Cryptocurrency Trading Platforms

There are many crypto trading platforms available, so we will help guide you.

When choosing a crypto platform, there are a few things to keep in mind: Cost per trade, account minimums, and most important is the popularity to prevent fraud.

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About Cryptocurrency Trading

Investing or trading in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies can be intimidating at first. There is frequently news about scams and people losing money. While this is true, and many scams have happened and continue to happen, it has never been so simple to invest in and safely trade in cryptocurrency as it is today.

The foremost concern when trading and purchasing Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies, is safety and security. Whether you intend to purchase and hold long term, want to trade frequently, are interested in anonymity or privacy, or simply want ease of use, the following exchanges are the best for any use case you may have. 

Best Overall Platform

Coinbase

The most widely known and used cryptocurrency exchange in the United States is Coinbase. Coinbase was founded in 2012, not very long after the release of Bitcoin’s code in 2009, and is a fully regulated and licensed cryptocurrency exchange. Coinbase currently has licenses to operate in over 40 U.S. states and territories.

Pros

  • Solid variety of altcoin choices
  • Extremely simple user interface
  • Very high liquidity

Cons

  • High fees when not using Coinbase Pro
  • User does not control wallet keys
  • Fewer altcoin trading options than some other exchanges
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While the cryptocurrency industry has been fraught with fraudulent coins and shady exchanges, Coinbase has largely avoided any controversy. Coinbase offers an extremely easy-to-use exchange, greatly lowering the barrier to entry for cryptocurrency investment, which is typically seen as confusing and convoluted. 

Coinbase also offers insured custodial wallets for investors and traders to store their investments. It is important to note that, should your account be compromised from your own doing, this insurance does not apply. These custodial accounts are very convenient for newer users just getting their feet wet, but the private keys to the coins within them are owned by Coinbase, and not the investor. 

Best for Beginners

Cash App

Fees: Cash App charges a service fee for each transaction. It also charges a fee determined by price volatility. These fees change depending on the market’s activity.

Cash App is a peer-to-peer money transfer system much like Venmo. This type of service allows users to split food, pay rent to a roommate, or even shop online at a retailer that supports Cash App. Cash App can essentially act as a bank account and users can have their own Cash App debit cards. This service is very convenient by itself, but Cash App has even more features.

Pros

  • Peer-to-peer money transfer like Venmo or Zelle
  • Ability to withdraw Bitcoin
  • Extremely simple user interface

Cons

  • Only allows Bitcoin investment at this time
  • 3% charge when sending money via a linked credit card
  • Withdrawal limit of $2,000 worth of Bitcoin every 24 hours

Cash App also allows its users to invest in stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrency in a similar fashion that Robinhood does. The mobile-first interface that this exchange uses is very easy to figure out and use, making it ideal for a first-time investor.

While it offers a payment system like Venmo and an investment platform like Robinhood, Cash App differs in that it allows the user to withdraw cryptocurrency investments to your own wallet. This is the main reason that we chose Cash App over Robinhood as the best option for beginners looking to buy Bitcoin.

Types of Crypto Exchanges

To choose the best exchange for your needs, it is important to fully understand the types of exchanges. 

Centralized Exchange

The first and most common type of exchange is the centralized exchange. Popular exchanges that fall into this category are Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, and Gemini. These exchanges are private companies that offer platforms to trade cryptocurrency. These exchanges require registration and identification, also known as the Know Your Customer, or Know Your Client, rule. 

The exchanges listed above all have active trading, high volumes, and liquidity. That said, centralized exchanges are not in line with the philosophy of Bitcoin. They run on their own private servers which creates a vector of attack. If the servers of the company were to be compromised, the whole system could be shut down for some time. Worse, sensitive data about its users could be released. 

The larger, more popular centralized exchanges are by far the easiest on-ramp for new users and they even provide some level of insurance should their systems fail. While this is true, when cryptocurrency is purchased on these exchanges it is stored within their custodial wallets and not in your own wallet that you own the keys to. The insurance that is provided is only applicable if the exchange is at fault. Should your computer and your Coinbase account, for example, become compromised, your funds would be lost and you would not likely have the ability to claim insurance. This is why it is important to withdraw any large sums and practice safe storage.

Decentralized Exchange

Decentralized exchanges work in the same manner that Bitcoin does. A decentralized exchange has no central point of control. Instead, think of it as a server, except that each computer within the server is spread out across the world and each computer that makes up one part of that server is controlled by an individual. If one of these computers turns off, it has no effect on the network as a whole because there are plenty of other computers that will continue running the network.

This is drastically different from one company controlling a server in a single location. Attacking something that is spread out and decentralized in this manner is significantly more difficult, making any such attacks unrealistic and likely unsuccessful. 

Due to this decentralization, these types of exchanges cannot be subject to the rules of any regulatory body, as there is no specific person or group running the system. The individuals who participate come and go, so there is no one individual or group that a government or regulatory body can realistically pursue. This means that those trading on the platform do not have to declare their identification and are free to use the platform in any manner they choose, whether legal or not. 

sources: Investopedia.com, tradestation.com