In order to get your hands on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you'll need to go via a leading Bitcoin exchange.
There are many around, but the very best Bitcoin exchanges make it easy to buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies using regular fiat money (i.e. dollars, pounds or euros).
Bitcoin exchanges also allow people to store cryptocurrency, although if security is a priority, you'll want to store your virtual wealth in a leading Bitcoin wallet, over which you have more control.
However, before plunging in head first, users should be aware of what to look for in in the best Bitcoin exchanges.
A good place to start is the virtual coins supported by the exchange. With many cryptocurrencies in circulation beyond just Bitcoin, you'll want to decide which to invest in. Popular alternatives include, Ethereum, Litecoin, XRP (Ripple) and more.
Additionally, pay close attention to the fees levied. While all Bitcoin exchanges charge transaction fees (after all, they are businesses looking to make a profit), as the user it is obviously best to find one with the lowest costs in order to maximize your own profits.
The best Bitcoin exchanges also offer robust security measures - including two-factor authentication, SMS or email alerts, encrypted emails etc. - and should be doing a good volume of trading.
Now we know what to look for, here's our rundown of the best Bitcoin exchanges right now.
This is a US-based exchange which was founded in 2012, and it supports over 32 countries. Coinbase exchanges Bitcoin and the alternative cryptocurrencies of Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin, and it’s the largest of the exchanges, claiming $150 billion (£112 billion) in currency exchanged. In 2014 Coinbase created GDAX, the Global Digital Asset Exchange which was developed for professionals with high volumes of trading. Since June 29th, GDAX is now Coinbase Pro with some improvements, and visiting GDAX site will redirect you to Coinbase Pro.
The firm offers a mobile wallet, offline storage, and insurance protection for currency stored on its servers. Coinbase supports several fiat currencies: British Pounds, US Dollars, Euros, Canadian Dollars, Australian Dollars and Singapore Dollars.
The Coinbase exchange has a 1% flat fee for each purchase, while cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals are done without any fees. A streamlined user interface which is ideal for novice traders – and fast trades – makes Coinbase a popular exchange with traders.
Gemini Exchange is another US-based outfit founded by the Winklevoss twins – the pair who sued Mark Zuckerberg over social networking, and were awarded $65 million (£48 million), which they put to use as venture capitalists. This exchange is based in New York, and is available in 49 US states, as well as the Puerto Rico, Canada, UK, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong.
Gemini’s only supported fiat currency is US dollars, and it trades Bitcoin, Ethereum and Zcash. Gemini does not charge deposit or withdrawal fees, and has a 1% fee (depending on your 30 day trading volume - thee fee will go down as your trading volume increases) for trades, to both the buyer and the seller.
Another advantage of Gemini is that it’s a New York state limited liability trust company, and is regulated by New York’s Department of Financial Services. Close proximity to the Wall Street financial markets allows the company to easily provide a bridge from more traditional investments to newer cryptocurrency markets, for both individual and institutional investors.
Gemini is also notable in that it accepts ACH transfers for fast access to money for trades. A potential downside is that the interface is not particularly novice-friendly. In September 2018, Gemini launched a stablecoin called Gemini Dollar, which you can convert to US Dollars and vice versa in your Gemini account.
Changelly is a cryptocurrency exchange with support for many more virtual currencies than most, including Monero, Dash, Bytecoin, and DigitalNote among others. If you are mining a less popular currency, chances are that Changelly can exchange it for you.
This exchange comes from the popular mining platform MinerGate which provides a merged mining pool across Windows, Mac, Linux and Android operating systems. While Changelly focuses on exchanges between different cryptocurrencies, users can also purchase cryptocurrency with US Dollars or Euros.
Note that this exchange has a shorter track record, as it only entered the market in 2016. Exchange fees are 0.5% on transactions.
- Here we show you how to mine Bitcoin