As of August 2022, the cryptocurrency market cap is at $1.07 trillion — which means there are plenty of options for investing. In order to participate in the cryptocurrency market, you need to use one of the best crypto exchanges to execute your trades.
Similar to stock market brokerages, there are advantages and disadvantages that come with each crypto exchange. Plus, certain crypto exchanges may be better suited for one type of trader over another.
If you’re looking for the best crypto exchange for your needs, here’s what you should know about our top picks — and what each one can offer you.
Our top picks for CeFi & DeFi cryptocurrency exchanges
Top 2 DeFi Exchanges
- Uniswap: Best for decentralized high-value swaps
- 1inch: Best DeFi exchange aggregator for users outside US
Top 8 CeFi Exchanges
- eToro: Best for social investing
- FTX.US: Best for large trades and NFTs
- Crypto.com: Best for crypto selection
- Binance.US: Best for low fees
- Cash App: Best for easy bitcoin purchases
- Robinhood: Best for no-fee crypto trades
- Gemini: Best for nationwide availability
- Coinbase: Best for beginners
Compare the best crypto exchanges for August 2022
|Crypto.com||Maker: 0.04%–0.4%; Taker: 0.1%–0.4%||$2||240+|
|FTX.US||Maker: 0%–0.1%; Taker: 0.05%–0.2%||None||20+|
|Binance.US||Maker: 0%–0.1%; Taker: 0.02%–0.1%||$10||100+|
|Gemini||$0.99 to $2.99 under $200 or 1.49% over $200, and a 0.50% convenience fee||Varies||75+|
|Cash App||1.5% to 2.3%||$1||1 (Bitcoin)|
|Coinbase||Maker: 0%–0.4%; Taker: 0.05%–0.6%||$1||100+|
|UniSwap||0.05%–1.0% + ETH gas fees||Varies||50,000+ pairs|
The best crypto exchange reviews
eToro: Best for social investing
Trading fees: 1%
Trade minimums: $10
- eToro offers a Virtual Portfolio to practice trading — a huge help for beginners and the risk-adverse
- Its social investing atmosphere lets you copy the movements of successful traders
- Stocks and ETFs are also available for trading, which can create a diverse investment portfolio
- There’s a limited selection of cryptocurrencies available compared to competing exchanges
- It’s not available in all states, but that’s typical of many exchanges
DeFi Rate’s Take:
With the ability to follow crypto news topics, discuss strategies, or even copy strategies of successful traders automatically, eToro puts an innovative, social spin on crypto investing.While geared toward beginners, eToro has a distinctly different look and feel compared to beginner-friendly apps like Coinbase, Cash App, or Robinhood, although the last of these offers the closest comparison.
Equally appealing is the ability to paper trade with a virtual account. Every eToro account gets a $100,000 sandbox account for virtual trades. This feature makes learning to trade less painful, which is particularly helpful in a trading landscape as volatile as crypto. It also lets you test out strategies and duplicate your winning ideas in your real trading account.
An extensive learning center complements eToro’s virtual trading account and beginner-friendly user interface, adding value to the platform.
eToro is not available in Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, and Tennessee.
Read our full eToro crypto review
FTX.US: Best for high-volume traders and NFTs
Trading fees: 0% to 0.2%
Trade minimums: None
- There are no trade minimums or withdrawal fees, so you can start trading small amounts to get your feet wet in the world of crypto
- NTFs and fiat currency are available to trade on the platform
- FTX.US’s debit card lets traders make purchases with their account balances
- Compared to other exchanges, there’s a limited selection of cryptocurrencies available (but mainstream ones are included)
- Customer support can only be accessed by opening a support ticket, making it impossible to get live support
- The interface may be difficult for novices to navigate
DeFi Rate’s Take:
Because of its low fees for high-volume trades (0.4% or less for most casual traders) and customizable rules to automatically trigger trading actions, FTX.US carves out a unique niche for itself on our best crypto exchange roundup.
FTX.US supports 29 cryptos, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana, but Cardano is not available. Other features that make FTX.US worth consideration are no-fee stock trading (coming soon), a Visa-powered FTX debit card, and FTX Pay, an innovative way to receive payments in crypto or fiat currency.
FTX.US is not available in New York.
Crypto.com: Best for crypto selection
Trading fees: 0.1% to 0.4%
Trade minimums: $1
- Offers over 250 cryptocurrencies, more than any of the other best crypto exchanges
- It has average fees, making it competitive for all investors
- Crypto.com’s Earn feature allows investors to earn up to 12.5% interest on their coins and tokens
- Beginners may find the web app difficult to navigate and use compared to other novice-friendly exchanges
- Crypto-to-crypto trading is not available, unlike competing exchanges
DeFi Rate’s Take:
With over 250 cryptos to trade, dozens of tokens that can earn interest, and a separate DeFi wallet, Crypto.com is like a Swiss Army knife for all things crypto.
Low fees and a wide selection of cryptos are just part of Crypto.com’s appeal. For a limited time, Crypto.com is waiving debit and credit card fees for the first 30 days, making it easy to get started. Crypto.com also offers ways to earn interest on many tokens with yields of up to 12.5% annually. However, the highest rates require a longer commitment and even higher rates are available if you buy, stake, and lock up CRO, a token used exclusively by Crypto.com.
Unlike Cash App, Robinhood, and Coinbase, Crypto.com offers much more powerful tools, many of which aren’t geared toward beginning investors. If you’re an experienced trader, however, you might appreciate the extra options offered by Crypto.com.
Crypto.com is available in all states except New York.
Read our full Crypto.com review
Binance.US: Best for low fees
Trading fees: 0% to 0.1%
Trade minimum: $10
- Binance.US supports trading for over 100 cryptocurrencies
- Token staking is available, so customers can earn returns on their holdings with Binance.US
- It has a track record of supporting billions worth of transactions globally, a trusted sign of a reputable exchange
- Trade minimums are slightly higher than other exchange platforms
DeFi Rate’s Take:
As the largest crypto exchange in the world, Binance has become a well-known onramp for new investors. In the US, Binance offers crypto trading through Binance.US, an exchange specifically tailored to American investors and compliant with US regulations.
While the Binance.US platform may offer more firepower than a new investor may need, it does offer many of the charting tools sought by more active investors. In short, many investors can stay with Binance.US for the long run, whereas they might quickly outgrow other exchanges built for beginners.
Binance.US may be best suited for crypto-to-crypto trades, in which case fees are among the lowest you’ll find. However, market buys (and sells) can be costlier at 0.5%, and if you use a debit card to fund your purchases, costs can climb considerably.
Binance.US is not available in Hawaii, New York, Texas, and Vermont.
Read our full Binance.us review
Coinbase: Best for beginners
Trading fees: $0.99 to $2.99 under $200; 1.49% over $200
Trade minimum: $2
- Users can fund transactions with PayPal, making it easy to securely trade
- The app has an integrated wallet to send and receive crypto
- It has a branded debit card that earns crypto rewards
- It has higher fees than competing apps and exchanges
- There are limited trading types on the standard platform
DeFi Rate’s Take:
Coinbase is really two exchanges, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro, both of which have different goals and trading styles. If you’re just getting started in crypto investing or using a buy-and-hold strategy, Coinbase makes a solid choice. Although Coinbase’s fees can be higher, the effect is dampened over time because you’re not trading frequently.
For more active traders or larger investments, trading fees can add up quickly and Coinbase Pro may make a better choice because its fees are a percentage, varying between 0% and 0.60%, depending on the type of trade. Fortunately, you can access both exchanges using your Coinbase login, transferring assets between the two exchanges as needed. Overall, Coinbase has a sleek and easy-to-use interface, making it perfect for beginners and experts alike.
Coinbase is not available in Hawaii.
Read our full Coinbase review
Gemini: Best for nationwide availability
Trading fees: $0.99 to $2.99 under $200 or 1.49% over $200
Trade minimums: Varies
- Gemini has nationwide availability, so everyone in the U.S. can trade crypto
- Gemini ActiveTrader® offers an advanced-level trading platform for the expert investor
- It offers token staking, so you can earn interest on your crypto investment
- Gemini charges higher fees than comparable crypto exchanges
DeFi Rate’s Take:
While other exchanges are available in most states, Gemini removes the disclaimers. The Gemini exchange is available to users anywhere in the U.S. And you get access without compromises; Gemini is a full-featured exchange suited for beginners to advanced traders.
In fairness, crypto exchanges can’t be expected to offer every coin and token. Gemini doesn’t offer Cardano, Ripple, Avalanche, or Polkadot. However, you can find similar gaps in the offerings of other crypto exchanges as well.
What Gemini does offer is a platform that can cater to beginning investors or advanced traders. Gemini’s Basic interface looks much like what you’d find in Coinbase or Binance.US, with large buttons and clear options. For technical traders, you can use the ActiveTrader interface that brings line or candle charts for crypto pairs and supports several types of orders.
Read our full Gemini review
Cash App: Best for Bitcoin stackers
Trading fees: 1.5% to 2.3%
Trade minimums: None
- Users can withdraw crypto currencies directly to a third-party wallet
- The app makes it simple to send and receive Bitcoin within the app
- The mobile app is intuitive and simple for beginners to use
- Cash App only supports Bitcoin — no other cryptocurrency trading is available
- The trading fees make high-volume trading more expensive
DeFi Rate’s Take:
The popular P2P payment app also doubles as a Bitcoin trading platform. If you’re only interested in Bitcoin and want simple, automatic BTC investments, then Cash App can get the job done. However, if you want more variety, then look at the other best crypto exchanges available.
Cash App is a mobile-first platform, so you’ll have to download the iOS or Android app to get started. You can access an existing Cash App account through a web browser, but most functionality centers on the mobile app.
While other exchanges offer dozens of possible coins to buy and sell, Cash App falls short by only offering Bitcoin. Where Cash App shines, however, is in its flexibility — you can move your Bitcoin to another wallet and it’s perfect for beginners. In fact, Cash App even compares well to Coinbase when purchasing up to $100 in Bitcoin. Fees vary but expect to pay up to 2% for Bitcoin trades on Cash App.
Cash App is available in all 50 U.S. states.
Robinhood: Best for no-fee crypto trades
Trading fees: None
Trade minimums: $1
- The mobile app platform is beginner-friendly, making it easy to get started trading crypto
- Robinhood charges no fees on its crypto trades, a rarity in exchange platforms
- Automatic investments are available so investors can automate their trades
- There’s an extremely limited selection of cryptocurrencies
- Robinhood has a reputation of blackouts and trade restrictions
- Its crypto wallet is not yet available to everyone, limiting its reach and scope
DeFi Rate’s Take:
Best known for fractional stock investing in which Robinhood members can buy as little as $1 worth of their favorite stocks, Robinhood also offers crypto purchases using a similar structure.
Robinhood’s appeal lies in its accessibility to beginner investors and the ability to invest in either stocks or crypto through the same platform. The online brokerage uses a no-fee structure which instead collects revenue from market makers and other parties that make trades possible. The net effect is that a $100 purchase results in $100 of assets rather than $96, $97, or some other after-fee amount.
Currently, Robinhood offers 11 cryptos, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Solana. Keep an eye out for new cryptos from Robinhood. A recent announcement marked the release of four new, in-demand crypto trading options including Solana, Shiba Inu, Compound, and Polygon.
Robinhood is not available in Hawaii and Nevada.
UniSwap: Best decentralized exchange platform
Trading fees: 0.05% to 1.0% + ETH gas fees
Trade minimums: Varies
Cryptos: 50K+ crypto pairs
- UniSwap is a 100% open-source platform and truly democratizes cryptocurrency investing and trading
- There are tens of thousands of crypto-to-crypto coin and token pairs, offering plenty of opportunities to trade
- The extensive help center includes multiple UniSwap guides for beginning investors
- There’s no identity verification requirement, so trading risk is higher on UniSwap
- The ETH gas fee may outweigh the benefit of smaller trades and swaps
DeFi Rate's Take:
UniSwap runs on the Ethereum blockchain, which means there is no central authority; the code runs the show. On a trading level, the open-source app automates swaps. On a broad level, the UniSwap community governs the project’s direction, using the UNI token as a voting token.
Using UNI for voting is optional, but you need Ethereum in your wallet to pay for Ethereum gas fees for every transaction, which is potentially the most expensive part of swapping on UniSwap. Be sure that the wallet you connect to UniSwap has some Ethereum on hand, even if you don’t plan to swap Ethereum itself.
Because of these fees, UniSwap is better suited for large swaps and crypto-to-crypto trades among its more than 50,000 token combinations and wide variety of cryptocurrencies, including obscure coins and tokens. However, the decentralized nature of the exchange means it’s riskier than centralized exchanges, so traders must transact at their own risk and be wary of scams.
UniSwap is available everywhere and does not require user identification verification.
What is a crypto exchange?
A cryptocurrency exchange lets you buy or sell cryptocurrencies or exchange one type of crypto for another. Many exchanges will also offer additional features, such as debit cards, crypto wallets, and ways to earn extra money from your crypto holdings.
A centralized crypto exchange acts as an entry or exit to and from the crypto world. If you have government-issued fiat money and want to buy crypto, a centralized exchange facilitates the transaction.
Once you have some crypto, however, you have additional options. You can still trade through the centralized exchange, of course. But with a few extra steps, you can also trade through decentralized exchanges such as UniSwap. Decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges are marketplaces that allow anonymous peer-to-peer transactions.
Centralized vs. decentralized exchanges
When doing your research for the best cryptocurrency exchanges, you'll probably come across centralized exchanges, also known as CeFi or CEX, and decentralized exchanges, or DeFi and DEX. Before diving in, it's important to understand how these two types of exchanges differ and what it means for you.
Centralized exchanges work similarly to traditional stock exchanges — users put in an order to buy or sell a certain token and the exchange takes your funds, processes the transaction, then deposits the corresponding funds or tokens into your wallet. Furthermore, CEXs are required to verify the identity of any user on their platform and are run by a known team, much like a company.
Decentralized exchanges are more autonomous, instead running on smart contracts, which are complex code-created programs that execute specific actions when conditions are met, like when users submit a transaction. Furthermore, decentralized exchanges do not verify users' identities, so anonymity is possible with DEXs.
Additionally, when you use centralized exchanges, the exchange holds the keys to your crypto and temporarily takes control of your funds, known as custodial trading. With this, your tokens are at risk of counter-party risk or loss if the exchange fails. On the other hand, DeFi exchanges let you retain control of your tokens, called non-custodial trading, and you trade directly with your wallet of choice connected to the platform.
How do crypto exchanges work?
As a middleman between buyers and sellers, crypto exchanges work very similarly to stock brokerages and stock-trading platforms. In many cases, you’ll pay a commission to the exchange for each trade and are often percentage-based rather than a fixed amount per trade.
In some other cases, the exchange charges a fee to market makers. In turn, market makers can profit from the difference between the buying (bid) price and selling (ask) price of an asset. In other words, there’s no visible fee — but there may still be a cost.
Regardless of fee structure, exchanges offer a way to buy and sell your crypto assets, making crypto investing more accessible to everyone and ensuring a market so you can enter or exit a trade when the time comes.
What are maker fees and taker fees?
Many exchanges use a maker/taker model to determine trading fees. In effect, the exchange charges a percentage of the order amount — but this amount can vary based on how your order affects the market for future trades.
- Maker fees: Makers “make” a market and often pay lower fees. For example, if you place a limit order to sell crypto or token that doesn't fill completely, you are creating a market for upcoming trades by making your holdings available to buy.
- Taker fees: By contrast, if you place an order to buy crypto that fills immediately, you are a “taker” because you are taking available trades off the market. Taker fees typically cost more than maker fees.
Why aren’t crypto exchanges available in every state?
Some exchanges may not be available where you live.
Typically, the federal government is the final arbiter of financial issues and regulations in the U.S. That’s true in some regulation areas, such as stocks overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). But in other areas, the individual states have the final say. This means that exchanges must comply with state rules to offer services in each state. It also means that some exchanges may not be available in every state.
For example, Gemini is available in all 50 states, whereas several other exchanges aren’t available in all states. In addition, some assets can’t be traded everywhere. Tether, a widely used stablecoin, is prohibited from trading in New York.
Crypto exchange vs. crypto wallets
Crypto exchanges let you buy or sell crypto currency while crypto wallets are separate services that store your held cryptocurrencies in a separate app or platform, usually externally. It’s generally recommended to use an external wallet separate from your preferred trading service for extra security.
Exchanges in the U.S. must also comply with U.S. regulations, which could make assets kept on the exchange subject to government actions, including seizure or freezing. For example, Coinbase details a few situations in which they may be forced to freeze an account to comply with laws.
By moving your crypto to a wallet rather than keeping it on an exchange, you’re adding a layer of protection to your investment.
Wallets bring some additional requirements, however. You need to keep the key to your wallet safe (or memorized). You may also lose the ability to sell quickly because your assets aren’t on the exchange. On the other hand, the extra step can help prevent impulsive trading decisions.
What is Know Your Customer (KYC)?
When you create an account to use a crypto exchange, expect a verification process that includes a copy of a photo ID as well as your name, address, and social security number. Some crypto exchanges even use facial recognition as an additional step of verification. Collectively, these identification requirements are known as KYC, short for Know Your Customer or Know Your Client.
KYC requirements stem from two areas of government in the U.S. — the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules of the Bank Secrecy Act. These rules require verification of identity for every user on a centralized crypto exchange to prevent fraud, financial terrorism, and money laundering, among other crimes.
How to choose the best crypto exchange for you
There’s no single exchange that’s a perfect fit for everyone, so the best crypto exchange for you will depend on your own research. Here are some considerations before choosing an exchange:
- Is the exchange available where you live? This item alone may be a show-stopper, since your crypto exchange of choice may not be available in your state. Research beforehand which exchanges are available in your area to narrow down your options.
- Are the trading fees a good fit for how you trade? Higher fees may not be an issue if you don’t trade frequently or in large amounts. But if you trade a lot or trade big numbers, fees can take a sizable bite out of earnings.
- How many cryptos does the exchange offer? You might enter the crypto space only interested in Bitcoin, but as you learn more about crypto or as new projects launch, you may want to branch out. Well, the best crypto exchanges offer hundreds or thousands of options.
- What security measures does the exchange offer? Investigate options like two-factor authentication, but also look at whether the exchange has insurance for security breaches. You may also want to look into whether your crypto is held in (offline) cold storage. Some exchanges take this extra step to protect investors.
Looking for crypto exchanges outside the U.S.? Check out options below:
Final thoughts on crypto exchanges
When it's time for you to dive into the world of blockchains and cyrptocurrency, your main method of interacting with digital currency is to trade on an exchange. Whether you choose a traditional-finance-turned-crypto exchange or a platform that solely focuses on crypto, it's important to choose the one that meets your needs and will help you achieve your investing goals. Just remember to do your research and invest at your own risk.
DeFiRate.com reviews cryptocurrency and Web3 products, services, and operators based on five quantifiable metrics to help crypto users understand how they compare based on similar metrics. For the best centralized and decentralized exchanges, our editorial team compared customer support, 30-day trading volume, fees, cryptocurrencies available to trade, and more from each operator to rate the top competitors in the space.
Frequently asked questions
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