There is always some level of risk assumed when you decide to invest your money, but a key way experts recommend mitigating that risk is to not put all of your eggs in one basket. In short: Investing in a few different asset classes can help you stay the course when some of your investments aren’t doing as well. Cryptocurrency is still somewhat of a newbie in the investing world, but many investors have added it to their arsenal and thanks to digital crypto exchanges and apps, you can too.
But where do you start and how do you choose a crypto exchange or investment platform?
To help make your decision a little easier, the Fortune RecommendsTM editorial team several popular cryptocurrency apps and exchanges. We weighed account minimums, the number of cryptocurrencies available to invest in, external wallet support, margin trading and staking and rewards-earning opportunities, educational resources, mobile app ratings, and customer service options. (Read our full methodology here.)
The 5 best crypto exchanges and apps of February 2023
Here’s our rundown of the top 5 crypto apps and exchanges, including the key figures you should know before you invest. (Note: Minimum deposit requirements, fees, and other numbers in our list are up to date as of Feb. 15, 2023, and are subject to change.)
About: Crypto.com was founded in 2016 and currently serves more than 80 million users worldwide. Through its extensive online trading platform, investors have the opportunity to securely buy and sell more than 250 cryptocurrencies and over 20 fiat currencies.
Account minimum: $1
Fees: 0%–0.0750% depending on 30D Spot Trading Volume (USD)
Mobile app rating: 4.5
Customer support: Crypto.com offers customer support via online chat through the platform’s website.
Our verdict: Good for investors who want a one-stop crypto shop.
Crypto.com took the top spot on our list for its vast cryptocurrency offerings and services. In addition to its growing list of coins, Crypto.com is also one of a handful of exchanges that offers margin trading (although it is not currently available to U.S. customers). Crypto.com does offer wallet support and allows users to connect multiple digital wallets to its platform in addition to its DeFi wallet—a non-custodial wallet that gives investors full control over their crypto and keys. Crypto investors can also earn rewards on the Crypto.com platform by holding a certain balance in their exchange wallet.
About: Uphold first launched in 2015 and currently serves more than 184 countries around the world, across more than 200 traditional currencies, cryptocurrencies, and commodities. The exchange currently serves over 10 million users in 150 countries worldwide.
Account minimum: $0
Fees: 0.9–1.2% on BTC and ETH, spread will vary depending on specific token
Mobile app rating: 4.6
Customer support: Uphold customers can reach a member of the support team by filling out a request form on the platform’s website.
Our verdict: Good for those who want a wide range of crypto options.
Uphold took the second spot on our list for its impressive menu of crypto coins—which currently sits at over 250 different cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. For an added bonus: investors can also dabble in national currencies and precious metals. What’s more—Uphold supports external wallets, giving investors the power over their own private keys.
About: Coinbase was first launched in 2012 and has grown to host approximately 108 million verified users in over 100 countries around the globe. The platform offers 248 different cryptocurrencies, as well as access to NFTs and a Coinbase card to earn crypto rewards.
Account minimum: $2
Fees: 1% transaction fee on all cryptocurrency transactions
Mobile app rating: 4.4
Customer support: Customer service is available via 24/7 phone support, live chat support, and email by submitting a request form on the Coinbase website.
Our verdict: Good for investors who prefer extra customer service options.
Coinbase took the third spot on our list for its stellar customer service options and low account minimum. What’s more, this exchange also offers a self-custody wallet that gives you complete control of your crypto and the opportunity to earn rewards by watching educational videos about crypto and completing short quizzes on the material.
About: Binance is possibly one of the most well-known crypto exchanges. Founded in 2017, the exchange now offers over 150 cryptocurrencies available for trade and over 1.4 million transactions per second.
Account minimum: $0
Trading fees: 0%–0.1000% depending on trading volume, type of user, and account balance
Mobile app rating: 4.5
Customer support: Customer service representatives are available via 24/7 automated chat and users can also fill out a request on the website for email support.
Our verdict: Good for beginners.
Binance took the fourth spot on our list for its learning hub—Binance Academy. For new investors looking to learn more about how cryptocurrency works, what blockchain technology is, and how to better inform their own trading strategy, this hub provides them with countless articles and courses to help them hit the ground running. And, for investors looking to increase their buying power, Binance offers margin trading. The downside: Unfortunately, Binance accounts are not currently available to users in Hawaii, New York, Texas, or Vermont.
About: Gemini first appeared in the crypto space in the 2010s. Apart from its exchange which gives investors the opportunity to buy, sell and hold more than 90 cryptocurrencies, users can also buy and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and earn crypto rewards with a Gemini credit card.
Account minimum: $0
Trading fees: 0%–0.40% depending on 30-day trading volume
Mobile app rating: 4.6
Customer support: Gemini offers automated chat support, as well as a form on its website to request email support.
Our verdict: Good for those who love a freebie.
Gemini made our list for its rewards opportunities and its respectable mobile app rating. In addition to the wide range of cryptocurrencies available on this exchange, users can earn crypto rewards with every purchase made using the Gemini credit card. Users can also earn up to 4.83% APY by staking their crypto.
How to choose a crypto app or exchange
Cryptocurrency exchanges function similarly to stock exchanges in that they provide investors with a platform to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. There are countless exchanges in existence, and the range of cryptocurrencies available on each varies from just a handful of cryptocurrencies to over 1,000 on some platforms.
There are several ways you can weed out apps or exchanges you’re considering. A few key factors to consider may include:
- Availability in your state or country: Not all platforms are available to investors in every state or country. Certain platforms may prohibit investors in certain states from creating an account, trading a certain asset, or benefiting from products or services like margin accounts. When you’re considering your options, make sure that you’re eligible to create an account based on your location.
- Trading or transaction fees: Most cryptocurrency exchanges charge a fee for each crypto trade (these fees can vary depending on whether you’re purchasing or selling your crypto). If you’re an active trader who anticipates frequent transactions, you might benefit more from an exchange that charges minimal fees or doesn’t charge fees at all.
- The minimum amount needed to open an account: If you’re a new investor or just on the fence about adding crypto to your portfolio, you may not be ready to invest a ton upfront. Read the fine print to determine how much you need to open an account and start trading crypto and if it’s an amount you’re comfortable with.
- Storage: When selecting an exchange, you’ll also want to know how and where your cryptocurrency will be stored. The two main types of storage are custodial and non-custodial wallets. A custodial wallet stores your crypto for you and holds the private key needed to access it. With a non-custodial wallet, you’ll have full control over your private key and if something happens to your crypto or you forget your key, it’s on you.
- Educational resources: For experienced investors, educational tools and webinars may not be necessary, but brushing up on your knowledge about what’s happening in the crypto world could help you make more informed decisions about your holdings. And if you’re new to crypto, having educational resources at your disposal could make things easier to grasp.
- Customer service options: Many cryptocurrency apps and exchanges have limited customer service options and often resort to chat or email-only customer service options. This may be the preferred avenue for some investors, but if you prefer to get a human on the phone, you’ll need to make sure that the app or exchange you’re considering offers more than just automated support and service hours that align with your schedule.
Frequently asked questions
Does the Federal Reserve regulate cryptocurrency?
No. Cryptocurrency is not backed by the government or insured in the same way deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Association (NCUA). The government is not responsible for any lost funds.
What’s the difference between a centralized and decentralized exchange?
The difference between each type of exchange comes down to how cryptocurrency is being purchased and sold. In a centralized exchange, the exchange serves as a middle-man between buyers and sellers to facilitate transactions, similar to a traditional stock exchange. Decentralized exchanges function as a marketplace where buyers and sellers execute peer-to-peer trades, without the need for a middle-man.
Is crypto taxed?
Yes. In the eyes of the IRS, cryptocurrency is treated as property and it becomes taxable when you sell it, spend it, exchange it for another cryptocurrency or are paid with it.
The Fortune RecommendsTM team compared 13 cryptocurrency apps and exchanges to help you find the best platform for your needs. Our top picks are available to customers in most U.S. states, subject to the terms of account, product, and service. To come up with our final list, we we ranked the best apps and exchanges on the following categories and weighted each category as set forth in the percentages below:
- Number of cryptocurrencies available (30%): We weighed the number of cryptocurrencies available on each platform and rewarded apps and exchanges with a wider selection. Our point system is as follows:
- 1–49 cryptocurrencies: 1 point
- 50–100 cryptocurrencies: 2 points
- 101–200 cryptocurrencies: 3 points
- 201–250 cryptocurrencies: 4 points
- 250+ cryptocurrencies: 5 points
- Account minimum (20%): In order to open an account, many apps and exchanges will require that you deposit a minimum dollar amount. We rated platforms with $0 or lower account minimums higher on our list.
- Wallet support (15%): We rewarded apps and exchanges that give investors the option to store crypto in an external wallet.
- Margin trading (10%): Margin trading, also known as leveraged trading, refers to making bets on crypto markets with borrowed funds. We favored apps and exchanges that gave investors the option to boost their purchasing power.
- Staking or rewards (10%): We gave apps and exchanges one point for offering staking or rewards-earning opportunities. Staking gives investors the ability to earn passive income by using their existing crypto to validate blockchain network transactions.
- Educational resources (5%): Apps and exchanges that offered educational support for investors such as articles, videos, webinars, investment planning tools and calculators, and other resources ranked higher on our list compared to those that do not.
- Mobile application rating (5%): We calculated the average mobile application rating for each bank or credit union using ratings from the App Store and Google Play. We rewarded online banks that had a higher average mobile application rating.
- Customer service (5%): Top picks offer customers three ways to get in contact: chat support, by phone, or even email. Among the three options, we gave phone support the most weight.
We think that the best apps and exchanges offer a wide range of cryptocurrencies, low or zero account minimums, the ability to transfer crypto to external wallets, margin trading, staking or rewards opportunities, educational resources or learning hubs, a highly rates mobile app, and various customer service options. The requirements, fees, and rewards offered by these apps and exchanges may be available for limited time periods.
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