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Updated: Jun 17, 2021, 10:56am
Everyone seems to want cryptocurrency these days. But to get in on the action, you’ll need a crypto exchange where you can buy and sell digital currencies, like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin.
To help you pick the right one for you, Forbes Advisor UK combed through the leading exchange offerings, and reams of data, to determine the top crypto exchange services. All of these, however, come with one caveat: Cryptocurrencies are speculative investments and should only be made if you’re willing to accept wild price swings and a decent risk of losing everything.
1
Fees (Maker/Taker)
1.99%*/1.99%*
Cryptocurrencies Available for Trade
50+
1
On Coinbase’s Secure Website
2
Fees (Maker/Taker)
0.40%/0.40%
Cryptocurrencies Available for Trade
100+
2
On Crypto.com’s Secure Website
3
Fees (Maker/Taker)
0.95%/1.25%
Cryptocurrencies Available for Trade
60+
3
On Uphold’s Secure Website
0.1%/0.1%

350+

0.1%/0.1%

350+

Binance.com offers industry-low fees and a broad range of cryptocurrencies to trade.
For the casual crypto fan, Binance.com offers a simple, form-based platform (under the Buy Cryptocurrency tab) that lets you pretty intuitively buy, sell and convert its tradable cryptocurrencies.
The UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has ruled that Binance Markets Limited (BML), part of the wider Binance Group, cannot conduct any “regulated activity” in the UK without the regulator’s prior consent.
Although BML is prevented from operating in the UK, the ruling doesn’t completely prevent UK customers from using its services. They are still able to trade on the company’s exchange, Binance.com, because it falls outside the FCA’s UK remit.
Binance responded to the FCA’s ruling via Twitter, the social media platform, to say that it took its compliance obligations “very seriously”. It also tweeted that “the FCA UK notice has no direct impact on the services provided on Binance.com”
More advanced users can take advantage of a myriad of trading order types, including limit, market and stop-limit, as well as two powerful trading dashboards chock full of important data, like spot price and 24-hour highs, lows and trading volume. New users blissfully unaware of what a candlestick graph is (much less how to read one) may feel overwhelmed and should stick with the Buy Cryptocurrency tab until they get a better lay of the land.
The Binance Academy provides a one-stop guide to all things crypto for rookies trying to understand mining and veterans looking to develop a trading strategy.
1.99%*/1.99%*

50+

1.99%*/1.99%*

50+

Coinbase, 2021’s belle of the IPO ball, is the crypto exchange you may be most familiar with if you’re just now getting interested in crypto. That’s for good reason: In addition to the buzz surrounding its exuberant valuation, Coinbase Pro, the robust exchange powering Coinbase, is one of the largest and safest platforms out there. (In fact, Coinbase Pro was a top contender for our Best Overall Cryptocurrency Exchange.)
Coinbase’s 60-odd tradable cryptocurrencies should satisfy most looking to break into the crypto space, like those hoping to hitch their wagons to Bitcoin and Ether, but sadly, you’ll have to go elsewhere to invest in the highly memeable Dogecoin. (Not necessarily a bad thing for your long-term wealth.)
Coinbase stands out for its easy-to-use interface that makes one-time or recurring crypto investments a snap. But this convenience comes at a cost.
Its confusing fee structure charges you more than it would to make the same purchase on the company’s less beginner-friendly Coinbase Pro platform, which is also free to use.
That said, if you’re ready to level up and go to Pro, you’ll probably find lower fees at most other major crypto exchanges, unless you’re trading above a million monthly.
*Fee amount varies based on purchase amount and method of purchase.
0.1%/0.1%

350+

0.1%/0.1%

350+

Binance.com offers an extensive array of cryptocurrencies, from mainstays like Bitcoin and Ether to BNB, the platform’s proprietary stablecoin. This last one is important because frequent traders may lower trading costs by 25% when converting their investing pounds to BNB.
As with most exchanges, Binance.com rewards high-volume crypto traders with progressively lower transaction fees, though this won’t kick in until you trade at least £35,000) of cryptocurrency within a 30-day period. (Keep in mind its base trading fee may be lower than competitors’ even before you hit that volume.)
Binance.com provides two comprehensive market dashboards, named Simple and Advanced, with real-time market data.
As mentioned in its Best Overall writeup, Binance.com enables multiple order types, including limit, market and stop-limit, which should cover most crypto traders’ needs, as well as over-the-counter (OTC) trading.
You’ll be able to make these trades using U.S. dollars, USDT (a U.S. dollar stablecoin) and Bitcoin. It’s important to note, however, that Binance.com does not currently support margin trading—a risky practice that allows traders to use borrowed money to amplify returns while similarly increasing the amount they can lose. That is why it’s generally not recommended for beginner or even intermediate investors.
0.16%/0.26%

50+

0.16%/0.26%

50+

One of the oldest crypto exchanges, founded in the Paleolithic era of crypto (2011), Kraken offers a solid range of coins with low fees.
0.40%/0.40%

100+

0.40%/0.40%

100+

Crypto.com provides a broad amount of cryptocurrencies – currently more than 70 – as well as unique perks, like a crypto rewards debit card for those hoping to optimise for coin-based rewards.
0.25%/0.35% *

40+

0.25%/0.35% *

40+

Similar to Coinbase, Gemini may be best for beginners looking to dip their toes in the crypto waters. Its convenience and easier usability come with a higher (and confusing) fee structure that may be worthwhile as you learn the ropes before graduating to its (or another platform’s) lower-cost spot trading options.
*For Gemini Active Trader; Gemini web and app trades follow a Coinbase-like structure with a transaction fee, dependent on your purchase amount, and convenience fee of 0.5%.
0.2%/0.2%

650+

0.2%/0.2%

650+

Gate.io gives users access to more than 600 different coins, according to CoinMarketCap.com, making it better for advanced crypto traders on the hunt for less common altcoins.
0.2%/0.2%

300+

0.2%/0.2%

300+

Another heavy hitter when it comes to the sheer amount of coins available, KuCoin provides access to a wide library of altcoins at low fees.
0.5%/0.5%

20+

0.5%/0.5%

20+

An early entrant to the crypto exchange space, Bitstamp currently provides a rather limited range of cryptos, though these may be enough to satisfy most traders.
0.75%/0.75%

350+

0.75%/0.75%

350+

Boasting a veritable cornucopia of coin options, Bittrex may be best suited to high volume traders who are able to take advantage of its discounted fee schedule.
Forbes Advisor UK reviewed the top 10 centralised cryptocurrency exchanges on CoinMarketCap.com based on their web traffic, liquidity, trading volume and availability for UK-based customers.
We then collected more than 20 data points per crypto exchange to assess important features, like the types of cryptocurrencies available, fees, cybersecurity features (per crypto exchange security rating agency CER.live), user reviews and educational resources, among others. To determine rankings of these exchanges, Forbes Advisor UK weighted each of these data points in accordance with their importance to different types of cryptocurrency investors.
Picking the best crypto exchange can be a complicated process.
First and foremost, you’ll want a secure exchange. As crypto has grown more popular and desirable, it’s become an increasingly large target for hackers, and many leading exchanges, including Binance’s international operation and KuCoin, have been hacked recently to the tune of tens of millions.
While exchanges often reimburse those whose coins are stolen through their insurance, you probably don’t want to be in that position to begin with. That’s why it’s important you only invest your money on reputable exchanges.
You can minimise your risk by spreading your crypto purchases across multiple exchanges or moving your crypto off of an exchange’s default wallet to your own secure “cold” wallet that is not connected to the internet (and therefore much harder to hack), though you’ll need to keep up with your passcode or you could lose access to your crypto forever, he notes. But you’ll also need to look out for withdrawal fees when you move crypto off of an exchange. These often vary by coin type.
Also consider the cryptocurrencies available on a given exchange. You might be perfectly OK using a crypto exchange with only one coin if it’s the only coin you want. Conversely, if you’re a crypto-phile, you may want access to all of the more than 600 available on Gate.io.
But sheer availability of coins isn’t sufficient if there are no trades happening. You’ll ideally want to see hundreds of millions of pounds of daily crypto trading happening to ensure you’ll have enough liquidity, so you can easily trade your coins and sterling when you want or need to.
If you’re an advanced crypto trader, you may want to make sure your preferred exchange offers the trading types—like limit orders, which can prevent slippage by setting a hard price—and margin you want. Remember trade types involving the latter are still evolving, so different exchanges’ offerings may vary over time.
If you’re just getting started with buying cryptocurrency, look for an easy-to-use platform with thorough educational resources to help you understand this complex, rapidly developing commodity.
And don’t forget about fees. You may be fine with paying a premium for a simple interface when you’re still learning the ropes, but higher fees eat into your eventual returns. High-frequency traders especially want to lower costs.
Finally, don’t assume that an exchange is available in the UK just because you can access its website.
A crypto exchange is a marketplace where you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, Ether or Dogecoin.
Crypto exchanges work a lot like brokerage platforms you may be more familiar with. Each offers a portal where you can create different order types to buy, sell and speculate on cryptocurrencies with other users.
Crypto exchanges can be centralised, meaning they are managed by one corporate authority, like a brokerage company that facilitates the security of trades, or decentralised. Decentralised exchanges generally distribute verification powers to anyone willing to join a network and certify transactions, much like cryptocurrency blockchains themselves. This may help increase accountability and transparency as well as ensure an exchange can keep running if something happens to a company running an exchange.
To buy cryptocurrency, you’ll need to create an account with a crypto exchange. You may need to obtain a crypto wallet to hold your cryptocurrency, or your exchange may provide one. Be careful when picking a crypto exchange as some provide wallets that do not let you transfer your coins off of the platform. This may create security risks, for instance if they are hacked. You’d have to sell and rebuy your coins, which might have tax implications.
Once you’ve picked an exchange and a wallet, you’ll be able to buy crypto by transferring money into your account  You may even be able to buy crypto with a credit or debit card, though this may carry additional fees, some of which can get quite high, possibly up to 5% of your transaction. Some crypto exchanges will let you use other cryptocurrencies or their own branded stablecoins to fund transactions.
Exchanges have different requirements, often depending on the type of cryptocurrency you want to buy. You may be able to buy fractional shares of coins for pennies or just a few pounds. Be sure to check your chosen crypto exchange’s requirements for the coin you want to buy.
To open a crypto exchange account, visit the exchange’s website or download its app. Each crypto exchange has its own unique registration process, and with some, you may be able to make an account and buy and sell small amounts of crypto without verifying your identity or submitting much sensitive information. But as the industry has evolved, measures to prevent money laundering and fraud have been introduced. In general, you’ll need to provide:
You may also have to verify your identity by submitting photo identification.
Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has covered a range of personal finance topics in the New York Times, Newsweek, Fortune, Money magazine, Bloomberg, and NPR. He lives in Dripping Springs, TX with his wife and kids and welcomes bbq tips.
John Schmidt is the Assistant Assigning Editor for investing and retirement. Before joining Forbes Advisor, John was a senior writer at Acorns and editor at market research group Corporate Insight. His work has appeared in CNBC + Acorns’s Grow, MarketWatch and The Financial Diet.

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