You’ve read the hype, now here are the facts about the best exchanges in the US. Using our inside knowledge of the industry, we’ve reviewed the leading brands and come up with the country’s top five providers. In this guide to the best US Bitcoin exchange options, we’ll not only tell you why we’ve made the choices we have but give you a direct line to the action. Basically, if you want to get instant access to the leading Bitcoin exchanges in the US, this guide is your ticket to ride.
If you're looking to buy Bitcoin in the US through exchanges, Coinbase is one of the biggest brands trying to receive full financial regulation across the country. There’s a lot more to this site, too. Firstly, as outlined in our Coinbase review, this site is based in San Francisco which already means it operates under the guidelines of at least one US state.
The company has grown to become the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. Today, users can buy Bitcoins for as little as $1 using a variety of payment methods, including credit/debit cards and bank transfers. However, what novices will really appreciate is the site’s design. Coinbase is extremely user-friendly. When you couple this with multiple layers of security and the fact our Coinbase sign-up link entitles you to $10 free, it’s easy to see why this company now has 20 million active customers.
- Get a $10 bonus with our link
- Based in the US and can deposit in USD
- Largest trading volume
- Limited number of altcoins available
- Transaction fees can be as high as 4.5%
Coinbase may be the biggest Bitcoin exchange in the world, but Coinmama is available in more countries. In fact, when we carried out our Coinmama review, the total count was over 180. The US is one of them, which means you can join Coinmama to buy Bitcoin in the US and get instant access to some of the best trading limits available. Indeed, the reason this site has become popular with active traders is that is has a default buying limit of $50,000. To put this into perspective, many of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in the US only allow you to trade a few thousand dollars in a 24-hour period.
For those with large bankrolls and itchy feet, this means you can trade at a high level without having to wait for your account to be verified - so can take advantage of positive market conditions without getting held up by red tape. You can also make cash deposits. Thanks to the Western Union payment option, you can take cash to your nearest applicable vendor and credit the funds to your online account. If you value anonymity or simply don’t want to hand over your bank details, this is fantastic.
- A solid presence in 180+ countries
- Make cash deposits in USD
- High trading limits
- Charges up to 12%
- You can’t sell your coins
Did you know that not all Bitcoin cryptocurrency exchanges in the US take place online? If you prefer to do business face-to-face, there are ways to get active in a way that suits you. Thanks to LocalBitcoins.com, you can choose the way you want to buy Bitcoins in the US. As we've noted in our LocalBitcoins review, the process is simple: You create an account, scroll through a list of sellers in your area, find the best rate and then make contact. Once you’ve reached an agreement on how you’re going to pay (cash, bank transfer, altcoins etc), that’s it.
As you’d expect, there is a certain amount of risk involved in these transactions, simply because everyone is different. However, when you register with LocalBitcoins, you’re given as much protection as possible. After that, it’s up to you to vet each seller. If you’re happy with their reputation and feel safe, everything should be fine. For us, the best reason to use LocalBitcoins is that it allows you to pay in a way that suits you. Unlike the other big brand exchanges in the US, LocalBitcoins is more of a middleman. In other words, it simply connects buyers and sellers so they meet up and swap Bitcoins in any way they choose.
- Lots of sellers to choose from
- Pay in a way that suits you
- Easy to use interface
- Rates will vary
- You can only buy Bitcoin
- Some sellers can be unreliable
To become one of the best exchanges in the US, it helps to be based in the US. It’s not a requirement, but if you’re within the country’s borders, it’s a lot easier to serve local customers. So it’s little surprise that we’ve put Paxful in our top five US based Bitcoin exchange list. Other than New York, Paxful is active in every US state (something we’ve noted in our Paxful review), so you shouldn’t have any issues getting some coins wherever you live.
What makes it different, though? First off, this is a peer-to-peer exchange which essentially connects buyers and sellers. This facilitates quicker transactions. Secondly, when you join Paxful, you’ll find more than 300 payment options. That’s more than any of the other Bitcoin exchanges in the US. Finally, you can meet the people you’re trading with if you want. Using the cash payment option, you can link up with the seller and make sure you’re 100% happy before handing over your money.
- More than 10,000 BTC sold in the US
- Huge selection of payment options
- Trade with real people
- Only sells Bitcoins
- Only for buying/selling, not trading
Among our top-rated exchanges in the US, Poloniex stands as one of the few true cryptocurrency platforms. This isn’t to say the other sites are imposters. What we mean is that Poloniex not only offers a traditional exchange setting but also listings for dozens of cryptocurrencies. In fact, this site provides buying/selling options for over 70 coins.
In addition to its trading options, we’ve noted in our Poloniex review that the company is registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as a money service business (MSB). This means you’re afforded a high level of protection when you use our link to create a Poloniex account. If that’s not enough, the site has some of the lowest transaction fees in the industry and the customer support is some of the best we’ve seen.
- Low fees
- Speculate on emerging altcoins
- One of the few regulated exchanges in the US
- Can’t deposit using fiat currency
- Site can be unreliable
Technically, Bitcoin exchanges don’t have to be regulated in the US. However, as is often the case in the US, there is a tangled web of red tape around various parts of the industry. Why is that? Because different states and government departments have their own opinions on cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, ICOs and exchanges in the US. In fact, because the political and legal systems in the US are more piecemeal than other parts of the world, there isn’t yet (and there isn't likely to be) a blanket form of regulation.
Having said this, at the start of 2018 there were some provisions in place. From the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) point of view, Bitcoin and its cryptocurrency peers should be treated as a property. In other words, if you buy and/or sell Bitcoin or altcoins using one of the leading exchanges in the US, you will have to record your profits and losses. Anything you make above what you invested will be treated as a capital gains and taxed at the appropriate rate.
As for the United States' Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it has called for US cryptocurrency exchanges to abide by its regulations. Although this isn’t mandatory like it is with South African exchanges, SEC has warned investors not to use exchanges that aren’t regulated. In light of this, Coinbase announced in June 2018 that it has acquired three companies dealing with securities trading: Keystone Capital Corp., Venovate Marketplace Inc. and Digital Wealth LLC. Using these companies, Coinbase is looking to expand into non-crypto markets and, in turn, “tokenise existing types of securities”.
If Coinbase is successful in doing this, it could become a SEC registered exchange. However, it’s important to remember that state laws are just as important as country-wide federal laws. Arizona, New York, Tennessee, Montana and Kansas have all regulated some aspect of the crypto industry in recent times. Whether it be the recognition of Bitcoin as a legal/taxable currency or approval of blockchain technology, US states are also defining their own rules.
In short, this means three things:
- There are now laws that expressly prohibit “unregulated” exchanges from operating in the US. In other words, these sites operate under the same conditions as UK-based Bitcoin exchanges.
- Consumers wanting the greatest level of protection should use platforms endorsed by SEC or another authority.
- US residents need to understand their state’s stance on Bitcoin, altcoins and everything else in between before checking out our top-rated exchanges.
For more information, see our other country guides:
In the same way that some British banks have banned credit card payments to UK Bitcoin exchanges, a selection of US companies has done the same. As per reports from Coinbase in February 2018, credit card users from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi and Capital One were all excluded from making purchases.
Despite the setback, Coinbase and the other leading Bitcoin exchanges in the US moved to reassure customers that other payment options were still available. In fact, even for those banking with the brands listed above, debit card and bank transfers are still permissible. What’s more, by using a platform such as Paxful or LocalBitcoins, it’s also possible to pay using a service like PayPal or cash.
Based on our research, Coinbase is the best Bitcoin exchange currently available in the US. With the largest trading volume, stable platform and a desire to become a fully regulated company, Coinbase is a truly reliable site to buy, send and withdraw Bitcoin. Of course, if you prefer something a little different, you could choose a peer-to-peer platform such as LocalBitcoins or Paxful. Sign up for Coinbase here.
The site we're most excited about, however, is eToro. Already a major player in Europe and our award winning exchange for 2018, this platform is perfect for novices. Why? As we've noted in our eToro review, the software allows you to follow experts and copy their trades and, therefore, invest like a pro. At the moment, eToro is accepting pre-registrations ahead of an official launch in the US. To be the first in the queue, follow our eToro sign-up link.
Some companies aren’t active in certain states, but there are no federal laws banning people from buying, trading or selling Bitcoin.
As we’ve noted, four US banks have blocked credit card payments. If you don’t bank with one of these companies, you should be OK.
Yes. Each platform will have its own fees.
Yes. We’ve reviewed the top US Bitcoin exchanges to ensure they are safe. If you use our picks, you shouldn’t have any issues.