Broadly speaking, there are two categories of crypto exchanges: centralized exchanges and decentralized exchanges. Each category comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Centralized crypto exchanges CEX are managed by one organization. Centralized exchanges make it easy to get started with cryptocurrency trading by allowing users to convert their fiat currency, like dollars, directly into crypto. The vast majority of crypto trading take place on centralized exchanges.
Some crypto enthusiasts object to centralized exchanges because they go against the decentralized ethos of cryptocurrency. Even worse in the eyes of some crypto users, the company or organization may require users to follow Know Your Customer KYC rules. These require each user to divulge their identity, much as you would when you apply for a bank account, to combat money laundering and fraud.
With a CEX, the exchange holds the crypto traded on its platform—at least in the short term, while trades go through—raising the risk of hackers stealing assets. To address this risk, centralized crypto exchanges have beefed up security over recent years. Among other strategies, they now store most customer assets offline and take out insurance policies to cover crypto losses in the case of hacking. If you like the convenience of a centralized exchange, you can reduce your risk by transferring crypto to a separate, off-exchange hot or cold wallet.
Decentralized crypto exchanges DEX distribute responsibility for facilitating and verifying crypto trades. Anyone willing to join a DEX network can certify transactions, much like the way cryptocurrency blockchains work. This may help increase accountability and transparency as well as ensure an exchange can keep running, regardless of the state of the company that created it.
The trouble is that decentralized exchanges are much less user friendly, not only from an interface standpoint but also in terms of currency conversion. This means you either have to already own crypto or use a centralized exchange to get crypto that you then use on a DEX.
There are nearly cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide inviting investors to trade bitcoin, ethereum and other digital assets. But costs, quality and safety vary widely. With an emphasis on regulatory compliance, Forbes Digital Assets ranked the top 60 cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Trading fees may be charged as a flat percentage of the amount of crypto you buy or sell, or an exchange may differentiate between orders that are makers and those that are takers, charging a different percentage accordingly.
On a basic level, makers are orders that add liquidity to an exchange, meaning they do not fulfill standing orders. Takers, meanwhile, remove liquidity from an exchange by completing orders that are waiting for a trade. Spreads can, and frequently do, wind up being much more expensive than if you paid a percentage trading fee. Many exchanges charge fees to withdraw coins from their platform.
This can be an issue if you prefer to move your crypto to a secure third-party wallet or onto another exchange. Withdrawal fees typically vary by cryptocurrency. If you anticipate moving your crypto off of an exchange, you should choose a platform that allows a certain amount of fee-free withdrawals, like Gemini. If you engage in more advanced trading strategies, like margin trading, there are additional fees associated with borrowing money.
Beginner-friendly exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini offer quick buy features that charge higher fees. If you make purchases using a credit card or debit card, you may be charged a premium by both the exchange and your card issuer. Leading exchanges like Binance and KuCoin have been hacked, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in losses. While exchanges often reimburse those whose coins are stolen, nobody wants to be in that position in the first place. You can minimize your risk by spreading your crypto purchases across multiple exchanges.
Carefully consider the cryptocurrencies available on a given exchange. You might be perfectly fine using a crypto exchange that only trades a few coins. Low-volume markets could cost you on sales. Remember trade types involving the latter are still evolving in the U. Many state and federal governments are still figuring out how exactly they want to treat cryptocurrencies from a legal and tax standpoint. You may need to obtain a crypto wallet to hold your cryptocurrency, or your exchange may provide one.
Be careful when picking a crypto exchange. Some platforms provide wallets that do not let you transfer your coins off of the platform. This may create security risks if the exchange is hacked, or tax issues if you ever wanted to move your crypto off of the platform. Some crypto exchanges will let you use other cryptocurrencies or their own branded stablecoins to fund transactions.
Exchanges have different requirements, depending on the type of cryptocurrency you want to buy. You may be able to buy fractional shares of coins for pennies or just a few dollars. Each crypto exchange has its own unique registration process, and with some, you may be able to make an account and buy and sell small amounts of crypto without verifying your identity or submitting much sensitive information.
But as the industry has evolved, the U. You may also have to verify your identity by submitting a photo or scan of a government-issued ID. However, not all of these coins may be available to you, depending on your location. US, KuCoin and bitFlyer provide the lowest fees of our surveyed exchanges, charging 0.
Kraken is the safest crypto exchange, according to third-party crypto cybersecurity evaluator CER. He lives in Dripping Springs, TX with his wife and kids and welcomes bbq tips. John Schmidt is the Assistant Assigning Editor for investing and retirement.
Before joining Forbes Advisor, John was a senior writer at Acorns and editor at market research group Corporate Insight. Select Region. United States. United Kingdom. Taylor Tepper, John Schmidt. Forbes Advisor Staff, Editor. Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations. Read more. Best Ofs. Featured Partners. Learn More Via eToro's Website. Learn More On Uphold's Website. Learn More On Crypto.
Our ratings take into account the product's terms and benefits. All ratings are determined solely by the Forbes Advisor editorial team. Learn More On Binance. US' Secure Website. Why We Picked It. Low costs for spot and general trading. Wide range of cryptocurrencies available for trading. High cybersecurity ranking and user reviews.
Fewer coin options than its international parent company, Binance. Not currently available in all U. Newcomers to crypto may want more educational tutorials. Beginner-friendly interface and easy purchase process. Strong user reviews and security ratings. Its educational Learn platform rewards users with cryptocurrency when they learn about crypto.
High fees for convenience. Must use a separate, more complex platform to access lower pricing structure. Volume and exchange-token discount, which can make already-low fees almost negligible. More than 50 coins currently available for trading. Basic order types as well as OTC trading enabled. Coin offerings are limited compared to Binance and even other major exchanges, which may offer four to seven times as many coins.
No support for margin trading. You can easily assess the market cap of the world's biggest cryptocurrency — and at the top of every page we deliver an insight into Bitcoin's dominance. This tool is fully customizable, meaning that you can type in any dollar amount and get an immediate conversion into BTC, and vice versa. Using the dropdown menu, you can also explore rates for other crypto and fiat pairings. Learn about crypto with our beginners' guide. Bitcoin is renowned for its volatility — and in the past, it's gained and lost hundreds of dollars in a matter of minutes.
Thanks to our straightforward tool, you'll never be out of the loop. Are you hoping to sell some crypto today — or are you interested in buying some Bitcoin for the first time? Cryptocurrencies rather unfairly have gained a reputation for being complicated, but the industry has made great progress in demystifying digital assets once and for all. Many exchanges offer clean user interfaces that can be compared to those used by top e-commerce websites and banks.
But if you want a comprehensive guide on how to buy Bitcoin , and a full explanation of how conversions work, CoinMarketCap is here to save the day. Cryptocurrency Converter Calculator. Refresh Save This Conversion.
Comparison Table of Top Crypto Exchanges ; Bittrex, Flat fee %, secure. flat fee rate of %, /5. While Coinbase can be a good exchange for both new and advanced crypto investors, trading fees can be relatively high, ranging from 0% to % depending on. The Best Crypto Exchanges Of April ; 1. eToro. Fees (Maker/Taker). 1%/1%. Cryptocurrencies Available for Trade. 20+ · Via eToro's Website ; 2.