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Altcoin Exchanges: Where to buy altcoins in 2020? - #CryptoTrading

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Where to buy crypto and where to trade it? Which exchanges are liquid, which have issues and which look like exit scam? Updated 2020.
Guide     · [basics]  · Author: @tradingfanbois

Whether you want to join the madness of altcoin trading or you just want to buy and hold, this is a 2020 overview of the reliable platforms to buy all the good crypto that is not Bitcoin.

Trading Altcoins: Best exchanges for speculation

Let’s first look at what is important.

What should you be looking for in an exchange for altcoin speculation?

Your priorities


This is most important for day-trading, scalping or other short term kinds of speculation. You want to submit your order and have it filled with not much issues.

Chinese exchanges are great for that, they are always busy enough due to the higher popularity of speculation and also, quite honestly, due to the fake volume generating bots.

However, many trading platforms in Asia notoriously don’t do small altcoins much. Listing fees on the most liquid places like OKex or Binance are too high for small projects. You might be more lucky on places like YoBit.

Most liquid altcoin exchanges:

  • Binance - wide selection of alts, deep liquidity
  • OKEx - smaller selection of big alts but easy access to derivatives
  • Yobit - busy and liquid den of wild speculation, big and small alts
  • Bitfinex - unique selection of alts but not always super liquid
  • BitMEX - only a few alts, but accessible alt derivatives

Not recommended - Poloniex, HitBTC and smaller places that are just as sketchy.


The platform stability is likewise important for active trading. A trading platform needs to have downtime for maintenance but this should be scheduled.

A crypto exchange shouldn’t really crash under heavy traffic - ever. Trading platforms earn crazy money on fees, they can afford server maintenance just fine.

Most stable crypto exchanges:

  • Binance - occasional downtime communicated via Twitter
  • OKEx - hardly any downtime
  • Yobit - occasional downtime
  • Bitfinex - was hacked in 2016 but generally stable
  • BitMEX - servers unreachable very often, not recommended

Availability on TradingView

If you are at least occasionally taking technical analysis seriously, you will want to have your exchange on TradingView. All the bigger trading platforms are there - Binance, Bitfinex, BitMEX.

Less important parameters

  • Fiat markets. For altcoin speculation you don’t need USD or other fiat markets at all. The ratios in which alts are traded is often BTC or ETH. To track a fiat value, in 2020 we use DAI or another stablecoin.

  • AML/KYC for pure altcoin trading is still an overkill in many places. Go with that.

  • In-house charts. Use TradingView FREE or Cryptowat.ch.

Trading Altcoin Derivatives


BitMEX is a cryptocurrency derivative platform. You cannot buy altcoins or bitcoin on BitMEX with your national currency, you can only trade their products for profit. You get your winnings paid out in BTC.

Currently the most traded products are BTC futures, ZEC futures and BTC permanent swap (derivative mimicking spot BTCUSD market). New altcoin derivative markets keep being added as the altcoin flavors of the month come and go.

US customers are not allowed to sign up to the platform per T&C but Tor/VPN access is not blocked.

Get 10% fee discount

Buying Altcoins

To buy altcoins for long-term holding, with no plans to actively trading them, you have two options - buying altcoins for fiat or for other crypto.

Buy altcoins for Bitcoin, Ethereum or other big crypto

If you want to invest in smaller altcoins, your last step before the purchase will always be the purchase of a bigger crypto, as there are no fiat markets for new niche cryptocurrencies.

If you already own a big crypto, you can exchange it for smaller altcoins on any of the liquid spot exchanges good for trading.

  • Binance - wide selection of altcoin markets denominated in BTC, ETH, exchange coin or stablecoins
  • Yobit - wide selection of altcoin markets denominated in BTC, ETH
  • Bitfinex - some selection of alts denominated in BTC, ETH, USDT

Buying altcoins for crypto is also the preferred way if you want to make your purchase anonymous.

  • LocalCryptos lets you buy your initial ETH and BTC completely anonymously.
  • Do NOT use LocalBitcoins in 2020, they collaborate.

Otherwise, if you don’t mind being verified, you can buy your initial coins on any of the big-name exchanges. You will pretty much always find a BTC, LTC and ETH market denominated in USD or other fiat.

Bitfinex has fiat routes as well, but it’s a bit of a cat and mouse game.

Buy altcoins directly for fiat

You can only buy the bigger cryptocurrencies directly for fiat. It is easy for BTC, ETH, LTC, XMR.

Selection of smaller cryptos differs exchange by exchange, depending on the platform’s business partnerships.

Centralized platforms (will require AML/KYC to let you purchase)

Big cryptos only:

Small cryptos thanks to partnerships:

Decentralized platforms

  • LocalCryptos lets you buy your initial ETH and BTC completely anonymously.
  • Do NOT use LocalBitcoins in 2020, they collaborate.

Altcoin traders from the US

You probably know about the witch hunt. US traders have it more difficult.

You have the following options:

  • Verify on exchanges that are regulated within the US – Gemini, GDAX – if they will take you. They don’t accept all banks, all states and sometimes they just refuse for undisclosed reasons. These two are where you’ll have your deposits in the fastest.
  • Verify on Bitstamp – EU-based but accepts US users. You will need to wire money to Slovenia, which might raise questions from your bank.
  • Kraken used to be too unreliable for trading but has since gotten their platform together and now is an option. The Kraken exchange is still not to be found among the recommended platforms for speculation though, because the reliability of their stop-loss execution is still worse than that of a weather forecast.
  • Bitfinex stopped servicing verified US residents in November 2017. Practically, this only applies to verified accounts, and KYC is not mandatory for crypto-only trading on the platform. If you access Bitfinex from a location in the United States, you will just be asked to claim that US is not your primary country of residence. Once you’ve done that, the interface will let you through.

Once you onramp, even if via p2p or whatever, your problem is kind-of solved. You can and trade unverified on Bitmex (with VPN), Bitfinex, Bittrex or elsewhere.


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