Cryptocurrency is here to stay.

In 2009, Bitcoin was invented as a response to the 2008 Great Recession. Blockchain technology promised transparency and immutability, offering the world a peer-to-peer payment system that could not be altered.

Over a decade later, cryptocurrency now has over a $2 Trillion Market Cap and is growing rapidly. Investors are flocking to buy their favorite digital coin, but with it comes the volatility of a new asset class in its growing stages.

Buying crypto from a reputable exchange can give investors peace of mind about security, and offer a wide range of trading capabilities. From crypto newbies to advanced traders, online exchanges offer something for every type of crypto investor. This guide will show you how to find the best cryptocurrency exchange for your investment needs.

How to Choose a Crypto Exchange

Finding the best crypto exchange may feel daunting, but here are some things to consider:

Figure out how you want to invest in crypto. If you are a short-term investor, look for a crypto exchange with low fees and a wide selection of support crypto. As a long-term investor, find an exchange that offers secure storage and the ability to transfer your crypto assets offline.

Figure out what you want to invest in. If you are simply looking for Bitcoin, most exchanges will offer access to it. If you want a larger selection, find an exchange that supports your desired cryptocurrency.

Research security. Not all exchanges offer great security, and some have even been hacked. Understanding how your data and crypto are protected is important, so find an exchange that values security.

Overall, finding the right exchange is all about your crypto investing goals. Find one that keeps your information secure and offers your favorite crypto, and you are well on your way to buying crypto!

Best Crypto Exchanges

Finding the best place to buy Bitcoin (or any other crypto) can feel overwhelming, but we’ve put together a list of the top cryptocurrency exchanges to help you start investing today. We focused on exchanges that offer robust security, transparent fees, and a wide selection of crypto to choose from.

ExchangeBest ForFees
CoinbaseOverall

1.49% - Bank Account

3.99% - Credit/Debit

KrakenSecurity

0.9% - 1.50% - Bank Account

0.02% - 0.26% - Trade

GeminiCustomer Service

1.99% - Bank Account

3.99% - Credit/Debit

eToroMargin Trading

0.75% to 5% spread - Bank Account

0.75% to 5% spread - Credit/Debit

Crypto.comEarning Interest

2.99% - 3.99% - Credit/Debit

0.036% to 0.4% - Trade

RobinhoodLow Fees

0% purchase or trade

Spread fees may apply

TradestationOptions Trading

0.05% - 0.30% - Trade

$1.50 per contract, per side - Options

Best Overall: Coinbase

Coinbase is one of the most popular U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, offering a wide selection of crypto in over 100 countries. Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam and is now the first publicly-traded cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S.

Coinbase is known for its simple-to-use dashboard, extensive user education, and sleek mobile app, making it a great exchange for beginners. It allows users to buy, sell, and trade popular cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Cardano. 

It also places a high value on security, with app-based two-factor authentication (2FA), biometric login, and cold-wallet storage of 95% of customer assets.

Coinbase also has its own crypto wallet, aptly named “Coinbase Wallet.” This is an ERC-20-compatible wallet that allows users to transfer their crypto purchases to the wallet, and use the wallet on decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and Ethereum-based applications (DApps).

Pros

  • Simple-to-use platform

  • Regulated by the U.S.

  • Very secure (2FA, cold wallet storage)

Cons

  • High fees

  • Limited number of cryptocurrency available (more added weekly)

  • Limited customer support

Fees

Coinbase charges more than most exchanges for buying crypto, with fees as high as 3.99% when using a debit or credit card. But with the price comes the peace of mind that you are purchasing crypto on a regulated exchange with top-notch security. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the fees Coinbase charges:

Crypto Purchase MethodFees
Bank account 1.49%
Debit/Credit Card3.99%
Crypto ExchangeUp to 2% spread
Crypto Trade1.49% ($0.99 minimum)

Open an account with Coinbase 

Best for Security: Kraken

Kraken is a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell and has grown to offer over 90 of the top cryptocurrencies on the market today. With a focus on security and low trading fees, it is a popular choice for beginners and advanced crypto traders alike.

Kraken offers a simple-to-use trading dashboard, as well as a simply-designed mobile app to give users access to popular cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin. Kraken is also known for its security, with 2FA and cold-wallet storage of 95% of customer assets. The platform servers are even kept in locked cages, with 24/7 monitored video surveillance and armed guards (yes, really)!

Kraken does not offer a crypto wallet but can receive and transfer cryptocurrency to most popular digital “hot” wallets, as well as cold storage wallets.

Pros

  • Top-rated security

  • Simple-to-use platform

  • Regulated by the U.S.

  • Low fees for trading

Cons

  • High fees for instant purchase (bank and debit/credit card purchases)

  • 24/7 customer support limited to Live Chat feature

Fees

Kraken offers low maker-taker trading fees for those that are trading cryptocurrency on its platform. For beginners who are looking to purchase with a bank account or debit card, the fees can be high. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the fees Kraken charges:

Crypto Purchase MethodFees
Bank account 0.9% - 1.50%
Debit/Credit Card3.75% + €0.25
Crypto Trade0.02% - 0.26% Maker-Taker

Open an account with Kraken 

Best for Customer Service: Gemini

Gemini is another U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, founded in 2015 by the Winklevoss twins (of Facebook infamy). Gemini is a secure exchange that follows all U.S. cryptocurrency regulations closely, including a thorough Know Your Customer (KYC) onboarding process. In addition, Gemini focuses heavily on customer service, offering 24/7 phone and live chat support to customers.

This site offers a clean, simple-to-use platform, as well as a user-friendly mobile app, making it a great place for beginner crypto investors. Gemini does not offer a ton of crypto options, with less than 50 cryptocurrencies currently available. 

While Gemini does offer a crypto wallet, it is only used to store crypto that is supported by Gemini. One advantage is that the Gemini digital wallet is insured from theft, making it unique among crypto “hot wallet” options.

Pros

  • Thorough security and KYC compliance

  • Easy-to-use mobile app

  • Regulated by the U.S.

  • 24/7 phone and chat customer service

Cons

  • High fees for instant purchase (bank and debit/credit card purchases)

  • 24/7 customer support limited to Live Chat feature

Fees

Gemini charges a 0.50% convenience fee on all transactions, plus additional fees for purchases with a bank account or debt/credit card. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the fees Gemini charges:

Crypto Purchase MethodFees
Bank account 1.49% + 0.50% convenience fee
Debit/Credit Card3.49% + 0.50% convenience fee
Crypto Trade0.50% convenience fee

Open an Account with Gemini 

Best for Margin Trading: eToro

eToro is a popular “social trading” platform founded in 2007 that allows users to “copy trade,” following the stock trading moves of popular online traders. eToro added cryptocurrency to its platform in 2018, offering the same copy-trading, as well as the ability to buy, sell, and trade crypto on your own. 

The eToro trading platform allows users to browse popular cryptocurrency to buy or sell. Unlike other exchanges, users cannot trade or exchange cryptocurrency on the eToro platform. Users can, however, use leverage when buying crypto with an eToro margin account (not available to all U.S. users). This allows them to borrow against deposited funds to buy more crypto, in hopes of multiplying returns.

Note: eToro margin trading is not currently available in the U.S.

eToro does offer a digital wallet, but it is not compatible with decentralized exchanges, and only supports crypto that can be purchased on eToro. As of 2021, there are less than 20 cryptocurrencies supported by eToro.

Pros

  • “Copy trading” to follow popular traders

  • Well designed mobile app

  • Margin trading available outside U.S.

Cons

  • Very few cryptocurrencies supported

  • Hot wallet not useful for decentralized apps or exchanges

  • High spread fees

Fees

While there are no purchase fees for using a bank account or credit card, eToro charges a spread fee, which can be up to 5% of the purchase, making it one of the highest fees for purchasing crypto on any exchange. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the fees eToro charges:

Crypto Purchase MethodFees
Bank account 0.75% to 5% spread fees
Debit/Credit Card0.75% to 5% spread fees
Crypto Exchange0.1% using eToro wallet (limited to eToro supported cryptocurrency)

Open an Account with eToro 

Best for Earning Interest: Crypto.com

Crypto.com is a newer cryptocurrency app that allows users to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrency, as well as deposit crypto in interest-bearing accounts that pay a high return. Crypto.com also has a Visa debit card, allowing users to “pay with crypto” that is held in their Crypto.com account.

The Crypto.com trading platform is only available as an Android or iOS mobile app, requiring users to download the app to access trading features. There are over 90 cryptocurrencies available on the platform, with more being added all the time.

In addition to buying and selling crypto, users can deposit coins and earn over 10% interest on certain crypto, though the amount can fluctuate over time. Crypto.com also offers a digital “hot” wallet, which can connect to decentralized exchanges and apps.

Pros

  • Earn interest on crypto deposits

  • Simple-to-use mobile app

  • “Pay with crypto” Visa card available

  • Very low trading fees

Cons

  • Exchange only available on the mobile app

  • No phone support

Fees

Crypto.com offers low-fee crypto trading, as well as no additional fee for purchasing directly with a bank account. There are high debit/credit card fees though, so watch out for that. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the fees Crypto.com charges:

Crypto Purchase MethodFees
Bank account 0.036% to 0.4% maker-taker
Debit/Credit Card0.036% to 0.4% maker-taker + 2.99% - 3.99% 
Crypto ExchangeFree
Crypto Trade0.036% to 0.4% maker-taker

Open an account with Crypto.com 

Best for Low Fees: Robinhood

Robinhood is a popular stock trading app that pioneered no-fee trading, and in 2018, it added cryptocurrency to its platform, offering the same no-fee structure for purchasing crypto. 

It doesn’t offer a large selection of cryptocurrencies, currently only supporting seven cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Litecoin.

Though Robinhood does offer “free” crypto purchases, they do collect a spread fee, which is the difference between the bid price and its ask price. While other exchanges list this fee, Robinhood does not.

Robinhood users also cannot move their crypto to a crypto wallet, but can only buy and sell the crypto on the Robinhood platform.

Pros

  • No-fee crypto purchases

  • Super simple mobile app

Cons

  • Cannot move crypto off-platform

  • No phone support

  • Spread fees not transparent

Fees

Robinhood is the most popular no-fee investing app, and for good reason. With no fees for buying or selling crypto, no other exchange offers this option. But, spread fees are not listed and may cost consumers more, depending on how the transaction is handled. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the fees Robinhood charges:

Crypto Purchase MethodFees
Bank account Free (spread fees may apply)
Debit/Credit CardFree (spread fees may apply)
Crypto ExchangeFree (spread fees may apply)
Crypto TradeFree (spread fees may apply)

Open an account with Robinhood 

Best for Option Trading: Tradestation

Tradestation is an online broker that is one of our top picks for active options traders. It recently added support for cryptocurrency and brings its robust trading tools to crypto traders.

It only supports five cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and USD Coin. Options traders can trade options on Bitcoin futures through TradeStation’s FuturesPlus platform, which is also available on its mobile app as well.

Tradestation offers advanced charting and tools for tracking and trading crypto, as well as the ability to deposit supported cryptocurrencies that can earn daily interest. Tradestation does not have a crypto wallet but allows users to deposit or withdraw support crypto from its platform to external digital wallets.

Pros

  • Low-fee crypto purchases

  • Powerful mobile app available

  • Options trading available

Cons

  • Only five supported crypto

  • May be too advanced for beginners

Fees

Tradestation offers very low fees for buying and selling crypto, including no fees to buy USDC stablecoin. Options fees may add up quickly, though. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the fees Tradestation charges:

Crypto Purchase MethodFees
Bank account 0.05% - 0.30% maker-taker
Debit/Credit Card0.05% - 0.30% maker-taker
Crypto Trade0.05% - 0.30% maker-taker
Options Trade$1.50 per contract, per side

Open an account with Tradestation 

How to Invest in Cryptocurrency

To invest in cryptocurrency, you need to find a place to securely purchase and store it. While there are dozens of places to purchase crypto, we recommend using a reputable exchange that offers consumer protections and data security.

To purchase from an exchange, you will need to create an account, verify your identity, fund your account (via bank transfer, or credit/debit card), and then select which cryptocurrency you want to purchase. Most exchanges will store your cryptocurrency for you, or you can transfer your crypto to an online “hot” wallet, or offline “cold storage” wallet.

To sell your crypto, you would use the same exchange to set a limit or market order, and trade the crypto for another crypto, or sell it in return for local currency (such as U.S. Dollars).

What is a Crypto Exchange?

A crypto exchange is a digital marketplace where users can buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrency. Many exchanges also offer the ability to earn interest on deposited cryptocurrency as well. Crypto exchanges reflect the current market price of a crypto asset, and many of them act as a custodian for the cryptocurrency a user purchases.

How Does a Crypto Exchange Work?

Cryptocurrency exchanges act as a marketplace where users can browse for and place orders of cryptocurrency. Users create an online account, fund the account, and place orders to support cryptocurrency. 

Most of the crypto is then held for the customer in cold storage, with 5% to 10% of the crypto assets made available for platform liquidity. Users can typically take custody of the cryptocurrency by transferring it to an external “hot” or “cold” wallet for storage, which includes owning a set of private keys for safekeeping.

Note: Some crypto exchanges do NOT allow users to take custody of their crypto.

What is a Crypto Wallet?

A crypto wallet is a secure digital location for storing your cryptocurrency and private keys, making you the custodian of your crypto assets. Crypto wallets typically come in two forms;

Hot Wallets. These are online apps that must be connected to the interest for access. They allow users to connect to exchanges and decentralized applications for using their cryptocurrency.

Cold Wallets. These are “offline” wallets that allow users to store their crypto and private keys in a hardware solution, such as a USB drive, effectively removing their crypto assets from circulation. This is considered the safer way to store cryptocurrency.

While some crypto exchanges offer wallet services, a crypto wallet and a crypto exchange are different. A crypto exchange is a custodian of your crypto assets, as they own the private keys for each asset you purchase until you take custody. A crypto wallet is how you obtain ownership of your cryptocurrency, in which you own your own private keys and the cryptocurrency itself.

Not all crypto wallets are compatible with all cryptocurrencies, as platforms continue to develop and change. Always ensure your crypto wallet supports your cryptocurrency before sending any assets to it.

What Do I Need to Open a Crypto Exchange Account?

Crypto exchanges make it fast and easy to buy and sell crypto, but to offer their low prices and added security, exchanges require that you create an account. Most reputable exchanges will require identity verification (known as KYC), which keeps the exchange in good standing with the SEC and other U.S. regulatory authorities.

Once your account is created, you can securely fund your account and start trading.

Summary

While the cryptocurrency space is continuing to evolve, the need for a reputable exchange will remain. Finding a place to buy and sell crypto securely is all the more important as more and more money finds its way into this asset class.

These exchanges all offer a slightly different experience, but we’re confident you can find one that fits your needs. Whether you are an advanced trader or a crypto newbie, these exchanges will help you purchase crypto with ease!

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Should I Invest in Crypto?

Cryptocurrency is a new, volatile asset class that is considered a highly speculative investment. Whether you should invest in crypto or not depends on your goals, risk tolerance, timeline, and other factors. We recommend that you speak with a licensed financial professional before making any investment decisions.

Rachel Siegel, CFA
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