5 Best Crypto Exchanges for Traders

Detailed chart of best Bitcoin / Crypto trading platforms

BinanceCoinbaseftxderibitBitmex
fees (Maker/ Taker) % of trade0.1 / 0.1% – discounts1.5% -VERY HIGH!0.02 / 0.07%0 / 0.05%-0.025 / 0.075%
DerivativesfuturesNoYesfutures / optionsInverse Futures, quant futures
MarginGeo RestrictedNo100X100X100X
Portfolio MarginNoNoYesYesNo
Conversion to Multiple TokensYesYesYesNoNo
LiquidityHighHighmed. HighmedVery High Main pair
Token Choices500+ pairs60+ pairs200+ instrumentsETH / BTC only<10 pairs
Custom instrumentsNoNoManyNo (best option chains)Yes
Fiatgateway only, stablecoinsYesYes, multipleNoNo
Onboarding EaseEasyEasy (pricey)Easy, multipleEasy, ETH / BTC onlyEasy, BTC only
regulatedPartialYesNoNoNo
ReputationA++A-B+ (improving)B+B-
Geo-restrictedDerivativesYesYes (US)YesMinor
SecurityAAAA-A+
Manipulation threatNoneUnclearLikelymoderateHigh
Customer ServiceA-C-AA-B
BEST CRYPTO EXCHANGES FOR TRADERS

So, what’s the best crypto exchange for traders? Coinbase is the worst. It’s only good for liquidity.

As you can see, there are many variables. And this info is based on trading only – not investing or hodling. Some of these platforms are pretty good for buying coins and even hodling onsite. (shh! Don’t tell anyone I didn’t recommend keeping your coins in your Trezor wallet. I do love my Trezor, though. I sometimes kiss it goodnight.)

Okay, I don’t know why this dumb cartoon is on this page twice.
I guess I’m not any better at websiting than I am trading –
ie: I don’t LOSE money

ftx

ftx is the upstart in the high lev. exchange community. The CEO has the funniest hair of any crypto CEO. It’s weirder than Elon’s tweets.

They made the list because of strong experience level, extremely creative offerings and structured instruments, and a very trader-focused mentality. FTX is a fun and exciting place to trade. The Telegram community is better than some. FTX features:

  • OTC market with hundreds of tokens.
  • Futures on many tokens, includes perpetual futures with interest funding
  • Bull and Bear tokens using leveraged futures – programmed to do better in trending markets by rebalancing to maintain optimized leveraged. (This system is worse in choppy markets than simply owning futures).
  • MOVE tokens on BTC. These function as an At the Money straddle on BTC from the opening price, when the token peg goes live. The MOVE can be traded earlier, though. MOVE have daily, weekly and quarterly instruments.
    • I think shorting MOVE dailies systematically would be a winning trade in the long run, but you’d take some pretty bad downdrafts.
  • President Election futures. Not sure where these are tradeable, there seem to be significant geo-blackouts on them.
  • Awesome flexibility
  • Responsive to customer ideas, at least they get back to you
  • portfolio margining – VERY useful

See here for more on crypto trading instruments for all platforms.

Their futures are insufficient for my trades – ftx only has one expiry on each token, usually. If you like far dated futures, then Bitmex / Deribit are better. Fees are slightly higher here than the main competitors (Bitmex and Deribit). Bitmex is the only exchange with a fee rebate for makers.

FTX claims that their system of fees creates lower spreads because of a smaller fee differential between maker and taker. However, on Bitmex’s USD.XBT cross, spreads are pretty damn tight at $0.50. The fee for one Bitcoin as a taker is over $7, so although ftx makes a compelling argument on paper, Bitmex disproves it in the order book. Or so it seems.

bitmex review

Bitmex gets the only A+ for security. Only BTC is used and the wallet is a once per day withdrawals from a cold-wallet system. This old-school method is freaking inconvenient for withdrawing, but it is very solid for security. All these sites have excellent security, however. In past breaches, all users have been made whole. Bitmex has not had any breaches, though.

Bitmex was the earliest of the high-leveraged platforms. CEO Arthur Hayes, a former institutional trader with a love-hate relationship about it, created some extremely innovative features. Bitmex introduced the inverse contract, which allows for convexity for shorts. This means that holding BTC (XBT on the platform) and shorting it on the futures contracts leads to decreased losses and increased profits in XBT terms. If you calculate everything in $$ terms, it’s linear.

Second, the insurance fund taxes trades that get REKT and holds it for payouts when traders are liquidated for more than they have.

3rd, the perpetual futures contract introduced ‘funding’. Funding calculates the difference between the XBT.USD (perp) contract and an index of XBT prices. This difference is averaged over 8 hours, then one side pays the other depending on whether the perp price is above or below the index.

This synthetic premium allows market forces to push the price back toward the index price. This is necessary because the contract never expires. Expiry provides the premium factor for normative futures. See here for more on crypto trading instruments.

Last I checked, Bitmex still had not instituted portfolio margining, which is pretty lame, tbh. With a company that prides itself on high leverage trading, PM is a necessary component. The best traders will steadily move to other platforms in part because of this. Many are also concerned about rumors of manipulation by favoured Bitmex trading ‘cartels’. (I guess that’s the right word.

Market makers will likely stick with Bitmex because their trading fee structure is very favourable for MM’s, since they get paid to make markets. I don’t know what they make, but market making can be a fairly low risk means to earn some pretty high returns. It is capital intensive, though and a very specialized manner of trading.

binance

Binance is probably the largest exchange, depending on how volume is calculated. Their breadth of activity is stunning. They want to become the all-things crypto powerhouse, sort of the Cryptocurrency Amazon. They may achieve that goal.

If you want to go with straightline trading, solid reputation and good offerings of instruments, Binance is a great choice, no doubt. It’s targeted more to investors than hardcore traders, but lately they’ve been creating trader based structures. I haven’t fully vetted these because they’re not available in Canada, but from what I’ve seen it’s not as innovative as the real trader focused sites.

Binance has a great range of services for investors:

  • Staking
  • Pooled staking
  • Savings with interest paid
  • Collateralized Loans
  • Conversion of small tokens. Token dust tends to accumulate in accounts. This cool feature will convert your dust into BNB token.

Binance also supports new and emergent crypto-based businesses. Here is a list of Binance services, features and projects:

  • Exchange – trade crypto and derivatives.
  • Academy – Learn all about crypto. Many free offerings here.
  • BCF -Charitable Foundation
  • Card – Credit Card
  • Info – Info storehouse on numerous tokens
  • Labs – Incubator and developer of projects
  • Launchpad – curated selection of the most promising projects in crypto.
  • Research – detailed high-level research on most major crypto projects
  • Trust Wallet – a wallet built for the Decentralized Exchange

deribit

Deribit is a Dutch company, founded by John Jansen, a former options trader. It’s a good platform, with a decent options trading system, but it’s fairly inflexible. You cannot exchange tokens one for another and you cannot trade across tokens. All instruments are USD X XBT or ETH.

The option chains have spreads that are pretty wide, so it’s hard to get a decent fill. Annoyingly, they refuse to put time value in the columns, so you have to manually figure it out in your head for each option. I think that’s holding the site back and I’ve given them my suggestion, but… they didn’t give a shit. (Listen to your customers, man!)

Without the ability to even exchange XBT into ETH or trade one against the other, the platform is seriously deficient. It’s disappointing, because it does have some good features. And there is really no reason not to be able to exchange the two tokens on-platform. The market is almost certainly liquid enough. An OTC exchange, modeled on ftx’s would be a great system.

Portfolio margining – PM means that your margin available is continuously adjusted and modified by balancing against other positions. It’s an essential feature for trading calendar spreads on Bitcoin. Without PM, a big move can cause a position to be liquidated because the margin is based against the wallet equity, not against the equity in all positions. But with a spread, the price of each leg will have an extremely high correlation. That makes a very high leverage both necessary and far less dangerous. However, it is dangerous without portfolio margining.

The funding is different on DB than on Bitmex. Funding is perpetual, but settled every 8 hours. If the Perp price is above the index for 1 minute, the shorts get 1 minute of funding, if it goes below the index for 1 minute, the longs get 1 minute of funding (and the other side pays, of course). Exchanges don’t take any share of the funding.

Coinbase

Coinbase is not really a traders platform. Fees are outrageous, mainly. It only has USD exchange pairs, no derivatives and no structured instruments. I’ve never used Coinbase because I think it’s a ripoff. Friends don’t let friends buy on Coinbase. Order the t-shirt with my Amazon Affiliate link here. But you have to design it yourself, I think.

Coinbase Pro has a more fully featured site, supposedly for traders. However, the fees are 0.5% which is 5 times higher than the highest of the others (Binance at 0.1%). CBP also dings both sides of the trade. Big traders get a break to .35% at $10k in trades and another at $50k and more after that. CBP only has 3 order types, which is very lame for a Pro platform.

Coinbase is probably useful if you’ve never bought crypto before and want to make a small purchase (<$1000) just to have some exposure. However, ftx has an excellent fiat onboarding system that doesn’t fee you into oblivion and Binance has a pretty simple one that’s moderately expensive.

Order Types

Best Crypto Exchanges Order Types
Grey vs Green checkbox – what does it mean?
Solve the puzzle, win a ding dong
mailed to you in a letter sized envelope or pickle jar

I don’t use auto-stops personally. I don’t think they work better than mental stops, provided you have the discipline to execute on mental stops. Stops get taken out by big traders through stop hunting (it’s happened to me too many times. Got stopped out RIGHT at the reversal.) I only like stops to trade really fast markets so I can enter a position, then set stops really, really tight. Repeated entries can then find the steady move up when it comes. But I don’t really trade that way much – it’s too hard to do manually and it’s pretty stressful.

I don’t see the sense in Take Profit orders, either. Why not just use a limit order? But I’m open to the reasoning.

Missing order types on Major Crypto Exchanges and why it’s important

  • A trailing stop limit.
    • ex: long: Triggers when the price moves downward. These can be set and forget. These would be a fantastic feature to set yourself up for a flash crash.
  • None has Time In Force, except the relatively useless immediate or cancel.
  • None have dynamic orders that continuously adjust to the relative bid or ask.
  • Only BM and DB have hidden orders
  • OCO Orders – only Binance
    • Helps with margin a LOT. Bitmex uses margin against you just for having open orders. You can’t set a whole bunch of long-shot orders because your margin counts against you. Pretty annoying. If you had OCO orders, then when one market dropped massively, your order would execute, cancelling the other orders in the group. That way, you only have to use the margin on the largest order.
    • You could set orders for different scenarios (up and down) that would cover different situations without worrying about suddenly being in dozens of positions when you only wanted one, but were setting yourself up for many possibilities of that one.
  • Complex positions – Oh, the horror. This would eliminate slippage, which can be brutal in fast moving crypto markets. If you set a price to enter the whole spread at $25, then the trade wouldn’t execute unless both sides could execute. Since no one has these, I can only guess that they’re not easy to program. Or they’re colluding against us.

Other Exchanges – Kraken, Bitfinex, Poloniex, Gemini, Bittrex

Other exchanges are not deeply reviewed here because I don’t really like them. I’ve traded on all of them and they all are lacking. Honestly, coinbase should have been on this stepchild list, but it’s got such high volume that I moved it to the other list. It also makes the other exchanges look good. Coinbase is really nothing but an onboarding and hodling platform. It’s not a trading platform.

Bitfinex exchange above average for trading

Bitfinex is a fairly sophisticated system. Settlement is good, margining is good, shorting is good. Bitfinex has some cool features, but it’s so plagued by poor reputation that I don’t know what to think. Half of the rumors are just that – price manipulation, printing USDT through secret collusion to manipulate the prices of various tokens, faking liquidity. They claim to have real US dollars onsite, but it’s kind of actually just Tether. The whole thing with Bitfinex and Tether is very strange.

imo, they charge too much for withdrawals. They were the first to offer interest payments for loaning out dollars, though. They’ve got a good order types system. And they have a system of nesting orders so that as the price goes deeper, you can buy more of an instrument. The platform is quite liquid, too.

But one of the big downsides of Bitfinex is it’s hackability. Hackers have stolen BTC from their up to 3 times in a few weeks. And in 2016, a major breach leaked out 120k Bitcoin (worth over $1 Billion at $9k Bitcoin price). Yeah, not appealing.

Gemini Exchange 2 stars

Gemini is regulated, which is good. They moved really slowly to add ETH and other things. For a while, their fees were 1%, which is criminally high. It was the best fiat onboarding for a while, though, so I used it to gateway. Now I wouldn’t go near it, since onboarding has become much, much better. They have a pretty good reputation for integrity – they’re almost certainly not gaming the books.

But their trading system is awful. They don’t even have charts! Jesse Livermore would kill here by reading the tape, but modern traders don’t know what to think. Maybe it’s good for institutional elephants – I really don’t know why anyone would use this. May as well carve your order into a granite slab and float it on the water to your exchange. Although, maybe they finally put up charts, but I don’t want to open the site to see.

Aargh! All right, I went and logged in. They’re just stumbling in the dark. They do have charts and just at how great they are!

Gemini Exchange Charts
Remember Line Charts. The twins sure do.
Candle charts? Nope, not even point and figure or bar charts.
Not enough lipstick in Hollywood to save this pig.

They have 9 tokens, mostly big names. They listed DAI without Maker – um, okay, whatever. And they listed this token called Orchid. It’s on the 4th page of CoinmarketCap. wtf? It’s some kind VPN token. In case you want a vpn, try surfshark. Good prices, works well. I use it for stuff that I won’t admit on this website. Oh, all right, I watched pirated reruns of women’s croquet. You just can’t find that stuff online and I have a fetish for it. The outfits are so cute.

Kraken exchange for trading

I do like Kraken for withdrawing Canadian dollars. It’s the only viable solution I’ve found. Unfortunately, you have to deposit Bitcoin, then sell it for Canadian. After that, you can use an EFT or Electronic Funds Transfer for almost nothing. Bitcoin is the only instrument with any decent price discovery on Kraken in CAD. But I have used it and it worked well.

Kraken has upgraded their system to offer futures and other derivatives. It looks good, but it’s kind of a ghost town – a bit like this website.

Poloniex Exchange

My first exchange! I still remember it without any fondness whatsoever. I guess my crypto side is not really loyal. But then again Polo sold out man. Circle bought them and I think Circle has something to do with Goldman Sachs – the VERY ENEMY of crypto. Then Polo shut down or moved to the Caymans or quit operating in the US or whatever. Who cares?

Bittrex

The original shitcoin, low-rent dumpster fire of crypto trading. Bittrex has the highest synthetic to real volume of any exchange that can be made fun solely by calling Butt Wrecks. I don’t know what’s going on there, but I bet their real volume has dropped a lot. The site was always a bit hinky. So – just stay away. There’s too many good options now.

Conclusion

Obviously, I’ve only recommended 4 platforms and Binance doesn’t really work for many traders because of geo-restrictions. Between ftx, Bitmex and deribit, each has its ups and downs. ftx is by far the most flexible and has many more instruments, Bitmex has the best fee structure for very large positions (but without Portfolio Margin), and deribit has options with a middle ground fee structure.

Good luck! And like us on Facebook if we ever make on account on there. Ha ha – we won’t. Facebook sux.

What is the best crypto exchange all-around?

Probably Binance. It has the most full-featured platform, with lots of different areas for research and investment.

What’s the best crypto exchange for Traders?

ftx, for flexibility and choice of instruments.

What’s the best crypto exchange for fees?

Bitmex has low fees and even a maker rebate.

What’s the best crypto exchange for liquidity

Bitmex for fees and liquidity. Deribit for options.

What’s the best crypto exchange for Fiat Onboarding (posting real money)?

ftx has great fiat transfer, with multiple currency choices.

What’s the best crypto exchange for options?

Deribit is the only one with a meaningful and somewhat liquid options chain. The spreads are far too wide to trade well, but it’s getting better.

What’s the best crypto exchange for altcoins

ftx is best for trading (lots of futures and leveraged tokens), while Binance is best for spot and breadth of choice.

Best crypto exchange for beginners.

Coinbase is very easy, but the fees are absurdly high if you do any real trading. Binance has a purchase with fiat function that’s very simple.