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You want to get into bitcoin and crypto exchanges, or you’ve been in the game for a while, and your current marketplace just isn’t working for your high levels of ambition.
Whatever your reason is, this detailed, ultimate guide on the eight best bitcoin exchanges in 2020 is the last stop you’ll have to make on your journey.
We’re taking everything into account with this guide so that you can invest smarter, and trade easier (with lower-than-average fees) like a true crypto master. A bitcoin exchange should be:
- Easy to Use: Minimal interruptions and as few hoops to jump through as possible. You want to invest; time is of the essence.
- Versatile: Whether through cards, ACH transfers or other methods, you want to be able to pool money in (and out) with no restrictions.
- Safe: Information is critical, so you should only trust your information to go into the right hands in this digital day and age.
At the time of writing this guide, every bitcoin exchange on this list has been deemed safe by thousands of online users through their own experiences.
We’ve done the research and investing to bring you the best bitcoin exchange experiences possible, all on one page, so you can choose for yourself. Let’s get down to business.
Best Bitcoin Exchange – Reviews & Buying guide for 2020
Best overall – Binance
At the end of the day, Binance is just the clear-cut option. While it offers many similar features that its competitors do, Binance comes in clutch with some of the most streamlined features of any bitcoin exchange out there.
One key to being the best bitcoin market is maintaining their own cryptocurrency, BNB. This operates similar to litecoin in terms of market changs, and can be a great low-cost way to get started before you make the financial leap into full bitcoins.
BNB can be used as payment for transaction fees when buying bitcoin as well.
Binance is one of the most readily-available cryptocurrency exchanges, offering availability in almost every country across the world. There are restrictions with nations like China, which is why Binance is incorporated in multiple countries to avoid all the red tape.
You can choose between two different interfaces, one being their old look, and the other being a more intuitive design that allows you to take full advantage of everything Binance has to offer.
There’s a lot of data to digest, which is why Binance lays it out in a clean, easy-to-understand format so that you don’t get blasted with a wave of info that you don’t need.
In addition to allowing numerous cryptocurrencies to be traded, you can even buy cryptocurrencies with your credit card, now that they’ve partnered with Simplex. There are 17 different cryptos that you can buy this way, with expectations that this will spread to other currencies on the platform.
It’s easy to get tripped up on transaction fees when actually looking at trading fees. Trading fees are when you exchange one crypto for another, such as BNB for BTC.
That carries an industry-low 0.1%, but remember this isn’t the same as when you buy bitcoin through Binance. That being said, there’s an additional 25% reduction if you’re using BNB to trade for another coin, lowering that rate to 0.075%.
Withdrawals do come with some restrictions that you have to work around. For basic accounts, which are called level 1 verified accounts, you can withdraw up to 2 BTC every day.
That’s not a whole lot if you’re coming into this investment game with some serious capital. However, once you’re a level 2 verified account, that limit rises to 100 BTC every day, which is pretty fantastic.
While the fees are low and the UI is easy, Binance also has excellent customer service. So far, when contacting them, we’re found knowledgeable people who offer actual solutions instead of just referring you to the FAQ page, or to another customer service rep. It’s a clear winner in this space.
- Web Traffic Factor: 1,000
- Avg. Liquidity: 441
- Avg. Volume: $2,800,055,080
- Number of Markets: 599
- Launched: 2017
Runner up – Coinbase
In terms of reputable bitcoin exchanges, Coinbase is one of the top dogs. With a staggering 31+ million customers, and being available in over 105 countries, it’s clearly trusted amongst all crypto investors across the globe. But what is it about Coinbase that everyone seems to love?
It’s an older platform, which immediately garners some trust, but it’s their brokerage services that really drew people into their platform in the first place. With direct access to 63 markets, including bitcoin, Coinbase offers an easy way to purchase your favorite crypto.
In contrast to Binance’s 0.1% trading fee, Coinbase has 0.2% fee, which is still extremely low, but in high-roller accounts it can add up.
For the longest time, you had to trust Coinbase with your cryptocurrencies. It kept the control in their hands instead of yours. That’s why many people chose to go with Cash App or Edge to store their crypto.
In 2018, Coinbase came out with an independent wallet that allows you to have access to your bitcoin outside of their platform (not in their hands). Without that, they wouldn’t have ranked quite so high on this list.
Coinbase includes their own stablecoin, USDC, and indexes of all the financial performances that their market items hold. The real kicker here is upgrading to Coinbase Pro: a more intuitive, advanced platform for the serious investor.
Essentially, it’s a way to access lower fees, with some transactions allowing for absolutely 0% fees if the conditions are right.
Fees can be up to 3.99% for credit card buys, but if you’re using a debit card, you can get away with 1.49% when purchasing bitcoin. If you want to deposit money into your Coinbase wallet, it will cost you $10, unless it comes from a direct ACH transfer.
The downside to this is that it takes a while (2 to 5 business days), so if you’re looking to buy a big volume of bitcoin before the price changes, you might just have to bite the bullet on those ten bucks.
Coinbase has a fairly high limit, allowing you to spend $25K every day, or $175K in a single week. If you’re a high-roller type of investor, you can spend upwards of $750K most months while still having access to other networks like Binance as a backup.
With massive outreaching service and plenty of customer service reps out there, although you will run into some bad apples in the bunch because not all representatives are as knowledgeable as they should be.
- Web Traffic Factor: 972
- Avg. Liquidity: 404
- Avg. Volume: $117,144,679
- Number of Markets: 63
- Launched: 2012
Alternative – Bitmex
Have you been keeping up on crypto news?
Bitmex took some flak not too long ago back in the end of 2019, because they made a major security blunder. They didn’t reveal anything hype critical that would cost you your bitcoin, but they did accidentally unveil the complete email list of all their users.
I’m opening with this while still saying it’s a viable platform because it’s important to know every detail before diving in and signing up.
Cryptocurrency security is a big deal, so while this issue is something you should know about, Bitmex has never been hacked and lost crypto for their clients. Here’s the thing: Bitmex doesn’t actually trade crypto, they trade cryptocurrency derivatives.
These are basically contracts that hedge bets against price movements in prices on different cryptos.
I would say that Bitmex tends to lean more towards the seasoned veteran side of the crypto world. There are just 33 markets to choose from, but a large volume that signifies their constant trading.
With a lower liquidity rating as a result of it not being an actual bitcoin network, things are slow-moving, and take patience.
The main draw of Bitmex and crypto derivatives in general is that you can flip a small amount of money in a fat stack, but it also comes with that same volatility on the back end where you could lose money just as quickly.
When it comes to fees, you only pay 0.075% for taker fees, but as a maker, you actually get paid additional money. You can get 0.025%+ as a rebate for being the maker, which is a nice little add-on that you don’t find in other exchanges.
Depositing money and withdrawing it is completely free of charge. That’s one of the benefits of working in derivatives. Even though you run into small fees in this regard on platforms like Coinbase, free transactions are a major draw, and help you maximize your investments every single time.
Available in every country except for nine of them, Bitmex is one of the most available crypto trading platforms out there, even if it’s not the most widely used. Margin trading can get difficult, which is why profits can go one way or the other.
- Web Traffic Factor: 960
- Avg. Liquidity: 242
- Avg. Volume: $162,473,527
- Number of Markets: 33
- Launched: 2014
Alternative – Kraken
Kraken nearly hit the top as the best option. With a long-standing history since 2011, as well as stakes in 15 markets and an impressive nine-figure average volume, Kraken is a powerhouse in the cryptocurrency space.
You’re able to do a lot on their platform, but the main reason they didn’t rank higher is the lowered liquidity rating.
It can take a little bit longer than you’d like to sell your bitcoin on Kraken. We’re not talking more than a few minutes, but it’s still enough to be noticeable when price changes are fluctuating.
Kraken even assisted in processing claims in the Mt. Gox scandal (more below), proving their capabilities in resolving cryptocurrency issues and garnering trust from the public.
Kraken will hold onto your funds, because they don’t offer an independent wallet service. That being said, they have cryptographically-verified auditors to constantly prove to you, the customer, that your funds are safe and secure. This greater security measure puts us all at ease.
Since its inception, Kraken has consistently upgraded their services to include personalized accountants to help handle your trades, and dark pool: a way to purchase large shares of cryptocurrencies without making it known to the rest of the market.
Anonymity in a currency that already offers anonymity. When placing large orders, it can shift the market and affect prices in a bad way. You can never be too careful, right?
Depositing in either USD, CAD or EUR is acceptable, but no other flat currencies may be used. If you are a part of the EU, you can use SEPA deposits to negate any fees that you might incur for depositing money into Kraken.
When you get into fees, it’s nothing outrageous, but notably higher than Coinbase and Binance. Spot trading can go from 0.026% up to 0.06%, while stablecoin trading can actually incur a fee as well.
This generally goes from either 0% up to 0.2%, but with stablecoins being a one-to-one ratio (most of the time), this is a bit upsetting.
Overall, you can run into more altcoins on Kraken than you can on Coinbase, but Kraken’s fees are a little higher.
Customer service-wise, they’re fantastic at resolving issues and answering questions in a kind manner, so if you’re a beginner to the world of crypto, you’ll feel comfortable with their platform and customer service representatives.
- Web Traffic Factor: 865
- Avg. Liquidity: 370
- Avg. Volume: $104,111,445
- Number of Markets: 155
- Launched: 2011
Alternative – Indodax
While they’re a smaller player in the game, Indodax has over 1.6 million registered users, as well as 24/7 support and an open exchange. That includes holidays, as a heads up. To kick things off, if you are located in the United States, this exchange is closed to you.
Indodax has a very optimized and easy-to-use UI, offering immediate showcasing of their overall volume, graphs with timestamps and trades, as well as order books, market activity, and a slew of other tools that give you an edge while you’re trading.
The main reason that Indodax is on the radar is their flat 0.00% trading fee between cryptocurrencies. They do it for free. However, withdrawing bitcoin isn’t going to be free – that costs 0.0005 BTC during the withdrawal.
This is good because the fee is flat and worked into your withdrawal, so you won’t have to use external funds to fund the withdrawal fees. Overall, at the price bitcoin has been at these past few months, you’re not looking at more than a five USD equivalent worth of fees.
Indodax has two-factor auth, which amounts to email and text messaging codes to verify your identity. It’s basically impossible for someone to get a hold of your information outside of a major groundbreaking hack.
Speaking of which, Indodax has a solid security system that competes with the likes of Coinbase and Kraken, so you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your investments are safe.
The security is good, but their customer service has certainly seen better days. This article from Coindesk shows just what has happened in the past, and why it’s good to always have a cryptocurrency lawyer in mind when you’re dealing with large investments.
Many crypto traders that deal in high-roller numbers use multiple exchanges simultaneously to handle their investments. This is something to keep in mind about Indodax.
Because they’re not a top-shelf crypto trading network, you see about 200 BTC move through here every day, and it can take about 10-30 minutes before any cryptocurrency actually shows up in your account. Indodax doesn’t disclose their average liquidity: you can find estimates online, but nothing official.
Overall, it’s a fairly hard-to-gauge service, but their six-year lifespan and trust from over a million users make it worth checking out.
- Web Traffic Factor: 838
- Avg. Liquidity: 0 (Undisclosed)
- Avg. Volume: $4,167,223
- Number of Markets: 76
- Launched: 2014
Alternative – Okex
The biggest strength about Okex is their fees. Let’s kick this off with their best quality, because the fees change based on the trading volume over the last 30 days.
However, the prices will never rise about a 0.15% maker fee, and 0.20% taker fee. They could be as low as 0.02% and 0.05% depending on how well Okex is doing.
With a staggering number of markets, Okex continues to be one of the best bitcoin trading platforms to also grab some lower-priced altcoins on, and it has a fair liquidity rating to ensure fast sales and quick trades.
The platform could do with a UI overhaul, though. Okex is a powerful tool, but due to its limitations imposed by a tough-to-navigate area, you have to be comfortable with the way everything is arranged before you can become a pro at navigating it.
Apart from trading bitcoin, you can also leverage your gains. Fees and a wide market are great, but there are a few snags that drop Okex down to the sixth place on our list.
There is support for flat currencies to cryptocurrencies, but the amount of flat currencies that are accepted leaves a bottleneck on who can and cannot use the platform. Okex runs mostly on Chinese marketplaces, and while there’s no reason the rest of us can’t get in on the action, some restrictions may apply.
The platform is growing constantly, and changes happen rapidly in the cryptocurrency space. Going between future contracts and actual BTC can be a little complex at first. Unlike other platforms with pro versions, Okex just drops it all in your lap. It’s not exactly a beginner’s platform.
Last but not least, their integrated storage wallet helps with security. Most of their market assets are stored offline in private keys, and while that means you have to be willing to trust the platform, it also means that you run a very low risk of ever losing your assets due to a massive hacking attempt.
- Web Traffic Factor: 832
- Avg. Liquidity: 426
- Avg. Volume: $1,709,728,567
- Number of Markets: 380
- Launched: 2014
Alternative – Upbit
For you traders located in South Korea, this is your equivalent of Coinbase for United States users.
As one of the top bitcoin exchanges top bitcoin exchanges. Upbit allows you to trade in KRW for up to 189 currencies across 159 markets. The currencies here are always expanding, allowing for more altcoins to step into the spotlight.
Their average volume is known to fluctuate, since it’s really only affected by one market in the world.
Their highest-grossing volume in a single day peaked at 11 billion USD-KRW, which is pretty outstanding. It didn’t take more than six months to become the most popular cryptocurrency marketplace available to South Koreans.
Upbit is owned by a parent company, which also outputs the most popular messaging and music apps in South Korea, which is how it got its rise to fame so easily.
That, and being extremely similar in UI and overall design to KakaoStock, the stock-trading desktop application that’s widely used in South Korea.
Another reason as to why Upbit is so impressive is their low fee structure. For the most part, trading your bitcoin to other cryptocurrencies doesn’t incur a fee at all. In some instances, a fee might arise, which will cap out at 0.25% for both takers and makers.
Just a quarter of one percent. Unless you’re moving millions of dollars of crypto at a time, that fee would be negligible on almost all accounts.
We all have that fear in the back of our head when it comes to the vulnerability of cryptocurrencies. We all end up picture hackers in hooded sweatshirts in a dark room, just like the stock images on every fear-based article would suggest.
Well, thanks to the design of BitGo, Upbit’s multi-signature wallet system, it’s nearly impossible. To date, Upbit hasn’t been hacked, nor has their parent company. It’s about as safe as you can get.
If you’re not in South Korea, there is a way to trade on Upbit. Basically, you need to have a mobile number verified in South Korea, which means you would need a South Korean-based mobile phone network provider.
You could pay someone to activate a phone, send it to you in the United States, and from there, you could use this phone to receive payments through KakaoTalk and Kakao Pay, and trade on the platform as long as you can exchange USD for KRW.
- Web Traffic Factor: 830
- Avg. Liquidity: 163
- Avg. Volume: $88,875,192
- Number of Markets: 159
- Launched: 2017
Alternative – Coinbit
Coinbit started out at nothing. It’s fairly new, only having launched in the dead center of 2018, and at first people weren’t too impressed by it.
Despite the UI, which we’ll get into momentarily, it seemed to average around $2M USD for a daily trading volume, and sat below the top 100 exchanges around the world for high trading volumes in a twenty-four hour period.
But they blew right through those numbers. At least, to the best efforts of our information and research, they have. They don’t disclose their liquidity rating in an official format, although their web traffic factor would suggest that they’re getting a fair deal of investors on a daily basis.
The UI was basically fantastic from day one, which is what we believe kept users around. Not only was it easy to use, but it also includes plenty of options for the savvy trader to look at crypto rankings, and see plenty of information on price rises and shortcomings.
It’s like having a miniature stock market in your pocket. Apart from being easy to navigate, it’s also a very lightweight application, so you won’t have any input lag, or unnecessary time spent loading between two screens.
When it comes to fees, there’s a reason that this South Korean-based crypto exchange plays second fiddle to Upbit.
The taker and maker fees sit at 0.10%, which is great and all, but your bitcoin exchange rate is 0.0010 BTC. Pay attention to where the one is, because we’re used to seeing 0.0001 BTC in a lot of these reviews.
They say it’s competitive, when in reality, it’s just higher than it’s supposed to be. We’re hoping that they use it to fund their security systems, because initially, they didn’t receive the best scoring from Mozilla’s Firefox.
Since then, they’ve upgraded to cloud-based security, which when you’re dealing with storing blockchain, it actually comes in handy and is pretty safe.
At the end of the day, there’s a reason that Coinbit made it to the bottom of our list: it’s an entry-level market for cryptocurrency trading that aren’t derivatives, but the fees bite you just a bit harder than other platforms do.
Security is decent, the app is fantastic, but because it’s based in South Korea, you’ll need to jump through hoops to trade on it just like Upbit if you’re a United States citizen.
- Web Traffic Factor: 828
- Avg. Liquidity: 0 (Undisclosed)
- Avg. Volume: $121,391,617
- Number of Markets: 36
- Launched: 2018
Bitcoin Exchange Guide and Detailed Overview + FAQs
How do I Exchange Bitcoins?
The best bitcoin exchange platforms make it easy to exchange your bitcoin one way or the other.
Bitcoin exchanges offer a way for you to input your bank account information, such as your checking account number and routing number. Through these transfers, it can typically take one to two days for a transaction to go through.
Alternatively, you can also use your debit card, which normally guarantees instant buys.
Last but not least, you can use a service like Cash App that not only allows you to store your USD, but also your BTC, so you can buy bitcoin and store it in your wallet instantly. No more leaving it in the marketplace.
This requires you to list a sell order. This is where the exchange comes in handy and actually transfers the blockchain for you. Sell orders can take one to five business days to actually finish, but don’t worry: from the moment you put in a sale order, it locks it at that bitcoin price.
You’ve sold it, the processing time for your money just takes a little while. It’s as simple as that. You can pull your earnings into your digital wallet in USD to buy more bitcoin later when it drops, or have it deposited straight into your bank account.
What is the Biggest Bitcoin Exchange?
What is the best bitcoin exchange out there?
It depends on what numbers you’re looking at, and on what day. Binance and Coinbase numbers fluctuate and often compete with one another.
On any given day of the week, Binance could exceed Coinbase, but it all depends. People are getting into cryptocurrency at an alarming rate, and with that, more people are signing up every single day and investing their money.
How Does Converting Cryptocurrency Work?
It’s not all about USD to BTC and back around the ringer again: you can actually trade bitcoin with litecoin, ethereum with ripple, and more. That’s why these are called exchanges and marketplaces simultaneously. They can sell a crypto to you, or you can exchange your crypto for another.
The safest bitcoin exchange offers immediate transactions, as well as fairly quick exchanges between two types of currencies that may be instantaneous, or only take five to ten minutes at most.
One of the most popular conversions is between BTC and ETH (ethereum), as well as BTC and LTC (litecoin). When you place an exchange request, the exchange in question will give you the equivalent value of your new crypto based on the value of your old crypto in your nation’s currency.
Example: $9,000 USD worth of bitcoin is about 1 BTC. If exchanged for $9,000 USD worth of litecoin, you receive the same value in that new crypto. On average, you would end up with about 204 LTC (based on market values at the time of writing this).
Either way, it’s the same value during that trade, which is subject to change with fluctuating markets after the transaction is finalized.
This is where Coinbase Pro, as mentioned earlier, will come in handy. You have what’s called taker and maker fees, which are almost always equal to one another.
In extremely high denominations (we’re talking $50K or more in a single trade), your fee percentages change. Taker fees will shrink, but cannot be expunged, though maker fees phase out around the $50K-$100K mark.
Typically, your fee will go into effect after the transaction has been finalized. This means a one-time transfer fee, which is taken out at the end. That $9,000 we talked about gets hit with a 0.50% taker fee (Coinbase Pro), so you end up with $8,955 worth of your new crypto once that fee is taken out.
How to Know if Your Bitcoin Exchange is Safe?
Bitcoin exchanges are as safe as they can be. There’s no FDIC equivalent that insures your bitcoin, and there’s no fallback plan for these exchanges.
Nobody is backing up the cryptocurrencies invested in that market except for the money that these marketplaces earn. These marketplaces have more money flowing through them than they earn themselves.
The best BTC exchange in the world used to be Mt. Gox. If you’re new to the game and haven’t heard of them, that’s not surprising. Nobody likes to talk about them anymore.
Mt. Gox is basically used as a cautionary tale against our worst fears as bitcoin investors. This tragedy had to happen at one point or another, we’re just glad that it’s a learning experience that exchanges are safeguarding against.
Mt. Gox controlled more than 70% of the BTC to USD market. Investors feared how much of the market Mt. Gox controlled to the point that the then-CEO, Mark Karpeles, shut down the site for several days in 2013 to let the market shift a bit.
For a company raking in profits from bitcoin exchanges to do that, you know it had to be a big concern.
Well, the concern doesn’t end there. Mt. Gox was hacked in 2014, and declared bankruptcy. Nearly all of its bitcoin was lost in the hack, leaving investors who trusted the platform with empty hands, and empty wallets. It just all went kaput in an instant.
We haven’t had another Mt. Gox chokehold on the market, and we haven’t seen a hack like it since. Thankfully, large sites like Binance and Coinbase are well aware of what needs to be done to secure a marketplace that people trust, and that they’re willing to put their cryptocurrency in.
How Can I Trade Bitcoin Without Fees?
You can’t. You used to be able to, but all these workarounds have been plugged up by major bitcoin exchanges and marketplaces.
There’s hundreds of YouTube videos and thousands of articles explaining methods that you can trade without fees, but it’s just not the case anymore. Even this high-ranking article from Cryptomaniaks states that as of March 2019, the method they describe no longer works.
Your best bet is to find the best exchange to buy bitcoin, and then get comfortable with their fees by including them in your practice going forward.
The only under-the-radar method of trading bitcoin without fees is by either getting a signup bonus with certain exchanges (usually around $10.00), and then ignoring it. Just mark it as like having $10.00 worth of trade fees covered.
Some wallets, such as Cash App, may allow you to send a small amount of bitcoin to a friend for no fees, but this isn’t the same as “trading bitcoin” where you’re buying and selling on a constant basis.
You’re going to waste more energy trying to find a workaround than you will by just accounting for the fees in the first place.
What to Pay Attention to While Using Bitcoin Exchanges
Before I send you off and you become an item with your new favorite bitcoin exchange, I want to pass on some wisdom from someone who has traded, and had some very bad days doing so.
- Volume: Much like with the stock market, a low trading volume of a specific cryptocurrency is like finding a single dot of mold in your bread on the counter. It’s a little bad, but if left unchecked, it will rot. Low trading volume may indicate that a coin or cryptocurrency is about to be delisted, which will only hurt the trade volume further, and subsequently, its value.
- Wallet Transaction Rates: Some exchanges want you to use their wallet to store your bitcoin, but be aware of the transaction rates and transfer fees. Apps like Cash App allow you to deposit your bitcoin for free, though buying or selling bitcoin through Cash App will incur a transaction fee. Some online marketplace wallets have a much higher transaction fee than you should ever have to deal with. It’s important to compare them and know what you’re getting into before you sign up for one.
- Other Cryptocurrencies: Yes, bitcoin is the big name, but there are nearly 5,000 different cryptos out there. Few of them get proper attention, though. For instance, if you invested in Litecoin in March of this year, you would have turned a profit of $16.66 per LTC by this point in June, 2020. Lower price, higher volume, more power in smaller market sways. Don’t get tunnel vision: look at other players in the game as well.
Trading Smarter Every Day
It’s no surprise that bitcoin exchanges and markets are popping up everywhere you look. While the economic experts and foreign powers aren’t 100% certain if BTC will become the new universal currency, we can look around and pretty much determine that for ourselves, can’t we?
Of all the cryptocurrencies, bitcoin is the king, and trading it safely is our top priority here on CoinTippy. Utilize these markets, weigh the pros and the cons, and do what you can to scrap taking fees up the wazoo. We’ve got you covered.