Ranking the best VPNs for torrenting of 2018

If you’ve been on the Internet for any length of time, chances are that you’re familiar with torrenting. Torrenting is when a number of computer users share small pieces of a larger file in order to allow for faster download speeds and reduced bandwidth costs.

Because of its decentralized nature, torrenting is very popular among those who share pirated movies, music, and video games. Despite attempts by the government and corporations to crack down on file-sharing, torrenting remains common among the general public, who have turned to VPNs to provide them privacy when they’re sharing content online.

While we don’t condone breaking copyright laws (or any laws), we do advocate for online privacy. Whenever you’re torrenting a file, anyone else on the network can see your IP address. To protect yourself while torrenting, a VPN is necessary.

We researched a number of VPNs on the market and present the five best VPNs for torrenting below.

1. IPVanish

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IPVanish is the best VPN for torrenting according to our research due to its strong privacy protections and fast speeds.

IPVanish stands out due to its extremely fast bandwidth speeds, comparable to non-VPN connections, making it an ideal choice for P2P users due to the large sizes of the files they download. IPVanish also offers unlimited P2P traffic and doesn’t limit how much you can download in a given period. In addition to this, it has strong cross-platform support as well as extensive worldwide coverage through a large server network.

On the privacy front, IPVanish also has a lot to offer, with a no logs policy, support for OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP encryption, and an automatic kill switch. You can assured that when you connect to an IPVanish VPN, you will be as secure as you can be when torrenting. (1)

IPVanish’s price point may be daunting to more budget-conscious consumers, and the service also lacks a free trial, though it also offers a seven-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied.

The bottom line: if you’re looking for a fast, secure VPN and aren’t too concerned with cost, IPVanish is the best VPN for torrenting currently on the market.

2. ExpressVPN

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ExpressVPN is a close second when it comes to our picks for the best VPN for torrenting.

Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN delivers for torrent users with extremely fast download speeds over an extensive global network. Security-wise, ExpressVPN also has a no-logs policy and support for a number of different encryption protocols, allowing you to keep your data safe while surfing.

Unique to ExpressVPN—and of importance to torrent users—is its split tunneling feature. ExpressVPN allows users to limit their VPN connectivity to certain apps or programs, which, for example, lets you connect only your torrent program to the VPN while leaving all of your other traffic unaffected. This makes it especially useful for those who want to hide their torrent activity without throttling all of their Internet usage.

ExpressVPN is at the midway point of VPN pricing: not too expensive, but not too cheap, either. While it doesn’t offer a free trial, it does provide a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Overall, while not as secure as IPVanish, ExpressVPN’s combination of pricing, speed, and security—as well as its split tunneling functionality—make it a strong option for torrenting, particularly for users who are more money-conscious.

3. Hide.me

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Hide.me stands out when it comes to torrenting-friendly VPNs due to its extremely fast bandwidth speeds. Billing itself as “the world’s fastest VPN,” tests show that not only is Hide.me one of the fastest VPNs on the market, it actually improves download speeds slightly. For torrent users, this is a great thing due to their need to download and seed large files.

Hide.me is also no slouch when it comes to security, offering a strict no-logs policy as well as support for OpenVPN, PPTP, SoftEther, and a number of other encryption protocols.

Uniquely among the VPNs we tested, Hide.me has a generous free trial, offering a free plan that allows up to 2 GB of bandwidth per month. Given the VPN’s costliness, this is a very good thing and allows users to get a feel for the service before they commit. (2)

While dinged by its high price point, Hide.me is one of the best choices for torrent users with a large budget and a need for speed. The service’s free plan means that you can test it out with no financial risk to yourself.

4. NordVPN

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NordVPN is one of the absolute best VPN services for security-conscious users due to its suite of features. In addition to a no-logs policy and support for numerous different encryption protocols, NordVPN boasts a “double VPN” feature where your data is passed through two separate VPNs, adding a layer of security (albeit at the cost of slightly slower bandwidth speeds). NordVPN also boasts an effective kill-switch feature.

In addition to these security options, NordVPN has extremely fast bandwidth speeds and extensive worldwide coverage, as well as a strong client with extensive cross-platform support.

NordVPN is on the expensive side when it comes to VPNs, but it also boasts a three-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, making it one of the strongest options consumer-wise.

For privacy-focused users, NordVPN is an extremely strong choice for torrenting, though more budget-conscious may be turned off by its pricing scheme.

5. Buffered VPN

Buffered VPN

Buffered VPN is a VPN specifically targeted at desktop VPN users, due to its lack of mobile support. However, Buffered VPN is notable for its fast download speeds, which rival the other VPNs we tested and make it worth looking at for torrent users.

In addition to this, Buffered VPN offers strong privacy protection, with support for various encryption protocols and a no-logs policy. (3)

Finally, Buffered VPN has one of the most generous money-back guarantees in the VPN industry. If you aren’t satisfied with your service, you can get a refund after up to ten hours of usage, ten GB of bandwidth, or 100 sessions, whichever comes first.

While mobile users will want to steer clear of Buffered VPN due to its lack of mobile support, desktop torrent users should consider it as a strong choice for file-sharing. While not exceptional, Buffered VPN covers all the bases with a well-rounded product. Its money-back guarantee also means that your financial risk when trying it out is minimized.

Torrent VPN FAQ

  1. What is a VPN? A VPN, or virtual private network, is a server that allows you to connect to the Internet anonymously. Instead of exposing your IP address (and location) to websites you visit and services you use, VPNs allow you to surf the Web without your data being collected or gathered. With remote VPN servers, you can even obscure which country you are in.
  2. Why do I need a VPN for downloading torrents? For privacy reasons. Whenever you are connected to a file-sharing network, your IP address is visible to everyone else. This information can be used to expose your identity, so you’ll want to use a VPN to keep yourself from being traced while downloading torrents. Additionally, using a VPN can allow you to use torrents even when connected to networks that block them.
  3. Why do some networks block torrent programs? Because torrents are often used to illegally share music, movies, video games, and other pirated works. While torrenting is not illegal in and of itself, because it is commonly used for illegal activities, many network administrators do not allow access to torrents. This is particularly common when using public WiFi hotspots, such as those at Starbucks and other restaurants and cafes.
  4. Why is my IP address exposed when using a torrent program? Because torrents work through distributed computing. By hosting small bits and pieces of a larger file or collection of files on many different computers, bandwidth costs are lowered and speeds are considerably improved. This makes it easier to share large files across the Internet compared to hosting them on a central server or website. Because your computer is part of this process when downloading or seeding a torrent, exposing your IP address to the network is unavoidable. The only way to get around this is to use a VPN, keeping your personal IP address from becoming known to the network at large.
  5. What kind of VPN do I need in order to torrent? You need a VPN that allows torrenting—many don’t—with fast bandwidth speeds and strong security. The former is necessary in order to keep your download and upload speeds from being hobbled due to the large sizes of many torrent files. The latter is necessary in order to keep your information secure and private when you are connected to a torrent network. In addition to this, you should also seek out a VPN with a strong money-back guarantee as well as a free trial, though the latter is not strictly necessary. Some VPNs will also have free plans that allow you limited access to the service, allowing you to see how useful the VPN is before you upgrade.
  6. How can I find a VPN that can be used to torrent? Torrent-compatible VPNs will typically advertise this fact prominently and many also offer features specifically for torrenting. For example, ExpressVPN boasts a split tunneling feature, which enables torrent users to only route their torrent traffic through the VPN while leaving the rest of their web browsing unprotected.
  7. Why do many VPNs block their users from torrenting? As mentioned above, while torrenting is perfectly legal, many torrent users illegally share movies, music, video games, and other copyrighted works. Because they don’t want to gain a reputation for facilitating illegal activity—and the potential consequences that come with it—many VPNs will block torrent programs outright.
  8. Will using a VPN slow down my download/upload speed? Good-quality VPNs feature bandwidth speeds that are comparable to Internet connections that don’t use VPNs. Indeed, some of the VPNs we tested actually improve bandwidth speeds over unprotected connections. The best VPNs for torrenting do not cause any slowdowns in bandwidth speed, or if they do, the slowdown is negligible.
  9. What kinds of security features do I need in a torrent VPN? You need a VPN that at minimum has a no-logs policy, ensuring that your activities while online are not recorded or tracked. VPNs that are good for torrenting also feature strong encryption, support for different protocols, and a kill switch feature. Most torrent-ready VPNs will loudly advertise their privacy features because they know that this is one of the most important things that torrent users need.
  10. What happens if my VPN stops supporting torrents? Every day, more and more VPN services are pulling the plug on torrent support. There’s no way to get around this without switching to another VPN. This is why it’s important to seek out VPNs that offer free trials and money-back guarantees, in order to minimize your financial risk and keep you from getting locked into a subscription that is no longer useful to you. Free trials also allow you to test a VPN and see if it’s useful to you before you commit to a stronger plan.

Summary

Finding the best VPN for torrenting can be a daunting challenge. You need a VPN that is not only fast but protects your online privacy as much as possible, and finding a VPN that meets both of these bills can be challenge.

Not only that, because many VPNs block torrenting outright, a number of the best VPNs on the market are closed off to you.

However, there are still a number of torrenting-compatible VPNs that offer fast bandwidth speeds and strong privacy protection. If you do your homework before you buy, you can find a VPN that will allow you to torrent to your heart’s content while remaining anonymous online.

Whether you’re a casual torrenter or a power user, there’s a VPN out there that will meet your needs.

Ranking the best VPNs for Netflix of 2018

One of the biggest frustrations when using Netflix is its region-locking system, which prohibits access to various TV shows and movies depending on which country you happen to be in.

In many countries, large sections of the Netflix library are closed off to paying subscribers.

VPNs have become increasingly popular among Netflix users because they allow users to circumvent region locking and access content that they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to in their country. If you’re looking to defeat region-locking and expand the amount of content you can enjoy on Netflix, a VPN is a good investment.

We researched a wide variety of VPNs on the market and present the five best VPNs for Netflix below.

1. NordVPN

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Our testing and research consistently showed that NordVPN is the best all-around VPN for Netflix use due to its fast speed and security-centric approach. While more of a luxury option than the other VPNs on this list, NordVPN’s suite of features and functionality make it worth every penny.

NordVPN boasts some of the fastest bandwidth speeds on the market, with speeds only slightly slower than non-VPN connections, making it ideal for streaming HD and 4K video (1).

When it comes to security, NordVPN boasts a no-logs policy, 2048-bit encryption, kill switch functionality, DNS leak protection, and a large number of servers available worldwide. In addition to this, NordVPN supports Netflix for the U.S., France, Canada, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong.

NordVPN’s primary downside is its high price: it is by far the most expensive VPN on this list. However, NordVPN also offers a three-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you want the best combination of speed and security for your Netflix watching and aren’t too concerned with cost, NordVPN is your best bet, though more budget-conscious users may shy away from it due to pricing.

2. ExpressVPN

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ExpressVPN is a good jack-of-all-trades VPN for Netflix use, boasting a good mix of security features and speed in conjunction with a reasonable price. For those put off by the high price of NordVPN but still in need of a VPN with similar speeds, it’s a good alternative.

Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN has fast speeds that enable smooth HD streaming, as well as support for Netflix in the U.S., Canada, and U.K. and a large number of servers across the globe. Not only that, ExpressVPN boasts the MediaStreamer DNS, which allows you to unblock Netflix on Apple TVs, video game consoles, and other devices that ordinarily don’t support VPNs. They also boast strong mobile support and solid security features, including a no-logs policy and 256-bit encryption.

The biggest downside of ExpressVPN is that it only supports three simultaneous connections, which is considerably lower than most of the other VPNs we tested. However, its pricing is more affordable compared to NordVPN (2).

While ExpressVPN does not have a free trial, it does feature a 30-day money-back guarantee. For users looking for speed and security on a budget, ExpressVPN is a good choice, though if you have a large number of devices, you may find the simultaneous connection limit to be too restrictive.

3. StrongVPN

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Much like NordVPN, StrongVPN is a security-focused VPN, boasting 2048-bit encryption, a wide variety of supported protocols, and a proprietary system called StrongDNS that insulates users from DNS leaks. It also has a no-logs policy, making StrongVPN a good choice for privacy-conscious customers.

StrongVPN’s speeds are some of the fastest we’ve found, and in some tests were actually better than non-VPN connections. In addition to the U.S., StrongVPN also currently boasts support for Netflix in the U.K., Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and France. It doesn’t have as many servers as the other VPNs on this list, however.

StrongVPN’s major Achilles heel is that it only allows two simultaneous connections, which is lower than even ExpressVPN. Additionally, the company does not offer much in the way of pricing plans: just a monthly and yearly plan. However, StrongVPN does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. For security-conscious users on a budget, StrongVPN is a good choice if you need Netflix functionality. Money-concerned users should opt for the yearly plan due to the cost savings.

4. VyprVPN

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VyprVPN is a speed-focused VPN with adequate security and reasonable pricing. It notably boasts a very fast bandwidth speed, making it perfect for HD and 4K streaming. While only officially compatible with Netflix in the U.S., it is possible to use it worldwide, giving it great flexibility and versatility. VyprVPN also allows up to five simultaneous connections per user, making it a good choice for those with a large number of devices.

VyprVPN also offers some good security options, including a kill switch, a NAT firewall, and strong support for different protocols. Unlike the other VPNs on this list, however, VyprVPN does engage in logging, recording users’ connection times and IP addresses (3).

If you are concerned with privacy, this may be a deal-breaker for you.

VyprVPN’s other major problem is that it does not have a money-back guarantee. However, it does offer a three-day trial, allowing you to test out their services and see if they’re right for you. Its pricing is on the low-end of the Netflix VPNs we tested, so VyprVPN is a good choice for money-conscious users who are more concerned with bandwidth speed than security.

5. Hotspot Shield

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Hotspot Shield is a VPN that is distinguished by its free plan and its fast streaming speeds. Bandwidth speeds are comparable to other VPNs listed here, making it perfect for HD and 4K streaming. Indeed, bandwidth speeds were actually slightly faster than non-VPN connections. Hotspot Shield also offers strong privacy protection, with a guarantee that all recorded data is deleted when the user in question disconnects from the VPN.

Hotspot Shield’s biggest downside is its lack of configurability, which may be a deal-breaker for more advanced users. Additionally, at the moment, it only supports Netflix within the U.S., limiting its usefulness for many customers.

Unlike the other VPNs on this list, Hotspot Shield offers a free version that has lower speeds and fewer features than the premium version, allowing you to sample the VPN to your heart’s content. However, Netflix functionality is not available with the free version, meaning that you will need to pay for a premium subscription to stream with the VPN (4).

While pricing overall is lower than competitors such as NordVPN, Hotspot Shield’s monthly plan is one of the pricier of the VPNs we tested.

Overall, Hotspot Shield is a good choice for Netflix users who want a simple, reliable VPN that is easy to set up and use. While more advanced users will likely prefer a VPN with more customizability, casual Netflix users will find Hotspot Shield to be adequate.

Netflix VPN FAQ

1. What is a VPN? A VPN, or virtual private network, is a server that allows you to connect to the Internet anonymously. Instead of exposing your IP address (and location) to websites you visit and services you use, VPNs allow you to surf the Web without your data being collected or gathered. With remote VPN servers, you can even obscure which country you are in.

2. Why do I need a VPN for streaming Netflix? Because Netflix’s region-locking system restricts the number and types of TV shows, movies, and other content available to you depending on your country. In some countries such as China, Netflix is banned outright. Using a VPN can allow you to circumvent these region locks and access content that would ordinarily be blocked to you, letting you make the most of your Netflix subscription.

3. Why does Netflix region-lock its content? Because rights to movies and TV shows are determined on a country-by-country basis, Netflix may not have the rights to broadcast a particular series or movie in your country. As a result, what Netflix is legally allowed to offer in each country varies wildly.

4. Does Netflix allow users to use VPNs? Using a VPN to access Netflix is technically a violation of the terms of service. Because of this, Netflix has actively sought to block users from being able to access the service from behind a VPN. Many VPNs have complied with Netflix’s demands and attempting to access Netflix while connected to them will not work; however, other VPNs still allow their users to use Netflix. You use a VPN with Netflix at your own risk.

5. What kind of VPN do I need in order to stream Netflix? You need a VPN that allows you to access Netflix—obviously—but you also need a VPN with fast bandwidth speeds, strong security features, and a money-back guarantee. Mobile device support and a large number of simultaneous connections are also good features to look out for, though depending on what kinds of devices you own, you may not need them.

6. How can I find a VPN that is compatible with Netflix? Many VPNs that allow Netflix streaming will explicitly advertise this fact, making it easy to find one that suits your needs. Many VPNs will even specify which countries they support Netflix in, giving you greater flexibility depending on your needs and location.

7. Will using a VPN slow down my streaming speed? Many high-quality VPNs, such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN, feature bandwidth speeds that are as fast as or faster than non-VPN connections. You can use these VPNs to not only stream Netflix in general, but to stream in HD or 4K specifically. Cheaper VPNs generally have slower speeds and are thus unsuited for Netflix use; free VPNs also generally lack the speed necessary to handle Netflix.

8. What kinds of security features do I need in a Netflix VPN? Ideally, you want a VPN that does not log users’ activity. In addition to this, any VPN you select should have strong encryption, a kill switch feature, support for different protocols, and DNS leak protection. VPNs that boast of their compatibility with Netflix generally are zealous when it comes to protecting their users’ privacy, in order to keep Netflix from interfering with their service.

9. How many simultaneous connections should a Netflix VPN offer? Ideally, as many as possible. This will allow you to have your computer, tablet, smartphone, or other online devices connected to the VPN simultaneously. If you don’t own that many devices, you likely won’t need as many simultaneous connections. Additionally, VPNs should offer support for various devices and operating systems, from Windows to iOS to Android and more.

10. What happens if my VPN stops supporting Netflix? You’ll have to switch to another one. This is why you should seek out a VPN with a free trial and/or a strong money-back guarantee. If for whatever reason your chosen VPN stops supporting Netflix streaming, you’ll at least be able to get a refund, especially considering that streaming-capable VPNs are generally more expensive than most VPNs. You don’t want to waste money on a VPN that you can’t use. Free trials are also helpful because they allow you to take a VPN out on a test run before you spend a dime.

Summary

Finding a streaming-capable Netflix VPN can seem like a daunting task. There are a number of variables you need to take into consideration, from bandwidth speed to privacy protection to refund policies. To make things even more complicated, Netflix’s opposition to VPN use means that finding a VPN that is compatible with the service can be difficult.

However, if you know what to look for in a VPN and what features you need specifically, you can make an informed choice as to which VPN you use. While the VPNs in this article are by no means the only VPNs you can use with Netflix, they are the best for streaming Netflix according to our testing and research.

Whether you’re a power user, a casual browser, you own one device or several, there is a VPN out there that can meet your needs.

Ranking the best cryptocurrency exchanges of 2018

Cryptocurrency exchanges allow you to buy and trade cryptocurrencies.

They can get confusing because there are so many of them.

For beginners, you’ll want to start using an exchange that accepts fiat in your country (like Coinbase, GDAX or Gemini in the USA). From there, you’ll be able to move your coins into other exchanges that support many more cryptocurrencies.

Remember: exchanges can get hacked (1, 2, 3), so always store or backup your cryptocurrency through other wallets.

We researched and ranked the exchanges according to features, security, reliability and how easy it is to open an account.

1. Coinbase 🇺🇸

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Coinbase is a U.S.-based exchange that is recognized as the “go-to” for moving cash and money from banks into crypto assets like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litcoin.

Coinbase offers a high trading volume, strong security, tight regulation, low fees, and an easy-to-use interface. It’s the easiest way for newbies to get started with cryptocurrency, as it does just about everything right.

Coinbase’s major problem is that it lacks features for hardcore traders, but fortunately, GDAX–which is owned by Coinbase—has all the features that serious traders want.

Opening up a Coinbase account also gives you a GDAX account. GDAX (now called Coinbase Pro) is easily the best exchange for hardcore traders, as its trading platform is the most comprehensive and easy-to-use in the industry. GDAX also offers low fees, accepts bank transfers, and strong security. Because it is owned by Coinbase, anyone who opens a Coinbase account also automatically can have a Coinbase Pro account.

The no-brainer option for beginners.

2. Binance 🇭🇰

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Binance is a Hong Kong-based exchange with a smart mix of features designed to appeal to newbies and experienced investors.

Binance is distinguished by its extremely strict security—it was founded by market veterans—and its wide variety of coins, including Monero, Dash, Bitcoin, and others. The site’s trading platform is comparable to GDAX’s and it offers reasonable commissions.

Binance’s primary problem—and what keeps it from taking the number one spot—is that it does not allow fiat buys, meaning that users must fund their accounts with cryptocurrencies from other sources.

However, don’t let this stop you: Binance is by far the best exchange for altcoins such as Monero and Dash.

3. Poloniex 🇺🇸

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Poloniex is a U.S.-based exchange distinguished by its large number of coins available for trading.

It was acquired by Circle, a large payments company in February 2018 (4).

Pluses to Poloniex include its wide variety of altcoins and its high liquidity, making it similar to Bittrex and Bitfinex in many regards. Its downsides include its confusing trading platform and the fact that it does not accept fiat buys.

Poloniex remains one of the best exchanges out there today, but it is kept out of the top rungs for these reasons.

4. Kraken 🇺🇸

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Kraken is a U.S.-based exchange with a strong selection of coins available for purchase.

Kraken is a strong choice for European traders, as it is the world leader in EUR to BTC trading volume. It offers reasonable commissions, an easy-to-use trading platform, and has not been hacked to date.

However, Kraken does not allow credit card buys, which may be a deal-breaker for some users.

Kraken is an ideal choice for Europe-based cryptocurrency investors, though those in other parts of the world can use it, too.

5. Bitstamp 🇱🇺

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Bitstamp is a Luxembourg-licensed cryptocurrency exchange specializing in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

Bitstamp is one of the most secure exchanges, due to its adherence to European financial laws as well as its policy of keeping nearly all of its users’ coins in cold storage. It also offers good commissions and accepts bank transfers and credit card buys.

However, Bitstamp is hurt by its high credit card fees (8%) as well as its lack of coins to purchase.

Bitstamp is a good option for basic traders who are concerned with security.

6. Bittrex 🇺🇸

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Bittrex is a major cryptocurrency exchange that is similar to Bitfinex, but offering superior security.

Bittrex has a large number of coins available, much like Bitfinex, but unlike that site, Bittrex has never been hacked. It also has good commissions and a solid trading platform.

Bittrex’s major demerit is that it does not allow fiat currency buys, a problem for newbie traders.

Overall, Bittrex is a fine option for traders who don’t mind the lack of a fiat option.

7. Bitfinex 🇻🇬

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Bitfinex is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, with a wide variety of coins available.

Bitfinex’s primary advantages are its large number of coins, its large trade volume, and the ease of funding accounts with fiat currency. The site also boasts a robust trading platform and a solid commission structure.

However, Bitfinex was the victim of a major hack in 2016, casting doubts as to its security. Bitfinex has also been subject to a large number of negative user reviews as of late, indicating the quality of its services is declining.

While Bitfinex is still one of the best platforms out there, these problems are significant demerits for security-focused traders.

8. OKEx 🇨🇳

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OKEx is a Chinese cryptocurrency exchange specializing in a wide variety of coins.

By far, OKEx’s major feature is the large number of cryptocurrencies available on its platform: over 400. OKEx also features low trading fees, high liquidity, and offers Bitcoin and Litecoin futures. It is also one of the few cryptocurrency exchanges that has never been hacked.

OKEx falters in its limited funding options and the fact that its trading platform is only available in Mandarin.

For Chinese traders, OKEx is a strong option, and non-Chinese users may get use out of it, too.

9. Bithumb 🇰🇷

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Bithumb is a South Korea-based exchange that offers a wide variety of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, and more.

Bithumb’s major advantages are its large number of coins available for trading and its low fees, some of the lowest in the industry. Bithumb is also distinguished by the different types of orders it has available, making it a strong option for experienced traders.

Where Bithumb falters is in its laser focus on South Korean clients; it only allows South Korean wons for fiat buys. Bithumb also has relatively limited funding options.

Bithumb is a good choice for a cryptocurrency exchange, though South Koreans are the ones who will benefit the most by using it.

10. CoinMama 🇮🇱

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CoinMama is an exchange specializing in using credit cards to purchase Bitcoin and Ethereum.

CoinMama’s primary advantage is its flexibility when it comes to accepting fiat currencies. Users can fund their accounts using U.S. dollars, British pounds, euros, and a wide variety of other currencies. This makes it an appealing option for first-time investors.

However, CoinMama lacks many of the features that are common among cryptocurrency exchanges. For example, it does not have its own wallets, meaning that users must store their holdings off-site. While this is good for security, it is a major inconvenience for traders. CoinMama also has only two coins available—Bitcoin and Ethereum—and does not allow selling cryptocurrency, only buying it.

11. Gemini 🇺🇸

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Gemini is a U.S.-based exchange owned and operated by the Winklevoss twins, specializing in Bitcoin and Ethereum trading.

Gemini’s main upside is its transparency and adherence to formal financial regulations. The exchange makes a point of being in full compliance with U.S. law, which makes it a reassuring option for newbie traders. The site also accepts bank transfers for funding user accounts and offers auctions.

However, Gemini’s strict adherence to financial law means it only operates in a few countries; indeed, it doesn’t even operate in all 50 U.S. states. The site is also severely limited in terms of coins, with only Bitcoin and Ethereum currently available.

Newcomers to cryptocurrency will likely enjoy Gemini for its security and ease of use, though more hardcore users will find it wanting.

12. HitBTC 🇺🇸

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HitBTC is one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges on the Internet, specializing in trading in a wide variety of coins, including major ones like Bitcoin and more obscure altcoins.

HitBTC’s major pluses are its support for a large number of altcoins, making it a good one-stop shop for traders interested in diversifying their portfolios. It also has a comprehensive, easy-to-use trading platform and very good commission rates.

However, HitBTC has been the subject of a large number of negative user reviews as of late. While some of them may be fake, the sheer number of them means that they can’t be ignored. HitBTC has also been suspected of faking its trading volume.

13. Bisq

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Bisq (formerly known as BitSquare) is a decentralized, peer-to-peer exchange specializing in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Dash, and several other major altcoins.

Bisq’s unique nature as a decentralized exchange gives it a security and privacy that most other crypto exchanges lack. Bisq also offers a large amount of options for funding your account and a large number of coins to trade, and also features an arbitration mechanism that allows users to easily settle disputes.

However, Bisq is a poor choice for active traders due to its low trading volume and slow transaction time, meaning that it is difficult to take advantage of sudden dips and rises in the market.

For long-term crypto investors and those concerned with security, Bisq is a strong choice, but active traders will want to look elsewhere.

14. ShapeShift 🇨🇭

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ShapeShift is a Switzerland-based exchange specializing in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Monero, and over fifty other coins.

ShapeShift is noteworthy for its speed, security, and anonymity. Buying and selling are almost instantaneous compared to other exchanges, and the site does not require any verification, ID, or even creating an account. It also features a robust trading platform for hardcore users.

Where ShapeShift falters is its relatively high fees, a side effect of its fast transaction times. It also lacks fiat currency support and is not likely to add it given its nature as an anonymous crypto trading platform.

However, traders who value their anonymity online and don’t mind the high fees will be able to get use out of ShapeShift.

15. BitFlyer 🇯🇵

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BitFlyer is a Japan-based exchange that specializes in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum.

BitFlyer is primarily targeted to Japanese and Asian traders, as its trading is primarily done against the Japanese yen. However, traders all over the world will find a lot to like about its margin and futures trading, its clean and attractive interface, and its strong security.

BitFlyer’s demerits are its limited funding options: the site does not allow non-Japanese credit card buys. Additionally, the site is lacking when it comes to available cryptocurrencies to buy and sell.

For Japanese traders, BitFlyer is one of the best exchanges out there. Traders from other countries will find it less useful but are still advised to give it a shot.

16. Vaultoro 🇬🇧

Visit Vaultoro

Vaultoro is a U.K.-based cryptocurrency exchange that specializes in trading Bitcoin for physical gold and vice versa. It is the only exchange we’ve found that offers direct trades for cryptocurrencies and precious metals, making it quite unique.

Due to its status as a precious metals exchange, Vaultoro places extra emphasis on security. Vaultoro keeps all of its users’ Bitcoin in cold storage, insulating it against hackers, and the company’s gold reserves are kept in vaults in Switzerland.

Vaultoro’s main downside is that it has little to offer outside of its service of allowing users to trade Bitcoin for gold. It offers no other cryptocurrencies, nor does it allow fiat buys.

For users who are looking to invest in both cryptocurrencies and gold, Vaultoro is worth a look.

17. CEX.io 🇬🇧

Visit CEX.io

CEX.io is a London-based cryptocurrency exchange with a wide variety of coins available for trade, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ripple, and many more.

CEX.io is an appealing option for day traders and other investors looking to make frequent profits, as the site offers negative balance protection for margin trading and competitive commissions. It also allows credit card and bank transfer buys.

Where CEX.io falters is in its obtuse interface, which newbies might find confusing. Additionally, while CEX.io has a wider selection of cryptocurrencies than many exchanges, it lacks many newer and less popular altcoins.

However, for day traders who are looking for easy, fast buys and strong protections, CEX.io is worth a look.

18. Coinfloor 🇬🇧

Visit Coinfloor

Coinfloor is a U.K.-based cryptocurrency exchange specializing in Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

Much like Gatecoin, Coinfloor is best-known for its strong security protocols. Coinfloor keeps 100 percent of its users’ funds in cold storage (hardware-based wallets), making them extremely resistant to hackers.

Coinfloor is not recommended for casual traders due to the fact that it has a high minimum initial deposit of $1,000, £1,000, or €1,000. It also has a limited portfolio at the moment, only featuring Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. However, hardcore users who value security above all else will get use out of Coinfloor’s solid cold storage policy.

19. itBit 🇺🇸

Visit itBit

itBit is a New York-based exchange specializing in trading services for both large and small traders, with a specific focus on Bitcoin.

Large-volume traders will particularly enjoy itBit’s suite of features. Its specific platform for large buyers is called the “OTC Trading Desk” and features a robust interface for buying and selling Bitcoin.

itBit also has strong security and boasts that it was the first cryptocurrency exchange to obtain a charter from the New York State Department of Financial Services.

Downsides to itBit include its lack of cryptocurrencies aside from Bitcoin and the fact that it doesn’t accept credit cards. However, if you’re a large-volume trader, itBit’s array of features make it worth your consideration.

20. Gatecoin 🇭🇰

Visit Gatecoin

Gatecoin is a the Hong Kong-based exchange specializing in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin trading. The “Coinbase” of Hong Kong.

Gatecoin is primarily notable for its strict security and vetting procedures, storing the bulk of its users’ funds in offline hardware wallets for further security against hackers.

Gatecoin’s downsides include a limited portfolio, strict security requirements for large withdrawals (requiring users to physically mail proof of their identities to Gatecoin’s offices), and not accepting credit cards.

Cryptocurrency exchange FAQ

1. What is a cryptocurrency exchange? A place to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

2. Which exchange should I use first? Probably Coinbase or GDAX or any exchange that allows you to deposit or wire cash. Assuming you don’t own any bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, you’ll need to start where you can use credit card, bank deposits or a wire transfer to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. From there, you can move your crypto into other exchanges that offer more coins to buy or sell.

3. Are there other options to buy bitcoin? There are, but they’re not regulated and caution is advised. Some bigger cities have bitcoin ATMs, and some websites like localbitcoin.com arrange bitcoin sellers with buyers, where you meet and pay in cash (5). Sellers have a ratings score (like an Ebay rating) so it is effective, but you should always use caution. You’ll also pay more than most crpyotocurrency exchanges.

4. What are the cryptocurrency exchange trading fees? They vary from free (Square app, Robinhood app), to 0.25% (GDAX) to 1% (Binance) to 1.49% (Coinbase). Fees can change.

5. Are there other fees involved? There might be deposit fees (depending on the bank, credit card or other fiat options like Paypal) and withdrawal fees when you transfer your coins back into fiat money.

6. What are the best platforms for technical trading? Binance, GDAX and Poloniex.

7. What are the best exchanges for alt coins? For the more popular alt coins like Ripple and Stellar, most of the above exchanges will list them. If there is a particular alt coin you want to buy, you can search for it at coinmarketcap.com and click the “Markets” tab to see where the alt coin is listed (6).

8. Is it safe to hold my crypto assets on the exchanges? Although most exchanges are safe, hacks can happen. It’s better to keep the bulk of your assets in a private hardware wallet, especially large amounts.

9. Should I register with multiple exchanges? If you intend on being a cryptocurrency trader, its a good idea to have options. Your accessibility to more alt coins can be huge if you’re a trader. If you plan on buying and sitting on your crypto (HODL) then having access to several exchanges is not necessary. However, with more exchanges comes more responsibility. Track everything. Millions of bitcoin have been lost already (7).

10. Are there limitations on how much cryptocurrency I can buy? The short answer: yes, usually. Depending on the exchange and your verification level (proof of identity, residence, drivers license), there are usually limitations, especially if you’re new to the exchange. Bank deposits usually have lower fees, but usually have more limitations than a bank wire. Bank wires move the most money, but fees are also higher. Credit cards usually have the most limitations and fees are high, too.

11. Are cryptocurrency prices the same across all exchanges? No. Prices can fluctuate between exchanges for any particular coin. Always check the market price of a coin from a site like coinmarketcap.com (which averages out the price of a coin from all exchanges) to the price of the coin at the exchange you’re looking at buying.

Summary

Cryptocurrency exchanges can seem confusing for the first-timers.

With their dizzying features, rules and limitations on purchases and withdrawals and potential security issues, there’s a lot for newcomers to take in.

Remember that even with the most trusted exchanges on this list, if you have large quantities of Bitcoin or other valuable coins, you’re best off keeping them on a private wallet instead of on the exchange itself. This will protect you against hackers and unscrupulous business practices.