The Best Crypto Exchanges for 2021

Find out which cryptocurrency platform is best for you.

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If you want to buy cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, or dogecoin, you’ll need access to a cryptocurrency exchange. These platforms are similar to a stockbroker, though instead of buying and selling stocks, you can trade crypto.

Depending on your cryptocurrency preferences, you can have an account at a centralized exchange — which works a lot like a stock brokerage account — or a decentralized exchange where you manage your own cryptocurrency wallet and may enjoy more privacy.

So if you’re wondering where to buy cryptocurrencies, check out our list of some of the best cryptocurrency apps.

Best Crypto Exchanges By Topics

Best Overall: Coinbase and Coinbase Pro

Coinbase
Coinbase is our pick for best overall because it offers a product for complete crypto beginners as well as seasoned cryptocurrency traders. The main Coinbase platform is among the easiest places to buy bitcoin, ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies online. It comes with simple features that make crypto accessible to just about anyone. The Coinbase Earn section of the site rewards you with free cryptocurrency for completing lessons about newly released coins.

However, the fees can add up fast, so the standard Coinbase app and website may not be ideal for more seasoned and active traders. Standard transaction fees on Coinbase range from $0.99 to $2.99 per transaction depending on size, and other fees may apply as well. You’ll also pay an invisible fee through a spread of about 0.50% between purchase and sale prices on the platform. There are around 75 different currencies available at Coinbase for users in the U.S.

Coinbase Pro charges lower fees, with a maximum 0.50% fee on transactions up to $10,000. However, don’t let the name “Pro” scare you off, as the active trading platform is available to anyone with a Coinbase account, though there are some additional sign-up steps. In addition to lower fees, Coinbase Pro features active trading tools, more advanced order types, and better charting features.

Pros 

  • Easy to use
  • Can store your crypto on Coinbase
  • Spend your crypto with a Coinbase debit card
  • Lots of cryptocurrencies offered
Cons
  • Fee structure is confusing
  • Limited customer service
  • Mobile app doesn’t have security keys, making it less secure

Best for Beginners: eToro

eToro is an easy-to-use platform with support for over 25 different coins, including many of today’s most popular cryptocurrencies. In addition to active trading tools, eToro offers beginner-friendly opportunities to view and follow other traders and even copy their trades automatically.

eToro doesn’t charge any transaction fees. Instead, costs are all baked into spreads. The spread is 0.75% for bitcoin, 1.90% for ethereum, 2.45% for stellar, and 2.9% for dogecoin, for example. Spreads go up to 5% for some currencies. If you’re new to cryptocurrencies, eToro could be a good choice to get your feet wet in an active marketplace where you can learn from others simultaneously.

Pros 

  • Learn from other traders with eToro's social feature
  • Simple fee structure
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Can’t trade stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or other assets in the U.S.
  • High sell fee
  • Limited crypto offerings

Best for Altcoins: Binance.US

Binance
Binance supports more than 50 different markets when buying with U.S. dollars and a direct option to exchange between Bitcoin or USD stablecoins into other cryptocurrencies. Users on Binance outside of the U.S. can trade even more currency pairs and markets.

Standard fees on Binance.US are 0.1% for spot trading or 0.5% for instant buying and selling. However, you can get a fee discount if you pay fees with Binance’s BNB coin, a high trading volume, or a high BNB account balance. Binance is an international exchange that has earned some controversy, including a ban from operating in the United Kingdom. But its low fees and growing list of supported currencies make it great for buying cryptocurrencies beyond bitcoin and ethereum.

Pros 

  • Low fees
  • Fast processing times
  • Wide variety of cryptos supported
Cons
  • Slow customer service
  • Not available to all U.S. residents

Best Decentralized Exchange: 1inch

1inch
Decentralized exchanges don’t pair buyers and sellers looking to trade cryptocurrencies in accounts on their respective platforms. Instead, decentralized exchanges connect buyers and sellers holding currency in their own wallets outside of an exchange. 1inch is an app that helps you instantly compare the lowest costs for swapping coins among a list of supported decentralized exchanges.

When you buy and sell with a decentralized exchange, you’ll have to pay network fees in addition to any exchange fees. 1inch scans decentralized exchanges for live pricing to help you find the lowest cost swap. Testing the app, I found deals at popular exchanges Uniswap, Sushiswap, and others through 1inch. If you already hold crypto, 1inch is a good place to look when you’re thinking about swapping or selling.

Pros 

  • Can work with various wallets
  • Huge range of cryptos
  • 1inch does not charge any fees
Cons
  • Not regulated in the U.S.
  • Complex interface
  • Not for beginners

Best for Cryptocurrency Lending and Banking: Gemini

Gemini supports more than 40 cryptocurrencies on its platform, but you can do more than just buy and sell at Gemini. Web traders pay $0.99 to $2.99 for trades up to $200 and 1.49% for trades over $200. It’s not the cheapest exchange around but does have some additional features that make it a good home for Bitcoin and other currencies you own.

With Gemini Earn, you can earn up to 7.4% APY on cryptocurrency holdings in your account. Gemini Earn supports bitcoin, ethereum, dai, dogecoin and many others, with varying rates depending on the specific currency. Gemini feels like both an exchange and a bank, making it one of the better platforms for long-term crypto investors.

Pros 

  • Gemini is fully regulated
  • Can trade over 40 coins
  • Insurance coverage for crypto storage
  • Earn interest on your crypto balance
Cons
  • Confusing fee structure
  • Limited customer service

Best for Low Fees: Robinhood

Just like stocks and other purchases on Robinhood, you can buy bitcoin and other supported cryptocurrencies with no commissions or trading fees. In addition, Robinhood supports fractional trading with as little as $1. There are seven cryptocurrencies supported by Robinhood — a fairly slim list, though it includes the most popular currencies.

The biggest downside to Robinhood is that it isn’t a traditional crypto exchange where you hold cryptocurrency in your own digital wallet. You can’t withdraw bitcoin from Robinhood to an external crypto wallet, for example. But if you don’t mind keeping your crypto captive in one platform, the price is right at Robinhood.

Pros 

  • Easy to use
  • Low fees
  • Can trade other assets like stocks and ETFs
Cons
  • Can’t withdraw crypto to an external wallet
  • Limited number of coins offered

Best for Futures and Margin: FTX

FTX
FTX is a cryptocurrency exchange with advanced margin trading and futures trading support. Margin is available with up to 20x leverage for accounts with at least $20,000 in deposits. Cryptocurrencies may count toward that $20,000 in collateral, but you may not get 100% credit for the current value, depending on the currency you deposit. Futures are available as well with support for bitcoin, ethereum, dogecoin and many, many more.

You can also buy cryptocurrency directly as a spot trade, which feels similar to traditional forex markets in the FTX app. The FTX exchange charges up to 0.70% for futures and spot trades, with volume discounts available for those trading at least $2 million per month. There are 17 unique cryptocurrencies available for purchase at the U.S. version of the site.

Pros 

  • Can trade on margin
  • Low fees
  • Can purchase crypto with a credit card
Cons
  • Margin trading is risky and not for beginners
  • Relatively new platform

Best for Security: Trezor Suite

trezor
A hardware wallet offers arguably the best security for your cryptocurrency and prevents you from falling victim to major cryptocurrency exchange fraud, as happened with Mt. Gox and other exchanges. Trezor Suite is the default, integrated exchange for Trezor wallets, a popular hardware wallet provider. Exchange fees are always 0.50%, though you could pay a lot more to buy and sell.

When you use Trezor Suite with a Trezor wallet, your cryptocurrencies are stored on your own wallet, a small USB device that keeps your wallet’s codes behind a PIN that only you know. When you plug in the wallet, enter the PIN, and boot up Trezor Suite, you can buy, sell, or trade dozens of coins. The Trezor wallet works with other exchanges, too, including the decentralized Exodus exchange. Trezor Suite uses the exchange Invitiy to process transactions.

Pros 

  • Wallet supports over 1,600 cryptocurrencies
  • Firmware updated on a regular basis
  • Easy to use and set up
Cons
  • Mobile app is not available on iOS
  • The Trezor wallet is expensive

How We Chose the Best Crypto Exchanges

To choose the best crypto exchanges, we looked at fees, ease of use, supported currencies, security, reputation, and exchange features. When investing in cryptocurrency, it’s important to consider the risks and costs involved — cryptocurrency is highly volatile and not appropriate for all investors. Any exchange on this list may do a good job of meeting your cryptocurrency trading and investing goals, but always approach cryptocurrency with caution.

Factors to Consider in a Crypto Exchange

When considering the best crypto exchange for you, it's important to understand what matters to you. Here are some of the factors to consider as you decide where to buy cryptocurrency:

  • Bonus — Does the crypto exchange offer a bonus? Are there staking rewards? For example, Coinbase offers a chance to receive free altcoins when you complete various actions. Additionally, Coinbase will provide a bonus in cryptocurrency when you set up recurring transfers. Find out what bonuses are offered by the cryptocurrency app.
  • Instruments — Don’t forget to consider other types of assets as you look for an exchange. If you want to be able to invest in stocks and trade forex as well as buy cryptocurrency, look for something that provides you with a variety of choices.However, you should also look at the coins available to trade. eToro has very limited cryptocurrency offerings, while Coinbase and Kraken offer a wider variety. If there’s a specific coin you want to invest in or trade, verify that your cryptocurrency platform offers access to it.
  • Demo Account — If you’re not sure how to trade, or if you’re trying to learn, a demo account can be a big help. Find out if the crypto exchange offers a demo account, and if you can try out different strategies before you actually put them into practice. eToro offers a virtual trading account so you can test the crypto waters before you use your own money.
  • Minimum Deposit — Many of the best crypto exchanges and apps don’t have minimum deposits. As a result, you can usually get started with a relatively small amount of money. However, there are some exchanges that require higher minimums. Before you sign up, research the minimum deposit requirement and determine whether it’s something you can afford.
  • Fees — Cryptocurrency apps charge fees for trades in many cases. There might be a flat fee, or it might be a small percentage of your trade. Compare fees to determine what you’re likely to afford. If you make frequent trades, a platform like Binance or eToro might make more sense for you, because they have lower fees. Others, though, who are less likely to trade, might not need to worry as much about fees.
  • Payment Methods — Ensure that you can fund your account in a way that makes sense for you. Many cryptocurrency exchanges will allow you to buy coins using a bank account transfer, debit card or credit card. You might also be able to send coins from your current wallet to the platform, and then exchange them for a different cryptocurrency. Also, pay attention to how long it takes to handle transfers. For example, Kraken is known for its fast bank transfers.
  • Security Features — Don’t forget to check the type of security offered by the cryptocurrency exchange. Knowing that your information and transactions are protected is important. Keep in mind that in many cases your cryptocurrency holdings aren’t insured by the SIPC. Gemini is known for its strong security features, as well as the fact that it carries insurance to protect U.S. dollar accounts.
  • Types of Transactions Supported — Find out what kinds of transactions you can complete from the best cryptocurrency app you’re considering. Can you exchange coins directly? Can you buy coins? Are you able to send coins you already own to the app and use them? For example, even though Robinhood has crypto exposure, the platform doesn’t let you send coins from your own wallet to the app. Additionally, if you buy crypto on Robinhood, you can’t send those coins to your own wallet. Understanding how different transactions are supported can help you make a more informed choice.
  • Minimum and Maximum Trade — Review the cryptocurrency trading platform’s rules on the minimum and maximum trade. In some cases, you might have to commit at least a few dollars to trade. On top of that, you might be limited as to the size of your trade. If you think that you’ll be making small trades, or if you know you make large trades, double-check to ensure that the exchange allows you to meet your needs.
  • Regulator  — Who’s regulating the cryptocurrency exchange can make a difference. Various countries have different rules designed to protect consumers. For example, trading in the U.S. can mean more restrictions and access to fewer coins. Binance offers access to more than 200 coins, but Binance.us offers less than half that, due to regulations. However, you might also see increased protection, even if your crypto assets aren’t SIPC-insured.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the best crypto exchange for you is about deciding what matters to you and researching your choices. Look for one of the best cryptocurrency apps that fit your trading needs, style, and experience level.

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full time. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing and other financial topics and is an avid travel hacker. When away from the keyboard, Eric enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers and spending time with his wife and little girls.

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