Bitcoins, often referred to as cryptocurrencies are one of the most trending topics today. When we say cryptocurrency, you may think of codes and money, and guess what, you are right!
Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies available virtually and are encrypted with codes for exclusive access. Though you can’t see or feel bitcoins, they hold immense value and are breaking the regular norms of payment in the digital world.
Bitcoin, launched in 2009 is by far the best-known digital currency worldwide. Other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Monero, etc. have recently made their way into the crypto world providing more options for digital trading.
So how does one buy or sell bitcoins?
The simple answer is by using a cryptocurrency exchange. Interested to know more? Read on to understand more about cryptocurrency exchanges, their classifications, and the best sites to buy bitcoins.
Cryptocurrency Exchanges: The Online Marketplace for Bitcoins
Bitcoins are bought, sold, stored, or used for payments via a cryptocurrency exchange. These exchanges act as trading platforms, offering secure access for millions of customers worldwide.
Cryptocurrency exchanges can be classified as centralized or decentralized. What’s the difference?
They are run by third parties who monitor the transactions and maintain the assets of all buyers and sellers. These exchanges collect personal information for verification and providing access.
Centralized exchanges are favored as they are better than decentralized exchanges in terms of liquidity, regulation control, multiple features, and importantly speed.
Verified users have a safety net, as they can rely on customer support to resolve technical glitches or lost password issues.
Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, etc are examples of centralized cryptocurrency exchanges.
Decentralized Exchanges (DEx)
A decentralized exchange does not rely on third-parties and instead uses Blockchain to store its funds. These types of exchanges are more complex but allow users full control of their accounts.
Bitcoin transactions on the internet leave the user vulnerable to hackers. who may access third-party controlled keys to steal funds. Here, as the user is in control, security is enhanced to prevent easy hacking of accounts.
Examples of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges are UniSwap, Balance, Curve Finance, 1inch, Bisq, etc.
Summary: Cryptocurrency exchanges dealing with bitcoins can be centralized or decentralized (DEx). Centralized exchanges offer better features, higher liquidity, and speed, and DEx offers more security and account control to users.
The Best Sites to Buy Bitcoins
Now that you know what a cryptocurrency exchange is all about, you would probably be wondering where to buy bitcoins! Take a look at our top choices for the best bitcoin buying sites and select what suits your needs best.
Coinbase is one of the largest and trusted cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Founded in 2012, it is headquartered in California, USA.
A licensed and regulated exchange for Bitcoins, Coinbase commenced services as a brokerage platform that engaged in direct selling of Bitcoins to buyers and has over 35 million-plus customers in over 100 countries.
Operating with Coinbase is simple, user-friendly, and easy for newcomers. Once you open an account with Coinbase and link your bank account or credit card you are eligible to purchase or trade bitcoins anytime.
Features of Coinbase
Coinbase is an easy-to-use platform with speedy buying processes and secure storage services. With high-security protocols in place, it has never been hacked to date and that can make it the safest place to buy bitcoins.
Now, let’s look at some of the best features of Coinbase.
One of their prime services since they started operations, they focus on buying and selling cryptocurrencies through bank transfers, debit, or credit cards. But, be aware that credit card mediums are the most expensive of the lot.
Coinbase started with Bitcoin and currently has 25 cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, EOS, Neo, XRP, and more, that can be bought, stored, or sold online within minutes.
Coinbase extends digital wallets to its customers for storing their digital assets personally, but the private keys rest with Coinbase. Easy-to-use, these wallets connect to your bank account to move dollars to buy bitcoins on the exchange.
Designed as mobile and web wallets, they allow users to store all the bitcoins on their own devices. Available on Google Play store as decentralized apps, they are equipped with double security features that include biometric authentication.
Commonly known as a stablecoin, USD Coin is a type of digital currency that always has a stable price. Using their bank accounts, customers can redeem 1 USD coin for US$1.00 at any time. Coinbase also rewards verified account holders for holding USDC coins.
USD Coins can be stored in any digital wallets compatible with Ethereum. Like any other cryptocurrency, USD Coins can be moved in and out of your crypto wallet for transactions.
Pro is a geographically restricted premium trading platform designed for crypto buffs. Coinbase Pro offers high security for individuals, extended features, and better rates for high volumes of trading along with access to a base of over 50 assets.
An exceptional feature that follows the concept of ‘learn while you earn’. It is a novel incentive scheme that makes users gain knowledge about various bitcoins through videos and quizzes. Users can also earn coins for any referrals they bring in.
- Easy-to-use platform dealing with 25 types of bitcoins
- Web and mobile wallets with biometric authentication
- Coinbase Pro for advanced traders
- Coinbase Earn to obtain cryptos while learning about bitcoins
- Expensive when using credit card as a payment mode
- Not the user, but Coinbase holds the wallet keys
Summary: Coinbase is a popular exchange that provides services for 25 digital currencies. It offers many features such as Coinbase Wallet, USD Coin, and Coin Pro which makes it a user-friendly and trusted platform for bitcoins.
Binance is a top crypto-to-crypto exchange that was launched in 2017 by developer Changpen Zhao in Hongkong. Due to intensive cryptocurrency regulations, Binance moved out of China and is now headquartered in Malta.
Designed to cater to residents of specific states in the US, Binance US controlled by BAM Trading Services, is based in San Francisco, California.
Binance uses two-factor authentication for security, an emergency fund called SAFU to protect against losses to users and provides attractive low transaction fees that rank it among the top exchanges.
Available as mobile apps and PC compatible, Binance is also API interfaced to enhance quick connectivity with your exchange, enabling access to real-time market data for trading, and managing your account.
Features of Binance
Some of the powerful features of Binance are as follows:
Binance supports over 100 different coins in its platform making it a one-stop platform for your crypto-to-crypto transactions.
But the fact that it is only crypto-to-crypto means you cannot use fiat currencies such as Pounds, Dollars, etc. to buy cryptocurrencies. Instead, you can use this platform to buy other bitcoins using your bitcoin, for example, Litecoin to Ethereum.
Introduced in 2019, this feature enables buyers to obtain a futures contract to go long or short with up to 125x leverage to make profits. This means that a trader can go long and buy a contract expecting price escalation or go short and sell a contract to avoid future price declines.
Brokerage Using Simplex
Binance facilitates credit-card buying of 17 cryptocurrencies with a fee of 3.5 % by partnering with Simplex, an EU firm. Simplex with its technology ensures fraud protection against online payments that take place on crypto exchanges.
- Supports over 100 bitcoins
- Easy crypto-to-crypto transactions
- Low fees
- Futures contract to speculate and make profits
- Does not support fiat currency deposits or withdrawals
- Not an ideal platform for beginners
Summary: Binance is a crypto-to-crypto only exchange for over 100 bitcoins. Interesting features such as Binance Future gives an extra edge to traders and the Simplex partnership helps protect from online payment fraud.
Kraken, a veteran in the crypto world, is a US-based trading exchange and reputed for its claims of high liquidity. Established in 2011, it was founded by Jesse Powell and is based in San Francisco, California.
Kraken with its different trading options, 24/7 customer support, low fees, and high-security excels in its services to claim its place as the winner. Though Kraken is mobile compatible, there is no IOS or Android App available.
Kraken supports more than 20 coins and also accepts different fiat currencies such as US Dollars, Euros, and Canadian Dollars. Investments and withdrawals are allowed only through wire transfers, SEPA, or SWIFT as it restricts the use of debit/ credit cards and PayPal.
Features of Kraken
Kraken has some unique services that rank it high among its competitors. The notable ones are:
Advanced Trading Options
Experienced traders would love Kraken for their options on tradings such as spot exchange and margin trading. If you are one of those crypto enthusiasts and looking for intense trading options, here is what Kraken offers.
- Spot Exchange – A trader can use the spot exchange feature if he/ she has enough balances of one currency to trade for another.
One can trade fiat to cryptocurrency, crypto-to-crypto, and fiat-to-fiat currencies. Classic examples are US Dollars for Ethereum, Bitcoin for Litecoin, and Japanese Yen for Euros.
- Margin Trading – This feature has Kraken investing funds for you with high margins up to $500,000! Kraken covers margin trading not only with funds but also with a low rollover fee of 0.02% (per 4 hours).
Margin trades are open as positions. When a position opens up, you can use your a/c funds as collateral and then leverage it to go long or short up to 5 times. Example: use 1000 USD to leverage 4000 USD worth of Ethereum(ETH) and short it on the Ethereum/Euro trading pair.
OTC trading refers to trading transactions between parties that are not done openly on the crypto exchanges.
Kraken offers complete guidance, personalized support, and maximum liquidity to valuable clients who may need to indulge in OTC trading with large orders with privacy and for secure settlements.
Kraken Dark Pool
This 2015 feature of Kraken allows its customers to place large bitcoin orders in private and use it against closely-related orders, at better prices.
The dark pool is an order book that is not visible on the open market. Each trader is aware of only his/ her orders and can hence protect their interests from other traders.
Client Engagement and Support
As part of its support policy, Kraken has numerous client engagement specialists who are well-versed with crypto issues. This team is placed across all major markets, responding to customers with personalized solutions.
Besides the 24/7 global customer support, your queries whether technical or financial are also supported by a vast library of documentation.
Kraken has many advantages to offer and one of them is the low transaction fees among major crypto exchanges. The transaction fees are volume-based meaning the more you trade the lesser you pay. The fees are also based on a maker-taker basis.
Maker-taker fees was a popular term that was established around 1990-2000. Makers are those who provide more liquidity, add to the market flow, and take a lower fee than takers who refer to those trading the prices set by makers.
- Tradability of fiat and cryptocurrencies
- Spot exchange, margin trading, and OTC for advanced trading
- Low transaction fees including maker-taker fees
- 24/7 global customer support
- Does not support debit/ credit cards, PayPal payment options
- No IOS or Android App for mobile
Summary: A reputed exchange that offers a variety of options for cryptocurrency trading, unique features for advanced traders, low fees, and with a 24/7 customer-centric support, Kraken is here to rule the world of crypto.
itBit is a reputed, federally licensed exchange established in 2013 for Bitcoin trading using fiat currencies. It achieved status as the first regulated Bitcoin exchange in 2015. Based in New York, it also has a branch in Singapore.
A simple user-friendly platform built to work as a Bitcoin Exchange and an OTC desk, its reputation of strong liquidity and large-sized trades attract mostly institutional and professional investors.
itBit, with its good security features and an intense verification process of its customers, has never had a security breach. Though margin trading is not available, its low fees work well for newcomers as well as traders interested in high-volume trades.
A good, interactive support team via email and phone on itBit ensures quick solutions to queries and problems. It also has a wide coverage of FAQs that users can resort to at any point in time.
Features of itBit
Some of the noteworthy features of itBit are:
Crypto Asset Exchange
itBit offers the trading of Bitcoins primarily. It also supports the use of fiat currencies such as the US dollar (USD), Euros (EUR), and the Singapore dollar (SGD) for trading. Its global presence of institutional and individual traders help contribute to high liquidity.
The makers-takers fee is also applicable at itBit. While all market makers are eligible for rebates, takers get low fees and further discounts when large-sized trades beyond 2500 Bitcoins happen.
OTC Agency Trading Desk
The over-the-counter (OTC) trading feature of itBit is quite popular as it provides its customers the option to trade outside the exchange. All transactions starting with $100,000 are encouraged and carry no trading fees.
Crypto Asset Custody Services
ItBit, as part of its multiple special features, offers custodial solutions to its investors to secure up to 5 assets in cold storage. It personalizes the service to each client and undertakes extensive verification, audit reporting, and has mandatory capital reserves in place.
- Licensed and regulated US-based exchange
- High liquidity and top security
- Exclusive crypto trading, OTC trading, and cold storage services
- Low fees and great customer support
- Limited cryptocurrency range
- No margin trading
Summary: A licensed and regulated Bitcoin exchange, itBit offers a range of services to institutional and professional traders. High liquidity, advanced OTC trading, cold storage, and good support are some of its appealing features.
eToro is an international social trading company that deals with currencies, stocks, indexes, and importantly cryptocurrencies.
Founded in 2007 by brothers, Yoni Assia and Ronen Assia along with David Ring, it has more than 7 million users. Headquartered in Cyprus, it has registered offices in London, U.K., and located in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA.
eToro is equipped with a simple and user-friendly trading platform that helps traders to engage in investments of 120+ cryptocurrencies, use mobile wallets to trade, and transfer funds with ease.
If you are wondering what is the best way to buy bitcoins, eToro allows different payment options such as credit cards, wire transfer, PayPal, WebMoney, etc. but be aware that withdrawals may take up to 2 days.
Both the website versions and the mobile app are similar, graphically appealing, uncomplicated which may make it the best platform to buy bitcoins.
Features of eToro
eToro, besides offering cryptocurrency investments, has novel and unique features that have made it a go-to exchange for many users. They are:
An attractive feature that enables its users to copy the trading pattern of other top traders in that exchange. With CopyTrader, you can select a particular trader and copy his/her trades completely, provided you have higher balances to copy each one.
Since this is real-time, you can set amounts for each CopyTrader you choose any time and set up stop-loss limits to prevent losses from market crashes.
Similar to CopyTrader, this feature provides you with the capability to copy an entire portfolio of traders at a single point of time. CopyPortfolios are available in two types:
- Top Trader Portfolios, where a trader can copy the portfolios of traders who are at the top in terms of sustainability and performance.
- Market Portfolios, where you can invest in best-performing assets among CFD stocks, commodities, etc under a particular market strategy.
Managed through rebalancing, CopyPortfolios can help diversify your investments and reduce long-term risk.
A special product of eToro, this portfolio allows keen traders to invest in popular bitcoins. With a minimum investment amount of $5000, this feature provides combined investment in different currencies to reduce risks.
- An easy-to-use platform for trading 120+ cryptocurrencies
- Multiple payment options to transfer funds
- Unique option to copy other traders
- Option to copy top trader portfolios and market portfolios
- Higher balance required for copying traders
- Withdrawals take time
Summary: eToro is a user-friendly exchange that enables the trading of many cryptocurrencies. With unique features to copy top traders, their portfolios and market portfolios, eToro has the best to offer to crypto enthusiasts.
Crypto.com is a well-known, user-friendly trading platform that deals with a wide range of cryptocurrencies.
Headquartered in Hong Kong and founded in 2016, the exchange came into effect only in 2019. It currently has over 3 million users worldwide.
Crypto.com supports investment and trading of many popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Ethereum, etc. Besides it also encourages investments in its own coin Crypto.com Coin (CRO).
Fiat currencies such as Singapore Dollars, Euros, Hong Kong Dollars, Japanese Yen can be used to make deposits using credit/ debit cards, Paypal, and bank transfers.
Features of Crypto.com
Some of the attractive features of crypto.com are listed below.
Crypto.com supports many wallets and users owning bitcoins can transfer the cryptocurrencies to these Crypto.com compatible wallets as required. A wallet address can also be whitelisted to enable secure transfer of funds and prevent theft.
This mobile app, available on Google Play has a user-friendly interface and can help users to easily track and buy cryptocurrencies on the exchange.
With options to trade more 55 cryptocurrencies, it allows payments via debit or credit cards and maybe the best app to buy bitcoins.
The Earn feature is great for your cryptocurrencies and can help you get up to 8% p.a every week. Stablecoins can earn interests as high as 12% p.a, but the highest interest payments at 18% p.a come from their own CRO coin.
MCO Visa Cards
The MCO Visa Card is a special feature of Crypto.com that is exclusive for its CRO token holders. A beautiful metal card, this provides flexibility for users to spend their cryptos as fiat currencies when they swipe the card at merchants accepting Visa.
- Supports trading of a wide range of popular cryptocurrencies
- User-friendly Crypto.com App to track and buy 55+ cryptos
- Secure wallets and whitelisting to prevent thefts
- MCO Visa Card to pay as fiat currency at Visa-accepted merchants
- Exchange not available for USA residents
- Supports only a few bitcoins
Summary: A user-friendly exchange that provides a wide array of cryptocurrencies for trading. The unique features of Crypto.com help in effective tracking, earning, and spending cryptos just the way it suits you.
The Final Note
Bitcoins are the future of digital trading and have already found a place for themselves in the virtual market. People are realizing the potential of bitcoins and seek the most secure sites to invest their hard-earned money.
Though the internet market is flooded with options and multiple exchanges have emerged, it is worth looking at the various services a crypto exchange has to offer before jumping on the band-wagon.
User-friendliness, tight security protocols, variety of bitcoins for trading, advanced features that give professional traders an edge, storage, and customer support are some features to consider for safe and profitable bitcoin investments!