[Review] Changelly VS ShapeShift – The “Instant” Cryptocurrency exchanges

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The recent altcoin boom has brought in a lot of new cryptocurrency traders and many people are looking for quick, cost effective ways to buy altcoins like Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero and others.

In today’s post I want to cover a relatively new type of altcoin exchange. It’s something I call “instant” cryptocurrency exchanges. These exchanges allow you to trade any cryptocurrency for a different cryptocurrency with a relatively simple process, small fee, speed and sometimes even anonymously.

Today there are 2 main exchanges that supply this sort of service, Changelly and Shapeshift.

Full disclosure – I haven’t used any of these exchanges personally yet. I’ve mainly reviewed the sites, the online reviews and compared the different features. Personally, I’m not that big of an altcoin fan. If you have any experience with either of these exchanges please share it in the comment section below.

Shapeshift – Fastest, most private and most convenient exchange

Shapeshift was founded in 2013 by Erik Voorhees and received its first round of funding only in 2015. Shapeshift does not let you buy crpytocurrnecy with fiat (i.e. Dollars, Euros etc.) but only to quickly swap between cryptocurrencies.

The process is fairly simple:

  1. You select the crypto you want to swap (i.e. send)
  2. You select the crypto you want to receive and insert the relevant crypto address (e.g. your ETH address)
  3. Shapeshift creates a deposit address for you, once you deposit the funds the new currency will be on its way.shapeshift exchange

That’s it. No emails or passwords. No lengthy sign­up process. No accounts. No bid and ask orders. No friction. And no sending your money to be held on a centralized exchange. Here’s a short video demonstrating the process:

Small deposits are processed with zero confirmations. Larger deposits wait for at least 1 confirmation. The exchange rate shown is exactly what you’ll receive, minus only the miner fee required by the network. There is no exchange fee, or service fee. For a full list of mining fees check out this page.

I haven’t confirmed this yet but it seems that Shapeshift is monetizing the company off the diffrence between the actual mining fee and the fixed mining fee Shapeshift charges. For example, the current Bitcoin mining fee is 0.003BTC which is around $7.8. However, you can pass a transaction through the network with a much lower transaction fee.

If you go through user reviews of the exchange you can see that the most common complaint is regarding the time it takes the transaction to go through and the high fees. However always take user reviews with a grain of salt. Some user don’t try to reach out for help and are left frustrated in a case that may have been solved relatively quickly through the customer support.

It’s also worth mentioning that Shapeshift allows you to stay completely anonymous as they don’t request any sign up to their service.

Moving on to the competition – Changelly.

Changelly is a cryptocurrency exchange that claims to have “an intuitive interface, the best exchange rates and secure transactions. Fees are said to be  0.5% and that’s it, full stop.” Changelly was established on 2016 and within a year has managed to attract over 100,000 users which is very impressive.

Changelly was set up by the same guys who established MinerGate – a mining pool that allows you to join other miners from around the world using your computer or mobile phone. Although MinerGate is a very popular service I personally have issues with companies that don’t disclose who is running the show. As is the case with Changelly and MinerGate.

Changelly indeed has a very sleek and intuitive interface. From the get go it’s clear how much money you’ll spend and how much you’ll receive. Fees are also stated clearly at the side of the transaction as shown below.

changelly transaction

However as you can see, for $2500 which is the current price for 1 Bitcoin on Bistamp I’d get only 0.8357 Bitcoins. This seems like more than a 0.5% fee to me. Below the exchange rate Changelly shows the following message:

“USD/EUR rates are slightly high now, sorry. Please check rates attentively before payment.”

So at least they are aware of that, however it still doesn’t explain the big difference. I’ve contacted Changelly and asked about this, apparently it’s due to the fact that they are using a 3rd party service for fiat to Bitcoin purchases, this makes the fees on those trades much higher.

If you check other currency exchange rates such as ETH or LTC you see that indeed the prices are more or less the same like you’d find on Poloniex or Shapeshift. In many cases you’ll even get a better exchange rate on Changelly than on Shapeshift.

Another thing to keep in mind is that unlike Shapeshift, you’ll need an email address in order to use Changelly. Of course you can use a fake one if anonymity is important but that’s something to consider.

Checking out other online reviews of Changelly I found only that people are complaining about the high exchange rates, fees and long transaction times.

Additional concerns were raised about the fact the Changelly may ask users to supply social media accounts to verify their identity in addition to the email account. However it doesn’t seem like this poses any real barrier to someone who still wishes to remain anonymous.

So who’s the winner?

It’s hard to say, both exchanges seem to have a good product but also a lot of angry users. I suggest starting out using a very small amount you are willing to risk in case something goes wrong and trying both exchanges.

If you’re really into getting the best possible rates you’re probably better off using a traditional altcoin exchange like Poloniex or Bittrex and buy at specific prices (i.e. not the market price). This of course will take more time.

In the end Changelly seems to have better fees but Shapeshift has better reputation. As it seems there’s no clear winner this time and the choice, as always, is yours…

If you have any experience with either of these exchanges please share it in the comment section below.

Ofir Beigel

Owner at 99 Coins ltd.
Blogger and owner of 99Bitcoins. I've been dealing with Bitcoin since the beginning of 2013 and it taught me a lesson in finance that I couldn't get anywhere else on the planet. I'm not a techie, I don't understand "Hashes" and "Protocols", I designed this website with people like myself in mind. My expertise is online marketing and I've dedicated a large portion of 99Bitcoins to Bitcoin marketing.

25 Comments

  1. Diego Rodríguez on

    Tried it recently. Paid me 91% of the effective rate.

    I traded BCC to BTC. Expected 0.023, received 0.021.

    Even a few seconds before being confirmed it said 0.0228 estimated amount.

    Worst thing ever.

  2. HI. I am a noob at cryptocurrency. Had my first experience of using ShapeShift BTC -> ETH. Glad that it went through without any problems. However, I stumbled on this article while searching for other lower cost yet reliable solution for long term.

  3. Private Friend on

    I have personally lost ETH on Shapeshift on 2 times, before I stopped using them. What happened was that after sending in the deposit, there website took me to a separate page instructing me to contact them. When I did, they said they could not see my deposits. The other times are with other financial providers who use Shapeshift. Often I need to complete an exchange on a separate platform, only to discover that they too lost my deposit or something went wrong, and when I dig deeper by asking their technicians, it turns out that they too are using Shapeshipt!!
    Shapeshift is either incompetent or a scam, either way its the same end result. I have personally lost over 45 ETH at shapeshift, 100% true.
    I use changelly, and although they sometimes take longer to process transaction, they have ALWAYS completed them, and if you do not wish to give your email, then don’t.
    I 100% recommend changelly for safety and for not loosing money.

  4. Swati Patel on

    Thank you for the review, you actually gave the current insight.

    I just tried changelly for a minimum allowed transaction for BTC to ETH and it went through smooth and completed in 20 mins, following are the stats for the transaction:

    Amount: 0.00123067 BTC
    Money received: 11 Jul 2017, 17:09:45
    Fee: 0.000490069949999999 ETH
    Exchange rate: 1 BTC = 11.04429249 ETH
    Amount: 0.013523920049999999 ETH
    Money sent: 11 Jul 2017, 17:29:43

    Hope this will help someone. Would definitely like to try shapeshift too, as that is quite older than changelly… but when I saw too much negative reviews abt shapeshift then I made my mind to try changelly first.. and it succeeded to get my some trust..

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Thanks for the feedback Swati and sharing the details of your transaction, it can be useful.

  5. Jose De la Rosa on

    Buenas tardes Señores
    Después de saludarles y agradecerles por sus buenos artículos, no se casi nada de Criptomonedas, después del bitcoins que monedas ustedes me recomiendan para invertir 300 o 400 dólares por un año o dos, para dejarlo ahí como ahorros haber si suben de precios

  6. What I know is that, if you exchange from USD to crypto, it is really expensive, but when you exchange from crypto to another crypto it is cheaper. Maybe that is why shapeshift doesn’t support fiat currencies. I tried USD to eth for example and tried btc to eth, I can get more eth if I exchange btc to eth, with the same amount as my tested USD.

  7. Thanks for the review. Very insightful.

    I have used both Shapeshift and Changelly to exchange cryptocurrencies. Both have their own pros and cons. We always have to see the exchange rate while doing the transaction because cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and different exchanges have different prices at any given time. So to decide which exchange is giving best rate I use Coinswitch. It fetches rates from multiple exchanges and allows me to exchange at best rate. It has integration with ShapeShift and Changelly as well. That’s why I always prefer to use them.

  8. I’ve not tried Changelly, but shapeshift on a Jaxx wallet took 17 hours to change bitcoin to Ethereum

  9. Konstantin on

    Hey Guys! I’m Konstantin, CEO at Changelly. Ofir, many thanks for your comparison.
    Changelly is rather new company, but we already have about 300K users and processed 150K transactions in May. Now we are doing about 50% of ShapeShift daily volume and keep growing. One of our key advantage is that we almost have no amount restrictions to exchange, users sometimes are exchanging up to 200 BTC once. We have slightly better rates for crypto-crypto transactions, as our trading algorithm splits the transaction for a few smaller orders on Poloniex and Bittrex, our exchange partners. We believe that competition on the market drives companies to give better service for customers! thanks.

  10. Joseph Metz on

    Changelly charged $660 for 1 Zcash which lists for $405. At the end I decided to cancel. Instead of canceling they called me from England encouraging me to reconsider & asking about my bank account though I used a credit card.

    Spooked me. I wont be doing business with them again.

  11. I’ve tried bother services and ShapeShift is my exchange of choice. I tried Changelly once and one time only, it was a bad experience. I was exchanging litecoin for ripple and after a long wait I saw a message pop up that said “Transaction not completed” It wasn’t a very large amount but I was really heated. I emailed Changelly Immediately and got an automated response that said give them 24hrs to respond. It was late so I went to bed but I never got a response from them and the ripple went through hours later in the middle of the night. I eventually got the ripple but the experience was stressful. After that fiasco with changelly I gave shapeshift a shot and the the transaction was smooth and stress free. I’ve used shapeshift 4 times now and haven’t had, not even a hint of a problem. Ive seen bad reviews for both and I can understand the dissatisfaction with changelly, but I’m not seeing the problem with shapeshift.

  12. Thanks Ofir for another great review.. I knows it’s kinda hard to say which one would be the winner but still thanks for the insight and it would really help us users to choose which site/app can offer best… ^_^

  13. Hello Ofir.
    Thanks a lot for the review. I am also a subscriber to your lessons on bitcoin and I must confess that your mails were very educative and eye opening.
    Just recently, I was introduced to a site referred to as Bitcoin Brain Limited.. I don’t know if you are aware or you know one or 2 things about the site.
    I am actually interested in investing in bitcoins but I want to work with a company that is tested and trusted..
    Your opinion/ input would be highly appreciated.
    Cheers.

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