Before we talk about exchanges, we’d better give you a quick overview of what an altcoin is. To put it plainly, it’s any cryptocurrency (coin) that isn’t Bitcoin. Since Bitcoin is the OG, the pioneer, the trendsetter, and the inaugural blockchain token all wrapped up in one, it makes sense that all other projects offer ‘alternative coins.’ 

There we go, altcoin is an abbreviation of ‘alternative coin.’ Now that’s clear, let’s show you why we picked the winning exchanges.

Winners:

1
The Altcoin Hunter’s Dream
A lower barrier to entry for project listings than other crypto exchanges means high-risk coins are in abundance.
2
Strength in Numbers
Binance has superior liquidity to all other exchanges in the world, though it’s not US-friendly. The American version of the platform, Binance.US, has a much smaller range of cryptocurrencies and lower liquidity.
3
Off The Grid Excellence
KuCoin has a big reputation in the altcoin hunting community as quick to get exciting new projects listed before the other major cryptocurrency exchanges.

Ranking Methodology

  • High number of cryptocurrencies on offer (300+)
  • Loads of services and trading products to enjoy
  • KYC-free trading is possible
  • Lots of trading pairs
  • Plenty of risky projects to invest in

Diving Deeper Into Our Winners

1st

Gate.io

U.S. welcome
180+ coins, 450+ trading pairs. Over 7 years in biz.
433 Trading Pairs
Gate.Io homepage screenshot

It’s true, Gate.io is an absolute DREAM for Altcoin hunters looking to sniff out exciting and potentially lucrative coin projects to trade. With over 700 cryptocurrencies and more than 1,320 market pairs, Gate.io ranks second in the entire industry for the number of listings, sitting just behind the relatively unknown Hotbit exchange. With far more traffic, liquidity, and a better design, Gate is superior in almost every way. To that extent, it is now widely recognized as one of the top 10 exchanges globally. For today’s purpose, it sits atop the list of the exchanges with the best altcoins listed. 

Quick Look

  • 712 cryptocurrencies
  • 1,327 trading pairs
  • KYC-free trading
  • Easy to sign up
  • Every Altcoin hunter’s dream, thanks to an enormous selection of low market cap and unheard of projects listed with regularity on the crypto exchange
  • For years, the biggest issue with Gate.io has been that you could not use fiat currency (such as USD, GBP, EUR) to buy crypto on this cryptocurrency exchange, meaning you needed to be using other platforms or wallets alongside it. This has been resolved in 2021, thanks to partnerships with liquidity providers Banxa and Mercuryo. Simplex will also be introduced in late 2021
  • Trading fees start at just 0.2%

For traders in the US, one of the problems is the comparatively low number of altcoins listed on the most popular exchanges, such as Coinbase (78), Kraken (69), and Binance.US (57). This is a pretty small selection, but it serves an essential purpose. These exchanges carefully assess the projects listed on their platforms, ensuring that they have good financial backing, real technology use cases (though projects like DOGE prove that momentum can outweigh technology), and a team of quality developers improving the project. So when a new project gets listed on one of these exchanges, it’s quite a big deal and means it has passed some compliance or financial regulation process. Gate.io doesn’t take the same approach. Instead, they list and delist coins with regularity, providing a selection of higher-risk assets to their users.

You might be wondering where Gate.io finds all of these new projects to list, but the truth is that the projects come to them! Altcoin developers are always on the lookout for top-quality exchanges to get listed on, and what makes Gate.io different is that they do not charge for listing. Projects can be listed on Gate for free, as long as they pass the application process.

Fiat Transactions on Gate.io

If we wrote this article six months ago, it’s arguable that Gate.io might be in second or third place, but thanks to a recent introduction to the service, they can now celebrate our top spot. The introduction is the partnership and fully-functional payment gateway with Banxa and Mercuryo (Simplex expected in late 2021). These are liquidity providers who sell cryptocurrencies for fiat currency, which means payment methods like Visa, Mastercard, Apple Pay, or Google Pay can all be used. This is a significant change for Gate.io, but by outsourcing this service to liquidity providers rather than becoming a broker themselves, they can maintain their position as a KYC-free trading platform (with limits). 

Other reasons Altcoin Hunters love Gate.io

  • Margin trading with leverage
  • Margin lending or borrowing

Get started with Gate.io.

2nd
binance logo

Binance

No USA
Biggest exchange in the world. Lots of coins offered & low fees.
613 Trading Pairs

While Binance might not be the first place you think of when looking for altcoins when you look on paper, it does offer everything that an excellent altcoin-friendly crypto exchange should. It has a wide range of cryptocurrencies (370+), almost as many trading pairs as Gate.io (1,325+), and the possibility to trade in small amounts without getting KYC verified. Binance also has great on-ramps and off-ramps for crypto, giving you loads of payment methods and deposit options for fiat currencies.

Quick Look

  • 374 cryptocurrencies
  • 1,326 trading pairs
  • KYC-free trading
  • Simple to get started
  • Grea fiat currency compatibility with the platform
  • The biggest and most powerful exchange in the world, with a wide range of tools, services, and platforms to make use of around the world
  • Notice that there are half as many cryptocurrencies as Gate.io, but a similar amount of trading pairs – this means that each coin has better trading options, typically being paired with USDT, BUSD, BNB, BTC, ETH, or USDC
  • Ultra-high risk cryptocurrency listings are limited. The project’s quality assurance team is doing their best to make sure scam coins don’t end up damaging their users
  • Trading fees start at 0.1%

As the king of centralized exchanges, you might be surprised to know that Binance is fully invested in DeFi, so you can expect to see DeFi tokens like UNI, SUSHI, CAKE, and LINK on the Binance Smart Chain get priority listings. This is very important when looking for the best crypto exchange for altcoins. In addition, Binance encourages thousands of developers and entrepreneurs to create quality innovations by owning a decentralized blockchain and network and commits a large amount of investment money towards supporting them. In December 2020, for example, they put up $100m for an accelerator fund which picked 15 projects to help grow. You can read more about how they helped these projects with PR support, marketing, business development opportunities, recruitment, and peer support.

Binance's major cryptoassets by percentage of total market cap

Alternative Token Strategies on Binance

For some, the best way to engage with altcoins is to buy them as early as possible and then sit on them. This is called Buy & HODL. It’s not the only method though, of course, Binance is one of the best crypto exchanges because it goes way beyond this. Here are a few examples of what advanced traders are getting up to:

  • Staking and saving: When the proof-of-stake concept was born, it was mainly offering interest-earning opportunities on small, unknown DeFi platforms, just waiting for the big boys to take notice. Well, they did, and soon Binance added a savings feature to their trading platform. Looking now, we can see that the leading cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, Tether, Ethereum, BUSD, and Binance Coin, are all there, but what about a wider range of altcoins? You’ll also find savings options available for Stellar, Polkadot, Theta, Filecoin, Dai, and dozens more. With this strategy, you simply lock in your tokens for an agreed amount of time and percentage return, which offers small, but guaranteed returns.
  • Day trading: Buying and HODLing isn’t enough for some, as they quickly see that the high-volatility nature of this industry means that they can capitalize on the ups and downs as they come. This activity accounts for a large percentage of traders on the best cryptocurrency exchanges. A long position means holdings for days, weeks, months, or even years, a short position means buying and selling on the same day, and scalping is a concise position that may last just minutes or seconds.
  • Arbitrage trading: You may have noticed that Binance has roughly five trading pairs for each cryptocurrency, the reason being that they have huge liquidity and can offer many different pairs for each cryptocurrency. For example, take the ATOM coin, it has five other pairs on Binance, each with a different dollar value varying between $10.98 and $11.09. This price difference presents an exciting opportunity for some advanced traders, who spend a lot of time exploiting price opportunities just like this.
  • P2P Trading: Binance’s P2P cryptocurrency exchange has impressed crypto enthusiasts worldwide, giving users new ways to enter and exit the cryptosphere. With over 70 fiat currencies accepted, as well as six cryptocurrencies to choose from, this is the best cryptocurrency exchange for people who want to use Wise, Revolut, PayPal, Paysera, FPS, and more..

Sign up for Binance.com.

3rd
kucoin crypto exchange

KuCoin

No USA
Lots of coins offered, dozens not offered anywhere else.
437 Trading Pairs

Third, on this list of the best cryptocurrency exchanges offering a great selection of altcoins, we have KuCoin. Launched around the same time as Binance, back in 2017, KuCoin has had around four years to build and develop its service. They’ve listed and delisted hundreds upon hundreds of digital currencies in that time, resulting in the current offering of over 380 coins and more than 800 trading pairs. This wide selection means traders can find massive projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum, down to little-known projects such as Shiba Inu (SHIB) and Telcoin (TEL).

Quick Look

  • 388 cryptocurrencies
  • 803 trading pairs
  • KYC-free trading
  • Fiat currency payment gateways will be introduced in 2021 thanks to partnerships with Mercuryo, Mobilum, and Simplex
  • KuCoin’s liquidity is slightly higher than Gate.io’s, but both fall well below the exceptional levels of Binance. You shouldn’t have any issue fulfilling trades on KuCoin
  • KuCoin P2P gives users alternative ways of on-ramping into the crypto world (turning their fiat currency such as USD or EUR into digital currencies)
  • Trading fees start at 0.1%
KuCoin altcoin recommendations

KuCoin is not a decentralized exchange; it lists many of the exciting coins users can find on decentralized exchanges such as Uniswap or Pancakeswap. Furthermore, like many of the best crypto exchanges, the developers behind the project have made it possible to trade on KuCoin without going through KYC checks. The advantage to both of these facts is that KuCoin is used as an experimental playground, a place to buy some risky and innovative coins, try some margin trading, learn how futures trading works, and try some different cryptocurrency trading strategies without having it linked to their ID and taxes.

Thanks to Mercuryo, Mobilum, and Simplex, KuCoin has joined their closest rivals in facilitating fiat money purchases of crypto. Thanks to these liquidity providers, users on the website or mobile app can now buy and sell digital assets with relative ease and exchange cryptocurrencies on their sleek crypto trading platform. Moreover, with an exchange fee starting at just 0.1% for makers and takers, users don’t need to be too concerned by transaction fees eating into their active trading profits. 

As well as the best altcoins available on their cryptocurrency exchange platform, users enjoy KuCoin because of the:

  • High trading volumes and liquidity 
  • Lack of requirements regarding identity verification
  • Convenience and speed with which you can trade cryptocurrency
  • Great security features such as two-factor authentication
  • Credit card-friendly liquidity providers
  • Centralized exchange providing custodial security
  • Free exchange account with no membership fees
  • P2P decentralized exchange (although it is far less popular than Binance’s product)
  • Weekly coin updates diving further into their listed projects

Sign up and get started with KuCoin.

What else do you want to know?

Where do altcoins hunters hang out?

Well, they hang out at the best crypto exchanges, that’s for sure! They use sites like Binance, Gate, KuCoin, Gemini, Kraken, and a whole lot more. However, and it’s an excellent point to make, these sites offer many services, but instant messaging isn’t typically one of them. In 2021, the most popular ways for users of these platforms to get in touch are through applications like Telegram and Discord or on social media sites like Reddit, Facebook, or LinkedIn. 

  • Binance offers a directory for all of its social media pages and chat groups that can be seen here.
  • KuCoin links to all of their international Reddit, Twitter, Telegram, Medium, and YouTube pages here.
  • Gate.io doesn’t have a centralized page with all of its social media handles and Telegram links; however, you can find many of them by using the search function on this page.

How do you know if an altcoin is a scam or even if it represents any value?

Here are some excellent ways to find out:

  1. When you go a Google search, you get no results, or you find a terrible website that offers no real information.
  2. The coin is not backed by any technology, meaning its sole purpose is to gain some price momentum which allows the entire team to dump their tokens and run away into the sunset laughing.
  3. Nobody is willing to put their real name to the project. So if the ‘team’ page on their website, LinkedIn, or any other official page gives you red flags, it’s probably because the project is a scam…
  4. There’s no whitepaper. Without a whitepaper, the project is saying ‘I have nothing to offer the world.’
  5. What percentage of the token do the team keep hold of? If it’s subjectively high, it may be the case that they’re simply waiting for a price spike to dump the coin.

As you can see, the best crypto exchange for finding altcoins is, without a doubt, Gate.io, but that doesn’t mean to rule out Binance and KuCoin. In this industry, Binance and KuCoin offer greater liquidity, larger user bases, and a lot of sway in attracting the best projects to their cryptocurrency exchanges. With enormous daily trading volumes in the billions of dollars, Binance is the leader in the global exchange space, which might not play into their favor for those trading cryptocurrencies that are little-known or high-risk. KuCoin, too, might be one of those cryptocurrency exchange platforms that are too big to attract the most eccentric of altcoins, plus, a reported 5 BTC listing fee might deter some of the smaller cap projects too. So, when it comes to the crypto exchange platform for Altcoin Hunters in 2021, Gate.io is your champion.

1st

Gate.io

U.S. welcome
180+ coins, 450+ trading pairs. Over 7 years in biz.
433 Trading Pairs