Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges in 2021 • Reviews, Fees & More

The best cryptocurrency exchange depends on your personal goals as an investor. There are many exchanges to choose from, each with drawbacks and benefits. 

Ready to join the growing cryptocurrency market? Review the best cryptocurrency exchanges with our guide.

Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges:

What are Cryptocurrency Exchanges?

Cryptocurrency exchanges provide liquidity for you to trade your cryptocurrency for USD, stablecoins or other altcoins. The market price of a cryptocurrency is determined by buy and sell orders on the exchange. 

You could also use a crypto brokerage, which only slightly differs from a cryptocurrency exchange. Crypto brokerages set the price of crypto assets based on the market price of the asset, but the price of crypto on exchanges is directly determined by investors’ buy and sell orders.

Best Crypto Exchanges

Some popular crypto exchanges investors trust are Coinbase, Gemini, Binance and eToro. These exchanges all have different features that attract certain types of investors.

For example, Coinbase is great for beginners, since it has a simple user interface. Binance is a great choice for investors in search of the next best cryptocurrency, as its exchange supports the widest variety of altcoins. 

Take a look at our top picks for the best crypto exchanges. 

1 Minute Review

eToro, headquartered in Cyprus, England and Israel, has provided forex products and other CFD derivatives to retail clients since 2007. A major eToro plus is its social trading operations, including OpenBook, which allows new clients to copy trade the platform’s best performers. Its social trading features are top notch, but eToro loses points for its lack of tradable currency pairs and underwhelming research and customer service features

Best For
  • U.S.-based cryptocurrency traders
  • Social and copy traders
  • Simple user interface
  • Community engagement and following other traders
Pros
  • Expansive network of social trading features
  • Large client base for new traders to imitate
Cons
  • U.S. traders can only buy cryptocurrency
  • Only 15 cryptocurrency pairs available

1 Minute Review

Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian that offers investors access to 26 coins and tokens. Founded in the US, Gemini is expanding globally, in particular into Europe and Asia. Offerings include both major cryptocurrency projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and smaller altcoins like Orchid and 0x.

Gemini is 1 of the only brokers with multiple platform options based on skill level. New investors will love the streamlined interface of Gemini’s mobile and web apps, while advanced investors might appreciate all the tools that come with ActiveTrader. 

In addition to a host of platform choices, Gemini users also have access to insured hot wallets to store tokens without worrying about digital asset theft. Learn more about what Gemini can do for you in our review.

Best For
  • New investors looking for a simple mobile and web app
  • Experienced investors who need a more advanced platform with more tools
  • Users looking for a 1-stop-shop to buy, sell and store all of their coins
Pros
  • Easy and quick signups — can get started in as little as a few minutes
  • Multitude of platforms to accommodate traders of all skill levels
  • Hot wallets include insurance to protect your from theft and hacking attempts
Cons
  • Charges both a commission and a convenience fee for users buying and selling through the desktop or mobile app

Best For

Beginner cryptocurrency investors

Best For

Beginner cryptocurrency investors

1 Minute Review

iTrustCapital is a self-directed IRA provider that gives you the opportunity to invest in cryptocurrencies, gold and silver through your retirement account. iTrustCapital focuses on providing investors with a straightforward and easy-to-understand platform, which can be a major asset if you’ve never bought or sold alternative investments in the past. 

When you reach retirement age, iTrustCapital allows you to choose whether you’d like to take your disbursements in cash or in the assets you’ve invested in. Though the platform does offer a limited range of cryptocurrencies when compared to brokers like Coinbase, its simple structure and unique IRA offerings make iTrustCapital a great place to invest.

Best For
  • Investors who want to add gold, silver or cryptocurrencies to their IRA
  • Those who are interested in taking a long-term approach to cryptocurrency or metal investing
  • Beginner cryptocurrency investors
Pros
  • Straightforward platform allows you to buy and sell assets in a few minutes
  • Orders clear within 5 minutes
  • 24/7 order placements and portfolio monitoring services
  • Both live chat and phone customer service service available
Cons
  • Limited number of cryptocurrencies to buy and sell
  • No mobile app currently available

1 Minute Review

Coinbase is one of the Internet’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms. From Bitcoin to Litecoin or Basic Attention Token to Chainlink, Coinbase makes it exceptionally simple to buy and sell major cryptocurrency pairs. 

You can even earn cryptocurrency rewards through Coinbase’s unique Coinbase Earn feature. More advanced traders will love the Coinbase Pro platform, which offers more order types and enhanced functionality.

Though Coinbase doesn’t offer the most affordable pricing or the lowest fees, its simple platform is easy enough for complete beginners to master in as little as a single trade.

Best For
  • New cryptocurrency traders
  • Cryptocurrency traders interested in major pairs
  • Cryptocurrency traders interested in a simple platform
Pros
  • Simple platform is easy to operate
  • Comprehensive mobile app mirrors desktop functionality
  • Coinbase Earn feature rewards you with crypto for learning about available coins
Cons
  • Higher fees than competitors

1 Minute Review

Voyager is a leading name in the sphere of cryptocurrency investing, giving you access to over 50 tokens and coins. Buy, sell and swap assets using Voyager Crypto’s simple mobile platform available as a free download for iOS and Android users. 

When you invest through Voyager, you’ll pay nothing in commissions, which is a major benefit when compared to other cryptocurrency brokers. Voyager is also one of the only brokers we’ve seen that allows users to earn interest on their crypto investments. 

Though the broker could do more to improve its customer service, it’s an excellent option for beginner investors and seasoned professionals alike.

Best For
  • Cryptocurrency investors looking for a wide selection of supported projects.
  • Investors who prefer mobile trading.
  • Anyone interested in earning interest on their crypto investments.
Pros
  • Simple, straightforward and intuitive mobile platform
  • Wealth of investment opportunities
  • Allows users to earn interest on select crypto investments
Cons
  • Only available for mobile users — no desktop platform
  • Limited routes to contact customer service team

Best For

Buying & selling Bitcoin

How do Cryptocurrency Exchanges Work?

Cryptocurrency exchanges work in a similar way to stock exchanges. Investors can either place a limit order or a sell order on an exchange, providing liquidity for other investors on the platform. 

Buy and sell orders can be placed as either market or limit orders. Market orders buy the crypto asset at market price, while limit orders buy or sell crypto at the price you specify. If the market price never reaches the price of your limit order, then your order won’t get executed.

Types of Crypto Exchanges

There are 2 main types of cryptocurrency exchanges: centralized exchanges and decentralized exchanges (DEX). Most cryptocurrency exchanges investors use are centralized exchanges, meaning they are run by a central company. Some popular centralized exchanges are Coinbase, Gemini, Binance and eToro

Centralized exchanges are typically more efficient and easy-to-use than DEX. Centralized exchanges manage your assets off the blockchain, transactions are faster and less expensive. When transacting on the blockchain, you need to pay miners transaction fees and wait for the blockchain to verify your transaction –– increasing the cost and time it takes to transact crypto. 

Even though DEX are less efficient and more expensive than centralized exchanges, many investors use them for their unique benefits. DEX let you trade cryptocurrencies directly from your crypto wallet in a permissionless and trustless way. You don’t need to trust a 3rd party with your assets, and you don’t need to sign up or provide any verification to use the DEX. 

Instead of being controlled by a company, crypto investors that own governance tokens vote to upgrade  decentralized exchange, making it decentralized. Since DEX aren’t controlled by a central entity, trading can’t be halted on the platform. You don’t have to worry about crypto assets being delisted from the exchange either, because no single person or company could make that decision. 

Cryptocurrency Exchanges vs Wallets

Cryptocurrency exchanges let you trade crypto. The security of your cryptocurrency exchange should be among your top concerns as an investor. If you’re storing your funds on an exchange, you run the risk of being hacked. 

Although many exchanges have great security features, there have been several crypto exchange hacks in the past. To keep your cryptocurrency assets secure, you should store your funds in a cryptocurrency wallet.

Cryptocurrency wallets come as either software or hardware wallets. Software wallets are computer programs that securely store your crypto, and hardware wallets are physical devices that store your crypto offline. Since hardware wallets are inaccessible to online hackers, they are the most secure type of cryptocurrency wallet.

Selecting Crypto Exchanges

Before you choose a cryptocurrency exchange, ask yourself what your goals are as an investor. If you want to frequently trade crypto, then trading fees should be among your top priorities. If you don’t plan on using a crypto wallet, be sure that the exchange you choose is secure.

You should also consider what financial services the crypto exchange you want to use provides. Some exchanges strictly use crypto, so you can’t use them unless you purchase cryptocurrency through another exchange like Coinbase. Different exchanges support different altcoins, and some exchanges even let you earn interest on your altcoin holdings. 

Considerations

There are many things to consider when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange. Among the most important factors are security, fees and ease of use. Most exchanges have unique features to appeal to different investing styles and preferences.

Here’s a quick rundown what some of the most popular crypto exchanges offer: 

Unique Features of Crypto Exchanges

  1. Coinbase: Coinbase is a great exchange for beginners. Its interface is simple, and you can easily fund your account from your bank. A unique feature of Coinbase is its crypto conversion feature, allowing you to exchange your crypto assets for any other cryptocurrency on its platform for free. Coinbase also offers one of the best mobile apps for crypto.
  2. Argent: Argent is unique because it operates as a crypto exchange and wallet. This software wallet is available on the app store, and allows you to directly interact with decentralized exchanges. Argent is an Ethereum wallet, so it supports Ethereum-based tokens like Eth, Uniswap, Wrapped Bitcoin and Compound.
  3. Uniswap: Uniswap is a DEX that offers many benefits over centralized exchanges. Uniswap is far more secure than centralized exchanges, as you exchange your crypto directly from your software wallet. You can earn interest on your crypto assets using Uniswap by providing liquidity on the platform.
  4. eToro: eToro is a great option if you want to learn more about the cryptocurrency markets. It has a unique social trading feature which allows users to enter trades together and share investment ideas.
  5. Wirex: Wirex provides verification in less than 5 minutes. You can exchange 18 traditional and cryptocurrencies in the Wirex app at exclusive OTC and interbank rates with 0 fees on all fiat-to-fiat exchanges.

Alternatives to Crypto Exchanges

Cryptocurrency exchanges and brokerages aren’t the only way to buy cryptocurrency. For most investors, using a dedicated crypto exchange is better than any other alternatives for crypto investing.

An alternative way to purchase cryptocurrency is to buy it directly from someone who owns crypto. All you need to do is pay a cryptocurrency seller for their crypto, and they can send the funds directly to your cryptocurrency wallet. Another alternative is to use a Bitcoin ATM, but these ATMs charge a 5 to 10% premium on Bitcoin’s price. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between a crypto exchange and a brokerage?

1

Q: What is the difference between a crypto exchange and a brokerage?

asked 2021-03-26

Ryan McNamara

1

Crypto exchanges and brokerages are similar. Crypto brokerages act as an intermediary to set the price of crypto assets based on the market price, while crypto exchanges determine the price of cryptocurrencies directly through investors’ market orders.

Answer Link

answered 2021-03-26

Benzinga

Q: Are all the top cryptocurrency exchanges based in the United States?

1

Q: Are all the top cryptocurrency exchanges based in the United States?

asked 2021-03-26

Ryan McNamara

1

Many top crypto exchanges are based in the United States. For example, Coinbase and Gemini are based in the United States but also offer services in a variety of other countries. There are also exchanges outside the U.S. Binance is headquartered in Malta because it has less strict cryptocurrency regulations than most other countries.

Answer Link

answered 2021-03-26

Benzinga

Gemini builds crypto products to help you buy, sell, and store your bitcoin and cryptocurrency. You can buy bitcoin and crypto instantly and access all the tools you need to understand the crypto market and start investing, all through one clear, attractive interface. Gemini Crypto Platform offers excellent account management options. You can manage your account at a glance, view your account balance 24-hour changes and percent changes. Get started with Gemini now.

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