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Best Altcoin Exchanges, Tried and True

Image: Altcoin Trading


So you want to join the madness and start with altcoin trading?

Let’s first look at what is important - what you should be looking for - and what you can leave behind.

Your priorities:

  • Find a liquid exchange - especially when looking for the best altcoin trading platform. Chinese exchanges are perfect for that, simply because of the number of Chinese. However they notoriously don’t do altcoins too much.

  • Keep checking Coinmarketcap 24h volume. Different cryptocurrencies have different liquidity, go with the flow.

  • Keep in mind that smaller market means wilder changes, less predictability and high risk of bad losses.

Less important:

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

  • Screw inhouse charts. Use Bitcoinwisdom.com, Cryptowat.ch or Cryptocoincharts.info. Cryptowatch is best for altcoin trading and also actively maintained. It leaves quite some footprint in browsers though.

Bitfinex

To keep it short, your best bet for spot liquidity is these days generally Bitfinex or Bittrex.

  • Bitfinex has the main coins you might want to trade but there will be no fiat banking routes for you unless you want to transfer 5-6 figures USD (if you do, you should contact their support). You should also know there has been a controversy regarding Tether issuance and audit has been promised.
  • Bittrex has many pairs and poor liquidity on some which can be exploited if you are a good short term trader. They are currently a more reliable altcoin exchange than Poloniex, but their customer support is overloaded too.

You can also trade some altcoins on Kraken and there is ETH available on GDAX but it’s been long a popular fixture that these two exchanges will crash during every important price action. You have been warned.

Altcoin traders from the US

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

I use VPN at all times as a general security measure and it is fine with any of the following exchanges. Since ID verification is not usually a requirement when only cryptocurrencies are in play (and not fiat), you should be OK. For performance I can recommend AirVPN though I have also tried PureVPN and Hide My Ass.

The only thing worth mentioning is probably to distribute your bankroll on several exchanges. Don’t trade a lot of money on a single account if you don’t want to go through verification.

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Best Altcoin Trading Liquidity

Poloniex AKA Polo

(most altcoins, even the lesser known and new ones)

Definitely the best choice is you are looking to trade small altcoins. Polo is the epicenter of all altcoin trading - if there is a pump starting it is starting on Polo.

Poloniex has a lot of traders on ETH, DASH, DOGE, Monero and other markets. When there is a new token coming up it’s always listed on Poloniex.

Exchange trading and margin (leveraged) trading is available, although the selection of leveraged pairs is limited. New altcoins are generally only available for spot (exchange) trading.

Poloniex lending

Funds for margin are provided by other users - you can lend out your bitcoins and altcoins to earn interest too. If you want to do so it’s best that you use a lending bot that will pick out the best lending rates. The rates fluctuate based on the price actions - if altcoins are generally surging, BTC loans will be in high demand to long the altcoins. If altcoins are looking bearish, it will be best to lend out the most traded or least offered losers.

Poloniex policies

Poloniex is based in US but has restriction for some US altcoin traders.

Poloniex verification levels:

* Verification is not absolutely necessary.
* You need to state your (any) name and country to get $2000 daily withdrawal limit.
* Getting verified takes months. Corporate verifications are no longer possible.
* The verification limits on Poloniex are in USD although <a class='external' rel='nofollow' target='_blank' href='https://poloniex.com/'>Poloniex</a> only operates in cryptocurrencies - so, if your favourite altcoin surges you might not be able to withdraw all of your profits at once.  

Poloniex Charts

Poloniex has an awful web app. All altcoins on Poloniex are listed on Tradingview though - and those are real professional charts and chat where you sometimes even learn, not just alts pumping. You can also find most coins on Cryptowatch.

Poloniex Fees

  • Trade: 0.15%/0.25% maker-taker. Trading on Poloniex is expensive compared to Bitfinex.
  • Deposit: All crypto free.
  • Withdrawal: All crypto free.

Mobile trading

Via third party app called TabTrader. There is a “Poloniex app” for Android but it is fraudulent.

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Bitcoin exchanges going altcoin

What used to be known as Bitcoin exchanges in the past is now becoming a serious trading bussiness encompassing the whole new asset class. Couple years ago you couldn’t trade or lend altcoins on Bitfinex, these days it’s your second best option right after Poloniex.

Bitfinex

Bitfinex is based in British Virgin Islands, owned by JL van der Velde - CEO of iFinex Inc.

On Bitfinex crypto deposits and withdrawals go without verification. You need some confirmations to use BTC or altcoin deposit, they don’t do instant deposits - that might be a drawback if you’re doing altcoin arbitrage.

Bitfinex Liquidity

Bitfinex has a good liquidity on all altcoin markets. Alt/fiat markets on Bitfinex are slightly less liquid than Alt/BTC. There are new markets for coins like IOTA or OMG and new coins keep getting listed but the trading picks up very quickly on these new markets.

Bitfinex Policies

There is no fiat-crypto banking for retail nor is there going to be.

Bitfinex Charts

Use Cryptowatch or Tradingview.

Bitfinex Fees

  • Trade: maker/taker .09%/.18% if you sign up with this referral link
  • Deposit: BTC & altcoins free
  • Withdrawal: BTC & altcoins free

Mobile trading on Bitfinex

Native app (“Bitfinex”, issued by iFinex), TabTrader, zTrader

Chinese Exchanges

(mostly BTC/LTC only)

Chinese exchanges are shutting down CNY pairs for now, it is unclear if they will get licensed and reopen. The only place that remains is OkCoin International (USD denominated BTC, LTC, ETH markets).

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Bittrex

Bittrex is exclusively altcoin exchange. Newish, but people trade dash and ether there.

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Derivatives

BitMEX

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

OKEX

BTC and LTC futures only. Probably too close to China for calm sleep these days.

okex.com

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