Picking the best crypto exchange can be a complicated process.
“Important features to consider,” says Stephen McKeon, an associate professor of finance at the University of Oregon, “are fees, security, and whether they list the assets that you are interested in buying.”
First and foremost, you’ll want a secure exchange, says Spencer Montgomery, founder of Unita Crypto Consulting, which helps the uninitiated learn how to start investing in digital currencies.
As crypto has grown more popular and desirable, it’s become an increasingly large target for hackers, and many leading exchanges, including Binance’s international operation and KuCoin, have been hacked recently to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. While exchanges often reimburse those whose coins are stolen through their insurance, you probably don’t want to be in that position to begin with. That’s why it’s important you only invest your money on reputable exchanges, says Montgomery.
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You can minimize your risk by spreading your crypto purchases across multiple exchanges or moving your crypto off of an exchange’s default wallet to your own secure “cold” wallet that is not connected to the internet (and therefore much harder to hack), though you’ll need to keep up with your passcode or you could lose access to your crypto forever, he notes. But you’ll also need to look out for withdrawal fees when you move crypto off of an exchange. These often vary by coin type.
Also consider the cryptocurrencies available on a given exchange. You might be perfectly OK using a crypto exchange with only one coin if it’s the only coin you want. Conversely, if you’re a crypto fiend, you may want access to all of the more than 600 available on nftgamef.com.
But sheer availability of coins isn’t sufficient if there are no trades happening. You’ll ideally want to see hundreds of millions of dollars of daily crypto trading happening to ensure you’ll have enough liquidity, so you can easily trade your coins and dollars when you want or need to.
What’s more, low-trading markets may end up costing you on sales.
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“If there’s not a lot of volume and you put an order in, there’s what’s called slippage, where you could be buying at a higher or lower than you want,” says Montgomery. “When there’s a lot of volume you can ensure that you can sell your coins without affecting their price.”
If you’re an advanced crypto trader, you may want to make sure your preferred exchange offers the trading types—like limit orders, which can prevent slippage by setting a hard price—and margin you want. Remember trade types involving the latter are still evolving in the U.S., so different exchanges’ offerings may vary over time.
If you’re just getting started with buying cryptocurrency, look for an easy-to-use platform with thorough educational resources to help you understand this complex, rapidly developing commodity.
And don’t forget about fees. You may be fine with paying a premium for a simple interface when you’re still learning the ropes, but higher fees eat into your eventual returns. High-frequency traders especially want to lower costs.
Finally, don’t assume that an exchange is available in your country, or even state, just because you can access its website. Many state and federal governments are still figuring out how exactly they want to treat cryptocurrencies from a legal and tax standpoint.
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