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Non-fungible tokens, more commonly known as NFTs, are unique digital items powered by blockchain technology, the same technology used to create cryptocurrencies. They exist as tokens on a blockchain, which means they can be bought, sold and traded just like any other cryptocurrency. Specalised marketplaces have been developed that let you buy NFTs, whether from a famous artist or your next door neighbor.
NFTs are not just limited to digital art either – they can be used to represent almost any type of asset which has made them popular across a range of mediums, such as music, gaming and collectibles. Some are even used to represent real-world assets like real estate or club memberships. However, unlike cryptocurrencies, they are "non-fungible'', which means they cannot be replicated like-for-like the way you can with most cryptocurrencies.
Though many centralised and decentralised exchanges are beginning to offer NFTs to their users, the most common way to purchase these assets is through specalised NFT marketplaces. These marketplaces typically offer a range of functions beyond the trading of NFTs, and often include competitions, games and the ability to mint your own digital asset.
Take a look at the following NFT marketplaces and use the table to compare them on things like types of NFTs available (categories), payment methods, and whether they let you sell your own NFTs (known as minting). Once you've found a marketplace that suits you, click on the "Go to Site" button to create an account and start exploring the exciting world of NFTs.
NFT marketplaces are digital platforms where users can buy, sell, trade, show off and create their own NFTs.
While NFT marketplaces vary in functionality, they all operate on a similar basis – they are essentially a storefront built on the blockchain that specalises in NFTs.
Potential NFT investors will typically need to have access to a cryptocurrency wallet and compatible crypto coins in order to participate in the marketplace, whether it be for trading NFTs or engaging in community events.
As NFTs have surged in popularity, so too has the number of platforms that can be used to exchange these digital assets. This may make it difficult for newcomers to decide which marketplace is right for them. With this in mind, here are a few things worth considering when looking into NFT trading platforms.
Certain NFT marketplaces like OpenSea operate on a "jack-of-all-trades" basis and give their clientele a wide-ranging selection of NFTs to purchase from. Conversely, others have a more niche selling point and deal exclusively in that. For example, NBA Top Shot's platform only sells digital highlights from NBA basketball in trading card format.
As the majority of NFT marketplaces are built on a blockchain, transactions will usually be accompanied by a gas fee. This varies from platform to platform, and often depends on the underlying protocol being incentivised. For example, an NFT platform built on Ethereum will likely have higher fees than one using Binance Smart Chain.
Some NFT platforms have an exchange integrated in their marketplace, which allows users to buy cryptocurrency (which they can then use to purchase NFTs) all on the same website. Binance and Crypto.com are 2 reputable exchanges which have integrated an NFT marketplace into their services.
The creation of NFTs may be a niche requirement for some investors, but it is a large aspect of the NFT ecosystem. It's worth considering whether this is an avenue you'd like to pursue down the line and may influence which NFT marketplace you ultimately decide to use. This function is particularly pertinent for content creators and artists.
Those that want to get a little more out of their NFTs may prefer a marketplace that has additional gameplay. For example, ZED RUN is an NFT marketplace that allows users to purchase a digital racehorse and run it in races. Its performance is dictated by pedigree, as well as rarity, which also influences the price. Multiple other marketplaces offer similar features.
OpenSea is the largest NFT marketplace in the crypto space based on buy/sell volume. While initially conceived in 2018 as a gateway for users to invest in CryptoKitties, the platform has since ballooned into a one-stop-shop for NFTs, offering millions of different NFTs in a variety of formats.
OpenSea is built on the Ethereum protocol, and has integrated support for the Klaytn and Polygon networks.Read our full review of OpenSea
Rarible is a decentralised NFT marketplace that is developed and owned by the community of RARI holders – the platform's unique crypto token. This marketplace is focused on the minting of NFTs and assigning fair compensation to artists for their work.
The most prominent category of NFTs available is digital art, but Rarible also supports music, videos, memes and even NSFW content.
Nifty Gateway is a marketplace owned by the cryptocurrency exchange Gemini that sells a wide-range of NFTs known as "Nifties". Like many other similar platforms, Nifties typically take the form of artwork, although all sorts of other digital items are available. Prominent creators on the platform include deadmau5 and Beeple.
As its name suggests, Mintable is a platform focused on giving creators sovereignty and value to their digital content. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of this marketplace is its "gas-free" minting protocol, which means artists can create NFTs for free.
For non-creators, Mintable offers a broad range of products, including art, collectibles, music, game items and even trading cards celebrating amateur athletes' achievements.
SuperRare is another NFT marketplace focused on digital art, particularly that which is conceptual in nature. Many of the available NFTs are quite abstract and complex, as opposed to the simpler, pixel-based artwork that can be found on competing platforms.
There are only 4 categories of NFTs to choose from: still image, GIF, 3d artwork and video.
As NFTs grow in popularity, they simultaneously grow in concept. Originally, most NFT marketplaces offered digital art or collectibles (the first major offerings to gain public traction being CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties.)
The potential of NFTs has expanded to include compatibility for nearly any imaginable digital file, and many NFT trading platforms provide a wide range of categories for investors to choose from.
|Any sort of art that has been created on a digital device (computer, phone or tablet).
|SuperRare, Nifty Gateway, Mintable, Rarible
|An image or video that is passed on to other people and often altered to match current events in popular culture.
|Meme, Mintable, Rarible, OpenSea
|An image taken with a camera that may be digitally altered.
|AirNFTs, GhostMarket, Foundation, OpenSea
|Digital items or avatars that can be used in a video game, or an entire NFT marketplace built around a single game ecosystem (sometimes known as a metaverse).
|ZED RUN, Axie Infinity, Rarible
|Typically virtual trading cards, collectibles take the form of any digital creation that has identifiable attributes that impact value (e.g. a breed lineage or a serial number).
|NBA Top Shot, OpenSea, Rarible
|A metaverse is essentially any digital environment where humans interact, often associated with a video game. In the case of NFTs, they can take the shape of avatars or digital land.
|NFTworld.io, Rarible, Decentraland
|Any sort of music contained within a digital file can be minted or purchased as an NFT.
|OpenSea, Nifty Gateway, Opulous
|Users can purchase and own NFTs backed by domain names on the blockchain.
|Unstoppable Domains, Rarible, OpenSea
Certain NFT marketplace tokens are solely used for transactions, be it the purchase or sale of NFTs, as well as to pay for the cost of gas fees.
Some platforms require their native token to be used whenever a user mints a new NFT.
Finally, certain decentralised NFT marketplaces have shifted their governance model to that of a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), where token holders are eligible to vote on and submit proposals on the development of the platform. Rarible is the most well-known NFT marketplace that uses a DAO governance system.
As with most applications on the blockchain, participating in an NFT marketplace comes with a range of fees that should be considered.
Each platform's fees will vary based on their economic model, but there are a few distinct occasions when fees are likely to be relevant.
Transactions (the purchase or sale of an NFT) will often incur a fee, which can be a fixed rate or a proportion of the sale price.
Minting new tokens will usually be accompanied by a gas fee, which helps pay for the computational and resource expenditure of the relevant blockchain. Some platforms, like Mintable, offer this feature for free.
Finally, depending on the payment method (for example, bank transfer or direct purchase from wallet), users may rack up fees for withdrawing and depositing funds into their NFT marketplace account.
It may be worth assessing the various fee structures for NFT platforms you are interested in joining prior to signing up. Our individual review pages have a breakdown of fees for each platform.
NFT marketplaces are a relatively novel venture in the crypto space, with many only being a couple of years old. Like everything on the blockchain, there are inherent risks with using NFT marketplaces. Hacks and exploits have occurred in the past, with users losing expensive NFTs as a result.
NFTs are inherently smart contracts, and are also at the mercy of any smart contract bugs that might pop up.
Peer-to-peer NFT marketplaces come with the same issues that regular P2P marketplaces do and may be rife with scammers or price gougers.
With all of that in mind, well-regulated and economically secure NFT marketplaces are just as safe to use as any other respected crypto exchange, as long as the above risks are accounted for.
Purchasing NFTs on a marketplace like OpenSea is a relatively simple process.
Selling NFTs on OpenSea is quite similar to purchasing them.
Creating an NFT on OpenSea is a little more complex than buying and purchasing NFTs, but is still very straightforward.
In order to mint an NFT, you will need some funds in your wallet to pay for gas fees. This will vary depending on which blockchain you are using, but the most popular are:
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