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Bankrate.com touts six choices as “Best Online Crypto Brokers” in the U.S.

Retail traders have been attracted to cryptocurrencies since their inception, primarily due to the volatility of this asset class, which can provide several opportunities for gain at the blink of an eye. Many observers contend that retail traders are responsible for a decade of developing this market, since institutional investors did not materially join the fun until 2017, when speculators drove Bitcoin to miraculous heights until its fall in Crypto Winter.

Brokers have also held back to a degree, preferring to offer futures trading to their retail clientele, which negates their need to own Bitcoin or other altcoins directly or to deal directly with any of the unregulated global network of crypto exchanges. To support larger institutional clients, however, most brokers do provide service via their internal OTC (Over-the-Counter) trading desks, where they connect buyers and sellers outside of normal exchange venues. It is estimated that this trading activity is anywhere from 10% to 30% of total system wide volumes, a lucrative side trade.

For the U.S. market, Bankrate.com recently released its picks for the “Top Six” crypto brokers, noting that: “Traditional brokers have the advantage of offering a wide selection of investible securities, though typically you can’t trade bitcoin directly, only futures. Meanwhile, crypto exchanges are limited to digital currencies, though you can own the currencies directly and can often buy several, rather than simply bitcoin or bitcoin futures, as you would with a general broker.” If you preferred to buy and own direct from an exchange, the folks at Bankrate recommended Coinbase, the present market leader.

As for the six best crypto brokers, here are brief summaries of each entity:

  • Robinhood: In case you do want to own directly without dealing with an exchange, then Robinhood is your broker. Trades are “commission free”, as are trades for stocks or the ETFs offered. The lack of a “full-featured” trading experience, however, may leave you wanting.
    • Commission: $0
    • Minimum: $0
    • Exclusive offer: Free share of stock
  • TD Ameritrade: This broker has always been top of the heap when it comes to traditional trading instruments like stocks and bonds. The firm received a good deal of press when it announced earlier this year that cryptos were coming. They may not have come as quickly as crypto advocates would have liked, but the company is taking a slow entry approach. Retail traders may trade futures. The larger clients are testing a direct service, which may be rolled out over time.
    • Commission: $2.25 per contract
    • Minimum: $25,000 for futures
    • Exclusive offer: 60 days of free trades and up to $600 cash, with qualifying deposit
  • E*Trade: This broker responded “in kind”, when TD Ameritrade announced its plans for crypto, but the E*Trade program is more user-friendly. It already offers futures, but at a much lower and acceptable minimum for the retail audience, while planning a direct purchase service in the back office. If you want to spread your wings in other directions, the firm also offers 4,400 no-fee mutual funds.
    • Commission: $2.50 per contract (for bitcoin futures)
    • Minimum: $500, futures margin depends on contract
    • Exclusive offer: Free trades plus up to $2,500 cash, with qualifying deposit
  • Interactive Brokers: This broker also offers trading in the futures market, with one unique twist – you may ride the coattails of its license with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and buy directly on this exchange at $10 a pop. The minimum may be a roadblock, however, but you may also trade almost any other security that is traded on any exchange.
    • Commission: $5 to $10 per contract, depending on the exchange
    • Minimum: $10,000
    • Exclusive offer: None
  • Charles Schwab: An easy pick here, as Charles Schwab is usually at the top of anyone’s list due to its investor-friendly reputation. It, too, offers futures contracts at a low $1.50 price and with no minimum, although there may be a margin requirement, based on the risk parameters of your deal. Their bonus program for large players may also be attractive to you.
    • Commission: $1.50 per contract
    • Minimum: $0, futures margin depends on contract
    • Exclusive offer: 500 commission-free stock and options trades with $100,000 deposit
  • TradeStation: This competitor means to beat the herd. The broker announced that direct trading in Bitcoin was in development, but after the January announcement, the firm has not gone beyond Bitcoin futures, which are purchased from the CME. The firm has a reputation of supporting active traders, such that we expect a direct product soon. Volume discounts are substantial.
    • Commission: $1.50 per contract
    • Minimum: $500, futures margin depends on contract
    • Exclusive offer: None