Number One Bitcoin Derivatives Exchange

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Cardano
  • EOS
  • Ripple
Fees
  • Maker: -.025%; Taker: .075%
Currencies
  • Crypto Only
Deposit
  • Crypto Only

Bitmex offers three different bitcoin/USD derivatives – the Perpetual Swap which tracks the spot market; a three-month futures; and a six month futures.  The Perpetual Swap tracks an underlying index which is comprised of the weighted average across a few different exchanges;

a funding rate paid from longs to shorts, or vice versa, is automatically transferred every eight hours, used to ensure that the underlying index is being relatively closely followed.  The Futures contracts work the same as any other futures, with the settlement price using the average price over a predetermined time frame.

Bitmex is the best out there for four main reasons.  First, it has become the most liquid futures exchange out there, with a 24 hour turnover on perpetual swaps frequently about 200,000 XBT – an extraordinary figure considering that the spot market comes in at around 750k daily.  Second, the fees are exceptionally low, with limit orders on the most liquid pairs actually receiving a fee rebate, meaning trades get paid to keep the order book deep. Third, although we would not recommend setting your leverage above 5X, you can customize exceptionally high leverages, up to 100X on the perpetual swap, and 50X on bitcoin and ethereum futures.  And fourth, Bitmex offers high leverages, high volumes, and low fees across many of your favorite crypto assets, so you can speculate how you would like.

Note that Bitmex allows only bitcoin deposits and withdrawals.  All trades are collateralized in bitcoin. This is a massive bonus for bitcoin holders, as it is incredibly easy to begin trading.  Accounts require only an email, and your deposits are ready for trading after 1 confirmation, so you can usually start within 5 minutes or so.    

Get 10% off your trades for the first six months.

Settled in USD

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
Fees
  • $1.50
Target Market
  • United States
Currencies
  • USD
Deposit
  • Bank Wire, ACH, Debit Card

This is a tough one.  The launch of CME and CBOE bitcoin futures has led to a number of big name online exchanges integrating bitcoin futures into their offerings.  This allows mainstream traders to get in on the bitcoin hype without having to buy the underlying asset, and many are able to use their existing stock brokers to do so.  However, both CME and CBOE offer stingly margins of 40% and 35% respectively, and online brokers offer retail traders even higher margin requirements. The contracts are also quite large, with a CME contract representing five bitcoin, and CBOE’s contracts representing one bitcoin.

That being said, our vote goes to tradestation as offering the best combination of low fees, (relatively) decent margin rates, easier accessibility to bitcoin futures than the competition, a really great platform, and access to either the CME or CBOE exchanges, or both.

There is a bitcoin-only futures exchange called deribit that accepts US customers.  It unfortunately has limited liquidity, which is why we can’t recommend it as the top US broker.  Many US-based bitcoin holders that trade futures apparently use Bitmex through a VPN, though this is against their terms of service and is not recommended, both due to VPN latency concerns as well as risking account closure.

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Best Crypto CFDs

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • EOS
  • Ripple
Fees
  • BTCUSD: 1%; EURUSD: .00015; GBPUSD: .0002; GOLD: .5; OIL: .03
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, Paypal, Neteller, Skrill

In general, we are not the biggest fans of crypto CFD brokerages for two reasons: first, the fees are pretty high, generally around 2-3% over market on both sides of a trade; and second, because CFD brokerages are not transparent with their underlying index.  However, CFD brokerages do offer a simple method of trading highly leveraged bitcoin derivatives which is an attractive proposition for those who do not want to actually buy bitcoin. (If you are able to buy bitcoin, then you should use bitmex).

Our vote goes to AVAFX as the best bitcoin and crypto CFD brokerage.  AVAFX has been around for a long time and has a pretty solid track record.  Their fees are also much lower than most of the competition – less than 1% in the  bid/ask spread – and they offer a large number of crypto assets for trading.

In addition to the standard btcusd contract, multiple cryptos are available for trade on AVA’s downloadable MT4 platform.  More importantly, they offer a bitcoin mini contract, the equivalent of .1 bitcoin. With Margin available from 5%, it takes a much smaller deposit to control a relatively meaningful amount of bitcoin.  All the different pairs are also available on AvaGo, the new avatrade mobile app.

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Best Forex CFDs

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
Fees
  • BTCUSD: N/A ; EURUSD: .0001; GBPUSD: .0002; GOLD: .6; OIL: .06
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • Crypto Only
Deposit
  • Crypto Only

1Broker abandoned it’s cryptocurrency CFDs, and now offers only mainstream instruments – forex, stock, commodity, and index CFDs for trade, collateralized and settled only in bitcoin.   While bitcoin is used for trading, all non-Forex instruments are denominated in USD, whilst there are dozens of forex pairs covering all the important crosses, as well as many exotics. If you are looking to trade mainstream CFDs with your bitcoin, 1broker is your best spot.

1broker was really a trailblazer not only in being one of the first bitcoin CFD marketplaces, but also in demonstrating how bitcoin could be utilized for a truly fast and cheap method of trading online.  

Fast, as in in takes only an email to register, and bitcoin deposits are instantly processed – it is no exaggeration to say you may start trading within 60 seconds from the moment you click “create account”.  Withdrawals are just as simple, processed instantly and without any games. For mainstream Forex traders, this is something special.

Cheap, as in the spreads are extremely narrow, as good or better than most of the top mainstream Forex brokerages.  1Broker is generally cheap as well with their withdrawal charges, currently coming in under $5 equivalent.

And last, the product has been designed for a simple, intuitive trading experience, which allows for very fast execution and very little lag.  And perhaps their most popular feature is the social trading aspect, which allows traders to automatically mimic the trades of successful traders and comment on the trades as they occur.  Copied traders earn a percentage of the fees on all the traders that follow them, which can be a very interesting additional revenue stream.

Best Options – Deribit

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
Fees
  • Maker: .02% Taker: .05%. Options .04%.
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • Crypto Only
Deposit
  • Crypto Only

Perhaps the word “best” should be changed to “only”, as Deribit is winner of this category by default.  We do hope to see a burgeoning options market, which many prefer as a hedge over futures, not to mention that beautiful category of investor/speculator, the option trader.  At the moment, Deribit is the only spot that offers options at all. Deribit is a bitcoin-only product, and so your bitcoin options trading must be collateralized and exercised in bitcoin.

The platform is good, and there is a growing but still somewhat low volume of trading going on.  The strikes are a bit too far apart but that would be expected until greater volumes are achieved.  We would imagine that, for an experienced options trader, there is money to be made. Oh, and did we mention that Deribit does accepts US customers?  It only takes an email to begin trading, so might as well check it out.

Best Spot Margin: Bitfinex

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Cardano
  • Dash
  • Decred
  • EOS
  • Ethereum Classic
  • IOTA
  • NEO
  • Qtum
  • Tether
  • Zcash
Fees
  • Maker: 0.0-0.1%; Taker: 0.1-0.2%
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP, JPY
Deposit
  • Bank Wire

While this is not actually a derivative, one need not resort to derivatives to secure leverage.  There are a number of exchanges that offer 3:1 leverage on your spot bitcoin position, but none more popular, or offering margin on more crypto assets, than Bitfinex.  

The volume is high, the trading fees are low, and the borrowing fees are sort of (maybe?) cheap.  When you borrow funds, you are actually borrowing from a lender who prefers to earn interest on the rate of bitcoin at the time of lending.  When the position is closed, the borrower must pay the lender the amount of bitcoin equal to the dollar value at the time of lending, plus the interest.  

This is not actually a derivative, because the borrower actually controls real live bitcoin that has been borrowed from the lender.