Where to buy crypto and where to trade it? Which exchanges are liquid, which have issues and which look like exit scam? Updated 2020.Onramping · [trading-platforms] · 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
- Buying Altcoins
- Onramping from crypto (with exchange recommendations)
- Onramping from fiat (with exchange recommendations)
- [!] More on buying alts and much more on the specific exchanges in this ATNET guide on How to buy altcoins. Covers both buying altcoins no KYC and with KYC.
Best altcoin exchanges for trading and speculation
Let’s first look at what is important.
What should you be looking for in an exchange for altcoin speculation?
As a rule, you get better liquidity on custodial exchanges (you need to send coins to an exchange wallet to trade).
It is true that the tide is starting to turn slightly in favor of noncustodial trading (you can trade directly from your own wallet). Still, if you are just starting out, custodial exchanges will be easier for you to trade on and so that’s what we are sticking with here.
Another sweeping statement: Asian crypto exchanges are great for liquid markets. 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 centralized (custodial) altcoin trading platforms:
- OKEx: Smaller selection of alts but easy access to derivatives.
- Bitfinex: Unique selection of alts and now also derivatives (no minimum deposit anymore). Does not welcome US traders but KYC is not required - Learn more about Bitfinex here
- BitMEX: Accessible alt derivatives and high leverage. Requires KYC, does not welcome US traders.
- Binance: Wide selection of alts, deep liquidity. Does not welcome US traders.
- Yobit: Busy and very liquid den of wild speculation, big and small alts.
Avoid these trading platforms - Poloniex, HitBTC and new unknown exchanges that will not have enough liquidity.
The platform’s technical stability is super important for active trading.
Any trading platform will need to have downtime for maintenance, but it should be scheduled and announced beforehand. Other than that the platform availability should be as high as possible.
Most of all, a crypto exchange should not crash under heavy traffic - ever. Altoin markets are prone to FOMO, everyone knows that, it is not like the exchange management could get surprised by that. Plus, trading platforms earn crazy money on fees, they can afford server maintenance just fine.
Most stable crypto trading platform:
- Binance - occasional downtime communicated via Twitter
- OKEx - hardly any downtime
- Bitfinex - generally stable, downtime communicated via status page
Least stable crypto trading platform:
- BitMEX - servers unreachable very often, not recommended
Charting 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, Kraken etc.
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 crypto-to-crypto trading is an overkill.
In-house charts, because TradingView does better job.
Best altcoin exchanges for trading crypto derivatives
BitMEX is the only pure cryptocurrency derivative platform.
- You cannot buy cryptocurrency on BitMEX with fiat.
- You can only trade a derivative product for profit, or use it as a hedge, or do market making and arbitrage to rake profits.
Currently the most traded products are BTC futures, ZEC futures and BTC permanent swap (a derivative product imitating spot BTCUSD market). New altcoin derivative markets keep being added as the altcoin flavors of the month come and go.
US customers are not welcome and KYC is required as of August 2020.
Deribit is a crypto options and futures platform. It has been less popular than BitMEX but the liquidity there is getting better thanks to fee rebates that incentivise market making.
Also, options trading is getting more popular in crypto.
US customers are not welcome but KYC is not yet required.
Buying Altcoins (Onramping)
To buy altcoins for long-term holding, with no plans to actively trading them, you have two options:
- buying altcoins for fiat
- buying altcoins for other crypto
You can find more on buying alts and also much more on the specific exchanges in this ATNET guide on How to buy altcoins.
In this post, we are still going to list the best altcoin exchanges and explain what they are good at.
We are also briefly going to look into your options if you are based in the US.
Buy altcoins for other cryptocurrency
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 pretty much any exchange: custodial, p2p, non-custodial, built-in exchange inside your wallet.
Big custodial exchanges where you can buy altcoins for crypto (without verification):
- 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
Peer-to-peer exchanges where you can buy altcoins for crypto (without verification):
- LocalCryptos lets you buy your initial ETH, BTC and LTC completely anonymously
- Do NOT use LocalBitcoins in 2020, they collaborate.
Buy altcoins for fiat (USD, EUR, AUD)
You can only buy the bigger cryptocurrencies directly for fiat - think BTC, ETH, LTC, XMR.
Selection of smaller cryptos differs exchange by exchange, depending on the platform’s business partnerships.
Custodial platforms where you can buy altcoins for fiat (will require AML/KYC)
- Bitstamp (Focused on EU residents)
- Independent Reserve (Aussie, but accepts most residents) - BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, BSV, USDT, LTC, EOS, XLM, ETC, BAT, OMG, REP, ZRX and GNT. As of September 2020, some DeFi tokens have been added. Learn more about Independent Reserve
Both large-cap and small-cap cryptocurrencies:
Non-custodial platforms where you can buy altcoins for fiat (no KYC)
- LocalCryptos lets you buy your initial ETH, BTC and LTC completely anonymously
- [!] Do NOT use LocalBitcoins in 2020, they collaborate.
Exchanges accepting traders from the US
You probably know about the witch hunt. US traders have it more difficult.
To onramp from the US, you have the following options:
- Get crypto on a zero-knowledge p2p platform like LocalCryptos
- Verify on exchanges that are regulated within the US – Gemini, GDAX – if they will take you.
- They don’t accept all banks, all states.
- Often they just refuse for undisclosed reasons.
- They check crypto deposits for history (e.g. if your bitcoin was on a gambling site before).
- 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 for buying only.
- If you plan to daytrade, Kraken exchange is not recommended, because the reliability of their stop-loss execution is worse than that of a weather forecast.
If you plan to daytrade, here’s the deal:
- Bitfinex stopped servicing verified US residents in November 2017.
- Practically, this only applies to verified accounts, and KYC is not required 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.
- BitMEX stopped servicing US customers and requires KYC since August 2020