We may receive payments from affiliate links included in this content. Our affiliate partners do not influence our editorial opinions or analysis. To learn more, see Advertiser Disclosure.
Digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin seem to be glued to anywhere you look these days. From news reports to celebrities like Kim Kardashian posting cryptocurrency on Instagram, it’s clear that everyone – from old school banks to millennials – wants to get in on the action.
But to break into a crypto verse, you will need to visit a crypto exchange, or a digital network where you can transfer your money to DOGE (or any other cryptocurrency).
To help you choose the right place to do this, we poured heaps of quantitative and qualitative data to determine the best crypto exchange for beginners, traders, and users in general.
But, of course, all this comes with an important buyer beware: despite all the hype, investing in cryptocurrencies is still very difficult. Nearly a trillion dollars in market value was wiped out in a single day recently, which underscores the importance of looking before you jump in. We may be in the middle of a digital gold rush, but you don’t want to bet all your investment dollars on what turns out to be a virtual pyrite. That’s why most financial experts recommend not putting anything in crypto that you can’t afford to lose.
Best Overall Cryptocurrency Exchange – Binance.US
The local website of global crypto star Binance, Binance.US, offers most of the perks of its parent company, including extremely low trading fees and a large number of tradable cryptocurrencies.
Why we chose Binance.US
Whether you’re here to trade a lot (or a little), the US platform Binance charges low fees to the industry. It also has regular investors, most of whom are more hawkish than they cover with over 50 cryptocurrencies in its crypto arsenal. New investors should stick to its app or the “Buy Cryptocurrency” tab on its website for a more intuitive investment experience. But seasoned professionals will love the multiple order types, advanced charting, and real-time data in the two trading interfaces.
Just as importantly, Binance.US has a very high cybersecurity rating (because you can never be too careful these days).
While more than 50 coins may satisfy most of them, some may yearn for close to 300 Binance cryptocurrencies. The United States lacks a parent company. In addition, there is disappointing news for those who live in Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, New York, Texas and Vermont – they cannot currently hold Binance.US accounts.
Best Crypto Exchange for Beginners – Coinbase
If you are vaguely interested in cryptocurrency news, you are probably familiar with Coinbase for its IPO. But even outside of its amazing rating, Coinbase has a much deserved reputation as one of the best ways to invest in cryptocurrency.
Why did we choose Coinbase
Apart from its strong name, Coinbase offers one of the largest and most secure platforms for trading digital assets. Joining is free (and fast) and offers a list of around 60 tradable cryptocurrencies that will soon include Dogecoin.
The standout feature of the platform is its intuitive interface which makes it easy to get started and make one-time or recurring crypto investments. In addition to a solid cybersecurity rating, Coinbase also has a solid education section with lessons for beginners that cover all aspects of cryptocurrency investing. In fact, Coinbase will pay you in the form of crypto as you progress through the lessons.
However, the level of convenience offered by Coinbase comes at a hefty price.
The complex fee structure ends up costing more than the cost of performing the same transaction on the company’s Coinbase Pro platform, which is intended for more experienced investors but is also free to join. (Even Coinbase Pro fees are higher than many of the major competitors until you trade a large amount of cryptocurrency each month.)
Best Crypto Exchange for Crypto Lovers – Binance.US
While it is a solid choice for investors of all kinds, Binance.US in particular stands out for the advantages it offers regular cryptocurrency traders.
Why we chose Binance.US
Like most exchanges, the Binance.US platform is incentivizing high-volume cryptocurrency traders by steadily lowering its already low fees. In addition, by making transactions in BNB, the digital currency owned by the platform, you can reduce your trading costs by an additional 25%. High-volume traders may also choose Binance.US’ over-the-counter (OTC) option to avoid fees by only having to pay the difference between the buy and sell price.
In addition to its limited coin offerings compared to some other major exchanges, Binance.US does not currently support margin trading – a high-risk and potentially high-return strategy that exposed many GameStop investors to significant losses earlier this year.
However, margin trading with cryptocurrencies is somewhat uncommon in the US markets currently as the federal government determines how cryptocurrencies are to be managed. Once a judgment is made, it is likely that margin trading and even strategies based on futures contracts will become more and more popular across all cryptocurrency exchanges.
Tips when buying cryptocurrency
If you are new to buying cryptocurrency, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Security is the key. Many major exchanges have been victims of multi-million dollar hacks. Although exchanges have historically compensated customers for any cryptocurrencies they lost, you don’t want to put yourself in this situation. That’s why it’s important to choose a safe (and reputable) exchange. To further reduce the risk, you can consider distributing your funds on several exchanges or even storing your crypto in a “cold” offline wallet.
- Look at the trading volume. Take a peek at the number of transactions that take place on a particular exchange (and even a particular currency on that exchange) each day. Ideally, you want to see a lot so you know that you will be able to get a fair price when buying and selling cryptocurrency.
- Keep fees in mind. You may have heard that fees are important when it comes to investing, especially if you plan to be a frequent traveler in this market. Anytime you pay a higher price to get your crypto, you have little left to grow over time. That’s why you might also want to avoid buying cryptocurrency with a debit or credit card: the fee can go up to 5% of your transaction when you buy cryptocurrency with a card instead of cash or another currency.
- Don’t forget about taxes. No one wants to think of the tax man when trying to beat him up with cryptocurrency. But remember that you will owe capital gains taxes to the IRS on any profits you make when selling cryptocurrencies. This is also the case if you are using your cryptocurrency to buy something and its value has increased since you first bought it.
We determined our rankings by looking at the top 10 centralized cryptocurrency exchanges on CoinMarketCap.com based on traffic, trading volume, and availability for clients based in the United States. We looked at more than 20 data points for each crypto exchange and evaluated each of them in terms of their importance to different categories of cryptocurrency investors.
Brai Odion-Esene is the founder of SW4 Insights, a public policy consulting firm based in Washington, DC. He has more than ten years of experience as a journalist and consultant covering finance and economic policy, with a particular focus on extracting complex topics to inform readers’ decision-making.