A major expense and a major hassle for cryptocurrency aficionados and noobs alike is where and how to exchange your crypto. I am sure I am not the only one that has read about a new and interesting project and then had no idea how to buy the token/coin. I’m not going to rush to buy anything, but it is good to find a reliable partner (exchange) before doing too much research. When using an exchange, I typically look at the fees, the type of exchange (more on this later), and other features that may be offered. For this article I am going to do a deep dive into a number of exchanges and services – ChangeNOW, Changelly, Shapeshift, and Coinswitch – and compare a number of features and the overall experience.
What am I looking for?
Fees – Hidden and obvious fees can eat up a lot of your crypto when doing an exchange. What I am looking for here are two things: First, are they upfront about their fees? And second, what are the fees?
Custodial vs Noncustodial vs Decentralized – I am mostly looking at noncustodial exchanges here meaning the coins/tokens do not actually reside with the exchange (compare this to something like Coinbase where the coins are stored with them). You could likely argue the pros and cons for different types of exchanges, but I’m just checking what type they are.
Number of Coins/Tokens + Obscure Coins/Tokens – A great deal of trading volume involves a small portion of the number of coins and tokens, but for this experiment, I want to see what COULD I trade if I am looking to. I am looking for the number of coins/tokens/trading pairs that are available, and to have a fair comparison, I am going to look for 3 specific coins of varying market caps to see if they could work. The three coins and tokens I am looking for are: Cardano (a top ten coin), Loopring (a top 100 token that we also can receive from tipping here on Publish0x), and Band Protocol (in the top 150 that I have seen here and there, but I don’t know much about). I am just going to do a quick check to see if I could hypothetically exchange Bitcoin for these 3 coins/tokens.
Minimum trading amount – I’m not going to lie, I am not a crypto whale. I am not ashamed to admit that I am relatively new to crypto and am still learning the ropes. Because of this, I do not have a huge amount of different coins and tokens. Therefore it is important to consider the minimum amount of a coin that you need to use a service. For this experiment, we are going to use a major trading pair to determine this amount – Bitcoin to Ethereum. On that note, I do think this value changes from time to time on some exchanges and it may be different for other trading pairs.
Other Features – Each exchange is a little bit different. I just want to make note of any additional interesting features that we may want to consider.
Alright, let’s give it a go!
Fees – “Transparent 0.25% fee”
Type of Exhcnage – non-custodial
Number of Coins/Tokens – From their site, “150+ cryptocurrencies”
Minimum trading amount? Minimum 0.001875 BTC for BTC to ETH
Other features: You have the option of floating or fixed rate, and they also have a pretty slick mobile app.
Fees – They advertise “no extra fees” and that the fees are included in the rate, but I am unable to pinpoint the exact cost of using the exchange.
Type of Exchange – non-custodial
Number of Coins/Tokens – “More than 10,000 currency pairs”. Mind you, this is not the same as 10,000 different coins and tokens. On another page they say they support more than 170 different coins. Not bad!
Band? Yes (They're the only one of the four where I could exchange for Band)
Minimum trading amount? Minimum 0.0002625 BTC for BTC to ETH
Other features: They use a number of trading platforms such as Binance and Bitfinex, which helps get a better price. There is also a ChangeNOW app!
Fees – Their website says they charge between 0 and 0.49% depending on what exchange you are routed through and that the rate is inclusive of fees. It also says “does not include any amount charged by the exchange itself”, which I don’t quite understand.
Type of Exchange – non-custodial
Number of Coins/Tokens – They state they have over 45,000 currency pairs and 300+ coins.
Minimum trading amount? The minimum trading amount will depend on what exchange you are routed through. For example, when I try BTC to ETH, the min changes depending if you use HitBTC, Binance, or another exchange.
Other features: Something interesting about Coinswitch is that when you enter your trading pair, you are given the list of exchanges that support his pair and you are able to select the best choice for your situation.
Fees – Shapeshift advertises a certain monthly amount of exchanges without fees, spreads, and commission if you hold their FOX token. You would need to verify your account to receive the FOX tokens.
Type of Exchange – non-custodial
Number of Coins/Tokens – On the main page they advertise 50+ assets.
Minimum trading amount? I don’t know if it is always the same, but when I typed in a super small amount it adjusted to 0.00007974 (more or less) BTC for exchanging to ETH.
Other features: Using the FOX token for free trades is very intriguing and potentially awesome, but without verifying, I am unable to test out this feature.
Thoughts and Conclusion
First things first, writing this article and exploring these exchanges services, I learned a lot about the different products that they offer.
I have used a number of exchanges quite a few times, and I have had good experiences with all of them. Mind you, I am not an expert or daily user, but the process is pretty straightforward.
Here are some highlights of what I have learned from writing this post:
Changelly – I appreciate the large number of trading pairs and transparent fee
ChangeNOW – I appreciate the huge number of trading pairs and the low minimum value to exchange.
Coinswitch – I like that you can view different offers from different exchanges.
Shapeshift – Their FOX token could give them a major advantage in the future.
All four of these exchanges and a number of others are worth paying attention to, but because this post is inspired by the use of ChangeNOW and the associated writing contest, I’d like to focus a little more on what sets them apart. I started off saying that I was looking for an exchange that could quickly allow me to trade for smaller cryptos that I am learning about. ChangeNOW appears to do just that with a large number of trading pairs, a large and growing number of supported assets, and a low minimum trading value. I have used them to exchange small amounts of crypto in the past, and it worked very well. I look forward to seeing how they continue to grow, and you can always use my link to try it out for yourself.
I would also like to point out that like Shapeshift, ChangeNOW also has their own token, NOW. What is cool about their token is that it is used to vote on and help determine new assets to list on ChangeNOW. I believe this is part of why BAND is available here and not other places.
Finally, a lot of the other factors will come together and help determine what I might pay when doing an exchange. The price is still something to think about! When I am doing an exchange, I often check a number of exchanges to see where I can get the best price. You may also use a site such as Swapzone to do some of the work for you. I am not recommending where to buy, sell, or store your crypto, but I thought I’d give you an overview of a few of the bigger non-custodial exchanges to get you started on your research. There is so much to learn in the crypto world, and I appreciate you joining me on this journey.
Please let me know below if you have any thoughts or comments.
Thank you for reading and this great community!