Coinbase is an excellent entry point to cryptocurrency as it solves some of the most pressing issues regarding crypto barriers of entry: it’s one of a select few players allowing conversion from USD to crypto, it’s user friendly, and it’s trustworthy. But let’s face it, Coinbase’s options are limited, and there are dozens of other cryptocurrency exchanges out there.
Currently Coinbase only offers Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash, whereas CoinMarketCap.com lists well over 1,000 cryptocurrencies. If you’re looking to diversify a crypto portfolio, here are a few trusted ideas on where to purchase a broader range of coins. The first four are all in the top ten crypto exchanges by volume, and the last one provides an option for a desktop wallet with a built in exchange.
Binance offers a large selection of trading pairs and 0.05% trading fees when you pay trading fees with the exchange’s native BNB token (well worth the purchase of a few BNB). It offers both a desktop client and mobile app, and you can choose between a basic or advanced version of the web interface.
Number of trading pairs: Around 80 BTC, 80 ETH, and 5 USDT pairs.
Advantages: Multi-language; availability of some rarer coins; low trading fees; high volume; uses 2 factor authentication for enhanced security
Disadvantages: Deposits and withdrawals only allowed in crypto; some currency withdrawal fees are above average
Fees: Fees are 0.05% if using native BNB tokens or 0.1% otherwise
*USDT refers to USD Tether, a cryptocurrency designed to be tied to the value of the US Dollar. USDT allows exchange users to “trade against the dollar” at exchanges that only trade crypto to crypto pairings.*
Bittrex is a leader in BTC pairings and where I did almost all of my trading before Binance came onto the scene. This is the next place I look if Binance doesn’t have a crypto I’m looking for.
Number of trading pairs: around 200 BTC pairs, 60 ETH pairs, and 10 USDT pairs
Advantages: Large variety of trading pairs; high volume; uses 2 factor authentication for enhanced security
Disadvantages: Deposits and withdrawals are only allowed in crypto; 0.25% fees are higher than other exchanges
Fees: All fees are a flat 0.25%.
Poloniex is a solid crypto to crypto exchange whose main standout is the ability to directly trade Monero with other cryptocurrencies.
Number of trading pairs: Around 65 BTC, 10 ETH, 10 XMR, and 10 USDT pairs.
Advantages: ability to directly trade Monero (XMR); uses 2 factor authentication for enhanced security; margin trading
Disadvantages: Deposits and withdrawals are only allowed in crypto, lower overall variety in trading pairs than other major exchanges
Fees: Fees begin at Maker 0.15% (placing an order on the order books) and Taker 0.25% (filling a previously placed order) but lower if trading volume thresholds are met.
Bitfinex doesn’t work with US customers anymore, but it still offers a number of benefits to those not originating in the US – including advanced trading options and the ability to deposit USD or Euros. Furthermore, Bitfinex is one of the only exchanges that allows trading crypto to USD (most exchanges only allow crypto to USDT).
Number of trading pairs: Around 20 BTC pairs, 10 ETH pairs, and 20 USD pairs.
Advantages: high volume; a number of advanced orders including trailing stop and fill or kill; margin trading; high amount of USD pairs; uses 2 factor authentication for enhanced security
Disadvantages: Does not work with US-based customers; hacked in August 2016; questions have arisen as to how Bitfinex uses the Tether (USDT) cryptocurrency when it offers no USDT trading pairs
Fees: Fees begin at Maker 0.1% (placing an order on the order books) and Taker 0.2% (filling a previously placed order) but lower if trading volume thresholds are met.
If shuffling crypto back and forth from exchanges isn’t your thing, it may be worthwhile to check out the Shapeshift exchange. You can exchange more than 40 cryptos directly at Shapeshift.io, or you can use the built in exchange in the Exodus desktop wallet. Exodus is a user-friendly, secure desktop wallet where you can exchange in and out of 18 cryptocurrencies all from within the wallet application. Shapeshift is recommended for those making fewer and/or larger crypto trades as fees are higher than the above options.
Number of trading pairs: 18 cryptocurrencies can be traded with each other from within Exodus or over 40 cryptos can be traded through the web interface, with support for more coming soon.
Advantages: funds are not left in the hands of an exchange; greater exposure to cryptocurrency than Coinbase alone; easy to use; no sign-up needed whatsoever; the exchange can take place directly from your wallet application
Disadvantages: relatively low number of coins compared to other exchanges; higher transaction fees
Fees: Fees depend on the currencies being traded. They are per transaction and not by volume, so larger transactions are more efficient. Shapeshift fees can be found here: info.shapeshift.io/about.
Whichever exchange you pick depends on how often you want to trade, the cryptos you’re looking for, and sometimes even where you’re from. Always pay attention to fees, variety of cryptocurrency trading pairs, and trade volume before making any deposits.
Lastly, keep in mind that cryptocurrency exchanges aren’t generally known for speedy customer support. To avoid any hiccups, always verify wallet addresses when sending money to or from an exchange. And while it’s not common, some centralized exchanges have been hacked in the past, so I highly recommended keeping most of your funds off of an exchange unless you are actively trading.