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How to buy Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies safely and cheaply

Crypto exchanges are a gateway into the crypto world so it’s important to carefully choose it. Most users stick with one or two exchanges and keep their coins on them without ever creating a crypto wallet. This makes choosing the right exchange immensely important from a security aspect.

All exchanges mentioned here are tested by me and I have a working account on all of them. During bull crypto markets all exchanges are overwhelmed with new signups and the wait time for verification is up to 2 weeks. So the best time to signup and complete verification (KYC) is during calm periods without big user inflow. Wait time for verification during those periods ranges from a few minutes up to a day.

Since exchanges usually won’t let you deposit fiat or crypto until you pass verification, it’s important to have everything ready for those green bull times. I suggest you use that strategy and signup for exchanges and services that you find interesting during calm periods even if you don’t plan on using them right away.

Introduction

If you are new to crypto please first check my article on How to invest in Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies for rookies. It’s not long and it will help you first understand a few basic crypto concepts.

In this article, I’ll try to make a table comparison between all exchanges I recommend using and further comment on every exchange from my personal experience with them. Hopefully, it will help you make a more informed decision.

As you will notice, there are more exchanges in existence than mentioned here. Some of them might also be good, but a lot of them are borderline criminal. Problems you can expect from shady exchanges range from charging fees larger than specified, having an enormous spread between buy and sell side, denying crypto and fiat withdrawals to just plain old “run off with investor funds”.

Exchanges mentioned here are time-tested and as safe as you can be in crypto. You’ll hear it many times, but don’t invest anything you cannot live without. Let’s get started.

Disclosure: Some exchanges mentioned here have a referral program. That means if you join using links on this page, they will set aside a small percentage of the fees you pay and forward it to me. Since I’m trying to help you pay fewer fees, that amounts to pennies. They are also giving you benefits when joining via referral link, like a fee rebate, or fixed bonus. This doesn’t influence my recommendation in any way, and you can join without referral by just Googling exchange names. I should also mention that referrals are totally private! In most cases, I don’t even know someone joined the exchange as a referral.

Binance vs Bitpanda vs Bittrex vs Coinbase vs Kraken vs FTX

Data presented here is gathered by me and a big part is from real-world tests to see what fees will be charged by an exchange. But like everything else in life, nothing is 100% certain and predictable. I’m trying to give you more data so you can make a better decision, but I’m not guaranteeing that it’s 100% accurate or take any responsibility for them. Fees could be changed by exchange without notice, so before using any of the services, please confirm the fee that will be charged to you. Most exchanges provide fee calculations just before you approve the transaction.

If you notice errors or have suggestions on how I can improve this overview of crypto exchanges, please post in the comments or message me via contact form. The order in which exchanges are displayed in the table is random, not preferential.

Crypto exchangesBittrexCoinbaseKrakenBinanceBitpandaFTX
Safety score*⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½
Bank depositEU, UK
Bank deposit – feeFreeEUR: 0,15€
USD: Free
GBP: Free
Free2,00€FreeFree
Bank withdrawalEU, UK
Bank witdrawal – feeEUR: Free
USD: 25$
EUR: 0,15€
USD: Free
GBP: 1£
EU: 0,09€
World: 0$-35$

2,00€Free✔**
Card deposit✔ (limited countries)✔ (USD)
Card deposit – fee3,00%--1,80%1,80%3,00% + 0,30$
Card withdrawal✔ (limited countries)
Card withdrawal – fee-EU,UK: 2,00%
US: 1,50%
-1,00%--
Market liqudity⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Spot fee – maker0,75% (min. 0%)0,40% (min. 0%)0,16% (min. 0%)0,10% (min. 0,02%)0,10% (min. 0,05%)***0,02% (min. 0%)
Spot fee – taker0,75% (min. 0,05%)0,60% (min. 0,05%)0,26% (min. 0,10%)0,10% (min. 0,04%)0,15% (min. 0,065%)***0,07% (min. 0,04%)
Margin fee – makerNot availableNot available0,18% (min. 0,02%) + 0,12% daily0,10% + 0,02%-0,30% dailyNot available0,02% (min. 0%) + 0,0675% - 0,40% daily
Margin fee – takerNot availableNot available0,28% (min. 0,12%) + 0,12% daily0,10% + 0,02%-0,30% dailyNot available0,07% (min. 0,04%) + 0,0675% - 0,40% daily
Fee discount---BNB (25% off)BEST (cashback)FTT (3% - 60% off)
Buy crypto with card
Buy crypto with card – feeapprox. 3,50%approx. 4,31%approx. 5,30%3,50% min. 10$approx. 3,29%-
Signup bonus-10$ (for min. 100$ of crypto purchase)--10€ (for min. 25€ of crypto purchase)-5% fee
Europe users
US users✔ (.us website)✔ (.us website)
Canada usersPartiallyPartially
Australia users
Other accepted countries✔ (around 120)Japan✔ (around 140)✔****Turkey, UAE✔****
Crypto exchangesDescriptionDescriptionDescriptionDescriptionDescriptionDescription

*Safety score is my personal impression of how safe your fiat and crypto are on the particular exchange. Not just technically safe from hackers, it also takes into account regulators, exchange behavior in past with user funds, does it have registered business entity, etc.
**FTX bank withdrawal fee isn’t listed anywhere, it’s presented at the withdrawal screen when you initiate bank withdrawal and it’s dependent on your bank, country, and type of withdrawal. SEPA transfers in the EU should be free or cheap.
***Fees are from Bitpanda Pro trading, not an instant buy Bitpanda interface.
****Binance and FTX don’t list allowed countries outside Europe, US, and a few other jurisdictions. Supported countries also change depending on new regulations. If your country isn’t supported, you will be notified on signup.

I’m actively using all exchanges from this list, some more than others. Every exchange has its strengths and weaknesses, and since crypto is relatively cheap to transfer, you are not stuck with using just one exchange. For example, I’m using Kraken and Bitpanda as fiat-on ramps. There I’m buying coins which I think are a good long-term investment. But I’m using them also to transfer part of the money to Binance and FTX which don’t have good fiat-on ramps but are good gateways to BSC (Binance Smart Chain) and SOL (Solana) ecosystems.

Hopefully, this breakdown of services and fees will help you to make a better choice of where to start your crypto journey. If you have comments or suggestions, you can write below or use the contact form! I’m happy to hear your thoughts. And now, for the conclusion, my observation about mentioned exchanges.

Binance

Binance

Binance is currently the biggest crypto exchange in the world. It was founded in 2017 by Chinese-Canadian Changpeng Zhao commonly known as CZ. It started as a crypto-to-crypto-only exchange but later introduced fiat-on ramps in Europe and other parts of the world.

In 2021, due to regulatory pressure, Binance closed all fiat-on ramps except debit and credit card deposits and withdrawals. On March 7, 2022, Binance reopened EUR and GBP bank transfers.

Their headquarters are also in a constant state of flux, and because of all this, I gave it a 4-star safety score. But it seems after 2021 regulatory pressure, they started improving on that front, so I expect at least a 4.5-star rating in near future.

Binance supports advanced order types, margin and futures trading, and a very good customizable trader interface, which in combination with low fees makes it an obvious choice for traders.

It also has a large number of advanced services like automatic recurring buys, the largest staking offering of all exchanges, passive earnings on your crypto and fiat, P2P trading, and Binance card.

Binance probably has the biggest assortment of cryptocurrencies listed on an exchange and available to investors, so you can’t really go wrong with it.

Visit Binance website

Good

  • enourmous selection of cryptocurrencies
  • good interface for traders
  • low fees
  • BSC (Binance Smart Chain) support and gateways
  • a lot of additional services like staking, recurring buys, p2p trading, debit card…

Not so good

  • not upfront with fees for card payments and deposits
  • regulatory uncertanty
  • complicated for beginners
  • crypto withdraw fees higher then on other exchanges

Recap

Binance is mainly a crypto-to-crypto exchange with limited fiat-on ramps. It is a very good choice for traders or intermediate/advanced users.

Bitpanda

Bitpanda

Bitpanda is an Austrian (EU) company founded in 2014 with headquarters in Vienna. It serviced mostly users from Europe but started expanding outside Europe recently.

Exchange holds licenses from Austria and France for providing digital assets services.

Bitpanda is focused on ease of use, so it’s a great exchange to start with if you are new to crypto. They also have a separate Bitpanda Pro service for more advanced users and traders, with lower fees and more types of orders. But there are better exchanges with larger market liquidity if you want to be a full-time trader.

It’s the only exchange that supports SEPA Direct Debit for European users. This means you can allow the exchange to automatically pull a predefined amount of money, in regular intervals, directly from your bank account, without any fees. For example, you can tell an exchange to debit your bank account every two weeks on Monday for 100€.

You can also use their “Savings account” to automatically buy crypto in regular intervals for a predefined amount of money. Other noteworthy services it offers are buying metals (gold, silver…) and stocks.

If you register with the link below, deposit 25€ or more via card or bank account, and buy a minimum of 25€ worth of crypto, you will receive another 10€ as a bonus. That’s a 40% bonus on a 25€ crypto investment. 😀

Visit Bitpanda website

Good

  • easy to use interface and services
  • only exchange with support for SEPA Direct Debit
  • automatic savings plan
  • open and clear about fees
  • licenced with fiat-on-off ramps
  • metal and stock buying available
  • debit card

Not so good

  • fees are little larger then on crypto-only exchanges
  • currently only available in Europe, Turkey and UAE

Recap

Safe and easy to use exchange! A great choice for all users and investors. Regular and professional traders would be better with another more trader-focused exchange (bigger market liquidity, advanced order types, futures trading, margin trading, etc.).

Bittrex Global

Bittrex Global

Bittrex was founded in 2014 by three cybersecurity engineers as a US company. To this day main focus is on user and fund security. From start, Bittrex was trying to be compliant with regulators all over the world which paid off in terms of being an exchange that offers the biggest selection of cryptocurrencies to US users and one of the exchanges which support the biggest number of countries with its services.

Bittrex has a good trading interface and engine, but the lack of some advanced order types, margin, and futures trading make it less than ideal for traders.

Fees are also the highest of all exchanges mentioned in this article, so that doesn’t look good for them.

If you are investor fees shouldn’t worry you too much since you will have far fewer transactions compared to traders.

Visit Bittrex Global website

Good

  • safe and regulated exchange with fiat ramps
  • biggest number of cryptocurrencies for US investors, even bigger for other countries
  • very large number of supported countries
  • good interfaces for both beginners and intermediate users

Not so good

  • high fees, especially if you are trader
  • no advanced services like automatic repeating investments

Recap

If you go with Bittrex you won’t regret it, but higher fees and the lack of additional advanced services make it a less obvious choice. For investors, this is a good choice if your country isn’t supported by other exchanges.

Coinbase

Coinbase

Coinbase is a US company listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange since April 2021. It was founded in 2012, and currently has bragging rights as the biggest US crypto exchange by trading volume.

Exchange is comprised of two parts, Coinbase, and Coinbase Pro. The first part has a more user-friendly interface, easier to use services with little higher fees. The Pro part is oriented more toward traders and advanced users. A nice touch is that user deposits are insured up to the amount of 250.000$.

They should invest more brainstorming into naming their services since a lot of services share the same or similar names. For example Wallet on Coinbase is an exchange wallet, but Coinbase Wallet is an iOS and Android crypto wallet app…

Coinbase offers additional services like Earn, recurring buys, and relatively weak cryptocurrency staking. From my experience of transferring crypto between exchanges, Coinbase had one of the lowest fees for withdrawing crypto. It’s a good choice for all types of investors.

If you register with the link below, deposit 100$, and buy 100$ of crypto, you will receive an additional 10$ as a bonus. You can also visit their “Earn” section, fill out a few crypto quizzes (2-4 minutes), and earn an additional 13$. A few months ago users could earn up to 90$ there, but they removed a few quizzes in meantime.

Visit Coinbase website

Good

  • easy to use interface
  • “Earn” section where you can earn free crypto
  • secure and insured crypto exchange
  • low crypto withdraw fees

Not so good

  • relativly high fees if you are trader
  • limited to Europe, North America, and Japan if you want to use fiat

Recap

Coinbase is a good and safe crypto exchange with the ability to deposit fiat via bank account and card. The clean and easy-to-use interface makes it a good choice for new crypto users, but the Pro part also keeps it interesting for advanced users.

Kraken

Kraken

Founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell, Kraken is a US company and one of the largest and oldest Bitcoin exchanges in the world. It’s also the leader in EUR trading volume and liquidity in the world.

If I can be biased (I can, it’s my blog 🙂 ) Kraken is my favorite crypto exchange. Fees are relatively low (not lowest, but close enough), the exchange is regulated and safe, support is excellent, fiat support is perfect, crypto withdrawal fees are low, and the trading interface is very good.

Beginners don’t have to use a trading interface, they can just use a simple web buy/sell interface and still have low fees. The only thing you need to learn is the difference between limit and market order. If you don’t want to even learn that, you can use instant buy/sell, but fees are somewhat larger there. Advanced users can use an excellent trading interface with support for margin trading. There is also a separate futures trading part of the exchange with even lower fees.

Kraken is an exchange with the largest number of supported countries and fiat choices.

What’s missing is more staking and interest-earning options on crypto. Also, Kraken currently isn’t offering any kind of automatic recurring buys. I solved this part with my script which I will share in one of my future articles.

Also, pay attention to which mobile app you use. There are two available, Kraken, and Kraken Pro. The first one uses instant buy and sell which means larger fees. The second one has more features and lower fees.

Visit Kraken website

Good

  • safe and regulated exchange with very good fiat deposit and withdraw options
  • low trading and crypto withdrawal fees
  • exchange with largest number of supported countries
  • good interfaces for both beginners and intermediate users
  • excelent and fast support
  • large number of supported cryptocurrencies

Not so good

  • limited number of cryptocurencies available for staking (<20)
  • no advanced services like automatic recurring buys

Recap

You can’t go wrong with Kraken. It is good for beginners and more advanced users, and with a very wide number of supported countries, you will probably be able to use it. Fees are low, support is good, and the only thing you have to watch for is using the right mobile app.

FTX

FTX

FTX is a relatively young cryptocurrencies exchange. Founded in 2019 by Sam Bankman-Fried and Gary Wang with the motto “built by traders, for traders”. FTX similarly to Binance started as a crypto-to-crypto-only exchange without fiat ramps. Fiat support was added later, but it’s still much weaker than other fiat-focused exchanges.

FTX is a great choice for advanced users and traders, but beginners will have a harder time since it will take some time to learn all functions and understand the user interface.

Staking options are only a few and are focused on cryptocurrencies connected to FTX (FTT, SOL, and SRM). There is also no automatic recurring buys option available.

Now that we covered what it doesn’t do well, let’s start with what it does do well! FTX has the lowest fees among all crypto exchanges mentioned here. The trading interface is very good with support for margin trading and futures trading. Advanced order types like trailing stop, take profit and others are available for traders.

FTX also has a great lending option if you want passively earn from your fiat or crypto. You can deposit USD (or crypto) on exchange and offer it for lending to margin traders. Annual interest was usually between 1% and 7% with few increases in the past up to 30% during prolonged bull runs.

Crypto withdrawals are mostly free with exception of Ethereum and ERC-20 coins. All in all, FTX is a very good cryptocurrency exchange, but you’ll need some time to get used to it.

Visit FTX website

Good

  • liquid exchange focused on traders
  • very big number of cryptocurrencies available
  • increasingly regulated in different jurisdictions
  • very low fees
  • lending option for passive earnings
  • mostly free crypto withdrawals

Not so good

  • complicated user interface for beginners
  • only few staking options
  • no advanced services like automatic recurring buys, card buys etc.

Recap

FTX is a very good cryptocurrency exchange with very low fees and focus on traders. Lending is a great way to passively earn, but the lack of other services and the somewhat complicated interface make it harder to use for beginners.

Libertus Avatar
Libertus

Crypto enthusiast since February 2018 and apparently popular scriptwriter on Tradingview. :) Working in a senior management position in a company that has absolutely nothing to do with crypto or capital markets. This is my personal blog that aims to help people understand crypto and make it easier for them to make their own conclusions. Nothing I write here is an investment advice or advice to buy. Always do extensive research prior to buying or investing your hard-earned money in anything, especially cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency space is more than 90% scam, so losing money is very easy. Since I am not a native English speaker, forgive me for any spelling mistakes.

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