Cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin, has gained popularity among traders. For one thing, cryptocurrency has higher volatility compared to more traditional methods of investments such as stocks or ETFs. Cryptocurrency is also decentralized, meaning that no one institution can truly control it. Additionally, cryptocurrency’s value is recognized worldwide as it can be converted into other fiat currencies.
OK, so cryptocurrency sounds great, but how do I start investing in bitcoin? What websites do I need to use and how do I buy cryptocurrencies? Find out below
Best Crypto Investing Websites
Coinbase is one of the most popular sites for trading cryptocurrencies. As the website claims, “Coinbase is the easiest place to buy, sell, and manage your cryptocurrency portfolio”. The process of trading crypto on this website is similar to trading stocks online: creating an account, linking your account to your credit or debit card, depositing funds, and start trading.
Coinbase tries to secure your funding and account by storing 98% of its customer funds offline. Sensitive data, including your bank account, are disconnected from the Internet to prevent cybertheft. Additionally, data is encrypted and copied to USB drives and paper backups. These backups are kept in deposit boxes and vaults all over the world.
To prevent your account from being used by an unauthorized person, Coinbase employs a two-step verification, which asks you to verify your account and phone number. You will also need to verify your identity using a government-issued ID. In the event that Coinbase’s funds are breached, they have an insurance policy that would cover any funds loss due to this security breach, including physical security, cyber security, and employee theft.
Coinbase allows you to trade the “big four” cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC). When you buy or sell $100 or more of crypto, you get $10 worth of BTC on Coinbase. For each transaction you make, you will pay a spread fee of 0.5% and a transaction fee that depends on your total transaction amount.
Coinbase is a great website to trade crypto because of its high liquidity which leads to a small spread, a strong selection of popular cryptocurrencies, and a security record of never having been breached.
eToro offers a wider selection of cryptocurrencies than Coinbase. There are 15 options for you to choose from: BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, Ripple (XRP), Dash (DASH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Cardano (ADA), IOTA (MIOTA), Stellar (XLM), EOS, NEO, TRON (TRX), ZCASH (ZEC), and Tezos (XTZ). Thus, if you want a wider selection of cryptocurrencies, eToro is a better choice than Coinbase.
Trades on eToro’s platform are made by a certain dollar amount instead of by unit of a cryptocurrency or asset. This means that you can buy a fraction of a cryptocurrency if you don’t have enough funds for the full unit. For those who don’t have enough money or don’t want to invest in a full unit of crypto, buying a fraction of a cryptocurrency is an option. However, there is a minimum of $25 per trade and a minimum of $50 for depositing funds. Deposits are only accepted through either online banking or wire transfer as eToro claims that they are the best ways to protect clients’ funds and account.
While you can’t use crypto directly as an external payment, eToro has a feature called eToro Wallet which allows you to transfer cryptocurrency to your own wallet and use cryptocurrency as a direct external payment. Beware, however, that once you transfer cryptocurrency from your portfolio to the Wallet, that crypto cannot be transferred back into your eToro portfolio.
eToro’s trading fees typically vary between 0.75% to 2.90%, depending on each cryptocurrency’s bid-ask spread.
For those who want a wide variety of cryptocurrencies and tokens, Bitfinex is the perfect website to go to. What makes Bitfinex special is its margin trading feature, which is quite uncommon in the cryptocurrency world and are not offered often by other crypto trading websites. Bitfinex’s margin trading is made possible by its peer to peer margin funding feature, which means users on this website can lend money or asset to other users if they wish. Users can trade with up to 5x leverage thanks to this feature.
How does margin trading work? Margin trading is effectively borrowing someone’s money to invest in an asset. If you make money, you get to keep the profit and pay interests to the lender. However, if you make a loss, you must reimburse the lender the whole amount borrowed in addition to interest. Because of its risk, margin trading is something beginners should stay away from.
Bitfinex allows you to trade over-the-counter (OTC), another relatively rare feature. OTC trades are made via a broker-dealer network while public trades are listed on a centralized exchange. OTC trades are suitable for large orders as the trader doesn’t have to go through public order books and do not have to pay additional fees and/or exchange commissions. If a trader wants to create an OTC trade with another specific user on Bitfinex, he or she only has to enter the counterparty’s OTC nickname and trade detail and wait for the counterparty to respond.
If you’re not confident in your trading skills and want some practice, Bitfinex offers the paper trading feature, which allows you to do trade simulations. As this is a simulation, you do not need to make any deposits.
Binance is another crypto trading website that has a variety of cryptocurrencies to choose from. Compared to some other websites, Binance isn’t as easy to use, thus beginners might have a harder time navigating around. Moreover, Binance doesn’t let you directly deposit fiat currency such as USD into your account, meaning you can’t start trading without some cryptocurrency available. Alternatively, you can directly purchase a number of cryptocurrencies with a credit or debit card, or transfer available cryptocurrencies from another account to your Binance account.
Binance offers two different versions for currency trading: basic and advanced. The main difference between these two versions is that the advanced option has more in-depth technical analysis available for users.
After creating an account, you’re considered a level 1 user and don’t need to verify you account, although there is a 2BTC/day withdrawal limit for this type of account. To become a level 2 user, you need to upload a government-issued photo ID to verify your identity and wait for Binance’s approval. After you’ve successfully verified your account, you can withdraw up to 100BTC a day.
Binance supports three types of trade orders for buying and selling cryptocurrencies: limit, market, and stop-limit orders. These trade orders work similarly to how they would work if you were trading stocks. A limit order is executed only at the limit price or better; for example, if you set the buy limit order at 5BTC, you order won’t execute until the price reaches 5BTC or lower. Market orders are executed immediately at the next available price and at the volume specified by the trader. Stop-limit orders are executed only when the price reaches the stop amount. The stop amount is the specific price that will activate the limit order. There are many resources on the Internet that can help you understand better how limit, market, and stop-limit orders work.
Compared to other websites, Binance has the advantage of having lower fees; they charge 0.1% for both the taker and maker side, although it can reduce to 0.02% for both sides if the trade volume is high. Fees can also be lowered by 25% if you use BNB, Binance’s native cryptocurrency. Additionally, they also support margin trading for eligible users so you can buy your desired assets even when you’re out of cash.
CashApp is a great platform for beginners as it supports peer to peer transfer system (similar to how Venmo and PayPal work) and has an easy-to-use interface. CashApp is very similar to Robinhood: both websites offer stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies, but CashApp also supports P2P transfers, giving it an advantage over Robinhood. However, while Robinhood offers seven cryptocurrencies (BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, ETC, Bitcoin SV, and Dogecoin), CashApp only offers Bitcoin.
What’s so great about CashApp is that you can withdraw Bitcoin to your own wallet or transfer to another account (peer to peer transfer system, remember?). However, there is a withdrawal limit of $2,000 worth of BTC per day. Robinhood currently doesn’t have this withdrawal feature. The ability to withdraw cryptocurrency to your own wallet is very important to the digital money community, so much that they identity the inability to withdraw cryptocurrencies and spend it as “not your keys, not your coin”. This phrase means that if you don’t hold the keys to where the coins are stored, they are not your coins.
As with other websites, CashApp charges a fee for each trade and an additional fee determined by how volatile the asset’s price is. These fees may change according to the market’s activity. Moreover, if you’re planning to send money via a linked credit or debit card, you should know CashApp charges 3% for this transaction.
Abra currently allows you to trade over 100 cryptocurrencies and is available in 150+ countries. To make a deposit to your account, you can either use bank account transfers; credit or debit card; BTC, BCH, or LTC; and the Abra wire program. Depositing funds via a credit or debit card is the fastest method, but it also has the highest fee (anywhere from 4% to 8%). While you’re on the app, Abra has an in-app feature that lets users convert fiat to cryptocurrency.
Abra uses a Bitcoin-based system, which provides a faster and less expensive way for users to control their money. This means that all of your balances on the app, regardless of currency (except for possibly BCH and LTC) are held as BTC. How does this work? Let’s say you hold 10,000 USD in your account, which is the price of one bitcoin. The price of bitcoin then falls by 50% to $5,000. Your account will still be worth $10,000, except for now you have two BTC.
Abra allows you to quickly withdraw cryptocurrencies to an external wallet to spend as you please. Alternatively, you can leave your assets in the Abra interest account to earn interest on selected cryptocurrencies with daily compounding. In fact, you can earn up to 9% in interest with cryptocurrencies such as Paxos, Tether, and USD Coin, and about 4% for BTC and ETH.
Kraken offers about 40 cryptocurrencies on its platform for users to choose from. Kraken is not as easy to use as some other websites as it trades in cryptocurrency pairs, thus it might be difficult to beginners navigate around. This design also leaves more room for human errors, especially if you’re new to trading.
To exchange assets on Kraken, first you need to know what you want to exchange and therefore which pairs you’ll need. Cryptocurrency pairs will appear to look something like this: BCH/USD. The first currency is the base currency, and the second is the quote currency. Let’s continue using the BCH/USD pair to explain how the system works. If you’re buying, you will pay the quote currency (USD) and receive the base currency (BCH). In other words, you’re buying Bitcoin Cash with USD. If you’re selling, you’re selling the base currency (BCH) to receive the quote currency (USD). In other words, you’re selling Bitcoin Cash for USD.
For each order on Kraken, you can decide if you want to submit it as a market (executed immediately at the next market price) or limit order (executed only if the asset meets a specified price).
Kraken allows you to deposit either fiat or cryptocurrency into your account; in the case of fiat, you can do so via a bank transfer as Kraken does not accept credit or debit cards. While there is a deposit limit for fiat, there are no deposit limits for cryptocurrencies. However, before being able to deposit digital assets, your account must be verified. While Kraken doesn’t have a wallet service, it does allow you to withdraw both fiat and cryptocurrencies into your own wallet.
Interested in margin trading? Kraken’s margin trading feature is accessible to everyone, so you can trade with up to 5x leverage on their website.
Bitstamp trades cryptocurrency pairs just like Kraken. In prior to start trading on Bitstamp, you need to first verify your account then deposit funds. There are three ways to deposit funds into your account (that does not involve crypto): via SEPA, International Wire transfer, or make a direct purchase using a debit or credit card. There is a fee associated with each deposit and withdrawal depending on which method you use, except for SEPA deposits, which are free of charge. Depositing via selected cryptocurrencies is also possible and are often free of charge. Withdrawing cryptocurrencies, however, does come with a fee depending on your specific currency.
Bitstamp has one of the lowest trading fees among crypto trading websites, starting with 0.50% per transaction if your total trading volume is less than $10,000. As your total trading volume amount increases, trading fees will be decreased. The minimum trade amount is 0.001BTC for BTC-denominated trading pairs and 25 USD/EUR/GBP/PAX for trading pairs that have these fiat denominations.
When trading on Bitstamp, you have 5 options to choose from: instant order, market order, limit order, stop order, and trailing stop order. I have explained what the market order and limit order are in #4. An instant order is different from a market order in that it is often accompanied by a fixed spread while a market order’s spread is adjusted during the process. In other words, a market order only specifies the volume and takes whatever price is available next, while an instant order specified both the volume and price and is only filled (immediately) if the counterparty can satisfy these conditions. A stop order is an order to buy or sell when the asset’s price meets the stop price; at that point, it becomes a market order. The trailing stop order, in short, allows a position to be opened when it moves in the investor’s favor and discontinues if it moves in the opposite direction, either to lock in profit or to prevent losses.
Trading options aside, Bitstamp does not provide you a wallet function. However, they encourage you to withdraw your cryptocurrencies into a safe wallet, preferably offline, to prevent cybersecurity attacks.