A cryptocurrency exchange can be used to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies such as Ether (ETH) or Bitcoin (BTC). To help you find the best option for you, we’ve compared some popular cryptocurrency exchanges by different categories.
Best for Beginners: Bitbuy Digital Currency Exchange
Best for CAD: CoinSmart Cryptocurrency Exchange
Best for Low Fees: Binance Cryptocurrency Exchange
Best for Altcoins: KuCoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
Best for Trading: Bitfinex Professional Trading Exchange
How We Chose the Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges:
We looked at a range of factors including user-friendliness for beginners, fees, suitability for fiat currency purchases, the selection of cryptocurrencies available, and advanced trading features to select one that stands out for each category.
Please note, this is not an exhaustive list of all cryptocurrency exchanges available. Some exchanges might be better for certain currencies or situations, depending on your own circumstances.
Bitbuy: Best for Beginners
This all-Canadian exchange is easy to use and offers people of all skill levels the opportunity to buy, sell, and trade a range of popular cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. To learn more read our Bitbuy review. Some points to consider include:
CoinSmart: Best for CAD
CoinSmart allows you to use a range of deposit methods including credit and debit cards, Interac e-Transfers, bank wire payments and bank drafts. When you sign up for the first time, you will need to go through the verification process, which usually takes just a few minutes. Most payments will be processed on the same day, and you can access card payments in your account immediately. You can withdraw CAD directly into your bank account. CoinSmart also offers 24/7 customer support and you can get in touch with the customer service team using a variety of contact methods.
Binance: Best for Low Fees:
There’s a reason that Binance is such a popular crypto exchange. However, it’s important to note that this is a crypto-only exchange, so you’ll need to buy some crypto with fiat currency and deposit it onto the exchange before you can get started.
Kucoin: Best for Altcoins:
Kucoin offers a large selection of cryptocurrencies, although it’s worth noting that the available liquidity will vary for each one.
Bitfinex: Best for Trading:
Of all the exchanges, Bitfinex offers one of the most liquid cryptocurrency markets. You can use it to buy, sell and trade more than 120 different coins.
Is it Safe to Store Cryptocurrency on an Exchange?
Cryptocurrency is stored in digital wallets. You may be provided with your own wallet by the exchange that you sign up for, allowing you to hold the crypto in your exchange account and then transfer it to another wallet as desired. Others will require you to have set up your own wallet elsewhere at the time of purchase.
Bear in mind that storing crypto long-term in the exchange is not recommended. This is because the exchange controls the private key to your wallet, leaving you without full control of your funds. You will also be putting your cryptocurrency at a higher risk of being targeted by hackers.
How to Choose a Bitcoin Exchange:
With hundreds of different exchanges to consider, what are the steps involved in finding the best one to suit your needs? The best thing to do is to spend some time researching a wide range of platforms, comparing the pros and cons of each option. It’s a good idea to know what you are looking for before you start since the best exchange for you depends on what you need and your situation.
When comparing cryptocurrency exchanges, keep the following factors in mind:
If you are a novice and just getting started with cryptocurrency, finding the right exchange can be a confusing, complicated process. On the other hand, if you are more experienced, you may be looking for a platform where you can flex your skill with more advanced features. Determine your skill and knowledge level to find a platform that is the right option for you. If you’re a beginner, you are best with a platform that offers a simple, straightforward user interface.
Consider how you want to deposit the funds into your exchange account. Can all the normal methods be used, such as credit and debit cards, bank transfers, and PayPal? Generally, an exchange will be more convenient to use when it has a wider range of payment options on offer. Make sure that your preferred option is available and be sure to check for any associated fees.
Consider the type of trades that you will want to place on the exchange. Exchanges will typically offer one or more of the following:
- Fiat to crypto trading
- Crypto to crypto trading
- Both of these
For example, if you want to use CAD to purchase ETH, you will need an exchange where you are able to purchase coins using your debit card or a bank transfer. On the other hand, a crypto-to-crypto exchange will be necessary if you want to exchange your ETH for BTC.
Not all cryptocurrencies will be available to buy, sell and trade on every platform. Consider the currencies that you want to trade and find an exchange that lists them in one or more trading pairs.
Cryptocurrencies: Bear in mind that there are currently thousands of digital currencies available, so they won’t be listed everywhere. You will usually find major cryptocurrencies such as ETH, BTC and XRP on the majority of exchanges, but you may have a trickier time finding rarer altcoins if you want to trade those.
Fiat currencies: If you want to purchase crypto with a fiat currency such as CAD, be sure to check that it is accepted by the exchange.
Consider how much it is going to cost you in fees to deposit, trade, and withdraw your funds from the exchange. Fees may differ based on your methods of payment and withdrawal, the currencies that you want to trade, and whether or not you are entitled to any discounts.
Check if there are any limits on the account before you get started. For example, can you only deposit up to a certain amount into your account in a given day? Is there a limit on the amount of cryptocurrency you can buy or sell daily? It’s also worth checking if there are any restrictions in terms of withdrawing your funds, as both minimum and maximum limits may apply.
Consider how you are going to be able to access your account to trade. The majority of platforms allow easy access from a web browser, but if you want to trade on the go, it’s best to look for a platform that offers mobile trading either in your mobile browser or via a smartphone app.
Find out if there is anything that you can do to take advantage of reduced trading fees. Some exchanges will offer discounts for a range of factors, such as paying for crypto in the exchange’s native currency. You may be able to access discounts based on your trade volumes or take advantage of additional perks like access to exclusive events or shares in the platform.
When it comes to cryptocurrency, there’s no such thing as an official price, but rather, the price is determined by how much people are willing to offer. This is why it’s worth comparing the exchange rates across several cryptocurrency exchanges to see where you can get the best ones.
Liquidity levels on cryptocurrency exchange will affect the speed and ease with which you can trade coins. With a high level of liquidity, or if the exchange has a high trading volume, you should be able to quickly and easily complete trades. This is usually the case on larger crypto exchanges since they tend to get enough orders to easily match buyers and sellers. On the other hand, substantial fluctuations in price are often caused by low liquidity levels.
There are some platforms that will allow you to trade anonymously and are good options for anybody whose privacy is important to them when trading. However, the majority of exchanges will require your account to be verified before you will be able to start trading. This is to ensure that the exchange is meeting all obligations under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws and regulations. You will likely be required to provide certain personal details such as your name, address, email, contact number, proof of address, and proof of ID. Check out the exchange’s reputation before providing this personal information to ensure that you are dealing with a trusted platform. It’s also wise to check how long you can expect the verification process to take, especially if you want to get started as quickly as possible.
Find out how soon you can expect account withdrawals to be processed and how long you can expect transactions to take to be processed. If trading funds take too long to arrive in your account, you may find yourself missing out on trading opportunities, which can be frustrating.
Security is one of the key features to think about when you choose a cryptocurrency exchange. Exchanges are often prime targets for hackers, and in this event, users become victims of theft and/or fraud. Be sure to do your research into the security measures that are in place to protect your funds. Consider whether 2-factor authentication is supported, whether you or the exchange controls the private key to your wallet, if your funds are stored in wallets online or offline, the level of security monitoring, how much verification is required to open an account, whether email encryption is used, and whether or not you can receive SMS and email alerts about your account activity.
Although various authorities around the world are beginning to catch up to cryptocurrency exchanges and their rapid growth, there is still a very light level of regulation in the industry overall. The regulations that apply to exchanges will depend on where they are based, so it’s a good idea to find out as much information as you can about the platform and where it is operated. All Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges must be registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FinTRAC) since June 2020. They must also meet anti-money laundering obligations set out by the government. Bear in mind that due to certain regulations around the world, users from certain countries may be denied access to some exchanges, so check the fine print before you sign up.
Customer service and support is often overlooked, but it is an essential factor to consider when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange. Consider how you will be able to access the customer support team if you have an issue with your account or a question about an individual transaction. Find out if there is an online support centre where you can submit tickets, and find out how you will be able to contact customer support if you need help or advice. Is customer service available around the clock, or during certain hours? How quickly are queries responded to? Are answers to frequently asked questions provided in the help section or support centre?
Finally, consider the reputation of the platform you are considering. Is it known for being reliable and secure? Find independent reviews from other users that you can read to learn more about their positive and negative experiences. What does the platform do well? What could it do better? Would current users recommend it to their family and friends? How long has the platform been operating?
How to Use a Cryptocurrency Exchange:
Purchasing Crypto With CAD:
In this example, let’s assume that you’d like to buy Bitcoin and have CAD$500 available to spend. Follow these steps:
- Research and compare cryptocurrency exchanges to find one that you feel is a good fit for you.
- Register for an account and verify your account if needed by providing personal details and proof of your ID.
- Head to the ‘Buy’ screen.
- Select Bitcoin to purchase.
- Select your payment currency (CAD) and enter the amount that you want to spend ($500).
- Choose your payment method, such as bank transfer or debit card.
- Enter the relevant payment details to make the payment.
- Review the full transaction details. Check the fees and make sure that you are happy with the amount of Bitcoin you’re purchasing.
- Click ‘Buy BTC’ if you are happy to continue.
- The Bitcoin will be deposited into your exchange wallet or sent to an external wallet address provided by you once the transaction has been processed.
If you want to buy cryptocurrency with USD in America then read our guid.
Purchasing Cryptocurrency With Cryptocurrency:
You can purchase crypto with other digital currencies. Let’s imagine that you want to purchase ETH using 1 Bitcoin. If you’re using a crypto-to-crypto exchange, follow these steps:
- Research, review and compare cryptocurrency exchanges to find one that is a good fit for you.
- Register for an account and provide ID and personal details to verify your account if requested.
- Log in to your account and find your BTC wallet address.
- Transfer your 1BTC that you’re going to trade with to this address from your external wallet.
- Head to the ‘Trading’ or ‘Exchange’ page.
- Find the currency pair that you want to trade (BTC/ETH).
- Choose the type of order that you want to place in the ‘Buy’ field. This could be a limit order or a market order.
- Enter your transaction details, specifying the amount of BTC that you want to spend, and your desired ETH price if placing a limit order.
- Review your transaction and make sure that you are satisfied with the exchange rate and any fees that apply.
- Select ‘Buy ETH’.
- Your ETH will be deposited into your exchange wallet once the transaction has been processed.
Bear in mind that the process will differ if you are using a decentralized rather than a centralized crypto exchange. In this case, you will be required to link your wallet to your account but will be able to trade directly from it rather than depositing funds on the platform.
Selling and Withdrawing Funds:
If you want to use a crypto exchange to sell digital currencies such as ETH, you will need to follow these steps:
- Log in to your exchange account and find your ETH wallet address.
- Transfer the ETH that you want to trade from your external wallet to this address.
- Go to the ‘Trading’ or ‘Exchange’ page.
- Find the currency pair that you want to trade, such as ETH/BTC or ETH/CAD.
- Head to the ‘Sell’ field and enter the details of your transaction. You may be able to place a limit order or sell your currency for market rate.
- Review your transaction and ensure that you are happy with the exchange rate and any applicable fees.
- Select ‘Sell ETH’.
- The currency that you have purchased will be deposited into your exchange wallet once your transaction has been processed.
Now it is time to withdraw your funds from your exchange account. The process for doing this will differ depending on whether you have purchased a digital or fiat currency.
- Fiat Currency: If you’ve purchased CAD or another fiat currency, find the ‘withdraw CAD’ option on your account dashboard. Choose your desired payment methods and enter the necessary details to process your payment.
- Cryptocurrency: If you want to withdraw a digital currency, you will need to open a secure wallet to store your coins. Once you have done this, copy the wallet address, and select the currency that you want to transfer to it from your exchange account.
How to Pay for Your Cryptocurrency:
Before you can trade on a cryptocurrency exchange, you will need to deposit funds. All manner of deposit methods are accepted on crypto exchanges, including:
Different platforms will accept different payment methods, so it’s a good idea to double-check that your preferred method is accepted before you sign up.
The Different Types of Cryptocurrency Exchange:
Best for: Novices and people who want an easy, quick way to trade digital currencies
Downside: May not offer as wide a selection of crypto, and can often cost more compared to other options
Brokers offer the most convenient and simplest method of purchasing digital currencies. Purchasing BTC, ETH, or altcoins from a broker is similar to purchasing from a shop. The broker will purchase the coins at wholesale rates before selling them on to you with their own margin added on top. They offer a fast, easy, and straightforward way to get into cryptocurrency trading with platforms that are easy to use and allow you to purchase cryptocurrency with your everyday fiat currency.
Best for: Lower fees and those who want to buy and sell a wide range of digital and fiat currencies
Downsides: It may not always be possible to directly exchange certain currencies, and these platforms can sometimes be intimidating for beginners
Trading platforms are the most popular type of platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. They connect buyers and sellers and take a fee for facilitating the transactions. Cryptocurrencies can be exchanged on these platforms for the current market rate or for a specific limit. Some will also offer advanced trading features that you can take advantage of, like stop-loss orders and charting tools. They will typically offer access to a wider range of cryptocurrencies compared to brokers, along with lower fees and better exchange rates.
Peer to Peer Exchanges
Best for: Trading anonymously and getting ultimate control over how you trade
Downsides: There’s typically a higher level of risk involved and the prices are often higher compared to market rates
Peer-to-peer trading platforms allow people all around the world to trade currencies directly. The exchange simply acts as a middleman, and sellers are able to set their own prices and the payment methods that they are willing to accept. One of the biggest benefits of these platforms is that users can quickly, anonymously sell their crypto using any kind of trade or payment method desired. However, it can often be riskier compared to other types of platforms, plus more expensive. Many of these platforms offer built-in reputation and escrow systems to make it easier for users to find reputable buyers and sellers.
The Difference Between Centralized and Decentralized Exchanges:
You may have come across the concept of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges if you have been researching your options. Decentralized exchanges (DEXs) allow you to trade cryptocurrency directly with other users. They are hosted on a network of distributed nodes, meaning that there is no central failure point to be targeted by hackers, and server downtime is a non-issue. Trades on these platforms are typically carried out using smart contracts allowing you to trade directly from your online wallet and retain control of your currency by avoiding transferring it onto the exchange. If you want to buy from the USA you should read our guide on the best exchanges in the US.
Every cryptocurrency exchange is different, and every buyer or seller will have different needs and requirements when it comes to trading. This is why it’s so essential to conduct your own research as what works well for somebody else might not be the best option for you. Check out our reviews of a range of the best cryptocurrency exchanges in Canada and worldwide to compare fees, advantages, and disadvantages. The more information you have, the easier it is to figure out if an exchange meets your trading requirements.
Our Methodology for Finding the Best Exchanges:
We looked at a range of cryptocurrency exchanges to examine a range of features including beginner-friendliness, cryptocurrency selection, fiat currency purchase suitability, advanced trading features, and more. Bear in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list - there may be other exchanges better for your circumstances.
How We Looked at Each of the Five Best Categories:
We determined the level of beginner-friendliness by looking at exchanges that offered a range of features suitable for novices including providing a managed crypto wallet, offering direct fiat purchases, a clean, intuitive user interface, quick sign-up processes, and a reputation for good customer support.
To rank in this category, we determine that a platform had to allow customers to purchase crypto directly from the exchange rather than dealing with other traders on the open market. Exchanges with specific legal customer protections and strong regulations were preferred.
Fiat Currency Purchases:
To be eligible for ranking in this category, exchanges needed to offer fiat currency purchases. We compared platforms with the goal of finding options where eligible customers looking to purchase crypto with fiat currency could do so regardless of the payment method used. We looked for factors such as offering a variety of payment methods including some with no or very low deposit fees, cash payment facilities, and quick or instant processing.
To rank an exchange in this category, we looked for platforms that charge no more than 0.1% per trade. We then looked for exchanges that do not have any hidden costs that can significantly increase the cost of the trade such as large withdrawal fees and exchanges that provide options for reducing fees further and accessing discounts, such as various trading fee tiers.
To rank in this category, exchanges were judged on the range of cryptocurrencies available to purchase. We also considered the speed at which exchanges listed newly released digital currencies, and how often they were the first to list a new crypto.
Suitability for Active Trading:
Here, we considered a range of factors including how suitable the exchange is for a wide range of different traders. For example, platforms that are just as suitable for both novices and professional or experienced traders and those who trade frequently and infrequently. We considered liquidity, fees, cryptocurrency selections, the option to go both long and short on crypto, the range of advanced trade types available, access to leverage, and API or bot trading support.
Frequently Asked Questions:
In several countries, crypto exchanges are regulated under counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering regulations. They must gather certain details about their customers, including proof of ID, in order to meet these regulations.
While there are new laws being gradually implemented to help protect crypto traders against fraud and scams, it’s important to be aware of the fact that there are still plenty of dodgy exchange platforms out there. Checking the security and reputable of a platform before you sign up is crucial, and avoid storing your funds on the exchange.
No - cryptocurrency options available can vary a lot between different exchanges. For example, some may only offer Bitcoin and a select few other currencies, while others offer hundreds. There’s no guarantee that the cryptocurrency you want to buy will be available on any one platform.
Sites like CoinMarketCap are ideal for viewing 24-hour trading volume for crypto exchanges.
In this case, you would be wise to consider using the services of an over-the-counter broker to facilitate your trade and avoid slippage.