Summary of the Best Bitcoin Exchanges
Although most stories about Bitcoin that hit the news are about the emerging number of millionaires, Bitcoin’s main purpose isn’t to make people rich. The main reason people love Bitcoin is that it isn’t tied to any country and doesn’t require a bank to approve the transaction. This means that when you are purchasing something, none of your information will be sent to the merchant and instead of the bank approving the transaction, “miners” are there to process it. It’s a decentralized system.
What are Bitcoin Exchanges?
If you are considering getting your hands on some Bitcoin, then looking into Bitcoin exchanges are a must. Bitcoin exchanges are websites that offer you different ways to purchase Bitcoin. Whether it be through credit card payment, gift cards, or even cash, there are many ways that are offered.
To make Bitcoin exchanges a bit easier to understand, think of the exchange as the New York Stock Exchange. Although they aren’t the same, they are similar in the sense that you are trading money for an asset. Instead of getting stocks in return for your money, you are getting a certain amount of Bitcoin proportionate to the amount it is worth when you purchase it.
What is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
A crypto exchange is a place where you exchange a certain cryptocurrency for a different crypto coin. The most common cryptocurrency exchange occurs with Bitcoin being the main coin being traded for other coins. Crypto exchange sites are a bit quicker to use compared to fiat (USD, EUR, etc) to Bitcoin exchanges as you do not need to use a bank, ATM or other payment methods where it takes a day (or up to 5 days) to complete the transaction.
However, there is one thing to keep in mind when using a crypto exchange. There are fees that you must deal with when transferring Bitcoins from wherever you bought it to the crypto exchange site. Due to the surge of transaction fees, it will be costly if you are transferring small amounts.
Bitcoin Exchange Reviews
Below, you’ll be able to read what we think about some of the exchange sites that are popular today. As there are lots of fraud sites looking to earn money off of those wanting Bitcoin, we recommend that you be careful when deciding which sites to choose. Before getting into the reviews, let’s take a look at what to look for in an exchange.
What to look for
Features – As there are many different types of exchange sites available with different kinds of features available, it is important to look at what type of features are offered at the site you are interested in. Some features include filtering (peer-to-peer exchanges), different payment methods, and built-in crypto exchange (to avoid fees).
Security – This is the most important factor to look out for as if the security of the site is low, your coins can get stolen out of your wallet at any time. To avoid this issue, the best way is to get a hardware wallet, but since this guide is about Bitcoin exchanges, it won’t be covered here. To check the security of the exchange, research how the coins are encrypted and what the company does to ensure your coins stay safe.
Transaction Fees – Some sites offer Bitcoins for sale for extremely low rates while some sites offer extremely high rates to profit from those that aren’t experienced with purchasing Bitcoin. Most of the sites we will be reviewing below have decent rates, but for peer-to-peer exchanges, the rates will be a bit higher. PayPal payment methods also come with higher transaction rates due to higher risks.
Below are our bitcoin exchange reviews of the top few exchange sites that we love. We recommend that you use the ones on our list because using our recommendations are a lot safer than going blind and using some random exchange that you found online. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it most likely is.
Our Top 7 Best Bitcoin Exchanges of 2018
This is our go-to site when purchasing Bitcoins because it is the world’s most popular exchange platform and is simple to use.
Pros of CoinbaseAs it is one of the largest, this means it is widely trusted and you won’t have an issue with being defrauded by the site. This also means that Coinbase invests heavily in their security, allowing you to feel safe with keeping Bitcoins inside your virtual wallet at Coinbase. Coinbase has a very simple interface that allows even the most clueless to purchase Bitcoin with their credit card, bank account, and much more in a matter of minutes. Withdrawing Bitcoin is also easy as you can convert the BTC into other cryptocurrencies, or deposit it right into your bank account directly.
ConsThe customer support, although it is present, isn’t the best. They are known to be slow and don’t get the problem solved at all. As Bitcoin isn’t refundable and can’t be easily traced, customer support can’t do much to help you if something goes south. Coinbase doesn’t offer many payment methods that you would expect an exchange to have. This includes some major credit card companies not being accepted and payment platforms not being accepted such as PayPal (however, no exchanges offer PayPal as a payment method).
Can you Exchange Bitcoins for US Dollars?
Yes, you can exchange Bitcoins for US dollars at most exchanges including Coinbase. Although the exchange will take a fee, you can convert your Bitcoin and have it withdrawn to your bank. However, some exchanges may not offer this feature, so it is important that you choose the right one that offers the features that meet your needs. If you don’t, you’ll have to face even bigger fees as transferring Bitcoin from one exchange to another will cost you in transaction miner fees.
How Do I Sign Up to Coinbase?
First, go to Coinbase and click on the sign-up button. You will then see the registration page. This is where you must decide whether you want to sign up as an individual or as a business. The difference between the two is how much verification you must submit as well as how you want to report your income.
After you are signed up and have verified your email, we recommend that you add a profile nickname and add 2-factor authentication to secure your account. This is because you will have to add your nickname anyway when buying/selling Bitcoin in Coinbase.
Now that you are set up, you can add your preferred payment method on the Buy/Sell page. By saving your payment method, you can buy any one of the four coins on Coinbase (Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin) in one click. Do note that there is a $400/week limit initially unless you wish to increase it.
If you want to use the feature that Coinbase has to directly sell coins back to Coinbase for USD inside your Coinbase wallet to convert to other coins, then you will have to submit additional verification. This verification includes social security number, ID, etc.
LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer exchange site where buyers and sellers directly communicate to buy/sell Bitcoins at different prices and rates.
ProsWherever you are, you will be able to use this service as LocalBitcoins is available worldwide. If you live in a country where you can’t use most exchanges, then LocalBitcoins is the best bitcoin exchange for you. Since you can work directly with sellers, you can resolve any problems there may be whether it deals with your location or payment method so that you can buy Bitcoin regardless of the situation you are in. Most of the time, the transactions won’t require you to have an ID. For those that have an issue with presenting an ID or verification to do payments, LocalBitcoins is a good alternative. Even though a majority may require a form of verification, you can filter out those that do and find the ones that may not require one.
ConsThe one main issue with using LocalBitcoins is that the exchange rates are high. For example, exchanges that involve PayPal as one of the accepted payment methods may charge a rate of 15%. For purchasing large amounts of Bitcoin, this can add up to be a lot. If you are looking to save and are looking for the best deal possible when purchasing Bitcoin, LocalBitcoins may not be the best idea for you due to these high rates. Since LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer platform, fraud is common. Whether you are a seller or buyer, you will have to use due diligence when using this platform. A buyer can purchase Bitcoins from you then reverse the payment later or a seller may not deliver the Bitcoins to you after you finish the payment.
Can you Exchange Bitcoins for Cash?
By using platforms such as Craigslist and LocalBitcoins, it is possible to exchange Bitcoins for cash. It is safe as well if you do it locally, where you meet up with the seller/buyer to buy/sell the Bitcoins. This is because the Bitcoins can be sent at the moment the cash is exchanged, resulting in a safe transaction. The only bad part of this exchange is that there may be a minimum and maximum to how much Bitcoins you can buy, so this is something you should account for when using this exchange method.
Known for being the oldest Bitcoin brokers in the industry, this Israel based broker is an exchange site you can purchase Bitcoins from with a credit card from close to anywhere in the world. If you want a safe, secured transaction to purchase Bitcoins, Coinmama is a great alternative.
Coinmama has amazing customer service. The great thing about using an exchange that isn’t as popular as Coinbase is that you are able to get quicker customer service. This is because there are fewer people for the exchange to worry about, resulting in faster response times for you.
This exchange is well-known for being available to many different countries internationally. So even if you live in a country where many Bitcoin exchanges don’t offer service, Coinmama will be able to provide you with Bitcoins.
Unfortunately, not everything is a pro about this exchange. One bad thing about this exchange is that the exchange rates are high compared to some others. For example, Coinbase has an exchange fee of 3.75% while Coinmama has around 6% in exchange fees. Although this may not seem like much, it can add up to be quite a bit in the future, especially if you are planning to invest a big amount of money.
With Coinmama, you can only purchase $150 in Bitcoins before you have to confirm your identity by uploading an ID. If you wish to stay anonymous but still want to purchase Bitcoin using Coinmama, this security feature will limit you.
If you are looking for low fees alongside 99.999% availability whenever you need it, then CEX.IO might be the exchange for you. Although this exchange isn’t available in a lot of locations, if you are in a location where service is available, you’ll be able to benefit from this exchange.
If you are in a location where CEX.IO is supported, then you can use the bank transfer payment method to avoid fees when purchasing Bitcoin. Since there is a flat fee of $10 per bank transfer transaction, it’ll be a lot cheaper to use CEX.IO when purchasing large amounts since the percent fees can add up to be a lot.
If you are purchasing under $400 in Bitcoin per day and under $2,000 per month, then this exchange is perfect for you since you don’t have to go through extensive verification. However, if you are purchasing more, then you will have to go under identification to increase your limits.
The number of supported countries and/or states within the US is very limited. Out of 50 US states, 28 aren’t supported. So, if you live in one of the states that aren’t supported (which is very likely), then you are out of luck and won’t be able to take advantage of the low fees that this exchange offers.
Although the first tier of identification and verification doesn’t require that much information, the next few tiers require extensive verification to increase your limits. However, once you get verified, you can purchase up to $10,000 in Bitcoin every day and up to $100,000 every month.
5. Wall of Coins
If you are new to purchasing Bitcoins and want someone to help guide you through the buying process, then Wall of Coins might be the best Bitcoin exchange for you. As Wall of Coins is a peer-to-peer exchange, be careful when dealing when sellers and use due diligence when buying.
Wall of Coins provides step-by-step instructions by SMS to help you through your Bitcoin purchase. This makes it easy for new Bitcoin buyers since they will have clear instructions on the platform itself to follow.
Most of the sellers on Wall of Coins accept most popular types of payment, but the most preferred method is payment through cash deposit. This is where you physically go to a bank branch and deposit cash into the seller’s bank account.
Since this exchange is a peer-to-peer exchange and isn’t automatic, Bitcoin may take awhile to appear in your account since the seller has to manually approve the transaction and send you the Bitcoins. However, most sellers will approve and send you the Bitcoins in under 15 minutes, with the minority taking a bit longer.
As with all peer-to-peer exchanges, frauds happen now and then. Although Wall of Coins does its best to weed out the scammers and keep the exchange as clean as possible, frauds are still possible, so we recommend that you be careful when working with sellers when buying Bitcoin.
This exchange is the first to receive a charter from the NY State Department of Financial Services and operates in all 50 states of the US. itBit is popular for not having a set limit on how many Bitcoins you can buy and for having low rates.
Once you become verified, there is no limit to how much Bitcoin you can purchase. The average purchase size is ~350 Bitcoin, which shows how much people buy daily with this exchange. Compared to the other exchanges on this list, most companies use itBit to invest into Bitcoin due to its low rates and no set cap.
The rates for itBit is extremely low compared to other exchanges. When you are using the OTC trading desk, a flat 0.1% fee is charged while if you are using itBit on the global exchange, you are charged 0.2% taker fee. Compared to the 3%+ fees of other platforms, itBit is one of the lowest in terms of fees.
As itBit only accepts wire transfer as a payment method, you won’t be able to use other forms of popular payment methods such as Credit Card, cash deposit, etc. Since itBit is a licensed exchange, it must follow set regulations and accept payments through wire transfer is one of its regulations.
If you aren’t living in the US, then you will have to go through extensive verification to be able to trade with this exchange. You’ll have to provide ID scans alongside proof of residency documents to get verified to purchase Bitcoins with itBit.
If you are looking for a Bitcoin exchange that can also help you purchase other crypto coins as well, then Changelly might be the best bitcoin trading platform for you. Changelly is a unique exchange that is both a Bitcoin and altcoin exchange. As there aren’t many exchanges that offer the features that Changelly comes with, it is one to strongly consider.
By using this exchange, you can avoid the hefty fees that come with sending Bitcoin from one exchange to another. If you don’t use Changelly and want to trade your Bitcoins to a crypto coin exchange, then you will have to pay a lot just in transaction miner fees to get your transaction approved and sent. However, by using Changelly, you will be able to skip that process and go straight to purchasing altcoins from the site itself once you purchase Bitcoin.
Another great benefit of using this exchange is that don’t need to provide documents to purchase Bitcoin. Unlike other exchanges, there is close to no verification process.
Not everything is great about this exchange. Compared to other exchanges, Changelly charges a bit more when converting your Bitcoins into another cryptocurrency. This is expected since few exchanges offer the features that Changelly features, but do keep this in mind when deciding which exchange to use.
As Changelly is still a new company, it isn’t as trusted as the other exchanges. Although this won’t affect your experience too much, do keep this in mind when exchanging with Changelly. However, our experience with Changelly is good, and we recommend them.
How Do I Sign Up to Changelly?
First, go to the website and click the signup link. You will be prompted to either log in using various social media sites by using your email address. Create your account and no other verification will be needed to convert your coins.
Then, go to either the dashboard or back to the homepage and choose whatever currency you have that you wish to change. This can be USD, BTC, LTC, etc. So, if you have USD that you wish to directly convert into a cryptocurrency (for example Ripple or Dogecoin), then choose the coin in the “You Get” section and choose USD for “You Have.”
Changelly is very simple to use because you don’t have to go through the confusing and expensive process of buying Bitcoin from one exchange with USD to transfer to another exchange to convert that Bitcoin to another cryptocurrency since you can do that at Changelly directly.
Now that we’ve gone through the 7 best bitcoin exchanges it is time for you to make a decision. Try to weigh the positives with the negatives when looking at the exchange of your preference. No exchange is perfect, and there is no all-around best exchange thus you will need to think about what matters the most to you. Good luck!
Frequently asked questions about Bitcoin exchanges
Can you send bitcoin from one exchange to another?
Yes, you can! On the exchanges, you will receive a personal deposit Bitcoin address. This is the address where you send your Bitcoins. To send bitcoins from one exchange to another you simply need to find this address provided by the target exchange. Then you need to send a withdrawal request to the first exchange, using the Bitcoin address of the target exchange.
How do you withdraw money from Bitcoin?
Once you want to exchange your Bitcoins for fiat currency, you will need to sell your Bitcoins. We have a full dedicated guide on this here but it is basically the same as moving Bitcoin from one exchange to the other, except this time, you will send it from one exchange to a bank account.
Request a withdrawal and enter your bank information required. Once the request has been processed (usually is instant), you will see the money in your bank account after 1-5 business days.