In recent months, the Bitcoin cryptocurrency has been grabbing headlines as its price has rocketed up above $9,000. Alongside Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Ripple have similarly skyrocketed in value, not to mention a host of other altcoins.
We’re in the midst of a cryptocurrency surge, and new cryptocurrencies are being created to bring blockchain technology to nearly any digital market. Examples like Sphere, which aims to decentralize the landscape of social media, TBIS, which attempts to do the same for internet infrastructure, are just two of the many emerging cryptocurrencies being developed right now.
If you’re looking to get involved with cryptocurrencies, the most fundamental thing you’ll need to know is how to get them. How to buy them, how to trade them, how to sell them. The short answer is that the main way to buy and sell cryptocurrencies is through exchanges.
Exchanges are websites which allow users to transact with either other users or directly with the site to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. There are dozens of exchanges, and it seems like more open every month. The question is: Which is the best cryptocurrency exchange?
To answer the question, it’s necessary to understand what certain exchanges do well, or who they’re aimed at. Depending on your specific needs, one cryptocurrency exchange might be better or worse than another. Here are some of the best exchanges based on some common user profiles.
Buying cryptocurrency for USD
Beginners in the world of cryptocurrency are not going to have any of it, most likely. Instead, they’ll have fiat currency like US dollars which they want to exchange for Bitcoin cryptocurrency or other altcoins.
It’s important to note that many exchanges don’t support swaps of USD for the cryptocurrency. Instead, those exchanges handle trades of cryptocurrency for another cryptocurrency. If you’ve got some Bitcoin and want to buy Factom, for example, some of those exchanges would be great. But unless you’ve already got Bitcoin or another leading cryptocurrency, you’re not going to be able to use those exchanges.
This first list will be of exchanges which are perfect for people who have no cryptocurrencies and want to exchange USD or other fiat currencies for cryptocurrencies. The following are all reputable and safe exchanges:
All of those exchanges will allow you to buy Bitcoin and a few other cryptocurrencies in exchange for USD. These sites have been around for a long time, years in some cases, and their reputations are solid. You can feel confident that these exchanges shouldn’t disappear overnight.
The positives about these exchanges are reliability and the ability to convert your USD into cryptocurrencies, and if that’s what you’re looking to do, one of them should be great for your needs. However, there are a few downsides to using an exchange like these.
First of all, if you’re looking for anonymity, these exchanges aren’t going to do the job. They require that you submit fairly rigorous identification verification before you can buy and sell, including photo ID. If you want to use cryptocurrencies because you want to stay off the grid, these exchanges don’t fulfill that.
Second, these exchanges generally tend to trade only in a few cryptocurrencies. If you want to buy Bitcoin or Ethereum, no problem. But if you’re looking to trade in more obscure or less established altcoins, they’re not traded on these exchanges.
It’s hard to say that anything that happens on the internet is 100% anonymous, but if you’re looking to limit your exposure while buying Bitcoin, an exchange you can use is LocalBitcoins. This exchange pairs Bitcoin buyers and sellers in geographical proximity to one another and allows them to make the transaction while acting as an escrow service.
Buying Bitcoin on LocalBitcoins will allow you to conduct an in-person cash transaction if that’s what you’d like to do, and the signup requirements don’t ask for as much verification info as many other exchanges. If you want to obtain Bitcoin and privacy is your number one concern, LocalBitcoins is about the best you can do.
Variety of cryptocurrencies
To really immerse yourself in the world of cryptocurrency, you’ll probably want to start researching and eventually trading in some cryptocurrencies beyond the top options like Bitcoin and Ethereum. If you want to do so, there are exchanges out there very much catered toward the full market of altcoins.
Two such excellent exchanges are:
These exchanges have a focus on offering to trade on a wide range of cryptocurrencies. Here, you can obtain and sell less well-known altcoins. The downside is that you need cryptocurrencies, to begin with, as you won’t be able to use USD. But if you’ve already got Bitcoin, you can dive right in.
There really isn’t one exchange that you can say is best for all people and all situations. The world of cryptocurrency is too big and varied for that. Whether you’re looking to buy the established giant Bitcoin, or are interested in initial coin offerings from companies like Sphere or TBIS, there’s probably an exchange that can meet your needs.