Want to Buy Crypto? Here’s What to Look for In a Crypto Exchange

We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a spouse web site and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money. Kraken, CoinEgg, Gemini, Binance — we ’ re not talking about fabulous creatures or the Internet ’ s latest buzzword. These are all cryptocurrency exchanges — digital marketplaces where you can buy and trade crypto. You can ’ t just buy crypto from your trust or endow firm. once you ’ ve decided you want to buy some Bitcoin, Ethereum, or another cryptocurrency, you ’ ll need to create an account on a crypto trade platform to exchange your U.S. dollars ( or other currency ) for digital assets. Some, like Coinbase, have been around since the early days of Bitcoin, when there was far less supervision into how crypto was bought, sold, and traded. Others, like Robinhood and PayPal, are better-known for other services, and have merely recently allowed customers to trade crypto within their exist accounts.

here ’ s what you need to know about why choosing the justly crypto switch over is important, and the details experts recommend evaluating before making your choice .

What is a Crypto Exchange?

A crypto exchange is a platform on which you can buy and sell cryptocurrency. You can use exchanges to trade one crypto for another — converting Bitcoin to Litecoin, for example — or to buy crypto using regular currency, like the U.S. Dollar. Exchanges reflect stream market prices of the cryptocurrencies they offer. You can besides convert cryptocurrencies back into the U.S. Dollar or another currentness on an commute, to leave as cash within your report ( if you want to trade back into crypto late ) or swallow to your regular bank report. There ’ s no one crypto substitution that ’ s best for every user, says Tyrone Ross, a fiscal adviser and CEO of Onramp Invest, a crypto investing platform for fiscal advisors. rather, he says it helps to evaluate your own interests when it comes to crypto, and find an exchange that aligns with your goals. For exemplar, possibly you ’ rhenium looking for a particular coin, or you want to continue learning more as you get into crypto invest. “ Am I looking for something like Casa, because Casa does a set of work for me and I don ’ t have to worry about a public and secret cardinal ? Am I going to Gemini, because Gemini has this eldritch coin that I want and they ’ ll allow me to buy it ? Or am I going to Coinbase because Coinbase has these actually cool tools that allow me to learn and earn crypto ? ”

What to Look for in an Exchange


Your location may prevent you from buying and selling crypto on certain exchanges due to department of state or national regulations. Some countries, like China, have banned citizens from accessing crypto exchanges at all. In the United States, there ’ s a lot of regulative doubt around cryptocurrency, and some states have instituted their own regulations. For case, New York requires exchanges to obtain a BitLicense before they can operate within the country and only allows licensed companies to offer certain approve coins. Most other states don ’ t have regulations a rigid as New York, but many do regulate in some way, or are taking steps to do then. Thirty-one entire states have pending legislation regarding digital currencies in their 2021 legislative sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. You can often find information about the geographic limitations of an exchange — ampere well as related handiness factors, like national currencies accepted — on its web site or within the terms of military service .


Cryptocurrency international relations and security network ’ t backed by any central institution, and your cryptocurrency holdings aren ’ thyroxine protected the same direction as money in the bank or traditional investments. Some exchanges, like Coinbase and Gemini, keep any balances in U.S. Dollars you hold with them in FDIC-insured savings bank accounts. But FDIC insurance doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate apply to cryptocurrency balances. To protect your crypto, some exchanges have indemnity policies to protect the digital currencies users hold within the switch over from hacking or imposter. Coinbase, for model, has an indemnity policy worth $ 255 million. That means if Coinbase ’ second reserves were hacked and any measure of crypto up to $ 255 million was taken, account holders would be protected. Others, like Kraken, trust on their security system practices to protect clients rather than indemnity policies. Whether you plan to keep your crypto holdings within an exchange or only have it there for a brusque time before moving it into your own wallet, the change ’ s security should be lead priority. For exercise, look into how much of its assets the exchange keeps offline, in hard storage. This is even more important as the value of cryptocurrencies grows, since more measure means more lucrative targets for potential thieves. In 2020, there were 28 entire attacks on crypto exchanges, the largest of which resulted in more than $ 200 million in cryptocurrency assets stolen from Singapore-based crypto exchange KuCoin. Look into how much of its assets the exchange keeps offline. While exchanges, by nature, need to keep some crypto active to facilitate trades, it ’ s smart to keep the majority of holdings in cold storage, or offline, where it ’ sulfur more unmanageable for hackers to entree. Coinbase, for exercise, says it stores 98 % of customer funds offline, while merely 2 % is actively traded. That storage, combined with its $ 255 million insurance policy, offers more cause to trust your crypto assets will be covered in the sheath of a machine politician. You can besides look for cosmopolitan on-line security measures you may already be familiar with on early platforms, such as two-factor authentication. That means, in accession to your username and password, you ’ ll have to verify your identity using an extra method, like entering a code you receive by text message, each time you log in. In general, you may feel most secure sticking with more popular exchanges with an already-large customer floor. You may be taking more of a risk doing occupation with smaller or newer exchanges that preceptor ’ t have their security measures and offerings spelled out intelligibly on-line.

“ Size matters here, ” says Douglas Boneparth, a fiscal adviser and president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York. He points to Coinbase, which recently went public on the Nasdaq stock change. “ There are pros and cons to that, but you now have public financials, you can actually see the health of the company, and that ’ s crucial when thinking about using an exchange or investing with any company or merchandise or service that they ’ re provide. ”


Fees are another thing to consider, but don ’ t necessarily let a high fee structure turn you off an central. “ The easier they make it for you to buy it, the higher the fee that you ’ re going to be paying, ” says Spencer Montgomery, founder of Uinta Crypto Consulting, a broadcast for modern investors to learn about crypto. Higher fees can besides be a worthwhile tradeoff for the add protections and insurance that the bigger, more popular exchanges provide. Exchange fees may be a fixed monetary value, but are frequently a percentage of your trade. Some exchanges, like Cash App, charge fluctuating fees based on price volatility. Fees are frequently charged per transaction, and can differ whether you ’ re the seller or the buyer. There may besides be unlike fees depending on which currencies you trade. Make surely you understand precisely how and when an exchange plans to charge you for your crypto transactions before handing over your cash .


If you plan to buy, sell, or trade your crypto, the substitution you choose should have enough trade volume to ensure your holdings are relatively liquid, meaning you can sell them when you want. Again, this can be an exemplify where size matters. Often, the more democratic exchanges are besides those with the largest trade volumes. When a fortune of trades are happening within an substitution at any given time, it means you have a higher prospect of buying or selling the crypto you hold at the best price, Montgomery says. Crypto prices move very promptly, therefore when you use an change that doesn ’ t have a fortune of trade bulk, you could end up paying a higher price than you would on more democratic exchanges. For exemplar, say you decide to buy Bitcoin once its monetary value falls below $ 32,000. If you ’ re on an exchange with a low barter volume, you may end up actually paying a unlike price than you think, if your leverage doesn ’ thymine actually go through until the price has moved back up. CoinMarketCap, a price-tracking locate for cryptocurrencies, continually tracks the trade bulk of hundreds of exchanges in operation. presently, it lists Binance, Coinbase, and Huobi as the top exchanges by volume worldwide .

Coins offered

not every central offers each of the thousands of cryptocurrencies that exist. If you ’ rhenium matter to in a democratic coin like Bitcoin or Ethereum, you ’ ll probably find it on any given exchange you ’ re considering. But newer altcoins, coins with a very small market cap, or meme coins may require a bite more shop around. equitable remember, these types of coins are frequently even riskier gambles on top of already highly bad, more establish cryptocurrencies. That ’ randomness why many experts recommend sticking with the boastful names like Bitcoin and Ethereum. With any crypto mint you ’ re considering buying on an switch over, only deal in a cash value you ’ ra prepare to lose .

Educational tools

A large priority for crypto beginners when it comes to choosing an exchange is the opportunity to learn more about different coins, digital assets, and blockchain engineering, Ross says. “ What is it that they do to make sure that they continually update you from an education point of view ? ” he asks. Coinbase, for model, offers rewards for learning about new coins through its Coinbase Earn broadcast. In change for watching videos and completing quiz related to unlike coins, Coinbase will reward you with a little part of the crypto, which you can then hold or convert to something else. Others offer courses and articles on site to help you learn about crypto markets, history, and innovations, such as Gemini ’ randomness Cryptopedia or Binance Academy from Binance .


storage can be a dissentious topic among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. many believe in the “ not your keys, not your coins, ” proverb, or the belief that you should hold the public and private keys associated with your crypto holdings yourself, rather than keeping them within your score for the exchange to hands. however, an exchange that allows you to keep your crypto within your on-line account can be a well choice, specially as a founder. Later, once you ’ ve learned more about storage options or increased your holdings, you may choose to keep your crypto in your own wallet. But Ross warns against exchanges that lone allow you to store on their platform, like PayPal. Robinhood recently announced it will be creating a crypto wallet so you can transfer your coins off-platform. “ Once you become a little bite more grok, you may want to move your coins somewhere else, ” Ross says. If you decide by and by on that you want to move your coins off that commute — possibly after learning more about storage options you want to keep your holdings in your own cold wallet, for case — you may find yourself stick if you choose an exchange without that option .

Tax information

As if taxes weren ’ triiodothyronine already complicated enough, reporting cryptocurrency can add another level of complexity to your tax recurrence. “ As the tax site evolves around crypto assets, it ’ randomness going to be actually important for people to make sure that their personal tax position is up to speed angstrom well, ” Ross says. You need to report any crypto trades you make as capital gains on your tax return. That means you ’ ll need to know the prize of your crypto when you buy it in U.S. dollars, ampere well as the value of it when you sell. Because Robinhood lone allows you to transact on its platform, it provides a Form 1099-B tracking your price footing and gains and losses, but that ’ s not the case on more traditional exchanges. “ When you use cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance, Kraken, CoinBase, and so forth, they don ’ metric ton give you that form, ” says Shehan Chandrasekera, CPA, head of tax strategy at CoinTracker.io, a crypto tax software ship’s company. That ’ s because exchanges that allow you to move your holdings off their chopine can ’ thymine cut everything in your personal wallet or trades you make on other exchanges. “ That ’ s when it becomes crafty and when those users have to use a tool to reconcile their stallion picture, get the data, and then file their taxes. ”

Bottom Line

There are extra factors you can consider based on your own preferences, Boneparth adds, like customer support, how well you like the chopine ’ randomness mobile app, and how easily the central is to use overall. But like we hear from experts time and again when it comes to crypto, taking the time to learn angstrom much as you can before you put money into crypto is one of the most useful things you can do. Think about the fee structures and security measures you ’ re comfortable with, what extra steps you ’ ll take to store your coins, and your goals. “ You probably should spend more time learning about the quad, ” Boneparth says. “ You ’ ra putting gamble on your money in a reasonably fantastic environment. It ’ south one thing to randomly put money into more stable markets, it ’ s a wholly other thing to throw money into explosive markets. So it ’ s authoritative to get educated, particularly when you ’ re going to deal with something that ’ s possibly more fickle than other bad assets. ”

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