Thanks to the popularity of cryptocurrency over the past few years, there are hundreds of exchange platforms on the market to choose from, but deciding which one is best for you can be difficult.
There are myriad factors to consider, such as whether you prefer a desktop or mobile account, if you’re only buying/selling or looking for more advanced trading options, and what kinds of cryptocurrency you’re intending to trade with.
In this article, we list the key issues you should consider when picking a cryptocurrency exchange, and round up some of the cheapest and most popular platforms in the UK.
How to pick the best cryptocurrency exchange platform
There are four areas you should pay special attention to when selecting the right exchange platform for you: security, fees, altcoins, and wallets. It's a no-brainer to make sure that your assets are kept safe, and in such a high-stake sector, charges can be the difference between a loss and a profit. In addition, the rarity of certain coins can make it difficult to find a compatible exchange, and you’ll need to decide where you’re going to store your all-important keys, regardless of which platform you ultimately pick.
Above all, you want to make sure that the money you put into your crypto investments is safe and secure. Most crypto exchanges take security extremely seriously, but hackers have become increasingly adept at bypassing security measures while attempting to access customer funds. Do your research on the measures in place to protect your cryptoassets by thoroughly assessing your chosen exchange’s security credentials, and check out our explainer on how cryptocurrency is regulated in the UK to find out which exchanges are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. It is also worth pointing out that while an exchange might be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, cryptocurrency remains an unregulated investment and so customers do not receive any protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Fees vary widely across different crypto exchanges, and can be calculated on an entirely different basis from each other. To make matters even more complicated, many platforms have different fee models for the different types of account they offer - such as maker/taker or flat fees - meaning you could incur completely different charges depending on your subscription. This is where it pays to shop around, as the crypto sphere is a competitive industry, and some platforms have better rates than others even for the same kind of transaction.
If you’re only looking to invest in bitcoin, then the vast majority of platforms will be suitable for you, but more niche cryptocurrencies - such as Cardano or Litecoin - are not always supported by the most popular exchanges. Make sure to check that the crypto you want is actually available before you sign up for an account. We include a list of supported altcoins in our reviews of Coinbase, Gemini and Kraken.
Not all exchanges offer integrated digital wallets, and even if they do, you may decide that a hot wallet is not as secure as you would like it to be. This is when you need to choose if you want to use a linked online wallet - such as Coinbase Wallet or Gemini Wallet - or if you want to purchase your own separate software or device to store your keys before you make a purchase. Read our article “What is a cryptocurrency wallet?” for more on the different types and which would be most suitable for you.
The best cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the UK
We’ve rounded up 5 of the best crypto trading platforms in the UK, comparing across the market by typical transaction fees, the number of supported cryptocurrencies, whether or not they have an integrated wallet, and what each one is best for.
Transaction fees (maker/taker)|
No. of cryptocurrencies|
Two account types - Coinbase and Coinbase Pro
Integrated digital wallet - Coinbase Wallet
Debit Visa card - Coinbase Card
Own US dollar-backed stablecoin - USD Coin
More than 50 different cryptocurrencies
Two wallet types - Gemini Custody and Gemini Wallet
Crypto payment system - Gemini Pay
Own US dollar-backed stablecoin - Gemini Dollar
"Cryptopedia" to teach crypto investing
More than 40 different cryptocurrencies
Three verification levels - Starter, Intermediate, and Pro
24/7 customer service
Live “Cryptowatch” price data
Safer, offline cold storage for 95% of cryptoassets
More than 80 different cryptocurrencies
Free bitcoin wallet when you sign up
Sophisticated charting software with TradingView
Margin trade options
Wide variety of payment methods - VISA, Mastercard, S.W.I.F.T., ACH, Faster Payments, Sepa, QIWI, and Skrill
More than 80 different cryptocurrencies
Straightforward maker-taker fee schedule
Personal and corporate trading accounts
Top-notch security credentials
Educational materials for beginner investors
More than 250 different cryptocurrencies
Best crypto exchange for beginners
Coinbase, one of the world's most popular crypto exchanges, has become almost synonymous with bitcoin trading over the past few years. Although its fees are not the lowest on the market, and it doesn't have the largest number of cryptocurrencies to trade with, its user-friendly look and global appeal makes it the best option for beginner crypto investors - particularly those interested in bitcoin. Alternatively, Gemini's clear, colourful design and emphasis on user security could be a good fit for amateur investors looking for ease-of-use as well as optimum security for their assets, while Uphold has a useful 'Cryptionary' jargon-buster to help beginners tackle all the complicated crypto terminology. You can read our independent Coinbase, Uphold and Gemini reviews for more on their accounts, fees, and security credentials.
Best crypto exchange for low fees
London-based CEX.IO offers some of the lowest transaction fees on the market, coupled with 24/7 customer support, a wide range of supported cryptocurrencies, and already boasts over 4 million customers worldwide. Its fees come in significantly lower than much of the competition, with a maximum 0.25% on taker transactions, making CEX.IO a great option for investors looking to minimise extra costs. Another cost-efficient option is Kraken, with its wide range of trading options and low transaction fees, which is a great alternative for advanced investors looking for more complex trading at a very reasonable rate. Alternatively, BlockFi has zero transaction fees - perfect for those making regular trades - although it does charge for withdrawals, which can chip away at your profit when it finally comes time to reap it. Head over to our independent Kraken and BlockFi reviews for more on their trading options and fee schedules.
Best crypto exchange for altcoins
Bittrex Global is one of the best exchanges for choice of cryptocurrencies, with over 250 on offer, far overtaking most of the competition. However, its taker fees start from 0.75% - much higher than some of the more popular platforms, such as Gemini - so its variety of coins is at least partially offset by the higher transaction fees. However, if you’re keen to get involved in niche crypto trading pairs, Bittrex Global may well be the best exchange for you. Alternatively, both CEX.IO and Kraken offer a wide range of altcoins, while eToro also hosts over 120 cryptoassets.
More on crypto
For more information on what cryptocurrency is and how it works, check out our beginner's guide, and make sure to find out what a crypto wallet is and how to mine cryptocurrency. You should also read our step-by-step guide on how to buy bitcoin. Finally, make sure you are aware of the risks. Crypto-assets are highly volatile and there is little or no financial protection if things go wrong. Investing in crypto-assets is suited to sophisticated investors who understand the associated risks and are prepared to lose all the money they invest if they buy crypto-assets. Read our article How cryptocurrency is regulated in the UK for more information.