With cryptocurrency investing taking off, you're likely wondering how you can buy and sell certain coins. The platforms you're looking for are called crypto exchanges, and they allow you to convert your fiat currency into crypto assets effortlessly.
Along with that, you can buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies with ease, potentially earning yourself some money (if you trade wisely). That being said, not all crypto exchanges are created equal. Most vary in fees, services offered, and overall user experience.
If you're wondering which platform to use, this post is for you. This post will do a detailed overview of four of the largest crypto exchanges on the market today: Coinbase vs Gemini vs Crypto.com vs Kucoin. For each one, you'll learn what they're all about and also learn about the pros and cons of using them.
What to Look For in a Crypto Exchange
Before diving in and comparing Coinbase vs Gemini vs Crypto.com vs Kucoin, it's essential to understand what to look for in a crypto exchange. Here are some factors to consider when deciding which platform to pick.
If you're planning on constantly buying and selling coins on the cryptocurrency exchange, make sure you find out precisely what the fee structure is. You could end up losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you're not careful. That being said, don't let a high fee deter you. Often, the easier a cryptocurrency makes it for you to purchase a coin, the higher the prices will be. If the exchange you're considering offers many services in protections and insurance, it may be worth it to pay the extra few percentage points in trading fees.
Unlike U.S. dollars in bank accounts, which the FDIC insures, your cryptocurrency (by itself) isn't insured by anything. For that reason, security is a critical factor to consider when looking at cryptocurrency exchanges. Some platforms offer an insurance policy that protects your cryptocurrency up to a certain amount. In contrast, others rely on intense security practices to minimize the chance of a cyber-attack breaking through. Try to find out how much of the exchange's assets are kept in cold storage (relatively safer than if they're kept online) and the various security measures they have in place to protect your crypto.
You don't want to sign up for a cryptocurrency exchange only to find out that you cannot use it due to regulatory restrictions. Countries like China have outright banned all crypto exchanges from operating. Though not quite as intense as China, New York has implemented a strict BitLicense requirement for crypto exchanges to operate in their jurisdiction. Ensure to find out about any geographic restrictions the exchanges you're considering might have and check out any other accessibility concerns (an excellent place to start is the terms of service).
From Bitcoin to Dogecoin, thousands of cryptocurrencies exist and are available to purchase. However, not every crypto exchange offers them all. Before diving into a crypto exchange, make sure it has the coins you're considering. If you ARE looking are smaller altcoins or meme coins, understand that these aren't offered on many exchanges, and usually for a good reason. They indeed can “go to the moon,” but they can also very well go to zero. Only trade cash you're prepared to lose.
Different crypto exchanges store your cryptocurrency in different places. Some keep your crypto within an online account, whereas others allow you to keep your crypto yourself. Many people believe that if it's “not your keys, not your coins,” but for beginner crypto investors, online storage can be a good idea. When you get a little savvier and have more money invested in crypto, you may want to shift away from online storage and take advantage of some wallets where you can earn interest on your holdings.
If you're a beginner crypto investor, you might value learning about the different coins, blockchain technology, and digital investments. Certain crypto exchanges offer better educational tools than others, so be sure to learn about the differences before signing up for one.
Coinbase vs Gemini vs Crypto.com vs Kucoin
Now that you know what to look for in different crypto exchanges, you can start considering four of the major ones on the market. This section will provide an overview and the pros and cons of each one.
Founded in 2012, Coinbase was originally created as just a place to send and receive Bitcoin. Since then, Coinbase has grown tremendously and now offers users over 80 different cryptocurrencies, including popular cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Dogecoin, with over 2700 employees around the globe. Like the cryptocurrencies it supports, Coinbase is a decentralized company with no headquarters. Don't let that fool you, though; as of now, Coinbase operates in over 100 countries, and customers trade over $300 billion each quarter.
Offering two separate trading platforms and a standalone digital wallet, Coinbase is likely to have everything you need for your beginning crypto investing phase. Coinbase provides a user-friendly mobile app that allows you to buy, sell, and manage your cryptocurrency wherever you are. Also, if you so desire, you can access tons of educational content through Coinbase's “earn while you learn” program.
- Suitable for Beginners – Coinbase makes it straightforward to buy, sell, and exchange cryptocurrencies on its website or even on your phone. If you're just starting in the cryptocurrency investing world, Coinbase is a great place to start.
- Lots of Cryptocurrency Offerings – Coinbase currently offers over 80 cryptocurrencies for buying and selling, and more and more cryptocurrencies are added every year.
- Earn Interest On Your Crypto – If you have a cryptocurrency balance with Coinbase, you may be eligible to earn interest on it. You can even get small amounts of a new cryptocurrency with Coinbase's program: Coinbase Earn.
- Advanced Offerings with Coinbase Pro – As you progress in your crypto currency investing journey, you'll likely want more features and offerings in the crypto exchange you use. With Coinbase, you can easily switch to Coinbase Pro and unlock a whole suite of components with their advanced trading platform. Bonus: the fees are low with Coinbase Pro too.
- High Trading Fees – Coinbase has relatively high transaction fees compared to its peers on the market. These fees are nothing to worry about if you plan on implementing a buy and hold strategy, but if you constantly make trades, you might find that the costs start adding up.
- Poor Customer Service – Coinbase does not have the best customer service, according to various online reviews. This lack of customer support seems true for minor issues and more severe account security issues (which can be concerning if you plan to invest large amounts with Coinbase).
- Few Altcoin Offerings – Through Coinbase does have an impressive offering of cryptocurrencies; it doesn't cover some of the smaller altcoins available on the market.
Created by the Winklevoss twins, Gemini is one of the only cryptocurrency exchanges globally that is regulated. Not only is it a significant player in the exchange space, but you'll also be pleased to learn that nobody has ever successfully hacked it. Like many other cryptocurrency exchanges, Gemini offers its mobile app where you can easily make trades.
With Gemini, you can access over 20 different cryptocurrencies (including its currency called Gemini dollars). Also, Gemini recently launched an offering called Gemini Earn, where you can earn up to 8% in annual interest on certain coins (1.4% if you use Bitcoin). There is no account minimum, and you can join today through their website.
- Joining Bonus for New Members – Though some cryptocurrency exchanges offer bonuses, none's quite as hefty as the $150 joining bonus for Gemini members. All you need to do is open an account to qualify for it.
- Advanced Trading Platform – Gemini offers users a rich trading platform online that is sure to cover all (if not most) of any crypto trader's needs. You can convert digital currency, set recurring buys and sells, and much more.
- Unique Features – One of Gemini's most impressive aspects is the amount of interest you can earn with Gemini Earn (up to 8% on certain altcoins). On top of that, Gemini also offers Gemini Pay, an easy way for you to use your cryptocurrency to pay for stuff at over 30,000 retail locations in the United States.
- Limited Tokens – Though it has some rich offerings, Gemini lacks the number of tokens it offers available for trading.
- Not Ideal For Small Trades – On orders over $200, Gemini has very reasonable fees of 1.49% (in line with its competitors). However, the costs can be egregious for small trades. For example, if you were to buy $5 of bitcoin, you could expect to pay up to 20% of that in fees.
Founded in 2016, Crypto.com offers support for many different crypto assets and blockchain products. You can easily buy, sell, and trade various cryptocurrencies while enjoying relatively low trading fees. On top of that, you can also use their crypto credit cards, gain access to their standalone crypto wallet, and purchase NFTs on their marketplace.
If you want to stake your crypto, you can also do that with Crypto.com or hold it in wallets for a set period.
- A Huge Selection of Cryptocurrencies – Crypto.com offers its users more than 180 cryptocurrencies, more than almost any other crypto platform/exchange.
- Competitive Fees – Crypto.com has some of the most competitive fees out of all its competitors, sitting at 0.4% (and that number is reduced even further for larger orders).
- Tons of Cryptocurrency Products Available – On Crypto.com, you can do trading, swapping, and staking. Crypto.com also offers its own credit card and allows users to invest in NFTs.
- Poor Customer Service – Many customers have complained online that the customer support is slow and of low quality.
- Confusing Trading Fee Discounts – Though Crypto.com does offer various trading fee discounts on its products, the multiple tiers can be challenging to navigate.
Offering low fees and an impressive feature set, Kucoin shouldn't be counted out of the picture when determining what the best cryptocurrency exchange is. That being said, Kucoin is not licensed to operate in the U.S., meaning that you can't use traditional payment methods to deposit money into Kucoin.
For these reasons, Kucoin is recommended for seasoned crypto investors who already own cryptocurrency and are looking to invest in less known coins with smaller trading volumes.
- Extremely Low Fees – Kucoin offers lower fees than almost all of its competitors in the industry. This can be beneficial if you're trying to save as much money as possible on your crypto transactions.
- Supports Tons of Cryptocurrencies – Kucoin offers almost 600 different cryptocurrencies for trade. This includes a lot of the major cryptocurrencies as well as many smaller, lesser-known altcoins. If you can't find it on Kucoin, likely, you can't find it anywhere.
- Margin Account Accessibility – Kucoin is one of the only platforms that allows U.S. users to hold a margin account and participate in margin trading.
- Government Issues – Kucoin stands a greater risk of suffering from a government crackdown than the other cryptocurrencies listed in this post.
- Security Concerns – Hackers frequently target Kucoin. In fact, in 2020, Kucoin suffered a significant hack that resulted in around $285 million of cryptocurrency lost.
- Not for Beginners – Because of the unlicensed nature of the exchange, users can not deposit money (or wire transfer it) directly into a Kucoin account. You can either transfer existing crypto into an account or pay high rates to buy crypto with one of Kucoin's partners. Neither of these options is especially ideal for those just getting started with cryptocurrency investing.
Recap: Coinbase vs Gemini vs Crypto.com vs Kucoin
At the time of writing, many cryptocurrencies are on the rise, and some digital currencies may even grow to the size of certain well-established financial services firms. The global crypto market cap is around $1.7 trillion, and it's projected to grow even more in the future. With all this hype about the crypto market, it's understandable if you want to dive in and participate in some of the action.
If you decide to start investing in cryptocurrencies, you'll likely want to know what the best crypto exchange platform for you is. Every exchange is different in its unique way (differing when it comes to withdrawal fees, taker fees, cold wallet accessibility, and user interfaces). This post has listed four reputable exchanges and compared them with one another. Hopefully, after reading this, you'll be able to confidently decide on the best cryptocurrency exchange platform that you can start investing with.
Regardless of which platform you decide is the best option, remember that crypto trading is volatile at the end of the day, and you should never risk more than you can bear to lose. That being said, digital assets are an exponentially growing space, and if you invest well, you could make a fortune.