Best Bitcoin Exchanges Reviewed & Compared

With so many exchanges around, trading Bitcoin has now become easy. These platforms offer a broad range of feature, but which of them are right for you? What about the fees? In this article, we will compare six of the most popular Bitcoin exchanges.

If you want to buy Bitcoin and store it in your wallet, you will have to deal with an exchange service. The good news is that you can pick from a variety of options. Since there are many exchanges with a lot of features and conditions, we have tried to figure out the most evident preferences of our readers and to come up with the best names out there.

You are about to read six short reviews of the most reputable exchanges. We hope they will help you make the right choice based on your personal preferences.

Don’t forget to go through our Bitcoin Wallet reviews so that you could store your Bitcoin in a safe virtual place.

What Should I Check For Prior To Registering?

We will start by explaining what you should focus your attention on before registering with any Bitcoin exchange service. Here is our list of the most important characteristics that define such a service:

Reputation – the first thing you can do to check the reputation of an exchange service is to go through review sites and see what other people have to say about their experience. However, keep in mind that some of these individual reviews may have been bought via marketing agencies. Try to read between the lines and make sure there is an individual with a real experience behind each review. You can start with Bitcointalk and Reddit.

Fees – there are two kinds of fees: deposit/withdrawal fees and trading fees. Generally, the info should be available on the official website of any exchange that cares about its clients.

Payment Methods – there are three main payment methods:

  • Credit/debit cards;
  • Bank wire transfers;
  • E-wallets like PayPal.

Wire transfers take several days for processing, while card payments mean higher fees and a mandatory ID verification. Anyway, the more payment options, the better for you.

Availability – many exchanges are available or restricted in specific regions or countries. You should check if you are eligible to become a client. Besides, some exchanges might not offer the full range of features in specific countries. So, make sure you do your homework.

Exchange Rate – there is a general exchange rate featured on financial sites, but you should not expect it to be present on all the exchanges. Sometimes the latter include their commissions and other fees, so the rate becomes much higher than average. 

Now that you know the main parameters for assessing an exchange service, here are our top choices:

Coinbase

Coinbase is first on our list, and it’s not by any accident – it is the most popular and trusted brand when it comes to Bitcoin exchange services. We have already reviewed its Bitcoin wallet solutions (link) and noted the company’s comprehensive approach.

A clear favorite, Coinbase offers a user-friendly interface, the possibility to buy via debit card, and many wallet solutions.

There are four verification levels, the fourth being the most demanding. It requires a government-issued ID, a taxpayer identification number, and even answers to some questions. The volume limits depend on these levels. For example, a Level 1 user can purchase up to $5,000 worth of BTC and sell up to $25,000 daily. The highest daily limit for the fourth level is $50k. Note that you can trade only two cryptocoins – Bitcoin and Ethereum.

  1. The great thing about the exchange is that you can automate Bitcoin buying weekly or monthly.  
  2. Coinbase accepts wire transfers and credit/debit card payments. The deposit/withdrawal fees are not separate. Wire transfers in the US come with a 1.49% fee.
  3. Credit/debit card operations involve 3.99% fee. The transfer is processed instantly.
  4. If you choose to deposit or take out funds in Bitcoin, there are no fees involved.
  5. As for the trading fees, Coinbase charges 1% for every transaction.

Coinbase pros:

  • A user-friendly interface;
  • The Coinbase insurance covers your funds.

Cons:

  • The fourth level of verification would require some time;
  • There were many complaints of user privacy violation.

Link - https://www.coinbase.com

CoinMama

CoinMama is one of the oldest Bitcoin exchanges out there, operating since 2013. With this service, you can easily buy Bitcoin with your credit card or deposit funds through Western Union or MoneyGram.

For the verification procedure during registration, the client has to show one of the following documents:

  • Passport – double page;
  • National ID card – both sides;
  • Driver's license – both sides.

CoinMama’s credit card transactions are done through Simplex, which is a credit processing service that gives you a buying maximum limit of $5,000 per transaction. 

One thing to consider when going for the service is that their exchange rate is higher than average because of the possibility to use credit cards. On the CoinMama website, you will see the offered exchange rates for Bitcoin, which automatically includes their 6.6%. Besides, there is a deposit/withdrawal fee of 5% if you choose to operate with a credit/debit card.

CoinMama pros:

  • You can buy with credit card;
  • The transactions are fast; 

Cons: 

  • The exchange rates are higher than average;
  • The service is not available in all US states and world regions;
  • You cannot sell Bitcoin.

Link – https://www.coinmama.com

CEX.IO

CEX.IO is headquartered in London and has operated since 2013.

The exchange also acts as a trading platform, allowing marking trading with up to 3:1 leverage.

You cannot use the service before going through a verification procedure, which you can read about it here.

If you want to trade on the CEX.IO platform, you will have to pick from four account types with the following limits:

  • Basic – deposit up to $300 per day and $1,000 per month. Withdraw up to $500 daily and $2,000 monthly.
  • Verified – deposit up to $10,000 per day and $100,000 per month. The withdrawal limits are the same.
  • Verified Plus – there are no limits for deposits and withdrawals.
  • Corporate – again, there are no limits.

As you can probably guess, there is an ID verification process starting with the “Verified” account type.

You can pay with USD, EUR, GBP, and RUR via VISA and MasterCard or a wire transfer. Also, you can pay with cryptocurrencies.

The fees are among the highest. For example, there is a 7% commission if you want to trade directly with the exchange.

CEX.IO pros:

  • Margin trading is available;
  • Customer support is good and available 24/7 by chat or email.

Cons:

  • High exchange rates;
  • The verification procedure takes some effort.

Link - https://cex.io

Bitstamp

Bistamp was founded in 2011 in Slovenia. Two years later, it moved to the UK and then relocated to Luxembourg in 2016, where it is licensed today. At that time, it was seen as an alternative to then-popular exchange Mt Gox, which turned out to be a nightmare for thousands of Bitcoin holders. 

The service is well positioned on the market: it has partnered with Credit Agricole SA and Ripple, and has attracted funding from Pantera Capital, one of the most popular Bitcoin-related ventures.

The exchange accepts only wire transfers as a payment method, and you should consider the following fees:

  • Deposit – the wire deposit involves a 0.05% fee and is no less than $7.5. The processing time ranges from two to five business days.
  • Withdrawal – an international wire withdrawal involves a 0.09% fee that starts at $15. The minimum amount for withdrawal is $50 and the processing time ranges from two to five business days.

Besides the deposit/withdrawal fees, there are the trading fees, which consist of 0.25% for a monthly volume below $20,000. The lowest fee is 0.10% and applies when the 30-day volume exceeds $20 million. You can check the fees table here: https://www.bitstamp.net/fee_schedule/.

Bitstamp has a great platform called tradeview. When trading, the minimum amount per order is $5.

Bitstamp pros:

-        Well established company with many connections within the industry;

-        Great trading platform with high trading volume and liquidity.

Cons:

-        The fees are a bit higher than average, especially for the lower volume of trading;

-        You cannot trade pairs of two cryptocurrencies.

Link - https://www.bitstamp.net

 

Kraken

Kraken was founded in San Francisco in 2011 as an alternative to Mt Gox. Since then, it has managed to maintain its reputation as an exchange with a professional approach. The majority of the client base is from Europe, but the service has been expanding worldwide in the past few years.

With Kraken, you can trade the following cryptocoins: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Augur, Ripple, Zcash, Dash, Monero, Stellar, DAO, and Iconomi.

The user can go through more verification procedure levels (called tiers), each level offering more privileges. Here are some limits and rights for each tier:

  • Tier 1 – the verification system at this level requires your basic personal data. Deposits and withdrawals are carried out only in cryptocoins, with a $2,500 daily limit and a $20k monthly limit for withdrawals.
  • Tier 2 – at this level, clients have to show a bill with their names. Besides cryptocurrencies, one can deposit and take out fiat currencies, with deposit and withdrawal limits of $2,000 daily and $10k monthly. For cryptocoins, the limits are $5,000 daily and $50k monthly.
  • Tier 3 – this level requires address verification, an ID card picture, and a social security number for US citizens. The deposit and withdrawal limits with fiat money are $25k daily and $200k monthly, while the respective figures for cryptocoins are $50k and $200k.

There is also a Tier 4 verification level for individual and corporate accounts.

There are no deposit fees in most cases, and the withdrawal fees are among the lowest on the market.

Trading fees are 0.16% for the maker and 0.26% for the taker. However, with higher volume, the fees gradually lower. Check out the trading fees here: https://www.kraken.com/en-us/help/fees.

Kraken Pros:

  • Margin trading available with up to 5:1 leverage;
  • You can automate the trading process with stop losses and other order types and features;
  • Kraken offers the lowest prices.

Cons:

  • Sometimes the support team can be unresponsive;
  • May be difficult for beginners.

Link - https://www.kraken.com

LocalBitcoins

LocalBitcoins was established in 2012 and is headquartered in Finland. Today, it is present in almost all countries.

It is different from other broker-like and trading services. LocalBitcoins offers peer-to-peer solutions for those who want to buy and sell Bitcoin and other digital currencies. In other words, it is a virtual place that brings buyers and sellers together. The traders post ads stating the exchange rate and accepted currencies. In theory, you can use any fiat currency you like, the only condition being its acceptance by someone.

Another distinctive feature is that you can remain anonymous on the platform, so you are not required to go through a verification procedure.  All you need for registering is an email address.

As for the fees, the seller will have to pay 1% for any transaction. It’s as simple as that.

Since the service provides peer-to-peer solutions, there were many scams reported and this damaged the reputation of LocalBitcoins. To avoid unpleasant situations, you should look for sellers who:

  • Have at least a 98% feedback score;
  • Have traded a high volume of Bitcoin;
  • Have completed a lot of trades – at least 50;
  • Are not newcomers to the platform;
  • Are trusted by the users.

LocalBitcoins pros:

  • You can stay anonymous and look for lower exchange rates;
  • The trading process is fast;

Cons:

  • You can get scammed by other users;
  • Not the best method for trading high volumes.

Link – https://localbitcoins.com

Have a look at the table below – it comprises all the exchanges reviewed and their main features:

 

Coinbase

Coinmama

CEX.IO

Bitstamp

Kraken

Local Bitcoins

Margin trading

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Reputation

Very good

Good

Good

Very good

Very good

Good

Security

Very high

Very high

Very high

High

Very high

High

Fees

Average

High

Very high

Average

Low

Low

Payment methods

Credit Card,

Wire

Credit/Debit card, WU, MoneyGram

Credit/debit card, Wire, AstroPay

Wire, Credit card, AstroPay

Wire

PayPal, Credit/debit card, Wire, and more

ID verification

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Availability

32 countries

Worldwide

Worldwide

Worldwide

Worldwide

Worldwide

Has been hacked?

No

No

Yes - 2013

Yes - 2015

No

No

Our rating

94%

90%

88%

86%

92%

85%

The Final Word

The right choice makes all the difference when it comes to Bitcoin exchanges. You can save up to 15% on your transactions just by making the right decision. However, you should not be worried about fees alone – make sure the service has advanced security.

Feel free to check our incoming articles on how you can buy Bitcoin with a debit card and via PayPal.