Cryptocurrencies are all the rage these days. People have made fortunes trading them and holding them. And when it comes to cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is the undisputed king; it’s by far the most valuable cryptocurrency and all the other cryptocurrencies generally follow its lead when it comes to ups and downs in the market.
A lot of people want to get in on the action but don’t know where to begin. Today, we’ll cover some of the best crypto exchanges where you can buy, sell, and trade bitcoin, as well as answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the world of digital currencies. As you can tell, we have a lot to cover, so let’s begin!
Top 5 Best Places to Buy Bitcoin Online
- eToro – Overall Best Bitcoin Buying Platform
- Coinmama – Best for Instant Bitcoin Exchange
- BlockFi – Best for Interest & Borrowing
- Coinbase – Most Popular in Crypto Trading
- Bisq – Most Privacy Focused Crypto Exchange Company
#1. eToro – Overall Best Bitcoin Platform
When it comes to cryptocurrency exchanges, eToro is among the most popular. The company has been around for over a decade, and offers more than 15 cryptocurrencies to choose from. It’s also one of the most beginner-friendly exchanges out there, offering features such as practice accounts with virtual money and a copy trading system which lets you safely learn the ropes even if you don’t know much about cryptocurrency trading.
- Offers practice accounts for beginners.
- Start trading with as little as $25, though the account minimum is $50.
- Great community for cryptocurrency trading.
- Social copy trading lets you passively make money using data from popular traders.
- Copy up to 100 traders simultaneously.
- Gives you plenty of excellent copy portfolios.
- 15+ cryptos to trade.
- Gives you a virtual bitcoin wallet to store your assets.
- Low fee.
- Lets you exchange cryptos, like using Bitcoin to buy Litecoin.
- Excellent mobile apps.
- Can take up to 1 day to open an account.
- Social copy trading requires a minimum balance of $200.
- High trading spreads.
- Any cryptocurrencies that are transferred out of the platform cannot be transferred back.
One of the most trustworthy exchanges: eToro is registered with and licensed by tier-1 regulators, which are considered highly trustworthy. It’s registered with both the Australian Securities and Exchange Commission (ASIC) and UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Available in over 140 countries: While eToro isn’t available worldwide, it’s still available in more than 140 countries.
More than 15 cryptocurrencies to trade in: At the time of writing this review, the exchange has more than 15 cryptocurrencies to trade in (including Bitcoin).
Practice accounts: In case you want to practice digital currency trading without risking any money, eToro offers practice accounts with $100,000 in virtual money. You can use this virtual money to get a feel for buying and selling Bitcoins and other cryptos without risking your own money. Once you’re confident in your ability, you can open a normal account and start trading for real.
Social copy trading: When you’re new to buying cryptocurrencies, you don’t really know how the market works and when to buy and sell. That’s where this feature comes in. It lets bitcoin owners automatically copy the trades of more experienced traders, passively generating money for you. You can select which traders you want to copy and the system will do the rest. While other platforms offer this feature as well, it’s even more powerful on eToro because the exchange doesn’t let people use automated trading systems; so you can be sure that the traders you’re copying are manually making those purchases/sales after deliberation.
Copy portfolios: In addition to copying your selected traders in real time, eToro also lets you copy their existing portfolios. You no longer have to wonder which cryptos to buy in order to diversify your portfolio. Instead, you can choose an existing portfolio to copy and your investments will be automatically diversified.
Excellent mobile apps: eToro offers excellent mobile apps on both iOS and Android. We found these apps to be extremely responsive and easy to use.
#2. Coinmama – Best for Instant Bitcoin Exchange
One of the issues with most crypto exchanges is that, when you buy Bitcoin (or any other crypto), it can take a few minutes before your holdings are delivered. With Coinmama, you have the option of making an instant purchase, though you’ll pay a higher fee with these purchases.
To keep things as fast as possible, the signup process on this exchange is very quick, with manual verification done within two hours. Usually, you’ll only have to wait between 15-30 minutes before you can get to trading.
- Easy registration process with fast verification.
- Trustworthy platform that has been around for more than 10 years.
- Available worldwide.
- 10+ cryptocurrencies to buy/sell.
- High trading limits.
- Lets you purchase cryptos using a variety of different methods.
- Simple trading interface.
- Send your purchases directly to your cryptocurrency wallet, adding a layer of security.
- Great customer support.
- Not having a wallet on the platform complicates the buying/selling process.
- High trading fees.
- Limited number of cryptocurrencies.
- Requires minimum trades to be $50 for buying and $200 for selling.
- Holdings are not insured.
- Doesn’t let you exchange cryptos.
- No mobile apps.
Lightning-fast verification procedure: All crypto exchanges require you to verify your identity before you can start buying and selling on them. This process is manual and some exchanges can take as long as two to three days to verify your identity. With Coinmama, the verification is lightning fast, usually only taking between 10 and 30 minutes. Though on rare occasions you might have to wait as long as two hours.
Diverse selection of cryptocurrencies: In addition to Bitcoin, you can also buy and sell other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin, and many more.
Available worldwide: Coinmama is available all over the world with the exception of only a few countries and states in the U.S.
High trading limits: Once you’re verified, you can buy and sell assets of up to $15,000 per month. And that’s just the limit with a level 1 account. With level 2 you have a limit of $50,000, and level 3 gives you an upper limit of $100,000. If you want even higher limits, you can request VIP verification which will come with a custom limit depending on your particular needs.
Buy using a variety of payment methods: Coinmama is one of the first exchanges to support buying cryptos using not only credit and debit cards, but also Apple Pay and direct bank transfer. These bank account transfers will be done using SWIFT if you’re in the UK, SEPA if you’re in Europe, and wire transfers for the rest of the world.
Purchases are sent directly to your wallet: In order to purchase Bitcoin on this platform, you need a pre-existing wallet. At the time of writing this, Coinmama doesn’t provide digital wallets. This can easily be remedied by using third-party solutions. While it makes the platform a bit more difficult for beginners, it also adds a layer of security because if the exchange is ever compromised, your assets will still be secure on your personal wallet.
Great customer support: The way crypto exchanges are set up, you don’t usually need to contact support. In rare cases when you do need to, it’s usually a big enough problem that you need a very quick response. Luckily, Coinmama’s customer support is prompt and almost all customer issues get a reply within 24 hours.
#3. BlockFi – Best for Interest & Borrowing
BlockFi is a beginner-friendly cryptocurrency exchange that has become very popular due to its innovative features. Not only does the platform let you buy Bitcoin instantly, but it also lets you earn interest on it and get quick and flexible loans backed by your cryptocurrency holdings.
The platform is available worldwide, with no minimum investment requirement and no trading fees. In addition, their mobile apps make it a breeze to buy and sell Bitcoin on the go.
- Very beginner friendly.
- Available worldwide.
- Quick buying and selling.
- Gives you a virtual wallet.
- Based in the U.S.
- 10 different cryptocurrencies to choose from.
- Earn interest in your portfolio.
- No trading and monthly fees.
- One free withdrawal per month.
- Get quick loans using your crypto holdings.
- Offers a credit card that rewards you in Bitcoin.
- Set up automatic schedules for trading.
- Great mobile apps.
- Holdings are not protected by the FDIC or SIPC.
- Limited selection of cryptocurrencies.
- Loan interest rates can go up to 9.75%.
- Doesn’t let you exchange cryptocurrencies on the platform.
Federally regulated: Financial fraud is rampant these days, and trustworthiness is a huge factor when dealing in digital assets like cryptocurrencies. You don’t have to worry on that front with BlockFi, as the company is based in the U.S. and regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services.
Available worldwide: The exchange’s services are available all over the world, including all the U.S. states. The only exception here are the sanctioned/watch-list countries, but if you’re reading this article, there’s a decent chance you’re not in one of those locations.
Choose from several different cryptocurrencies: The focus of this article is on Bitcoin, but any smart investor knows not to put all his eggs in one basket. For those of you who want to diversify your portfolio and lower your investment risk, this exchange lets you invest in six different cryptocurrencies and four stablecoins. That makes a total of ten cryptos.
No fee or minimum investment requirement: Unlike a lot of other exchanges, BlockFi has no fee when you trade on its platform. There’s also no minimum investment requirement which means you can start with as little as you like.
Earn interest on your holdings: In case you’re not content with just buying Bitcoin and holding it, BlockFi lets you earn monthly interest on your portfolio going as high as 8.6% APR. The actual percentage will vary depending on market conditions and currency type. You can even choose which currency you want your interest to be paid out in.
BlockFi credit card: BlockFi is the first exchange in the world to launch a Visa rewards credit card, which pays you back 1.5% in Bitcoin when you make any purchases. The rewards are automatically added to your interest account so you, so you start earning interest on them instantly.
Borrow against your portfolio: With other exchanges, your only option in order to get some cash is to sell some of your portfolio. BlockFi gives you another option; use your holdings as collateral to get a loan with an APR as low as 4.5%. Borrowing this way has the advantage that you don’t have to report your capital gains, which saves you quite a bit of money in taxes. You can also pay off your loan in one go without incurring any additional penalties or charges.
One free withdrawal per month: A lot of exchanges charge you when you withdraw your holdings. With this exchange, you get one free withdrawal every month.
Set up automatic trading: You don’t have to be available on the exchange and babysit your assets 24/7 in order to take advantage of market shifts. You can set up automatic trading schedules that automatically buy and sell bitcoins depending on the conditions you set.
Excellent mobile apps: BlockFi has apps available on both iOS and Android. These apps are very easy to use and let you trade cryptocurrencies no matter where you are.
#4. Coinbase – Most Popular in Crypto Trading
Coinbase is one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, with more than 70 million users worldwide. It has the second-highest daily trading volume out of all the exchanges. The company is based in San Francisco and has been around since 2012. The platform also became very popular recently because it was the first exchange to go public on NASDAQ.
- One of the most popular and trustworthy cryptocurrency trading platforms.
- Lets you exchange cryptocurrencies.
- Low trading fee.
- Only $2 minimum trade.
- One of the best user interfaces in terms of ease of use.
- Offers more than 80 cryptos to choose from.
- Lets you stake your holdings to earn rewards.
- Top-notch security features.
- Offers a wallet with user accounts.
- Pro membership offers FDIC insurance with coverage up to $250,000.
- Excellent mobile apps.
- Their fee structure is pretty complicated.
- Charges extra if you use a debit card.
Highly popular and trustworthy: No exchange on our review list today can boast the numbers that Coinbase has. As mentioned earlier, the exchange has over 70 million users spread all over the world and usually sees trades worth over $3 billion daily. Looking at those numbers, it’s apparent that the exchange is trusted by tens of millions of users.
Copy trading: Coinbase also lets you copy the trades of its best and most popular traders. This feature is great for beginners who don’t really know what and when to buy and sell. As a user, it lets you utilize the experience of traders with proven track records of generating profits from their trades. Another plus side is that all of this copy trading is done automatically; once you set this feature up, it’s all taken care of and you don’t have to lift a finger.
Offers learning resources: The exchange also offers an educational section for beginners where you can learn about crypto trading. There is also a courses section where you get rewarded with crypto for completing individual courses that educate you about cryptocurrencies. Pretty sweet!
Top notch security: Before we get into details about the exchange’s security measures, we have to offer a disclaimer that yes, Coinbase has had security issues in the past. But it’s due to those security issues that the exchange ramped up its security measures. These include 98% of customers’ assets being kept offline to safeguard them from potential breaches, two-factor authentication, offering an insurance policy to cover any losses resulting from said breaches, and more.
Staking rewards: The exchange also lets you stake your current holdings to earn crypto in return. Staking is a lot like saving up your money in a bank to earn interest. Due to how Bitcoin works, staking is not an option with it. But, thanks to Coinbase’s portfolio of over 80+ cryptocurrencies, there are plenty of other cryptos you can use this method with to earn passive income.
Excellent mobile apps: Coinbase offers apps for both iOS and Android. Like the desktop website, these apps are exceptionally intuitive, simple, and easy to use. These apps are also very feature rich and you get almost all of the features from their desktop website.
#5. Bisq – Most Privacy Focused Crypto Exchange Company
Bisq is a crypto exchange that’s focused on decentralization and privacy. In essence, this means that this exchange isn’t located in any one location or country. It’s spread out over servers that are situated all over the world. This decentralization has its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Some argue that this makes it easier for beginners to use the exchange, but there are a few quirks as well. Let’s take a look at all of them in the features section.
- Peer-to-peer, decentralized exchange.
- Easy to use, as far as P2P exchanges go.
- Extremely secure; even if the exchange gets compromised, your assets and identity remain secure.
- Can be set up within 10 minutes.
- No need to register or verify your identity.
- Available anywhere with an internet connection.
- One of the most private and anonymous crypto exchanges.
- Supports almost every cryptocurrency out there; as long as someone is willing to trade in it, you can buy/sell it.
- Makes it very easy to use your existing portfolio to trade.
- Needs a bit of technical knowledge to set up and use.
- Doesn’t provide you with a wallet.
- Doesn’t support credit and debit cards and using fiat currencies with this exchange is a bit complicated.
- Every transaction needs to be arbitrated.
Peer-to-peer trading: Unlike other crypto trading platforms, Bisq is unique in the sense that there’s no central authority involved in this exchange. Think of it like Craigslist. The users themselves go to the website and trade using it, but the actual trades don’t take place on it. Unlike a website like Craigslist, initiating and accepting trades requires small amounts of Bitcoin, which is the exchange’s fee.
No verification required: Another huge advantage of the P2P nature of this platform is that you don’t need to verify your identity to trade on it. You don’t even need to register, just set it up and start trading on Bisq; the whole process takes 10 minutes. There’s no need to send your photo ID to the exchange and then wait for them to verify you before you can use your account.
Truly available worldwide: The decentralized nature of this exchange means that you can use it from anywhere, even states/countries where other exchanges don’t work.
Supports more than 100 cryptocurrencies: Since there’s no central authority to dictate what you can and cannot trade, you can theoretically trade any cryptocurrency on this exchange, provided that you find another user who’s willing to buy or sell it. You might have some trouble trading obscure cryptos because nobody’s willing to trade in them, while popular cryptos are much easier to trade.
Privacy and anonymity: Not having to share your personal details also enables you to use all features of this exchange in complete anonymity. You don’t have to reveal who you are just to be able to trade.
No support for debit/credit cards: Another side effect that comes with this P2P, privacy focused nature of this exchange is that, if you want to buy your crypto using a fiat currency (USD, GBP, etc.), you’ll have to add funds to your account indirectly through a third party. There’s no way to use debit or credit card purchases cards on this exchange. Supported methods for fiat currencies include Western Union, Advanced Cash, Zelle, and more. On the plus side, you can use your existing crypto assets to trade on this exchange, which is far easier than using fiat currencies through a third party.
Easy to use: Bisq is not the only decentralized cryptocurrency exchange out there, there are plenty of other options too. However, it’s by far the easiest to use. Decentralized exchanges generally have quirks and workarounds that make them harder to use, making them hard to understand or adopt for beginners. Luckily, Bisq has ironed most of those quirks out and is very easy to use.
Security: Since neither your holdings nor your identity is ever stored in the exchange’s servers, it’s one of the most secure trading platforms out there. Even if the exchange itself gets compromised, there’s no risk to you or your portfolio.
Requires arbitrators to verify transactions: Since there’s no central server involved, you need a third-party to verify that everything with a transaction is above board. In Bisq’s case, this third-party has to be another person on the platform. This adds an unnecessary hitch in trades because you cannot complete a transaction unless an arbitrator is present. This requirement is not needed in centralized exchanges as they’re not P2P.
Methodology (How We Chose These Exchanges)
When you search for crypto exchanges to buy Bitcoin, you get thousands of results. Some of you might be wondering how we settled on these five among thousands. To satiate your curiosity, we’ll tell you the metrics we used to weed out hundreds of others we tested to select our top five list.
- Reputation: The biggest indicator of any product or service’s quality is how satisfied its users are. We initially ran Google searches and shortlisted hundreds of exchanges to test them out, then we looked up their user reviews to see if they’re worth testing. We removed any exchange with bad reviews (generally a rating of less than 3.5 stars).
- Security: In case of exchanges that provide cryptocurrency wallets, the security matters a lot. The last thing you want is for hackers to get in and make away with your investments. Due to the inherent design of cryptocurrencies, it’s nearly impossible to recover your holdings once this happens. That’s why we only selected exchanges which employ the most cutting edge security features to safeguard your holdings.
- Trustworthiness: You’d be surprised at how many unregulated exchanges there are out there with good reviews. Trusting these exchanges with your money, not to mention your portfolio, means you’re risking all of it. Keeping all of this in mind, we only selected exchanges that are registered with regulators like DFS, ASIC, FCA, etc.
- Fees: When you trade on these platforms, there are a variety of fees involved; exchanges can charge you for anything from depositing money, using a debit card, exchanging cryptos, copy trading, earning interest, withdrawing money, and much more. But let’s get real, fees suck. We understand that and took care to select only exchanges which have reasonable fees. Before you select an exchange, though, make sure you go through their pricing to find out which particular transaction fee they charge and how much.
- Ease of Use: To keep things as beginner-friendly as possible, we only selected exchanges that are extremely easy to use. On these exchanges, everything from setting up your account to trading and withdrawing is a breeze.
FAQs Regarding Bitcoins
1. What Is a Bitcoin Exchange?
A Bitcoin exchange is like the stock exchange. Just like you use fiat money to buy companies’ stocks, on a Bitcoin exchange you can use fiat money and cryptocurrencies to buy Bitcoin. All Bitcoin exchanges also let you buy and sell other digital currencies (like Ethereum or Litecoin). Unlike stock exchanges, though, cryptocurrency exchanges differ greatly in terms of what features they offer and fees they charge their users. Consider both of these factors before you settle on an exchange to use.
2. Which of These Exchanges Is the Best for a Beginner?
Given that each exchange has different types and percentages of fees and offers very different features, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to crypto exchanges. If you want an exchange that makes it as simple as possible to buy and sell cryptos, BlockFi is one of the best in that regard. However, it doesn’t allow you to exchange one crypto for another; for example, you can’t sell your Bitcoin for Ethereum or vice versa. When you choose BlockFi, you’ll also be in charge of executing your own trades, so you’ll need to be somewhat knowledgeable about crypto trading and how it works.
If you’re someone who knows nothing about crypto trading and don’t have the time to learn the ropes, an exchange like eToro or Coinbase would be best for you. eToro offers training accounts for beginners with $100,000 of virtual money that you can use to execute mock trades. In addition, both of these platforms let you automatically copy the trades of more experienced crypto traders; this feature lets you take advantage of more experienced traders’ knowledge. All moves your selected traders make are automatically copied on your account and you can passively make money.
3. How Do I Buy Bitcoin?
We’ll include a step-by-step guide to buying Bitcoin.
- Pick a wallet provider: Before you can buy any Bitcoins, you need to get a wallet where you can store them. Many exchanges (like BlockFi) will give you a wallet with your exchange account, but we highly recommend not keeping most of your holdings on an exchange account. The reason being that when/if an exchange gets hacked, all of its online wallets are prime targets for the hackers. While it’s rare for an exchange to get hacked, it does happen. If your portfolio is held in an offline wallet, you won’t get affected by any issues that occur with an exchange.
- Select an exchange and register your account there: Whether you decide to get your own offline wallet or use an exchange’s, the next step is to register on an exchange. As we covered in the previous FAQ, exchanges can vary greatly in terms of features they offer and fees they charge. It might be tempting to go for an exchange with advanced features, but crypto trading is complicated and you’ll need to learn how things work before you can do it efficiently. Make sure to go through an exchange’s fees as well as the features it offers and use one that’s best for your needs.
- Add funds to your exchange account: In order to buy Bitcoin, you’ll have to first add funds to your exchange account. Do be aware that some exchanges charge extra fee when you debit/credit cards to add fiat currency funds to your account.
- Start buying: Once you have money in your exchange account you can use it to buy Bitcoins (or any other cryptocurrency of your choice). Do be aware that blockchain processing takes some time, so it’ll take a few minutes before your wallet receives any Bitcoin. That’s completely normal and almost all exchanges work this way.
4. What Is Stablecoin?
The way Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are set up, their value is highly volatile and changes all the time. If you take the example of Bitcoin, it went from being worth almost nothing in 2009 to around $300 in 2014; then, it almost touched $20,000 at the end of 2017 before crashing as low as $3,400 in February 2019. At the time of writing this, BTC is trading at more than $60,000.
This happens with all cryptocurrencies. Their values can change drastically depending on the highs and lows in the market. Crypto users felt the need to have a coin whose value didn’t fluctuate so much. To solve this problem, companies launched cryptos with their values tethered to real world commodities. Since these cryptos’ values aren’t volatile, they’re called stablecoins. Today, many such stablecoins exist, like USDT, USDC, BUSD, DAI, and much more. Some have their values tethered to a fiat currency like USD, so the company holds one USD for every coin issued; others tether their value to gold or silver, with every coin worth a predetermined weight of gold/silver.
5. What Are Some Investing Tips That I Need to Be Aware of Before Buying Bitcoin?
The first (and most important) rule of investing into cryptocurrencies is that you should only use money you can afford to lose. All cryptocurrencies’ values are extremely volatile, and this includes Bitcoin. While it’s unlikely that Bitcoin’s value will completely crash to 0, there’s always a possibility that you can lose a lot of money. For example, if you buy a single Bitcoin right now it’d cost you approximately $60,000; let’s say the value then crashes to $50,000, which will immediately incur you a loss of $10,000. There’s potential to make a lot of money with cryptocurrencies, but there’s also potential to lose your investments.
The second rule applies to investments even outside cryptos. All sensible traders diversify their investments by buying several different cryptos. Almost no one trades in just Bitcoin alone. It’s always a good idea to divide your money in several cryptos so you’ve got some protection even if some of them crash.
6. Is Bitcoin a Good Investment?
The answer for that depends on whom you ask. You should be aware that people have both made and lost fortunes investing in cryptocurrencies. As we mentioned earlier, it’s highly unlikely that the value of Bitcoin will fall to 0 but, seeing as BTC is not a legal tender (like USD), it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
As we mentioned earlier, when it comes to cryptos you should only invest money you can afford to lose. The answer to whether Bitcoin is a good or bad investment depends on how much money you can afford to stake and how comfortable you are with risk taking.
7. What’s the Most Secure Way to Store My Bitcoin Cash Long-Term?
By far the most secure way is to use a hardware key, but most people won’t go this route because it requires a lot of technical know-how and hardware keys cost money. The second most secure way is to use a thumb drive or a hard drive you already own and store your cryptos there. In either of these cases, if you lose your hardware key or thumb/hard drive, you’ll likely lose your cryptos for good.
The next best way is to use a digital wallet. There are many wallet applications available for Windows and Mac, as well as mobile devices. You can look up reviews on wallet apps to decide which one is best for you.
Exchange wallets are the least secure way to store your crypto assets long-term. If the exchange gets hacked, the hackers can potentially steal all your holdings and it’ll be next to impossible to get them back. That’s why you should only use exchange wallets for short-term storage of your crypto assets.
As lucrative as it is, the world of buying and selling Bitcoin can be very confusing, even for people who are technologically proficient. Crypto exchanges make this process a bit easier, but, given the fact that there are literally thousands of them out there, it can be hard to choose the best one for you.
That’s why we went to the trouble of testing hundreds of different popular exchanges to bring you this list covering five of the absolute best. Whether you need privacy and anonymity, beginner-friendliness, educational resources, or something else, the exchanges we’ve reviewed here cover all those needs and more. Our personal suggestion is going for either eToro or Coinmama. We hope our review today helped you pick an exchange. Happy trading!