The US bitcoin marketplace is huge.  With a fairly accommodating stance towards bitcoin businesses, many of the largest exchanges in the world are headquartered in the United States. A massive amount of venture capital has flowed into these exchanges, led by Coinbase with approximately $250 million raised, now with a valuation that many peg at $5 billion+.

Big money and a relatively lenient compliance environment have led to flourishing exchanges.  These products are some of the best in the market, with security standards rivaling mainstream banks, and liquidity volumes, despite being limited to US markets, among the highest in the world.  

We detail here the top exchanges in the US market.  In determining which US bitcoin exchanges are the best, we consider a number of data points including relative pricing, customer service, customer privacy, security, coin coverage, and platform quality.

And the Top Bitcoin Exchange in the USA is…

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
Fees
  • Maker: 0%; Taker: 0.25-0.1%
Target Market
  • Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, ACH

Coinbase is an excellent product.  Retail traders have their choice of the standard Coinbase brokerage or the high volume exchange, GDAX.  The brokerage is a simple way to buy and sell bitcoin, litecoin, bitcoin cash and ethereum at the market price, although the fee of 1% is much higher than the GDAX rates.  GDAX offers a rate based on monthly volume, .3%-.1% on the taker side, and 0% on the maker! Of course, there is an additional value in using the brokerage as you receive the exact price displayed instantly, and not having to tinker around with the exchange. Residents from Minnesota are restricted to the brokerage as well.

Your cash deposits are insured, the same as if they sat in a traditional bank.  Cryptocurrency is also insured, though client side breach is not covered – meaning if someone gets ahold of your password and steals your bitcoin, you are out of luck.  To help you protect yourself against computer hack theft, Coinbase has a cold storage vault which is time released and requires email confirmation from you and an additional responsible partner (like your spouse or business partner).

Note that Coinbase is very much in the IRS spotlight.  US residents are going to have an extremely difficult time avoiding taxes regardless of where you buy and sell your bitcoin.  It seems that Coinbase accounts are simply the first in line for scrutiny.

Cash App by Square

Cash app is Square’s person to person money transfer application.  Customers set up a unique name, attach a bank account, and can receive and send money directly to peers at no cost.  Founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Cash app has more than 7 million active customers per month.

Thanks is part to Mr. Dorsey’s enthusiasm for bitcoin, Cash app launched a bitcoin trading feature in the beginning of 2018.  At the moment, bitcoin can be bought and sold on a brokerage model, with the price of bitcoin determined by an undisclosed weighted index of US bitcoin exchanges.  According to Cash apps description there are zero fees, though who can be 100% sure that a bit isn’t hidden in the price.

When compared, however, to the Coinbase brokerage, it does seem that Cash App pricing is often better.  More than that, the app is extremely user friendly. Buying bitcoin is a total breeze, as is everything else you can do on this beautiful app.  We anticipate Cash app investing more resource into flushing out the bitcoin aspect of their business. More than perhaps any other challenger, Square has a chance to disrupt the retail bitcoin market in the US and take a sizable chunk of action from Coinbase.  

This is doubly the case because many bitcoin users were frustrated by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s seeming antagonism to Bitcoin throughout 2017, and are perhaps looking for a viable alternative.

Calling All Institutional Investors!

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
Fees
  • Taker:0.2%; Maker: 0.0%
Target Market
  • Singapore, United States
Currencies
  • USD, SGD
Deposit
  • Bank Wire

ItBit focuses on institutional investors and high volume traders.  Of the US exchanges, or any exchanges really, it has the most robust OTC services, used to properly facilitate extremely high buy and sell orders. Like Coinbase, dollar and bitcoin deposits are insured, and bitcoin is held 100% offline.

Volume is high, though generally about one-third of Coinbase volume thanks to less retail trading. itBit focuses entirely on bitcoin and offers fees of 0.2% on the taker side, 0% on the maker. itBit 24/7 support, is superior to Coinbase, an important consideration to institutional traders, but also retail traders who suffered through the Coinbase support shenanigans in Q4 2017, Q1 2018. Additionally, the itBit exchange did not drop with increased traffic as Coinbase’s repeatedly did, though it should be remembered that itBit did not receive the same traffic volume.    

Step it up Guys!

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
Fees
  • 1%-0% based on monthly trade volume
Target Market
  • United States
Currencies
  • USD
Deposit
  • Bank Wire, ACH

Man, do we wish we could rank Gemini as the top exchange in the United States, but alas. Gemini does not have adequate support to verify accounts during periods of high demand.  This writer waited over 2 months to get his account KYC verified, an embarrassingly poor performance by any standard. The fees, while descending according to achievable volume targets, start way too high at 1%.  We have no idea why they made such a massive fee increase. Liquidity has dropped, and this is perhaps very much due to these two reasons.

This really is a shame.  Fees rose at about the same time that Gemini was being considered as a viable alternative to Coinbase.  Many traders were and are extremely disappointed in Coinbase’s behavior in 2017, the support for a hard fork to an inferior protocol (it collapsed upon launch), the integration of stupid technology like crypto kitties ahead of bitcoin scaling solutions needed to lower fees, and an insider trading scandal involving bitcoin cash, which ended up crashing and likely causing non-clued in customers a ton of money. 

As the brand of well-liked bitcoin investors the Winklevoss twins, Gemini should have capitalized on these foibles.  They didn’t, and time is running out. Multiple public relations officers hired by Coinbase will likely dial down the outrage, and Cash App is coming.

Decentralized Exchange

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Dash
Fees
  • 0.2%
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD, CHF, INR, SEK
Deposit
  • Bank Wire, SEPA, interac, OKPay, Perfect Money, Skrill, Sofort

Want anonymity? Then Bisq is your best bet.  Bisq is the next generation localbitcoins, an entirely anonymous and decentralized online exchange. Localbitcoins was an extremely popular option for US bitcoin trading, until undercover cops started meeting sellers and carting them off to prison.  

With Bisq, no need to meet. Add your bank account or whatever payment option you prefer to the platform, and place your bid for bitcoin as a percentage of the prevailing rate.  Sellers, do the exact same thing on the other side. Or you can simply fill existing orders, using Bisq’s integrated arbitration methodology to prevent cheating.

The fee is .2%, and volumes are steadily rising. Coin is sent to your external wallets – though sellers must obviously store the coin required to fill orders in their Bisq wallet, which is still generated on the client side and not stored anywhere on Bisq’s servers.

This product will be extremely attractive to those who are not comfortable entrusting their coin to custodial exchanges, as well as those who want as much anonymity as possible.   

Cash Only Please

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
Fees
  • 2% for buyer
Target Market
  • United States
Currencies
  • USD
Deposit
  • Cash

Bitquick is a great little product catered towards the cash-only niche.  The platform, like Bisq, facilitates peer to peer transactions, the difference being that Bitquick is all cash, and requires the buyer to make a cash deposit into the bank account of the seller.  

The order book displays the amount, price and bank of each seller. Once the buyer chooses the offer, he is directed to deposit the amount to a particular bank account number, after which a receipt of deposit must be uploaded for confirmation.  In the meantime, a sellers coin is held in escrow by bitquick, and it is released once seller confirms receipt of the cash.