You can use a cryptocurrency exchange to buy, sell and trade cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). We’ve compared some popular exchanges by different categories to make it easier to find the best for you.
Coinberry Cryptocurrency Exchange
Buy and sell cryptocurrency with Canadian dollars on this beginner-friendly Canadian exchange.
Offering multiple deposit methods, Coinberry is one of the few exchanges in Canada that allows you to pay for your crypto trading with credit card. You can also fund your account with Canadian dollars to buy, sell or trade Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin.
A Canadian exchange so there’s no need to worry about international transaction fees
You can pay with a credit card, a debit card, bank transfer, Interac e-Transfer and a wire transfer and fund your account with crypto or Canadian dollars.
Binance is popular for a reason, but it’s also a crypto-only exchange, meaning you’ll need to buy some cryptocurrency with fiat, and then deposit that onto the exchange before you can start trading on Binance.
You’ll simply pay a flat 0.1% trading fee at most.
It’s possible to reduce this even further by taking advantage of the exchange’s native cryptocurrency, Binance Coin (BNB), and simply paying your trading fees with BNB held in your exchange account.
There are different trading fee tiers, with lower fees for users who hold enough BNB coins and maintain certain monthly trading volumes.
Cryptocurrency is held in digital wallets. Some exchanges will give you your own wallet, which lets you hold cryptocurrency in your exchange account and then transfer it anywhere as desired, while others will require you to have your own wallet at the time of purchase.
However, using an exchange for long-term storage is not recommended. As the exchange controls the private key to your wallet, you don’t have total control of your funds. And with exchanges regularly (and sometimes successfully) targeted by hackers, storing crypto on an exchange long-term is very risky.
With hundreds of exchanges to choose from, how can you find the best cryptocurrency exchange for your needs? The most important thing to do is to research a wide range of platforms and compare the pros and cons of each option.
Consider the following factors when comparing crypto exchanges.
If you’re a cryptocurrency novice, getting started buying and selling coins and tokens can be complicated and confusing. On the other hand, experienced traders may want a platform with special features like advanced charting and order types as well as the option to trade on margin.
If you’re a crypto-trading beginner, look for a platform with a simple and straightforward user interface that’s easy to understand from the beginning.
Can you deposit funds into your account via bank transfer, credit card and/or PayPal? The more payment options an exchange has, the more convenient it will generally be to use. Make sure your exchange has deposit and withdrawal options that work for you, and remember to check the fees associated with different methods.
First, consider the type of trades you want to place. There are exchanges available that offer the following :
Both fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto trading
For example, if you want to buy BTC with CAD, you’ll need to find a cryptocurrency broker that allows you to buy coins via bank transfer or credit card. Alternatively, if you want to exchange your BTC or ETH holdings for another cryptocurrency, you’ll want a platform that offers direct crypto-to-crypto trades.
Consider which currencies you want to trade and which platforms list those currencies in one or more trading pairs:
Cryptocurrencies. There are thousands of different digital currencies and crypto-assets in existence, so don’t expect to find them all listed on any single platform. Major cryptos like BTC, ETH, XRP and others in the top 20 coins by market cap are listed on an extensive range of exchanges, but rarer altcoins may be much harder to find.
Fiat currencies. If you want to buy crypto with fiat currency, check which currencies the platform accepts.
From deposit through to trading and then withdrawing funds, how much will it cost you to buy and sell crypto on each platform from start to finish? Remember to consider your payment method, the currencies you want to use and any discounts you may be entitled to when completing these calculations.
Are there any limits on the amount you can deposit into your account or the amount of cryptocurrency you can buy or sell per transaction or per day? Also check whether there are any restrictions on how much you can withdraw from your account.
Remember, minimum and maximum limits may apply, so check the fine print to be sure the platform is a good fit for the size of trades you want to place.
How can you access your trading account? Many platforms offer web browser trading only, but some also offer mobile and even desktop trading apps. If trading on the go is important to you, it’s worth reading up on the user friendliness of the platform’s mobile app.
Is there any way you can access reduced trading fees? Are you entitled to fee discounts simply because you hold an exchange’s native currency or use those tokens to pay transaction fees? Is there a tiered fee structure that rewards high-volume traders with reduced fees?
Some crypto exchange loyalty programs will even offer additional benefits, such as access to exclusive events and even a share of the platform’s trading fee revenue, so this feature is well worth investigating.
There is no such thing as an official Bitcoin price – it’s determined by whatever people are willing to pay. Compare exchange rates across a handful of different crypto exchanges and you might be surprised to find just how much they can differ from one platform to the next. The variation can be as much as 10% in some cases, which can obviously make a big difference to the success of a trade.
The level of liquidity on an exchange affects the ease and speed with which you can complete trades. If there’s a high level of liquidity – in other words, if the exchange has a high trading volume – then trades should be completed quickly and easily.
One of the biggest benefits of trading on larger crypto exchanges is that they get enough orders to be able to match buyers and sellers without any difficulty. However, low liquidity can lead to substantial price fluctuations.
You can check crypto exchange trading volumes by looking at its order books prior to sign up.
If privacy is important to you when trading cryptocurrency, there are some platforms that allow you to transact anonymously. Of course, if it’s too easy to create an account and start trading, consider whether there’s anything to stop a platform from disappearing (hopefully not with your funds) overnight.
Many other platforms will require you to verify your account before allowing you to trade. This step is designed to ensure that the exchange meets its obligations under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regulations.
Verification requirements vary between exchanges, but you may need to provide some or all of the following:
Your email address and phone number
Proof of ID
Proof of address
A photo of yourself holding a signed declaration
If you need to provide a wide range of personal information, it’s important to be sure you’re dealing with a trusted exchange. It’s also a good idea to research how long you can expect the verification process to take.
Finally, be aware that some exchanges will require you to complete additional verification tasks in order to unlock full account features and higher transaction limits.
How long will it take for your transaction to be completed? How soon are account withdrawals processed?
Being forced to miss out on a trading opportunity because your trading funds took too long to arrive into your exchange account can be a frustrating experience. Spending day after day waiting for a withdrawal to arrive in your bank account or crypto wallet can also be extremely stressful, so check average processing times before you register.
Security is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a crypto exchange. History is littered with many famous examples of exchanges being hacked and unsuspecting users falling victim to theft and fraud, so make sure you do your research into what security measures are in place to protect your funds. Questions you should ask include the following:
Is 2-factor authentication supported?
Are customer funds stored in online or offline wallets?
Do I control my private key or does the exchange? If it’s the latter, where and how is my private key stored?
What level of verification is required to open an account?
Is there 24/7 security monitoring?
Will you receive email and SMS alerts regarding account activity?
Does the exchange use email encryption?
Does the exchange provide proof of reserve?
Though authorities around the world are starting to catch up to the rapid growth of crypto exchanges, the industry as a whole is still lightly regulated. How an exchange is regulated depends on where it is based, so do your research to find out whatever information you can about the platform operators.
Currently, there is minimal regulation when it comes to Canadian cryptocurrency exchange operators. However, starting on 01 June 2020, all Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges must be registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FinTRAC) and meet the government’s anti-money laundering and know your customer (AML/KYC) compliance and reporting obligations.
It’s also worth noting that due to regulatory requirements, users from certain countries will not be allowed to access some exchanges. As always, check the fine print to find out whether any of these geographical restrictions apply to you.
This is a crucial but often overlooked factor when comparing crypto exchanges. If you ever have a problem with an individual transaction or with your account, how will you be able to access a platform’s customer support team?
You’ll need to consider the following:
How can you contact customer support? Are they available through email, phone and live chat?
Is there an online support centre where you can submit a support ticket?
Is support available 24/7 or only during specific hours?
How quickly does the support team respond to enquiries?
If the exchange is based overseas in a country where English isn’t the first language, will you be able to access English-language support whenever you need?
Does the site’s support centre feature answers to a range of frequently asked questions, and perhaps instructional guides and/or videos that explain how to trade?
In short, does the platform have a good reputation for providing prompt and helpful support to users?
Does the exchange have a reputation as a secure and reliable platform? Read independent online reviews from other users to find out all about their experiences, both positive and negative, with the platform. Where does it excel and where does it fall short? Would they recommend the exchange to friends and family?
It’s also a good idea to consider how long an exchange has been operating before deciding which platform is right for you.
Register for an account on the platform, including providing any personal details and proof of ID required.
Navigate your way to the “Buy” screen.
Select Bitcoin as the cryptocurrency you want to buy.
Select your payment currency, which in this case is CAD, and specify the amount you want to spend as $500.
Select your payment method, such as a credit card payment or bank transfer.
Enter your payment details, such as your account number if sending a bank transfer or your card number and CVV if paying by credit card.
Review the full details of your transaction, including the fees that will apply and the amount of BTC you are purchasing.
If you’re happy to proceed, click “Buy BTC”.
Once the transaction has been processed, the BTC will be deposited into your exchange wallet. However, please note that some brokers will automatically send your purchased BTC to an external wallet address nominated by you.
Buying cryptocurrency with another digital currency
In this scenario, let’s assume that you have 1 BTC that you want to exchange for ETH. Here’s what you need to do if placing a trade on a centralized crypto exchange:
Compare cryptocurrency trading platforms to find one that offers the right service for you.
Register for an account on the platform, including providing any personal details and proof of ID required.
Log into your account and find the BTC wallet address for your account.
Use this address to transfer the 1 BTC you want to trade from an external wallet.
Navigate to the “Exchange” or “Trading” page.
Search for the currency pair you want to trade, which in this case is BTC/ETH.
In the “Buy” field, choose the type of order you want to place, such as a market order or limit order.
Enter the details of your transaction, such as the amount of BTC you want to spend. If placing a limit order, you’ll need to specify your desired ETH price.
Take a moment to review your transaction, including checking the exchange rate and fees that apply.
Click on “Buy ETH”.
Once the transaction has been processed, the ETH you have purchased will be deposited into your exchange wallet.
However, if you’re using a decentralized crypto exchange, the process is a little different. You’ll typically be required to link your wallet to your account, but you’ll then be able to trade directly from wallet to wallet, with no requirement to deposit any funds on the exchange.
Selling cryptocurrency and withdrawing your funds
If you want to sell cryptocurrency on an exchange – let’s say Bitcoin for the purposes of this example – you’ll need to follow these steps:
Log into your account and find the BTC wallet address.
Use this address to transfer the BTC you want to trade from an external wallet.
Navigate to the “Exchange” or “Trading” page.
Search for the currency pair you want to trade, for example BTC/CAD or BTC/ETH.
In the “Sell” field, enter the details of your transaction. Depending on the platform you’re using, you may be able to sell at market rate or potentially place a limit order.
Take a moment to review your transaction, including checking the exchange rate and fees that apply.
Click “Sell BTC”.
Once the transaction has been processed, the currency you have purchased will be deposited into your exchange wallet.
It’s now time to withdraw those funds from your exchange account, but the exact process you’ll need to follow depends on whether you’ve purchased crypto or fiat currency:
If you’ve purchased fiat currency, look for the “Withdraw CAD” option from your account dashboard. Select your desired payment method, for example bank transfer or PayPal transaction, and enter all the necessary account details so your payment can be processed.
If you’ve purchased another cryptocurrency, you’ll need to first set up a secure wallet where you can store your coins. Copy the address of this wallet, log into your exchange account and select the currency you want to transfer. Remember to double-check that you’re sending the funds to the correct wallet before submitting the transaction.
Best for: Crypto novices, those looking for a quick and easy way to buy cryptocurrency.
The downsides: Costs more than other options; may not offer as wide a selection of cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency brokers often offer the simplest and most convenient way to buy cryptocurrency. Buying Bitcoin or any altcoin from a broker is essentially like purchasing from a cryptocurrency shop – the broker buys digital coins or tokens at wholesale rates, adds their own margin on top and then sells the currency on to you.
Brokers offer a quick and straightforward entry into the world of cryptocurrency. Their platforms are designed to be easy to use and you can pay for your crypto purchase with your everyday fiat currency, often even by using a credit or debit card.
The main downside of using a broker is the cost, as you’ll not only need to buy your crypto at a price above the market rate but also pay transaction fees.
Best for: Buying and selling a wide range of currencies; lower fees.
The downsides: Intimidating for new users and it may not be possible to directly exchange the currencies you want.
Cryptocurrency trading platforms are the most widely used platforms for buying and selling digital currency. They connect crypto buyers with crypto sellers and take a fee for facilitating each transaction. You can use these platforms to exchange cryptos at the current market rate or at a specified limit, while some sites also offer more advanced features like stop-loss orders.
Crypto trading platforms tend to provide access to a more diverse range of currencies than brokers, and often feature charting tools to help you plan your trades. These platforms also tend to offer lower fees and better exchange rates when compared with brokers.
However, it’s not possible to directly exchange one crypto for any other digital currency you want – you’re limited to the trading pairs supported by your chosen platform. Bitcoin and Ether are the most commonly traded currencies and feature in pairs alongside a wide range of altcoins. Crypto trading platforms can also be intimidating and confusing for new users.
Examples of some high volume cryptocurrency trading platforms include Binance and Bitbuy.
Best for: Anonymity, giving you more control over how you trade.
The downsides: Prices usually higher than market rates; a certain level of risk involved.
These platforms allow direct peer-to-peer trading between people all around the world. The exchange acts as the middleman, with the seller able to set their own price and accepted payment methods.
The main advantage of peer-to-peer exchanges is that they let you quickly and anonymously buy or sell coins with almost any kind of trade or payment method you want. The downside is that you’ll often pay above market prices, and it can also be riskier than other options.
To help offset the risks, some platforms have built-in escrow features and reputation systems to identify reliable and legitimate buyers and sellers.
Centralized vs decentralized exchanges
If you’re researching peer-to-peer exchanges, you’ll also come across the concept of decentralized crypto exchanges. Many (but not all) peer-to-peer exchanges can also be decentralized.
Decentralized exchanges (DEXs) are hosted on a network of distributed nodes and allow you to trade cryptocurrency directly with other users. The absence of centralization means there’s no single point of failure for hackers to target, and server downtime is no longer an issue.
And because trades are executed using smart contracts, you can trade straight from your wallet. This ensures that you don’t have to transfer any of your coins and tokens onto an exchange, allowing you to retain control of your cryptocurrency at all times.
Not all crypto exchanges are created equal, and not all crypto buyers and sellers have the same trading needs. The best exchange for one person might not necessarily be the right choice for someone else, so it’s essential that you do your own research.
Check out our reviews on a range of leading cryptocurrency exchanges in Canada and around the world. Compare the features, fees and pros and cons of each exchange and consider how they align with your trading needs.
We analyzed the range of 35+ cryptocurrency exchanges compared in the table on this page. We looked at the beginner-friendliness, suitability for fiat currency purchases, fees, cryptocurrency selection and advanced trading features of each exchange, to find the one that’s the best of each category.
Keep in mind this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the exchanges out there. Some exchanges may be better for some situations and currencies. What’s best for you depends on your own circumstances.
How we looked at each of the five “best” categories
We assessed the level of beginner-friendliness by looking for exchanges that offer direct fiat purchases, have a managed cryptocurrency wallet for customers, use a clean and intuitive user interface, allow quick sign ups and have a reputation for good customer service.
To be one of the best beginner-friendly exchanges, a platform had to be a broker where customers can simply buy cryptocurrency from the exchange, rather than needing to deal with other traders on the open market.
Being a regulated exchange with specific legally-enshrined consumer protections was highly regarded.
Fiat currency purchases
To be eligible in this category, an exchange naturally needs to offer fiat currency purchases. We then compared exchanges with the objective of finding one where any eligible customer who wanted to buy cryptocurrency with their local currency could, regardless of their preferred payment method. Variety of payment methods, including some with low or no deposit fees, some which can be processed instantly and cash payment facilities, were highly regarded.
We assessed 0.1% per trade as cutoff point above which an exchange could not be determined to have low fees. We then looked for the exchanges which have no hidden costs such as excessive withdrawal fees, and which have options for reducing fees even further, such as different trading fee tiers and other ways of reducing fees. The value of these fee reduction techniques was judged based on how much they reduced fees by, and how accessible they are to a wide range of users.
Cyptocurrency selection was judged on the range of cryptocurrencies, but also strongly considers how quickly exchanges typically are to list newly-released cryptocurrencies, and how often an exchange is the first major platform to list a given token.
Suitability for active trading
The factors considered here include an exchange’s suitability for a wide range of different types of traders. For example, a platform that is equally suitable for an experienced or inexperienced trader, or a frequent or infrequent trader, would be judged more positively than a more narrowly-focused platform.
We also considered fees, liquidity, selection of cryptocurrencies, the ability to go both long and short on cryptocurrencies, access to leverage, advanced trade types, bot or API trading support and other features.
No. The list of currencies available varies widely from one exchange to the next. Some platforms only support a select few currencies while others support hundreds, but there’s no guarantee that all the cryptos you want to buy and sell will be available on any one platform.
While regulators are gradually implementing laws and guidelines to help protect consumers against fraud, there are still plenty of sketchy exchange operators out there. Falling victim to theft is a major concern for any crypto buyer.
Exchanges in several countries are subject to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regulations. In order to comply with these regulations, exchange operators must gather certain details about their customers – which is why you may be asked to provide proof of ID. This process is typically referred to as “know your customer” or KYC.
Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly
volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of
future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information.
You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory
requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may
have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.
Andrew Munro is the global cryptocurrency editor at Finder. After previously writing about insurance and other areas, he now covers the latest developments in digital assets and blockchain and works on Finder's comprehensive range of guides to help people understand cryptocurrency.
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