In this guide, we will share the top 5 best bitcoin exchanges for 2018. Each of the five bitcoin exchange reviews highlights key details of the exchange, as well as the bitcoin exchange’s pros and cons compared to other exchanges.
- Bitcoin exchanges are websites online where you can buy and sell bitcoins, trade your bitcoins against fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies.
- The function of a bitcoin exchange is similar to a trading exchange such as the stock and bond markets, the main difference being that instead of buying and selling stocks or bonds, you are trading cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
- Since bitcoin has exploded in popularity, so too have bitcoin exchanges. Unfortunately, this means that among the many bitcoin exchanges there will be some bad actors and low quality and insecure exchanges. There are multiple stories of exchanges being hacked.
- It is extremely important, therefore, to trade on a reputable and secure bitcoin exchange. There are a few that have distinguished themselves from the pack and have a solid reputation and history.
Coinbase is one of the largest cryptocurrency and bitcoin exchanges in the world. It is also one of the most secure and reputable.
It is a California-based bitcoin exchange which began its operations back in 2012, making it one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges. Coinbase also has more than 10 million customers around the world and is very well respected for its security compared to other exchanges.
Coinbase offers its services to more than 33 countries including US, UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore and most of Europe.
Creating an account on Coinbase is easy and quick and you can start trading on the platform immediately.
On most exchanges you have to wait a few days for the transfer of funds, but on Coinbase, once you’ve verified your identity you can start trading.
Verified US users can buy up to 50,000 USD worth of bitcoins a day, which is usually plenty for most people. European customers can buy up to 30,000 Euros worth of bitcoins daily.
Coinbase offers multiple payment options for its users including SEPA transfer, credit/debit cards, and Wire Transfer.
Where Coinbase truly excels compared to other exchanges is security and the great lengths to which they go to keep your bitcoin safe.
The company uses state of the art security measure to keep the users’ funds secure. Coinbase only holds 2% of the total users’ funds online, whereas the rest of the 98% funds are stored offline in cold storage, which is the most secure way to store bitcoin currently.
Coinbase even goes so far as to protect your bitcoin with insurance. If there are any losses resulting from a breach in Coinbase’s security, your bitcoins are insured and protected.
In addition, if you are a U.S. based investor, your account is even FDIC insured up to $250,000, like your bank account!
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- Great for beginners: the interface of the trading platform is very user-friendly
- Excellent security: Coinbase follows state of the art security protocols and keep 98% of the users’ funds in cold storage, insures your account and provides FDIC for U.S. investors
- Multiple payment options including debit/credit card, Wire Transfer, and SEPA
- Coinbase’s transaction and conversion fees vary but tend to be competitive compared to other exchanges, especially factoring the security and ease of use of the Coinbase bitcoin exchange
- Not anonymous. Coinbase will keep track of your transactions, as will most exchanges nowadays.
- We also found some negative reviews about Coinbase where customers complained that their accounts were frozen without any reason. The truth of these are unconfirmed however.
Kraken is another US-based bitcoin exchange which runs its operations from San Francisco, California. Kraken is the world’s largest cryptocurrency and bitcoin exchange in terms of Euro volume and liquidity. They are also one of the few that offer trading on margin.
The company began operations in 2011, making them one of the oldest bitcoin exchanges, and they offer their services in the US, Canada, and other European countries.
Creating an account on Kraken is very easy, however the company follows a tier system of verification (think: level 1, level 2, etc) which depends on the information you verify. The more services you need and the extent to which you want to use fiat currency, the more information Kraken will need to collect from you.
Tier 0 to Tier 3 users are for individual users whereas Tier 4 is for corporate users. Most people will likely need to become a Tier 3 user, requiring verifying your identity.
The company follows a unique security approach to keep their funds secure. Kraken has 3 storages: hot storage, semi-cold storage, and cold storage (similar to a hardware wallet).
All new deposits go into cold storage along with the majority of all funds. Some are kept in what are called “semi-cold” wallets which means they are in machines protected with locked drives. The remainder are in hot storage and are used for daily liquidity.
- Good reputation among the crypto community
- Kraken offers high liquidity in Euros
- Transaction fees are among the lowest, varying between 0% to 0.26% depending on the region and the payment option
- Kraken also offers short selling and margin trading to its customers
- Offers multiple payment methods including Wire Transfer, SEPA, SWIFT, and bitcoin
- Kraken’s trading platform offers a variety of order types and position options
- Storage is relatively secure, but not insured to the level of Coinbase
- Not for beginners – the trading platform can be very confusing
- Users often report issues with the website such as getting errors when trying to get verified and other performance issues. In January of 2018, a scheduled upgrade shut down trading for 48 hours.
- Customer service tends to not be very responsive
- Funds not insured like Coinbase
LocalBitcoins is a Finland-based startup which began its journey in 2012.
LocalBitcoins allows its customers to buy bitcoins without providing any personal information. You can buy a small volume of bitcoins without any verification, however, for buying large volume, you will have to verify your identity.
LocalBitcoins has served more than 1.35 million customers worldwide. If you are looking for a private method to buy small amounts of bitcoin, a way to buy bitcoin anonymously or a way to buy bitcoins with cash then LocalBitcoins is a good service to use.
- You can buy bitcoins privately without giving away any personal information
- Local Bitcoins offers its services worldwide in virtually every country
- No buying or selling limits
- Easy to use
- It offers a wide range of payment methods including cash, wire transfer, credit card, Amazon gift, Google Wallet, PayPal, Venmo, Xoom and Western Union.
- Customer support is very responsive
- Prices for buying bitcoin are typically somewhat higher
- The trading fee is a flat 1%
- Not suitable for buying large volumes of bitcoins
- You deal directly with people and you can experience delays in transaction depending on who you deal with
- You must be alert in order to avoid scams
Binance was founded in China but is now a Japan-based bitcoin exchange and is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in terms of trading volume. Binance offers its services to most counties worldwide, including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, most of Europe and many more.
Despite only being founded in 2017, it has quickly become a top bitcoin exchange.
Binance however only supports cryptocurrencies as payment options, so you cannot use fiat currency such as dollars or euros to fund your account. There are advantages to this, however, in that Binance is insulated in some sense from the traditional financial system and financial regulators.
The entire time you use Binance, you never touch fiat currency. This might be one of the reasons its popularity has exploded.
Binance also offers anonymous accounts along with regular accounts. Binance trading fees are 0.1% of the total trading volume which is low compared to other bitcoin exchanges.
Binance is a great bitcoin exchange if you want to regularly trade as fees are low and there is a very large selection of cryptocurrencies on the exchange. You may need to purchase bitcoin or other altcoins elsewhere and transfer them to the exchange first.
- Beginner friendly – the platform is easy to use
- Very good reputation among the crypto community
- Very low fees as compared to other exchanges
- Offer a very wide selection of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and much more
- Customer support is fairly good
- Doesn’t support fiat currency, PayPal or Debit/Credit cards as payment options
CoinMama is an Israel-based cryptocurrency exchange which began its journey in 2013. CoinMama runs its operations from Ra’anana, Israel and is also registered in the US with FinCEN.
Coinmama is essentially the place to go to buy bitcoin quickly with a credit card.
The company is known for its fast transactions and it usually takes less than 15 minutes to complete the entire transaction.
The company doesn’t keep its funds online and instead they sell coins using their inventory. So once you pay, coins will be directly transferred to your personal wallet.
This makes transactions on Coinmama very secure.
CoinMama offers its services in nearly every country worldwide.
In the US, CoinMama services are currently limited to following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kanas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
For a detailed overview of Coinmama, read our Coinmama review.
- The trading platform is extremely user-friendly and perfect beginners
- Reputable bitcoin exchange with a good history
- Supports VISA and MasterCard credit cards
- Customer support is very responsive
- Fast transactions
- The website supports multiple-languages
- Easily review all your orders
- CoinMama transaction fee is 5.5% which is higher than other exchanges, due mostly to the fact you are purchasing with a credit card
- Doesn’t support PayPal or SEPA as payment methods
- You can’t sell bitcoins on CoinMama, only buy
Conclusion: What’s The Best Bitcoin Exchange?
While there are other exchanges out there, we chose these 5 because overall they meet a higher overall standard in terms of factors such as security, choices or cryptocurrencies, ease of use and funding options.
The best bitcoin trading platforms also cater to investors with different goals. For example, I have personally used all 5 of the above bitcoin exchanges because they fulfilled the different needs I had at different times.
Overall we feel these 5 exchanges deserve their place here among the top bitcoin trading platforms, though the best exchange to buy bitcoin in Australia quickly with a credit card in order to hold it long term, may not be the best bitcoin exchange for day trading in the UK.
Your goals will dictate which one is right for you now.
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What do you think of the 5 bitcoin exchanges here? And do you have any you feel deserve a place on this list? Comment below and let everyone know!
Richard has developed and ran multiple online websites and communities with tens of millions of monthly visitors. He first discovered bitcoin and blockchain in 2012 and has been helping to educate others on its potential since then. Richard is very passionate about the crypto community. Read his inspiring story into cryptocurrency here.