Rankings as of Feb 03, 2023.
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Crypto exchanges are where traders can buy, sell and convert different cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). They are necessary for digital assets to be traded at the scale they are today. Some exchanges offer the most competitive prices or speeds, whereas others provide specialized financial products.
Read on to learn about the best cryptocurrency exchanges, how they work, and which one you should pick.
What’s going on with crypto?
Last year (2022) was not a kind year to crypto. Several large organizations, still grappling from a series of industry scandals and the meteoric plummet of crypto that started in late 2021, either filed for bankruptcy or paused customer withdrawals. Most recently, FTX and Binance – two giants of the crypto world — have been in the limelight for less than flattering reasons.
On November 11, 2022, FTX put out a statement on its Twitter page announcing that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and its CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was resigning. This was a huge shock to the entire crypto ecosystem and greatly affected the way people perceived the industry as they welcomed the new year. Binance’s stumbles following the collapse of FTX have not helped improve public perception, either.
Shortly after releasing their proof of reserves in December, the very same accounting firm that audited Binance deleted the website containing the exchange’s proof of liabilities. Later that month, Binance’s legal troubles with the U.S. federal government became all the more pressing after a large wave of withdrawals led them to temporarily freeze USD Coin (USDC).
We understand that the current condition of the crypto industry is concerning and want to reassure our audience that the exchanges included in our top picks have transparent financial backing and a strong cybersecurity infrastructure. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for the absolute safest way to manage your crypto, consider buying a cold storage wallet (you can find our pick for the best hardware wallet in our list of best crypto wallets).
Our Top Picks for the Best Crypto Exchanges of January 2023
- Coinbase - Best for Beginners
- Bitstamp - Best for Low Fees
- Kraken - Best for Security
- Pionex.US - Best for Automated Trading
- Bisq - Best Decentralized Exchange
- Public - Best $0 Commission Platform
Best Crypto Exchanges Reviews
- Intuitive, user-friendly interface and easy purchase process
- Broad assortment of educational material
- Wide selection of cryptocurrencies
- High fees compared to other popular exchanges
- Complex fee structure
Why we chose it: We chose Coinbase as the best crypto exchange for beginners because of its easy-to-use interface, extensive educational material on everything from blockchain to volatility, and robust security features.
If you’re familiar with crypto, chances are you’ve already heard of Coinbase. The exchange is one of the largest and most well-known in the U.S., and the platform does a great job of lowering the barrier to entry for new investors, with a straightforward onboarding process that eases users into trading. At the same time, its interface makes navigating the platform and managing crypto a seamless experience.
Coinbase also features a comprehensive and accessible variety of learning materials. Users are encouraged to use these resources through the Coinbase Earn program, which teaches how to trade specific cryptocurrencies and rewards users with free crypto.
The exchange’s security features are worth mentioning, as well: Coinbase uses two-factor authentication on all versions of its platform, stores 98% of customers’ crypto offline, and has an insurance policy to protect custodial accounts of up to $250,000 (in line with per-depositor FDIC coverage limits). Such robust measures are why Coinbase is ultimately worth trying, despite its higher fees.
Users who enjoy Coinbase but would like more advanced trading and charting features may want to look at the company’s other exchange platform, Coinbase Pro.
- Low trading fees and no spreads
- Supports multiple fiat currencies
- Funds can be withdrawn within 24 hours
- Regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services
- No margin trading or leveraged products
- Fewer cryptocurrency offerings
Why we chose it: We chose Bitstamp as the best crypto exchange for low fees because of its highly competitive maker/taker fees, free bank account transfers and strong cybersecurity.
Many crypto exchanges promise low fees as a way to entice traders to join their platform. Then, they “catch” you with expensive transfer and withdrawal fees, or it turns out that those low fees only apply to users with an extremely high volume of trades. This is not the case with Bitstamp, which features inexpensive fees across the board.
Bitstamp’s maker/taker fee schedule — ranging from 0.30% to 0.00% and from 0.40% to 0.03%, respectively — is one of the most affordable among all the exchanges currently operating in the U.S. Moreover, users with a 30-day trading volume of under $1000 don’t have to pay any trading fees at all — a considerable boon for less dedicated traders. Withdrawal fees for individual cryptocurrencies are markedly low, and ACH transfers are free of charge.
One of the oldest crypto exchanges in the world, Bitstamp has a long track record of operating securely and transparently. It was the first crypto exchange to receive a Payment Institution license in the EU and currently holds a BitLicense issued by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning that the company lost over $5 million in a 2015 cyber attack that took several months to go public.
- Trade across multiple exchanges using a single platform
- Crypto staking and margin trading
- Rigorous security standards
- Low fees and spreads
- Not available in all U.S. states
- Limited number of funding options (via fiat currencies)
Why we chose it: We chose Kraken as the best crypto exchange for security because of its robust security tools and protections, which has allowed the company to operate seamlessly since its inception.
Kraken has been around for a while now, and is well known — and loved — by many crypto traders around the world. At first glance, the exchange may not seem to have any standout features: it’s a jack-of-all-trades, supporting more than 185 cryptocurrencies across a variety of services, which includes spot trading, margin trading, staking and futures.
Look a bit further and you’ll realize that Kraken excels at providing arguably the safest digital ecosystem for trading your crypto. The exchange’s security measures run the gamut from industry essentials, like two-factor authentication and account timeouts to more specialized solutions, such as PGP signed and encrypted email and global settings time lock.
All of the companies we included in this list employ stringent security measures, but Kraken’s are remarkable enough that the exchange has never suffered a large-scale hack since it first went online in 2011. This is an accolade that very few exchanges of its size can attest to, and has been possible thanks to its variety of information security management systems and user-facing security tools.
- Manual and automated trading options
- Competitive fees on all transactions
- Tutorials, live chat and email customer support
- All bots are cloud based
- Some bots lack a detailed explanation on the exchange's website
- Unavailable in AK, HI, ID, IA, KY, NM, NY, TN and VT
- No fiat withdrawal options
Why we chose it: We chose Pionex.US as the best crypto exchange for automated trading because of its integrated auto-trading bots, low fees and user-friendly interface.
Since its launch in 2019, Singapore-based Pionex has garnered a sizable following online thanks to the combination of an affordable fee schedule and a selection of 16 built-in trading bots. Pionex.US, the United States franchise of the platform, only allows for spot trading and has just 11 bots available, but remains the most comprehensive automated solution for crypto trading.
The bots available on Pionex.US have a variety of functions, including:
- Buying at dollar cost average for a one-time sell off
- Creating an index and rebalancing your portfolio automatically
- Various strategies for buying low and selling high
Although there is no way to practice trading with them using a demo account, most of the bots have an educational video and a detailed explanation on the exchange’s website. Users can also request a 1-on-1 onboarding session to help them understand the bots better.
Lastly, like its global counterpart, Pionex.US offers inexpensive maker/taker fees on spot trades. These range from 0.05% to 0% depending on the crypto pairing and apply to trades made manually and by trading bot alike.
- Supports trades with a broad selection of coins and traditional currencies
- Wide variety of payment methods
- Short verification process
- Mobile version only works for notifications
- Must trade with Bitcoin or BSQ only
Why we chose it: We chose Bisq as the best decentralized exchange because it follows the ethos of Bitcoin best by maintaining an open-source platform that is completely decentralized without limiting currency support.
Formerly known as Bitsquare, Bisq brings the clean, easy-to-use interface and vast coin support of centralized exchanges to a decentralized environment. The platform is built on open-source software, meaning its design is publicly available, and the project is funded by personal savings and donations from its community of users.
Bisq doesn’t need a third party to conduct cryptocurrency transactions, nor does it require users to submit personal information to trade on the platform. It’s an excellent alternative for Bitcoin fans looking for a wide variety of coins to trade with, including altcoins like Cardano, XRP, and Dogecoin. In fact, it’s not typical for decentralized exchanges to support so many digital assets — and fiat currency.
Additionally, the platform’s security features, such as multi-signature and a security deposit system, enhance the inherent safety and privacy of decentralized exchanges by ensuring that both parties act honestly and have complete control of their funds during the trading process.
- Regulated by the SEC and FINRA
- Fractional stock investing available
- Volatility reminders on cryptocurrencies
- Social trading lets you see what others are buying and selling
- Lack of technical charts and research tools
- Long waiting time for withdrawals
Why we chose it: We chose Public as the best $0 commission platform because, in addition to offering highly affordable trades, the exchange is remarkably easy to use and provides substantial educational content.
Public is a beginner-friendly platform that tries to mix accessible, affordable investing with an approach that puts financial literacy first. It does this by providing users with articles on a wide variety of investment topics, market updates and a daily live show called Public Live, where a panel of experts, analysts and journalists join to discuss market headlines.
It’s important to mention that Public is not a full-service cryptocurrency exchange. The platform focuses on stocks and ETFs first, meaning it lacks certain tools and operates fundamentally different from an actual crypto exchange. Most importantly, users cannot presently transfer crypto assets into or out of their Public account.
Other crypto exchanges we considered
The following trading platforms are all excellent options, especially for new traders. However, they didn’t make it to our top list because they lack certain core features or are not dedicated crypto or bitcoin exchanges.
- No commissions and minimum account balance
- Exceptionally easy to use and start trading
- Heavily regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission
- No mutual fund and forex trading
- Lacks educational content and research tools
Robinhood is another commission-free investment platform that caters to beginners and casual investors. Users can trade seven cryptocurrencies in addition to stocks, ETFs, options and more.
Why Robinhood didn’t make the cut: Robinhood lacks the tools and features of a full-service cryptocurrency exchange. It has also been the target of numerous complaints from users and regulators regarding its dishonest business practices (just last year, the app was fined 70 million by FINRA for misleading consumers) and involvement in the GameStop/meme-stock mania of 2021.
- Recurring buys and dynamic price alerts
- Enable crypto withdrawals to go only to approved addresses
- Output transaction histories and downloadable account statements
- Higher trading fees than other exchanges
- Limited customer service options
Gemini is a well-funded crypto exchange with a reputation for being easy to use. The platform supports more than 100 crypto to buy, sell and store, has tools for high-performance traders and boasts industry-leading security.
Why Gemini didn’t make the cut: Gemini’s fees are markedly higher compared to those of other exchanges. And while the platform’s features make for a good package overall, none of them were impressive enough to earn Gemini a top spot with us.
- Active investment community, ideal for social trading
- Support crypto staking for some coins
- Broad selection of cryptocurrencies
- Disappointing withdrawal fees and spread fees
- Crypto trading not available in all states
eToro is a multi-asset investment platform that allows users to trade a variety of assets, including 30 popular cryptocurrencies. The platform’s main highlight is its social trading features, which allows users to create a custom news feed and follow, copy and interact with their favorite traders.
Why eToro didn’t make the cut: eToro did not make our top list because it’s not a full-service crypto exchange. This means it lacks basic tools and services, such as withdrawing your crypto, and directly depositing, trading or exchanging crypto on the platform.
- One of the easiest platforms to buy Bitcoin and get started with crypto
- Lock prices immediately and withdraw quickly
- Make and receive mobile payments
- No insurance coverage from the FDIC
- It cannot be used to make payments internationally
- Can only trade Bitcoin; no other crypto available
Cash.app is a great option if you just want to test the Bitcoin waters or simply need another platform to do quick bitcoin transactions. Unlike with other non-dedicated cryptocurrency exchanges, Cash.app lets you keep custody of your coins. This alone makes it worth a try.
Why Cash.app didn’t make the cut: Cash.app is not a dedicated crypto exchange and its bitcoin services are bare bones. While it may be an accessible entry point for those interested in crypto, we cannot recommend it as an exchange for trading in the long term.
Crypto Exchanges Guide
Despite having broken into the mainstream, crypto can still be a confusing subject for investors of all levels. How exactly do they work? What are the different types of exchange and how do they differ from crypto wallets? Read our guide to understand the ins and outs of cryptocurrency exchanges.
- What is a crypto exchange?
- How do crypto exchanges work?
- What are the different types of crypto exchange?
- Understanding crypto exchange fees
- What to look for when choosing a crypto exchange?
- How to be sure a crypto exchange is legitimate and secure
- How to open a crypto exchange account
- Latest News on Crypto Exchanges
- How We Chose the Best Crypto Exchanges
What is a crypto exchange?
Crypto exchanges are platforms where users can trade digital currencies for other assets, including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and regular currencies, like U.S. Dollars and Euros.
Exchanges are an essential part of the crypto ecosystem because most traditional investment firms do not offer cryptocurrencies in their portfolios. Without exchanges, you would have to find another person willing to trade crypto and agree at an exchange rate. Then, you would have to send the coins directly to each other’s cryptocurrency wallets — a somewhat convoluted process. Crypto staking would also be impossible without the service that exchanges offer.
Crypto wallet vs exchange
Crypto wallets and exchanges are both essential tools used to manage cryptocurrencies. Wallets are meant to keep your crypto funds safe, whereas exchanges are trading hubs where users convert fiat currencies to digital ones and buy or sell crypto based on current market rates.
|Crypto exchanges||Crypto wallets|
|Facilitate trading between users||Hold the private keys that are necessary to access cryptocurrency on the blockchain|
|Convert fiat currencies into digital currencies||Are offered by exchanges and independent developers.|
|Are available 24/7, unlike traditional investment firms||Can be an online-only platform, a physical storage device, or incorporate both aspects.|
Many crypto exchanges operate their own wallets, so users can start trading crypto as soon as they open their account without having to worry about getting a digital wallet of their own. These are known as web-hosted wallets, and their incorporated exchange is responsible for their security measures.
Serious traders are encouraged to keep an independent cryptocurrency wallet to deposit any coins they aren’t actively trading. This is because you could lose all your digital assets if the exchange is hacked.
Although you’ll be responsible for securing, backing up, and managing your own funds, independent digital wallets are a much safer alternative for safeguarding the bulk of your crypto.
How do crypto exchanges work
The way crypto exchanges work depends on their type of platform. Most crypto trading platforms are known as centralized exchanges, which function as a brokerage, acting as intermediaries between buyers and sellers.
Users can deposit money into exchanges to buy cryptocurrency or deposit their own crypto to trade for other currencies, known as crypto-to-crypto spot trading. Traders can expect to pay a fee for converting one crypto to another, like when exchanging regular currencies at a bank (for example, converting USD to EUR).
In exchange for digital currencies, exchanges may accept a wide variety of payments, including credit card payments, ACH transfers, Visa debit cards, money orders and even gift cards.
Dedicated crypto and bitcoin exchanges will allow you to withdraw your crypto funds and transfer them to another wallet of your choice. Others, especially those that focus on other assets, like stocks and ETFs — including Robinhood and eToro — only let you purchase the crypto but not transfer it out of their web wallets.
What are the different types of crypto exchanges?
Crypto exchanges come in three varieties: centralized, decentralized, and hybrid.
Centralized exchanges (CEX)
Centralized exchanges are the most common and traditional type of crypto exchange. These are owned by private companies and offer investors a platform to trade cryptocurrencies. This type of exchange tends to have higher trade volumes and liquidity and a greater number of trading pairs.
Centralized exchanges are often considered a good option for new crypto traders because of their better onboarding and user interface, availability of customer support, and insurance should the platform’s systems fail.
The main issue with this type of exchange is that users are inherently more vulnerable to hacking attacks. Some users also feel uncomfortable sharing their private data in the KYC process.
Decentralized exchanges (DEX)
Decentralized exchanges follow in the spirit of Bitcoin by operating with no central point of control. Servers for this type of exchange are spread throughout computers located across the world, which means if one computer is attacked, the network keeps running. This alone entices many users who fear losing their crypto due to a security flaw in a company’s trading platform.
Where centralized exchanges operate as brokerages, decentralized exchanges are more like marketplaces. They facilitate peer-to-peer trading and have a less rigid registration process. The main drawbacks of decentralized exchanges include lower trading volume, small liquidity, generally poor user interface, and a lack of customer support.
Examples: Bisq, Uniswap, PancakeSwap, Tokenlon, dYdX
Hybrid exchanges are part of a new generation of crypto trading platforms whose goal is to provide the best of both worlds. They aim to overcome the limitations of older exchanges by offering the greater functionality and liquidity of centralized exchanges together with the security advantages of decentralized exchanges.
Hybrid exchanges boast fast transaction speeds without compromising their users’ privacy but are still a relatively new development in the crypto world. Time will tell if they will be successful or struggle due to high costs, limited scalability and limited assets.
Examples: Nash, Qurrex, Eidoo, Legolas
Understanding crypto exchange fees
Crypto exchanges charge several fees, and it’s not always clear what exactly you’ll be charged for.
There are two main types of fees to look out for: exchange fees and network fees.
Exchange fees are how crypto exchanges make money. In other words, they’re service fees that include:
- Trading fees, charged when making transactions and are also called “maker/taker” fees. Trading fees indicate whether a crypto order provides liquidity to the market or not. These also apply when converting currencies.
- Deposit fees, charged when users add money to their account, usually via debit card, credit card, or PayPal instead of through a wire transfer.
- Withdrawal fees, charged when withdrawing regular currency or cryptocurrencies from your account.
- Account fees, charged on a regular basis, usually monthly.
Network fees are paid to cryptocurrency miners, who process and secure crypto transactions on the blockchain. Many centralized crypto exchanges incur this cost, though some may allow their users to pay more in miner fees to speed up transaction speeds. Users on decentralized exchanges generally have to pay this themselves, since there is no third party between them and the crypto miners.
What to look for when choosing a crypto exchange
- Functionality. Your exchange of choice should have most, if not all, of the features you expect to use, be it fiat-to-currency trade pairings, liquidity aggregation, or specific altcoins and stablecoins you want to trade
- Security measures. Exchanges should provide additional lines of defense, such as two-factor authentication and Bitcoin locks, to help against hackers.
- Ease of use. This is especially important for newer traders who may struggle to use platforms with a less intuitive user interface. Nonetheless, advanced traders can also benefit from greater usability.
- Geography. Not all exchanges are available in the USA, some only operate in certain states.
How to be sure a crypto exchange is legitimate and secure
When looking for a crypto exchange, it’s essential to keep an eye out for fake websites and mobile apps. Even if the platform seems legitimate, make sure to check for any misspellings in the copy, inauthentic branding, and, in the case of a website, whether there’s a small lock icon indicating security near the URL bar.
Likewise, it’s important to remind yourself that scams aside, trading crypto can be dangerous. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, meaning that they are subject to sudden increases and decreases in values that even the wisest investors cannot predict with certainty.
Financial advisors recommend that if you invest in cryptocurrency, practice caution and keep it below 5% of your total investments.
How to open a crypto exchange account
Every crypto exchange has its own registration and setup process. Some exchanges may let you open an account without verifying your identity or submitting sensitive information. Others will require new users to undergo an extensive “Know your Client” (KYC) process to comply with U.S. government regulations meant to prevent money laundering and fraud.
However, some parts of registration are shared across platforms. You will need the following information and documentation to open an account on most crypto exchange platforms:
- Your full name and date of birth
- Your phone number and email address
- Your physical address
- Your Social Security number
- A government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license, passport) and a picture of you holding it or a scan of the ID
The sign-up process generally starts by asking for your personal information, followed by an email to confirm your address. Some exchanges may also ask for a copy of a utility bill sent to your physical address and inquire about your interest in trading crypto. Then, you’ll need to add a payment method to deposit funds into the exchange and start to buy and sell cryptocurrency.
Latest News on Crypto Exchanges
Investors are wondering if crypto is ever really safe following the turbulent year for these digital assets that was 2022. The collapse of FTX and the fall of stablecoin Terra, as well as numerous bankruptcy filings and high-profile cyber attacks have left a huge toll on confidence in the crypto industry. Research analysts and industry experts say that we’ll know what the bottom for crypto is once we’re past it.
And perhaps we’re past that mark now that Bitcoin prices have risen nearly 30% since the start of the year. The coin is now past the $21,000 mark, reaching $21,439 per coin on Wednesday, January 18. The rest of the cryptocurrency industry is following suit: ether prices and shares of crypto exchange Coinbase have gone up by more than 30%, and the value of the entire market has now surpassed $1 trillion.
Crypto Exchanges FAQ
Why is crypto down?
What is the best crypto exchange?
There is no one best exchange for every user. However, some of the features shared by the best cryptocurrency exchanges include solid security tools, low fees, several payment options, an accessible platform and availability on both mobile and desktop.
A large number of tradable cryptocurrencies that include various altcoins and trading pairs — for example, Bitcoin/Litecoin (BTC/LTC) and Ethereum/Bitcoin Cash (ETH/BCH) — is also something to look for.
How many crypto exchanges are there?
Because crypto exchanges do not register with any central authority, it's hard to know how many crypto exchanges there are at any given point in time. Many exchanges may be set up and then closed after very little time, which makes tracking this number even harder.
As of January 24, 2023, CoinMarketCap lists more than 240 spot exchanges, the biggest of which are Binance, Coinbase and Kraken (by volume of trades).
Which crypto exchange has the lowest fees?
Crypto exchange fees are complicated and can be the source of great frustration, especially when the cost of a trade suddenly spikes upwards due to unexpected charges.
Based on our research, we found that the best cryptocurrency trading platform for low trading fees is Bitstamp. Its maker and taker fees start at a very generous 0.30% / 0.40%, and users with a monthly trade volume of under $1000 get to trade for free.
Which crypto exchange has the most coins?
How We Chose the Best Crypto Exchanges
We looked at over 20 crypto exchanges and evaluated them based on cost, security, and user experience. Other factors we considered include cryptocurrency selection, payment options and trade volume.
We mainly focused on dedicated crypto exchanges and then looked at trading platforms that let you trade other securities. The best cryptocurrency exchanges scored high in the following categories:
Users should feel that their crypto is secure on their trade platform, so security breach prevention measures and safe account management methods are essential elements. We looked at each platform’s history of keeping their users’ funds and information safe and considered whether they offered insurance to users in case they lost their money due to a mistake on their part.
Regardless of whether one is a novice or an expert, an exchange that is easy to use and navigate is always a plus. We considered each crypto exchange’s mobile and desktop interface and favored those with more intuitive designs. We also looked at the educational content and research tools available for users.
Fees can be a headache for users, especially those trading with great frequency. We favored crypto exchanges that offered lower fees or ways of reducing said fees. We also valued transparency when it came to their fee structure.