We’ve split the best crypto exchanges into 2 categories, basic, perfect for beginners, and advanced, perfect for those a bit more experienced.
Ready to invest in crypto? Or perhaps you’ve been through the good times and the bad times already, staying strong and looking for a better exchange. Well, we’ve got everyone covered with the best exchanges whatever your experience might be.
We’ve split crypto exchanges into 2 categories, ‘basic’ exchanges and ‘advanced’ exchanges…
Basic exchanges, quite simply, let you buy and sell the most popular coins (such as bitcoin and ethereum). All super simple and easy to do, perfect for beginners.
Advanced exchanges can have a huge range of trading options and features, such as stop-loss, limit orders, take-profit orders, order book data and much more, plus lots of coins to trade! If you’re not sure what anything means, just scroll down and it’s all explained.
So, let’s get to it – here’s the best crypto exchanges:
The best cryptocurrency exchanges
The best basic crypto exchanges
Best trading app
eToro is a hugely popular trading platform. Not just because of it’s awesome trading features and being completely commission free, but because you can join a community of traders from all over the world, to trade, chat and learn together.
It’s also got the largest range of assets to trade, including stocks, ETFs, crypto, CFDs, currencies and commodities (such as gold).
68% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.
Best for security
Gemini is great for beginners, it’s simple to use, easy to buy and sell crypto, and they have a website and mobile app (Apple and Android). They also provide lots of educational resources for beginners to learn.
Gemini have been around in the US for years and now accept UK customers. They also pride themselves on being super secure and have the highest security and legal compliance standards in the industry.
Exchange experience: great Device options: website & phone app Range of coins: average Fees: high
Coinbase is the entry point to crypto for almost everybody in the UK and US. It’s website and phone app is super easy to use, deposit money and buy your first coins. You can’t go wrong.
However, it’s expensive to use for regular trading (buying and selling), and there’s a limited range of cryptocurrencies available, so customers often move to an advanced exchange once they’re comfortable.
Exchange experience: great Device options: website & phone app Range of coins: average Fees: very high
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FTX is an awesome exchange. One of the leaders, if not the leader in the space for advanced crypto trading. It has everything you need, with a great website and phone app experience. And it has the cheapest fees by far.
It’s suited to those trading more well-known coins that are proven to be legitimate, rather than brand new projects with no history. Although new coins are added regularly too.
Exchange experience: awesome Device options: website & phone app Range of coins: good Fees: very low
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Our criteria for deciding the best crypto exchanges
To determine the best crypto exchanges for beginners and advanced readers, we’ve focused on 7 areas:
The exchange experience
Ease of depositing and withdrawing money
Range of cryptocurrencies (coins)
The exchange reputation
Trading features (such as stop-loss and limit orders)
There’s lots of crypto exchanges out there, but we only want to recommend the very best – ones that we share with our friends and family. So whichever one you choose from our recommendations, you can be confident you’ll be using the very best.
There’s also no limit to the number of exchanges you can use, but if you’re a beginner, start slowly!
Learn more about crypto
What are cryptocurrencies?
It all started with Bitcoin, an ingenious creation from an anonymous developer(s) using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto (i.e. not their real name).
The creation, on the surface, was a new currency (money) that you can send and receive over the internet, seems straightforward right?
However, there’s much more to it. It’s a currency that doesn’t require any 3rd party to store money and process transactions, like a bank or credit card/payment processor, such as Visa or Mastercard, which have high fees.
You can hold onto your money yourself, without the need for a bank, stored in something called a ‘wallet’, and send it directly to your friends and family, or pay for things directly by using bitcoin. All with effectively zero costs. A simple, yet world-changing invention.
Bitcoin is protected from hackers by being decentralised (not in one place - spread across the globe), with thousands of computers working together to determine and confirm if a transaction is legitimate (which makes it super safe). Once the transaction has been approved it’s stored on something called the ‘blockchain’, which is a record (called a ledger), of all the transactions that have ever happened on the network.
This whole process is called ‘mining’. We won’t get too technical, but this process uses a system called ‘proof of work’, and uses cryptography, hence the name cryptocurrency!
And from Bitcoin came more leaps in technology – using the same or similar infrastructure as Bitcoin, but for different purposes. For instance Ethereum, which is a decentralised computer, a ‘world computer’, where computer programs can be stored and run without the need for 3rd parties (banks etc) to make transactions, and will never go offline or be taken down. (by the way, here's how to buy ethereum).
And it’s these programs, called decentralised apps (Dapps), and the companies behind them that launch tokens, or coins, on blockchains like Ethereum, that you can trade (buy and sell) on crypto exchanges, and ultimately speculate (bet) on the future of the project or company. Similar to buying stocks and shares on a stock exchange.
In effect, a whole new financial system is being created, one that gives power and control of your money back to you – by keeping your money, yours. Rather than being in the hands of banks and governments…
What’s an altcoin?
Bitcoin is king, they say. But there are many thousands of other coins, each representing a different project, and these are classed as altcoins. They are an ‘alternative coin’ to bitcoin.
The potential of altcoins is huge compared to bitcoin, as their market cap (the value of all the tokens) is far less, and therefore has lots of room to grow in future as the project grows. Bitcoin can be seen as much more established.
And so, often crypto traders will opt for altcoins rather than bitcoin, particularly if they aren’t investing too much money.
A 10 fold return (meaning an increase by 10 times), or higher, on your initial investment is not uncommon. But that doesn’t mean every altcoin will grow in value, most will fail. It’s very much high risk, high reward, so be careful!
Nuts About Money tip: if you are trading, don’t forget to sell and realise some profit along the way!
Do you pay tax on cryptocurrency?
Unfortunately so. Currently there’s no option to hold cryptocurrencies directly within a Stocks & Shares ISA, which is an investing account where you don’t pay any tax at all.
So, you’ll be liable for Capital Gains Tax (CGT), which is a tax on any money that your existing money makes (a capital gain).
The good news is there is an annual allowance of £12,300 before you have to pay this tax (meaning you don’t have to pay any tax on the first £12,300 you make in profit each year). And the tax rate is 20% on anything after this amount.
However, it’s not exclusive to crypto, so your Capital Gains Tax allowance is shared across any investments you have which increase in value, and that you ‘realise’ the increase of by selling. For instance any stocks and shares you might have, that are outside of your Stocks & Shares ISA.
Exchanges are a great way to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, and do have lots of protection in place to look after your money.
For instance, you’ll often be required to use 2 factor authentication (2FA), to login and manage your account. This is where you’ll need to use a separate device, such as your phone, to prove it’s really you.
You’ll often need to use an authenticator app (like Google Authenticator) that generates a random number which only your device knows in order to login. And then you’ll also normally be asked for a verification code from both your email and via SMS (text message) to withdraw money. So it’s very secure.
However, your money or crypto is still somewhere you don’t have full control over. It is not the same as a bank account. Therefore the best place to keep your money is within your own ‘wallet’.
With a wallet, only you have access. It is impossible for someone else to access your wallet without knowing your seed phrase (also known as secret recovery phrase or private key(s)). Which you’ll get when you set up the wallet (so keep it in a safe place, have a backup, and not anywhere online).
This is where the phrase ‘not your keys, not your coins’ comes from – and it’s a good one to remember. If you don’t have control over the private keys of your wallet, you don’t truly own the wallet and therefore the coins.
You can then transfer funds from an exchange to your wallet, and back again, as much as you like, knowing your money is secure. You just use the exchange to make trades.
Now if you’re trading regularly, you might want to keep some money on the exchange, and that’s fine. It’s totally up to you.
If you’re a beginner and just dipping your toes into crypto with a small amount of money, you could keep it all on the exchange too. A wallet might feel a bit complicated, so don’t let it put you off. Just in time, as you get more confident with crypto technology, remember that it’s a good idea to create your own wallet to store your crypto safely.
Is it safe to invest in cryptocurrencies?
It’s completely legal to invest in cryptocurrencies, don’t worry about that.
However, that doesn’t mean your money is safe in crypto. Prices fluctuate wildly, and you may find yourself making a lot of money in a short space of time, or losing a lot of money in a short space of time.
If you can’t handle big swings in price, it might not be for you just yet.
There’s also a lot of scams and projects that fail, meaning you will lose your whole investment. So, you need to be careful what you invest in.
Crypto is a great industry with incredible technology and world-changing companies emerging, but that means a high likelihood of failure too. Bitcoin and Ethereum are very well established, but everything else is not.
You must do your own research on coins and projects, do not buy a coin because someone told you to. And only invest what you can afford to lose – that way if the worst does happen, you can treat it as a learning experience and move onto the next investment.
There’s huge opportunity and potential. It all comes down to research and learning experiences.
Are cryptocurrency exchanges regulated in the UK?
No. cryptocurrency exchanges, platforms, or any crypto company is not currently regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), who is the organisation responsible for regulating financial services in the UK.
Some companies are registered with the FCA to process money transfers and payments, but not specifically for anything crypto related.
Regulation means they monitor and approve the firm and individuals working there to make sure they are operating to strict standards and processes when it comes to customers' money.
However, this is more of a reflection on the FCA not keeping up with technology, and moving slowly, rather than crypto firms themselves.
The crypto exchanges we have listed here aim to operate at the same high standards, and protect their customers. They’ll verify users' identities (called KYC or Know Your Customer) and often have insurance in place should anything happen to the platform and customers' money.
However, to be clear, there is no formal protection in place when you use a crypto exchange.
Learn more about advanced trading
What are maker and taker fees?
With more advanced crypto exchanges, such as FTX and Binance, you’ll be charged fees when you make a trade, and the fee will depend on if you are providing liquidity (maker orders), or taking away liquidity (taker orders). And these fees fall into 2 categories:
Maker fees (maker orders): these are fees when you set a bid for a trade and it is not immediately matched, so you are providing liquidity to the exchange – which means you are letting your order sit on the exchange.
These are often cheaper than taker fees and can be anywhere from 0% to 2% depending on the exchange.
Taker fees (taker orders): these are fees when you make a trade that’s already on the exchange order book (another traders maker order), so it will execute immediately. You are ‘market buying’ and taking liquidity away from the exchange.
On each exchange, these are typically slightly higher than maker fees, and again, anywhere from 0% to 2% depending on the exchange.
Both of these fees vary significantly across exchanges, so do check before you trade, however, we used it as a factor as part of our criteria as it’s super important for regular traders, it can eat into your profits quite a bit!
What is a spread?
A spread on an exchange is the difference between the ‘sell’ price and the ‘buy’ price of a coin. It is a common way for exchanges to make money and acts as a somewhat hidden fee, effectively they are pocketing the difference. This is not exclusive to crypto. All exchanges tend to have a spread, for instance foreign currency exchanges.
So for instance, say the buy price of bitcoin is $100,500 per coin, and the sell price is $100,000, the spread is $500 ($100,500 - $100,000 = $500), or 0.50%. Effectively you are charged 0.50% when you make the trade – because if you immediately sold your coin you would have to sell it for $100,000, not $100,500.
The spread varies across crypto exchanges, and FTX Pro¹ typically has the lowest spread.
Advanced trading features
Limit order: this is simply a request to buy a coin at a certain price you determine. And the order won’t get triggered (actioned), unless the coin meets that price and there are enough people selling at that price to fulfil your order.
Market order: this is where you’d buy the coin at the current price listed on the exchange (called the market), and so your order will execute immediately.
Entry price: this is simply the price you paid initially to buy your coins and therefore when you entered your trade.
Stop-loss: this is to protect your money if a trade doesn’t work out as expected – it’s an order to sell your coins at a certain price below your entry price, to avoid losing more money than you’d like. You normally set this at a risk level you’re willing to take (so you don’t lose too much money on a trade).
Take-profit order: this is where you set an order to sell your coins when the price reaches a certain amount – so you can automatically exit the trade. Meaning you can set and forget your trade.
Order book data: this is all the data of everyone on the exchange’s orders to buy and sell coins and their prices, plus the historical trades. When you view a coin on an advanced exchange, you’ll see this data. It’s the volume of orders and their prices.
There we have it
Trading cryptocurrencies could change your life, and it has done for many people. But there’s no guarantees!
The more you learn, the better your chances, and the more luck you’ll have. You’ll be able to avoid the bad projects and invest in the good ones. Just remember there’s no get rich quick scheme.
Using the best crypto exchanges makes it much easier for beginners to get involved in crypto in general and find and invest in good projects.
And the best advanced exchanges help their customers make more profit with awesome trading features and experience, and a much wider range of coins!
Here’s a quick recap of the best crypto exchanges:
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