Heading into 2019, buying Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in Canada can be a difficult process. Yes, there are a lot of options, but there are also a lot of factors to consider when choosing which platform is right for you. In this article, we break down what details to consider, and rate our top Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges available specifically to Canadians. If you are looking for international exchanges, check out our exchange review post or our comprehensive guide of how to buy Bitcoin worldwide.
If you are new to buying and selling digital currency, customer service will be important to you. It’s more likely than not you are going to have questions along the way. It’s a whole new world out there, and using a platform with first class customer support team will help you navigate.
Canadian Banking Relationships
If you know anything about the Canadian banking system, you know that regulations, KYC and compliance are the name of the game. International exchanges have had a tough time getting into the Canadian market because they can’t get bank accounts in Canada. Fortunately, there is a variety of homegrown Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges who have established banking relationships locally and have no problem accepting your Canadian dollar deposits.
Speaking of Canadian dollars, unless you want to get burned on exchange rate fees, it’s always wise to fund your account with Canadian dollars. Nowadays, there are options to fund with cash, credit card, bank wire or Interac e-Transfer. Make sure the funding method you want to use is supported on your exchange, and beware of the fees associated with each method. Credit card transactions can be charged up to 10% fees! Most reputable Canadian platforms are registered with FINTRAC, and their Money Services Business license can be found on their website.
If you are just looking to buy a small amount of digital currency, advanced trading features may not be of much importance to you. If you are looking to sell, trade between currencies, or margin trade, you’ll want to research what features each exchange can provide. Exchanges are constantly upgrading their platforms, so make sure you have the latest information straight from the source. Most of this information is available on an exchange’s support page or FAQ section.
Pricing and Fees
There is a wide spectrum of fee structures and spot pricing on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges, and there are many things to consider when comparing them. Some exchanges will charge a flat transaction fee, that can be as high as 6%, while others charge claim they charge zero fees but will add an additional spread on the price the customer pays. To compare fees, it’s best to check out information on each exchanges site. To compare pricing, CBIX.ca is a great tool that shows a number of Canadian options.
7 Best Canadian Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Bitbuy is our number one choice as the best place to buy and sell cryptocurrency online in Canada. The online platform was founded in 2013 as InstaBT, with a mission to provide safe, easy and quick access to Bitcoin. Rebranded as Bitbuy in 2016, the platform still makes good on its original mission all these years later and is one of the most popular platforms in Canada.
Bitbuy delivers on quick and comprehensive customer support and in addition to their comprehensive support guide and ticketing system, they provide a toll-free number for users to call into in order to speak directly to a customer support agent. The sign-up and verification process is also very easy and typically takes only a couple minutes to complete. Bitbuy follows Canadian KYC regulations, so be prepared to have your ID and proof of address on hand when signing up. The site has a sleek and easy to use design and is optimized for mobile browsers for easy trading on the go. They also have their own resources for beginners, including a comprehensive guide to buying Bitcoin in Canada.
The platform is not just for newbies, however, as experienced users will enjoy the fast turnaround times that Bitbuy provides. Experienced traders know that having a quick and reliable fiat on and off-ramp can make all the difference. Turnaround times are lightning quick, as most cash deposits and withdrawals are processed within hours. Crypto hold times are minimal as well, as only the first crypto withdrawal is held for 1-2 days.
Bitbuy has some of the lowest trading, funding, and withdrawal fees in Canada, and has zero fees on crypto deposits or withdrawals. A couple areas that Bitbuy could work on are the number of coins available (only 4 at the time of writing) as well as advanced order types. Currently, Bitbuy relies on liquidity from other exchanges which means buyers and sellers can only make transactions at market prices. However, the team at Bitbuy has recently announced a new advanced exchange product called Bitbuy Pro, that is scheduled to be released in early 2019. Bitbuy Pro will have advanced order types, deep liquidity and additional crypto pairs and coins available. We certainly look forward to the release of the new product.
- Easy to use
- Great customer service
- Low fees
- Good spot prices
- Consistent feature upgrades
- Strong banking relationships
- No advanced trading features yet
- Verification is quick but not instant
- No margin trading
Coinsquare comes in at number two on our list, as another established and well-known cryptocurrency exchange in Canada. Coinsquare has quickly made a name for itself as an established brand to the Canadian crypto crowd, as it went through a massive expansion and platform upgrade during the 2017 crypto surge. Many Canadians were introduced to the company in the spring of 2018 with their large-scale marketing campaign, that included prominent billboards, newspaper ads, and commercials.
In addition to their web-based exchange with many great features, Coinsquare has a mobile application. The app is well designed and easy to use, although users have complained that it can be buggy at times. These features include several fiat deposit and withdrawal options and a large variety listing of coins available. Recently, Coinsquare has secured a relationship with a major Canadian bank meaning you can rest assured you can deposit to their account worry-free. Users can also make credit card deposits, however, transaction fees are quite high at 10%.
Coinsquare also supports crypto withdrawals, but can often hold your withdrawal for up to 7 days as they verify the legitimacy of your funding method. The interface is fairly easy to use and has enough simplicity for a beginner trader and enough complexity for an advanced user.
Coinsquare offers a Wealth program for high net worth individuals that include lower transaction fees and concierge service for larger transactions. Users looking for margin trading will have to look elsewhere as well, as it’s not yet a feature that Coinsquare offers.
- Well known brand
- Canadian banking partnerships
- Good liquidity
- Multiple order types
- Coinsquare Wealth program for high net-worth individuals
- Higher than average spot prices
- Higher than average fees
- Coin withdrawal delays
- No margin trading
Kraken is a well established international cryptocurrency exchange, originally based out of San Francisco. Kraken allows users to fund their accounts in Canadian dollars and has several Canadian dollar trading pairs. Kraken operates a small office in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that handles their Canadian operations and support.
Kraken has limited funding options compared to other Canadian exchanges. Currently, the only way to deposit Canadian dollars onto Kraken is by bank wire, meaning you will need to physically travel to your bank and process a wire transfer in order to use the service. Certainly not the most convenient funding method, but if you are willing to complete the process, Kraken is a good platform to use for advanced features.
Maybe their best feature, Kraken allows users to margin trade, meaning users can borrow funds to buy digital assets. This is an advanced tactic that can be tricky, but it can profitable if you know what you are doing.
Kraken also offers discounts to high volume traders, something not many other exchanges offer. Although Kraken offers some of the best feature sets and a selection of many altcoins, it suffers from a lack of popularity in Canada. Some of the CAD pairings that they offer have low trading volume, meaning if you are planning on buying a large amount, you may encounter price slippage and pay a higher price that you would have hoped for your digital currency. Kraken benefits from being a top international exchange and has good support as well as constant upgrades.
- Low Fees
- Margin trading
- Advanced trading platform with many features
- Limited funding options
- Low volume for Altcoin/CAD pairings
QuadrigaCX comes in at number 4 on our list, as one of the oldest and most liquid exchanges in Canada. QuadrigaCX continues to be one of the most used Canadian exchanges, as a result of them being well established in the industry well before the crypto boom of 2017. They offer advanced order types, so users looking to set their own buy and sell price can easily do so. However, their market prices tend to be slightly higher than their Canadian competitors so these features certainly benefit the seller more than the buyer. QuadrigaCX offers Equifax instant verification as well as in-person verification at any Canada Post location.
Funding your Quadriga account with Canadian dollars can be tricky, as they recently removed all Interac funding options. Users looking for the convenience of funding their account by Interac e-Transfer should probably look elsewhere. Alternatively, they offer unique deposit and withdrawal methods such as cash deposits at Canada Post and cash pick up withdrawal from their Vancouver office.
If you are a first time user, the platform is a little difficult to navigate, and the UI could use a design refresh. Users have also voiced concerns about customer support, as only email support is available and wait times can be long. A major point of contention between QuadrigaCX and it’s users have been cash and crypto withdrawal turnaround times.
- Instant verification
- Buy and sell orders
- Been in-market for a long time
- Lots of complaints/ unhappy users
- No Interac funding
- Non-user friendly and outdated interface
- Delayed cash withdrawals due to banking issues
- Not an MSB
NDAX, or the National Digital Asset Exchange, is a relatively new exchange based out of Calgary, Alberta. They come in at number 5 on our list as more of an up and comer, with hopes they will become one of Canada’s more used exchanges. Officially, the soft launch was in May 2018 and they have not been marketing aggressively in the marketplace.
The platform itself offers instant verifications, several CAD deposit methods, and some advanced order types. In addition to market and limit orders, they also offer the more advanced fill-or-kill, stop, stop-limit and trailing stop order types. These would certainly be of interest to advanced traders. The problem so far with NDAX is that not many people are using the exchange. At the time of writing, their 24-hour volume was just over 1 BTC, or $5,000 CAD. Until the NDAX volume picks up, traders will have difficulty fully taking advantage of the advanced features available.
- Advanced features
- Modern design
- Unique Altcoin/CAD pairs
- Low volume
- Poor customer service
- No margin trading
Coinfield is another relatively new exchange in the Canadian cryptocurrency space, having just launched in February 2018. In November 2018, Coinfield partnered with Ripple and began using XRP as its base currency with multiple XRP trading pairs. Coinfield recently added another 61 countries other than Canada, so their focus has switched to be more of an international XRP based option, rather than an exchange for Canadians.
For the most part, Coinfield has built a good reputation online but some users have complained that withdrawal fees are too high.
Coinfield has done a good job by bringing a platform to market that is worthy of professional traders. However, Coinfield doesn’t support volume discounts to frequent traders nor does it offer margin trading which are often features that many profession crypto traders are looking for.
- XRP trading pairs
- Sleek interface
- Low Fees
- No margin trading
- Less of a focus on Canadian marketplace
- No simple trading
QuickBT is an extremely simple and easy way to buy Bitcoin for Canadians. It comes in at number 7 on our list because, despite its many drawbacks, it is a pretty simple process to be able to buy cryptocurrency quickly. Because Interac Funding has recently been disabled, users will need to either go to Canada Post to make an in-person payment or buy a Flexepin voucher from a local retailer in order to load their account. Once loaded, users can buy up to $200 of Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin on a one-page interface. The coins will be sent immediately once the purchase is completed, and no KYC is needed as all accounts are connected only to the users’ phone number. Certainly an easy process, but the low limits and need to go into a physical location to top up your account, are definite drawbacks. If QuickBT manages to bring back Interac funding or perhaps add e-transfer, it would become a more viable option for many Canadians.
- An easy option for small purchases
- No account needed
- Limited funding available
- No phone support
- Limited coins
- High fees
There you have it! Our list of the top Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges!