Making the decision to invest in cryptocurrency is one part of the process, but you also need to pick the best crypto exchanges and crypto wallet for your needs. After all, a crypto wallet is where you will store your private keys, which keeps your crypto assets safe from hackers and thieves. Not only that, but you’ll need to select a crypto exchange that makes it possible for you to send and receive crypto, whether your goal is building long-term wealth or making short-term trades for profit.
In many cases, the easiest place to store your crypto is the exchange where you purchased it. To help you find the best crypto exchange for purchases and trades, we compared the most popular options out there today. In the meantime, we also conducted some research that can help you avoid crypto scams and the financial losses they cause.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the digital nature of cryptocurrency means that, if something unexpected happens, you can lose your crypto assets and find there are virtually no agencies that can help you recover your funds. This can happen if “your online exchange platform goes out of business, you send cryptocurrency to the wrong person, you lose the password to your digital wallet, or your digital wallet is stolen or compromised,” they write.
With this in mind, you’ll want to choose the best crypto wallet for your needs and goals, but you’ll also want to learn about this industry, crypto safety, and common scams to avoid before you open an account.
Important Things to Know About Crypto
Before you settle on a crypto exchange or crypto wallet, there are certain details you should understand about how wallets for crypto work, as well as the broader industry.
- Security: Some exchanges are more vulnerable to hacking and fraud than others. Make sure you investigate the history of any crypto exchanges to see if it has a squeaky-clean record or if it’s run into any problems in the past.
- Types of crypto wallets: There are two main types of crypto wallets — software wallets or “hot” wallets that maintain your crypto assets online or by using a mobile app, and hardware wallets or “cold” wallets that let you store crypto off the web, both having their own particular use cases and features that make them useful.
- Crypto exchanges: Where a crypto wallet lets you store your crypto, a crypto exchange makes it possible to buy, sell, and trade crypto.
- Liquidity: Some crypto exchanges make it considerably easier to cash in your crypto assets. Generally speaking, larger platforms make it easier to buy and sell crypto.
- Earn interest: Some crypto exchanges offer products that make it possible to earn interest on your crypto assets, so make sure to check for this option.
- Fees: There are costs involved in buying and selling crypto, so make sure to compare options based on the fees they charge.
- Insurance: Unlike your bank’s FDIC insurance, cryptocurrency exchanges don’t have formal insurance programs, making them risky. Some do offer insurance in limited cases, however.
Our Picks for Best Crypto Exchanges
- BlockFi: Best overall
- Crypto.com: Best for flexibility
- Binance.US: Best for low fees
- Gemini: Best for safety
- Coinbase: Best for liquidity
- KuCoin Best for Altcoins
Best Crypto Exchanges – Company Reviews
BlockFi: Best overall
- No monthly fees or minimum deposits
- Offers a crypto credit card
- Some of their products are not available in every state
- Unimpressive ratings for their mobile app (3.3 out of 5 stars in the App Store)
BlockFi offers a mobile app and online portal that makes it easy to buy, sell and trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Benefits of using this platform include broad access to a broad range of tokens including BTC, ETH, LTC, PAXG, UNI, DAI, LINK, BAT, and USD-based stablecoins, as well as immediate trade execution and world-class customer support. This network is also known for its low cost trading options with no monthly fees or minimum deposit requirements.
BlockFi also has its own credit card, the BlockFi Rewards Visa® Signature Credit Card, which lets cardholders earn 1.5% cashback on every crypto purchase they make. You can even take out a loan through BlockFi while using your crypto assets as collateral.
Crypto.com: Best for flexibility
- Buy and sell over 200+ crypto tokens
- Offers complimentary products, including a savings account and credit cards
- Highly rated mobile app (4.3 out of 5 stars in the App Store)
- Trading fees can be confusing and hard to understand
- Not available in New York
Crypto.com is another of the larger platforms to consider if you want a way to buy, sell and store crypto assets in real-time. Their mobile app lets you purchase or trade crypto at its real cost, and you can also use the app to pay people or get paid in various cryptocurrencies.
Crypto.com also has its own NFT platform, as well as a Crypto Earn account that lets you earn up to 14% p.a. for stablecoins. Finally, Crypto.com also boasts its own selection of credit cards that let you earn rewards as you stake crypto through the platform.
Binance.US: Best for low fees
- Low trading costs when compared to industry averages
- Solid user reviews
- Highly rated mobile app (4.2 out of 5 stars in the App Store)
- Fewer coin options than some competing wallets
- Not available in Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, New York, Texas, or Vermont
Binance.US lets you buy, sell, and trade more than 50 cryptocurrencies with low trading fees. You can create an account in minutes, then make purchases and trades manually or set up recurring buys that take place on a scheduled basis.
This platform and its mobile app are easy to use and understand, making Binance.US perfect for new crypto traders. However, you will also find advanced features for experienced crypto experts, including an updated interface with real-time order books, charting tools, and trade history. Binance.US also uses state-of-the-art storage technology to protect your cryptocurrency and USD assets, so you can rest assured your crypto remains safe.
Gemini: Best for safety
- Their platform is easy to use and understand
- Increased safety features
- Available in all 50 states
- Highly rated mobile app (4.8 stars out of 5 in the App Store)
- Higher fees for trading than some competing wallets
- Fewer available coins than some competing wallets
Gemini is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges available today, yet it makes buying and trading crypto easy thanks to its mobile app and online functionality. The company also offers some of the best features in terms of safety and security, including SOC certifications and the best-in-industry cold storage coverage with leading insurance providers.
Like some other crypto wallets, Gemini also features its own savings account called Gemini Earn, which lets users earn up to 8.05% on crypto assets they store with the platform. Users can also add their names to the waitlist for the Gemini crypto credit card, which will offer up to 3% back on purchases and payout rewards in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin with no annual fee.
Coinbase: Best for liquidity
- More coin options than most platforms
- Plenty of educational tools and resources for beginners
- Highly rated mobile app (4.7 out of 5 stars in the App Store)
- Higher fees for trading than some competing wallets
- Not available in Hawaii
Coinbase is yet another crypto wallet with a broad range of applications, including the option to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies like Dogecoin and Ethereum. In total, Coinbase actually lets you deal in hundreds of different cryptocurrencies, which makes it a smart option to consider if you’re an experienced trader who wants to invest in up-and-coming coins.
Coinbase also offers a debit card that lets you earn crypto rewards on your spending, and the company’s digital wallet lets you learn about decentralized finance (Defi), buy and sell NFTs, and more.
Coinbase also offers more than its share of educational resources, which can help you learn crypto basics and get market updates in real-time.
KuCoin: Best for Altcoins
- Low trading fees
- Broad range of coins available, including Altcoins
- Earn interest on crypto with professional asset management services
- Earn interest lending your crypto to others
- New customers can qualify for 500 USDT in bonuses
- KuCoin is not licensed in the United States
- Limited ways to pay for crypto
KuCoin offers a broad range of coins to invest in or trade, including an array of Altcoins. Borrowers can purchase cryptocurrency or trade crypto with low trading fees as well.
Another standout feature is crypto lending, which lets users lend out their crypto and earn competitive interest rates throughout the process. A program called KuCoin Earn even lets customers secure interest in their crypto with the help of a professional asset management service.
Because KuCoin is not licensed in the United States, this platform is best for international crypto investors. That said, KuCoin claims that 1 in 4 crypto investors worldwide uses their platform.
Crypto Wallet Scams: What to Watch Out For
The digital nature and inherent privacy features of cryptocurrency are a large part of its appeal, yet you’ll need to be especially careful when it comes to securing your account and protecting your private keys. According to the FTC, you’ll also want to know and understand common crypto scams before you start investing.
“Because you typically transfer cryptocurrency directly without an intermediary like a bank, there is often no one to turn to if you encounter a problem,” writes the FTC. With that in mind, your best bet with cryptocurrency is knowing about all the common scams and avoiding them completely.
First off, there are some important principles you should know about crypto, each of which underlines its differences from traditional currency. For starters, crypto payments do not come with legal protections such as FDIC insurance. You also don’t have anywhere to dispute transactions that were made with your account like you would if you made a purchase with a credit card. Also note that crypto payments are rarely reversible, meaning you cannot undo a mistake after you make it.
With that in mind, here are some tips that can help you avoid crypto wallet scams before they occur.
Investment and Business Scams
The FTC notes that many of the most common crypto scams try to disguise themselves and business or investment opportunities. For example, some scammers might ask you to pay a specific amount in crypto in order to be able to recruit others into a program. If you’re successful, they may promise you more crypto payments in exchange for your recruitment efforts.
Other times, scammers will promise to grow your assets if you send them cryptocurrency from your own account. Ultimately though, they typically move your assets into another account that requires you to pay even more money to access or withdraw your original assets. They might also just disappear with your crypto altogether.
Some thieves even send unsolicited job offers to help recruit cryptocurrency investors or people who will be hired to mine crypto or help convert cash to crypto. You may even find scam jobs listed on reputable recruitment and job posting websites, which the FTC says you should promptly ignore.
When it comes to business and investment crypto scams, you should watch out for:
- Anyone who guarantees you’ll make money
- Scammers who make big claims without any proof
- Any offer that seems too good to be true
Social Media Scams
Social media crypto scams are usually very easy to spot. Further, the FTC says that any request for crypto posted on a social media platform is a scam. This is true even if the message supposedly comes from a celebrity or someone you know.
According to the BBC, Elon Musk impersonators have scammed people out of millions of dollars through this type of scam. Hackers and thieves typically execute this scam by making a fake account that looks like the real thing, or by commandeering a celebrity’s true social media account.
The FTC says that you should report this type of scam to the social media platform directly and then report the fraud at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Also, watch out for blackmail scams that may be sent out to thousands of unsuspecting people at once. In this type of scam, the hacker typically claims that they have embarrassing photos or personal information you wouldn’t want other people to know. In exchange for keeping your secrets private, the hacker demands payment in cryptocurrency.
“This is blackmail and a criminal extortion attempt,” notes the FTC. “Report it to the FBI immediately.”
Finally, be aware that many crypto scams are predicated on fake romance. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), they are seeing a rapid rise in the number of people who are falling victim to this type of fraud. In the first seven months of 2021, they write, more than 1,800 people have lost approximately $133 million to fake lovers on the internet who roped them into investing in crypto.
With this type of scam, you might meet someone through a dating app or social media site who is willing to spend a lot of time gaining your confidence and trust. However, they eventually offer to help you make big money by investing in cryptocurrency, and that’s where things start to go wrong.
Ultimately, you should be incredibly wary of anyone you meet online who promises to help you earn money with crypto. The FBI also notes that victims of crypto romance scams and other types of fraud should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
The Bottom Line
The best crypto exchanges make it possible to buy, sell and trade crypto with ease, but you’ll want to make sure you compare them based on their fees, features, and the type of cryptocurrency they support. Make sure to compare the options we included in our ranking to see if they offer the functionality you want and need, as well as fair trading fees that make sense for the way you plan to use your account.
In the meantime, you should decide where you ultimately want to store your crypto, whether that’s in a crypto wallet that lives online, or in a hardware wallet that lets you store your crypto off of the web. You can also store your crypto in the crypto exchange where you make the purchase, although you’ll want to make sure the security is top-notch before you do.
Once you open a crypto account and start trading, you’ll also want to be careful to avoid the crypto scams we’ve outlined here, as well as any others that could be on the rise. In the meantime, take additional steps that are offered to help secure your account, such as multi-factor authentication, using a secure internet connection, and using a secure password that you change regularly.