Cryptocurrency investing is more popular than ever. If you’re ready to buy crypto, the best way to do it is through a crypto exchange.
While the major cryptocurrency exchanges usually have a straightforward signup process, it may still be different than what you’re used to. It’s not quite like registering for a new bank account or applying for a credit card. By following a few tips, you can choose the right exchange and know exactly what to expect during signup.
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1. Pick a crypto exchange with features you want – and good security
Since crypto has grown in popularity, there are far more places to buy it. The most important thing to look for in a crypto exchange is security. Everyone wants to be confident their crypto funds and any cash they deposit are safe.
Many crypto exchanges have security pages online that explain how they protect their clients. It’s also good to check if an exchange has had any incidents in the past, such as data breaches.
Here are other features to think about as you look for a crypto exchange:
- Cryptocurrency selection: Some exchanges offer dozens of cryptocurrencies, whereas others only have a few. If you plan to invest in many types of cryptocurrency, pick an exchange with plenty of options.
- Educational content: Several popular exchanges offer high-quality educational content and news. This is nice to have, whether you’re new to crypto or have some experience.
- Design: Crypto trading will be much easier if you sign up with an exchange you’re comfortable using. While you may not be able to see everything before signing up, you can check out an exchange’s platform and see what reviewers say about it.
If you’re not sure which exchange to choose, here are two user-friendly options:
2. Make sure the exchange is available in your area
One of the tricky things about finding a crypto exchange is that they all have their own geographic restrictions. Some exchanges aren’t available in the United States. For example, Binance is the biggest exchange in the world, but it’s not available for U.S. customers. It does have a separate, more limited U.S. platform, Binance.US.
There are also crypto exchanges that can operate in the United States, but only in certain states. These kinds of limitations can be frustrating, especially if you’ve started applying for an exchange only to learn that it doesn’t serve customers in your area.
When you’ve found an exchange you like, check where it can operate to see if you can open an account. Alternatively, look specifically for exchanges licensed to operate where you live.
3. Be ready to verify your identity
As you set up a crypto exchange account, you’ll go through an identity verification process. It’s usually referred to as “KYC,” for “know your customer.” Financial service businesses need to do this to ensure they aren’t used for illegal activities, such as money laundering.
Most exchanges ask for your date of birth, Social Security number, and physical address to verify your identity, plus a scan of a valid government-issued ID. You may also have to take a selfie. Have this information and a valid ID available so that you can get through identity verification without issue.
4. Set up two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security feature that just about every big crypto exchange offers. Some make it optional, while others require that you use it.
With 2FA, it takes two different types of authentication to access your account. Your password is one form of authentication, and the second is often a code sent to your mobile device, your email address, or to an authentication app you use.
With 2FA, it’s much more difficult for anyone to gain unauthorized access to your account. Even if it’s optional, it’s worth using to add an extra layer of security.
5. Don’t expect to start trading right away
It’s exciting to start trading crypto, but you may need to wait a few hours or even days before you can do it. The identity verification process doesn’t always happen immediately. While many exchanges can do it in minutes or hours, it may take longer.
You may also need to fund your account before you can buy crypto. If you do so with a bank account transfer, the process often takes several business days. There could be faster ways to purchase crypto depending on the exchange, but bank account transfers tend to be the cheapest option.
Although signing up for a crypto exchange isn’t too difficult, it can feel a bit foreign when you’ve never done it before. The tips above can make the process quicker and easier for you.