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The Best Crypto Exchanges

What's the Best Cryptocurrency Exchange?

Are you interested in buying cryptocurrency? Want to know what all the fuss is about? Do you want to make sure you're a part of the next financial craze that sweeps the nation? When it comes to cryptocurrency, there's a lot to know - both good and bad. But it's not rocket science.

Obviously, one of the primary reasons that people to get involved in crypto is the potential for financial gain. Cryptocurrencies have experienced substantial price increases in the past, leading to significant profits for early adopters and investors. Conversely, cryptocurrencies have also experience significant decreases in value. With such a volatile asset, the old adage "buy low, sell high" has never been more true.

Wednesday, June 19th

2024 Crypto Exchange Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Kraken Review 5 Star Rating

Kraken

5 Star Rating
  • 1.5% transaction fee for instant buy orders
  • 0.16% / 0.26% maker/taker fees
  • Over 100 supported cryptocurrencies
  • Range of USD withdrawal fees: $4 to $35
  • No integrated hot wallet
  • Crypto Futures and margin trading with Kraken Pro
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Kraken was founded by Jesse Powell in 2011, and much like its mythological namesake, Kraken has grown into the fifth largest crypto exchange in the world. Size doesn't automatically equate to quality, however. So, what exactly does Kraken offer to the would-be investor?

Reasonable transaction fees for "Kraken Pro"

Kraken doesn't actually tell you their instant-buy fees in their fee schedule for non-pro members, which is annoying to say the least. However, it is a flat 1.5% for all transactions not made through Kraken Pro. Kraken Pro members will encounter a much more reasonable maker/taker fee than ranges from 0.16% to 0.26%. While Kraken Pro doesn't cost any extra, it is aimed towards experienced investors. As such, we don't necessarily appreciate the high 1.5% fee aimed towards those who may not recognize that a 1.5% transaction fee is abnormally high.

Withdrawal fees

Kraken has some reasonable withdrawal fees: for reference, their Bitcoin withdrawal fee is .0002 BTC ($5 USD), with the withdrawal minimum at .0005 BTC. As for fiat currency, fees range from $4 to $35 depending on your chosen method, with a base $20 withdrawal minimum.

Want to use Kraken? Use Kraken Pro

As a free and well reviewed platform/application, there is little reason not to use Kraken Pro if you are an experienced investor. Not only do you get access to more favorable maker/taker fees, but you also have the option for margin and futures trading, in addition to a more informative and customizable interface, and access to real time market data. While other platforms offer margin and futures trading for non-U.S. customers, Kraken is one of the only ones to do so for U.S.-based traders.

Best Cryptocurrenty Exchanges

Relatively good customer service

In addition, Kraken is one of the largest exchanges on our list to offer actual 24/7 phone support that isn't locked behind a premium or payment option. For that alone, Kraken earns major points from us, especially as the field is dominated by other exchanges with relentlessly poor customer service.

No integrated wallet

Kraken does not offer an integrated wallet, which may put off those looking for a seamless hot-wallet. However, this likely won't be a problem for experienced investors who already have at least one other hot or cold wallet anyway. Experienced investors will find that Kraken Pro's futures and margin trade offerings more than make up for this.

Lawsuits, controversies, litigation

Kraken has received flack not only for the sale of unregistered securities, but also for the actions of its founder Jesse Powell, who sent multiple official messages to employees publicly questioning the intellectual capabilities of women, and encouraging those who disagreed to leave. While Jesse Powell stepped down as CEO in 2022, he remains as chairman, which may be important for those who want their crypto exchange to align with their values.

The best for experienced traders

In sum, Kraken is one of the best exchanges out there, even if it has a problematic history with its SEC litigation and the political opinions of its founder. Kraken's in-depth trading interface offers robust options for the experienced trader, and is one of the only exchanges to offer margin trading and crypto futures for U.S customers. However, its lack of an integrated wallet, and high transaction fees targeting novice investors, mean that those new to crypto may be better served elsewhere, until they have enough experience to navigate Kraken Pro.

Coinbase Review 4.5 Star Rating

Coinbase

4.5 Star Rating
  • Flat 1% transaction fee on all cryptocurrency transactions with free program
  • No transaction fees with $30 per month subscription program
  • Maker fees from 0% to 0.4%
  • Taker fees from 0.05% to 0.6%
  • Integrated hot-wallet
  • About 250 supported coins
  • Great customer service with subscriber program; poor customer service without

Operating since 2012, and recently advertised in the Superbowl, Coinbase is one of the largest U.S. licensed cryptocurrency exchanges. They offer an excellent variety of investment and earning options for U.S. investors in a simplified, easy-to-use interface. And their subscriber-based program delivers a wealth of benefits. However Coinbase has also been involved with a number of lawsuits including the trading of unregulated securities and harvesting of customer biometric data. Still, Coinbase stacks up as a strong option regardless of whether you're a new or experienced crypto investor.

Easy to use interface

Coinbase has earned recognition as having one of the most easy-to-use customer interfaces available. Novices and experienced investors alike find it simple to find and invest in the wide range of crypto assets that Coinbase provides. With the (sometimes) confusing nature of crypto trading, this feature makes Coinbase stand out among their competition.

1% transaction fees with free program, zero fees with subscription

Coinbase charges a flat 1% transaction fee on all cryptocurrency transactions - but with their $30/month subscription program "Conebase One" , however, this transaction fee goes away. Their maker/taker fees are tiered and can range from 0%-0.4% (maker) and 0.05%-0.6% (taker). Their withdrawal and deposit fees for fiat currency are standard, with $0 withdrawal/deposit fees for ACH transfers, $10 fee for a wire deposit, and $25 for a wire withdrawal.

Extensive staking options

Coinbase's staking options are extensive. Coinbase offers staking in 121 assets, which can be a good way to put your crypto to work. Keep in mind, however, that staking involves risk, and prices could plunge while your coins are staked and unable to be traded. In short, always be sure to do your due diligence in a project before staking your coins with them.

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Integrated hot-wallet

One convenient benefit of Coinbase is that they offer their own integrated hot-wallet. This is perfect for beginners just getting started, who may not want to research and set up a third-party wallet. Because the keys are stored on your downloaded device, it safely and securely integrates your wallet with Coinbase. Keep in mind that the safest option would be a cold wallet on a flashdrive; however, an integrated hot-wallet is a great way to have some crypto on hand for trades and payments.

Free program = just plain bad customer service

Unfortunately, the free program offered by Coinbase is infamous for its poor customer service. Client reviews frequently cite being locked out of their accounts, with reps being extremely unresponsive in helping gain them access. As an example of this. Coinbase's link to "contact us" leads to a FAQ page with no contact information, and a small window to query a chatbot. However, this is all fixed with a subscription to their Coinbase One program.

"Coinbase One" delivers great benefits and service

Many of Coinbase's troubles are solved by their $30 per month subscription service, Coinbase One. With Coinbase One, not only will you have no transaction fees, but you'll also get priority customer service and have access to a 24/7 support line, as opposed to a semi-automated chatbot. You also enjoy other benefits as well, such as boosted staking rewards If it's important to you that your assets are supported, and you are sick of transaction fees, you really should consider a Coinbase One subscription.

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Frustrating account-closing practice

If you have any "dust" in your account (fractional amounts of cryptocurrency, say, in the .0000000001 range) Coinbase doesn't make it easy to close your account with them. You're in a catch-22; you don't have enough crypto in your account to process withdrawal fees for the marginal amount left, and if you have a marginal amount left, you can't close your account. Their competitors allow you to convert dust into BNB (a widely used crypto coin). In any case, keep in mind that if you want to close your account with Coinbase, these fractional shares can make life frustrating.

Alleged data collection

Coinbase has also been sued for allegedly collecting the biometric data of its customers without their consent: specifically facial scans and fingerprint data. Additionally, at the time of this evaluation, Coinbase had just received a Wells notice regarding the sale of unregistered securities. This means that Coinbase was about to be sued by the SEC for the sale of unregistered securities, which may mean the cessation of its staking programs for U.S. citizens.

Overall an impressive range of services

Coinbase is the largest U.S. based centralized cryptocurrency exchange. They offer an easy way to find and invest in crypto assets that appeals to both novices and pros alike. And their Coinbase One subscriber program eliminates transaction fees, among other benefits. Even so, Coinbase is not without their faults. Poor customer service with their free program and ongoing lawsuits are things to keep an eye on. However, it's undeniable that if you have the money to spare for a Coinbase One subscription, Coinbase should be a strong choice for your cryptocurrency exchange.

Binance Review 4 Star Rating

Binance

4 Star Rating
  • 075% maker/taker fees (with the BNB 25% discount)
  • Dynamic crypto withdrawal fees
  • $1.00-$15.00 fiat withdrawal
  • Extensive staking/earning options
  • Free trading for crypto trading pairs (BTC and ETH)
  • Integrated wallet "Trustwallet"

Binance has a long history as a cryptocurrency exchange, though a somewhat dodgy one at that. According to major financial publications, there has been a significant outflow of capital from Binance since the collapse of FTX: though this is reflective of cryptocurrency uncertainty more generally. As the largest in the world, it's unlikely that Binance will go the way of FTX. That being said, how does their exchange stack up for the average crypto investor?

In the U.S? Use Binance US

Before going further, keep in mind that as a U.S. user, you are only legally allowed to access Binance U.S., which has a smaller selection of about 125 cryptocurrencies, and doesn't offer margin or futures trading. Binance's shenanigans with Binance U.S. have led to extensive and ongoing legal troubles (more below).

Some of the lowest transaction fees out there

A key plus to using Binance U.S. are their low/no trading fees. Trading specific ETH pairs on Binance - of which there are many - will incur no trading fees, which is a nice benefit. Their base-rate maker/taker fees clock in at a wonderfully reasonable .075% if you pay the fees with their in-house coin, BNB.

Standard withdrawal fees

While their trading fees are welcoming, however, their withdrawal fees are an annoyance, though a standard one. As of writing this review, BTC withdrawal fees amounted to $27, where withdrawals of fiat currency cost $10-$15. While withdrawal costs are dynamic, and change daily based on demand and processing costs, they also are a critical factor in determining your exchange.

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Staking

Binance also offers staking through their exchange: supporting proof-of-stake coins and projects with your cryptocurrency and receiving a percent reward. Binance's staking is secure, and your staked coins are stored in a cold-wallet. Keep in mind, however, that as Binance was under investigation for the selling of unregistered securities, there is no telling how long such programs will last for U.S. residents.

Potentially overwhelming, but well integrated

For those newer to trading, Binance's extensive trading interface may be overwhelming. However, their simplified integrations with TrustWallet (an easy-to-use hot-wallet) and "Pay" (their in-house crypto payment service) mean that you can seamlessly buy, transfer, and pay from Binance's ecosystem. In addition, both "Pay" and Trustwallet have earned overall positive reviews, which often cite their ease of use.

Bad customer service

Binance's customer service is quite frankly terrible, which is unfortunately common across digital brokers and centralized cryptocurrency exchanges. Customers frequently report being locked out of their account at random, with Binance automatically rejecting verification documents. This technical problem is compounded by an incredibly slow, understaffed and unhelpful customer service team. In short, if you use Binance, don't be surprised if your customer service ticket takes a while to be answered.

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A pattern of regulation skirting

It's important to note that Binance has a dodgy history with regulatory compliance. According to reports from major financial news organizations, "BinanceUS" was set up as a de-facto subsidiary of Binance meant to deflect regulatory attention (it was termed the "tai chi" strategy in internal company meetings). This was coupled with the general allowance of money laundering and suspicious activity on its platform, as well as actively coaching "VIP" users how to avoid U.S. regulations. As such, Binance was being sued by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and was under investigation from the SEC and IRC due to its role in facilitating money laundering.

Don't let your coins loiter

Binance saw a massive cash-outflow since the FTX scandal. Combined with the fact that - as of writing this review - Binance blocked all bitcoin withdrawals twice in 24 hours due to high withdrawal volume, Binance's U.S. services may very well be undergoing further change. While it is highly unlikely Binance will collapse like FTX, such episodes are a good reminder to always secure your crypto, and never leave your coins sitting in an exchange.

Best for day-trading

With standard withdrawal fees and low exchange costs, Binance is best for day traders making frequent transactions with few qualms about Binances' regulatory sidestepping. If you're outside of the U.S., it gets even better with robust futures and margin trading, and expanded staking options. But, with its history of legal troubles and poor customer service, more casual investors should perhaps think twice before using Binance.

CoinSmart Review 4 Star Rating

CoinSmart

4 Star Rating
  • 0% wire deposit fees ($5,000 minimum)
  • 6.25% credit/debit deposit fee ($50 minimum)
  • 1% fiat withdrawal fee ($50 minimum)
  • .2% Bitcoin and CAD trading fee
  • .3% non-Bitcoin trading fee
  • .0005 BTC withdrawal fee
  • Immediate crypto delivery

CoinSmart is a growing cryptocurrency exchange that is based in Canada, and only serves those in Canada or the EU (sorry, U.S. investors). While still small, and yet to gain access to most major markets, how does CoinSmart stack up to its larger competitors?

Low fees and the convenience of "Smart Trade"

While CoinSmart's low withdrawal fees (and $0 deposit fee for $5,000 wires) is welcome, this is somewhat negated by their mid-priced maker/taker fees: for all trades made with Bitcoin and Canadian Dollars, it's .2%, for everything else, it's .3%. One nice element is that these mid-price fees partially pay for their "Smart Trade" program; instead of fiddling with trading pairs, CoinSmart does it all for you, and lets you buy altcoin-to-altcoin (with the .3% maker/taker fee to cover costs).

Low processing times, for now anyway...

One of CoinSmart's biggest draws are its instant crypto processing times. While welcome, this is partially a side-effect of the fact that they are still a small exchange. If they continue to grow, it is likely that processing times will slow accordingly due to higher network traffic.

Best Cryptocurrenty Exchanges

The largest exchange ...in Canada

Even though CoinSmart is still the largest Canadian crypto exchange out there, it is still relatively small, and yet to fully prove itself. Oftentimes, a pattern among any company once they have accrued a user base, is to change the terms and conditions to extract more value from those already there. While CoinSmart may seem like a smart choice today, it is still growing, and may be a radically different service one to two years down the line, so keep that in mind as you use their service.

Good customer service

We appreciate that CoinSmart's customer service includes a phone line, though it appears that you need to navigate a chatbot in order to access it. Reviews, however, generally cite a positive experience with customer support: a rarity in the crypto world.

An excellent exchange for those who can access it

In short, CoinSmart is a good choice for Canadian and European investors who are looking to buy and sell cryptocurrency in a beginner-friendly environment with relatively reasonable fees, don't want to have to fiddle with trading pairs, and like quick transaction/withdrawal times. Its geographic limitations, however, is also the greatest limitation in our review, and as most markets are unable to access CoinSmart as of writing, it likely is not the best choice for most crypto investors.

KuCoin Review 3.5 Star Rating

KuCoin

3.5 Star Rating
  • .07%/.1% maker/taker fees
  • 20% discount when fees are paid in KCS
  • Over 700 coins on offer
  • Not licensed in the U.S.: no fiat deposits
  • Social investing
  • Staking, margin, and futures trading
  • No fiat deposit for U.S. users

KuCoin is a prominent cryptocurrency exchange that provides a platform for users to trade a wide range of digital assets. Established in 2017, it has gained a strong reputation for its advanced features, robust security measures, and extensive selection of cryptocurrencies. With its user-friendly interface and commitment to innovation, KuCoin has become a popular choice for both seasoned traders and newcomers in the crypto space.

In the U.S? Then you're unverified

KuCoin is technically not licensed to operate in the U.S. However, you are still able to use Kucoin; you just aren't able to be "verified" , meaning that you are less supported by KuCoin, you receive no fraud or scam protection, and are limited in the amounts you are able to trade and withdraw. KuCoin's withdrawal restrictions are not extensive, and amount to a 5 bitcoin per 24hr withdrawal limit for unverified accounts. The biggest barrier for U.S. users is that depositing fiat currency requires you to be verified. This means that for the U.S. user to purchase crypto on KuCoin, you need to buy your coins on a separate exchange, transfer them to your KuCoin integrated wallet, and then start trading on KuCoin. That's a significant set of steps, and may be daunting for new crypto traders.

Best for altcoin exploration

If you are an experienced trader looking for emerging altcoins, then KuCoin may very well be worth it. With over 700 Cryptocurrencies supported, KuCoin takes the cake in terms of variety. In addition, their maker/taker fees are some of the best out there, at .07% and .1% respectively, with a further 20% discount if you pay the fees with their in-house coin, KCS. This is coupled with some standard withdrawal fees: their bitcoin withdrawal fee stands at about .001, about $27 dollars.

Best Cryptocurrenty Exchanges

Robust earning and trading options... but no support for U.S. traders

KuCoin does offer a set of earning programs such as Crypto staking and crypto lending programs However, considering regulatory pressure from the SEC, and the fact that U.S. users must use the platform unverified, we think it is likely a bad idea to use these programs as a U.S. resident - especially in light of the collapse of Gemini's earn program, and the loss of 340,000 customers' assets.

Futures, margins, and options trading

In the same vein, while KuCoin does offer futures, margins, and options trading, we think it is probably best not to engage in such activities on KuCoin if you live in the U.S. If you do, you will not receive the full support of the KuCoin's customer service should anything go wrong. If you are an experienced, non-U.S. investor however, and have completed KuCoin's Know Your Customer verification process, then KuCoin's robust trading options may very well be a good fit.

A great choice for experienced traders

If you already know the ropes, and are looking to trade alt-coins and other less-common crypto, then by all means, KuCoin is an excellent exchange. However, KuCoin is not a good choice for U.S. investors, as being unverified means less support from the platform in case of hacking or fraud. In short, KuCoin could be great for some, but we do not recommend KuCoin for the general U.S. user - especially when it comes to their KuCoin earn program.

Crypto Review 3 Star Rating

Crypto

3 Star Rating
  • .075% maker/taker fees
  • $25 dollar withdrawal fee for fiat currency
  • Integrated "DeFi" hot-wallet
  • High deposit and withdrawal minimums for retail investors
  • "Crypto Earn" percent-based rewards program

Crypto is a leading cryptocurrency platform that offers a comprehensive suite of services to users worldwide. Founded in 2016, it provides a user-friendly mobile app that allows individuals to buy, sell, and trade various cryptocurrencies with ease. With its diverse range of features, including a crypto wallet, a Visa card with cashback rewards, and an ecosystem of DeFi products, Crypto has become a go-to platform for crypto enthusiasts looking for a seamless and all-encompassing experience.

Great transaction/withdrawal fees

Crypto's transaction and withdrawal fees match the best out there, and are refreshingly easy to navigate, with .075 flat maker/taker fees for all transactions, Their fiat withdrawal fees are average at $25, and their crypto withdrawal fees vary per coin, but are slightly below average. For reference, their BTC withdrawal fee is .0005: about $13.57.

High deposit minimums

Keep in mind that this cryptocurrency exchange has some pretty high minimum deposits and withdrawals: with $500 minimum deposit, and a $500 minimum withdrawal, Crypto is definitely not an ideal choice for the casual investor, or those looking to familiarize themself with crypto trading in a low-stakes environment.

A well written privacy notice

One thing we appreciate is Crypto's easily digestible privacy notice, in which they detail exactly what data they collect, how your data is used by the company, and how they notify you of said data. In particular, we appreciate that the selling of your data to third-party advertisers is opt-in, and not opt-out.

A complicated crypto lending program

Most exchanges have some form of incentive to keep your coins with them, and Crypto is no exception. Crypto provides a "Crypto earn" program: an interlocking combination of staking CRO - Crypto's in-house coin - and lending your own cryptocurrency (though they never actually use the word "lending" , or otherwise inform you that that's what they're doing). Unlike staking - in which your coins work to validate a coin or project - "Crypto earn" entails lending your coins to a third-party determined by Crypto. Reward rates are variable, and are determined by the coin you choose, whether you are currently staking any CRO, and whether you choose a flexible, 3 month, or 6 month period.

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Crypto Visa card

Should you choose to stake CRO, then you are also eligible to apply to their Crypto Visa card. This offers further "earn" rewards and card tiers based on the amount of CRO you choose to stake. As an important aside, Crypto's DeFi wallet - through which you'll be "locking" your crypto - has earned positive user reviews across the board, which is a nice change of pace considering the mass of poorly-reviewed wallets out there.

Lending, not just "earning"

While their "earn" program seems attractive, remember that you are essentially trusting them not to lose your assets. The cryptocurrency market is still recovering from the collapse of FTX, and Crypto itself specifies that your loaned coins through Earn are NOT insured or protected. In fact, a similar program offered through Gemini - Gemini earn - completely collapsed when their lending partner Genesis declared bankruptcy following the FTX debacle. As Gemini is also being sued by the SEC due to the collapse of Gemini earn, remember: only lend what you're willing to lose, because your coins are absolutely not safe when lent. Crypto's reticence to actually tell their customers that they're lending their coins is what has earned them a lower spot on our list, in spite of their otherwise good offerings.

Standard (relatively poor) customer service

Crypto's customer service is nothing special (meaning it is slightly less terrible than competitors). They offer no phone line unless you navigate their chatbot, and their chatbot states that replies will take at least 12 hours. As with most exchanges, your best bet is simply to not have a customer service problem in the first place, or to get access to Crypto "Private" : their top-tier service, with multiple extras included, including more robust customer service.

Few lawsuits or scandals

In a field awash with privacy scandals and lawsuits, Crypto is refreshingly not being sued by anyone (although, that is likely to change, considering recent SEC actions and their "Crypto earn" program). Crypto has a clearly defined privacy policy, and no scandals on record (except for mistakenly sending one investor millions of dollars worth of ethereum). Taken in sum, Crypto is a good choice for those who are looking for an integrated exchange/wallet with robust earning options, and don't mind the high withdrawal/deposit minimums. If you participate in their "earn" program, however, be well-warned that it is not a bank, is not insured, and you may lose your investment completely.

Robinhood Review 2.5 Star Rating

Robinhood

2.5 Star Rating
  • No transaction fees (PFOF)
  • No transfer fees (still need to pay "gas" fees)
  • No deposit minimums
  • $5,000 transfer limits
  • Integrated wallet

With oceans of bad blood earned during the Wallstreetbets Gamestop saga, and acceptance of payment for order flow (PFOF), Robinhood gets an (understandably) bad rap. However, if you aren't engaging in risky trades (or meme-based short squeezes), you could do a lot worse than Robinhood, which has an incredibly simple user interface, no deposit minimums, and no transaction fees. Just remember, with Robinhood - more than any other exchange/broker on our list - you are the product.

You are the product, not the customer

One of Robinhood's biggest draws is its complete lack of transaction fees. However, keep in mind that you are the product here. Robinhood's business model revolves around Payment for order flow (PFOF), which means that market makers pay Robinhood to take your trades. This has led to questionable activities in the past. In fact, Robinhood was fined $70 million by the SEC in 2020 for strategically routing orders to market-makers who overcharged them (the fine amounted to a fraction of Robinhood's then $900 million profits that year). In that context, Robinhood is part-and-parcel of a financial apparatus that contributes to information asymmetry between institutional players, and retail investors (it is, however, nice to not have to pay those transaction fees!).

Integrated hot-wallet (with some app-centered transfer caps)

Robinhood just recently came out with their integrated Robinhood wallet. As previously, you technically did not own any crypto purchased through Robinhood, the inclusion of a hot-wallet is a welcome development. Keep in mind that while you are able to freely transfer as many coins from your Robinhood wallet as you want, crypto transfers out of Robinhood itself are capped at $5,000 worth or 10 transactions per day. Conveniently, you only need to pay "Gas" fees for crypto transfers: compensation for crypto miners verifying the process.

No deposit minimums

A nice plus for us is Robinhood's lack of deposit minimums; meaning you can invest as much or as little as you please. In contrast to exchanges requiring up to $500 minimum deposits, Robinhood offers an easily-accessible contrast.

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A history of disabusing their users

During the 2021 Gamestop short squeeze, Robinhood strategically halted trades of GME to protect large market makers: essentially saving institutional players at the cost of aggregate action of retail investors betting on "meme stocks" . As such, if you participate in any online investing communities, you will probably be roasted for using Robinhood.

Infamous customer service

Robinhood's customer service is notoriously bad. Lack of customer support, and allowing unqualified customers to make incredibly risky trades, directly contributed to the suicide of 20-year-old investor Alex Kearns. Led to believe that he owed $740,000 dollars to Robinhood (he did not), and with no way to access customer support or talk to an actual human, he took his own life. While Robinhood has strengthened their customer service due to the lawsuit following Alex Kearns' death, we think it's best to not use Robinhood for high-risk investments, and do not expect to be supported by the company if you do.

A genuinely good service with genuinely bad practices

Robinhood's service has low barriers to entry, it's intuitive, and has no transaction fees. Just remember, their ease-of-use is an on-ramp to encourage the harvesting and sale of retail orders, and its user-interface is gamified to encourage repeated transactions, not responsible investments (complete with confetti bursts on purchases). In spite of this, if you are looking to invest a small amount of money in crypto, and are put off by the transaction fees of other exchanges, Robinhood and its integrated wallet can be a good place to get started.

eToro Review 2 Star Rating

eToro

2 Star Rating
  • Flat 1% maker/taker fee (paid in full on purchase)
  • 2% transfer fees on crypto
  • $100,000 "virtual portfolio" to try out crypto investing with no risk
  • "Copy trading" of established investors

Founded in Tel Aviv in 2007, eToro has long billed itself as a social investing platform, which - as markets have evolved - has been appropriately adapted to include cryptocurrencies as part of its exchange. Cryptocurrency, however, is not its primary focus, and eToro supports only 24 coins. With this in mind, how does eToro compare to their specialized competitors?

Sell fees paid upfront

eToro's biggest downside is its high fees, with a flat 1% maker/taker fee for all transactions. Keep in mind, however, that on eToro you pay the 1% sell fee upfront. In essence, if you move your coins outside of eToro, and sell them elsewhere, you lose 1% of your investment. Additionally, eToro's cryptocurrency transfer fees charge a whopping 2% of any position. While it caps out at $100, eToro's transfer fees have the potential to be much higher than competitors, especially if you are transferring a large amount of crypto. In combination with the 1% sell fee paid on purchase, eToro is a poor choice for day-traders making frequent transactions.

Copy the best

Where eToro does shine, however, lies in the "social" element of their platform. Specifically, it allows you to "copy" specific traders moves for your own, ensuring that you are able to benefit from experts, without (yet) being an expert yourself. If you yourself are an accomplished trader, then you can enroll in the "popular investor program" , and receive an annual payment of 1.5% of "copied" assets: assets bought through your recommendation. Keep in mind that enrolling in this program costs $500 per month minimum, and its higher tiers include degree requirements. The ability to copy other traders exists part-and-parcel with eToro's virtual portfolio, in which you can test your acumen in a no-stakes environment. Taken as a whole, we appreciate eToro's mixture of crowdsourced knowledge, and low-stakes tools for testing more complex trading strategies.

Payment for order flow... and you still pay transaction fees

Keep in mind that eToro accepts payment for order flow, meaning that they receive compensation to send your orders to specific market makers. As such, it begs the question as to why fees are higher on eToro, when they are actively selling your buy and sell orders? Considering that other companies who accept PFOF waive transaction fees, eToro's practices are decidedly not a good look.

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Limited staking options

While eToro does offer staking through their platform, their offerings are limited to Cardano (ADA), Tron (TRX), and Ethereum (ETH), and U.S. residents cannot participate. Staking rewards are tiered via eToro membership, with more exclusive members earning a higher weekly reward. Also, staking is not available for U.S. participants.

Bad history with GME

eToro has had its fair share of controversy, as it earned ire for changing its terms of service during the 2021 Gamestop short squeeze, and added/enforced stop-losses to non-leveraged buy positions of GME without informing their customers. Keep this in mind as you consider investing in crypto with eToro. Additionally, its associated wallet is very poorly reviewed, with users reporting a buggy and unintuitive experience.

Poor customer service

eToro's customer service is also terrible, which is standard for exchanges and investing platforms targeting retail investors or cryptocurrency enthusiasts. With no live phone support, reviews frequently complain of long verification times, and account lockdowns often involving multiple thousands of dollars.

Best for the novice investor

In sum, while eToro can be an excellent choice for novice investors looking to broaden their knowledge base, or to copy the investment moves of established traders, its associated fees regarding cryptocurrency, low choice of coins and staking options, poorly reviewed wallet, acceptance of payment for order flow, and poor customer support, mean that if you are only looking to work with crypto, you would be much better served elsewhere.

TradeStation Review 1.5 Star Rating

TradeStation

1.5 Star Rating
  • $2.00 + .35%/.65% maker/taker fees
  • Only 10 coins on offer
  • No integrated wallet
  • Accepts payment for order flow
  • $100 per year "crypto admin fee"

With its first trading software developed back in 1987, the Florida-based TradeStation has been in the business for quite a while, with its direct access brokerage first released in 2000. Their general acumen, however, does not equate to quality. And, in general, whatever TradeStation offers for crypto, someone else does it better.

Overall unfair fees

TradeStations' Maker/Taker fees are not generous, with their base fees at a flat $2 plus .35% / .65% respectively. Keep in mind that if your volume exceeds $1,000 per 30 days, the $2 fee is dropped. Even so, their fees remain higher than their competitors.

What's with the Admin Fee?

Their withdrawal fees are actually quite good, with BTC withdrawal costing .00075 BTC: about $2.00. That being said, they apparently charge $100 per year for a "crypto admin fee" . What this fee is supposed to cover is beyond us. Undercoat rustproofing perhaps? It more than makes up for any benefit from their withdrawal fees.

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Fines for payment for order flow malpractice

TradeStation was served a laughably low $850,000 fine for their role in routing customer orders to market-makers without doing due diligence. In short, they sent their customers' trades to those who would overcharge and bet against them, not those offering the best price for an order. Perhaps the $850,000 slap on the wrist discouraged a company with millions in profits to stop exploiting their customers, but we think it unlikely.

Bad deals compared to competitors

We recommend against buying crypto with TradeStation. If you do, you'll be welcomed by a low number of offered coins, high maker/taker fees in spite of the fact that they accept payment for order flow, no integrated hot-wallet, and a downright greedy (and meaningless) $100 "crypto admin fee" . Even if you already have a TradeStation account, you'd be much better off just buying your crypto elsewhere.

Gemini Review 1 Star Rating

Gemini

1 Star Rating
  • .2% /.4% maker/taker fees
  • Standard 0/.01 maker/taker fees for paired stablecoins
  • $25 fiat withdrawal fee via wire
  • Opaque crypto withdrawal fees
  • Gemini Earn (paused since FTX collapse)

At one point in time, Gemini was considered a convenient and promising exchange. However, not only have their service fees steadily crept upwards, but their business practices directly lead to the loss of 340,000 customer's assets in the FTX crash. It's probably best to stay away from Gemini, but for fairness sake, here's what they offer.

Relatively high transaction fees

With .2%/.4% maker/taker fees, Gemini has higher transaction fees than many of its competitors. Gemini's withdrawal fees aren't great either, at a flat $25 for fiat withdrawal. While crypto withdrawal fees are dynamic, and change based on current market conditions, they conveniently list no examples of said changing fees.

Whoops, there it goes

Gemini used to cover the gas fees for up to 10 cryptocurrency transfers per month. However, they discontinued this service as of June 2022. It seems that since then, they're not too interested in making the actual price of their fees easily accessible to their customers.

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Losing investments with "Gemini Earn"

Gemini used to offer "Gemini Earn" , a method for users to lend out their crypto to earn a percentage-based reward. However, on the collapse of FTX, Gemini's lending partner Genesis declared bankruptcy, and some 340,000 customers lost all of their cryptocurrency associated with "Gemini earn" . Years later, the bankruptcy hearings are still ongoing, and no one has gotten a single satoshi of their assets back.

Ongoing lawsuits

In addition, Gemini is joining a growing number of major exchanges (such as Coinbase and Binance) in getting sued by the SEC for the sale of unregistered securities - specifically related to the Gemini earn debacle. While it is hard to say what this entails for Gemini, we think that it likely isn't good.

Staking and credit cards... and a history of failure

Gemini offers a series of extras, including crypto staking and even a credit card program with coin-earning rewards, but any benefit those extras offer pale in comparison to the base facts; Gemini deceived people about the safety of their crypto, and lost their customers' assets. In addition, their fees are higher than their competitors. Even though Gemini is apparently working to get their customers' assets back, as far as who you trust with potentially huge sums of crypto, we think it best to choose those who haven't gambled away their customers' assets.

Uphold Review 1 Star Rating

Uphold

1 Star Rating
  • 1.5% maker/taker fee for BTC and ETH
  • Diverse assets offered: stocks, commodities, Crypto
  • 250 plus cryptocurrencies
  • Poor customer service
  • History of poor decision-making

We aren't going to recommend Uphold. They are not a good company, they engage in irresponsible business practices, and have terrible customer reviews. In case you want to learn more about Uphold, here's how they stack up.

Overpriced transaction fees

Uphold's deposit fees are relatively standard, with a $20 for wire transfers of less than $5,000, and free for greater deposits. Their withdrawal fees are quite attractive, however, with no cost for fiat withdrawal, and fees for Bitcoin withdrawal at .0003: about $8.00. Their spread fees, however, are much worse than competitors: a flat 1.5%, which will definitely go higher during high-trading periods, is just plain bad when compared to rival cryptocurrency exchanges.

Doesn't loan customer assets... anymore...

We appreciate that Uphold specifies they never loan out your assets . However, they state this because they have lost their customers' assets by loaning them out in the past. Uphold encouraged their customers to lend their crypto to a third-party service, CredEarn, whose CCO was an escaped convict from the UK. When CredEarn's poor investments started to sour, this CCO routed $2.3 million of company funds into his personal bank account and bolted (really, you can't make this stuff up). When CredEarn collapsed, Uphold was technically off the hook, because CredEarn was a third party, and not affiliated with Uphold. So, we're glad that they don't loan customer assets (anymore), in spite of the fact that they used to encourage their clients to loan assets to a company run by criminals.

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Staking offered... but why do it with Uphold?

You can still stake your crypto with Uphold, though of course any staking comes with the risk of the project collapsing, and you losing your assets. At least in this instance, Uphold isn't actively sending your assets to the care of an escaped convict.

Horrendous customer service

Like a vast majority of exchanges, customer service here is just plain bad. Forums dedicated to Uphold are a veritable sea of ignored customer service complaints, many of which note multiple thousands of dollar's worth of assets stuck in limbo, or that the service often just doesn't work. Considering Uphold's past irresponsible business practices, and the fact that their service appears to be falling apart, we caution you to use Uphold at your own risk.

In fact, don't use Uphold. Period.

In sum, while Uphold has some high transaction fees, some reasonable withdrawal fees, and a wide variety of coins on offer, none of that hides the fact that they encouraged their investors to participate in a hare-brained investment scheme without doing due diligence, and lost their investments. Not only that, they've got terrible customer service. Unless you're really concerned with buying crypto and gold in the same place for some reason, we suggest that you avoid Uphold and their shady practices.

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Continued from above...

Another reason people have turned to crypto is for financial freedom: Cryptocurrencies offer the possibility of financial freedom by providing an alternative to traditional financial systems. They operate on decentralized networks, which let you have more control over your money and bypasses the need for intermediaries such as banks.

If you want o to buy cryptocurrencies, then you need to open an account with a crypto exchange. Cryptocurrency exchanges are a sort of marketplace where buyers and sellers can connect and transact with various digital assets. Exchanges typically offer a wide range of cryptocurrencies, which can let you diversify your investment portfolio. There are literally hundreds of crypto exchanges available to you - it's enough to make your head swim.

Good crypto exchanges provide a user-friendly and accessible platform for you to trade digital currencies. They can also display real-time price information, which let you monitor market trends and make informed decisions more quickly. The best exchanges implement robust security measures in order to protect your funds and personal information. They will employ encryption, two-factor authentication, and possibly cold storage solutions to safeguard assets from theft or hacking attempts.

So which crypto exchange is the best? That's a tough question to answer, as exchanges - just like cryptocurrency itself - are currently in flux. Whether you're looking at security breaches, lawsuits and regulatory side-stepping, exploitative data harvesting practices, consistently poor customer service, high-profile collapses such as FTX, irresponsible crypto lending like Gemini, or payment-for-order flow profiteering, the crypto-scene is not for the risk averse, and not for those unwilling to do their homework. However, if you are going to be trading crypto, it is well worth your time to do the research to ensure the security of your investments, and the quality of the exchange you choose to utilize.

If that wasn't enough to make you pause, consider that a whole slew of exchanges are being sued by the SEC and the CFTC. Whatever your position, the future of crypto is being actively negotiated in the U.S, as the SEC and CFTC (Commodities and Futures Trade Commision) wage regulatory battles over the status of cryptocurrency as an unregistered security.

In short, there is a lot to consider when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange. By doing some digging on your behalf, we at TopConsumerReviews.com hope to help you find the right exchange in an increasingly volatile landscape.

Before you start with our list, here are some critical points to keep in mind:

  • Maker/Taker fees: In order to run an exchange, someone needs to pay for the transactions. Usually it's you, paying a percentage of the total transaction. An exchange's Maker (selling), and Taker (buying) fees are important to consider, because they can add up if you make frequent trades.
  • Transaction Fees: In addition to maker/taker fees, crypto exchanges will often charge a separate transaction fee to execute your trade. Some exchanges offer a subscription-based program for a nominal fee, and eliminate the transaction fee altogether.
  • Lawsuits: While it seems like most exchanges are getting sued by the SEC, some are also being sued for abusing their customers. Understanding what an exchange has been sued for, and why, can help you gauge whether or not it is safe to use.
  • Payment for order flow: Some exchanges/brokerages on our list accept payment for order flow. This means that market makers pay the brokerage for access to your orders: often leading to questionable, lightly-fined business practices. Many people object to the practice along ideological grounds, as it often strategically takes advantage of retail investors.
  • Not your keys, not your crypto: While not our mnemonic, it's an excellent one to remember. Never leave your crypto sitting in an exchange, unless you have a very good reason to be doing so. Crypto exchanges have just proven to be too volatile. Until your crypto is safely in a wallet on your device (or even better, on a flashdrive), do not consider it yours, and do not be surprised if it is lost.

That might seem like a lot to keep in mind. It's natural to feel some anxiety when choosing an appropriate exchange, but don't let it discourage you! Taking the time to find the right exchange can pay (and protect) your dividends down the line. Here at Top Consumer Reviews, we've waded through the best (and worst) of what's out there, and have found the best exchanges for your consideration.

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Crypto Exchange FAQ

Cryptocurrency is a method of payment that exists as entries in an immutable online database: the blockchain. The blockchain is "trustless" in that it is not verified by any central authority, but through proof-of-stake or proof-of-work consensus mechanisms; all transactions made in a specific cryptocurrency are immutably recorded in its own blockchain, with each coin competing for a niche use-case in the "Web3" future. But for many, cryptocurrency is a speculative investment, one with infamous volatility, and the ability to make - or lose - fortunes overnight.
Crypto staking is the practice of putting your coins to work in verifying "proof-of-stake" cryptocurrencies and projects. Where "proof of work" coins are verified through huge databases of computers competing to be the first to verify a chain by solving - in essence - a very hard math problem, "proof-of-stake" coins are verified by user's volunteering portions of their coins to help verify the chain. Not only does staking use less processing power, but offers those "staking" rewards for their support. There is risk involved in staking, however, as you cannot sell your staked tokens; if the price plummets, you'll be left holding the bag. As such, do your due diligence before staking, especially for volatile cryptocurrencies.
A "hot" wallet is a wallet on your desktop or phone connected to the internet, one that can send and receive crypto to other wallets or exchanges. A "cold" wallet is not connected to the internet, and is usually located on a flash drive or similar storage device. As such, cold wallets are impervious to the majority of scams in the crypto world (unless you just... hand it to someone you shouldn't. Don't do that!). The safest wallets are cold, so if you plan to own a large sum of crypto (or already do), then do yourself a favor and secure your investments. Have a hot wallet for transactions and integrations with an exchange, and a cold wallet to store your holdings.
Payment for order flow is the practice of a market maker (a large company that provides liquidity to the market) paying a brokerage to route customer orders to them. Some exchanges will do this in lieu of charging transaction fees to their customers - but some still charge those fees anyway. This practice (PFOF) is illegal in many countries, as it encourages brokerages to send customer orders to the highest bidder. It also allows brokerages to harvest data on retail investors, and potentially bet against them en-masse. Many companies accepting PFOF have been fined for their practices, but as the fines are far less than profits, there is little incentive not to behave unethically regarding PFOF.
First, make sure to understand the difference between hot and cold wallets. Second, don't follow links in your email, don't join crypto-pump-and-dump groups in private platforms such as Telegram or Discord. And - in general - assume that anyone trying to get you to perform any specific action through the internet is trying to scam you.
Crypto dusting is the process of placing marginal amounts of cryptocurrencies in a myriad of wallets. When this crypto is spent, attackers can trace transactions and de-anonymize your wallet. Once identified, attackers can engage in phishing attacks and other targeted scams. Most users don't have to worry about Crypto dusting, but if something just appears in your hot-wallet, don't trust it.
It essentially boils down to one question: are crypto-assets a security? While that is far too large a topic to debate here, securities are required to be registered, in order to protect consumers from fraud and misrepresentation. SEC litigation over unregulated securities, then, could either be read as government overreach into a nascent financial system, or as long-overdue consumer protections in an unregulated industry facilitating questionable activities.
A smart contract is essentially a piece of code embedded into a blockchain network. When mutually agreed-upon parameters are met, the smart contract automatically executes. Be careful with smart contracts, as - unless you yourself are able to read and analyze the code - there very well could be malware or unfavorable terms embedded into the contract.
All the exchanges on our list are centralized exchanges (CEX); a centralized exchange acts as an intermediary to connect your buy-and-sell orders to their appropriate buyers/sellers. A decentralized exchange (DEX) has no intermediary, and allows peer-to-peer exchanges via smart contracts. As smart contracts can be dangerous for new investors, or for anyone unfamiliar with the code inside them, it's best for most to stick to CEX before experimenting with DEX.
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