note, exchanges have simple tools, a friendly interface, and 24/7 customer support could be a better option for beginners. In contrast, experts will prefer a platform with robust tools to make the most of the market. 

Cash App and Coin Mama have simple interfaces for beginner traders. Bitfinex’s interface is more advanced and ideal for more experienced traders.

7. Security & Safety

We have had situations where hackers got away with traders’ coins. And some exchanges, like BitFinex, have been attacked by hackers in the past. 

Therefore, it would be best to dig deep into the exchange history before signing up. You should ensure that the owners of the platform have no criminal records too.

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Types of Exchanges

Although exchanges are seemingly similar as they all facilitate the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies, they have different specialized functions. 

Based on functionality, crypto exchanges can be grouped into 3 categories viz: 

  • Centralized exchanges (CEX)
  • Decentralized exchanges (DEX)
  • Hybrids

Centralized Cryptocurrency Exchanges (CCE)

They are typically known as the traditional cryptocurrency exchange. Here, the exchange platform regulates all the activities on your coin. This means that the CCE controls, validate, and records all transactions.

A team of experts usually forms the central organization. They usually have strict regulations and verification processes but safer to use.

The centralized trading platforms function like traditional brokerage or Hedge funds in stock markets. Users of central exchanges often do not have access to the private keys of their crypto wallets.

Instead, the platform offers cryptocurrency trades from either fiat-to-crypto currency or crypto-to-crypto. All transactions are validated, recorded, and controlled by a central organization/company. 

Examples of notable Centralized Exchanges are Coinbase (Pro) and Kraken.

Decentralized Crypto Exchanges (DCE)

Decentralized crypto exchanges are also DCE, DEX, or P2P. They are fast becoming a popular alternative to the traditional centralized platforms. 

These exchange platforms do not rely on a physical company, service, or organization to control assets’ trading. 

It is a much better option for users who want to trade crypto yet keeps their identities anonymous. 

A fully automated process controls the transactions on decentralized platforms. There is no central interference.  

They utilize blockchain technology to validate transactions and keep records using smart contracts. These trades are majorly peer-to-peer or customer-to-customer transactions.

Such platforms facilitate trades by acting as a middleman between a buyer and the seller. In other words, it connects users around the world who are seeking to trade crypto with one another.

Notable decentralized Exchanges include Bisq and LocalBitcoin. Binance also has this option. 

 Hybrid Exchanges

A hybrid cryptocurrency exchange combines the features of both centralized and decentralized exchanges.

By synthesizing the best concepts from both categories, hybrid platforms can offer a robust trading experience to users.

According to Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, hybrid exchanges are expected to make a significant jump soon.

They typically deliver trustless transaction features of the peer-to-peer platforms with centralized platforms’ low latency and transaction speeds. Notable Hybrid exchange platforms are Legolas and Eidoo.

Most Popular Crypto Exchanges by Trading Volume

Trading Volume is one of the most critical metrics for rating crypto exchanges. It refers to the total value of transactions that an exchange platform can facilitate within a particular time. It indicates the number of users that currently trust the platform. 

In general, you should aim for a platform that handles at least $1bn worth of daily crypto transactions. Examples of exchange platforms that satisfy this condition are Binance, Kraken, and Coinbase. Also, they currently handle the highest transaction volumes in the market. 

The table below shows the top 4 crypto exchanges with the highest daily trading volume.

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Best Crypto Exchanges of 2021: Everything You Need to Know

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1. Coinbase & Coinbase Pro: Best Overall - Offers lowest fees & commissions

Founded in 2012 by  Fred Ehrsam and  Brian Armstrong,  Coinbase is one of the pioneering cryptocurrency exchanges. And it has maintained its reputation as one of the most reliable and secure crypto exchanges since its inception. 

It is a fully regulated and licensed cryptocurrency exchange. Therefore, your assets are in safe hands. So, you do not have to worry about the company folding up soon.

Coinbase works by providing a brokerage service where buyers and sellers can safely trade their crypto assets. And because it is a centralized platform, it offers total control and ownership over the coins. 

Another security measure put in place by Coinbase is the ownership of users’ private keys. This affords inexperienced investors a chance to participate in trading with lesser risk. 

That's not all. You will also be pleased to know that Coinbase caters to every category of users. For example, they have two packages which are the Regular Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. 

The regular Coinbase is an easy-to-use version that is suitable for beginner traders. After taking the time to learn the ropes, you can then upgrade to Coinbase Pro! 

The Pro version supports 30+ crypto tokens and advanced tools for professional trading. It features charts and indicators that enable users to track their investments. You will be surprised that it also offers the cheapest fee structure on the market.

Coinbase handles $3.2bn trading volume daily. It enjoys the loyalty of 30m active users worldwide. And I will recommend Coinbase for users that want a reliable, secure, and robust platform to trade their crypto tokens without incurring exorbitant fees. 

Coinbase Fees & Commissions:

The basic Coinbase version can attract charges between $0.99 and $2.99 depending on the trade's dollar value. The Coinbase Pro version charges less minimal fees. With the Pro package, users will pay only 0.25% of the trading capital per trade. There may also be additional transaction fees depending on the payment method. 

Coinbase Privacy and Verification Policy: 

Coinbase users are required to verify their identity with authentic government-issued documents. This process may take up to 5 working days in some cases. 

However, Coinbase knows better than stressing their customers. Therefore, any verification you do on your basic Coinbase will also apply when you decide to switch to the Pro version.

Pros

  • Simple user interface;
  • Two-factor Authentication (2FA) for additional security;
  • Wide range of altcoin choices;
  • High liquidity.

Cons

  • High transaction fees on the basic version;
  • The investor does not control wallet keys.

2. Paxful - Best Exchange for Peer-to-Peer Trading

Paxful is a reliable peer-to-peer exchange that was co-founded in 2015 by Ray Youssef and Artur Schaback. It operates in different cities around the world but is headquartered in Delaware, USA. 

The founders were developers turned crypto enthusiasts. Their ambition was to create a marketplace where buyers and sellers can meet to transact bitcoin with ease. And true to that, Paxful is one of the most popular and high liquidity peer-to-peer bitcoin exchanges today. 

It owes much of its success to a completely decentralized approach to cryptocurrency trading. Here, merchants connect directly with each other (online or offline) to trade, and the exchange only acts as a mediator. 

Both parties agree to the exchange rate, and the platform only charges little to no commission on each trade. Buying bitcoin from the exchange is free, but the seller may have to pay a token on each transaction. 

Paxful is a good choice for anyone who wants to buy or sell bitcoin without going through the tedious verification process and exorbitant fees most centralized exchanges are known for. 

The bitcoin exchange has a large customer base and supports operations in many countries worldwide. This allows users to sift through as many verified users as possible until they find a decent offer. 

With over 300 payment options, you can rest assured that you will find a convenient means to fund your account. Paxful allows users to deposit using wired bank transfer, credit and debit card, PayPal, Western Union, MasterCard, and Amazon gift cards. 

Paxful is legitimate and transparent despite being a decentralized exchange. It leaves nothing to users’ imagination. A glance through its About Us page reveals names, images, and its top officials’ track history. 

It also uses advanced encryption ( 256-bit SSL), 2FA authentication, and other top-tier security measures to protect users' funds. 

Paxful is a peer-to-peer exchange platform with an easy verification process.  As you may expect, a handful of fraudulent users also frequent the exchange from time to time. Therefore, you should only trade with sellers with verified accounts and a good history.  There is an escrow service where users can lock their bitcoin or money until they assent to a successful transaction. 

You can reach their efficient customer support via email, live chat, or phone call if you need further clarification on how the process works. Yes, there is a team of arbitrators to regulate disputes arising from fraudulent transactions. 

While there is a dynamic wallet to store your bitcoin, I will advise users to transfer coins to a personal wallet after purchase. 

If you will get over the fact that the platform only has one cryptocurrency (BTC), Paxful is a reliable exchange. It has a smooth interface and other impressive features you want to try out. 

Paxful Fees and Commission Policy: 

Buying bitcoin on the Paxful exchange is free. However, they charge sellers 1% of the trade volume on every transaction.

The charge may be higher or lower depending on how the buyer chooses to deposit. Non-refundable payment methods like bank transfer attract lower fees, and charge-back options like PayPal cost a little more. 

Paxful Privacy and Verification Policy. 

Signing up on the Paxful exchange is straightforward. It takes the full name, email, and password to become a Level 1 member. This membership option gives you access to some features, but you may need to complete other verification levels to increase your limits. 

Pros

  • Anonymity of users 
  • Escrow service 
  • Easy verification process 
  • Supports crypto and fiat

Cons 

  • Support BTC only 
  • High exchange rate 

3. Binance – Best for Altcoins

Binance is one of the most prominent crypto exchanges in the world. It started operation in Hong-kong, China, in 2017. However, China’s strict crypto regulation means the crypto exchange will move base to Japan.

The crypto exchange’s ability to allow users to invest in a wide range of altcoins is notable. 

Binance offers over 200 altcoins on its platform. So, you’re not limited to a few popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin alone. In comparison, Coinbase only offers 30+ altcoins. This is a massive difference when you view it in terms of the number of investment portfolios and pairs you can explore. 

Investing in new altcoins can present you with an opportunity to make money without competing with millions of other investors.

Binance allows you to buy cryptocurrency in multiple ways. There is P2P trading for users who would prefer to connect directly with each other. Else, credit cards and wire bank transfers are some different ways to go. 

The Binance exchange comes with advanced charting tools for spot and margin trading. This enables experienced readers to track price movements in real-time. 

On top of this, the exchange is the most popular by trading volume. Its fees are generous and support operations worldwide. I think you will be hard-pressed to go with Binance. 

Binance Fees & Commissions Policy:

The platform charges 0.1% for all trades. However, they scale down these fees to 0.02% on larger trade volumes. Also, trading in Binance’s native cryptocurrency (BNB) can lower fees by another 25%.

Binance Privacy and Verification Policy:

I reckon Binance is one of the most liberal exchange platforms out there. The platform currently allows withdrawals of up to 2 BTC (approx. $100,000) without any verification. 

Anything beyond that threshold, you would need to verify your identity by submitting a government-issued ID card. However, it’s possible to withdraw well above 2BTC on Binance. 

Pros

  • It offers a wide range of altcoins;
  • Low fees;
  • Access to advanced charts;
  • Accepts payments in over 20 fiat currencies.

Cons

  • It is not beginner-friendly;
  • Fewer trading pairs.

4. Bitfinex - Best for Professional Traders/ Long-term Investors

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Raphael Nicolle founded BitFinex, as a peer-to-peer exchange for bitcoin in Hongkong in 2012. The platform has since enlisted other cryptocurrencies in its offering to meet the demands of its growing customer base. 

BitFinex is the favorite crypto exchange among traders, professionals, and newbies alike. The market penetration results from its diverse coin selection, generous charges, fiat deposit option, and full-feature trading interface. 

BitFinex’s daily trading volume is approximately $2b, with the BTC/USD pair contributing $600m to the total. In essence, it is one of the most liquid crypto exchanges in the market and leads the BTC/USD currency pair by a margin. This goes on to tell you about the popularity and level of confidence people place in this exchange. 

Like other exchanges, BitFinex is not without its flaws. They lost 1500Btc (about $73m) to a cyber attack in 2015. However, the founders claim to have compensated the affected users. 

They also responded to the breach with top-level security measures. For example, most of the cryptocurrency is now stored in a cold wallet. The site uses robust data encryption to facilitate its trade. This enables several millions of users to trade simultaneously without any glitch. They have also adopted advanced tools such as 2FA authentication, withdrawal protection, and IP monitoring to reinforce customers’ accounts. 

These features add up to make BitFinex one of the most secure exchanges for institutional trading. 

Depending on your crypto trading experience, BitFinex has 3 types of accounts users can choose from. This includes exchange, trader, and funding accounts. 

BitFinex exchange account enables newbies to buy and sell crypto tokens without any hassle. The trader account comes with charting tools and is the best bet for professionals who desire more leverage. Funding accounts grant traders easy access to marginal funding. 

The exchange platform supports 100+ cryptocurrencies, 72 currency pairs and is accessible from every location worldwide. Well, except the USA. 

BitFinex Fees and Commission Policy:

BitFinex charges different amounts on deposit, withdrawal, and trading. This makes fee estimation pretty challenging. Not to worry, I’m going to break down its fee structure for you. 

The first thing you need to understand is that the exchange supports different payment methods. This includes crypto to crypto, fiat to crypto, and vice versa. Each of these payment methods attracts various commissions when you deposit or withdraw funds. 

Withdrawal fees for fiat deposits vary but free for $1000+ fiat. Crypto fees also vary from coin to coin. BitFinex usually charges $2.5 spread on 0.0004BTC. 

The trading fee, on the other hand, uses the maker-taker approach. Here the platform charges 0.0-0.1% on the maker or 0.1-0.2% on the taker, depending on the trading volume. 

Privacy and Verification Policy:

There are different verification levels. Individuals who want to carry out small trades or access a limited feature can opt for the usual identity verification. 

However, the BitFinex is tailored to meet serious and professional traders’ needs that facilitate several trades daily. As you may expect, their account is very delicate.

Thus, they ensure that professionals and long-term investors agree to a rigorous verification process between 6 and 8 weeks before trading fiat deposits. This helps them know their customer more, thereby guaranteeing the safety of the marketplace. 

Pros

  • Low fees;
  • Best exchange for professional traders;
  • Wide coin selection.

Cons 

  • Tedious verification.

5. CoinMama – Best For Beginners

CoinMama was created in 2013 in Israel. It prides itself as an exchange that offers super-fast, safe, and fun ways to buy digital currencies anywhere in the world.

Coinmama is one of the few crypto-exchanges that allow cash deposits via MoneyGram from the usual Card and Bank transfer deposits. 

The platform is perfect for investors who desire an easy way to make instant digital currency purchases using their local currency. 

Although the CoinMama is available to users worldwide, I'll advise you to be wary before signing up on the platform. This is because the site’s full feature and functionality are not available to residents of some counties. 

CoinMama is quite sophisticated in its service rendering. The website renders its content in various world languages like English, German, French, Italian, and Russian. 

While not a wallet provider itself, it offers extra security layers by triple-checking bitcoin wallet addresses before any trade is validated. 

Coinmama does not come with a built-in wallet. Therefore, you need to have an offline wallet before trading on this platform. While this seems like a layer of inconvenience, it is safer to have a wallet that is independent of your trading platform. 

Coinmama Fees & Commissions Policy:

Coinmama charges a 5.5% fee for every transaction. There is an additional 5% fee when you buy the coin with a debit card. 

However, other cash deposits and other payment methods attract lesser fees.

Coinmama Privacy and Verification Policy:

Like most centralized exchanges, Coinmama holds itself to high regulatory standards. It is known to offer a safe marketplace for buyers and sellers alike.

As a result, they will need to verify your identity before joining this exchange. It takes a few easy steps, government-issued IDs, and accurate bio-data to signup. 

The initial Coinmama verification process should take less than 10 minutes. However, when you begin to purchase coins, you might need to go through another validation process which may take as long as 6 hours.

Pros

  • Great Reputation;
  • Beginner-friendly Interface;
  • Wide range of payment options;
  • Fast transaction time.

Cons:

  • High exchange rates;
  • Average user support.

6. CEX.io - Beginner's Friendly

Cex.io was founded in England (London) in 2013 to cater to the yearning British crypto enthusiasts' needs.  It has an attractive interface that makes it the absolute beginner’s first choice. 

Rookie traders can enjoy extensive brokerage services. It also offers a simple way to buy cryptocurrencies at decent exchange rates. 

It is impressive to know that you can also access the platform’s essential functions from a mobile app. This is a good one, considering most popular exchanges do not have a mobile app. The app’s interface is user-friendly and intuitive, giving you the same optimized experience as trading on the PC. 

Many experts are drawn to Cex.io because of its margin-trading feature and personalized trading dashboard. 

The platform offers users the opportunity to store their cryptocurrency deposits in the platform’s wallet. Not to worry, your coins are in safe hands.  They are kept in cold storage. This makes CEX one of the safest and most secured exchanges around. 

Cex.io does not accept some of the fiat currency options at the moment. This is perhaps its most apparent downside. However, most American and European users can still deposit with British Pounds (GBP), Euros (EUR), Russian Rubles (RUB), and U.S. dollars (USD). 

Cex.io Fees & Commissions Policy:

I'll say that Cex.io fees are pretty on the high side. When you fund your account with a credit card, you pay up to 2.99%-3% in charges. 

However, I found out that there is a way around this. If you carry out your transactions using British Pounds or UK-issued Credit Cards, you get to enjoy a 50% drop in charges. 

CEX.io Privacy and Verification Policy

Cex.io verification policy is quite strict. The platform uses a systematic verification structure that extends your transaction limits as you provide more identification levels.

To perform daily transactions up to $10,000, you would need to provide valid proof of identity and a contact address. 

In general, new customers on CEX under 3 months from the date of identity verification are limited to a daily maximum of $1,000 and a monthly limit of $3,000.

Pros: 

  • Good reputation;
  • Good Mobile App;
  • Beginner-friendly;
  • Automated trading;
  • Supported Worldwide.

Cons:

  • Strict verification rules;
  • High Fees.

7. LocalBitcoin - Best for Cash Exchanges

LocalBitcoin was founded as a peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchange in 2012 by Jeremias Kangas in Helsinki, Finland. 

The platform allows you to trade cryptocurrency directly with another person. So, unlike other centralized exchanges that offer brokerage services,  this platform connects you directly with real humans and not just AI. 

The way LocalBitcoins link you up with people in your local area to buy or sell bitcoins in cash is worthy of mention. That’s not all. 

It also allows diverse payment options like PayPal, Skrill, and Dwolla. You also have the alternative to arrange a cash deposit at a traditional bank branch. 

On top of that, the platform only takes a commission of 1% from the sellers. Traders often prefer to use LocalBitcoins because it allows them to fix their exchange rate as they see fit. 

When it comes to security, LocalBitcoins leaves no stone unturned. To ensure trading is super secure, LocalBitcoins takes several precautions. Firstly, the platform assigns each registered trader a reputation rank.  This ranking displays next to the users' profiles and shows the past activities of users—this helps to identify potential fraudsters. 

Also, once you request a trade, the money is held in an escrow service. An escrow is a strategy put in place to ensure fairness between the buyers and sellers. Here, the platform stores the seller's BTC in escrow, pending the time the buyer pay. 

Localbitcoins only remit funds after the seller confirms the trade is complete. And if anything goes wrong, there is a well-established support team to resolve disputes between buyers and sellers. 

LocalBitcoin Fees & Commissions Policy:

LocalBitcoin charges relatively low fees when compared to the other prominent peer-to-peer crypto platforms.  Users who create advertisements are charged a 1% fee for every completed trade. However, transactions to wallets of other LocalBitcoins users are entirely free.

Local Bitcoin Privacy and Verification Policy:

Like many other peer-to-peer platforms, it is possible to buy bitcoins on the forum without verification. You can do this either by purchasing cryptocurrency with a cash deposit. You may also decide to meet the other party in-person to complete the trade with a bank transfer. 

However, to access the platform's full features, you will need to provide substantial proof of identity. Accounts that have not completed the required verification cannot make wallet transfers or perform any advertising and trading transactions.

LocalBitcoins has four account verification Tiers: T0, T1, T2, and lastly, T3. Your annual volume of trade will determine your account Tier. 

Once your volumes exceed certain limits, your account is promoted to the next Tier. As a result, you will have to complete additional verification.

Pros: 

  • Good reputation;
  • Escrow-service protects sellers;
  • Beginner-friendly;
  • Decent exchange rate;
  • Allows Margin Trading.

Cons:

  • Strict verification rules;
  • Hidden charges.

8. Kraken

Payward Inc. created this Kraken cryptocurrency exchange in 2011 in San Francisco, USA. Kraken has since risen to become one of the largest Euro-denominated cryptocurrency exchanges. 

In terms of trade volume and liquidity, it is among the top five exchanges across the world. 

However, the platform offers payment options in only a handful of major fiat currencies: i.e., Euros, US Dollars, Japanese Yen, Canadian Dollars, British Pounds. 

It is impossible to ignore Kraken’s comprehensive altcoin options. The platform supports many digital currencies such as Ethereum Classic, Monero, Zcash, Augur REP tokens, ICONOMI, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ripple Stellar/Lumens, among others. 

I would also recommend Kraken to experienced traders. They get to take advantage of Kraken’s margin trading option and other premium trading features. 

Although its interface may not be the most beginner-friendly, I can tell you that Kraken’s safety and security features are as water-tight as you can expect. They notably pioneered the first verifiable cryptographic proof of reserves audit system.  

The exchange featured on Bloomberg Terminal in 2014, which underlines that its safety and regulations policy are industry-standards.

Kraken Fees & Commissions Policy:

Kraken charges a fee each time you execute an order (i.e., matched with another user’s order). This fee ranges from 0% to 0.26% of the total value of each order. 

Kraken Privacy and Verification Policy:

Before signing up on Kraken, you are required to verify your account by identifying who you are and providing proof of where you live. Kraken takes these measures to prevent fraud and be fully compliant with KYC and Anti Money laundering regulations.

The platform has different levels of verification for your account – the Starter, Intermediate, and Pro. To get started, you only need to prove that you are over 18 years and live in a supported area. 

The Intermediate and Pro levels will require bank-like verification processes and government-issued ID.

Pros: 

  • Good reputation;
  • Easy to use;
  • High trading volume;
  • Decent exchange rates;
  • Highly secure and supported worldwide.

Cons:

  • Limited payment methods;
  • Not suitable for beginners

9. Crypto.com

Crypto experts Bobby Bao, Gary Or, Kris Marszalek, and Rafael Meloin found Crypto.com in Honk Kong in 2016. But, it incorporated exchange services in 2019.

The platform supports over 70 cryptocurrencies to date.  

Some of the available digital coins include prominent ones  like Ethereum (“ETH”), Bitcoin (“BTC”), 

Litecoin (“LTC”), Cardano (“ADA”), Bitcoin Cash (“BCH”), Tether (USDT), among others. 

Besides, they also offer investors looking to foray into unsaturated markets exposure to lesser-known coins. These include Algorand (ALGO), COSMOS (ATOM), Enjin Coin (ENJ), ICON (ICX), Kyber Network (KNC), Tezos (XTZ), and VeChain (VET).

Additionally, the exchange also has its native Coin (CRO)

It is safe to say that the founders of Crypto.com designed this platform to deliver a robust alternative to traditional financial/banking services.

With exciting features such as its sleek mobile app and the traditional website, a Crypto Card, and built-in Wallet, users can trade on the go. Everything you need is all in one place.

Crypto.com also guarantees the security of users’ funds, data, and identity. It currently serves over 10 million customers, which is an indication that it is well trusted, especially in the budding Asian market.

Crypto.com Fees and Commissions Policy:

Crypto.com uses a tiered trading fee structure based on users' monthly trading volumes. 

I am pretty impressed with this structure. Your fees reduce as your trading volume increases. It goes a long way to encourage customer loyalty. It also urges investors to stick to trading on the platform.

The platform also uses the popular maker-taker fee model.

The maker-taker fees range from 0.1% / 0.16% for VIP1 (Tier 1) which is the lowest ranking category of users, to 0.04% / 0.10% for VIP6, the highest ranking users.

In addition to this, traders who use the platform's coin (CRO) get further discounts. 

Finally, the withdrawal fees and minimum withdrawal limits vary by crypto. Commissions are typically lower for the most popular crypto-coins.

Crypto.com Privacy and Verification Policy:

Crypto.com places high importance on the security of its users and the general marketplace. To achieve this, they ensure that users’ information is collected and vetted adequately during registration. 

Signing up on this platform is relatively tedious and intrusive. You have to supply significant bio-data, including your name, Date of Birth, nationality, and email address. It doesn’t end there. 

Upon the submission of all of these details, they send a verification code to your email address. After this, you then proceed to validate your phone number as prompted to activate 2-factor authentication.

Pros:

  • High-speed transactions;
  • Wide range of altcoins;
  • A wide range of fiat currency supported;
  • Regulated & trustworthy platform;
  • Beginner-friendly.

Cons: 

  • Low privacy;
  • Limited geographic reach.

10. Gemini – Most Legitimate & Transparent

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Gemini is a popular crypto platform that was co-founded in 2015 by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.  It is a fully regulated and licensed US Bitcoin and Ether exchange.

The exchange is infamous for its top-tier security level and transparency. Unlike vulnerable exchange platforms prone to cyber-attacks and hacking, Gemini makes user protection a top priority.

All Dollar deposits on the platform are held at a bank insured by the FDIC. And most of the Digital Currency is stored in cold storage wallets. In short, Gemini is one of the safest exchanges for crypto-trading.

More than its impregnable security, the platform also offers generous rewards. For example, you will get a $10 bonus when you open a Gemini account with a minimum deposit balance of $100. 

Gemini’s crypto-platform is what I call the total package. You have every tool at your disposal to buy, sell, and store your cryptocurrency. Furthermore, Gemini caters to beginners. The user interface is well designed and easy on the eye. 

Aside from the aesthetics, it also provides access to tools and guides that help you understand the crypto market and start investing instantly.  

I also observed that the Gemini Crypto Platform offers seamless account management options for expert traders. This enables them to quickly view their balance and monitor regular changes at one glance. 

Gemini exchange also has analytics features like the 24-hour changes and percentage changes. This makes monitoring your crypto investment as easy as checking your phone battery life. 

Gemini Fees & Commission Policy:

All deposits and withdrawals are free. The only concern about the platform is its limited payment options. Gemini supports just three currencies at the moment. These are the USD, BTC, and Ether. Its services are restricted to customers in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the UK.

Gemini Privacy and Verification Policy:

The Gemini exchange platform is highly regulated. Therefore extensive verification is required to set up an account. 

Not to worry, you can complete the verification in just three steps. 

The first step is to link your mobile phone number for two-factor authentication. After this, you will also be asked to link your bank account, and finally, you may have to submit government-issued documents to verify your address and identity.

Pros

  • Security & Transparency;
  • Sleek and Minimalistic interface;
  • High Trading Volume & Liquidity;
  • Great analytics.

Cons 

  • Limited currencies;
  • Average customer support service.

11. CashApp

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Cash App started as a peer-to-peer money transfer app. At that point, it allowed users to split rent costs, grocery bills and shop online seamlessly. 

However, it has more features that enable users to invest in stocks, ETFs, and trade cryptocurrency. 

The Cash App crypto works independently of the base account. You will hover to the stock trading section to buy and sell bitcoin. If the App’s Square support and Jack Dorsey promotion are anything to go by, it is also a safe exchange for crypto trading. 

Cash App has a long way to go when it comes to developing its exchange service. I said this because the platform only supports bitcoin trading. And its services are only available in the USA and UK. 

Cash App is not the most robust exchange platform. However, it earns a spot on this list due to its friendly user interface and fast transaction speed.  

It also offers full banking features and allows users to own their Cash App debit cards. This enables them to withdraw their bitcoin easily.

CashApp Fees & Commissions: 

Cash App trading fee varies from 1.75% to 2%. There may be extra charges, depending on your payment method. 

A 3% charge applies when you send money through a credit card. Its daily and weekly withdrawal limits are $2,000 and $5000 worth of Bitcoin, respectively. 

CashApp Privacy and Verification Policy:

Only verified users can trade with CashApp. However, verification is easy and fast. All you need is an International Passport, Driving License, or its equivalence. You must be 18 or above before signing up on the platform. 

To receive a CashCard, you would have to provide the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN) and your mailing address.

Pros

  • Simple user interface;
  • Beginner-friendly;
  • Seamless peer to peer transfer;
  • It allows bitcoin withdrawal.

Cons

  • There are Altcoin limitations as it is mainly focused on Bitcoin Investments;
  • Higher charges;
  • Withdrawal limits.

12. Bisq

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Bisq was founded in 2014 by Manfred Karn as Bitsquare is also one of the exchange platforms that fully leverage Bitcoin's decentralization feature.

Bisq is a downloadable software that offers peer-to-peer crypto exchange without a central point of failure. It is an open-source and community-driven platform. The platform is neither a website nor managed by anyone. 

Its decentralized nature also means that no moderator gets to touch users' funds. This makes it essentially impossible to hack. To strengthen security, centralized exchanges like Coinbase take extreme measures such as not allowing users to control their private keys. I don't have to tell you just how delicate this is. Remember the saying – "Not your keys, not your coin." 

Since centralized exchanges are in control of your keys, they can effectively seize your funds on account of suspicious activities or any other fussy reason they may deem fit. 

Bisq, on the other hand, puts the user in complete control of their funds. The platform does not hold your keys. So, there is no chance of seizing your funds. 

We cannot hide the fact that the platform's decentralized nature makes it prone to fraud and cyber hacks. But, the same feature also makes it accessible to anyone worldwide. This includes those who reside in developing nations with less sophisticated banking systems. 

Bisq’s exclusive partnership with bitcoin has proven to be mutually beneficial over the years. They can provide a viable solution for residents of developing countries without a centralized financial infrastructure. Consequently, users across the world have access to trade bitcoin.   

With Bisq, you can access a wide range of altcoins. The platform also has diverse payment and withdrawal options. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Bisq also has its native crypto-coin –BSQ. Transactions made with the platform’s indigenous coin usually attract lower fees. 

Lastly, while its decentralization and peer-to-peer features may often cause low trading volumes and slower transactions, its advanced safety and privacy make it entirely worth the fuss.

Bisq Fees and Commissions Policy:

On the Bisq platform, trading fees are payable in BTC or BSQ (the platform's native cryptocurrency). 

When paying with BTC, the trading cost is 0.10% on the maker side and 0.70% to the taker. And when you pay the fees in BSQ, it costs only 0.05% on the maker side and 0.35% on the taker’s side.

Bisq Privacy and Verification Policy:

Bisq is a fully decentralized platform. KYC requirements are pretty much non-existent. Anyone with a smartphone or computer and stable internet access can get on Bisq. There are no strict registration conditions. 

Max Hillebrand notably said, "anyone can use Bisq, just like anyone can trade Bitcoin. There is no way anyone can ban you from using Bisq."

Bisq is the perfect choice for anyone looking for total anonymity during crypto deal’s facilitation. 

Pros

  • Decentralized & Secure;
  • Complete privacy;
  • Wide range of payment options.

Cons

  • Slow Transaction Speed;
  • Low Trading Volumes.

FAQs

What is the difference between a crypto exchange and a crypto brokerage?

Crypto exchange and brokerage are much similar. But, the difference lies in the manner in which they determine prices.  Crypto brokerages only act as an intermediary to set the price of crypto assets based on the prevailing market price. 

In contrast, crypto exchanges actively determine the cost of crypto-assets through investors’ direct market orders.

Which Cryptocurrency exchange has the most coins?

Currently, Binance has the highest number of high-quality coins and rising altcoins. 

Are any cryptocurrency exchanges regulated?

Yes. There are a few well-regulated exchanges. For example, Coinbase, CEX, Coinmama are almost as regulated as the typical financial institutions.

Are all the notable Cryptocurrency exchanges based in the United States?

Many of the prominent crypto exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini have their base in the United States. But, their services are available in other countries. 

That is not to say that all exchanges are headquartered in the USA. A large number of cryptocurrency exchanges operate outside the U.S.A. 

For instance, Binance is headquartered in Malta because it has less strict crypto regulations than most countries. 

LocalBitcoins has its headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. Likewise, Coinmama is Israeli-based.

Is Trading Cryptocurrency Safe? 

Trading cryptocurrency is safe whenever you use a trusted and well-reputed platform. That is why you need to choose carefully. 

Reading honest reviews, independent research, and expert opinion could inform your decisions. 

Typically, the higher the trading volume of a platform, the safer it is to trade. Also, platforms with strict verification processes offer a safer marketplace for buyers and sellers alike. 

Conclusion

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Cryptocurrency has proven to be quite a lucrative investment over the years. While it is not a Ponzi scheme for assured profits, you can make some fortune too.  

It will help if you keep in mind that its value fluctuates often. Albeit more frequently than most traditional forms of investments. The market is also plagued with a lot of threats. 

You should take the safety-first approach while navigating the murky waters of crypto trading. I say this because the security of your coin is essential, just as the profit. 

Selecting a reliable cryptocurrency exchange is an excellent place to start. I have itemized some of the best crypto exchange don't charge exorbitant fees. Most of them have also been around for a while. 

Lastly, if you are a beginner, take some time learning and speaking with experts to get apprised about the crypto world’s inherent risks and underlying opportunities.

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