So, you’re looking to start buying, trading and selling altcoins, but not sure what the best altcoin exchange is? I know the feeling — there are hundreds of different exchanges to choose from, each with their own pros and cons.
But don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place! Today, I am going to give you a review on seven of the best altcoin exchanges, in which I’ll show you where to buy altcoins and how to buy altcoins with USD.
By the way, did you know that the first-ever altcoin to be created was Namecoin in 2011?
In this best altcoin exchange guide, I will review some of the top exchanges, highlighting their fees, security measures, coin availability, trading volume, and user-friendliness. So, once you have read through all seven exchanges, you will be able to decide which one best suits your needs.
Well… what are you waiting for? The first review in this best altcoin exchange guide will be covering the Gemini exchange!
Table of Contents
A Glimpse at Gemini
Gemini was created in 2015 by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. The twins are famous for suing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for $65 million, as they say, that he stole their idea!
Gemini is based in New York and they hold something called a “BitLicense”. This means that they are regulated in the same way as the banking industry, meaning that they take security very seriously.
As Gemini is also used by institutional investors, there are always high trading volumes, meaning that you will have no issues finding liquidity. Gemini also has good relationships with regulators, so they allow you to deposit and withdraw using a bank account.
Note: An institutional investor is somebody who invests on behalf of a large organization, such as a bank or a hedge fund. They normally invest very large amounts of money.
Before you’re able to fund your account, you will need to complete a verification process. This will include entering your personal details and uploading a government-issued ID (such as a passport). Depending on how busy the verification department is, it could take a few days before your account is verified.
You are allowed to make up to 30 bank account withdrawals and 10 Bitcoin or Ethereum withdraws for free each month. Deposits are also free. Trading fees start at 0.25%, however, when you start trading with larger amounts, these fees are reduced.
However, one of the main disadvantages of using Gemini is that the only altcoin they list is Ethereum!
In terms of the platform itself, although there are lots of tools available for advanced users, the exchange is really simple to use, making it perfect for first-time buyers.
- Accepts bank account deposits and withdrawals
- Registered with New York regulators so very good reputation
- Excellent security
- Very low fees
- User-friendly platform
- Good liquidity
- Only 1 altcoin available – Ethereum
- Verification can take a few days
So, now that you know all of the advantages and disadvantages of Gemini, in the next part of this best altcoin exchange guide, I will review Coinbase!
What About Coinbase?
If you have been involved in the world of cryptocurrency for a long time, then there is a good chance you would have heard of Coinbase.
Created in 2011 and located in San Francisco, Coinbase has one of the largest trading volumes for Bitcoin. However, they also allow you to buy and sell three altcoins, which are Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH)!
The platform is really easy to use, which makes it perfect for beginners. Not only this, but they have excellent customer service, which includes phone support!
One of the main reasons that people love Coinbase is because they allow you to deposit using a debit/credit card or a bank account.
Before you get started with fiat money, you will need to verify your identity. This is straightforward, as all you need to do is provide a few personal details and then upload a government-issued ID (such as your passport).
Security is also very good, Coinbase holds 98% of customer funds in cold storage and you also have the option of setting up two-factor authentication.
Note: Cold storage is when cryptocurrencies are held offline, with no connection to the internet. This makes them extremely secure and almost impossible for criminals to steal them!
One of the main disadvantages of using Coinbase is that it is only available in a select few countries. This includes Australia, Canada, Singapore, the U.S., and most E.U. countries.
Using a debit or credit card to deposit is also quite expensive at just under 4%, however, this is normal when using this payment method. Trading fees are also very good, with Coinbase charging just above the current market rate!
- Very basic platform – perfect for beginners
- Accepts debit/credit cards and bank transfer
- Cheap trading and withdrawal fees
- Excellent security
- Good customer support
- Quick and easy verification
- Expensive fees for debit/credit card deposits
- Only 3 altcoins available
- Only accepts users from a few countries
So, now that you know the pros and cons of using Coinbase, the next part of this best altcoin exchange review will outline the features of Kraken!
Kraken is very similar to Coinbase and they also have a really basic platform, making it perfect for first-time buyers! Also created in 2011, they are one of the most popular altcoin exchanges for European traders.
Unfortunately, Kraken doesn’t allow you to fund your account with a debit or credit card, however, you can use a bank account if you are living in Canada, Japan, the U.S. or in most parts of the E.U.
Just like Coinbase, you will need to verify your account before you get started. If you are only depositing with a cryptocurrency, then you just need to provide basic information. However, if you want to use your bank account then you will need to provide additional details such as your address.
When it comes to trading fees, this will depend on the amount you want to trade and also on what altcoin you want to buy. This can be as low as 0.02% or as high as 0.26%. You can check each individual fee by clicking here.
Unlike Coinbase, Kraken has a really good selection of altcoins available, including Stellar Lumens, Ripple, ZCash and more!
Although there is no phone support available, you can request help through their live chat facility. However, there does seem to be a lot of bad reviews about the quality of their customer service.
- Accepts bank accounts for deposits and withdrawals
- Very good selection of altcoins
- Low trading fees, but can be quite confusing to understand the structure
- Good security
- Live chat support
- Basic interface for beginners
- Easy verification
- No debit or credit card deposits
- Reports of poor customer service
Don’t worry if you haven’t made a decision on which exchange to use yet, we still have a few to go! The next section of this best altcoin exchange review is going to talk about Bitstamp!
Leaving a Mark With Bitstamp
Bitstamp was created in 2011 and was originally based in Slovenia, but they now have offices located in many different countries. The platform is actually designed for more experienced traders. So, if you are still in your early days of cryptocurrency, then it might not be the best altcoin exchange for you.
However, they do have one of the highest trading volumes in the industry, so liquidity levels are really good. Nevertheless, one of the biggest advantages of using Bitstamp is that you can deposit funds using a debit/credit card, bank account, and cryptocurrencies too.
Deposit fees are different depending on what payment method you decide to use. Here is an example of what you will pay.
Debit cards: $10
Credit cards: 5%
International wire: 0.05% (minimum/maximum – $7.5/$300)
When withdrawing by international wire, the fees are quite expensive at $15, however, SEPA is only $0.90!
Trading fees are fixed at 0.25% for each transaction, but if you trade more than $20,000 in a single month, this goes down. The more you trade, the cheaper the fees, with the lowest being 0.10% if you are able to trade more than $20 million. Which is a bit out of my budget!
Although Bitstamp now has one of the best security systems available, the exchange has been hacked more than once, with the last time being in 2015. This particular hack was so serious that the criminal stole more than 19,000 BTC. Luckily, nothing has happened since.
Although the amount of altcoins available to buy is not as much as other exchanges, you can buy Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ripple (XRP) and Litecoin (LTC).
One of the main disadvantages of using Bitstamp is that its verification process can be really slow. This is because they are trying to catch up from the huge number of account applications they had in December 2017! Some people have reported waits of up to two weeks, so if you are looking to start straight away, you might be best using a different exchange.
Another disadvantage of using Bitstamp is that their customer service can be really slow, with the team sometimes taking up to 3 days to reply.
- Accepts debit/credit card and bank transfer
- Low withdrawal fees for SEPA
- The good trading fee structure
- Range of tools for advanced traders
- Long verification times
- Only 4 altcoins available
- Slow customer support
- Although security is now good, has been hacked more than once
- A platform might not be suited for beginners
So, what are your views on Bitstamp? Do they sound like the kind of exchange you want to use? If not, then read on! The next part of my best altcoin exchange review is going to discuss Poloniex.
Poloniex is a U.S. based exchange that was created in 2014 by Tristan D’Agosta. They are now one of the most popular exchanges to buy and sell cryptocurrencies and their list of altcoins is huge!
Trading volumes are also high, meaning you should never have any problems finding liquidity.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest disadvantages of using Poloniex is that it does not support fiat currencies. This means that instead of using your debit/credit card or bank account, you will need to fund your account with a cryptocurrency.
However, the good thing is that both deposits and withdrawals are free, other than the blockchain transaction fees taken to pay miners (which is normal when transferring cryptocurrencies). Like some of the other altcoin exchanges I have reviewed, their trading fees will depend on the amount you trade.
The most you will pay is 0.25%, with this being reduced to 0% if you are trading with large amounts. This is one of the reasons why Poloniex always has lots of liquidity.
Unless you are looking to trade more than $2000 per day, there are no requirements to submit identity documents, so you can start trading as soon as you open an account.
They also have a good customer service department, which includes a live chat facility for instant assistance. Furthermore, although the exchange has lots of trading tools, such as charts and graphs, the actual platform is really user-friendly.
As Poloniex is registered and located in the U.S., they actually have one of the best security systems in place. However, it is important to note that back in 2014, they experienced a big hack, where the hackers stole more than 12% of their total Bitcoin holdings.
This should remind you that no matter how good an exchange’s security is, your funds are never 100% safe.
- Very large selection of altcoins listed
- Good customer service
- S. based – have to make security a priority
- User-friendly platform good for both beginners and advanced traders
- Only pay blockchain fee for deposits and withdrawals
- Trading fees are good – maximum of 0.25%
- No verification unless trading more than $2000/day
- No fiat currency deposits and withdrawals
- Had 12% of Bitcoin stolen in 2014
Now that you know all of the advantages and disadvantages of Poloniex, the next part of my best altcoin exchange guide is going to talk about Cex.io!
Cex.io was launched in 2013 and is based in the UK. During their first two years of trading, they were both an exchange and a mining pool. However, since 2015, they have been 100% focused on their trading platform, let’s explore if CEX has the potential to be called the best altcoin exchange.
One of the best features of using Cex.io is that you can deposit and withdraw funds using a bank account. If you are based in the E.U then you can use SEPA, but you must use international wire if you’re based elsewhere.
There is a good number of different altcoins that you buy on Cex.io, with new ones being added all the time.
It is important to understand that the CEX.io trading system is slightly different from the other exchanges I have reviewed so far. This is because they process orders similar to a “fill or kill” trade.
A fill or kill trade is where the buyer either gets what they ask for, or the order is canceled. For example, if Peter wants to buy 500 ETH at $600 per ETH, the trade will only go through if Peter is able to get the entire amount at that price. Otherwise, the order will be canceled!
If you are only trading low amounts, this shouldn’t be a problem as there will always be enough liquidity to fill your order!
To deposit using fiat, you will need to complete a verification process. This includes uploading your ID and then sending them an image of you holding the ID! It normally takes Cex.io two days to verify your ID, so if you want to buy straightaway you might need to consider using a different exchange.
Depositing with a debit/credit will cost you 3.5%, but bank transfers are free! Withdrawal fees depend on which currency and payment method you use — click this link here to view the structure. Trading fees are quite expensive at Cex.io, as you will need to pay 7% on top of the current market price.
As a UK based company, security at Cex.io is very good and the majority of funds are held in cold storage.
- Accepts debit/credit cards and bank account
- Good selection of altcoins
- The UK based so excellent security
- High trading fees at 7%
- Slow verification which can take up to two days
- No phone or live chat support
It’s now time for my final best altcoin exchange review, which is going to be BitSquare!
BitSquare is slightly different from the other exchanges I have reviewed so far as it is a decentralized exchange. This means that, unlike the others, there is no third party between the buyer and seller and no single authority has control over the network. Most importantly, the exchange never holds your funds.
First launched in 2016, BitSqaure allows users to not only exchange crypto-to-crypto-, but also crypto-to-fiat. There is no need to supply an ID or even any personal details, which allows you to trade anonymously! So, let’s see if BitSquare could be the best altcoin exchange.
Once you have downloaded the software on to your device, you can buy and sell a good selection of altcoins such as Litecoin and Dash.
There are more than 20 different payment options available, such as a national bank transfer, SEPA, OKPay, and even cash deposit. Furthermore, if you use the third party payment processor Perfect Money, you can use your debit or credit card!
The trading fee system is quite complicated and depends on how much you plan to trade. According to their FAQ page, the minimum fee starts at 0.00005 BTC.
Because you are trading peer-to-peer, there are no deposit or withdrawal fees other than the blockchain transaction fee.
Although the platform interface looks very clear, it might take some time before you get used to the decentralized aspect of trading. This is why it might not be best suited for beginners. So, if it is your first time using BitSquare, make sure you start off with a small amount!
- Decentralized, so nobody holds your funds
- Excellent security
- A wide selection of altcoins
- Excellent range of fiat payment methods
- No identity verification – anonymous trading
- The complicated trading fee structure
- The platform can be confusing for first-time traders
Comparison of Table
I have created a comparison table below of all of the exchanges mentioned above. This might make it easier for you to compare the above exchanges and help you decide the best place where to buy altcoins.
|Fiat Deposits||Trading Fees||User-Friendly?||Security||Altcoin Availability|
|Gemini||Bank Account||It depends on volume. Max = 0.025%||Very||Excellent||Only Ethereum|
|Coinbase||Debit Card & Bank Account||Just above market rate||Very||Excellent uses cold storage||Ethereum, Litecoin & Bitcoin Cash|
|Kraken||Bank Account||0.02% – 0.26%||Very||Excellent use of cold storage||Many Available|
|Bitstamp||Debit Card & Bank Account||0.10% – 0.25%||For Advanced Traders||Hacked more than once||4 Available|
|Poloniex||No fiat deposits||0% – 0.25%||OK||Good now, but was hacked in 2014||Many Available|
|CEX.io||Debit Card & Bank Account||7% above market rate||For More Advanced Traders||Excellent use of cold storage||Many Available|
|BitSquare||More than 20 – Including Debit Card & Bank Account||Depends on trading volume||For Advanced Traders||Excellent – Decentralised||Many Available|
And that’s the end of my Best Altcoin Exchange guide!
I understand that it can be really difficult to pick a specific one, as they all have their own advantages and disadvantages! But at least you now know the best places where to buy altcoins and how to buy altcoins with USD.
And while some are perfect for beginners, others are good if you’re looking to trade anonymously.
This is why I personally use more than one exchange. Sometimes I need an altcoin exchange that accepts debit card deposits, but other times I look for lower trading fees – it all depends on my trading goals!
Anyway, if you read my guide from start to finish, you should now have a good idea of the good and bad points of each of these popular exchanges! Maybe you know a better place to buy altcoins which I haven’t listed here? If so, let me know in the comments below what is your best altcoin exchange!