Choosing the best sites to buy Bitcoins from is not a simple thing because there are so many alternatives. In this article we want to offer a rundown of the best exchanges updated to 2018.
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Cryptocurrencies are increasingly gaining ground, and this wider base has led to the exchanges lowering management costs. As you will see, you can start buying and selling with an average deposit of $100, and the commissions applied often amount to pennies, without counting the various bonuses and affiliate programs.
But we must pay attention to the choice of platform. In the chaos of the Internet, the endless offer of sites could mislead and divert the less experienced towards scam exchanges. Unfortunately they are not rare cases of scams in the world of cryptocurrency so we always suggest relying on experienced and known exchanges.
We have selected the five safest and most reliable exchanges, where it is possible to operate with next to no system vulnerabilities. In the platforms we analyze capital is stored offline, so as to be protected from hacking attempts.
Before the short reviews on the best bitcoin exchanges, it may be useful to take a brief look at the options made available to users.
As mentioned, the basic purpose of exchanges is to allow the purchase and sale of BTC. In addition to buying and selling tokens, these platforms provide important tools that are worthwhile learn to use if you want to trade with bitcoins.
First of all the limit order. Simply put, you set a limit price when ordering, and the cost will not be higher, at the time of purchase, nor lower at the time of sale than the limits you impose. A simple but effective way to keep your money under control and not risk losing money or buying at exorbitant prices.
Another important feature is that of stop-loss, which is also called stop orders on some exchanges. It is an automatic purchase or sale order of BTCs when they reach a certain threshold (called the Stop Price). The most explicit advantage is that of not having to constantly monitor the performance of the asset, as well as to limit excessive losses. Be careful, however, to set the limit: closing a position too early risks limiting potential gains. It would be preferable, if you are not yet experienced trader, to "imitate" the strategies of the more experienced users of this tool.
Lastly, financial leverage, suitable for investors with a high risk profile. Leverage allows you to increase the ROI (return of investment) exponentially. Indeed, this should be used in combination with a stop-loss order because although it is true that in the event of a winning strategy, gains can also be quintupled, it is also true that large sums may be lost otherwise.
Coinbase is probably the most famous and used platform, especially thanks to the simple and intuitive graphics that allows even novices to be able to exchange bitcoins easily. This exchange has operated since 2012 and is currently present in over 30 countries, but it is constantly expanding.
In addition to buying and selling bitcoins, Coinbase also offers its digital wallet, the indispensable electronic wallet for every type of transaction.
Coinbase guarantees operations practically in real-time, except for those used to move money into your current account; they never exceed three days, and in any case is caused by banks rather than the exchange.
One of Coinbase's strengths is its security. Password choices by users can exceed 100 characters, compared to the 20 limit on other platforms. The site is also enabled to 2FA, the 2-Factor Authentication through which accesses and operations can be monitored with regard to the time, IP and device used. Finally, the exchange offers a 100% currency insurance. Until now there have never been any thefts on Coinbase, but in the event of an employee's fault or security breach by a hacker, the platform will reimburse the total amount of capital lost.
Commissions on the other hand could be a sore point. They are not the lowest on the web, but given the site's security we think it is worth paying something more. For standard trades, a 1.49% rate is applied while if you use a credit or debit card you pay 3.99%. Bank transfers, both in and out, cost €0.15.
Of a similar age are Coinbase and The Rock Trading, made in Italy and therefore perfect for those who are not very familiar with English.
Your savings can be deposited via the digital wallet or even by a SEPA bank transfer; in this case they usually require two or three days for the actual accreditation.
The Rock Trading system rewards the most active users: the greater the transactions, the lower the commissions. It is therefore difficult to answer the question "how much are commissions?". Let's say that, on average, they are 0.5%, but in case of high trading volumes they can also be reduced to 0.02%.
Through the associated forum you can exchange tips and advice with other users, a real network of "solidarity" that greatly facilitates the exchange's use.
In order to move the amounts in euros or token dollars into the current account, it is necessary to verify yourself by submitting your personal information. If you are not willing to be authenticated, you will not be able to withdraw the FIAT currency. Please note, this is not a limitation but an important sign of the platform's seriousness. Unverified users will not be able to transfer funds to their account but will be able to convert bitcoins to other altcoins.
If you own a certain quantity of bitcoins and you're interested in exchanging them with the newest cryptocurrencies, Cryptopia is your solution. This New Zealand company currently offers over 450 digital currencies to be purchased in exchange for BTC, so you can bet on new emerging tokens and diversify your portfolio.
Commissions are 0.2% of the volume on each operation. The downside of Cryptopia is that you can only trade US Tether (USDT) and New Zealand Tether (NZDT).
There is one very interesting shop on the platform. You can sell and buy goods paying in bitcoins, and in a sense it is a revolutionary service: often cryptocurrencies are considered more like an abstract object for trading, while in this way they are closer to the concreteness of the FIAT currencies.
A characteristic feature of Cryptopia is its own extraneousness to speculation. Although it is possible to trade, leverage is not available. This isn't really a bad thing as it makes exchanges perfect for those who do not want to risk too much and it focuses on a safer use of virtual currencies.
The graphics may not be user friendly, but here comes another peculiarity of Cryptopia, that is the fact of it being a social tool. The forum is very active, and to get the most out of the exchange, including bonuses, it is essential to become familiar with the community.
Bittrex is among the most used exchanges to buy and sell Bitcoins, but it also supports a large amount of Altcoin (around 190).
The platform follows US regulation; this guarantees services in line with legal regulations, which in the case of the cryptocrrencies is constantly evolving. Bittrex is a reference point for all those who demand fast transactions, security, best practices and stable e-wallets from an exchange.
The commissions for bitcoin purchases or sale transactions equal to 0.25%, while there are no charges for withdrawals or deposits. This does not mean that you will not pay anything to withdraw or deposit the tokens, because Bitcoin has "physiological" costs for these transactions, incorporated into the currency. What is free is the service of exchange, which obviously cannot interfere with currency policies. However, the cost is transparent and visible simply by clicking on the withdrawal and deposit windows.
Contrary to other exchanges, Bittrex has withdrawal limits. For users who have verified their name and email address, the limit is 3 BTC per day, while following authentication with ID you can collect up to 100 BTC per day.
Kraken is considered one of the best exchanges for Bitcoins, so much so that it was the first to have visible costs and trading volumes on Bloomberg.
Security is Kraken's flagship: the site uses encrypted cold storage to protect investors' capital, two-factor authentication and proof of reserves audit system cryptographically verifiable. The platform has indeed made liquid assets one of its strengths; Kraken is in fact a trustee appointed by the Tokyo government court and the German bank Fidor.
Transactions with Bitcoins can take advantage of EUR, dollars USA, Canadian dollars and yen, but commissions are variable based on trade, such as a percentage of currency volume. On average they go anything from 0.16% up to free commissions. As far as withdrawals and deposits are concerned, prices depend essentially on the legal tender currency that you use and your residence. In other words, there are also substantial cost differences between those living in the US and those in Europe. For example, a wire transfer fee is $5 in the United States and €60 outside. In fact, SEPA withdrawals in euros are convenient, with commissions of only €0.09.
Also in this case, verification is needed. There are two levels of verification. For the first one you need your full name, date of birth, address and phone number: with this information you can open a basic account and start trading. If, on the other hand, extra features are required, an identity document and proof of the declared residence are required. Please note: this advanced verification is mandatory for European users and for anyone doing large volume transactions.
Kraken is not just an exchange, but as mentioned allows trades with leverage up to 5x, even on short sales. Other interesting tools include the stop-loss, which we talked about at the beginning, and automatic trading.
This platform is downloadable as an app on iOS and Android devices, and is also web-based for PCs and therefore doesn't require any installations.
The ones we have analysed are only a fraction of the exchanges currently on the web. If you are interested in trying out others, let us give you some recommendations on which criteria you should apply to evaluate their services.
An aspect that concerns most clients regards commissions. It is OK to choose an exchange with low commissions, but we emphasise that beyond the mere numbers it is important that these prices are commensurate with the site's security and services. In short, it can sometimes be cheaper to spend a few euros on the platform but to have a reliable system that can protect your savings from fraud and attempts at theft.
Security is the second condition where you should spend a few minutes. Two-factor authentication, long passwords and cold storage are the three components that distinguish a serious exchange from one that risks being compromised.
An always valid piece of advice when it comes to investments is reading other user's opinions and experiences. Feedback gives you an idea of how much the exchange is appreciated, whether it is easy to use, if it is subject to slowdowns and, not to be underestimated, how efficient customer support is. Lastly, from exchange volumes it is easy to see if the platform is solid and serious or if we are risking fraud.