Whether you are looking to buy your first cryptocurrency in the near future or you want to start trading, the first thing you need to do is to signup on an exchange. “But how do I pick the best one, since there are so many options?” you might ask. In this article, I will go through a list of crypto exchanges with the best reputation and highlight all the reasons why someone would use them.
As a crypto beginner, one of your first missions is to determine what you want to do. Do you want to just buy a coin and simply hold it for a longer time? Or do you want to actively trade cryptocurrencies? Or maybe you would like to take advantage of the staking returns? This is very important to know before choosing your first cryptocurrency exchange.
I put together a list of the best cryptocurrency exchanges for beginners. These are some of the exchanges I have used so far in the past few years. Each has its own pros and cons. I will try to highlight these for you as best as possible.
Also, please remember that not all crypto exchanges are built equally, and you don’t want to throw your money into the first one you find without doing some research first. This is why it is critical to take into account factors such as security, fees, reputation, customer support, available trading pairs, duration of deposits and of withdrawals, user-friendliness.
When it comes to security and reliability, Kraken is the first name that comes to mind. They are one of the oldest crypto exchanges out there (launched in 2011) and have the reputation of never being hacked. They went through several audits, including a proof of reserves audit, verifying that the amount of BTC they have in reserves is more than the amount required to repay all users in the eventuality of a major issue. Kraken also has the reputation of being the exchange of choice by high net worth individuals, but it is also accessible for smaller investors as well.
Their fees are not the best in the market, but this depends on what you chose to trade. For spot cryptocurrency pairs, the fees start from 0.20% for a monthly trading volume of up to $50.000 and drop progressively for higher trade volumes. The margin trading fees however are some of the lowest available, starting from 0.01% for BTC and 0.02% for altcoin pairs.
Kraken requires KYC (identity verification) when making a cash deposit, but the process is straightforward compared to other crypto exchanges. It usually takes just a few minutes to complete. The customer support staff is very polite and helpful, at least in my interactions with them.
The platform usability is not the friendliest for a beginner, but the website and mobile app are responsive and without glitches. Once you get a little bit familiar with the menus and with the trading interface, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Kraken does not have a huge selection of cryptocurrencies. At the moment only 71 are available for trading, but the ones they do offer are some of the most popular and have a high trading volume.
Due to their very good reputation when it comes to security, I now use Kraken mainly for long-term staking ETH, at a 5%-7% yearly return. They offer staking for 10 cryptocurrencies plus for Euro and Dollar at the moment, with yearly rates starting from 1.5% to 12%.
Overall, Kraken is among the best exchanges for one big reason: security. This aspect should never be overlooked when selecting your first crypto exchange.
Binance is the most popular crypto exchange and this can be also seen in their trading volume. What makes Binance one of the best and easy to start with crypto exchanges is, in my view, the crypto selection they offer. At the moment, you can buy or sell 374 coins and tokens on Binance, paired against USDT, Euro, Bitcoin, or Ethereum. On Binance, there is a high chance of finding that altcoin your Bitcoin-savvy friend keeps reminding you about.
Also, they have some of the lowest fees in the game and a pretty good reputation in terms of security.
The fee system for a trading volume of up to 50 BTC/month starts at 0.1% for both maker and taker, and it can be lowered to just 0.075% by using their BNB token. Compared to other exchanges, that’s quite a good deal.
The Binance mobile app and website can be intimidating for a first-time user as well. Once you create and verify your account, take the time to go through all the menus and learn what they are for. This can be very useful and reduce the learning curve. User onboarding is also relatively fast. It is only necessary to provide KYC details if you wish to withdraw more than 0.06 BTC/day in crypto or cash through SEPA.
One other cool aspect about Binance is that you can buy crypto not only by making a bank transfer first, but also using a credit card, at reasonable rates. Also, in my experience, the deposits and withdrawals of cash to/from Binance were usually done in less than two business days. For crypto deposits/withdrawals, it usually takes between a few seconds and approx. 30 minutes, depending on the coin.
There are tons of crypto-related services they offer besides spot and margin trading. These include staking, a mining pool, NFTs, crypto loans, futures and options, as well as their own token launchpad.
Again, as a beginner, it can be pretty easy to get lost in all these terms, so don’t get discouraged. Take your time and learn about the basic stuff such as spot trading and maybe staking. Binance has an Academy section on their website where you could find detailed information on their services.
If you are looking for an exchange where you can buy or trade less-known altcoins with lower market caps, then Kucoin is your best bet. Kucoin is seen as an exchange where you can find all kinds of “hidden gems” that have not yet become mainstream. Their selection of altcoins trading pairs is very diverse: 392 coins/tokens grouped into 809 different pairs (for BTC, ETH, KCS, and various stable coins).
It offers an intuitive website and one of the most beginner-friendly mobile apps. Their customer verification policies are not mandatory up to certain withdrawal amounts (currently up to 5 BTC).
Kucoin also has its own native token, KCS (Kucoin Shares), that can be used to reduce the default trading fees from 0.1% to 0.08%. Not as good as Binance, but still a good discount. Similar to Binance, they offer various other services besides spot and margin trading, including credit/debit card crypto purchases, futures, lending, daily bonus for holding KCS, trading bots and also a staking pool with very good returns.
My experience with Kucoin so far has been positive, although limited to dealing only with cryptocurrencies, and not with cash. Also, I cannot comment on their customer support or verification processes, as I had not interacted with them. They seem to be very active on social media, offering all kinds of promotions and discounts.
Kucoin is a good exchange, especially if you hunt for less-known crypto projects. Beware of the risks though – in the crypto space, less known is also associated with untrustworthy.
Bittrex is also one of the few crypto exchanges out there that were never hacked, the focus on security being their main feat. They are amongst the veteran crypto exchanges in terms of time in the market and reliability. This reputation has recently been backed up by the fact that they were approved as a fully regulated crypto exchange in the EU and are in process of obtaining a similar approval in the US.
In order to be able to trade on Bittrex, going through the identity verification process is mandatory. This, in some cases, can be a frustrating experience, as it can take up to a few hours, even though they claim to take only up to 10 minutes. Once verified, you can withdraw up to 100 BTC per day. Also, you gain access to fast credit card crypto purchases and get a trading selection of 367 cryptocurrencies.
The default fees of Bittrex are quite high for smaller accounts, starting from 0.75% for a monthly volume of up to $5000. These are reduced based on higher trade volume:
Bittrex does not offer additional crypto services such as staking, loans, derivatives, or NFTs. However, they do provide a fast and secure trading API and are one of the best exchanges when it comes to algorithmic trading.
If you are looking for a secure and regulated crypto exchange with a good reputation and a simple user interface, Bittrex is one of your best choices.
Bitfinex is very similar to Binance in many aspects. They have good security (although they had some issues in the past), professional customer service and a big selection of listed coins. Besides usual spot trading, Bitfinex offers derivatives trading, staking, crypto lending and borrowing. The main disadvantage, when compared to Binance, is that they have higher trading fees.
For me, Poloniex still has the coolest-looking website from all crypto exchanges out there. This and the fact that I never had an issue with my deposits/withdrawals are the reasons why I list them here. Poloniex is one of the oldest surviving crypto exchanges. Their user count and reputation dropped since they were bought by Circle. Some features they offer at the moment: reasonable trading fees, ok-ish selection of trading pairs and also a “trollbox” 🙂
As a beginner, your main crypto goal should be to survive (to not lose your initial capital). If you can do this in a market dominated by huge volatility and unexpected risks, you will have a solid foundation to build upon and grow your investment. Choosing the best crypto exchange is the first step in becoming a successful crypto trader/investor. Please remember that no matter what exchange you chose, there are considerable risks in keeping all your funds or crypto holding within that exchange at all times – “not your keys, not your coins!”.
If you want to read more on cryptocurrency, trading, or investing, check out my “Best Of” lists of tools and resources.
In the end, I hope you make the most suitable choice for you. Please feel free to drop me a message in case you have specific questions or simply if you wish to say hi. Good luck in your crypto quest!