Compare the best bitcoin exchanges

In order to trade bitcoin safely and keep your coins secure, it's essential to use a trusted cryptocurrency exchange. We have found and compared all the leading platforms so you know you're making the right choice.
By: Harry Atkins
Harry Atkins
Harry joined us in 2019, drawing on more than a decade writing, editing and managing high-profile content for blue… read more.
Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Tip: our preferred broker is, eToro: visit & create account

Where can you buy Bitcoin on an exchange?

We’ve compared all the best BTC exchanges out there to find the best, and reviewed them in depth to ensure that you can find the right exchange for you. Go ahead and check them out. If you’re not ready just yet, scroll down to learn more before making a choice.

1
Min. Deposit
$50
Exclusive promotion
user-score
10
Accepts customers from the USA
Offers 15 crypto coins to buy&sell including BTC, LTC, ETC, NEO and more
Trade on the world's leading social trading and investing platform
Start Trading
Description:
eToro offers a wide range of cryptos, such as Bitcoin, XRP and others, alongside crypto/fiat and crypto/crypto pairs. eToro users can connect with, learn from, and copy or get copied by other users.
Payment Methods
Bank Transfer, Wire Transfer
Full regulations list:
CySEC, FCA
2
Min. Deposit
$1
Exclusive promotion
user-score
9.3
The world's largest cryptocurrency exchange with over 2bn daily users
Innovative trading platform offering enormous range of crypto coins
Supports over 60 methods of payment including PayPal
Start Trading
Description:
Binance has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2017 and is now one of, if not the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges on the market.
Payment Methods
Cryptocurrencies
Full regulations list:
3
Min. Deposit
$20
Exclusive promotion
user-score
8.7
Margin Trading with full legal compliance
Cryptocurrency staking
Various Payment options
Start Trading
Description:
Cex.io offers exchange of fiat currency for Bitcoin Ethereum, Tether, and 23 other cryptocurrencies, as well as Bitcoin/Ethereum trading against the USD.
Payment Methods
Credit Card, Cryptocurrencies, Debit Card, Wire Transfer, skrill
Full regulations list:

What is a bitcoin exchange?

This is a marketplace where you can buy and sell bitcoin online. By using one, you are able quickly and easily to trade fiat currency (such as GBP and USD) for cryptocurrency and to trade different cryptocurrencies for each other. Some exchanges such as Wirex are built with a user-friendly interface, making them attractive for beginners, whereas others such as Bittrex and Binance come with a more advanced interface for more experienced traders.

How do exchanges work?

There are two main ways you can trade bitcoin on an exchange:

  • Market orders. With a market order, you buy or sell at the best available price at that time on the exchange. Since the purchase is usually instant, market orders are the fastest way to make trades.
  • Limit Orders. With a limit order you set the price and the transaction automatically goes through when bitcoin hits that price. If you think the value bitcoin is going to fall, then you can set a limit order at a lower rate and get more for your money.

How to use an exchange

First, you have to set up (and usually verify) your account. Once you’ve done this you can either connect your card to that account or top it up by paying directly into the account. After you have done this, choose your payment method and purchase the coins.

Depending on your preferred method, the period during which your account will be credited will vary. For instance, exchanges such as Wirex credit your account instantly when you pay using a credit card, but it could take 3-5 days if you use a bank transfer.

What should I look for in an exchange?

There are a number of factors that help the top Bitcoin exchange platforms stand out from the crowd. Here are the main ones to think about:

Payment methods accepted

Not every exchange will accept the same forms of payments. Most of them will accept credit cards and bank transfer, but some such as Binance and Bittrex will only allow you to trade with different cryptocurrencies. One thing to note is that it’s particularly hard to find crypto exchanges that accept PayPal. Make sure you use an exchange that lets you pay how you want to make it more convenient for you.

Trading fees

This is one of the most important factors in choosing an exchange, as it directly affects the amount you’ll be paying. Exchanges usually charge maker and taker fees, and they vary from one exchange to another and the volume of your trades. These rates usually fall somewhere between 0.1% and 1.25%. Getting the most bitcoin for your buck means finding an exchange with a low rate.

Geographical restrictions

Not all exchanges are freely available in all countries. Platforms such as Binance are available in almost every country, whilst Wirex is not available in the US. Check that the exchange you want to use is available where you are before creating an account.

Payment fees

The fees vary from exchange to exchange, and will often depend on your payment method. Most sites will charge around 1% – 5% when you use a credit card and around 2% when you use a bank transfer. When choosing an exchange, make sure that your profits aren’t being too dented by the fees charged.

Design and ease of use

An important consideration when choosing a platform is how well designed the website is. For instance, Wirex comes with a user-friendly interface to help beginners invest in bitcoin, whereas other sites such as Binance are designed for more advanced users, displaying complicated graphs, cryptocurrency price & charts and allowing different trading tools. You want to be able to focus on buying the coins, not figuring out how the site functions, so find an exchange you’re comfortable using.

Quick answers to key questions

Do I have to verify my account?

Yes, you’ll have to verify your identity when signing up to an exchange. You will usually be asked to provide 2 forms of ID (such as a passport or driving license) and often a selfie of you holding one to prove it’s yours. Platforms such as Bitstamp and Bitpay may also ask you for further verification documents like bank statement or utility bill to confirm your address.

Are exchanges safe and secure?

They have many security features, though they are a big target for online attacks. There have been cases whereby exchanges have been hacked and millions of pounds worth of cryptocurrency stolen by hackers, such as with the Mt Gox exchange in 2014. It is therefore not recommended to hold more than a small amount of bitcoin at a time on an exchange account. Instead, transfer your coins to a personal wallet to keep your coins safe.

If you buy a large number of coins as a long-term investment, consider using a hardware wallet or paper wallet for extra security. If it’s a small amount that you intend to access regularly then it might be best to get an online wallet.

What if I forget my password?

This will depend on the platform, but usually exchanges will have steps to reset a forgotten password through the email address/security questions you registered when setting up your account. You just need to initiate ‘reset password’ and a link will be sent to your email address to help you set up a new one. Your exchange account has access to your bitcoins so it’s important to choose a secure password that’s not easy to guess.

How fast are transactions?

For the most part, transactions are instant. As soon as you make the payment, the bitcoins will be in your account immediately for trading. This is not necessarily the case when moving your bitcoins between exchanges, which will take slightly longer as it has to be verified on the blockchain. Exchanges such as Binance will credit your account after two blockchain confirmations, which can take a few minutes.

If you place a limit order then the transaction will only go through once bitcoin hits the value at which you have selected. At this point, though, the transactions speeds will be the same as with market orders.

What payment methods are available?

This depends on the exchange you intend to use. Typically debit card and bank transfers are the most commonly used methods of payment. Some exchanges also accept credit cards or PayPal payments, though this is less common. If you’re using an exchange that supports many different cryptocurrencies, you can also use your other coins such as litecoin or ether (Ethereum’s cryptocurrency) to fund your trades.

Will I be charged a fee to buy and sell Bitcoin?

Yes, they charge fees for making transactions, especially if you’re buying cryptocurrency directly with your card. Typically these will be between 1% and 5% depending on the platform, the payment method, and how much you’re spending. If you intend to trade a large amount, you will typically pay lower fees than with a smaller number of coins.

You can often avoid fees completely by transferring money into your account via bank transfer and using that money to fund your trades.

Will I be charged for deposits and withdrawals?

When transferring coins to another wallet or exchange, you will be charged the transaction fees associated with the Bitcoin blockchain (also known as miners’ fees). These vary depending on the amount of transactions happening at that time, but the fee is usually around 0.2 mBTC (an mBTC is one thousandth of a bitcoin).

When it comes to withdrawing fiat currency (such as GBP or USD), exchanges usually charge depending on the payment method to which you’re withdrawing. The range is usually around 1% – 4%, with the lowest rates charged when using bank transfers.

Do I need a wallet to use an exchange?

No, you don’t. Usually exchanges come with integrated wallets to hold a variety of coins, so you will have an account that holds your coins. However, it is strongly recommended that you transfer your bitcoins from your exchange account to a personal wallet if you’re not intending on trading them soon, or want to hold a large amount of them. It’s safer not to store your coins on an exchange.

What other platforms are available?

The other commonly used platforms are Bitcoin brokerages and CFD trading platforms. Brokerages manage your crypto portfolio on your behalf and get a small commission as a percentage of the total amount (but these fees are included in the advertised price of the coins), whereas CFD platforms are more focused on allowing you to make quick trades to capitalise market fluctuations; this is what online traders use.

Should I use a bitcoin exchange?

Well, it’s up to you. If you want an easy way to invest in bitcoin with either fiat currency or another cryptocurrency, then an exchange will be a perfect platform to do so. You should look into CFD broker platforms if you’re still unsure.

Pros

  • They enable you to buy BTC instantly
  • Other cryptocurrencies are often supported on the same exchange
  • You can set the price at which you wish trades to execute

Cons

FAQs

ℹ Can I use an exchange on my mobile phone?
ℹ Are there any exchanges I can use anonymously?
ℹ Can I access my transaction history on an exchange?
ℹ Are there maximum or minimum deposit/withdrawal limits?
ℹ Are there maximum or minimum buying limits?
ℹ Can I buy all cryptocurrencies on an exchange as well as bitcoin?
ℹ Are bitcoin exchanges legal?
ℹ Are BTC exchanges regulated?
ℹ Do I have to pay tax on the coins I buy through an exchange?
ℹ What if I accidentally send my coins to the wrong address?
ℹ What happens if an exchange gets hacked or closes down?
ℹ Can I withdraw to my PayPal account?
ℹ Can I cancel a trade on an exchange?
ℹ What are the differences between exchanges and CFD brokers?
ℹ What is the difference between a bitcoin wallet and a bitcoin exchange?
ℹ Do bitcoin debit cards have built-in exchanges?
ℹ How do exchanges determine the price of bitcoin?

Fact-checking & references

Our editors fact-check all content to ensure compliance with our strict editorial policy. The information in this article is supported by the following reliable sources.

Risk disclaimer

Invezz is a place where people can find reliable, unbiased information about finance, trading, and investing – but we do not offer financial advice and users should always carry out their own research. The assets covered on this website, including stocks, cryptocurrencies, and commodities can be highly volatile and new investors often lose money. Success in the financial markets is not guaranteed, and users should never invest more than they can afford to lose. You should consider your own personal circumstances and take the time to explore all your options before making any investment. Read our risk disclaimer >

Harry Atkins
Financial Writer
Harry joined us in 2019, drawing on more than a decade writing, editing and managing high-profile content for blue chip companies, Harry’s considerable experience in the… read more.