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Best Crypto Exchanges for Beginners in 2022

By CJen | TechMoneyCulture | 30 Dec 2021


And what to consider before you pick one

1*Arwe-w5nG_HpjofnhZFyvw.png  

Your best option when you want to make your first crypto investment is to use one of the large crypto exchanges. But getting to know these and picking the right one can be overwhelming.

In this guide, I’ll outline a few things to consider before choosing an exchange and highlight the ones I personally trust, use, and recommend based on my 4 years of experience in the space.

It won’t be a list of all the good exchanges by any means. Just my favorites that I’m sure will get you off to a good start on your crypto journey.

Now, if you can’t be bothered reading a whole guide on the topic, you won’t go wrong with any of the top 20 exchanges measured by trading volume. But if you do want a slightly more nuanced view, this guide is for you.

 

A note on localization

Now, certain exchanges may not be available to you at all depending on where you’re located. This is usually quite obvious when you’re asked to pick your location and don’t see your country on the list, or if you’re blocked from even accessing the site in the first place.

However, if you find yourself in a country or state that’s often more heavily regulated, it’s probably worth spending a little time reading the fine print before you waste your time creating an account.

Even if you’re not blocked from using a given exchange, it’s very likely that you’ll experience a localized version of it. Some exchanges have a completely different set of services and cryptos available for different jurisdictions.

1*ZwqLyv6tzLK4rnSTznw_Xw.png Binance and FTX have completely different websites and offerings for US and non-US customers

Exchanges like Binance and FTX, for instance, distinguish between US and non-US customers with .us and .com versions of their exchanges. More on what this means for you a little later.

Lastly, you may want to make sure that your local fiat currency is supported by a given exchange. Most of them support USD, EUR, and GBP but have varying selections beyond that.

 


 

What to look for in a crypto exchange

To keep things simple, I really only look for two important things when evaluating new exchanges and deciding which ones to use and recommend to others. Which one of these you prioritize the highest will come down to your own goals, preferences, and prior experience.

  1. Ease of use: How easy is it to get started and make new investments?
  2. Crypto selection: Which and how many cryptos are available to buy?

That’s it. At the end of this guide, I’ll mention a few more things you might want to consider, but they’re definitely secondary in my opinion.

 

Evaluation criteria #1: Ease of use

An obvious criteria for me when recommending an exchange to someone who’s new to crypto is how easy it is to use. It’s particularly important if you’re completely new to online investing and trading.

If you’ve already got some experience, for instance with stocks, the trading interface of most crypto exchanges will probably seem quite familiar and definitely less scary than for a complete beginner.

1*LnD3WwL9veRsI4H15crDWQ.png Most exchanges have very similar trading interfaces (here showing Gate.io, Binance, OKEx, and KuCoin)

 

While all the exchanges offer mobile apps and have very similar trading interfaces, some of them offer a little extra that sets them apart from the rest.

Some have an additional and extra user-friendly way to make trades, and some just do a better job with their overall site navigation, communication, and interface design.

 

Evaluation criteria #2: Crypto selection

It’s commonplace for new cryptos to get listed on the smallest exchanges first, and then gradually be added to larger and larger exchanges over time. It may take months for a new coin to get added to all the major exchanges. Some are still waiting for this to happen after years of existence.

However, you don’t need to worry about this if you’re just looking to invest in the largest and most popular cryptos like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, and Cardano. These can be found on basically all crypto exchanges.

I recommend you look beyond those and explore what the field of crypto has to offer though. And when you do, you quickly realize the need to be selective with your exchanges and perhaps use multiple different ones.

You can always look up a specific crypto on CoinMarketCap or CoinGecko and see exactly where it’s traded. This is what I’m regularly doing and why I’m using as many crypto exchanges as I am.

1*efJef4FgCJCk7FYNVgMxAA.png The crypto token XCAD is only traded on a few exchanges compared to Ethereum (ref: CoinMarketCap)

Now that you know how I’ve picked out the crypto exchanges in this guide, let’s just jump right into the first one.

 


 

Easiest to use: Coinbase (Pro)

Coinbase is one of the two largest crypto exchanges measured by trading volume and arguably the most mainstream one. It’s achieved this status by being one of the first to enter the space with its launch in 2012, and by being really easy to use.

You can buy crypto directly with your regular payment card or make a deposit. Trading is extremely easy as well, as you can simply select from a dropdown menu the crypto you want to buy, the crypto or fiat currency you want to pay with, and complete your purchase.

1*x2Sm9Q2fBqE-r4DtcLEU9A.png Buying crypto or converting from one to another is very easy on the Coinbase website and mobile app

The beginner-friendliness comes at a price though. Literally.

Coinbase stands out from most other exchagnes by charging a significant transaction fee up to +4%. If you’re in it for the long haul and hoping for a 500% return, this initial cost doesn’t matter too much.

However, there is a way around the fees: Coinbase Pro.

Coinbase Pro is a standalone app within the Coinbase ecosystem. To use Coinbase Pro, you’d still set up your account on the regular Coinbase, and then simply use the Coinbase Pro platform to make your investments.

Its trading interface differs from the regular Coinbase but is still very easy to use. It’s also much cheaper with negligible fees.

1*-9E3YhuAOcFyFbcnECQSQQ.png Coinbase Pro is less beginner-friendly but still simple enough once you get used to it

 

There is one more tradeoff to consider though.

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro currently let you trade 140 different cryptos. This may sound like a lot but pales in comparison to some of the other exchanges in this guide: Binance’s got 420, KuCoin 580, and Gate.io 1,200 different cryptos for you to buy.

All in all though, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are still great options for new crypto investors!

 

Why use Coinbase (Pro)?

  • Coinbase is arguably the most mainstream, well-established, and trusted crypto exchange, conforming to all the rules and regulations that come with being a publicly traded company.
  • Coinbase is really easy to use and Coinbase Pro isn’t far behind.
  • The Coinbase Card lets you spend your crypto with a regular Visa card.
  • Coinbase is about to launch its own NFT marketplace which will let you buy NFTs directly within your regular crypto account.

 

Tradeoffs

  • Coinbase only offers 140 different cryptocurrencies, one of the smallest selections of all the exchanges.
  • The fees are much higher than on the alternatives. You can avoid these by using Coinbase Pro which is still very easy to use, although not quite as easy as the regular Coinbase.
  • Coinbase prioritizes security and stability over innovation and is thus slower to introduce new features and services.

 


 

Best crypto selection: Gate.io

Most of the new investments I’ve made lately have been on Gate.io. The simple reason for this is that Gate.io has the largest crypto selection of almost all the exchanges. Currently 1,200 and counting. I simply couldn’t get the cryptos I wanted anywhere else.

Now, while I first started using Gate.io out of necessity, I’ve since come to really like the platform. It’s got a lot more going for it than a huge selection.

As with many of the others, you can easily buy crypto directly with your payment card or make a bank transfer. Gate.io even has a ‘Flash Swap’ feature that lets you easily convert one crypto to another, just like Coinbase.

The Flash Swap feature only supports a few cryptos for now though, and the mobile app isn’t nearly as easy to navigate and use as Coinbase.

1*VM92DHc_jJ2M8TH5vAqq8w.png Gate.io makes it easy to trade crypto with Flash Swap and offers more advanced trading as well

Gate.io also has its own NFT marketplace and a new feature called Copy Trading. The latter lets you copy someone else’s trades automatically and benefit from their expertise and effort. I don’t yet know it well enough to make a recommendation though, but I always like to see innovation in the crypto space.

For their impressive selection of cryptos and their focus on innovation, I recommend you give Gate.io a closer look. It lacks a bit on the usability side compared to Coinbase but isn’t bad at all.

 

Why use Gate.io?

  • Huge selection of cryptos.
  • Integrated NFT marketplace.
  • Lots of innovation and experimentation with new services, including the new Copy Trading feature.
  • Broad offering of lending, borrowing, and other financial services.

 

Tradeoffs

  • Gate.io isn’t as easy to use as Coinbase.

 


 

Best overall: Binance

Binance is by far the largest crypto exchange measured by site visits and trading volume. And there’s a reason for that.

The non-US version of Binance offers 420 different cryptos for trading, three times as many as Coinbase. Furthermore, the ‘Convert’ feature is similar to what I described for Coinbase and makes trading just as easy. No complicated charts and long rows of flashing numbers here.

Just note that not all cryptos are available in the Convert feature. You can easily buy the rest via the same familiar trading interface found on most other exchanges though.

1*aqVm25Rm6ooT-VGDV-Ijzw.png Binance Convert is the simplest way to trade crypto

What makes Binance a little less user-friendly than Coinbase is something that’s considered a strength by more experienced investors: Its number of services, features, and settings.

Its mobile app in particular feels rather bloated and overwhelming, but you risk getting lost in the desktop version as well. While I mention this as a warning to new investors, it’s also one of the reasons for Binance’s huge success. And it’s one of the reasons why it’s my preferred exchange.

1*yDrIghr0GUPcDLESlZoI3g.png The menus on Binance’s website show you how many services, features, and options you have available

In addition to a range of complicated trading tools, Binance lets you stake your crypto to earn a yield, buy NFTs directly on their integrated marketplace, and make automatic investments with their new Auto-Invest service. And that’s just to name a few of their services.

 

Why use Binance?

  • You can easily buy crypto or make a deposit with your payment card or a regular bank transfer.
  • The Convert feature makes it easy to buy the most popular cryptos in just a couple of clicks.
  • Binance (non-US version) offers three times as many cryptos as Coinbase.
  • You can spend your crypto with a Binance Visa card.

 

Tradeoffs

  • While the selection is much larger than on Coinbase, Binance still doesn’t provide nearly as many different cryptos as Gate.io.
  • The multitude of services, features, and settings can make Binance feel a little cluttered and overwhelming at first.
  • Binance has a site specifically for their US customers with a much smaller selection of cryptos and some other limitations. I wouldn’t use Binance as my primary exchange if I were based in the US, nor do I recommend it to US customers.

 


 

Honorable mentions

If for some reason none of the above works for you, you have a few other solid options. These are exchanges that I’m either using sporadically, have used in the past, or have at least tried out. You can feel safe using any of these, they’re just right behind Coinbase, Gate.io, and Binance in my opinion.

 

Crypto.com

There’s a lot more to Crypto.com than Matt Damon and expensive metal cards. In fact, it’s got one of the best apps on the market. With a larger selection of cryptos, it would be a serious contender to the three above.

  • Ease of use: Great app that makes it easy to buy crypto with your credit card or swap from one (crypto)currency to another.
  • Crypto selection: On par with Coinbase, currently counting 160 cryptos.

1*ZmwNksnM-vgBBOw9pPq-aA.png Crypto.com has a really easy-to-use app and an interesting new NFT marketplace

KuCoin

KuCoin offers the second-largest selection of cryptos of the exchanges in this guide, but still only half as many as Gate.io.

  • Ease of use: Good app but not quite as easy to use as Coinbase, Binance, or Crypto.com.
  • Crypto selection: The second-largest selection of cryptos of the exchanges in this guide with 580 different ones.

 

Huobi

Huobi’s crypto selection is almost on par with Binance (the non-US version) but it isn’t quite as easy to use.

  • Ease of use: The app can be overwhelming and isn’t quite as easy to use as Coinbase, Binance, or Crypto.com.
  • Crypto selection: 370 different ones, almost on par with Binance’s non-US version.

 

OKEx

OKEx is another good exchange with a slightly smaller selection of cryptos than Huobi.

  • Ease of use: Good app but not quite as easy to trade as on Coinbase, Binance, or Crypto.com.
  • Crypto selection: Slightly smaller selection than Huobi.

1*rgFAb6R4skWSrNzIIe9pOQ.png OKEx is only slightly behind some of its competitors on both crypto selection and ease of use

FTX

FTX has an extremely limited selection of cryptos for US customers but a rather decent one for the rest of us. What makes FTX interesting is the option to buy tokenized versions of stocks in your crypto account. But again, only available outside of the US.

  • Ease of use: Quite easy to navigate and use.
  • Crypto selection: 300+ cryptos available for non-US customers but less than 30 for those in the US.

 

Gemini

Gemini has a very small selection of cryptos and is more targeted toward institutional investors than individuals.

  • Ease of use: The Gemini design is really good and a pleasure to use.
  • Crypto selection: Only half as many cryptos as Coinbase and Crypto.com.

 


 

Additional evaluation criteria

As mentioned in the beginning, I left out a few things that you might want to consider when choosing an exchange. At least it’s something to be aware of, even if it ultimately doesn’t impact your decision.

 

Extra features and services

When you’re first getting into crypto and just want to make a few investments, what each exchange offers beyond buying and selling doesn’t really matter. However, some exchanges may offer something you didn’t even know was possible which turns out to be the deciding factor for you.

I’ve already mentioned some of these extras offered by the exchanges above. Some let you spend your crypto with a regular debit/credit card. Some let you ‘stake’ your crypto and earn a fixed yield. Some let you set up automatic investments, copy the trades of others, or even use trading bots.

Again, these things probably aren’t relevant if you’re new to the space, nor do I necessarily recommend them. But they’re worth looking into.

 

KYC and security

The largest and most secure exchanges all have a KYC (Know Your Customer) process. They typically require you to ID yourself by uploading a photo of your passport, driver’s license, or similar ID documentation. Some require you to do it via your webcam.

Exactly when in the process you need to ID yourself, and how much you’re allowed to do before that, will vary from exchange to exchange. For instance, you might be able to sign up and make a deposit, but not make a trade before you’ve uploaded a photo of your passport.

Along the same lines, the exchanges will typically require you to verify your contact information and enable 2-factor authentication as well.

I’ve experienced firsthand how these exchanges have increased their security and ID requirements over time and expect this to continue. Furthermore, it may vary from one jurisdiction to the next and depend on the type of ID you have available.

How long it takes for you to get verified and ready to trade will also depend on the exchange, your jurisdiction, and your type of ID. And it may only be connecting your bank account that’s the tricky part. Within the past weeks, I’ve created multiple new accounts and been able to trade within minutes.

 

Rewards

Finally, if you like rewards, bonuses, and prizes, you may want to check out the offerings from each exchange before signing up. They all offer some, in one form or another.

1*gvPKZeiPSS7v8y1I7_cqTQ.png KuCoin, Gate.io, and many other exchanges have dedicated pages for all their rewards

Some common ones in this category are friend referral bonuses, rewards for your first deposit or trade, and special prizes for trading certain cryptos or using new features. It may be worth looking into.

 


 

A note on crypto derivatives

While platforms like eToro and Robinhood appear to let you buy crypto, they actually don’t. What you’re buying on these platforms are crypto derivatives, basically a piece of (digital) paper that corresponds to the value of a given crypto.

In other words, if you buy Bitcoin or Ethereum on eToro or Robinhood, you don’t own any Bitcoin or Ethereum. You own a piece of paper of the same value.

This means that you cannot use your crypto on these platforms for anything. You cannot make a purchase with your Bitcoin, buy an NFT with your Ethereum, or even transfer your crypto to another wallet or account.

That being said, if you’re only interested in crypto from an investment perspective and all you care about is the exposure to these assets, buying a derivative on eToro or Robinhood will accomplish the same as buying the actual crypto on one of the exchanges mentioned above.

 


 

In summary

There are plenty of great crypto exchanges to choose from and you won’t go wrong with any of the nine I’ve mentioned in this article. Just make sure a given exchange is available in your country or state and that it has the specific cryptos you want to buy. Some exchanges are highly localized, both in terms of the cryptos and the services they offer.

  • Coinbase is still the easiest exchange to get started with and you can use Coinbase Pro to avoid the high fees.
  • Gate.io has by far the largest selection of cryptos for you to buy but isn’t quite as user-friendly as Coinbase.
  • Binance provides a great compromise between ease of use and a large selection of cryptos.

Crypto.com, KuCoin, Huobi, OKEx, Gemini, and FTX are all solid runner-ups, albeit with their own shortcomings compared to my top 3.

In any case, creating your first and primary account is what requires the most work. After that, you can easily create new accounts on alternative exchanges and simply fund them with crypto from your main account. This is likely to happen once you dig far enough into the crypto rabbit hole to discover some fringe crypto token that’s only available on one obscure exchange you’ve never heard of. Welcome to the exciting world of crypto!

This article was originally published on Medium.

 

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CJen
CJen

Investor, crypto nerd, and designer writing about modern finance, investing, and NFTs for creators and solo capitalists. Not financial advice, DYOR.


TechMoneyCulture
TechMoneyCulture

TechMoneyCulture is a blog about cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and other technological and financial innovations that are completely revolutionizing the landscape for investors, creators, solopreneurs, and our society at large.

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