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The best crypto exchanges let you easily trade coins and tokens while keeping your assets safe and your fees low.
Despite price crashes in the first half of 2022, buying and selling cryptocurrency continues to steam forward as the "crypto winter" shows signs of thawing. While governments have increased their efforts to regulate crypto markets, scans continue to plague crypto investors, and it's more important than ever to find a trusted platform for buying and selling crypto.
Crypto exchanges are where most crypto traders buy and sell bitcoin, ether, dogecoin, and other types of cryptocurrency. In its rawest and most decentralized form, cryptocurrency is relatively unfriendly to obtain and use. Crypto exchanges make it fairly simple to trade all sorts of crypto tokens and coins.
The best crypto exchanges will hold your crypto securely, provide you with unfettered control over your assets and make buying, selling, sending, receiving, and trading crypto simple and affordable.
Some investors may desire more advanced features from crypto exchanges, including the ability to earn interest, access more esoteric forms of crypto, or buy, store and display NFTs. (It's worth noting that the safest place to hold your crypto is in a cold storage wallet that you control exclusively.)
Here, we'll focus on the basics, highlighting the exchanges that make it easy to sign up, get started and carry out transactions without getting fleeced on fees. As with any investment, high fees can erode returns over time, and some exchanges offer more competitive fees than others.
Whether you're a beginner looking for an easy on-ramp to crypto, or you're a high-volume trader looking for the lowest "maker" and "taker" fees, we've got the info you need to choose the best crypto exchange for you.
Note: Crypto exchanges add and delist crypto tokens regularly. Our "number of supported tokens" data is based on data from each exchange's website as of July 25, 2022.
US availability: All states except Hawaii
Number of supported tokens: 207
Spot trading fees: $0.99 to $2.99, or 1.49% for trades over $200
Credit/debit card fee: 3.99%
Straightforward, Coinbase provides an intuitive and streamlined experience that makes it easy to buy, sell, trade, and send bitcoin, ether, and a variety of other cryptocurrencies. As a public company, it's among the most established, well-capitalized, and popular players -- but you'll pay for the privilege, with trading fees that are higher and somewhat more complicated than other exchanges. We think the platform's ease of use and simplicity is worth the higher fees, only if you plan to make infrequent and relatively modest transactions.
Coinbase says it keeps 98% of its crypto assets in cold storage -- a method for holding crypto tokens offline -- and says that it has never lost any user funds. Balances of US dollars held in Coinbase accounts are insured by the FDIC, and Coinbase maintains a private insurance policy worth $320 million overall for crypto assets it holds. Coinbase's first-quarter earnings report raised eyebrows with a new disclaimer stating that custodial-held crypto could be used to pay creditors in the case of the company going bankrupt.
Unlike most crypto exchanges, Coinbase offers live phone support in addition to email support -- which may bring new crypto investors an additional modicum of comfort – and there's a well-written and helpful library of content for novices. Coinbase is available to residents of all US states except Hawaii.
For real-time crypto transactions (referred to as "spot trades"), Coinbase charges between $0.99 and $2.99 for trades up to $200; for transactions above $200, it's a flat 1.49% fee. Coinbase also adds a 0.5% "spread" fee on top of that.
And purchasing crypto with a debit card adds a significant 3.99% fee. Funding your Coinbase account with an electronic ACH transfer is free, however. A wire transfer deposit costs $10.
The platform's advanced version, which runs on a separate app and website, charges lower fees but features a less user-friendly interface that's not suited for beginners.
US availability: All states except Hawaii, New York, or Washington
Number of supported tokens: 191
Trading fees: 0.0 to 0.2% maker; 0.0 to 0.5% taker; 1.5% instant buy
Credit/debit card fee: No credit/debit card purchases in the US
One of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges, and in business since 2013, Kraken's low fees make it particularly attractive to high-volume traders. Kraken also offers riskier and more advanced trading features -- such as margin trading and on-chain staking, with biweekly payouts.
The exchange supports transactions for about 130 crypto assets for purchase or trade in the US. It also supports more than 100 crypto pairs -- two crypto tokens that can be exchanged for each other.
Kraken does not include any insurance on crypto deposits held in hot wallets, but it does claim to keep 95% of digital assets offline with enough liquidity to allow users to withdraw at any time. No hacks of the Kraken crypto exchange have ever been reported.
While Kraken is available to most US crypto investors, it's not licensed for crypto services in New York, Washington state, or Hawaii.
US availability: All 50 states
Number of supported tokens: 101
Trading fees: Spot trading fees: $0.99 to $2.99, or 1.49% for trades over $200
Credit/debit card fee: 3.49%
Gemini features competitive trading fees and support for almost 100 currencies and 20 crypto pairs, but the exchange's educational resources are what may be most appealing to novices. It's also one of the few exchanges operating in all 50 US states -- and the only exchange on this list that does.
This crypto exchange offers strong security features, including FDIC insurance for US dollar deposits, private insurance for hot wallets -- on the blockchain -- crypto assets, and support for U2F hardware keys. Its ActiveTrader platform for high-volume traders offers charting, multiple order types, auctions, and block trading. Having acquired the NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway in 2019, Gemini also lets users buy and sell crypto collectibles and digital art.
Gemini's educational resources are the best we found on any crypto exchange. Its Cryptopedia section provides deep knowledge about cryptocurrencies and the technology behind them. Cryptopedia contains a bounty of articles on a wide range of crypto subjects, from basic explainers on bitcoin and blockchain to more advanced topics like real-world uses for smart contracts, the NFT marketplace model for music, and decentralized cloud storage.
US availability: All states except New York
Number of supported tokens: 333
Trading fees: 0.04% to 0.4% maker; 0.1% to 0.4% taker
Credit/debit card fee: 2.99%
Featuring transactional support for more than 300 cryptocurrencies, Crypto.com offers the widest range of cryptocurrencies of any exchange on this list. It also lists support for more than 80 trading pairs.
Crypto.com claims that 100% of all user cryptocurrencies are held offline in cold storage and that it has secured $750 million in crypto insurance. The exchange also says that all online funds in its custodial wallets are generated by the company itself to fund user withdrawals, meaning customer crypto assets are safe offline. US dollar balances in Crypto.com accounts are held by the Metropolitan Commercial Bank and insured by the FDIC.
Crypto.com uses multifactor authentication -- including password, biometric, email, phone, and authenticator verification -- for all crypto transactions. Crypto.com also requires whitelisting of all external addresses via email verification. That means you'll need to explicitly authorize any crypto wallets or bank accounts for withdrawal, which helps protect your crypto assets from accidental or manipulated withdrawals.
Along with Gemini and bitFlyer, Crypto.com is one of only 15 exchanges allowed to operate in Hawaii. Residents of every US state except for New York can use Crypto.com.
US availability: All states except West Virginia and Nevada
Number of supported tokens: 15
Trading fees: 0.03% to 0.1% maker/taker fee
Credit/debit card fee: 1.95%
BitFlyer is a private company that launched its crypto exchange first in Japan in 2014 and later expanded into the US in 2017. Though bitFlyer has a much lower trading volume than the big exchanges, it ranks in the top 20 for average liquidity, per CoinMarketCap, and it supports 11 different cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, and ether, litecoin, and Stellar Lumens (XLM).
BitFlyer offers the lowest trading fees of any exchange on this list. There are two ways to buy and sell crypto on bitFlyer -- through the instant buy/sell platform and transactions on bitFlyer's Lightning Network.
Once you've verified your identity and funded your account, maker and taker fees on the bitFlyer Lightning Network max out at 0.1% for transactions less than $50,000. That's even lower than Kraken's baseline 0.2% fee for makers and 0.5% for takers -- and far more affordable than Coinbase Pro's 0.4% for makers and 0.6% for takers.
BitFlyer's instant buy and sell platform doesn't charge any transaction fees at all, which makes it a tempting proposition, but watch out for the wild range of spread fees, from 0.1% to 6%. BitFlyer will show you the spread fee for any transaction before you make it. Its 1.95% fee for credit card and debit card purchases is also the lowest on this list.
Its interface is more primitive than other exchanges, and we encountered a few minor hiccups -- unexplained error messages and missing 2FA codes -- during the sign-up process. It's worth noting that the lower volume of transactions on the bitFlyer exchange may impact your ability to complete trades at the prices you want.
BitFlyer is available to all US residents except for those living in the states of West Virginia and Nevada.
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