4 Best Places To Buy and Sell Cryptocurrency

bitcoin and ethereum cryptocurrency coins
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Over the past several years, cryptocurrency has grown in popularity. Thanks to relatively low fees, investors find buying and selling cryptocurrency particularly attractive. Crypto isn’t connected to any world governments, and it offers significant profit potential.

If you’re just getting started with investing in cryptocurrency, you may need some help navigating the exchange waters.

Whether your intent is to trade frequently or to purchase coins and hold them long term, this article provides insight into cryptocurrency and recommends four of the best crypto exchanges based on exchange score, average liquidity and trading volume.

Cryptocurrency Explained

To better understand what cryptocurrency is, you can begin with the root of the word: crypt. Merriam-Webster defines a crypt as a completely or partially underground chamber or vault. The term “vault” is appropriate when referring to cryptocurrency, as it’s a compartment for keeping valuables safe.

Cryptocurrency is cryptography-secured digital or virtual currency. On crypto exchanges, cryptography technology is used to secure transactions on exchange networks, control the generation of new cryptocurrencies, and verify the transfer of digital tokens and assets.

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Currently, cryptocurrency is not produced or issued by any central financial authority and is exempt from government rule, regulation or influence. This government exemption is due to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, initial coin offerings and altcoins (cryptos launched after the success of Bitcoin, such as Ethereum) being decentralized.

Decentralization of currencies occurs when no central government or financial system has the power to control or manage them. Most financial systems are centralized, meaning they’re managed by a single highest government authority.

Are Your Cryptocurrency Transactions Secure?

Since cryptocurrencies are decentralized, you may wonder how you can ensure the security of your transactional data. Blockchain technology is an essential organizational method that’s used to keep your crypto assets safe.

What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?

Blockchain technology is designed to enhance the trust you place in keeping your cryptocurrency trading records and financial transactions. Using the blockchain system to record your crypto information makes it practically impossible for anyone to hack into the system and change records.

A blockchain is a digital transaction ledger that’s duplicated and distributed across an entire computer network on the blockchain. Here’s how it works:

  1. A block in the chain contains a certain number of transactions.
  2. A new transaction occurs on the blockchain.
  3. A record of that transaction is added to every participant’s ledger on the blockchain.

Multiple cryptocurrency exchange participants manage a decentralized database — distributed ledger technology. On the blockchain DLT, investors’ transactions are recorded with immutable cryptographic signatures called hashes.

The following are four of the best places to buy and sell cryptocurrency. Learn how you can use these exchanges to start investing in the crypto market.

4 of the Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges

The cryptocurrency space is rapidly growing, and crypto traders need a reliable source to track their assets. CoinMarketCap is the most referenced crypto asset price-tracking website worldwide. It provides investors with well-researched, unbiased and accurate information to make the most informed cryptocurrency buying and selling decisions.

The following chart lists four of CoinMarketCap’s top cryptocurrency exchanges for U.S. investors according to their exchange score, average liquidity and approximate trading volume as of March 31.

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To understand how cryptocurrency exchanges are rated, you’ll want to know more about what each rating category means.  Here’s a look at each type:

  • Exchange score: Cryptocurrency exchanges are ranked and scored based on their amount of web traffic, average liquidity, volume and legitimacy confidence level. These factors are weighted, and an exchange is assigned a score between 0.0 and 10.0.
  • Average liquidity: Simply put, liquidity is the ability of a crypto asset to be converted to cash essentially on demand. The average liquidity of cryptocurrency can also be determined by its bid-ask spread, which is the difference between the best available price to buy or sell an asset.
  • Trading volume: A cryptocurrency’s trading volume is the number of assets or coins that have been traded, usually within a 24-hour period.
  Exchange Exchange Score Average Liquidity Trading Volume
1 Binance 9.8 658 $26.6 billion
2 Coinbase Pro 8.8 495 $2.7 billion
3 Kraken 8.5 540 $1.3 billion
4 Bittrex 7.5 333 $193 million
Data is accurate as of March 31, 2021.

Here’s more detailed information about these crypto exchanges and why they made this list.

1. Binance

Binance

Overview: Based in Hong Kong, Binance offers some of the most competitive rates among all the cryptocurrency trading platforms. Beginners and seasoned crypto traders alike will perhaps find Binance the easiest and least expensive exchange to trade on.

Cryptocurrency traders worldwide can use Binance. The company has recently partnered with third parties such as Simplex to allow credit card and wire transfer purchases of crypto assets at premium prices. U.S. traders who use Binance will find it compatible with U.S. trade regulations.

Services: On Binance’s exchange, investors can exchange fiat for Bitcoin or other coins. You can buy cryptocurrency on Binance in several ways. Some are listed here:

  • Peer-to-peer trading: Directly connects cryptocurrency buyers and sellers
  • Debit and credit card: Through the third-party brokerage service, Simplex, credit card users can buy 31 different cryptocurrencies with fees of up to 3.5% for USD purchases.
  • SEPA and wire transfers: Through third-party providers, investors can buy cryptocurrency with fiat using Single Euro Payments Area transfers and bank transfers directly.

Number of coins available for trade: Approximately 200, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Chainlink (LINK) and Binance Coin (BNB)

Fees:

  • Flat rate of 0.1% for non-immediate liquidation
  • Futures trading platform: 0.02% for makers; 0.04% for takers
  • Deposits are free
  • Withdrawal fees correlate with blockchain transaction fees

Supported countries: Worldwide

Average customer rating on G2.com: 4 out of 5

2. Coinbase Pro

Coinbase

Overview: Founded in the U.S. in 2012, Coinbase Pro is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges around. The service is available in more than 100 countries and has more than 30 million users worldwide.

Users can buy and sell Bitcoin using their bank accounts, credit cards and debit cards. Customers report that rates are on par with other exchanges, but according to the Better Business Bureau, Coinbase Pro’s customer service leaves a lot to be desired.

You can also use the platform to trade USD Coin, a Coinbase-built stablecoin.

Services: Coinbase Pro’s main offering is a brokerage service for buying and selling cryptocurrency. The exchange has a relatively good reputation and marketing strategy and a user-friendly interface. New crypto traders often buy their first Bitcoin through Coinbase, which is Coinbase Pro’s predecessor. Coinbase Pro is targeted at more experienced cryptocurrency traders.

Coinbase launched its independent Android and iOS mobile wallet in 2018. The wallet stores an investor’s private keys on their mobile device, and only the user has access to the crypto funds.

Number of coins available for trade: Approximately 100, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS (EOS) and Stellar Lumens (XLM)

Fees:

  • 0.04% to 0.50% fee for placing an order at the market price
  • Flat fee for transactions under $200 or a percentage of the transaction (whichever is greater)
  • Most standard buy transaction fees are 1.49%, and credit card buys are 3.99%
  • Deposits are free via ACH transfer, but otherwise, users pay $10 per transaction

Supported countries: Coinbase Pro offers services in more than 100 countries. See the website for a complete listing.

Average customer rating on G2.com: 4 out of 5

3. Kraken

Kraken

Overview: Established in 2011, Kraken is headquartered in San Francisco. It claims to be the largest Bitcoin exchange in terms of liquidity and euro volume. Kraken offers an advanced crypto trading platform with over-the-counter and margin trading options.

Previously, Kraken’s unstable platform gave it a bad name. However, the exchange has redeemed itself and updated its services, focusing more on security and customer support. Additionally, its trading fees are very competitive.

Services: Kraken offers crypto traders an array of services on its platform, including:

  • Spot and margin trading: For more experienced users
  • OTC services: For high-volume trades (over $100,000). Frequent high-volume traders have access to a dedicated account manager to make trades for them.
  • Staking services: Crypto investors can earn a return on crypto assets that would normally be held and unused by other investors.

Accepted currencies and payment methods: Kraken currently accepts the following fiat currencies: U.S. dollars (USD), euros (EUR), Canadian dollars (CAD), Australian dollars (AUD), British pounds (GBP), Swiss francs (CHF) and Japanese yen (JPY).

Number of coins available for trade: Approximately 40, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Chainlink (LINK) and Curve (CRV)

Fees: Among all the major Bitcoin exchanges, Kraken has some of the lowest fees. Your fees depend on your last 30 days’ trading volume and are generally based on a maker-taker basis. If you’re a maker and add limit orders to the exchange, you pay a lower fee than takers who fulfill existing orders.

Here are the details on some of the fees you might encounter:

  • Spot trading fees range from 0% to 0.26%.
  • Stablecoin trading fees range from 0% to 0.2%.

Supported countries: Currently, Kraken is available worldwide except in Afghanistan, Congo, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Tajikistan.

U.S. traders, except for residents of New York and Washington state, can participate on Kraken’s exchange.

Average customer rating on G2.com: 4.5 out of 5

4. Bittrex

Bittrex

Overview: Bittrex is a U.S.-based exchange founded in 2013 and headquartered in Seattle. In recent years, its popularity has grown among U.S. crypto investors because of its emphasis on the security of its users. Speed and stability keep users satisfied, and the exchange has so far never been hacked.

Bittrex offers a suite of updated features, including an improved user experience, lower fees and a new referral program. Other benefits of trading crypto on Bittrex include:

  • Effective and reliable technologies
  • Elastic, multistage wallet strategy (80% to 90% fund safety)
  • Quick-loading trading interface with no hanging or lagging
  • Automated trading features (stop loss, instant buy or sell)

Although Bittrex recently updated its exchange, it offers minimal customer support and has no option for margin trading. User accounts can be suspended without prior notice.

Services: Bittrex offers a number of convenient services to its cryptocurrency traders, including:

  • Bittrex Credits promotions: Bittrex Credits are airdropped to recipients within 72 hours of a qualifying event.
  • Mobile app: Available on iOS and Android
  • Robust order types: Market orders, stop limit, limit ladder and limit
  • Personalized trading: Several layout options and themes help make your trading experience unique.

Accepted currencies and payment methods: Identity-verified users within and outside of the U.S. are eligible for USD trading, withdrawals and deposits on Bittrex. See the website for a list of states.

Number of coins available for trade: More than 400 altcoins are available for trading against USD, Bitcoin, Ethereum and stablecoins like USDT (Tether).

Fees:

  • A 0.25% flat commission fee is applied to all trades.
  • Compared to the industry average, Bittrex’s trading fees are a bit higher.
  • No rebates for higher-volume trades
  • No incentives for takers and makers

Supported countries: Currently, Bittrex is available worldwide except in North Korea, Iran, Syria, the Crimean region and Cuba.

Average customer rating on G2.com: 4 out of 5

Good To Know

Many people worldwide see cryptocurrencies as the future of money. Early adopters of crypto are also adopting major financial technological innovations such as blockchain. If you’re a new cryptocurrency investor, you too could be positioning yourself to get ahead of the crypto curve.

Data is accurate as of March 31, 2021, and is subject to change.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Kathy Evans is a personal finance freelance writer and entrepreneur with a technical writing and instructional systems design background. She holds an MS in technical writing and informational design and is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University. Through work experience in the federal government as well as commercial and nonprofit industries, she has focused her freelance writing on finance, investing and economic content with a specialization in budget coaching.  

4 Best Places To Buy and Sell Cryptocurrency
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