Which Cryptocurrency Exchange Should Someone New to Cryptocurrency Use?

Here is a crypto exchange guide with a list of popular cryptocurrency exchanges that are suitable for beginners. Top picks include Coinbase/Coinbase Pro, Bittrex, Binance, and Kraken.

The exchanges listed below are all popular cryptocurrency exchanges with the highest volume of Bitcoin traded that are either beginner-friendly or that beginners should be aware of.

In most cases, someone on our team or come close to us has used the exchanges listed below (this is true for everything aside from a few of the global exchanges based in other countries).

Important: Use these exchanges at your own risk and down your research. Most life choices pose risks, trading cryptocurrency is no exception. Anything connected to the internet is potentially subject to hacking or downtime, price movement can be volatile, and all trades are final in most cases (meaning if you accidentally sell your Bitcoin at a bad price, there isn’t much you can do about it).

Our Picks for Beginner Friendly Cryptocurrency Exchanges / Brokers

If I was getting into crypto for the first time, I would start with one or all of the following platforms (the first three are for very casual users, and the second two are good choices for actually getting into crypto trading, investing, or use):

1. GBTC or ETCG stocks. These aren’t crypto, these are trusts that hold crypto. Please research their premiums before buying.

2. Square’s Cash App. Want to make your life easy, download Square’s Cash App, input your information, and hit the buy Bitcoin button. This app is very limited in what it can do, and it doesn’t offer a true Bitcoin wallet, but it is probably the easiest way to buy/sell Bitcoin. This is our top choice for those who want to own Bitcoin without any of the headaches (if you don’t want to be in cryptocurrency, but want to use or invest in Bitcoin). With this solution, you can only buy/sell/send/receive Bitcoin within Square’s ecosystem. If you want to own Bitcoin or other cryptos, you’ll need to move to the next choice.

3. Robinhood. Robin Hood allows crypto trading in some states.

4. Bakkt. Bakkt plans to launch in December and will offer 1-day physically settled Bitcoin contracts. The bonus here is that you can use a traditional brokerage account to buy crypto via Bakkt.

5. Coinbase/Coinbase Pro (formerly known as GDAX). Coinbase is a company, they have two notable platforms for trading 1. Coinbase is a broker-wallet hybrid and, 2. Coinbase Pro is a more professional exchange. Square’s app aside, Coinbase is arguably the easiest way to buy, sell, store, and send Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and more. This pairing of Coinbase first and Coinbase Pro once you get that down is our top choice for new users who want to start their cryptocurrency journey.

TIP: Once a user is a bit more advanced they may also want to check out Coinbase Wallet for Ethereum-based asset trading. OFFER:

6. Kraken. Kraken is a good choice for new users who don’t want to use Coinbase (for whatever reason). As Kraken is an exchange that deals in USD, sells a range of cryptocurrencies, and is based in the U.S. It is a little headier than Coinbase, but it offers more choices (it offers more arts and margin trading for example).

IMPORTANT: Use a strong password, never share your password, and use two-factor authentication. These layers of security are vital for cryptocurrency, as if someone hacks your account and takes your cryptocurrency, you have no recourse. Here one should note, that if an exchange is hacked, you generally have recourse, but if your account is hacked (because you didn’t have a secure password or two factors) you don’t. Because of concerns like this, many keep their balances in cryptocurrency wallets not connected to the internet or in a secure online wallet like Coinbase’s vault.

TIP: Unless you use Square’s Cash app or Coinbase’s custodial wallet service, you’ll need a cryptocurrency wallet solution for long-term storage. Learn more about cryptocurrency wallets.

Once you Have Cryptocurrency, These are Our Top Picks for Beginners

After you have Coinbase or Kraken, the following platforms are logical choices:

1. Bittrex. Bittrex is currently only a crypto-to-crypto exchange (they are working on adding USD). They are a U.S. based company with a good reputation.

2. Binance. If you don’t mind using a global exchange, Binance is a very popular exchange with low fees.

NOTE: One could argue that Coinbase Pro and Kraken belong in this category and that Coinbase is essentially the best starting point. However, Coinbase Pro is a Coinbase product and Kraken might be the best first choice for users who want to jump right into owning a range of cryptos. Thus, they made the first category.

Other Completely Valid and For Some Even Preferable Exchanges

These are some exchanges that could have been in the above two categories, but aren’t to keep things simple:

1. Poloniex. A popular crypto-to-crypto exchange with competitive fees.

2. KuCoin: A solid choice for an altcoin exchange. A valid alternative to Binance.

3. Gemini. A simple U.S.-based exchange that deals USD, the Winklevoss twins are major investors. Limited choices, but geared toward non-crypto users.

4. Changelly. Changelly lets you swap one coin for another by filling out a form. Like the Cash app and Coinbase, it isn’t a traditional exchange, but it is simple and gets the job done. The caveat here is that you need to have your wallet… and you’ll need a cryptocurrency to swap. To get your first tokens you can buy Bitcoin and Ethereum at Changelly using a credit card.

5. Shapeshift. A platform that performs the same functions as Changelly essentially.

6. Bitstamp. Bitstamp is the other go-to for popular U.S.-based exchanges that deal in USD.

TIP: These aren’t the only additional exchanges worth mentioning, but going further down the list of popular exchanges would require me to discuss exchanges I haven’t used or don’t have a direct relationship with someone who uses them regularly.

NOTE: I wouldn’t pick an exchange based on fees unless you are day trading (as they all essentially have the same general fee structure; most exchanges charge a .25% fee, which is almost the industry standard). That said, Coinbase Pro offers 0% fees on limited orders and a few other exchanges have competitive fees (like Binance mentioned below).