Bitcoin-only exchanges are platforms where people can buy or sell bitcoin using fiat currencies or stablecoins.
You can refer to our guide on “How To Buy Bitcoin” for further information on joining an exchange. Still, you usually need to sign up with some basic personal data and transfer fiat or cryptocurrency to the platform to start buying bitcoin.
Learning about Bitcoin is an important step you should follow before investing. So be sure to read our Bitcoin guide to fully understand what you are buying and why it is so important to keep your bitcoin safe.
Why use a Bitcoin-only exchange?
Once people understand Bitcoin, they usually like to keep away from the noise of myriads of cryptocurrencies and focus on Bitcoin only.
Bitcoin-only exchanges exist because they recognize the value of bitcoin as sound money; they support the Bitcoin community and ecosystem with no distraction from inferior coins and the resulting negative implications that may come with them.
Which bitcoin exchange is safest?
Non-custodial, peer-to-peer exchanges are usually safer because custody of the bitcoin remains in your hands. Most exchanges provide high-standard security but cannot be 100% secure against the threat of hacks. It’s always recommended that you transfer bitcoin to a hardware wallet after the purchase to avoid any risk of losing your assets.
Top 10 Bitcoin Exchanges
1. River is a U.S.-based, bitcoin-only custodial exchange that claims to be very easy and secure to use while offering plenty of good educational material to understand Bitcoin.
River charges fees based on how much bitcoin you buy, starting from 1.20% but offers no fees for recurring buys. River stores all bitcoin offline in secure cold storage and also offers customers to buy bitcoin miners.
2. Swan is River’s main competitor in the USA and claims to be the most secure platform to buy bitcoin. Swan provides similar services to River, with the main difference being the fees: Swan’s are 0.99% while River’s start at 1.2%. They offer recurring daily, weekly or monthly purchases, which they make enticing due to a very competitive USD/BTC conversion rate.
3. CoinCorner is a Bitcoin exchange based on the Isle of Man, Great Britain. They have over 2 million users across the over 45 countries they serve. Deposits and withdrawals are only available in pounds and euros. They have fixed transaction fees based on the amount processed.
Deposits are free in the U.K. and Europe; however, they have a fixed fee of £25 for every other region. Withdrawals cost 1 GBP and 1 EUR, depending on the currency used. There’s no fee for depositing or withdrawing bitcoin.
4. Bull Bitcoin is a long-standing bitcoin-only exchange established in 2013 and appears to be a straightforward service to use from the start. There are no frills on the opening page, and every essential information you need to know about the service is displayed immediately. You can also use Bull Bitcoin to pay your bills online with bitcoin.
They are widely appreciated for their efficient customer support and have tiered-based transaction fees starting from 0.5% for 100 Canadian dollars to CA$1,000, up to 1.25% for amounts transacted over CA$10,000.
5. Robosats is a peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchange ideal for onboarding new users as it’s easy and quick to use. It requires no KYC since it’s based on pseudonymous avatars that allow customers to trade bitcoin over the Lightning Network using the TOR browser only.
Users can also easily swap on-chain Bitcoin for Lightning liquidity. Established in early 2022, the non-custodial exchange has a lot of room for improvement, but it is set to provide the prototype of a bitcoin-only exchange based on privacy and security.
6. Hodl Hodl is another peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchange that also offers peer-to-peer lending services. It’s a non-custodial platform that requires no KYC or AML procedures. The exchange accepts almost all fiat currencies and many payment methods to start trading, including cash in person and bank transfers.
The way it works is simple: a contract is generated, and Hodl Hodl creates a unique multisig escrow. The seller deposits bitcoin directly from his wallet and agrees on a payment method with the buyer. The seller releases bitcoin from multisig escrow directly to the buyer’s wallet.
7. Paxful is a Bitcoin exchange and digital wallet where customers can also use various digital currencies like Tether, ether and monero to buy bitcoin. Other than the typical bank transfers, Paxful offers a wide range of payment methods, including gift cards and airline tickets.
8. Relai is based in Switzerland and is Europe’s most accessible bitcoin-only investment app. It enables instant bitcoin purchases through SEPA payment integration, and customers can set up a weekly or monthly savings plan for as little as 10 EUR. Bitcoiners appreciate it because it requires no deposit, registration, or strict KYC procedure. It’s the perfect app for beginners who want to buy and HODL bitcoin because it’s easy to use and provides a hassle-free experience.
9. Bisq is a decentralized peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange that allows anyone to buy and sell bitcoin in exchange for fiat currencies and other cryptocurrencies. It is not a company but free software that requires no centrally controlled servers and has no single points of failure.
Bisq does not require personal information or a linked bank account to use the platform, making it the perfect choice for those who want to preserve their privacy.
10. Cash App deserves a special mention, although it’s not technically an exchange but a peer-to-peer payment system that allows users to buy and sell bitcoin only, alongside stocks.
The platform enables investors to transfer bitcoin to their wallet, although withdrawals are limited to $2,000 daily, or $5,000 within any seven days. Cash App sets a fee depending on price volatility and market trading volume, which is disclosed at the time of purchase.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best exchange for Bitcoin?
There’s no best, but you should be able to find a platform that satisfies your needs. If you’re looking for ease of use, better privacy or enhanced security with a non-custodial service, you’ll find the right bitcoin-only exchange for you. Just follow our guide above to have the best indication.
Which Bitcoin exchanges are the most trusted?
Bitcoin-only exchanges, P2P platforms and exchanges that don’t rehypothecate but maintain proof of reserves are generally more trustworthy than centralized exchanges.
Which Bitcoin exchange has the lowest fees?
Usually, payment apps like CashApp or Relai have the most competitive fees and are the easiest to use. However, fees vary a lot, whether for withdrawals or trading, so better keep an eye on the exchange’s T&C to avoid surprises.
New exchanges emerge regularly and are increasingly secure and easy to use, so we always watch out for the latest addition.
Especially in light of the dramatic events of 2022 with the collapse of many cryptocurrency services — notably FTX, Three Arrows Capital and Celsius — it’s always recommended to use decentralized P2P platforms.
Regardless of the service you’re using, moving coins out of exchanges soon after an important trade has occurred is something even exchanges have recommended for years, and it’s never stressed enough. Such a simple transfer from an exchange to a private wallet would have prevented massive losses in the past.