As the cryptocurrency industry experienced an unparalleled increase in the number of traders, the interest in finding the best cryptocurrency exchange skyrocketed. As a result, new cryptocurrency exchanges started opening on an almost a weekly basis and now there are hundreds of active exchanges, compared to only a handful 6 or 7 years ago.
Naturally, this gives traders the option of finding a broker that suits them perfectly, but the sheer number of exchanges makes it a daunting experience. Therefore we’ve listed the top five best cryptocurrency exchanges today.
Find the best trading platform. You capital is at risk when trading. Be careful.
What is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
Cryptocurrency exchanges work in similar ways to a stock exchange meaning they offer you access to the actual cryptocurrency and not a derivative. However, you usually don’t trade directly off a stock exchange but use a stockbroker as a middleman. A cryptocurrency exchange, on the other hand, both lists and sells the cryptocurrencies. Also, a stock exchange is generally better suited for long-term investments than a cryptocurrency exchange.
You might have also heard about cryptocurrency wallets, and even though some exchanges offer wallet services, they tend to be two different things. Generally speaking, an exchange is used for trading, i.e. buying and selling assets regularly, often several times a day. They tend to be used by day traders and swing traders as well as traders that trade sporadically. A wallet is different and is mostly used for storage when you long-term invest in cryptocurrencies or want to use your assets as a currency and pay for products and services using it.
There is also a thing called a cryptocurrency broker which functions like a stock or CFD broker and allows you to buy, invest, and trade in cryptocurrency derivatives. We have listed all of the best cryptocurrency brokers as well as all of the best cryptocurrency wallets on separate pages, but this particular page is dedicated to cryptocurrency exchanges.
What is a Cryptocurrency Exchange Used For?
A cryptocurrency exchange, as mentioned, is used to trade cryptocurrencies and sometimes related products such as cryptocurrency futures. It’s an online service that puts you in direct contact with the digital asset so that you can buy and sell them quickly. In most cases, cryptocurrency exchanges are used by day and swing traders that aim to make a profit from shorter positions, since exchanges haven’t been designed for long-term investments. That being said, there are a few exceptions and some services offer cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets in a hybrid product, but more about that in a little bit.
If you’re planning to start trading cryptocurrencies, you will have to find yourself a cryptocurrency exchange that is both reliable and easy for you to use. However, the are other requirements that a cryptocurrency exchange should live up to and we have gone into detail about them below.
What’s Required of the Best Cryptocurrency Exchange?
In our opinion, there are five main services that every top cryptocurrency exchange in the world needs to offer and that’s what we look for when reviewing each service. That means that every cryptocurrency exchange that we recommend further down on this page lives up to all of the following requirements.
All of the best cryptocurrency exchanges should offer a good selection of tradable assets for their customers. Note that we didn’t say big but a good selection because there is an important difference.
Today there are thousands of available cryptocurrencies that an exchange can offer but they are not all great assets. Some cryptocurrencies have unfortunately been proven to be scams and should therefore be avoided. Others are very new and not well-established, and a large part of cryptocurrencies have little to no value for traders. In other words, many cryptocurrencies that one can invest in today aren’t being traded very much. Thus, a broker that only offers unpopular assets cannot be considered one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges.
Now, if a broker wants to offer a lot of cryptocurrencies and be considered one of the best exchanges, they should offer as many assets as possible, including the top 100 assets. The other way an exchange can be considered a top exchange is if they only offer the biggest and most popular assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Monero, Litecoin, etc.
Most of the exchanges listed on this page offer both a large selection and some of the most popular assets.
Obviously, there is no point in using an exchange that has a great selection of assets but not the tools needed to trade them. Therefore, when evaluating the best cryptocurrency exchanges, we take a close look at the platforms, analytic tools, graphs, signals, and other tools and features that each exchange offers. Without top software and amazing cryptocurrency tools, an exchange wouldn’t be recommended by us.
So how do we know what tools are good? Well, the trading platform must be easy to use, meaning it’s not complicated to open and close positions. The charting tools should be easy to read while offering detailed information about the assets’ price development. The signals should be accurate and easy to use, and the overall experience needs to be smooth without bugs and issues.
If it’s hard to trade or perform analysis, we wouldn’t recommend the platform. We want all of our recommendations to be good cryptocurrency exchanges for beginners as well as more experienced traders.
As with all trading, cryptocurrency trading is associated with fees and charges, and that’s perfectly normal. However, certain exchanges like to inflate their prices and charge more than there competitors, meaning their services are more expensive. Therefore, we tend to prefer the cryptocurrency exchanges that offer fair and low charges.
That being said, just because a cryptocurrency exchange is cheap doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, cheap exchanges can be downright awful to trade on because they don’t have enough money to reinvest in their tools.
In our opinion, the top cryptocurrency exchanges have found a good balance where their fees are not too high but still enough for them to offer a great service.
Note that these fees don’t include the transfer fees that each cryptocurrency is associated with. The transaction fees are connected to the blockchain that supports the asset and has nothing to do with the exchanges that offer the assets.
During our reviewing process, we also check what other traders and customers think of the exchanges to ensure that it’s a popular service that many people like. During this step of the process, we also check the broker’s trading volume to see how many trades they handle on a regular basis.
This has resulted in most of our recommended cryptocurrency exchanges belonging to the top 10 largest cryptocurrency exchanges based on trading volume. Although, there are some exceptions to the rule which you can read more about below.
We also like to find exchanges that offer mobile trading opportunities and apps for at least Android and iPhone, although this is not a complete deal breaker.
The reason we look for this is that a lot of cryptocurrency traders like to trade on their smartphone and everyone, including ourselves, wants to be able to track open positions wherever we are. Also, in today’s market there really isn’t any good excuses as to why an exchange couldn’t offer a really good cryptocurrency trading mobile app.
Are Cryptocurrency Exchanges Safe?
That is a very good and highly debated question with no clear answer. In short, the answer is yet, the right cryptocurrency exchange is usually safe. However, the real and long answer is more complicated than that.
At the moment, the problem in terms of safety with the cryptocurrency industry is that it lacks regulation. For example, the CFD and forex industry are regulated meaning there are impartial entities that oversee the industry and make sure that rules, laws, and safety is upheld. In fact, every serious and trustworthy broker in that industry has a license to offer their services.
The cryptocurrency industry is different, and there is no license, and so far there is no real regulation or control from agencies and such. Then again, the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges do have their customers’ interest at heart, and they do everything they can to keep customers and their funds safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always enough.
Over the last couple of years, there have been several cyber attacks directed towards exchanges all over the world, and while most of them have been stopped before they inflicted any damage, some did manage to succeed. In the cases where hackers actually go into the system, cryptocurrencies worth several million dollars has disappeared. And this has created a new issue.
Since there is no regulation regarding how exchanges should act when there is a breach, we have witnessed two scenarios. In most cases, the exchange promises to pay customers back for lost funds, either in full or partially. In other cases, the exchanges have decided not to pay customers back.
So, in an attempt to answer if cryptocurrency exchanges are safe, the answer is both yes and no. It is up to you to make the final decision of which cryptocurrency exchanges you want to trust, and you have to accept the risks associated with trading in an unregulated environment.
Safety is extremely important to us and something we take a very close look at when reviewing exchanges, meaning all the recommended exchanges on this page are doing everything they can to keep their servers, customers, and funds protected.
These Are the Top 5 Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges Today
Now for the reason you guys are all here, our cryptocurrency exchange recommendations. Not that the following exchanges have gone through rigorous testing and reviewing and they have provided the best results out of all the services we’ve tried.
Binance is the king of cryptocurrency exchanges and currently the largest exchange based on trading volume. The service was launched in July 2017, and it only took 165 days for the exchange to become the biggest in the world. At first, Binance was based in Hong Kong but later moved to Japan before settling in Malta.
Binance has a great reputation in the industry and offers one of the largest selections of tradable assets, making it a great choice for everyone. They also offer state of the art trading tools and a platform that is as easy to use as it is efficient. In terms of safety, Binance is fairly safe, and they rarely experience any downtime.
Number of listed cryptocurrencies: 387 (as of October 2018)
Safety: Fairly safe
Fees: Competitive fees
Read our Binance Review
Hodly is brand new cryptocurrency exchange that was launched in early 2018 by the forex broker IQ Option. Over the last few years, IQ Option has been spearheading the cryptocurrency market. In order to accommodate as many users as possible, they decided to design Hodly, their own cryptocurrency exchange and e-wallet hybrid. Hodly is super modern, easy to use and has an okay selection of some of the most popular cryptocurrencies today. Better yet, Hodly has something no other broker has, and that’s regulation. You see since IQ Option is a regulated forex and CFD broker, Hodly sort of falls under that regulation to making it the safest option on this list.
Number of listed cryptocurrencies: 15 (as of October 2018)
Safety: Safest cryptocurrency exchange in the world
Fees: No fees for transfers between customers and very low fees for everything else
Read our Hodly Review
Bithumb is a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange based in Seoul and currently the second largest exchange based on trading volume. Today, most of Bithumb’s customers are Korean but it’s possible for people from around the world to register an account with Bithumb. This cryptocurrency exchange currently lists 50 markets and is known to be safe and fair. However, Bithumb is also known for listing assets at much higher rates than elsewhere in the world.
OKEx is a global cryptocurrency exchange based in Hong Kong that currently offers 506 markets. Similar to Binance, OKEx has moved parts of their business to Malta in order to enjoy better regulation and easier laws, as well as the opportunity of offering a safer service to the world. OKEx is a great service, and to us, there is no doubt that this is one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
Huobi is a cryptocurrency exchange that was launched in China but quickly expanded to Japan and the United States as well. The exchange is now run and operated from Singapore. As of August 2018, Huobi is a publicly traded company on the Hong Kong exchange meaning it operates under stricter regulation than most other exchanges. Trading with Huobi is a pleasure, and the trading platform makes this one of the top cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. It is also the fourth largest exchange based on daily volumes.
Number of listed cryptocurrencies: 281 (as of October 2018)
Safety: Huobi is a listed company meaning it is monitored more than others, although the exchange has been hacked in the past
Fees: Fees are fair for the industry
Other Cryptocurrency Trading Services
As mentioned, cryptocurrency exchanges are only one way to trade cryptocurrencies. In addition, there are brokers, wallets, platforms, and other services that you can use and we have curated lists of all the other best services as well.
Best Cryptocurrency Brokers
Would you rather use a licensed and regulated broker to trade cryptocurrencies? Then we can help you find a perfect match for your needs. We have listed all of the best cryptocurrency brokers for your convenience and suggest you check out the list. There you’ll find the most established forex and CFD brokers in the world as well as the requirements we have for our broker recommendations.
Best Cryptocurrency Trading Platform and Software
In case you want to learn more about different platforms and software that can be used to trade cryptocurrencies, we suggest you check out our guide to the best cryptocurrency platforms and software. In that guide, we dig even deeper into the world of trading cryptocurrencies and try to provide recommendations of the most superior services of them all.