Wei Zhao Wei is currently pursuing his graduate degree in business journalism at New York University. He loves writing about technology and how it affects everyday life. Follow him at @wolfiezhao.

Five Alternatives to Coinbase

4 min read

Coinbase receives a lot of attention because it’s easy for beginners. The company also made headlines in 2017 when they raised their Series D funding of $100 million. With that said, Coinbase’s fees can be as high as 7%, they only offer three digital currencies at the moment, and you might not like how Coinbase handles their Bitcoin fork (e.g. they chose not to distribute Bitcoin Cash to Coinbase users).

Coinbase Bitcoin

Bithumb Bitfinex Bittrex Coinbase Pro HitBTC
Base South Korea Hong Kong U.S. U.S. Europe
Trading volume $900 million $600 million $257 million $183 million $286 million
Trading pairs 10 53 261 9 296
Fiat Currency Accepted Korean Won USD N/A USD, EU, GBP N/A
Country eligibility Open Excluding the U.S Impose restriction on selected states in the U.S. Only available for selected countries; 3 states within the U.S. not eligible Limitation on North Korea, Washington, and the New York States; Otherwise open
Fees 0.15% 0.1% – 0.2% 0.25% 0.1% – 0.25% 0.1%
Major Hack Yes Yes N/A Flash crash N/A

So you may wonder any other alternatives. In this blog, we will give an introduction to five exchanges other than Coinbase across the globe and provide a snapshot of what they are and how they are different. A very useful tool for navigation is CoinMarketCap which tracks the price for most cryptocurrencies, tokens and the trading volumes for exchanges. Most of our following discussion will refer to it.

There are two main reasons we selected these five: liquidity and geography. Market trading volume can reflect how active the exchange and gives you a relative idea whether your buy/sell order can be fulfilled instantly. While cryptocurrencies are traded 24/7, the geographic location of an exchange informs where most of its users and the customer support are likely to be based so you may want to trade during a time that most of them also stay active.  

1. Bithumb

Coinbase alternative: Bithumb
Coinbase alternative #1: Bithumb

Based in South Korea, Bithumb has around $400 million trading volume in the past 24 hours based on CoinMarketCap. Given its location, the only fiat currency Bithumb accepts is Korean Won, either by bank wire or credit card so you don’t have to physically be in South Korea. It offers 10 trading pairs, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Qtum, Ripple, Litecoin, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, Dash and Monero.

For transactions, Bithumb charges 0.15% for makers and takers. You don’t need to pay for depositing funds to the exchange. It does impose a fee for withdrawals, depending on the exact coin you are dealing with. Here you can find a full price list.

While it tops the list of worldwide exchanges by its trading volume, Bithumb was also said to have been hacked in July 2017, with some customers reporting the loss of money due of the security breach.

2. Bitfinex

Coinbase alternative: Bitfinex
Coinbase alternative #2: Bitfinex

Bitfinex is based in Hong Kong and accepts U.S dollar. The trading volume is at a similar level with Bithumb, around $400 million but it has a total of 53 trading pairs. Some of them are crypto-to-fiat (BTC/USD) and rest are crypto-to-crypto (ETH/BTC). This page provides a full list for your reference.

However, do take note that Bitfinex has issues with depositing and withdrawing U.S. dollars directly from bank wire, and it bars U.S. residents from trading due to banking compliance issues.

In terms of the security: Bitfinex was hacked in 2016 during which $60 million was exploited. Following the hack, investors were issued BFX token as an equity representation for 36% of the total hacked amount which Bitfinex later obliged to buy back in 2017.

The fee structure is similar with Bithumb. Deposition is free while transaction charge can vary from 0.1% to 0.2% based on the transaction amount. The withdrawal of any asset also comes with an associated fee.

3. Bittrex

Coinbase alternative #3: Bittrex
Coinbase alternative #3: Bittrex

Bittrex, is based in the U.S. and regulated by the U.S. government. A major difference between Bitfinex and Bithumb is that Bittrex is a crypto-to-crypto only exchange. This means Bittrex doesn’t accept USD (or any fiat currencies). But if you have Ether stored in a wallet somewhere, you can send it to your Bittrex account to buy Bitcoin.

Given this feature, Bittrex offers 261 cryptocurrency trading pairs, and amounting approximately $370 million market volume. For each transaction, they charge a 0.25% commission, slightly higher than the previous two options. But it would be a go-to if you have a wide interest in different coins.

Finally, Bittrex hasn’t seen any security hack that was to the level Bitfinex had suffered. That said, at least one user has reported a hack which resulted in his nearly 7 Bitcoins being stolen.

4. Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX)

 Coinbase Pro

While you can buy/sell cryptocurrencies on both Coinbase Pro and Coinbase, the core difference lies in the order book: When you buy Bitcoin on Coinbase, you are buying the inventory from Coinbase’s own stock. This means you pay the real-time price of bitcoin, for which Coinbase charges you a higher fee.

Coinbase Pro, on the other hand, plays the order book role, which matches your bid/ask with someone’s ask/bid. The exchange is also based in U.S. and offers a total of 9 trading pairs, both fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto. Compared to Bitfinex and Bithumb, Gdax is more diverse in terms of supporting global major fiat currencies, including the US dollar, Euro, and British Pound. The fee ranges from 0.1% to 0.25% depending on the transaction volume.

While no major security hack was reported on Coinbase Pro, there was once a price flash crash where Ether just plunged from over $300 to as low as 13 cents, which triggered a margin call that liquidated the positions held by many leveraged traders. But Coinbase later announced it would reimburse the amount to investors.

5. HitBTC

Coinbase alternative: HitBTC
Coinbase alternative #5: HitBTC

And finally, after Asia and America, we move to the Europe, where HitBTC is based in. In terms of the liquidity, HitBTC and Coinbase Pro are at a similar level, both somewhere between $150 to $200 million. But HitBTC operates in the same style as Bittrex, which provides only crypto-to-crypto trading. Yet, it offers even more options than Bittrex – 296 trading pairs according to CoinMarketCap, beating Bittrex’s 261, with a smaller transaction charge, at 0.1%, compared to Bittrex’s 0.25%.

How to find the exchanges where you can trade specific cryptocurrencies?


Visit Coin Market Cap: They have over 1200 coins listed, among which you should find the one you would like to invest. For example, if you are particularly interested in Ripple, locate Ripple from the top and click on it. Then the next page you will see a chart for the historical price of Ripple. Shown in the screen capture below.

Go to the “Market” tab, after which you will be able to see all the exchanges that offer the trading of Ripple, as well as their corresponding trading pair and volume in the last 24 hours.

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Wei Zhao Wei is currently pursuing his graduate degree in business journalism at New York University. He loves writing about technology and how it affects everyday life. Follow him at @wolfiezhao.