2018’s Top Cryptocurrency Exchanges for U.S. Investors
Things move quickly in the world of crypto. Just as a coin can climb the charts in a matter of hours or days, so too can exchanges. Take Binance, for example. It has quickly become the most widely used exchange in the world over the course of less than a year. With all the changes and confusion, it can be tough to keep track of the best cryptocurrency exchanges. For those new to the space, finding an exchange you like and trust can also be a challenge with all the options. This guide lays out the key features of the top cryptocurrency exchanges in 2018.
We have to set constraints on this guide somehow, otherwise it would be too long to be useful. That said, for this guide we’ll be focusing on the top cryptocurrency exchanges that serve U.S. citizens.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Fiat Exchanges (USD)
The first thing you’ll need to do if you’re new to investing or looking to invest more money in crypto is convert your fiat currency to crypto. For U.S. investors, that means depositing USD with an exchange in order to get BTC or ETH.
We call the exchanges that accept fiat currencies “fiat gateways.” Since they deal in USD, they’re subject to a lot of regulations and they have to meet reporting requirements from state and federal agencies. This makes fiat exchanges more difficult to set up than crypto-to-crypto exchanges.
It also means that fiat exchanges usually have limited trading pairs, since those trading pairs are regulated. As such, if you want to buy a niche altcoin, you’ll usually have to purchase ETH or BTC at a fiat exchange and then transfer those funds to a crypto-to-crypto exchange in order to buy the token you want.
The top cryptocurrency exchanges for USD deposits are below.
One of the most popular and well-known options for USD transactions. Coinbase is headquartered in San Francisco and has been in operation since 2011. They’re generally considered secure and boast over 13 million users. However, they’re known for having some of the highest fees of any fiat gateway.
Since its founding in 2013, CoinMama led the way as the site where you could purchase crypto with a credit or debit card. This makes it super easy to use. Unlike other exchanges, CoinMama is a buy-only marketplace that allows you to immediately transfer funds to other wallets upon purchase. They also have relatively high fees, but the simple experience makes it easy to use.
GDAX is Coinbase’s older brother, run by the same company. We say older brother because GDAX’s interface and functionality attract more advanced investors than Coinbase’s beginner-friendly interface. Many U.S.-based traders who are serious investors gravitate toward GDAX.
Kraken came on the scene around the same time as Coinbase in 2011. It’s also based in San Francisco, so they’re rivals. Users seem highly divided on Kraken with some praising the smooth experience on the platform while many others decry its customer service and buggy features.
CEX.io is a London-based exchange that’s been in operation since 2013. They’ve received a fairly good reputation over the years for being user-friendly and well-designed. Recently, however, there have been customer service issues, so proceed with caution.
LocalBitcoins isn’t an exchange so much as it’s a matching site for people who want to buy and sell crypto in the real world. You can then meet up in person or trade online via a myriad of payment methods. As long as you do your due diligence on the person you’re trading with, LocalBitcoins is a great way to get into crypto.
BitStamp is one of the most reliable exchanges with some of the lowest transaction fees. Based out of Luxembourg, it has been around since 2011.
Gemini distinguished itself with its customer support that’s well above industry average. It’s a New York-based exchange, founded in 2015 by the Winklevoss twins. They don’t offer many cryptocurrencies and deposits are limited to bank transfers, but Gemini is one of the best exchanges out there for beginners.
BitFlyer is new to the U.S. but not new to the world of cryptocurrency trading. It’s one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in the world. They’re not yet licensed in all 50 states, but they are operating in a majority of them.
BitQuick is different from most exchanges in that you can physically deposit cash to a bank account in order to fund your orders. This non-traditional structure makes it a little riskier to do business with (since there are no chargeback options), but BitQuick generally has a good reputation in the community.
Paxful works in a similar way to LocalBitcoins, creating a marketplace where buyers and sellers can meet up and agree on terms. The exchange launched in 2015 and is based in Delaware. The fees for transactions, however, can be high.
Once you’ve traded your crypto for fiat, you’ll want to move your newly acquired funds to an exchange with more options. Fiat exchanges don’t usually carry niche currencies, so in order to get those, you’ll use a crypto-to-crypto exchange. Here are the best ones:
The speed at which Binance has become the top crypto exchange in the world is staggering. In a few short months, it has dominated the market. For good reason, too. It offers a lot of features, trading pairs, security, and liquidity along with low fees. Its Binance Coin also incentivizes trading and lowers fees.
Bittrex is based in Seattle and they’ve gained a reputation for wanting to strictly follow U.S. regulations. They’re a safe, well-established option for trading with good customer support.
Cryptopia is known as an exchange for trading niche or less popular altcoins. They have low fees and good customer support. However, they don’t accept Ethereum and the small nature of the exchange means low volume for trading.
Poloniex was among the top cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. However, its popularity has waned in the face of new competitors, customer support issues, and problems with withdrawals.
Those are the top cryptocurrency exchanges for U.S. investors in 2018. If you find one that strikes your fancy, click the link to learn more in our comprehensive exchange reviews. Then, signing up at each exchange’s website is usually straightforward. If you’re new to crypto investing, be sure to read up on best practices for keeping your crypto secure like using two-factor authentication and moving your coins to a private wallet once you’ve purchased them.