Alternative coins, or altcoins, include any cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin and include tokens like Ethereum, Uniswap, Dogecoin and thousands of other cryptocurrencies. The best altcoin exchange depends on what you're looking to invest in, as well as what features you're looking for in a trading platform.
You need an account with a cryptocurrency exchange to get started. Some exchanges let you trade altcoin-bitcoin pairs, meaning you can buy and sell altcoins using bitcoin. Trading altcoins against bitcoin is a great choice if you want to track your portfolio's performance against the king of crypto: Bitcoin.
Most crypto exchanges support at least some altcoins. Depending on the exchange you choose, the types of altcoins you can buy will differ. Some crypto exchanges offer financial derivatives, interest-bearing accounts and even pre-approved lending.
Take a look at our list of 6 best exchanges for altcoins.
Best for Active Investors: eToro
eToro is a great choice if you want to actively involve yourself in cryptocurrencies. eToro has a unique social media platform on its exchange and allows users to communicate trading ideas to each other.
eToro is a great place for beginners to learn about crypto since it has this built-in platform. Many beginners find eToro’s simple interface easy to learn. Also, eToro has a unique feature called CopyTrader, where users can allocate a portion of their funds to mimic popular traders’ portfolios.
Best for Mobile Users: Gemini
Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange, offers a great choice for mobile users. It offers a sleek mobile app for iOS and Android so you can manage your crypto on the go. Gemini currently offers bitcoin and 25 different altcoins on its exchange.
You can also get an insured wallet on Gemini which protects you from online security breaches. You can point to several crypto hacks throughout the years, so it’s good to have an extra layer of security like insurance. Purchase a hardware wallet if you don’t have insurance.
Best for Beginners: Coinbase
If you’re a beginner who wants to invest in cryptocurrencies, take a look at Coinbase. Coinbase offers about 40 different altcoins to choose from and it offers a unique feature where you can convert any altcoin into another altcoin automatically on its exchange. Coinbase can do this because it’s a crypto brokerage, not an exchange. The 2 altcoins aren’t actually traded for each other, Coinbase just credits your account with the correct tokens.
Coinbase offers a website and mobile app for iOS and Android. To fund your account, you can connect to your bank via wire or credit card. Alternatively, you can send cryptocurrency to your Coinbase wallet to fund your account.
Best for DeFi Exchanges: Crypto.com
Crypto.com is a cryptocurrency platform that allows you to store, transfer and exchange more than 90 cryptocurrencies. It also offers its Crypto.com Visa Card, so you can spend your crypto anywhere Visa is accepted and earn up to 8% back.
Crypto.com can get you verified in less than 5 minutes, and it's free to open an account. The platform offers 24/7 customer support.
Beyond the Visa card, Crypto.com products include its app, Crypto Pay, Crypto Earn, Crypto Credit and the Crypto.com Exchange and DeFi Wallet. Crypto.com wants to accelerate the world's transition to cryptocurrency, and its wide range of products can help you start your own process.
Best for Altcoin Variety: Binance
Binance, a leading cryptocurrency exchange with several built-in features, offers you the choice to trade against bitcoin, U.S. dollars, or USDT trading pairs. (USDT is a stablecoin that's pegged to the U.S. dollar and has a 1:1 ratio with the U.S. dollar.) Binance also has its own token, Binance coin (BNB), that you can use to pay transaction fees.
Depending on your location, Binance may also offer financial derivatives. Binance offers margin trading in some regions and allows you to leverage your crypto positions.
Best for Comparing Exchanges: Swapzone
Swapzone is an aggregator of what each exchange can offer you. With 15 supported exchanges and over 500 available currencies, you can use the simple forms on the homepage, review a few swaps, choose your favorite and close the deal.
At Swapzone, you enter the crypto you have, what you want to get back and you will see every available deal out there. You don’t have to scrounge through every exchange hoping to find the right deal when Swapzone shows you everything right away. This is far simpler than going for the safest deal. In the case of Swapzone, you always get the best deal.
You also get 24/7 live chat and Gmail support for any questions you may have. You only pay blockchain and partner exchange fees, avoid hidden fees and have the chance to make snap decisions without experiencing information overload.
Crypto Exchange vs. Broker
Crypto brokerages and crypto exchanges serve the same function but operate differently. Crypto brokerages such as Coinbase set the price of altcoins consistent with the market. Alternatively, crypto exchanges use order books consisting of buy and sell orders to set the price of their altcoins. Binance is an example of a cryptocurrency exchange.
Which Exchange Has the Most Altcoins?
Of the exchanges listed above, Binance has the widest variety of altcoins. Binance supports 184 different cryptocurrencies and over 500 trading pairs. Other exchanges still support most major market cap altcoins and both Coinbase and Gemini support dozens of altcoins.
Argent technically supports more tokens than these exchanges, you’ll tap into less variety because Argent only supports Ethereum-based tokens. Most investors care more about the quality of altcoins supported on an exchange compared to the number of altcoins offered on an exchange.
With thousands of altcoins on the market, it's hard to know which to invest in. As a general rule of thumb, smaller market cap altcoins are more volatile than larger market cap coins. Many altcoins are built on Ethereum using the ERC-20 token standard, but many others use their own blockchains or are hosted by alternative layer 1 blockchains, such as Solana and Avalanche. To see some of the top altcoins by market cap, check out our table below.
Should You Invest in Altcoins?
Only invest in volatile altcoins if you’re risk tolerant. More established altcoin projects like Ethereum are generally less risky than small market cap coins but offer less return. Before investing in an altcoin, do your research:
- What problem does this altcoin solve? Can’t figure out what problem an altcoin solves? Chances are, the project doesn’t add much value to the market. Some coins that solve trivial problems may still appreciate in the short term, but you should question the project’s long-term sustainability.
- Why does decentralization help solve this problem? Using blockchains where decentralization is unnecessary often creates inefficiencies. Blockchains are slow, power intensive and hard to operate. Before investing in an altcoin, ask yourself if decentralization on a blockchain is necessary for the project to operate. If it isn’t, then the company likely issued its altcoin as an easy way to raise capital. This was extremely common in the 2017 bull market when the initial coin offering (ICO) craze took place.
- Who developed this project? Knowing the core developers and founders of the altcoin project you want to invest in will give you insight into how the project gets managed. If a project doesn’t display any team members on its website, it’s a red flag. Anonymously developed altcoins are fraudulent. It’s also a good idea to vet the founders/developers on external websites so you can see their past experience and verify their identity.
- How many coins will be minted/are in supply? An altcoin’s price has little to do with its growth potential. Just because a cryptocurrency is cheap doesn’t mean that it has more room to grow than a more expensive coin. You should also know the maximum supply of the coin and how many coins are currently in circulation, as this greatly affects the altcoin’s price.
Investing in the right altcoin projects can lead to huge returns. In the 2017 bull market, it wasn’t uncommon for investors to make 10 or even 100 times their return on altcoins they held through the market cycle.
Related link: COINBASE VS. ROBINHOOD
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