Cryptocurrencies were one of the hottest investments last year, and the rapid growth of digital money looks poised to continue. Currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and others offer opportunities for short-term traders and long-term investors alike.
In order to buy cryptocurrencies in the UK, you’ll need a crypto exchange. A crypto exchange is effectively a broker for cryptocurrencies, giving you an on-ramp from pounds to Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
In this guide, we’ll help you find the best crypto exchange UK for 2021. We review the 5 top crypto exchanges, plus explain how to choose the right one for you and how to start trading cryptocurrency today.[toc]
Top Crypto Exchanges 2021
There are dozens of UK crypto exchanges to choose from. But to ensure you’re getting the best trading experience at the lowest cost, it’s important to pick one of the top crypto exchanges operating today.
Here are our picks for the 5 best crypto exchanges you can use to start trading today:
- eToro – Overall Best Crypto Exchange UK with Social Network
- Binance – Best for Cryptocurrency Trading
- Coinbase – Widest Selection of Cryptocurrencies
- CoinCorner – Best Crypto Exchange for Long-term Investing
- CoinJar – Best Crypto Wallet for Trading and Spending
Best Cryptocurrency Exchange UK Reviewed
1. eToro - Overall Best Crypto Exchange UK with Social Network
eToro is our top-rated crypto exchange in the UK. This broker offers trading on 15 of the most popular digital currencies. In addition, eToro has CFDs for dozens of fiat/cryptocurrency trading pairs (which are exempt from the UK’s recent ban on crypto derivatives) so you can speculate on Bitcoin/GBP instead of just the price of Bitcoin in USD.
All cryptocurrency trades at eToro are 100% commission-free, and the broker offers some of the lowest spreads around. You’ll pay 0.75% per Bitcoin trade and 1.90% per Ethereum trade, with no overnight fees since you own the underlying coin. eToro does charge a small withdrawal fee of £4, but the platform doesn’t have any recurring account fees.
What really sets eToro apart is its social trading network. You can interact with millions of other traders and share ideas about what cryptocurrency is going to be next to make it big. Helpfully, eToro leverages this social network to show you what percentage of traders are buying vs. selling any cryptocurrency.
You can also set your portfolio to automatically copy the trades of professional crypto traders. So, you can day trade cryptos with almost none of the work.
eToro offers very good charting and analysis tools as well. The built-in charting software has over 100 technical indicators and drawing tools. You also get access to a market news feed and economic calendar to help you trade the news. The only thing missing is depth-of-market data, which shows you the current order flow of cryptocurrency trades.
eToro is highly regulated and is widely considered to be trustworthy. The broker is overseen by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). eToro offers stock investing and CFD trading in addition to cryptocurrency trading, so the broker isn’t just exposed to digital coins. If you need help with your account, it’s available by phone 24/5.
- 0% commission and low spreads
- Social trading network
- Provides market sentiment scores
- Copy professional crypto traders
- Highly regulated and 24/5 support
- Limited crypto selection
- No depth-of-market data
2. Binance - Best for Cryptocurrency Trading
If you want to trade cryptocurrencies that don’t ordinarily make the headlines, Binance is the UK crypto exchange of choice. This platform offers trading on 150+ cryptocurrencies.
So, you can trade large-cap coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum or explore small-caps like Ankr, Chiliz, and more. Most small-cap coins are available in trading pairs with not just Bitcoin, but also USDT, Ethereum, and Binance’s in-house BNB coin.
Given the selection that Binance offers, it won’t come as a surprise that this isn’t the cheapest exchange around. If you deposit funds by credit or debit card, Binance charges a whopping 1.8% deposit fee.
Thankfully, you can get around this by using another exchange to convert GBP to Bitcoin, then transferring that into Binance. Trading spreads are more reasonable, at 0.1% per transaction – and you can get discounts for high trading volume or for using BNB to buy other coins.
Professional traders in the UK can also use Binance to trade crypto derivatives (the FCA banned retail traders from trading these derivatives at the start of 2021). The platform offers futures contracts with up to 125:1 leverage, vanilla options, and leveraged tokens that mimic the day-to-day moves of Bitcoin and other popular coins.
Binance has a few variations on its trading platform. For long-term investors, there’s a simple buy and sell interface that’s designed to be as easy to use as possible.
For active crypto traders, there’s an advanced interface that includes detailed technical charts, depth-of-market data, and more. Notably, Binance doesn’t offer much in the way of professional analysis on its platform.
Binance is regulated by the FCA and offers 24/7 trading support.
- Trade 150+ cryptocurrencies
- Low trading spreads
- Futures contracts and leveraged coins
- Simple and advanced trading platforms
- 24/7 trading support
- High GBP deposit fees
- Limited professional research
3. Coinbase - Widest Selection of Cryptocurrencies
The first thing that sets Coinbase apart is simply the range of coins available to buy and sell. This platform has over 4,000 cryptocurrencies listed.
Coinbase offers a ton of tools to help both short-term traders and long-term investors navigate this selection. Short-term traders can access a very comprehensive charting and trading platform, for example. It includes dozens of technical indicators, full access to Coinbase’s order book, and advanced conditional trade orders.
For long-term investors, Coinbase offers tools like an integrated wallet and the ability to make recurring investments in different coins. You can protect your wallet with time-delayed withdrawals, or use the mobile trading app to spend your coins at any merchant that accepts Bitcoin. The platform also has a neat education section, where you can be rewarded with digital coins simply for learning about them.
The biggest downside to Coinbase is that it’s very expensive. The platform charges a spread of around 0.50% for most cryptocurrency trades, plus a volume-based commission that can range from 1.5% all the way up to 10% of your trade value. Unless you’re trading thousands of pounds’ worth of cryptocurrency at a time, this can eat into your profits quickly.
Coinbase is not regulated by the FCA, but it’s still quite trustworthy. The US-based company is moving towards an IPO, so it has a lot of eyes on its finances. The company also offers an insurance policy for any clients who store coins in a Coinbase-managed wallet. Coinbase offers support by email, but not by phone at this time.
- 4,000+ cryptocurrencies available
- Integrated wallet and mobile app
- Advanced trading platform
- Easy to deposit GBP
- Insurance policy for your coins
- Very expensive trade commissions
- Limited support
4. CoinCorner - Best Crypto Exchange UK for Long-term Bitcoin Investing
CoinCorner is a beginner-friendly UK crypto exchange that’s perfect for long-term Bitcoin investing. With this platform, you can buy and sell as little as £10 worth of Bitcoin at a time, with no deposit or withdrawal fees. You can pay by credit or debit card, Neteller, or bank transfer, making it easier to get started if you don’t already own cryptocurrency.
CoinCorner doesn’t offer any coins other than Bitcoin. The exchange charges a flat 1% commission per trade with no spreads, which makes it simple to know how much your transactions will cost. You can set up recurring investments so that money from your bank account is automatically shifted into Bitcoin each month.
One thing that’s especially nice about CoinCorner is that you can easily spend your Bitcoin instead of simply holding it. CoinCorner has a mobile app to enable payments and for transfers to friends and family.
On top of that CoinCorner offers a rewards program that helps you build a Bitcoin position over time. Just install the browser extension, and you’ll receive Bitcoin as cash back everytime you make a purchase at one of CoinCorner’s partnered retailers. Major retailers like Vodafone, Under Armour, and Booking.com all offer rewards with this exchange.
CoinCorner isn’t regulated in the UK, which can be a red flag. But that appears to be more because it’s a relatively small exchange than because CoinCorner is untrustworthy in any way. The platform notes that it’s worked extensively with the UK government to establish best practices for Bitcoin investing.
- Easy onboarding from GBP
- Fixed 1% commission per transaction
- Mobile app for payments and transfers
- Get Bitcoin as cash back for purchases
- Only supports Bitcoin
- Not regulated by the FCA
5. CoinJar - Best Crypto Wallet for Trading and Spending
CoinJar is an ideal crypto exchange if you want a platform that enables you to combine trading, long-term investing, peer-to-peer payments, and everyday spending. The exchange offers an easy to use mobile wallet that you can use at most retailers that accept cryptocurrency for payments. In addition, CoinJar is working on releasing a debit card to make it even simpler to spend Bitcoin.
The exchange currently offers 15 different digital coins, plus a handful of fiat/crypto trading pairs involving GBP and AUD. You can trade with a flat 1% commission, plus a small spread for each coin. That’s not especially cheap, but it’s nice knowing how much each transaction will cost you.
Advanced traders can use CoinJar’s dedicated trading platform, which provides an in-depth look at the cryptocurrency market. You get access to the exchange’s order books and dozens of technical studies. We especially liked that CoinJar offers advanced order options, such as Good-Til-Cancelled and Maker or Cancel.
You can get started with CoinJar using GBP, which is another plus to this platform. There are no deposit fees – just pay the 1% transaction fee to convert your funds to Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.
- Supports mobile crypto payments
- Flat 1% commission
- Advanced order options
- Bitcoin debit card coming soon
- Not regulated by the FCA
- Limited cryptocurrency selection
What is a UK Crypto Exchange?
A crypto exchange is a digital marketplace where you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies.
You can think of a crypto exchange much like a stock broker, but for digital currencies. A crypto exchange matches your order to buy, say, Bitcoin with a corresponding order from another trader to sell Bitcoin and then facilitates the transaction.
Many crypto exchanges also provide trading platforms to help you profit from cryptocurrency trading. You can access technical charts, for example, or order books that show all of the trades happening for a particular currency on the exchange.
One thing to note is that all of the top UK crypto exchanges we reviewed are centralized exchanges. That is, there is a company between you and other traders facilitating transactions, just like there is for the stock market.
However, there are decentralized crypto exchanges as well. Decentralized exchanges enable you to send cryptocurrency directly to a buyer or to accept cryptocurrency directly from a seller. These exchanges can be less expensive, but they are also more susceptible to fraud since transactions aren’t monitored by a third party.
Choosing the Best Cryptocurrency Exchange UK for You
How do you decide which UK crypto exchange is best for your needs? There are several important factors that differentiate exchanges. Let’s take a closer look at the ones you need to consider.
Safety & Regulation
Safety is a major consideration when choosing a crypto exchange. The early days of crypto trading were rife with fraud and other problems, and fraud can still happen if you choose an exchange that’s not trustworthy.
In addition, cryptocurrencies are subject to security risks that don’t exist in traditional markets. For example, the exchange Mt. Gox famously lost over $450 million in clients’ Bitcoin as the result of a hack into its servers.
So, it’s essential to make sure that the cryptocurrency exchange you choose not only takes security seriously, but works to proactively protect your account. Be sure to check on what cybersecurity measures the exchange uses and see if the exchange is insured to protect against theft of client funds.
Many exchanges give you the option to have them manage your crypto wallet or allow you to manage it yourself. Managing it yourself is potentially more secure, although you can lose access to your funds if you ever lose your password.
One thing to note is that unlike stock brokers, many crypto exchanges aren’t regulated by government agencies. The UK’s Financial Conduct Agency recently set up a program for regulating cryptocurrency exchanges, and platforms like Coinbase and Binance now fall under the FCA’s authority. Multi-asset broker-exchanges, like eToro, are regulated by the FCA for CFD trading but not for cryptocurrency trading.
Another important thing to consider when choosing a crypto exchange is what assets you can trade. Some exchanges only allow you to buy and sell Bitcoin, others limit you to a handful of the most popular cryptocurrencies, and some give you access to hundreds or even thousands of digital tokens.
In general, having more digital currencies to trade is better. But if you only plan to trade coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum, access to thousands of coins shouldn’t override other factors like pricing and safety when it comes to picking an exchange.
Trading fees can vary widely between cryptocurrency exchanges, and even for different cryptocurrencies at the same exchange.
Typically, trading fees come in two forms: commissions and spreads. Commissions may be a fixed amount or percentage per trade, while spreads are variable percentage fees that vary based on price action.
Some platforms charge extra if you remove liquidity from a cryptocurrency as opposed to adding it in. The trading fees can also vary based on the amount of money you’re trading in a single transaction or over the course of a month.
Be sure to look carefully at all the fees that an exchange charges to get a sense of how much you might pay to trade.
Trading Tools & Features
Many crypto exchanges offer built-in trading platforms that you can use to track price action, conduct market research, and place trades. Within these trading platforms, look for key features like technical charts with dozens of built-in technical indicators. You should also be able to see the order book for any cryptocurrency, which shows you all the trades that have been placed for that coin over the course of the trading day.
The trading platforms should also give you a range of ways to place orders and manage risk. For example, many exchanges offer not just market and limit orders, but also stop-loss orders, good-till-cancelled orders, and even one-cancels-the-other orders.
Another feature to look for is a built-in cryptocurrency wallet. All of the exchanges we highlighted offer managed crypto wallets, so you don’t have to worry about connecting your own third-party wallet.
Both your wallet and the trading platform should be available via a mobile app. That way, you can trade cryptocurrency from anywhere and spend your coins on purchases if you wish.
One long-standing challenge for new cryptocurrency traders has been making the initial exchange from GBP to popular coins like Bitcoin. Thankfully, most exchanges have now solved this problem and enable you to fund your cryptocurrency trading account using GBP.
Look for exchanges that offer simple payment methods like debit or credit card, PayPal or Skrill transfers, or even UK bank transfers. Be sure to check whether any of these simple payment methods come with extra fees before you fund your account.
The crypto market operates 24/7, so you need an exchange that provides round-the-clock customer service. Thankfully, many of the top crypto exchanges do – Binance and Coinbase both offer 24/7 support, for example, and eToro offers 24/5 support.
Keep in mind that not all support is equally helpful. You can get answers over the phone immediately if something happens to your account, but email responses can take hours or days.
Getting Started with a Crypto Exchange – eToro Tutorial
Ready to start trading cryptocurrency in the UK? We’ll show you how to get started with eToro, our overall highest rated cryptocurrency exchange. eToro offers commission-free crypto trading with low spreads, an active social trading network, and advanced trading tools.
Step 1: Open an eToro Account
To get started, head to eToro’s website and click ‘Join Now’ to open a new account. You can create a new username and password, or use your Google or Facebook login to create an account.
eToro is regulated by the FCA, so you’ll need to verify your identity during the signup process. Simply upload a copy of your passport or driver’s license along with a copy of a recent utility bill or financial statement.
Step 2: Fund Your Account
eToro makes it easy to fund your account using GBP. You can add money to your account by debit or credit card, UK bank transfer, or using an e-wallet like PayPal, Neteller, or Skrill. Just note that you must deposit at least £140.
You can also fund your eToro account with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. In this case, you’ll need to set up an eToro wallet and then transfer funds from your current crypto wallet to the eToro wallet.
Step 3: Buy Cryptocurrency with eToro
Now you’re ready to buy cryptocurrency with eToro. From your account dashboard, click ‘Markets’ and then ‘Cryptocurrencies’ to view the available coins. You can also search for a coin directly.
Once you find the coin you want to buy, click ‘Trade’ to open a new order form. In the order form, enter the amount of the cryptocurrency you want to buy. You can also set a stop-loss level or take-profit price for your trade.
When you’re ready, click ‘Open Position’ to buy the cryptocurrency with eToro.
Best Crypto Exchange UK – Conclusion
Cryptocurrency has widely been touted as the replacement for traditional currency and the next big shift in the global financial system. If you want to start trading or investing in digital coins, you need the best cryptocurrency exchange UK for the job.
With these 5 top UK crypto exchanges, you can trade a wide range of coins while paying few fees and getting access to top-tier trading tools. We think eToro is the overall best crypto exchange UK since it offers low spreads, a vibrant social trading network, and an advanced web and mobile trading platform.
Ready to dive into cryptocurrency trading? Click the link below to start trading with eToro today!
eToro: Best Cryptocurrency Trading Platform UK
- Wide range of currency pairs
- Low trading fees
- Buy crypto or trade CFDs
- eToro crypto wallet
- FCA regulated
Do I need a crypto wallet to buy cryptocurrency?
Yes. Many UK crypto exchanges offer their own managed wallet software, or you can download a third-party crypto wallet.
What cryptocurrencies can I buy through an exchange?
The variety of cryptocurrencies you can buy with an exchange depends on the exchange. Nearly all offer Bitcoin and most offer Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and more. Some offer trading on hundreds or thousands of digital coins.
Do I need an exchange to buy cryptocurrency?
A crypto exchange isn’t the only way to buy and sell cryptocurrency. You can receive digital coins from a friend via direct transfer or use a Bitcoin ATM. However, crypto exchanges offer an easy way to exchange GBP for crypto and to trade a wide range of cryptocurrencies.
What hours do cryptocurrencies trade?
Cryptocurrencies trade 24/7. So, all crypto exchanges are open 24/7.
What are makers and takers?
Some crypto exchanges charge higher trading fees for ‘takers’ than for ‘makers.’ If you place a trade and have it filled immediately, you are a ‘taker’ - you’re removing liquidity from the market. If you allow your trade to sit on the order book until it can be matched with another trade, you are a ‘maker’ - you’re adding liquidity to the market.
Did the UK ban cryptocurrency trading?
The UK banned trading on cryptocurrency derivatives, including CFDs and other leveraged coins. However, you can still buy and sell cryptocurrencies with no restrictions.