Choosing a cryptocurrency exchange in Australia
Before choosing an exchange, you should know what kind of trading you’re interested in and ask yourself: What’s most important to you?
- A wide selection of coins
- Low fees
- Platform authenticity and security
- All of the above
Well, it all starts with a bit of research. Here are the top eight things to consider when choosing cryptocurrency exchange.
1. User interface & ease-of-use
Buying and selling crypto doesn’t need to be complicated. While having all the advanced trading features can be appealing to experienced traders doing high volume/futures/leverage trading, most crypto users are just after a simple way to buy and sell crypto that is safe and easy-to-understand. If this is you, you may want to look for an exchange that:
- Is designed for simplicity and emphasises a user-friendly experience
- Offers a clean and no-nonsense display of your assets and the current markets
- Provides a free, personal wallet (kept on the exchange) upon sign up
- Offers educational guides on the basics of crypto
- Offers useful features such as recurring buys/dollar-cost-averaging, price notifications or the ability to pay your bills with Bitcoin (which is becoming more popular in Australia)
- Has a desktop/mobile app that is easy to use
- Isn’t convoluted with every advanced trading feature out there (which can make buying crypto WAY harder than it needs to be)
Related article: How to buy Bitcoin in Australia
2. Platform Security
Platform security is paramount. If an exchange is insecure you could potentially lose all your assets. If you want to avoid this happening, it may be best to prioritise exchanges that offer:
- 2-factor verification (2FA) – especially for withdrawals
- The vast majority of customer funds stored offline in cold storage
- A web address that starts with https (NOT http)
- A KYC (know your customer) policy, which ensures the integrity of the platform and is now a legal requirement for most exchanges in Australia
- Biometric face recognition, which greatly improves your account security
- Sophisticated and regularly updated multi-layered security
- Regular security reviews and criminal background checks of employees
- If you have a large holding of crypto stored on an exchange, we recommend considering using a cold, hardware wallet for added security.
3. Company authenticity & customer-support
While this is one that people too easily gloss over, the authenticity and transparency of the company and people who run the exchange are very important. If you’re new to crypto there’s a good chance you may need to contact your exchange at some point, so it’s really worth looking into an exchange that:
- Offers responsive and Australian-based customer support
- Is passionate about crypto education and getting newcomers crypto-savvy
- Openly reveals its owners, company location and the members of its team
- Has members who are personally involved with local crypto events and active in crypto forums and Facebook groups
- Has an upfront and transparent fee schedule (be aware that most exchanges claim this even if it isn’t true)
4. Fees & charges (especially the hidden ones!)
The fees an exchange charges matters! And they vary wildly, with many exchanges stowing hidden fees away where they aren’t so easy to notice. Most exchanges charge fees for crypto trades, it’s a good idea to review and compare a few different exchanges to see who provides the most competitive fees. Be vigilant! Some exchanges may advertise that they charge no fees only to take their cut from hidden currency conversion fees, their spreads, or listing their coins at prices that are higher than other exchanges. Looking for an exchange that ‘locks-in’ your trades (also called guaranteed pricing) can guarantees that you get the price you see at the time of transaction even if the trade doesn’t settle immediately. Make sure you can trade directly with AUD. While this is available on most local exchanges, some exchanges require you to convert your AUD to BTC or USD before trading. They then charge a sneaky currency conversion fee they don’t tell you about when you signed up!
5. Selection of coins
As you know, Bitcoin is no longer the only crypto on the market. Coins like Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple are becoming increasingly part of the mainstream vocabulary and there are thousands of other altcoins to choose from. While many altcoins are highly risky and volatile investments, the crypto market is booming with innovative new coins, some of which may do well in the future. If you want access to more than just Bitcoin and Ethereum, it may be worth looking at exchanges with a wide selection of coins.
6. Local or international exchange
Generally speaking, it’s better to choose an exchange from the country you are in. This makes things easier with:
- Any legal and regulatory changes
- Doing your crypto taxes at the end of the year
- Having quality customer-support
- Buying crypto direct with AUD
If you do want to use an international exchange for whatever reason, this is possible too, just be mindful of some of the drawbacks they can have if you’re living in Australia.
Related article: 5 Tips to Master Cryptocurrency Trading in 2021
7. Spreads & liquidity
Have you taken spreads into account? Spreads are another way you can be charged fees that are not stated upfront, so get savvy about them before you sign up. Basically, the spread is the difference between the quoted buy and sell price on an exchange. Having tighter spreads (a lower difference between the quoted prices) is beneficial in a number of ways and will minimise your fees and losses when trading cryptocurrency. Not only do spreads affect every trade you make but they are often not stated upfront and may leave you confused and out-of-pocket.
Liquidity on the other hand makes it possible to complete transactions faster, more easily and without so much price volatility. The higher the trading volume is, the more liquid an exchange or any individual asset is. It is probably a good idea to prioritise exchanges that offer ‘locked-in trades’ or ‘guaranteed pricing’. Depending on the type of trading you’re looking to do, liquidity can be an important factor.
8. Instant trading, verification & method of purchase
Having access to instant withdrawals and deposits is desirable for most traders. Additionally, the method of purchasing cryptocurrency can vary between platforms. Some exchanges offer deposits by bank transfer, PayID, PayPal, POLi, or credit and debit cards. Choose an exchange that offers free, instant AUD deposits. Some exchanges have begun using PayID/Osko payments as their deposit method which is a safe, easy and free way to deposit money into your crypto account. However, it is also worth noting that there are some exchanges out there which only accept other cryptocurrencies or USD – you will likely pay an extra conversion fee if you are trading/depositing AUD. It usually helps to choose an exchange with fast/instant account verification, especially if you’re eager to get trading. You’ll usually need to provide an official ID document and do a biometric face check for instant verification to be possible.
Weighing it all up
After doing your research it’s time to weigh up your options and decide what’s most important to you. Remember, don’t be afraid to contact exchanges’ customer-support, seek out user testimonials, or sign up and try out a few exchanges before committing to one. Choosing the right exchange can make a big difference to your crypto experience and it’s worth shopping around before you dive right in.
Cover image source: Phongphan (Shutterstock.com)
If you’re comparing online share trading companies, the comparison table below displays some of the companies available on Canstar’s database with links to providers’ websites. The information displayed is based on an average of six trades per month. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by provider name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s Online Share Trading comparison selector to view a wider range of online share trading companies.
About Nico Lim
Nico is a a regular contributor for – one of Australia’s most trusted and user-friendly cryptocurrency exchanges. He has a keen interest in cryptocurrency, the Blockchain and technology that can simplify and enhance our everyday lives. Since being converted to the world of crypto and innovative tech, Nico has dedicated much of his time to creating easy-to-digest crypto content for Australians through Digital Surge’s crypto education hub. He has a knack for making things simple without getting bogged down in the unnecessary technical details. After writing for a variety of businesses and organisations that span the areas of law, fintech, digital marketing, medicine, health & wellness, and philanthropy, Nico has taken his creativity, passion and love for writing to the world of crypto – and has not looked back. While he continues to write for a number of loyal clients, the past few years have seen him dive into the crypto space, which he sees as an inevitable and much-needed step towards a fairer, more democratised financial system that includes everyone. He believes that technology, if used and implemented wisely, can enhance our lives and transform the world for the better.