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Robinhood Review

Wednesday, July 17th

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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.

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.

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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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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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