It can be a real headache choosing between the best Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange. You literally have hundreds of competing businesses offering similar services. On top of that, they are all commonly identified as exchanges. However, some of them, by nature are brokers and some meant for traders while others for investors. You need a good map in order to orientate in this same-same, but a different world. Let’s see if we can help you with this.
Where to start
The first thing that you want to do is to establish how you want to make money with cryptocurrencies – whether you are a long-term investor or an investor/trader or a day trader/scalper.
If the answer is long-term investor it is OK for you to use an instant brokerage service from time to time. If you decide to use this approach it would be reasonable to do it after a large price fluctuation as brokerage service enables you to get your preferred digital coins almost immediately. Bear in mind that instant payment fees can be as much as 10 times higher than normal exchange fees. This is why I recommend using it for an emergency (no funds on the exchange or no stable coins) or in case you are a long-term investor.
However, if you identify yourself as an investor/trader, I suggest you open an account in any of the recommended exchanges in the article. I don’t see any reason why this shouldn’t be feasible for anyone, this requires a maximum half days work for a total beginner. After all, you are in it for the profits so some work should be expected.
Day traders/Scalpers can enjoy even lower fees, especially if their trading volume is over certain thresholds. It is worth mentioning that those ladies and gentlemen are dealing with advanced leveraged instruments (futures/options, etc.) where you can win but can also be liquidated in the blink of an eye. Today our main focus is not on the exchanges for this purpose, but I decided to bring out one name – read about them at the end of the article.
Most exchanges here are pretty equally qualified and secured. One better suited for one task and the other for another task. However, there is a shared criterion for maximizing profits – fees. It could very well be that some exchanges are offering you favorable fees for instant purchase while not offering the best fees for trading and vice versa. There are exchanges out there tailored for your needs and I’m sure that after finishing this piece here you will have a much clearer picture of whom to go with.
In the cryptocurrency world, Kraken is as old as the sea monster itself, founded in 2011 just 2 years after Bitcoin. Today it is considered one of the most reputable Bitcoin and altcoin trading exchanges in the world. Based in San Fransisco Kraken has a worldwide reach while also enjoying its success in Europe. Kraken is not regulated but is surely a great choice for anyone new to the game. Kraken has never been hacked and you can be sure that purchasing your digital coins via Kraken is safe and secure.
Low trading fees
Where Kraken excels is its fees and liquidity, offering one of the lowest fee structures in the game. Maker fees being as low as 0.16% while taker fees starting from below industry average at 0.26% – this is at the top of the range considering the available liquidity. At the time of writing, boosting an impressive ~16.000 BTC trading volume per day.
You need liquidity to execute your orders without slippage, meaning that after submitting your order to the exchange you have a lower chance, for example, to get filled $1 higher than on the exchange that has less liquidity.
Another great thing about Kraken is its margin trading feature. If your trading skills are advanced enough, you could go as high as 5x leverage on the Kraken Pro trading platform and capitalize on your trades even more. But be careful, leveraged trading really is a double-edged sword – quick profits can easily turn to heavy losses. If you want to day trade and dive deeper into their liquidity and compare volume with other exchanges I suggest you to read our analysis here (LINK).
Kraken also offers OTC trading for high volume traders and supports wide range of deposit options including SEPA and wire transfers. Fiat currencies like USD, EUR, CAD, GBP, JPY, and CHF are supported.
Overall a very respectable exchange with a great user interface that I personally have been using for years.
- Low trading fees
- Margin trading
- Well-known and respected
- Intuitive user interface
- Wide range of supported countries
- Great for buying selling bitcoin
- Somewhat slow customer support
- Verification could be faster
Another old-timer that needs no introduction for an avid cryptocurrency enthusiast. Based in Luxembourg, Europe, Bitstamp is founded by Nejc Kodrič in 2011 with just 1,000 euros in his pocket. Since then Bitstamp has enjoyed great success and became the first licensed crypto exchange to buy bitcoin in Europe.
Bitstamp mostly appeals to customers from the EU. Being based in the tax haven Luxembourg our readers might get a pass falling under the radar of the tax agencies. Of course, I strongly suggest doing your own homework, but there is a reason why they are registered in Luxembourg.
Bitsamp is used by individuals and institutions and has plenty of liquidity if you don’t swing in a whale territory. Bitsamp has a fairly limited trading pairs featuring “only” the largest market cap coins as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash.
In the fee department, we are looking at an equal 0,5% maker and taker fee, which is quite high. Using a limit order wouldn’t give you an advantage over a market order either. However, if you manage to trade over $20,000 worth of volume in a month your fees would be cut in half.
Low transaction fees
I myself have had a long relationship with them and never had any problems. Fast deposits, fast withdrawals, and low bank transaction fees. Bitsamp was compromised once in 2015 which resulted in losing close to 19,000 BTC to hackers. They handled it well and honored all losses in full.
All in all Bitstamp ranks very high being one of the most transparent exchanges in the world recently earning BitLicense from New York’s Department of Financial Services.
- One of the EU favorites
- Quick bank transfers
- Regulated and transparent
- 24/7 support
- Available in Google Play and App Store
- Limited trading pairs
- Above-average fees
- Doesn’t award market making
The giant among giants. Coinbase is the most well-known digital currency brokerage in the world, well, at least within the English-speaking countries. They operate in 32 nations, cranking over $1B in revenue and hosting more than 30 million users globally. Coinbase has also raised more than $200,000,000 from the world’s most prominent investors.
Mostly used by US customers Coinbase is considered the leading pioneer in the exchange world. They recently announced their approval as a Visa principal member making their customer experience even better by being able to offer more features than others. After launching their own debit card in 2019 Coinbase customers can enjoy spending their cryptocurrency with millions of merchants worldwide.
Coinbase has its own stablecoin called USD Coin (USDC). Each USDC is backed by 1 USD dollar which means one USDC coin is always worth 1 USD. This is fantastic as it gives you the advantage of moving your funds around the world within minutes and with the lowest fees possible. You can also earn rewards by holding USDC on their platform, find out if you are eligible. (AFFILIATE LINK SIIA ka?)
Buy cryptocurrencies with debit or credit card instantly
If you want to buy your cryptos instantly Coinbase is the place for that. You can go either with a debit or a debit card, wire transfer is also possible (not instant). It is probably good to know that even with instant buy you still need to get your ID verified so it’s best if you do that in advance and sign up early. (LINK)
However, great quality comes with a great cost and what talks against Coinbase are their fees. Australia, Canada, Europe, UK, Singapore, and US Credit/Debit buy transaction fee is 3.99%. Navigate few steps down and read about Coinbase Pro to save on fees.
- Pioneer in the field
- Instant purchase with a debit/credit card
- Has its own stablecoin
- High liquidity and volume
- Quick bank transfers
- High fees
- High control over the origin of funds
BINANCE (the best overall bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange in 2020)
Hands down the best cryptocurrency exchange out there. Lowest fees, reputable, available in all countries, high trading volume, instant buy with debit and credit card – you name it and Binance has it. While enjoying the top spot in our list the Hong-Kong based Binance is relatively new to the game, founded in 2017 by Changpeng Zhao. I can’t really fault Binance in anything except maybe not having the longest track record, but this is not really an issue either.
Lowest maker and taker fees
Fees, this is where Binance shines. From the lowest VIP 0 level, you will be greeted with 0.100% maker and taker fees. If you decide to use their native token BNB you will be chopping off another 25%, cutting your fees down to 0.0750%. This applies to both, market and limit orders (taker/maker). Simply the finest fees in the business accompanied by top-level liquidity and volume.
Binance has many other great features, especially in the futures category. To get a comprehensive review I suggest you to read about the best crypto trading platforms here. (LINK SIIA). But from an active scalper standpoint, I just have to bow down to their matching engine. Binance has had very little problems during high volatility and I’ve always had point on execution at the most crucial moments. This is the ultimate criterion that tells me if an exchange is running at capacity or not. Unfortunately, this is not the industry standard (topic for another time).
Lets quickly walk through BNB (Binance coin) too. Is it worth holding to benefit from the lower fees? The answer depends on your trading activity. If you are an active trader trading multiple instruments then yes, surely worth it. Now, in terms of performance, it’s actually a decent bet too. This is hardly surprising as Binance is a very (extremely) profitable company which is quite rare in the emerging cryptocurrency or even in the whole blockchain field.
Binance has made life easier for people from Singapore and the US by creating two new exchanges Binance.US (LINK) and Binance Singapore(LINK). Both are 100% regulatory compliant so no need for the VPN shenanigans.
The exchange is also beginner-friendly and is available in multiple languages, such as Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish and Russian. Operating the exchange and buying cryptocurrencies in native language is a great bonus to have.
Like the saying in telemarketing goes “but wait, there is more”. Just yesterday Binance introduced their new Binance Card. You can now shop around the world using BNB or BTC without extra conversion struggle. Read more about the Binance Card App and the about the card itself here. Another step closer to the long-overdue adoption gets Binance an additional point in the best of the best comparison.
- The lowest trading fees
- Low transaction fees
- Quick deposits and withdrawals
- Wide range of payment methods
- Binance card for the easy real-world use
- Endless selection of altcoin/bitcoin pairs to trade
- Leveraged trading up to 125x
- The best order matching engine
- Dedicated exchanges for USA and Singapore customers
- Relatively short history
COINBASE PRO (formerly known as GDAX)
The difference between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro is the ease of use and different order types. While you can buy or exchange cryptocurrency in Coinbase instantly in Coinbase Pro you need to take a few extra steps.
Without beating around the bush longer, Coinbase charges you significantly more for being lazy and using the instant buy button. If you can set some money aside I recommend doing an early bank transfer and wire your funds directly to Coinbase Pro to enjoy much lower trading fees. Another option would be to convert your fiat currency to their stablecoin (USDC). As stated in the Coinbase review above, each USDC is backed by the actual US dollar so you won’t be risking with any price fluctuation.
However, In real-life situations, volatile moves happen out of the blue for most people and you might still need to hit that instant buy button. The thing to remember here is that you may have created multiple accounts, one for credit card and one for the debit card. Make sure you use the correct account for correct action as Coinbase in default uses a bank transfer. You may end up with a 7-day wait instead of an instant buy. Something to look out for.
Best liquidity exchange
Other than that Coinbase Pro is of top quality. Fees are slightly above average (maker/taker 0.05%) but you will be enjoying a very liquid market with a minimal spread so you will get your orders filled with minimal slippage. If you wonder about the term “minimal slippage” it basically means that your expected fill price is very close to the execution price if using market orders. A very important factor if markets are volatile. This gives Coinbase Pro massive overall bonus points over many other exchanges in our top list.
Coinbase Pro enjoys the top spot for being the most trusted exchange for day traders from the US. And don’t get encouraged by the word PRO, as Coinbase states themselves:
Coinbase Pro offers an intuitive interface with real time orderbooks, charting tools, trade history, and a simple order process so you can trade from day one.
This is certainly true, Coinbase Pro is doable from day one offering the best user interfaces in the competition.
- Great liquidity
- Most trusted in the US
- One of the best user interfaces
- USD balance protection up to $250,000
- Margin trading up to 3x
- Industry-leading API
- Somewhat higher fees than competitors
Another old-timer. Coinmama offers instant purchases widely over the world. Whether you use a debit or a credit card verification and transactions are fast. You can use fiat currency and change it to an extensive selection of digital currencies in a heartbeat.
Coinmama charges a 2% fee plus up to a 3.90% commission fee, and for instant delivery, there is also something called momentum fee. This adds an additional 5%. However, if you place your order via bank transfer (SEPA, SWIFT, and Faster Payments (UK)) you can get away without the extra momentum fee.
They are rather on the expensive side but you have to remind yourself about the volatility in cryptocurrency markets. Any of those coins in your mind can paint 10% moves out of the blue any moment.
Coinmama also has an option to Sell Bitcoin for selected European markets. There is no additional fee for SEPA bank transfers. The process itself is simple, assuming you already have an account with them. Just log in, click sell, send your coins to Coinmama provided wallet address and its done. You will receive your SEPA transfer within 1-2 business days, awesome.
A non-custodial broker exchange
What is important to know is that Coinmama is a non-custodial platform so you will not be keeping your cryptocurrency on their exchanges. This forces you to be security orientated from the get-go. The best for this would be to use a hardware wallet, one of the industry leaders for this is Ledger (LINK). A comprehensive review of hardware wallets can be found here. (LINK)
So who should use Coinmama? Mainly long term investors as day traders have other options to choose from. However, if a good buying or selling opportunity presents itself Coinmama would be of the fastest ways to get your coins in or out of your pocket.
- Forces you to be secure
- High daily transaction limits up to $12,000
- Instant buy
- Reliable and Fast
- 200 supported countries
- High fees for the impatient ones
- Trading is not available
Changelly is an interesting crypto-to-crypto exchange. After a straight forward account registering process you can simply go and trade between 150 cryptocurrencies, you don’t even need to deposit any coins to the exchange. They act as an intermediary and find you the best rates across various exchanges they cooperate with, including Binance, Poloniex, Bittrex, etc.
The fees compared to service (speed) are very reasonable. Selecting a fixed fee (0.5%) will lock you the price for 15 minutes and protect from further market volatility. If the markets are calm or rising, I suggest you do go with a floating fee (0.25%). Transactions are quick, taking anywhere between 5-30 minutes.
They are transparent in their operations, and although you can’t be 100% sure if you are getting the best rate there are numerous cross-checking posts that determine that this is the case. After all, this is the anchor in their business model.
They also offer credit or debit card purchases. However, simply put, this is not the exchange for that. Use them for their edge in the market. Send one cryptocurrency and receive another without providing any additional information about your identity.
- Fast altcoin to altcoin exchange
- Available for iOS and Android
- No KYC, Private
- Fair fees
- Not meant for debit or credit card purchases
CEX has been around since 2013. They started as an exchange and a cloud mining provider, the latter was terminated in 2015. CEX is a legit and safe exchange that has never been involved in a major hacking incident.
CEX has different functions to trade digital assets
Brokerage service (buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. instantly) – They are supporting all major currencies like USD, EUR, GBP, or RUB and you can complete your purchase either with a debit or a credit card (VISA/Mastercard). This particular order type is most appealing for beginners. They charge you a 7% premium (+2.99% credit card fees) so that you would be safe against any market fluctuations. Keep in mind that after pressing the BUY NOW button you will still need to be verified to complete the purchase.
Trading platform – This is the most reasonable way to get your hands on to some digital assets. Charging a very acceptable 0.25% taker and 0.16% maker fee lands CEX near the top in our best exchange comparison. Is this still beginner-friendly – I would say yes. If you are not familiar with the order types (limit, market) you will be looking at a maximum half a day learning curve. As you can see from the fee comparison it might be well worth it.
Broker (margin trading) – This is recommended for the experienced traders as the learning curve is much steeper. The instrument you will be trading there is called a CDF which means that you won’t be holding the underlying asset that you are trading. Your profits or losses will not be settled in the coins you trade, but either in Bitcoin or fiat currency. Fees, however, are inviting. Open fee 0.5%, Close fee 0%, Rollover fee 0.03% per 4hours.
It would be maybe wise to think about it this way – am I an investor or a trader? If you are long term investor there is nothing wrong going with a brokerage service and paying the premium, you simply won’t be selling anytime soon. Now, if you are someone who likes to look at Bitcoin price from time to time and considers selling for a 20% gain with an intention to buy it back later, I would definitely recommend taking the extra step and go for the trading platform. If you are an active short term trader, you will probably know what you want to do anyway.
- Great trading fees
- Advanced trading capability
- Good customer support
- Various payment methods
- Not meant for instant buys
I remember being a Poloniex customer years ago – nothing has changed since. The exchanges are not listed from top to bottom order, however, Poloniex is not in the race for the pole here. The exchange is on our top list because of the favorable fees and the glory it once had.
Polonex started its journey in 2014 and was acquired 4 years later by Circle for $400 million. Poloniex has listed around 50 different digital assets you can trade. Taker (market) fees 0.090% and Maker (limit) fees 0.090% – these fees are great, but be aware of the low liquidity.
Poloniex also has margin trading, and pretty interesting 3x long and 3x short BTC instruments. An initial look at the traded volume for BTC seems actually pretty decent.
Poloniex user interface hasn’t changed in years, it still a solid platform to trade from but it simply looks outdated.
As Poloniex was acquired by Circle, security shouldn’t be a concern. However, reviewing customer feedback, it’s hard to find myself going with Poloniex over any other exchange in our top 10.
- Great Fees
- Interesting leveraged instruments
- Low liquidity
- Poor customer feedback
- Outdated user interface
Bittrex is founded by 3 former Microsoft employees. From day one, their main focus has been security. All combined, they have more than 40 years of industry-leading experience. Ironically, they have been accused of suspending and freezing their customer accounts for no apparent reason – there seems to be a line in the sand where security becomes abusive. Bittrex, to my knowledge, has never responded to the accusations. However, Bittrex has a clean rap sheet and they have never been hacked.
Bittrex is not at the top in terms of innovation. They opened Bittrex Global in 2019 which as the name indicates is serving global customers. Their user interface has definitely improved, but the step forward should have been taken years ago when the competition was still thin.
Even if the UI looks better, the functionality is still fairly simple. If one would start thinking, where is their edge in the game? They are trying to get customers on board by offering 50% lower fees – maker 0.100%, and taker 0.100%. These are promotional launch fees that were put in place 6 months ago. Don’t get me wrong, the fees are great, it just seems that they cannot afford to pump the fees back up.
This is one wild speculation and I would be happy to hear good words about Bittrex in the comment section. I would personally use Bittrex before Poloniex as they are at least trying something new to keep up with the pace.
Why is Bittrex in the top list? You definitely want to be careful while selecting an exchange you can trust. There are exchanges out there with great UI, awesome functionality but not very secure. Security is at the top of the important factors to consider and this is why Bittrex is here.
- Great Fees
- Decent user interface
- Strict KYC/AML rules
- Poor customer feedback
BITPANDA (a black horse)
Bitpanda (previously Coinimal) is another cryptocurrency broker/exchange that was founded in 2014 in Vienna, Austria. They have over 1 million users and an impressive 160+ team members making them a very respectable business. They are mostly focusing on the European markets accepting various payment methods including debit and credit cards from VISA and Mastercard. You can either use EUR, CHF, USD or GBP to pay or receive. There are over 30 digital assets (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, etc.) you can choose from, including gold, silver, and other precious metals.
This is where it gets interesting. Bitpanda is not probably an exchange that comes to your mind first. Even if you have been around for a while there is a good chance you never heard of them. Times have now changed, and we will have look at why Bitpanda is a black horse.
Low transaction fees
Bitpanda Brokerage Service – Get your cryptos with a click of a button. This is not trading, you will not be trading your coins with another user and therefore Bitpanda charges you a premium fee of 1.49%. This may look steep, but compared to the other brokers you can consider this damn cheap. Use this service to get your coins within minutes.
Some of the exchanges charge you a similar fee for trading and make you go through a steeper learning curve so this is awesome for beginners. There are no hidden fees, just remember that Bitpanda refreshes the price after every 60 seconds. There is also an option to use their native token BEST to cut off an additional 25%, simply impressive.
Bitpanda Savings – No need for manual labor. Create a custom plan when and how many altcoins or other digital assets you want to buy and let Bitpanda do the job for you.
Bitpanda Swap – Crypto to crypto service. You can change one crypto to another instantly. Super simple to use with wallet service included (no need to send your coins first to the exchange).
Bitpanda Metals – Fantastic instrument to have if you are looking to hedge the market or simply invest in precious metals. Everything is physically backed and stored in a vault in Switzerland. You can also cross-trade metals with cryptocurrency. Just make sure you have a good overview of their premium and storage fee structure.
Extremely low trading fees
Bitpanda Pro – The black horse. Their latest addition to an already impressive arsenal is a proper trading platform featuring the best fees in Europe. 0.1000% taker fee (market order) and 0.1500% maker fee (limit order) and using their BEST token another 25% could be shaved off. This is Binance territory in the EU. The only thing here is to wait for the black horse to gain some attention and build decent liquidity. If the markets are not volatile you would surely want to have a go there.
The services don’t stop here. You could also pay your bills with Bitpanda Pay, and buy Bitpanda To Go vouchers from over 400 post offices in Austria. They also have an OTC service for buying/selling amounts exceeding €1,000,000.
They have never been hacked, and in 2019 they received the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) license which means they have the highest level of compliance that an EU-regulated exchange can have.
- Cheap trading and brokerage fees
- Greatest selection of services
- Highly rated
- Quick bank transfers
- Pro version needs more liquidity
- Instant buy fees are hard to locate
A hot prospect – FTX
First of all, FTX is for an advanced user. Launched in 2019 by Alameda Research (founded in 2017) who is responsible for the majority of market-making volume done on cryptocurrency trading platforms. FTX is run by Sam Bankman-Fried and Gary Wang who themselves are very successful algorithmic traders. To put their success in perspective Alameda Research holds around $100 million in digital assets.
They are also, quite famously, holding one of the largest wallets on the professional cryptocurrency trading platform called Bitmex (LINK). As of today, their combined wallet balance on just Bitmex is 6940 Bitcoins.
Great for margin trading
So why is FTX for an advanced user? FTX is offering a derivatives trading, which means that you won’t be trading the asset itself. You will instead trade contracts based on the underlying asset. You are now probably thinking where the price is derived then? A valid question. The index price is derived from 11 equally weighted major trading platforms like Binance, Bitterex, Coinbase, Kraken, OKEX, and FTX itself. As this is up to 101x leverage you can imagine the cascade of liquidations it might cause without having an index price to align with.
There is also an option to short (sell) the market and while the above information is nowhere near complete it gives you a quick glimpse of what to expect. If you want to jump into the rabbit hole, I suggest reading our comprehensive professional trading platform review here. (LINK)
While FTX is a new face in the exchange business it is important to understand their connection with the retail/professional trading community. Sam is an authentic guy who doesn’t give you the usual corporate bullshit. You can see him actively responding to his followers on twitter and genuinely discussing the pros and cons in the cryptocurrency and in the trading world in general. If you are interested, go check out FTX youtube channel for some high-quality content.
Wide range of instruments to trade
They are traders by nature, which means that you will have a lot of exciting instruments to choose from. You can even trade the 2020 US Presidental Elections futures contract. In addition, the more complicated instruments as futures, options and move contracts offering up to 101x leverage with high trading volume.
As being one of the top liquidity providers across the cryptocurrency derivatives market you can be sure to have good liquidity available for different markets. Fees for futures and spot market is 0.02% for the maker and 0.07% for the taker.
Listing FTX under the top exchanges might be a bit unfair to other derivatives platforms (Bitmex, OKEX, Deribit) but being a long term trader on all of these platforms I really wish Sam and his team success. They have built a very decent trading platform with a fantastic engine that gives you the instant execution we all are looking for.
- Futures, Options
- Great fees
- Professional trading
- Highly rated in the trading community
- Not for beginners
Exchange to avoid – BITFINEX
Once the most prominent cryptocurrency exchange platform in the world has fallen into a maze where they cant find their way out.
Bitfinex was hacked in 2015 and 2016 with a combined loss of nearly 120,000 Bitcoins, ending up with a freeze on all deposits/withdrawals and trading. Bitfinex has had serious trouble maintaining a stable banking service. For example, in 2018 Bitfinex obtained a banking service from HSBC that was terminated less than 2 weeks later. This wasn’t the first nor the last time for this to happen. A company worth billions of dollars and nobody wants your business raises many flags. Read some additional thoughts from eToro CEO here.
A seasoned blockchain enthusiast probably knows that the story doesn’t stop there. In 2016 U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission fined Bitfinex for offering illegal OTC services while also violating Commodity Exchange Act by not registering as a Futures Commission Merchant.
Most notably, in 2019 a New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit accusing Bitfinex to cover up a loss of $850,000 using Bitfinex stablecoin Tether. Bitfinex has since blamed for evading court orders not providing NYG with requested documents for investigation.
Bitfinex is also suspected using Tether to manipulate Bitcoin price during the 2017 bull run. I, myself, vividly remember trading moves on Bitmex based on leading Bitfinex price manipulations. Those days are long gone and the once leading volume printer has deteriorated to an irrelevant position. Whether the volume drop is due to the loss of trust by its customers or by the ongoing investigation, remains to be seen.
I guess this should be enough to make you hear the alarm bells and stay away from Bitfinex. In the making of this article, I had a quick look at what other blogs similar to us are writing and I cannot believe that many are still suggesting Bitfinex as a viable option.
There is no single best exchange for everyone and everything. Needs and willingness to commit differ hence the reason we are getting so many exchanges and brokers to choose from.
At the beginning of the overview, I suggested making up your mind in regards to your style. Are you an investor/trader/scalper? Hopefully, this has helped you to make a sort of a mind map and focus on things that matter you the most.
If I would have to pick one it would be Binance for trading altcoins. It would be Kraken for spot market and it would be Bitpanda for instant buys. But again, it depends on which part of the world you are from, how interested you are in privacy etc.
In the end, there are specific details that are important just for you so I avoided stretching this too long and focused on things that usually matter for most. In this case, it was fees and the nature of the services.
How to create an account
You can now expect additional steps like confirming your country, phone number and verifying your email. This is normal KYC/AML procedure and you can expect this all around.
Before transferring any money from your bank account to the desired exchange I recommend you to find out the verification and buying limits. If those are below your expected cryptocurrency buying amount I suggest getting your ID verified rather sooner then later.
Also, take safety precautions and activate your 2FA right after creating an account.
If the essentials above are done you can proceed adding payment methods. There will be usually up to 4 options: Debit card, credit card, bank account or a wire transfer.
Once all this is done you are ready to buy some cryptocurrencies. Navigate to the Buy/Sell tab and select the cryptocurrency you want, use the preferred payment method and the amount in fiat currency. Confirm your transaction and you are done!