Where do people typically go when they want to buy Bitcoin? One of the easiest and safest ways is to buy crypto directly in your wallet. This way, you know for sure that you’re truly in charge of your digital assets and won’t have to worry about hack attacks and other slip ups.
However, the most common scenario for people who want to buy cryptocurrency is to turn to a centralized crypto exchange. They charge relatively low commission fees, offer a wide range of coins and tokens, allow you to use their built-in wallets (and that’s why hackers love targeting crypto exchanges’ hot storage), and provide a set of useful tools to manage your portfolio. The usability varies from exchange to exchange: some of them are more suitable for seasoned traders, while others are beginner-friendly.
If you’re new to the crypto trading scene, you might be overwhelmed by the number of exchanges to choose from. That’s why we’ve made a list of the top centralized crypto exchanges to trade your coins in 2020.
The essential data on the exchanges, such as trading volume, visits, and coins, is provided by CoinGecko.
- Trading fee: maker 0.1000% / taker 0.1000% and lower
- Daily trading volume: over $2 billion
- Visits: 29 million
- Coins available: 204
- Country: originally China, now registered in Malta
- CEO: Changpeng Zhao
Binance is the biggest cryptocurrency exchange, with an average daily trading volume of about $2 billion. It was founded in 2017 by former developer Changpeng Zhao, who made it onto a few Forbes lists. After one year of operating in China, the exchange moved its headquarters to Japan because of the restrictions related to cryptocurrency business in China, and later on to crypto-loving Malta.
Apart from traditional crypto trading, available in several versions suitable for beginners and professional traders, Binance has its DEX for peer-to-peer crypto trading. The exchange has issued its own BNB coin that gives discounts on exchanges, and it allows you to deposit crypto and earn rewards. And in case you need a crypto loan, Binance has also got you covered. Apart from that, the exchange facilitates staking and has its own mining pool.
- Trading fee: taker 0.25% and lower/maker 0.15% and lower
- Daily trading volume: $600 million
- Visits: over 5 million
- Coins available: 29
- Country: USA
- CEO: Brian Armstrong
Coming in at a close second, Coinbase is the most famous crypto exchange operating in the US. Founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong, a software engineer also known for his charity work and collecting donations in crypto for people living in poverty, Coinbase fiat services are available in more than 32 countries. It is available in two versions: a simplified one for a quick and easy way to buy Bitcoin and other crypto, and an advanced one for seasoned crypto traders.
The platform goes beyond crypto trading, offering a variety of useful features from education to consulting on filing your taxes. The Coinbase Earn program allows individuals residing in certain areas to earn crypto by learning about it and passing simple tests. The exchange also has its stablecoin, USDC, and its owners are eligible to earn rewards from the exchange for holding it. Coinbase also developed its crypto processing solution that allows e-merchants to accept crypto payments in their online stores.
- Trading fee: taker 0.1%/maker 0.1% and lower
- Daily trading volume: $202 million
- Visits: over 3 million
- Coins available: 216
- Country: global, HQ in Singapore
- CEO: Michael Gan
KuCoin exchange was founded in 2017, and within a year managed to gain over 5 million users in multiple countries around the world. There is a mist of mystery surrounding KuCoin as nobody can say for sure where exactly the exchange is located. While the website mentions the Seychelles, the company’s official response is that its HQ is located in Singapore and has quite a few offices around Asia. Moreover, its founder, Michael Gan, has mentioned Neo Global Capital as one of the KuCoin’s investors but this information has never been confirmed.
KuCoin offers instant exchanges, classic and margin trading, an impressive number of supported coins as well as a variety of ways to top up your fiat deposit. The exchange has a version for beginners and pro traders. Apart from trading, KuCoin allows you to lend your crypto to earn interest, stake coins, and get bonuses. It also has a referral and soon will launch its own mainnet.
- Trading fee: taker 0.35%/maker 0.25 and lower
- Daily trading volume: $40 million
- Visits: over 500,000
- Coins available: 9
- Country of origin: USA (NY)
- Co-Founders: Winklevoss brothers
- Advanced level
Founded in 2014 by the Winklevoss brothers, famous for their love for crypto and rowing skills worthy of competing in the Olympics, Gemini was the first crypto exchange that got a license for trading Ether and Zcash. Alongside Coinbase and Kraken, Gemini has recently been named the top-ranked crypto exchange of 2020 in CryptoCompare’s report. The exchange owns digital asset insurance for crypto held on it.
Gemini comes in several forms: an easy-to-use mobile version and Gemini Active Trader for a professional-level experience. Gemini Clearing allows its users to seal the deal off the book (similar to a P2P exchange) and its Pay product enables Gemini app users to pay for goods and services in Bitcoin, ETH, LTC, Zcash, BCH, and their own currency, Gemini dollar (GUSD).
- Trading fee: maker 0.1%/taker 0.15% and lower
- Daily trading volume: over $1 billion
- Visits: over 6 million
- Coins available: 156
- Country: China/Malta
- CEO: Jay Hao
Malta-registered exchange, OKEx has been around since 2017. Although OKEx regularly boasts high trading volumes, it failed all three tests conducted by Coin Metrics on exchanges’ trustworthiness. Despite that, the CEO of OKEx, Jay Hao, is a firm blockchain believer. He is very active in the crypto space: he often gives comments and interviews and holds regular AMA sessions.
OKEx offers spot trading, both basic and advanced, margin trading and is currently working on launching its own DEX. Besides that, the exchange has futures and options trading functionality. You can earn and loan some coins on OKEx in a very convenient way and their built-in calculator will show you the numbers.
- Trading fee: maker 0.2%/taker 0.2% and lower
- Daily trading volume: $117 million
- Visits: over 1 million
- Coins available: 239
- Country of origin: China
- CEO: Lin Han
- Advanced level
One of the oldest crypto exchanges operating in China, Gate started operating in 2013. Gate.io has recently made the list of 13 exchanges that can be trusted according to the new trading volume evaluating technique developed by Coin Metrics. The exchange has offices around the world and recently its Chicago branch started offering bitcoin futures.
If you’re a newbie to the crypto space, starting trading at Gate.io might not be the best idea as it doesn’t support fiat deposits. You can only deposit your crypto assets. Besides, there is no beginner-friendly version of the trading view. Among other services, Gate.io offers a variety of passive income options, including term and non-term ones. The exchange also holds regular voting rounds for its users on coin listings.
- Trading fee: maker 0.16%/taker 0.26%
- Daily trading volume: over $400 million
- Visits: over 4 million
- Coins available: 38
- Country of origin: USA
- CEO: Jesse Powell
- Advanced level
Veterans in the cryptocurrency exchange scene, Kraken was founded in 2011 in the States by Jesse Powell, a Bitcoin enthusiast and art lover. The exchange provides market price data to Bloomberg Terminal and was responsible for supporting the investigation into the infamous Mt.Gox case (one of the most viral exchange hacks in history) and distributing the assets to its creditors.
If you know your way with trading, Kraken’s interface won’t be an issue, but it’s not the best fit for crypto beginners. If you’re interested in staking, Kraken allows you to stake Tezos, Bitcoin, Euro, and USD. You can fund an account via SEPA or CAD, which is not always convenient but – on the bright side – free of charge. Kraken also offers margin and futures trading, as well as an OTC desk.
- Trading fee: maker 0.1%/taker 0.2% and lower
- Daily trading volume: over $200 million
- Visits: over 2 million
- Coins available: 144
- Country: HQ in Hong Kong
- CEO: Jean-Louis Van Der Velde
- Advanced level
Bitfinex was founded in 2012 as a peer-to-peer exchange, but later on changed course. The exchange went through quite a few scandals from a security breach that caused a loss of $72 million in BTC to allegations of cooperating with Tether and manipulating the crypto market. The exchange was also accused of using the reserves of the USDT stablecoin. Bitfinex, alongside Tether, denies these accusations.
Bitfinex is mainly used by professional traders but it also has the option to buy crypto with a credit card. Apart from the classic exchange, Bitfinex offers margin trading and funding, derivatives trading, and has an OTC desk. If you’re new to the scene, you can train on their platform too. Staking is also possible and it supports TRON, EOS, Tezos, Cosmos, and a couple of more coins.
- Trading fee: maker 0.2%/taker 0.2%
- Daily trading volume: $500 million
- Visits: 3 million
- Coins available: 241
- Country of origin: Singapore
- Founder: Leon Li
China-born and Singapore-based Huobi was launched in 2013 by software engineer Leon Li. When China issued a ban on crypto exchanges, Huobi quickly changed their organizational model and started their global expansion, but it is not available to users from the US.
If you’re not a trader but want to buy some coins, you can do so on Huobi without spending time on figuring out the process. For those who are a little more advanced, margin and futures trading, as well as an OTC desk, are available. On top of that, Huobi is planning on launching Bitcoin options. It also facilitates lending and asset servicing. Huobi has a native token (HT) which you can lock to receive rewards.
- Trading fee: maker 0.125% / taker 0.125% and lower
- Daily trading volume: $60 million
- Visits: nearly 2 million
- Coins available: 113
- Country of origin: USA
- CEO: Tristan D’Agosta
- Advanced level
Poloniex was founded in 2014 and was initially planning on working for the US market but as things got rolling, the exchange expanded globally. The exchange tends to lean towards listing DeFi tokens and one of them caused Poloniex some legal problems. Together with Bitfinex, Poloniex was accused of market manipulations by seriously overstating buy orders for USDT on various exchanges to imitate liquidity in 2017.
As for the functionality, Poloniex has everything a crypto trader might need from margins and futures trading to TRON-oriented peer-to-peer trade. And if you’re more interested in earning passive income, you can lend your coins and reap the benefits.
Whatever exchange you decide to go with, remember the golden rule of crypto, “Not your keys, not your coins”. It is unsafe to store your funds in the exchange wallets. If you plan on holding the coins, consider transferring them to a safe storage.