2018’s Best Bitcoin Exchanges: Bitcoin Exchange Comparison & Review

Choosing the best Bitcoin exchange is hard work.

Each exchange has different rules, accepted payment methods, and fees, along with other factors to take into account. This guide will walk you through the process so you can choose the best exchange based on your needs and location. Here’s what we’ll go over:

  1. Types of exchanges
  2. Exchange criteria
  3. How to choose an exchange
  4. Exchange finder
  5. KYC
  6. Exchange review summary

Don’t like to read? Here’s a video version of this guide:

Resource section for the video can be found here

1. Exchange types

1.1 Trading platforms

Trading platforms are sites that automatically connect buyers and sellers. This means that you buy from people who’ve placed sell orders on the site without ever communicating with them directly. The platform usually takes a small fee for the service.

Conducting transactions on trading platforms is usually the cheapest way to get bitcoins, but often it’s not very user friendly. Trading platforms have options such as limit orders and stop losses that can confuse inexperienced users. Also, when you place an order, it may not be fulfilled immediately due to a lack of sellers at the price at which you want to buy. Examples of known trading platforms: Cex.io, Binance.

Here are some of the top trading platforms around:

CEX.io
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Wire, Credit/Debit, AstroPay
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
High
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating
Bitstamp
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Multiple
Fees:
Very low
Exchange rate:
Low
Buying limits:
Low
Reputation:
Very good
Overall rating:
4.5 Star Rating
Bitfinex
Supported countries:
Non US only
Payment methods:
Wire
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Low
Buying limits:
Unclear
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating
Gemini
Supported countries:
Multiple locations
Payment methods:
Wire, ACH
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Unclear
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4.5 Star Rating
GDAX
Supported countries:
33 Countries
Payment methods:
Wire, ACH
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Unclear
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating
Kraken
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Wire
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Unclear
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
3 Star Rating
HitBTC
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Wire
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
High
Buying limits:
Unclear
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
3.5 Star Rating
Luno
Supported countries:
Multiple locations
Payment methods:
Multiple
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Unclear
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
3.5 Star Rating
BitBay
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Bank transfer, SEPA, SWIFT
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Low
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
3 Star Rating
Indacoin
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Credit/Debit
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
High
Buying limits:
High
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating
Bittrex
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Crypto only
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Unclear
Reputation:
Bad
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating
Virwox
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Multiple
Fees:
High
Exchange rate:
High
Buying limits:
Medium
Reputation:
Bad
Overall rating:
3.5 Star Rating

1.2 Brokers

Brokers are sites that simplify the process by allowing you to buy coins through them at a predetermined price. When you buy from broker sites, the process is usually much simpler, but it’s also more expensive. Examples of known brokers: Coinbase, CoinMama.

Here are some of the top Bitcoin brokers around:

Coinbase
Supported countries:
33 Countries
Payment methods:
Wire, Credit
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Low
Reputation:
Very good
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating
Coinmama
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Multiple
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Low
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4.5 Star Rating
Coinhouse
Supported countries:
Eurozone only
Payment methods:
Credit, Debit, Neosur
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
Low
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating
Wirex
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Paypal
Fees:
Very low
Exchange rate:
High
Buying limits:
Unclear
Reputation:
Average
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating
Bitpanda
Supported countries:
Eurozone
Payment methods:
Multiple
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
Medium
Buying limits:
High
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4.5 Star Rating
Changelly
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Credit, Altcoins
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
High
Buying limits:
High
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
3.5 Star Rating
247Exchange
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Wire, Credit/Debit, Cash
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
High
Buying limits:
High
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4 Star Rating

1.3 P2P platforms

P2P platforms connect buyers and sellers directly so they can negotiate on a price. While these sites usually allow for a wider array of options (payment methods, supported countries, etc.), they also hold a large amount of risk because you’re buying from an anonymous individual. Examples of P2P platforms: LocalBitcoins, Paxful.

Here are some of the top P2P platforms around:

LocalBitcoins
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Wire, PayPal, Credit, Debit, Skrill
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
High
Buying limits:
Depends on seller
Reputation:
Good
Overall rating:
4.5 Star Rating
Paxful
Supported countries:
Worldwide
Payment methods:
Wire, PayPal, Credit, Debit, Skrill
Fees:
Low
Exchange rate:
High
Buying limits:
Depends on seller
Reputation:
Average
Overall rating:
4.5 Star Rating

1.4 CFD platforms

This is one type of exchange you’ll probably need to stay away from. CFD stands for “Contract for Difference,” and it means you’re basically betting on the price of Bitcoin in the future instead of actually owning it (you can read more about CFDs here).

While CFD platforms are very appealing due to their ease of use, they don’t sell you actual bitcoins. The process is the equivalent of betting on the fact gold will rise in price instead of actually buying gold. Bottom line? You won’t be able to withdraw bitcoins you bought into your wallet. The only thing you’re doing is buying (or selling) a contract regarding Bitcoin’s price for US dollars, euros, or some other form of government currency.

CFD platforms also allow you to leverage your bets by borrowing money from them. While this can give you a great upside, it more often than not ends up with you losing all your money almost instantaneously due to how the system is set up. Examples of known CFD platforms: Plus500, Avatrade.


2. Before choosing an exchange, make sure to review these first:

Country support: Make sure the service is available in your country. Not all exchanges accept customers from all around the world.

Accepted payment methods: Some exchanges accept a wide variety of payment methods, while others accept only wire transfers. Payment methods that allow a buyer to request his or her money back, such as credit cards or Paypal, will usually involve higher fees. This is done to insure the seller in case you’ll cancel the payment after you get your coins. As you might expect, payment methods that can’t be reversed, such as wire transfers, are usually cheaper.

Fees: There are three kinds of fees: deposit fees, transaction fees, and withdrawal fees. Each fee is usually different and can affect the total amount of money you’ll receive in the end.

Exchange rate: Some exchanges have low fees, but their exchange rates are higher relative to the competition. This means that the fees are “hiding” in the exchange rate.

Buying limits: Your buying limit will depend on your payment method and your identity verification level. If you’re looking to buy a large amount of bitcoins, some exchanges might not be relevant due to their low limits.

Exchange reputation: Is the exchange well known in the community? How well is its support in the event you get lost in the process? Have there been a large number of complaints against the exchange? Keep in mind that no exchange is free of negative reviews, but it’s important to consider the volume and the content of those reviews.


3. What’s the bottom line?

In the end, what matters is that the company (or seller) is reliable and that you’re happy with the price you’re paying. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend a bit more money in order to finish the process hassle-free.

As a side note, if you’re looking to buy large amounts of Bitcoin—let’s say over $10,000—there are specific exchanges and brokers that deal in these sorts of transactions. If this is the case for you, read this post.


4. Find the best Bitcoin exchange in one click:

If you just want a quick answer for what is the best exchange for you, use our Bitcoin Exchange Finder widget, which will match you with the best exchange based on your country:

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5. One last thing: KYC

Exchanges today have a Know Your Customer process, also known as KYC, that you’ll have to go through before buying bitcoins.

This means you’ll need to supply the exchange with some additional information, such as your ID, a proof of residence, and in some cases even a proof of income. As Bitcoin becomes more and more mainstream, exchanges are subject to strict regulations by the government, and in many cases, they’re unwillingly forced to request this information from you.


6. Exchange review summary

Below is a summary of the major exchanges available around the world today. We’ll list the pros and cons of each exchange and include a one-paragraph overview. If you want to read our full review of a specific exchange, just click the Read Review button at the end.

Coinbase Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Highly respected, good reputation, low transaction fees

Cons: Not available worldwide, support takes time to respond

Summary: Coinbase is probably the most popular company today for buying bitcoins. It was founded in late 2012 as a part of Y Combinator, and until today, it has raised more than $106 million in venture capital. Coinbase is considered by many to be the leading Bitcoin exchange available.

The are two ways you can buy bitcoins from Coinbase. One is through the Coinbase wallet, and the other is through the Coinbase exchange. When you buy bitcoins through the Coinbase wallet, you are basically buying the bitcoins from Coinbase itself, whereas when you use the exchange, you are participating in trading with other users of the exchange.

Buy Bitcoins on Coinbase Read our Coinabse review


CoinMama Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Accept credit cards, fast transaction time, great user interface

Cons: Relatively high exchange rate, limited states within the United States

Summary: Working in the market since 2013, CoinMama is another veteran Bitcoin broker. It offers easy ways to buy bitcoins with credit cards or cash deposits via MoneyGram and Western Union. CoinMama uses Simplex, a credit processor that allows you to buy up to $5,000 in one purchase. CoinMama also has relatively high exchange rates due to chargeback issues, and it offers credit and debit cards as payment methods.

Buy Bitcoins on Coinmama Read our Coinmama review


CEX.IO Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Reputable company, high buying limits

Cons: Limited countries available, higher exchange rates

Summary: CEX.IO was established in 2013. CEX.IO is a Bitcoin trading exchange that accepts credit cards and allows you to trade. On CEX.IO, you can buy bitcoins for USD, EUR, and RUB.

Buy Bitcoins on Cex.io Read our Cex.io review


BitFinex Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Advanced trading features, leverage abilities

Cons: Does not accept fiat deposits, complex interface

Bitfinex is an advanced Bitcoin trading platform that is more suitable for experienced traders. The platform does not accept fiat deposits at the moment, which means you’ll need to fund your account with altcoins or bitcoins.

If you’re an experienced cryptocurrency trader, Bitfinex likely offers everything you need and more. The chief draw is probably the platform’s high Bitcoin and Ethereum liquidity, but its margin funding, leverage, and multiple order types offer a lot of flexibility.

Visit Bitfinex Read our Bitfinex review

Coinhouse Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Reputable company, high buying limits

Cons: Limited to Eurozone countries only, relatively high exchange rates

Summary: Coinhouse is the “House of Bitcoin” in Paris. You can buy bitcoins directly online using Visa/MasterCard or cash, with a Neosurf prepaid card available in most European countries.

Buy Bitcoins on Coinhouse     Read our Coinhouse review


BitPanda Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Multiple payment options, relatively low fees

Cons: Fees are hidden inside the exchange rate, EU citizens only

Overall rating: B

BitPanda is an Austrian start-up company that was founded in October 2014. The company allows you to buy Bitcoin or Ethereum with a credit card as well as with wire transfers, Neteller, Skrill, SEPA, and more. The company supplies its services to European countries only at a relatively low fee.

If your account is verified, the limit is 2,500€ daily (75,000€ monthly) for credit card purchases. For other options, there’s a 10,000€ daily (300,000€ monthly) limit.


Buy Bitcoins on Bitpanda      Read our Bitpanda review


Bitstamp Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Highly respected and reliable exchange, low transaction fees

Cons: Not suited for beginners, limited payment methods, high deposit fees on small amounts of money

Summary: Bitstamp is the oldest Bitcoin exchange out there. Founded on 2011, Bitstamp has managed to survive most of the Bitcoin ecosystem’s turmoil without being hacked or shut down, and that’s definitely saying something.

If it wasn’t for its nonintuitive user interface and lack of convenient payment methods, Bitstamp may have been rated #1 on our charts. Unfortunately, though, today I can only recommend Bitstamp for larger purchases of coins where you’ll definitely need to use a wire transfer and the fees won’t make up such a large amount of the deposited sum.

Buy Bitcoins on Bitstamp Bitstamp review coming soon

 


Kraken Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Highly respected and reliable exchange, low transaction fees

Cons: Not suited for beginners, limited payment methods, high deposit fees on small amounts of money

Summary: Another Bitcoin exchange veteran, Kraken was also founded in 2011 like Bitstamp and has managed to stay alive until today. Kraken is consistently rated as a top Bitcoin exchange by different news outlets and was also the first Bitcoin exchange listed on Bloomberg Terminal. Kraken is also trusted by the Tokyo government and the BaFin-regulated Fidor Bank.

Kraken is pretty similar to Bitstamp in its pros and cons. The two are almost identical when it comes to deciding which to use.

Buy Bitcoins on Kraken Kraken review coming soon

iGot Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Super low fees, great interface

Cons: Limited payment options, relatively high exchange rate

Summary: Founded in 2013 in Australia, iGot provides a trading platform and merchant payment services for Bitcoin. It has super low fees but supplies a limited range of payment methods.

The exchange was also behind the relief campaign for Nepal earthquake victims earlier this year. Having said that, iGot has yet to gain enough reputation as a major player in the Bitcoin exchange market.

 

Buy Bitcoins on igot igot review coming soon

HitBTC Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Beginner friendly, great buying experience

Cons: High exchange rate, brand not reputable enough

Summary: reviewed HitBTC last year and was pretty pleased with its product. The company seems to have a solid user interface, making it pretty easy to buy bitcoins. The platform also seems to be very “newbie oriented” and puts an emphasis on security.

Although HitBTC has gained considerable traction over the past year since its launch, much like iGot, it still hasn’t managed to reach the “big leagues” of Bitcoin exchange (i.e., Coinbase, Circle, Bitstamp, etc.)

 

Buy Bitcoins on HitBTC Read our HitBTC review

6.11 Virwox Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: A wide variety of payment methods, including PayPal and credit cards; no verification required

Cons: Shady reputation, very high fees when buying with PayPal or a credit cards (due to multiple conversions)

Summary: Virwox is not a Bitcoin exchange per se. It’s actually a Second Life reseller that allows you to exchange SLL (Second Life Lindens) into bitcoins. So why is it listed here? Because currently it’s the only known exchange in which you can buy Bitcoins with PayPal.

The issue with Virwox is that even though it provides various payment methods, many users have complained about its services. Some have even reported that their money was taken with no return. However, most reviews tend to show that either the purchase of bitcoins was successful or the money was refunded.

Buy Bitcoins on Virwox Read our Virwox review

 


247Exchange Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Easy user interface, works worldwide, multilingual.

Cons: Buying process is too long (mainly due to verification), the service takes a premium in order to be able to deal with chargeback issues

Summary: 247Exchange is a veteran player in the Bitcoin ecosystem. It allows you to buy bitcoins with a credit card in a simple and secure manner. Unfortunately, its buying process still has a few glitches, and the verification process can take quite some time. I recently reviewed the service hands-on—you can read about it here.

Buy Bitcoins on 247Exchange Read our 247Exchange review

Bittrex Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Smooth, easy to understand interface, top-notch security, 250+ altcoins

Cons: Slightly high fees, poor customer service, odd account suspensions

Bittrex provides a growing cryptocurrency exchange that suits investors looking for a large altcoin selection. The US company launched in 2014 and is now one of the leading trading platforms.

Its reputation is built upon a smooth user experience combined with unparalleled security. The interface is simple to understand, allowing users to easily expand their portfolios with access to over 250 coins. Bittrex has a crack squad of security experts keeping funds safe. The team currently maintains a clean record in fighting off hacks and attacks.

Buy Bitcoins on Bittrex Read our Bittrex review

Luno Bitcoin exchange review

Pros: Good reputation, happy reviews, well-run platform

Cons: Bitcoin only, fluctuating fees, small market cap

Luno enjoys a marvelous reputation with an array of happy users. It doesn’t have a huge trading cap, but it performs its duties admirably against the heavyweights. Despite being in operation since 2013, the Luno team still struggles to secure serious market dominance.

Solely a Bitcoin exchange, the platform is aiming to become the “most trusted, secure and reliable exchange.” Users can buy, sell, and store bitcoins by way of services that include wallets and mobile features. The one downside is the fees, which can be a little tricky to work out for new buyers. Overall, it’s a solid, well-run service.

Buy Bitcoins on Luno Read our Luno review

Indacoin exchange review

Pros: Convenient, simple way to buy Bitcoin

Cons: Extortionate fees, low buy limits

Indacoin has been around since 2014, and it targets customers looking for fast and easy Bitcoin buys. It functions as a way for you to buy bitcoins with a credit or debit card. Simply fill out a payment form and confirm via a telephone message, and voila—you’ll have Bitcoin funds.

There are some downsides to transacting in this manner. Fees are astronomical anywhere you make a credit card transaction—and none more so than Indacoin. Users really do pay a premium for convenience. There are also buy limits to be aware of, with a maximum of $750. With that said, the service does do what it says in a legitimate manner.

Buy Bitcoins on IndaCoin Read our IndaCoin review

Bitbay exchange review

Pros: Decent currency support, less known to hackers, acceptable fees

Cons: Small market cap, unknown quantity, still building a reputation

Bitbay is another interesting cryptocurrency exchange competitor. The Polish outfit services users both domestically and worldwide. The feature-rich trading platform is still fighting to become a well-known name in the industry. But many are not put out by the smaller reputation.

Bitbay provides a nice selection of coins with bitcoin, litecoin, ether, and lisk all available to trade. Fees are acceptable too, although slightly higher than some bigger exchanges. The pros, particularly for Polish users far outweigh the cons. Domestic customers can even get a bitcoin credit card to start transacting regularly.

Buy Bitcoins on BitBay Read our BitBay review

Changelly exchange review

Pros: Simplistic crypto exchange, no trading expertise needed, sleek interface

Cons: Fees higher when trading in fiat, not completely anonymous

Changelly is a really neat solution to a very real problem. Satoshi gave birth to Bitcoin, one global currency. Bitcoin then reproduced again and again. Now it has evolved. There are hundreds of global digital currencies that need to be exchanged. Changelly makes it easy and convenient to exchange cryptocurrencies without the need for trading platforms.

For a fee, you can send Changelly a coin and receive another back. Of course, it’s effectively making trades for you, so you don’t need to understand charts and market trading. The slick interface coupled with the 0.5% fee on all transactions does make it an appealing prospect, but if you trade fiat currencies, it seems like that exchange rate is a lot higher. It’s advised to trade only altcoins on Changelly.

Visit Changelly Read our Changelly review

Local Bitcoins exchange review

Pros: Transaction flexibility, no buy fee, worldwide user base, public rating system

Cons: 1% sell fee, some suspicious users

Local Bitcoins is a clever operation that adds incredible flexibility to buying bitcoins. It brings buyers and sellers together in a marketplace. It’s unique in that you can transact in almost any method imaginable, including Paypal, wire transfer, Western Union, Webmoney, and cash.

You can find some pretty good rates to buy Bitcoin through the service, with sellers all over the world looking to offload funds. Fees are dependent upon which side of the transaction you’re sitting on. There’s a 1% sell fee, and funds are transacted directly to and from a Local Bitcoins wallet.

Buy Bitcoins on LocalBitcoins Read our LocalBitcoins review

GDAX exchange review

Pros: Coinbase extension, cheap fees, ether and litecoin support

Cons: no altcoins, ether market crash

GDAX is the sister trading exchange to the world famous Coinbase and vastly benefits from this close working relationship. Coinbase’s millions of users can use the same account details to log in directly to GDAX. Once funds are transferred across, trading can begin.

The backing of such a huge player makes GDAX one of the most trusted exchanges. Funds have gone missing at least once, but the customer support team was able to refund any losses. The exchange supports the big three: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

Buy Bitcoins on GDAX Read our GDAX review

Gemini exchange review

Pros: Public owners, regulated, trustworthy

Cons: Limited currency support, not yet a market leader

Gemini is seen as one of the most trustworthy legitimate Bitcoin exchanges. Publicly developed by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, it’s been building an encouraging mark of public support since 2015.

The “Winklvii” are working with regulators to make their product a leader in conforming to banking and legal legislation. Primarily a US-based exchange, Gemini still does not retain the same market cap as the upper echelons, but worldwide expansion looks set to change this through 2018. Fees are in line with market averages—the only downside is minimal currency flexibility. Just Bitcoin and Ethereum are on offer here.

Buy Bitcoins on Gemini Gemini review coming soon

 

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BenWong
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BenWong

thanks for the review. found some good places like Bitsane etc.

G-Smith
Guest
G-Smith

NEVER TIRED OF SENDING GOOD VIBES TO BITSANE FOR THEIR EFFORTS IN CREATING THE CONVENIENT ENVIRONMENT FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS. THHHHHHUMBS UP!

donald
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donald

thanks for review

Kondo lee
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Kondo lee

Can anybody check this out? ayobitbtc.wixsite.com/autotrader

Lenny
Guest
Lenny

I am a new Bitsane user and have pretty good experience with them, but cannot be absolutely sure they are not scamming. Does anybody here have experience with some large amounts of coins? I’ve just tested with 50 bucks and it was okay, but i want to be 100% sure they are ok.

Vipul N Kumar
Guest
Vipul N Kumar

i went to a review like here one one time and it stated there was a bitsane site and i go there and now i am the trader still be and like it very much, so you have so many others here maybe i should take a look at all to judge for me myself

noah
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noah

bitsane works well. waiting for new deposit/withdrawal methods

Walter Kresnic
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Walter Kresnic

Bitsane.com is the most user-friendly exchange and no problems so far. Easy to use. I’m really happy with Bitsane and highly recommend it.

Niels
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Niels

Hello. Good reviews. I use Bitsane, which isn’t mentioned here. Are there gonna be any information on this exchange?
Thanks!

bitcoin exchange rate
Guest
bitcoin exchange rate

Here are two ways you can buy Bitcoins from Coinbase. One through the Coinbase portfolio and the other through the Coinbase exchange. When you buy Bitcoins through Wallet Coinbase you buy Bitcoins from Coinbase itself, while when you use the exchange you are involved in trading with other users for exchange. **link removed**