Ratings Methodology for Cryptocurrency Platforms

NerdWallet rates cryptocurrency platforms on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the best possible score. The ratings are incremented in tenths of a star — for example, 4.7, 4.8 and so on. Detailed information about how we rate cryptocurrency platforms and the factors we consider in our assessments is below.

How our cryptocurrency platform ratings work: Our ratings formula calculates a base rating for each crypto platform overall, from 1.0 to 5.0 stars. The rating is based on core features of the platform — the factors that matter most to the average investor and directly affect how investors choose and use a crypto platform. Those are:

  • Minimum trade.
  • Trading, transaction and withdrawal fees.
  • Crypto availability.
  • Digital wallet options.
  • Staking offering.
  • Mobile app store ratings.
  • Customer support.
  • Data collection and review process

    NerdWallet reviews 14 companies that provide the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies to U.S. customers.

    We collect data from providers and observe provider demonstrations, as necessary. Our process starts by sending detailed questionnaires to providers. The questionnaires are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The questionnaire answers, combined with our specialists’ hands-on research, make up our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance.

    The final output produces overall star ratings from poor (1 star) to excellent (5 stars). These overall star ratings appear on roundup pages and the provider’s review.

    We apply a standard adjustment to the final score to account for factors we consider table stakes offerings. If the platform doesn’t offer these, they do not get an adjustment. For the crypto platform’s overall score, this standardized adjustment applies if the exchange has a minimum trade amount of $5 or less.

    We then undergo an additional evaluation process to create lists of the best crypto platforms for certain types of consumers. This evaluation adjusts the weighting of factors (and occasionally considers additional criteria) to emphasize features that matter most to the consumer targeted by the list — for example, our list of the best crypto platforms for staking and rewards heavily weights factors like the number of coins that can be staked. Because of this, a provider’s overall star rating is not always the primary factor that determines inclusion in lists or NerdWallet’s awards program.

    Our review process does not include any review of a company's financials. A crypto exchange's NerdWallet star rating is not an indication of its financial stability or solvency. Rather, the star rating reflects the experience an end user can expect based on the evaluation of the factors mentioned above. If it emerges publicly that an exchange is financially unstable or has allegedly run afoul of laws and regulations, NerdWallet will assess the situation and may make updates to its reviews and roundups accordingly.

    Information updates

    Our writers and editors conduct crypto brokerage reviews on an annual basis. Throughout the year, we maintain contact with providers and update any changes to their offerings.

    Factor weightings

    The weighting of each rating factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. We base much of our evaluation on Bitcoin, since that cryptocurrency has the largest market capitalization of those available through the providers we review. Providers earn an overall score based on the factors and weightings detailed on this page. However, as described above, the factors considered and how heavily those factors are weighted is then adjusted to create lists that target specific types of consumers.

    The review team

    The review team comprises seasoned writers, researchers and editors who cover stocks, bonds, cryptocurrency, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, alternative investments, socially responsible investing, financial advisors, retirement, and investment strategy. In addition to appearing on NerdWallet, the work of our team members has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Nasdaq, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance and other national and regional media outlets. Each writer and editor follows NerdWallet’s strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

    The combined expertise of our investing team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluation of products and services from the customer perspective. Our writers and editors together have more than 50 years of experience in writing about finance.

    Minimum trade

    This is the minimum amount a person must spend to buy and sell Bitcoin. If the trade minimum is $5 or less, it earns the highest rating. If the trade minimum is more than $50, it earns the lowest rating.

    Trading and transaction fees

    This category considers the following, weighted equally:

  • Trading fee for Bitcoin: If the platform has no spot trading fee or spread when purchasing Bitcoin, it earns the highest rating. If that charge is 2% or more, it earns the lowest rating.
  • Transaction fees (based on $200 worth of Bitcoin): If a provider charges no transaction fee, it earns the highest rating. If the provider’s transaction fee is more than 2% based on $200 worth of Bitcoin, it earns the lowest rating.
  • Transaction fee on crypto withdrawals (based on $500 worth of Bitcoin): If a provider charges no transaction fee to withdraw Bitcoin from the exchange to an outside wallet, it earns the highest rating. If a provider charges more than $60, it earns the lowest rating.
  • Number of cryptocurrencies offered and trading pairs (crypto availability)

    We consider how many cryptocurrencies each provider offers for trading. If a provider offers 99 or more cryptocurrencies, it earns the highest rating. If it offers four or fewer, it earns the lowest rating. If the provider offers more than 150 crypto-to-crypto trading pairs, it earns the highest score.

    Digital wallet options

    We consider whether a provider supports outside crypto wallets to store digital currency. If users can connect their own digital wallets, a provider earns the highest rating. If the provider does not allow this, it earns the lowest rating.

    Staking offering

    If a platform offers no staking services, it receives one star. If users can choose from a wide variety of coins that can be staked, the coins offer high yields, funds are liquid and rewards are paid out frequently, the exchange receives five stars.

    Mobile app store ratings

    This category reflects how users review each provider’s Android and iOS mobile app in the respective app stores. If a provider’s user reviews average at least 4.5 stars, it earns the highest rating. If a provider’s user reviews are less than two stars, it earns the lowest rating.

    Customer support

    We consider the following:

  • Phone support: If you can speak to a representative by phone, a provider earns the highest rating. If a provider offers only email communication, it earns the lowest rating.
  • Website usability: We define website usability as how easy it is for our reviewers to find key details on the site. If we can find all information in under five minutes, a provider earns the highest rating. If we can’t find any information, the provider earns the lowest rating.

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