In 2020, tens of millions of people all over the globe were swept up in the crypto craze, finding themselves registering, verifying their identity, depositing money, and getting stuck in the digital asset world. It was fun, exciting, and offered the potential to make you relatively wealthy overnight if only you could pick the right coin. Of course, some people did very well while others lost it all, but we know for a fact that since the Coronavirus Pandemic started around March 2020, the crypto market grew from $175 billion to at least $1.75 trillion.
A 1000% market growth is extraordinary in just a year and a half — it tells us that more and more beginners are signing up to use their spare funds to invest. Knowing this, we wanted to take the time out to research and explore which crypto exchanges offer the best ease of use to those who have never traded or touched crypto before. So here’s how we have created our top three, oh, and we have a bonus trading platform for you.
Diving Deeper Into Our Winners
When the Winklevoss Twins founded Gemini, they created a principled crypto exchange with solid security foundations. With scams like Quadriga and hackings like Mt.Gox, Cameron and Tyler knew that investing in security, transparency, and legitimacy would allow them to create a regulated exchange looked fondly on by investors, institutions, and even financial regulators. All of these things, plus how they’ve insured client funds with the biggest crypto-insurance policy ever, work to build trust with you, the user.
- Signing up for Gemini is straightforward, as we will show you, though it does have one caveat that US users must connect their bank account as an added layer of identity verification. Ultimately, this connection will speed up deposits and withdrawals, so it’s worth it in the long run.
- Gemini has a 4.8 rating in the App Store and 4.5 in the Google Play store, giving a good indication of how well the apps have been designed. Navigation is clean and usage is seamless, with no complicated or fiddly interactions causing confusion, so top marks to the UI/UX team.
- Educating users regardless of their competence level is done very well by Gemini, which offers:
- Free video webinars on trading, the future of crypto, and the role women can play in Blockchain, as well as other themes;
- A regularly updated and stunning blog, with professional writers putting together top-quality content.
- Cryptopedia, a platform designed to offer a high-quality and free education program to anyone interested in crypto. At the time of writing, Cryptopedia boasts 334 articles on 162 topics from 42 different expert authors who have founded and manage some of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency businesses;
- A well-stocked library of frequently asked questions can be found here.
- Gemini has never been hacked, minimising the market risk for new crypto investors.
Gemini might not be the oldest or the biggest platform. Still, it’s arguably one of the best Bitcoin exchanges for those who seek absolute legitimacy as a principle of doing business (institutions and serious investors). When you consider that investors are looking to take calculated risks, mitigating the secondary or uncalculated risks (hackings and exploits) is always going to win favor. Ultimately, it leads to the creation of a very user-friendly and trusted crypto exchange.
Now, beyond the engine, Gemini has a clean and simplistic interface that removes some of the confusion and overwhelm surrounding this space and afflicts many beginners. Crypto trading platforms don’t need to use complicated jargon or flashing buttons; they need to explain how to start trading cryptocurrency in the most concise and guided way. Gemini does this well on both the website and in their popular mobile app, which, as we mentioned, scores an impressive 4.8 rating in the App Store and 4.5 in the Google Play Store.
Gemini’s Commitment to Education
First, let’s talk about Cryptopedia, an exciting platform launched by Gemini to offer “open-access high-quality crypto education to the world.” This platform empowers users, and we believe it’s a genuine attempt to raise the bar of the industry rather than a marketing ploy to encourage users to buy and sell more tokens. Over 330 carefully curated guides look at every nook and cranny of the crypto world, covering 162 different topics.
What might be most impressive about Cryptopedia is the experts that have contributed articles, such as David Schwarz, the CTO of Ripple, and Litecoin’s Founder Charlie Lee. You’ll also find articles from Frederik Gregaard of the Cardano Foundation, Justin Sun from TRON, and the founders of decentralized exchanges, like Stani Kulechov of Aave and Sergej Kunz of 1inch. These are some legendary names in this industry, taking time away from their multi-billion dollar projects to write guides for Gemini about trading crypto, evolving beyond fiat currency, and what centralized exchanges can offer the financial world.
The best cryptocurrency exchanges know that the whole industry is transactional, and information is just as much as digital currencies are. That’s why having a resource section is so incredibly important, and when done well, as Gemini has done, it creates a truly user-friendly feeling. Uploading webinars, regularly publishing topical and relevant blogs, and presenting unique perspectives on this fascinating industry are great trust-building exercises. It also pays to have a great FAQ system, which Gemini has also done.
How to Sign Up for Gemini
- Click here to visit Gemini
- Create your account by providing your email address, password, and full name
- Verify your email address by confirming the code sent to you by email
- Provide your country and phone number, then confirm the verification code that will be texted to you via SMS
- Gemini will ask you to log into your online banking. As long as the bank holder details match the details provided, you will be confirmed. This process is done safely and securely
- Upload one identity document (passport or driving license) and one document to prove your address (bank statement or utility bill)
- Once approved, connect to one of the offered payment methods and make a purchase!
Top marks to Gemini for their efforts, now, let’s move on to Coinbase.
After launching in October 2012, Coinbase has gone from strength to strength, establishing itself as perhaps the only household name in the exchange and broker marketplace. Almost a decade later, Coinbase has welcomed over 55 million registered account holders, an astonishing feat that far surpasses any of their rivals and shows quite clearly that they are the go-to place to buy Bitcoin. This longevity, backed by the fact that Coinbase has never been hacked, makes it user-friendly for those most fearful of losing their funds to cybersecurity exploits. When you also consider that Coinbase has invested heavily in their defenses, interfaces, and industry-leading experts, you can see why they’re also mentioned among the best crypto exchanges, without fail.
- With a 4.7 App Store rating and a 4.3 Google Play store rating, Coinbase is clearly popular with its mobile users, though the scores aren’t quite as impressive as Gemini, which has just pipped them in our rankings
- Coinbase goes beyond just providing free educational materials, in fact, the developers have built an entire platform that allows cryptocurrency projects to create short video courses with easy questions that reward the user with a small amount of their digital currency. This incentivised learning concept has proved very popular and paid out over $100m in rewards
- Among the best exchanges for beginners, Coinbase perhaps has the easiest customer journey for those who want to buy or sell digital currencies, making the whole process feel much like online shopping
- For those who want to buy Bitcoin, Coinbase is excellent, but if you’re looking for a crypto-to-crypto exchange, Coinbase is not the right place, as their 2% fees drive users either to their Coinbase Pro platform or to other user-friendly crypto exchanges
- Many cryptocurrency exchanges attempt to be like Coinbase, but in truth, the majority fail. This is because not all cryptocurrency exchanges have been around as long as Coinbase and have spent as much investing in the most logical user interface, making sure payment methods are seamlessly integrated, and removing advanced trading features to embrace a simple interface
- Coinbase is seen as the safest cryptocurrency exchange by many, however, just like Gemini and Kraken, it has never been hacked
Coinbase is a great exchange because it is beginner-friendly from the moment you land on the website or download the app. New users can see the basic principles of the platform, easily get registered, and find plenty of well-explained resources to help them on their cryptocurrency journey. Beginners who download the 4.7 App Store rated application for Apple, or the 4.3 rated Google Play app for Android, will find that this is a great streamlined and minimalist tool for those who aren’t yet ready to buy and sell Bitcoin and other crypto coins in a trading interface. Coinbase also offers a secondary app called Coinbase Wallet, which is non-custodial, meaning you are completely in control of your funds, differing from the main platform, which holds on to your private keys.
Coinbase Convenience is Costly
Coinbase is the best Bitcoin exchange for absolute beginners. Still, it’s not the most user-friendly for those familiar with trading, trading fees, engaging with trading pairs, and using payment methods like wire transfer or credit cards. Like Gemini, Kraken, and the Binance exchange, other exchanges make trading cryptocurrency a breeze, whereas Coinbase offers the best place to buy Bitcoin with funds from your bank account. Many people compare the best crypto exchanges and brokers to online retail websites, essentially going through a shopping funnel and checkout to get your coins. You can trade crypto for crypto on Coinbase, though the 2.0% trading fee discourages many users and sends them to other trading platforms, like Coinbase Pro, for example.
Get Paid to Learn
Since the launch of Coinbase Earn in 2018, Coinbase has paid out over $100m in rewards to users who see the benefit of earning small financial rewards for learning about crypto. The courses themselves are super easy, just a few minutes long and in video format. Below the video, a multiple-choice quiz will reward users for a correct answer in the cryptocurrency that the particular course is about. This whole concept is fantastic. However, there’s usually limited subscription for the courses, and they are first-come-first-serve and have jurisdictional restrictions.
The Best Crypto Exchange Sign Up Process?
To avoid any trouble with the authorities, each cryptocurrency exchange must comply with KYC and AML checks. KYC stands for Know Your Customer, and AML refers to Anti-Money Laundering. Both of these require all of the best cryptocurrency exchanges to perform ID checks on their new users before they engage with any fiat currency. Very few exchanges, in fact, overlook KYC and AML, as it is essentially playing with fire to not play by the rules of financial regulators.
Here’s how you get started on Coinbase:
- Provide your name, email address, password, and location. Agree to the terms and conditions and then wait for and find your email verification.
- Click the link in the email to verify your email address, then re-enter your password
- Type in your phone number and verify it with the 7-digit code that Coinbase sends via SMS
- Provide further details, including:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Reason for using Coinbase
- Source of funds
- Last digits of SSN (for US users)
- You will receive an email asking you to verify your identity. This can be done with a passport, ID document or card, or a driver’s license
- Connect to a payment method, such as bank card or wire transfer, or transfer funds via bank transfer
- Now since wait for all of the confirmations to go ahead and before you know it, you’ll be signed up to one of the smoothest exchanges for beginners that you’re likely to find
Kraken makes crypto cool. It always has. Just visit the website now, and you’ll see what we mean. Excellent word choice, eye-catching designs, and upbeat friendliness make you want to buy Bitcoin and get into crypto trading. Right there, on the homepage, you can get a customized Kraken experience tailored to your wants and needs — how many trading platforms offer such a level of personalization?
- Something about Kraken makes it a bit cooler than both Gemini, which feels very financial and sterile, and Coinbase, which is more simplistic than aesthetically pleasing. This coolness makes Kraken very beginner-friendly, with a modern and stylised experience that appeals more to younger or inexperienced users
- With a 4.5 rating on the App Store and a 4.1 rating on the Google Play store, Kraken’s mobile experience isn’t quite as highly rated as Coinbase or Gemini, but it’s still among the top picks in the industry for new investors to choose from
- Experienced traders might not be looking for educational materials, but it’s still an important consideration for beginners who need access to resources regarding the proper use and management of crypto assets. As one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges, Kraken is a great place for learning, with a solid reputation following its amazing Crypto 101 video series, in-depth web guides, and expert webinars
- A major benefit of using Kraken is one of the security measures the platform has undertaken, called a Proof of Reserves Audit. This is becoming increasingly common amongst the popular crypto exchanges and essentially proves to new users that their funds are being held securely, rather than traded or invested. So, if anything were to go wrong with the platform, users can get their crypto back in full
- Most exchanges place great importance on securing their digital assets, and Kraken is no exception, offering a zero-hack history that gives assurances about cryptocurrency trading with them. Still, though, we advise you have your own wallet independent of any custodial centralized exchange, so that you hold your own private keys
Apps for every situation
Now, there’s some debate about whether this is user friendly or not, but Kraken actually has three different apps:
- Kraken – Rated 4.5 on App Store and 4.1 on Google Play store
- Kraken Pro – Rated 4.7 on App Store and 4.5 on Google Play store
- Kraken Futures* – Rated 1.7 on App Store and 3.2 on Google Play store
We think this is a pretty good way of managing your crypto trading activities. The basic Kraken app is perfect for beginners who want to purchase crypto and sit on it as an investment. However, the Kraken Pro app is a great mobile crypto trading platform with low trading fees and many excellent features for those who want to go to the next step and actually trade crypto.
*Kraken Futures is aimed more at advanced traders who like margin trading, trading with up to 50x leverage, and seamlessly moving funds between the spot and futures markets. This is not the best crypto exchange for beginners, so don’t worry about it.
An Epic Education
While Kraken’s resources might not pay you like Coinbase does or offer quite the level of world-renowned expertise as Gemini, it still publishes beginner-friendly materials in a user-friendly interface. Learn about digital assets and how they work, how crypto trading functions, what trading fees are used for, what a decentralized exchange is, and how digital currency offers many technological advances. In addition, you’ll find an awesome Crypto 101 video series, great security guides for bolstering your personal defenses, webinars with industry leaders, and general cryptocurrency exchange walkthroughs to help you buy Bitcoin, for example.
Starting Your Kraken Journey
- Head over to Kraken.com and click ‘Create Account’
- Provide an email address, country of residence, and a username and password
- Accept Kraken’s terms and conditions and proceed to the next page
- Head to your email inbox and find an ‘activation key’. Type this activation key, along with your username and password, on the website
- Click ‘Activate Account’ to go to the user portal
- Within the dashboard, click ‘Get Verified’
- We recommend verifying to the Intermediate level
- You must provide certain documents, including a photo of your ID (passport preferred), proof of residence document (bank statement or utility bill), a selfie holding your chosen ID, and information about your occupation
- Set up 2-Factor Authentication
- Wait for approval
Coin Clarity’s Sleeper Pick
A crypto exchange needs to be simple, efficient, and fast with unique selling points to serve users well. KuCoin ticks all of those boxes. The unique selling point, especially compared to the other crypto exchange companies listed here, is that KuCoin has a huge selection of coins (410+), trading pairs (830+), and the ability to enjoy all of them without needing to exchange your identity and personal information. Of course, KYC and AML checks are important, but they’re generally targeted at large transactions, deemed to be more than 5 Bitcoin (BTC) per day, so as long as you deposit or trade less than that, you’re fine!
- Kucoin’s platform offers an extremely simple sign-up process that means you don’t need to give up your personal information in order to start trading. KYC-free trading features are not common among the top cryptocurrency exchanges, so enjoy them while you can, with limits of up to 5 BTC per day for deposits and trading
- KuCoin used to be a crypto-only platform, but now has a great brokerage service thanks to partnerships with Simplex, Mercuryo, Banxa and Mobillum. While this is a bit more fiddly than simply buying crypto directly from the platform, it does have the added benefit of a price comparison tool that allows you to get a better deal
- KuCoin’s P2P platform allows for some decentralized exchange services, allowing users to buy Bitcoin and other crypto coins directly from one another without entering any trading platforms
- Safety and security are a concern for KuCoin, as it was the victim of 2020’s biggest hack, losing around $281m in crypto coins. Fortunately, they were able to work with other exchanges and trading platforms to recover over 80% of the stolen funds. Remember, no centralized cryptocurrency exchange is perfect, and they all have a perfect security record until the day they’re breached
- KuCoin’s 4.0 App Store rating and 3.9 Google Play store rating also aptly represent its position on this list, though, despite these fairly average scores, the apps remain popular among those trading cryptocurrencies in an anonymous way
Overcoming a Rocky Past
As we mentioned in the intro, having been the victim of a huge hack and having mobile apps that score just 4.0 and 3.9 for Apple and Android, respectively, KuCoin wasn’t going to be a top-3 crypto exchange. Still, it deserves its place here for other reasons. One of those is how it brokers crypto through strategic liquidity partnerships with Simplex, Mercuryo, Banxa, and Mobillum. This means for you, the user, that KuCoin doesn’t have huge crypto reserves to sell to you; instead, they’re the trading platform, so they outsource sales to those three companies to provide a service to you. You even get a live price comparison table to choose the best deal!
Are the best crypto exchanges the ones that are the most user friendly?
To be completely honest and transparent, the answer is no. Conveniently, some of the crypto exchange websites that we love and trust also happen to be the most user-friendly, but the correlation between ‘good’ and ‘user friendly’ doesn’t always work.
In this industry, convenience is costly. For example, Coinbase is the most friendly and convenient cryptocurrency exchange. Thus it charges so, with fairly high spreads and an enormous 2% trading fee, compared to 0.35/0.1% on Gemini, 0.16/0.16% on Kraken, and 0.1/0.1% on KuCoin, proves our point.
When you dive deeper into the world of crypto, you will find that the most convenient Bitcoin exchange services will have the highest fees for transactions, the best decentralized exchanges will have high fees for entering pools, and the best brokers will have the most hidden charges on the deal. Unfortunately, convenience is costly, and this is the price we often pay.
Best of luck out there! Get started with our number one pick now.