Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Coinbase is our pick for best overall crypto exchange

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Cryptocurrency is here to stay. With the rise of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, and, yes, Dogecoin, this relatively new asset class has become a popular choice for retail and institutional traders alike. The best place to find and invest in your favorite crypto is a reputable cryptocurrency exchange.

Crypto exchanges function similarly to a stock brokerage, allowing users to buy, sell, trade, and even earn interest on cryptocurrencies. The best crypto exchanges offer a secure place to store your digital assets and a simple way to deposit funds and begin trading. We’ve compiled a list of the top cryptocurrency exchanges of 2022, so keep reading to learn more about which one might be the best fit for your investing goals.

Best Crypto Exchanges of 2022

  • Best Overall, Best for Low Fees, Best for Beginners, and Best for Bitcoin: Coinbase
  • Best for Security: Gemini
  • Best Exchange for Day Trading: Kraken
  • Best Decentralized Exchange: Bisq
  • Best for Altcoins: Huobi Global

While some cryptocurrency exchanges provide insurance to protect digital assets stored across online servers against theft, digital assets held in custodial cryptocurrency exchange accounts do not enjoy the same SIPC protection offered to traditional brokerages in the event of bankruptcy.

Investing in cryptocurrencies, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and other Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is highly risky and speculative, and the markets can be extremely volatile. Consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. This article is not a recommendation by The Balance or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or timeliness of the information be guaranteed.

Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Best Overall, Best for Low Fees, Best for Beginners, and Best for Bitcoin : Coinbase

The Balance's Rating
4.8

Coinbase

Coinbase

  • Number of Currencies Available for Trade: 150+
  • Transaction Fees: 0.00% to 0.60%
  • Transaction Minimums: $2.00

New Coinbase users can get $10 in BTC when they sign up for (and verify) an account using BALANCE10.

Why We Chose It

Coinbase is a full-service cryptocurrency exchange offering a large selection of crypto for buying, selling, and trading. With competitive fees, an intuitive mobile app, and the ability to borrow against Bitcoin holdings, Coinbase is our top pick across four categories: best exchange overall, best for low fees, best for beginners, and best for Bitcoin.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Intuitive user interface

  • Large crypto selection

  • Secure platform

  • Competitive fees

Cons
  • Crypto loans charge a high interest rate

  • No access to margin or futures trading

Overview

Coinbase is a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange that offers access to over 150 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Cardano (ADA). Founded in 2012, it is one of the older cryptocurrency exchanges on the market, and it boasts over 89 million users and over $500 billion in quarterly volume. Coinbase is the best overall crypto exchange, offering a simple user interface, top-notch security, and access to a large selection of the most popular crypto on the market.

Coinbase is available in over 100 countries around the world, and in 49 U.S. states (excluding Hawaii). It offers competitive fees for trading crypto. Fees for high-volume traders are as low as 0.00%, with most trades charging between 0.40% - 0.60%. Great for beginners, Coinbase offers one of the easiest onboarding and buying experiences of any crypto exchange.

Coinbase also takes security seriously, with most assets stored in offline cold storage; FDIC insurance on deposited U.S. dollars; and multiple layers of data protection, including end-to-end encryption and geographically distributed data centers. All customers are required to pass Know Your Customer (KYC) identity verification, to help guard against fraud on the platform and to comply with U.S. regulations.

As a secure platform, Coinbase is trusted by millions for Bitcoin purchases, as well as secure storage through their crypto vault. With nearly $2 billion in daily Bitcoin trading volume, Coinbase is one of the largest volume exchanges for Bitcoin trading. Both Microstrategy and Tesla have used Coinbase to purchase billions of dollars in Bitcoin, and other institutions are following suit.

Overall, Coinbase offers an easy way to start buying and trading crypto, and continues to add more coins weekly.

Best for Security : Gemini

The Balance's Rating
4.7

Gemini

 Gemini

  • Number of Currencies Available for Trade: 90+
  • Transaction Fees: $0.99 to $2.99
  • Transaction Minimums: Varies by currency
Why We Chose It

Gemini is a regulated U.S. crypto exchange offering custodial services, secure transactions, and even hot wallet insurance for crypto holdings.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Insurance with Gemini Hot Wallet

  • Regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS)

  • Multiple account security controls

Cons
  • High fees when using debit card

  • Fewer available cryptocurrencies than some competitors

Overview

Gemini is a U.S.-based crypto exchange founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. With a strong focus on security and regulatory compliance, Gemini became the first SEC-regulated crypto exchange back in 2016, and it is licensed by the New York State Financial Services Department. It also recently received its SOC 2 certification, which is a third-party certification verifying the platform’s security and compliance. 

Gemini offers several security features for both retail and institutional investors alike. In addition to security features like two-factor authentication (2FA) and cold storage of crypto assets, Gemini also employs individual-level controls to further secure user accounts. Gemini customers can enable user roles within an account, giving specific permissions, which is ideal for institutional management with various personnel accessing an account. 

In addition, individual users can see all devices that have logged in, and remove access to any they don’t recognize. Users can also set up “whitelisting,” which restricts any withdrawals of digital assets to known wallet addresses only. As an added layer of protection, Gemini offers hot wallet insurance. If a user’s Gemini Hot Wallet is hacked and their funds are stolen, Gemini can reimburse the lost assets.

Overall, Gemini offers both individual users and institutional investors a highly-secure way to invest in cryptocurrency.

Best Exchange for Day Trading : Kraken

The Balance's Rating
4.1

Kraken

 Kraken

  • Number of Currencies Available for Trade: 160+
  • Transaction Fees: 0.00% to 0.26%
  • Transaction Minimums: Varies by currency
Why We Chose It

Kraken is ideal for active traders, offering low trading fees, advanced charting and order types, and access to margin and futures trading.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Advanced trading tools and indicators

  • Margin and futures trading available

  • 24/7 support

Cons
  • May be too complicated for new users

  • Offers fewer cryptocurrencies than some exchanges

Overview

Kraken is a U.S.-based crypto exchange offering a wide range of tools for advanced crypto traders. Kraken provides a professional trading platform—Kraken Pro—which caters to day traders who want access to advanced charting and indicators; crypto pair trading; and multiple order types, including limit, stop, and take-profit orders. In addition, Kraken offers margin trading for qualified users, and access to crypto futures trading with up to 50x leverage.

Kraken’s professional trading platform offers very low trading fees, with discounts given to high-volume traders. It uses a maker/taker fee model, with fees ranging from 0.00% to 0.26%. Only the highest-volume traders can expect fees as low as 0.00%. With day trading typically involving a large volume of transactions per month, Kraken helps keep costs low for active traders.

Founded in 2011, Kraken is one of the longest-standing crypto exchanges available and is used by over 7 million traders globally. This exchange is available in over 200 countries, as well as 48 U.S. states (excluding New York and Washington). 

Kraken’s robust selection of trading tools and relatively low fees make it a great option for active traders.

Best Decentralized Exchange : Bisq

The Balance's Rating
3.2

Bisq

 Bisq

  • Number of Currencies Available for Trade: n/a (peer-to-peer trading) Transaction Fees: 0.05% to 0.88%
  • Transaction Minimums: Not disclosed
Why We Chose It

Bisq is a decentralized exchange that allows users to trade cryptocurrency directly with peers. It does not require Know Your Customer (KYC) identity verification, which can help protect users’ privacy.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Fully decentralized crypto exchange

  • Can trade with fiat currencies

  • Mobile apps available for Android and iOS

Cons
  • Transactions may take several minutes to process

  • Lower trading volume than most centralized exchanges

Overview

Bisq is a decentralized exchange (DEX) that comes as a downloadable software, allowing users to trade crypto on a peer-to-peer network. Bisq does not require user registration, as users are trading coins directly with others on the platform, and there are no KYC identity verification requirements to use the platform..

Bisq users can download the software, connect a funding account (bank account or crypto wallet), and begin trading. Bisq charges a platform transaction fee of 0.05% to 0.88% for trades, depending on the currency being used to pay for fees (Bitcoin or Bisq Coin). 

Bisq is unique, even as a decentralized exchange, as users can trade crypto, as well as fiat currencies. This means users can use their national currency (such as U.S. dollars) to make trades. Overall, Bisq offers a simple way for users to trade crypto, without the need for identity verification or lengthy sign-up processes.

Best for Altcoins : Huobi Global

The Balance's Rating
4.1

Huobi

Huobi

  • Number of Currencies Available for Trade: 340+
  • Transaction Fees: 0.015% to 0.2%
  • Transaction Minimums: Varies by cryptocurrency
Why We Chose It

Huobi Global offers access to a large selection of altcoins, including some that aren’t available on other large crypto exchanges.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Large selection of small-cap altcoins

  • Quick sign up process

  • Low fees

Cons
  • Withdrawal and trading limits until KYC completed

  • Use of Huobi services is prohibited in the United States

Overview

Huobi Global is an international crypto-exchange offering access to over 340 cryptocurrencies, including a wide selection of altcoins. While Huobi Global supports some of the most popular altcoins on the market, such as Ethereum (ETH), Cardano (ADA), and Solana (SOL), it also has hundreds of smaller-market cap coins, giving users the ability to invest in some interesting projects.

Huobi Global was founded in 2013, has over 10 million global users, and handles billions of dollars in trade volume every day. Headquartered in the Republic of Seychelles, this exchange is available in over 100 around the globe but is not available in the U.S.

Huobi Global offers a simple way to buy crypto, as users can deposit fiat funds (such as Euro) and make a purchase right away. Trading fees are also relatively low, ranging from just 0.015% to 0.2% per transaction. In addition, Huobi Global offers advanced trading, including limit, stop, and trigger orders, as well as margin and futures trading. Overall, Huobi Global offers a wide range of cryptocurrency altcoins to buy, sell, and trade, including assets that aren’t available on many centralized exchanges.

Final Verdict

More and more cryptocurrency exchanges are being launched every year, with many operating around the globe. While some of the top exchanges, like Kraken, offer low-fee trading and access to a wide selection of coins; others, such as Bisq and Gemini, focus on a simple user interface. But overall, Coinbase offers a best-in-class user experience.

Coinbase offers access to 150+ cryptocurrencies, an easy-to-use mobile app, integrated user education, the ability to earn interest on crypto holdings, and even loans against crypto assets, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Add to that institutional support, and deep liquidity, and Coinbase is the best place to buy Bitcoin, or trade your favorite crypto.

Compare the Best Crypto Exchanges

Company Transaction Fees  Currencies  Wallet Included  Transaction Minimums 
Coinbase Best Overall, Best for Low Fees, Best for Beginners, and Best for Bitcoin 0.00% - 0.60%  150+  Yes $2
Kraken Best Exchange for Day Trading  0.00% - 0.26%  160+  No Varies by currency 
Gemini Best for Security  $0.99 - $2.99 90+  Yes Varies by currency
Bisq Best Decentralized Exchange  0.05% - 0.88% n/a No  n/a
Huobi Global Best for Altcoins  0.015% - 0.2% 340+  Yes  Varies by currency 

Guide for Choosing the Best Crypto Exchanges

How Do Crypto Exchanges Work?

Crypto exchanges are a place where users can exchange one crypto for another or purchase crypto with fiat currency. Centralized exchanges act as a platform for the transactions to take place, and typically charge a transaction fee. Users sign up for an account, verify their identity, deposit crypto or fiat funds, and start buying, selling, or trading. Decentralized exchanges are not centrally hosted or controlled, but rather allow users to connect their supported digital wallet and instantly trade crypto.

Cryptocurrency exchanges offer a way for users to buy, sell, trade, earn interest, or even borrow against crypto holdings. Several exchanges offer relatively secure access to popular cryptocurrency for individual and institutional investors.

How to Sign Up for a Cryptocurrency Exchange Account

To sign up for a cryptocurrency exchange, you will need to provide your name and email address. Once your email address is verified, you may need to submit some personal information as well. Though some exchanges don’t require identity verification, most do, which means submitting a picture of a valid photo ID and proof of address (such as a utility bill with your name and address on it). It may also include taking a selfie with your mobile phone or computer.

Once your account is verified, you can connect a bank account or digital wallet, deposit funds, and begin trading. You may also want to further secure your account by setting up two-factor authentication (2FA) and whitelisting your digital wallet(s).

Should You Use a Cryptocurrency Exchange? 

While there are several ways to buy cryptocurrency, crypto exchanges offer a safe, legal way to purchase crypto—assuming they’re accessible in your jurisdiction. Whether you are interested in actively trading crypto, or simply want to buy and hold crypto as a long-term investment, here are a few reasons to use a cryptocurrency exchange:

  • Regulation. Most crypto exchanges are regulated, meaning there are certain consumer protections in place to protect users from fraudulent activity. The main exception to this is decentralized exchanges (DEXs), as they are inherently unregulated and not centrally controlled.
  • Security. Centralized exchanges employ some serious security measures, including end-to-end data encryption and geographical distribution of data centers and private keys. With these exchanges, most crypto assets are also held in offline cold storage vaults with 24/7 security.
  • Simplicity. Crypto exchanges make it easy to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, giving users a simple user interface to deposit fiat currency and purchase assets.
  • Selection. Many crypto exchanges offer access to a wide range of coins to buy, sell, and trade.

Comparing Cryptocurrency Exchange Platforms

Different cryptocurrency exchanges offer different features. While some offer a wide selection of coins, others offer advanced trading tools or low trading fees for active users. Here are a few features to look at when comparing crypto exchanges:

  • Fees. Generally, crypto exchanges make money on transaction fees, but some charge more than others. Buying and selling crypto directly will typically cost up to 1.0% or more, while trading fees are usually much lower (or even free, depending on trade volume). Finding a low-fee exchange can help you save money in the long run.
  • Security. While many crypto exchanges offer basic security features (like 2FA and cold storage of assets); others provide more features, such as withdrawal whitelisting, account locking, and even wallet insurance. Finding a secure crypto exchange will give you more peace of mind.
  • Customer service. What happens if you lose access to your account? Poor customer service can be extremely frustrating if you can’t access your funds. Finding a crypto exchange offering multiple ways to reach customer service may help keep headaches to a minimum.
  • Supported crypto. If you are looking to invest in a specific project, finding an exchange that supports the crypto you are interested in is key. While some exchanges only carry popular cryptocurrencies, others offer access to hundreds of altcoins and smaller projects for diversifying your holdings.
  • Education. Crypto is new, interesting, and can be confusing. Finding an exchange that values user education could help you make better investing decisions, as well as learn how to get the most out of buying cryptocurrency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Crypto Exchanges the Best Way to Buy and Sell Bitcoin?

Using a crypto exchange is a good way to buy and sell Bitcoin. Buying and selling Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies) on an exchange ensures a secure transaction and access to accurate market pricing. Most exchanges keep crypto assets offline until you are ready to withdraw them, and fees are fairly reasonable—though it’s important to compare fees across exchanges. You can also build a diversified portfolio of crypto assets by using an exchange that offers access to more than just Bitcoin.

Should You Keep Your Cryptocurrency on Crypto Exchange Wallets?

Crypto exchange wallets offer basic protections against theft, including 2FA and wallet address whitelisting. But most crypto exchange hacks target exchange hot wallets, and many crypto exchanges don’t offer insurance for users’ hot wallets.

Ideally, to further protect your Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, it’s a good idea to transfer your crypto off the exchange into your own digital wallet with a 12-word recovery phrase. For further protection, consider moving your crypto completely offline into cold storage. This is the strongest form of protection against theft.

Do You Pay Taxes on Cryptocurrency?

Yes, cryptocurrency is currently treated as property by the U.S. government, and trading crypto may result in short- or long-term capital gains taxes. If you buy and sell crypto within a 12-month period, any gain (or loss) on it will be considered short-term and will be taxed at your ordinary-income tax rate. Any crypto held for one year or longer is considered a long-term investment, and gains from sales are taxed at the long-term capital gains rate. For additional guidance, please visit the IRS Virtual Currencies page.

How We Chose the Best Crypto Exchanges

As part of our evaluation, we looked at 28 cryptocurrency exchanges and collected over 1000 data points about each one before selecting the best companies. We also weighted more than 20 criteria and gave a higher weight to those we felt were most important to potential customers. 

The best exchanges were chosen based on factors like trading fees (weighted 14%), withdrawal fees (12%), and if an exchange offers cold storage of crypto assets (weighted 12%). 

We also considered factors like where each platform is available, the number of supported assets, and customer service options. For further information about our selection criteria and process, our complete methodology is available.