As a luxury traveler, you're probably no stranger to exchanging your money for foreign currency. But what about exchanging it for cryptocurrencies while you're abroad? This is something not everyone is familiar with, yet it's becoming more relevant every day, considering that many establishments today will let you pay in crypto.
If you're unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies, you should know that you'll need to sign up for a crypto exchange if you plan on exchanging these types of assets. There are tons of different options, making it a difficult choice. If you plan on traveling, things can get even more complicated since not all of these exchanges may work in your destination, the coins you plan to use may not all be available, etc.
Considering that Europe is a popular destination among luxury travelers, in this post, I'll show you how to know which crypto exchange is the best when traveling to the old continent, and I'll give you some suggestions on which ones could work best for you.
Choosing the right crypto exchange matters for several reasons. Besides actually being able to use the crypto exchange once you enter Europe, which is reason enough, your choice will impact your bottom line, the ease with which you can buy and sell coins, and even how easy or hard it will be to get your money back if you need it.
As a traveler, choosing wisely will help you avoid scams that can cost you thousands of dollars, like what happened to thousands of Canadians who lost tens of millions of dollars in the QuadrigaCX scam of 2019.
So if you're seeking to learn how to choose a trustworthy crypto exchange that you can use while visiting Europe, one with low fees and a user-friendly interface, read on.
There are several features and characteristics you want to look at when choosing a good crypto exchange. Some of the most relevant, in order of importance, are:
The most important aspect of any crypto exchange, in my opinion, is account security. In other words, how likely is your account to be hacked and for you to lose your money?
Crypto exchanges are no longer as vulnerable to hacking as they once were, thanks largely to robust security measures. Almost all major exchanges today provide the most up-to-date security standards, which protect your assets from theft. This may include two-factor authentication (2FA), anti-phishing techniques, address whitelisting and strict password requirements.
However, even if an exchange offers all of the security mentioned above features, you'll still want to be able to move your coins off of the exchange and into a crypto wallet for maximum protection. To know if a crypto exchange allows this, you'll need to confirm that the exchange allows cold storage.
Not all crypto exchanges are allowed to operate in every country, and this is particularly true for the UK, the EU and other European countries. When choosing a crypto exchange, you'll want to check whether they are licensed to operate in your destination. You'll also want to check the types of assets you'll be able to trade once you're there and if the exchange offers any sort of asset protection.
For example, the world's biggest crypto exchange, Binance, was recently banned from operating in the UK after a crackdown on the cryptocurrency market by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
A crypto exchange will let you buy and sell cryptos for fiat currencies like USD, GBP or EUR, but that's not all you can use them for. They are also the platforms where traders exchange different cryptos, invest in different crypto-related financial instruments, and some even let you trade stocks. Consequently, the list of functions and tools that a crypto exchange can have may feel overwhelmingly complex for new crypto traders.
That said, the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges have interfaces that are easy to use for both novices and experts. Your chosen platform should be simple enough for newcomers while still offering more sophisticated tools and settings to use as you gain experience.
Depending on how frequently you trade on an exchange, fees may impact your bottom line differently. Frequent traders are aware of the importance of low trading fees and tiered fee systems, but long-term investors should also take fees into account as they'll eat into their bottom line.
Even so, you shouldn't go around shopping for the lowest fees when choosing an exchange since those that offer low or zero-fee trading usually embed the fees and commissions into their spreads.
There are more than 10,000 cryptocurrencies in existence, most of them altcoins, so the more of them that your exchange supports, the better. If an exchange doesn't offer too many options, it should at least support the most important coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and even Dogecoin, to name a few.
When funding your account to buy crypto, you want to ensure your exchange supports the type of payment you plan to make. In other words, make sure the exchange accepts funding alternatives suitable for your needs. The same goes for withdrawal options.
Direct transfers from your personal bank, Interac e-transfers, and crypto deposits are some of the most common options.
It's important to consider what type of currency you can use to fund and withdraw from your crypto exchange account. Besides USSD, most also offer GBP as an option, and some offer EUR as well.
Find out if they offer 24/7 customer support, if they speak your language and what channels are at your disposal to get in touch. Is it easy for you as a customer to contact customer support and get answers?
Coinbase is one of the most popular crypto exchanges, and it's also one of the easiest to use, making it a great choice for beginners. The platform supports multiple fiat currencies, including USD, GBP and EUR, and it offers a simple user interface. Coinbase also has excellent customer support, with 24/7 support in multiple languages. Coinbase has the lowest trading fees of all popular exchanges, and it also has a tiered fee structure that will be more suitable for frequent traders.
Coinbase is the "best overall crypto exchange" because it supports (and accepts) so many different cryptos, has low fees, good customer support in multiple languages, high-security measures and is very easy to use.
Binance is one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, and it offers a vast array of coins to trade. It's a great platform for experienced traders looking for a variety of altcoins to invest in.
Binance has quickly become the go-to exchange for many traders because of its low fees and its wide selection of coins. However, it's important to note that it is not available in all European countries, as stated above.
BitBay is a lesser-known but reputable crypto exchange available in a number of European countries. While its selection of coins may not be as vast as Binance's, it does offer some unique features like support for Polish Zloty.
BitBay also supports fiat deposits and withdrawals in a number of European currencies, making it a great choice for those who want to trade in their local currency. It also offers 24/7 customer support in a variety of languages.
When traveling to Europe, it's important to be aware of the different crypto exchanges available in each country. Some exchanges are more heavily regulated than others, so it's best to do your research and choose an exchange that will be available in the countries you plan to visit. Coinbase is a great overall choice for experienced European travelers and beginners alike – they offer a user-friendly platform with low fees and a variety of payment options. However, coinbase isn't available in some parts of Europe. The exchange you choose will ultimately depend on the type of crypto you plan to buy, the available deposit and withdrawal options and, most importantly, how secure your money is in the account.
Jordan Bishop is a personal finance expert and travel hacker who holds a degree in finance and entrepreneurship from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada. He is the founder of Yore Oyster and How I Travel, two sites to help you optimize your finances and he recently published his first book, Unperfect, an exploration of problem solving.