Despite Bitcoin’s exponential surge in popularity, it’s still not quite easy to just zero-in on a Bitcoin exchange which would be best suited for your needs, and that’s a problem I aim to solve through this best Bitcoin exchange article.
Instead of just pointing out a cryptocurrency exchange as the best, I’ll rather compare and contrast between the top 5 Bitcoin exchanges available in the industry today, with their respective pros and cons, and then you can go with the one which you feel is the best.
I take this approach because each one of you may have different needs, some would prioritize anonymity over lower fee, while others may be okay with lesser anonymity rather than paying a higher fee.
Some others are okay with a complicated user interface; others aren’t. Some may need faster deposit/withdrawals rather than a good-looking interface and so on.
So bottom line, I’ll just get you all the exchanges capable of being the best Bitcoin exchange, and then you pick your favorites.
What is a Bitcoin Exchange?
For those of you who aren’t acquainted with Bitcoin exchanges, well a Bitcoin exchange is a platform, which may be in the form of a website, and an app that lets you buy or trade Bitcoins, and sometimes other Cryptocurrencies as well.
There are some factors which differentiate one Bitcoin exchange from others, some of the major differences are:
- KYC Compliance – Some platforms require you to provide them with identity proofs such as passports, driver’s licenses, etc. and this kills your anonymity while others are more privacy-respecting.
- Fee – The fee that the platform takes per transaction or per trade too differs for each platform.
- Time Required – The time required to register, get verified or for a trade/ transaction to go through also matters, and differs for every platform.
- Limits – Every Bitcoin exchange has its own set of limits, the amount you can buy in a day, or using a specific payment method/transaction differ for each platform, while some have level-specific limits which can be lifted after following due procedures or advancing to higher levels.
- Payment modes – How many ways you can pay the platforms also makes a difference, some payment processors have a fee of their own, others have speed differences and so on.
- User Interface too differs, some only suit tech-geeks, others are more newbie friendly.
- Supported Countries – Not all Bitcoin exchanges support all the countries so. Obviously, you’ll need to be sure that the exchange you’re going with allows buying/selling or trading in your country.
So bottom line, yes there are quite a few factors which matter when it comes to the race for the best Bitcoin exchange. Anyway, here are my personal favorite Bitcoin exchanges.
Cex.io is one of the oldest and arguably the most trusted Bitcoin exchange in the industry. It’s was a Bitcoin-only platform until recently, when it added quite a few other Cryptocurrencies to its list as well which you can buy from the platform.
Things I Love about Cex.io:
- Payment methods include bank as well as cards (Visa and MasterCards).
- Four different currencies supported for deposits and withdrawals.
- Simple user interface.
- Wide-range of countries supported.
- Many other Cryptocurrencies except Bitcoin supported (BTC, BCH, ETH, ZCASH, BTG, DASH, XRP).
- Low fee
What I don’t like about Cex.io:
- Extensive verification required but they always approve New Account ASAP.
Starting with the user-interface for Cex.io, it’s so simple and user-friendly that anyone or everyone who has never before bought Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency too can buy Bitcoins from Cex.io easily.
It’s almost a self-guided process, the fonts, color, indications, and everything else are distinct and well-placed, and there’s not a lot of unnecessary information or options on the page. The below screenshots should explain its simplicity better.
The payment modes supported on Cex.io are either bank transfers, credit/debit cards or CryptoCapital deposits. Although non-verified users can’t use the Bank or CryptoCapital modes. Anyway, these are probably the two easiest and simplest payment modes which anyone and everyone will be comfortable with.
Cex.io supports four major currencies which you can use to deposit/withdraw your funds, namely USD, EUR, RUB, and GBP.
There are two major types of fee on Cex.io, transaction fee and deposit/withdrawal fee. The transaction fee is levied per transaction and is based on your 30-day trading volume.
The deposit/withdrawal fee on the other hand is based on every deposit or withdrawal that you make; there’s a fixed fee for every deposit method used + a “percentage” (%) of the transaction as well.
The transaction fee starts with 0.25% for takers, and 0.16% for makers if their trade volume is lower than or equal to 5BTC. While if you trade over 6000BTC, the fee gets reduced to 0.10% for takers and 0.00% (free) for makers!
All the other fee in between the 5BTC and 6000BTC margins can be checked from the following screenshot and the fee page:
Here are the deposit fees that you have to pay depending on the currency, and payment method:
- USD – Visa / MasterCard – 3.5% + 0.25%
- USD – Bank Transfer/Crypto Capital – Free
- EUR – Cards – 3.5% + 0.24%
- EUR – Bank Transfer/ Crypto Capital – Free.
As for the withdrawal fee, it is:
- USD – Visa – $3.80
- USD – MasterCard – 1.2%+ $3.80
- USD – Crypto Capital – 1%.
- EUR – SEPA – €1
- EUR – Bank transfers – €25
- EUR – Master Cards – 1.2% +€3.50
All the other fee (both deposit as well as withdrawal) for the other currencies and payment modes are available in the below screenshot:
The limits on Cex.io are based on your verification levels, the very first level (Basic) has limited total daily deposits at 1,000 USD and monthly deposits at 3,000 USD. There are no such limits for the other three verification levels.
Then there are deposit limits based on payment methods which are imposed on all accounts, for Visa/MasterCard users it starts from $1,000/day and goes up to $10,000/day (or unlimited in some cases) based on the account-level.
The Withdrawal limits start from a maximum of $1000/day and go up to either $30,000/day via Bank transfers or unlimited via Crypto Capital. Here’s the detailed limits page for Cex.io
Even though it’s available globally there are some countries with restricted payment modes, the countries which can’t use Visa/Mastercard on Cex.io are:
North Korea, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republicc, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Vietnam, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It also doesn’t support a number of states in the USA including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands Louisiana, Maryland, and around 10 others!
Bank transfers and Crypto Capital too are restricted in some countries, and the list can be obtained from the limits page provided above.
Finally, it does require you to verify your identity using one of your identity-proofs which you need to upload a picture of, with your face visible, holding the document. The verification process may take anywhere between 24-48 hours.
In a nutshell, it has low fee, is trustworthy, has acceptable limits and is overall a good Bitcoin exchange from my personal perspective.
If privacy and anonymity are on top of your priority list, LocalBitcoins is the best Bitcoin exchange for you. Even though it differs quite a bit from normal Bitcoin exchanges.
That’s so because unlike normal exchanges such as Cex.io or Bitfinite, LocalBitcoins isn’t a fully-fledged Bitcoin exchange, and rather it’s a medium, a facilitator between a buyer and a seller who wish to buy or sell Bitcoins.
I always say it’s the equivalent of eBay for Bitcoins, anyway here’s what I love about LocalBitcoins:
- Extremely Anonymous.
- Escrow system protects trades.
- Nearly all Fiat currencies supported.
- Nearly all countries supported.
- More payment methods than almost any other exchange.
- No fee, except in some exceptional cases.
The one aspect that I don’t like, but am okay with trading it for the increased anonymity is:
- BTC price isn’t automated and determined by users which is slightly higher than normal price.
I’ve been singing praise-songs for its anonymity because no documents, proof of identity or anything else is required to signup on LocalBitcoins, you can create an anonymous E-mail ID and use it.
Neither are any documents required to buy Bitcoins, as we’re buying directly from other human beings you simply make the payments and they send over the Bitcoins. (Although some individual sellers have their own rules for trading but you can always find others with more flexible terms).
Also, as the payments aren’t done via LocalBitcoins but outside Localbitcoins, those payments can’t be traced, tracked or proved as being linked to this Bitcoin trade either.
The user-interface at LocalBitcoins is pretty simple; there aren’t any extravagant graphics or colors, there’s just a search interface which you use to find a trader of your choice, communicate to them on the platform’s inbuilt message system and get the deal done.
Also, the fee structure isn’t as complicated as other Bitcoin exchanges, it’s absolutely free for both buyers and sellers, only when a seller creates an “advertisement” a 1% fee is levied upon them.
It’s always free for Buyers, the only fee you have to pay is the Bitcoin transaction fee when sending the Bitcoins from LocalBitcoins to any other more secure wallet.
There’s no wait-time for account creation; it’s instant as there are no verifications included.
The time required for a transaction to go through depends on the buyer and the seller, the faster you make the payment and notify the seller, the faster the deal goes through.
As for supported countries, it supports nearly every country out there, with some exceptions such as Germany and Russia, along with some USA states including New York.
There aren’t any limitations except the countries which aren’t supported and seller-specific limitations which the sellers impose such as the highest amount they’re willing to sell, or identity-verification requirements.
Payment modes are another factor which makes LocalBitcoins one of the best Bitcoin exchange in the industry; it supports nearly every payment mode which you can use to send money from one person to another.
The list includes Paypal, Cash, Western Union, Direct Bank transfer, PayUmoney, PerfectMoney, Altcoins, Payza, WebMoney, Moneygram and everything else!
Finally, for security, it has an Escrow in place to protect buyers and sellers from being scammed, and it also lets you verify a trader’s complete history before you deal with them which gives you a solid idea of how serious and trustworthy the seller is.
So in other words, it’s one of the best Bitcoin exchange because of its massive country and currency support, no KYC policy and transparency.
The reason I include Binance in this list even though it’s less than a year old is because of my own personal experience with the platform.
Update 2020: Binance is over 3 years old now, and it’s arguably “the” best Bitcoin exchange as of today. It has already proven its worth, both technically and also as far as user-satisfaction goes.
Here’s what I like about the platform:
- Zero privacy risk – No Verification required.
- Over 198 countries supported.
- Over 300 coins supported!
- Fiat support
What I didn’t like:
- Funds’ security isn’t transparent.
Alike Bitfinex, Binance too is a trading platform and a fairly new one to be honest. But for someone like me who holds privacy in the highest regard, Binance seemed like a great choice as it doesn’t need any kind of verification.
As for user-interface, it too is slightly complex, or better to say it’s not as simple as the other platforms listed in this best Bitcoin exchange list but it’s still understandable.
Currently, it supports only Cryptocurrencies and no fiats, which in my personal opinion is a plus point rather than a flaw, the simple reason being crypto are anonymous and can’t be traced (at least to some extent) while Fiats are extremely easy to do so.
As of now, Binance has incorporated fiat exchanges/purchases as well.
So, now you can purchase (and even sell) Bitcoins(and many other Cryptocurrencies) not only via Cryptocurrencies, but also using Credit/Debit cards and bank transfers directly.
This sure means the fiat purchases aren’t as anonymous as Crypto purchases. However, if you don’t own any Crypto and wish to start now, it’s as easy as ordering something online.
There’s a 2.5% fee on purchases when purchased using its payment processor (Koinal).
You can also choose to buy/sell Crypto directly on Binance’s P2P exchange. The price and fee depends on each individual buyer/seller.
Talking of privacy, Binance is, without doubt, one of the very few platforms which let you buy/sell/trade Bitcoins without identity-verification hence making it a great inclusion to this list of best Bitcoin exchange.
Unverified accounts can withdraw as much as 2BTC/day although you can verify your identity and upgrade your account to higher levels and then you’ll be able to withdraw 100BTC at level 2, or even more at Level 3+.
It provides “anti-phishing” protection, SMS authentication and Google authenticator authentication as well to help secure your accounts.
Moreover, it thwarted a hacking attempt in March 2018 when its automated algorithms recognized a massive “hack-pump & sell” plan by hackers enforcing our trust in the platform.
It supports as many as 198 countries, which includes nearly all the countries on the globe including the U.S; that’s so because it’s a crypto-only platform so doesn’t matter where you’re from you can always deposit and withdraw funds to a crypto wallet without involving the banks and/or the govt.
It also is one of the very few (probably just 2-5) Bitcoin exchanges which allow trading IOTA currency! Apart from IOTA, it supports over 300 cryptocurrencies! That’s one of the largest lists of supported coins you’ll ever find on any exchange.
And finally, even the fee is acceptable; all deposits are absolutely free, while if you trade your coins meaning you exchange them for some other coins a fee of 0.1% is levied which I’ll say is extremely affordable.
It also has this feature which reduces the trading fee by half; meaning then you’ll pay only a 0.05% fee if you use BNB (Binance) coins to trade.
As for withdrawal fee, Binance charges a 0.0005BTC fee for Bitcoin withdrawal, 0.01ETH for Ethereum and 2.3USDT for TetherUS. You can find a complete list here.
It also has minimum withdrawal limits which too are pretty low making it one of the best Bitcoin exchange in existence, the minimum BTC you can withdraw is 0.002BTC, the other minimum limits too are listed on the fee page.
Registration is instant, and so are deposited, although the account verification may still take anywhere between 24 hours to couple weeks!
It also recently implemented “Staking”, which further makes it one of the best Bitcoin exchanges.
You earn interest simply for storing/holding specific coins on Binance.
A number of coins including TOMO, Ark, ARPA, THETA, LOOM etc. can be staked.
The interest may be as low as 1% annually, to as high as 12% annually ( on LOOM).
Bottomline, why it has the potential to be the best Bitcoin exchange is because of its anonymity, low fee, security and not that complicated a user-interface.
Coinbase is arguably the largest Bitcoin exchange in the industry with over 50 Billion USD already exchanged, it came into existence 7 years ago, and has been improving itself ever since.
Some of the prime reasons why I like Coinbase are:
- Supports 32 countries.
- Safe coin storage + Insurance.
- Easy Payment methods.
- Low fee.
What I didn’t like:
- Isn’t Anonymous. Needs verification.
- In recent some updates, they give more than 13000+ users records to IRS.
- Risk with identity
The user-interface at Coinbase is no harder than that at Cex.io, the fonts are big enough, the buttons are well-placed, it’s all straight-forward, and they’ve added charts and graphs to the mix as well to make things easier to understand.
Currently, it supports a total of 32 countries, which covers most of the countries such as the United States, Singapore, Canada Austria, United Kingdom, Denmark, Switzerland, etc. Here’s a complete list:
As for payment methods, you can deposit funds via Bank Transfers, Credit/Debit cards, SEPA, Xfers. It’s not an extensive a list as LocalBitcoins, but it works.
The fee for the deposits varies based on the payment method used, country and a number of other factors and it varies for almost every country, but here’s an overview which should help you get an idea:
- Xfers- Singapore – 1.49%
- Credit/Debit card – Australia – 3.99%
- SEPA- Europe – 1.49%
- Credit/Debit Card – Europe/UK – 3.99%
- Bank Transfer – USA – 1.49%
- Credit/Debit card – USA/Canada – 3.99%
You can get the complete list of fee from their official fee page.
Alike Cex.io, Coinbase too functions on an account level structure, the higher your verification level, the better your buying and selling limits are. Also, the limits vary depending on the method being used.
The limits on a Bank linked to your Coinbase account will be different, to a credit card linked to the same account.
A Fully verified U.S user gets as much as $50,000 worth of Bitcoin limit/day, while the maximum Bitcoins any European user is allowed to have in his/her account at any given time is worth EUR30,000.
The identity verification process is mandatory, and can be completed via the phone number, photo, govt. Issued ID etc. So speaking strictly from the perspective of anonymity and privacy, there is none.
The time taken for verification too differs from your level and documents provided, but it doesn’t take more than couple days at best.
For deposits it’s instant if you use a Credit/Debit card, bank transfers may take around 4-5 days, EFT transfers for Canadian users too need around 3 days, while SEPA transfers are completed within 24-72 hours.
So in a nutshell, if lack of anonymity doesn’t hurt you a lot, Coinbase can totally be the best Bitcoin exchange for you.
Bitfinex is one of the most talked about Bitcoin exchange today, partially due to the fact that it is world’s largest exchange by Volume, and the other reason being the hacks that it had to face in the last couple years.
The primary reasons why I love Bitfinex are:
- Fort-Knox like Security (thanks to its recent problems).
- Over 72 trading pairs.
- Low Fee
- 7+ trading types!
- Customizable interface.
What I don’t like:
- Fiat deposits/Withdrawals available only for KYC Verified users.
- Verification takes 4-7weeks!
Note that because Bitfinex is not only a Bitcoin exchange, but also a trading platform its user-interface isn’t exactly as clean or simple as that of Cex.io or Coinbase, so you’ll need some getting used to.
If you haven’t ever used a trading platform before, I suggest you take the demo tour that Bitfinex offers before jumping in on the platform.
Bitfinex does support both fiats as well as Cryptocurrencies, but in order to deposit/withdraw fiats (USD/EUR) etc. you need to complete the KYC verification which includes providing your proof of identity.
But no KYC is required for crypto deposits or trading. You can deposit altcoins and then trade those altcoins for Bitcoins (or any other currency) you want. Currently it supports as many as 72 different cryptocurrency pairs.
The fee for deposits vary depending on the currency you’re depositing, for Bitcoin it is 0.0004BTC and all the other fee can be accessed from its fee page. Note that this fee is levied only on deposits and withdrawals below USD1000 equivalent of the cryptos you’re depositing, anything more than that is absolutely free.
The wait-time for the arrival of the currencies to your Bitfinex account depends upon the network traffic on Blockchain or the technology being used. And for account verification, it can take anywhere between 3-7 weeks!
Another feature, which makes Bitfinex a potential best Bitcoin exchange is the fact that if you’re willing to pay a $150 fee, they may recover your error deposits, such as BCH coins sent to a BTC address, etc.
And finally one of the major reasons why I included Bitfinex in this list as a best Bitcoin exchange is its security features, it stores less than 0.05% of its funds online, the rest are in a cold-storage offline which can’t be hacked or stolen.
Users can enable SMS 2-factor authentication, Google 2-factor authentication, IP address whitelisting, instant-freezing options, IP-change detection to name just a few of its security features.
In a nutshell, it’s one of the best Bitcoin exchange 2018 as it’s slightly more privacy respecting and a lot more secure than others in this list but it’s still not flawless, like everything else on the planet.
Final Words on the Best Bitcoin Exchange
So that’s a wrap folk as far as this piece on the best Bitcoin exchange goes. I’ve provided you with 3 direct Bitcoin exchanges which let you buy/sell Bitcoin directly using fiats and cards.
While the other two are Bitcoin exchanges cum crypto trading platforms and are primarily crypto supports although Bitfinex does support fiats.
In my personal opinion, Cex.io is the best place to start for fiats, and Binance if you’ve cryptos and wish to exchange them for Bitcoins.
Do let me know your opinion as well on which platform you think is the best Bitcoin exchange and why, the feedback matters.