Best Bitcoin Exchanges 2018 with Bitcoin Trading Guide

Welcome to Hardforking’s Best Bitcoin Exchanges and Trading Guide

If you’re completely new to Bitcoin and all the terminology that comes with it, what we’ve created for our readers in our exchange and trading guide, is a base of knowledge that will answer all the questions you need to be asking.  Don’t worry if you’re brand-new here, read through our exchange reviews, charting sites and trading guides and before you know it everything will become super clear.

What we cover in this guide

  • Where to buy Bitcoin
  • What kind of Exchange is right for you?
  • Exchange Comparisons
  • Helpful exchange and trading terminologies

How-to Trading Guide

  • Understanding Orders and how to use them
  • What are Fundamental and Technical Analysis
  • How to Read Charts
  • Simple Trading Strategies

First-things-first!  What kind of exchange do I need?

Ok, so you’re looking to buy some coins, or you’ve purchased some already.  There are different kinds of exchanges so we’ll start at the bottom and work up from there.

Can’t wait?  Just wanna buy now?  Go for it!

To makes things easy we’ve split the different types of exchanges into 3 simple tiers representing the levels of expertise that you’ll need to use them.   If you’re new to this, try a tier-1 exchange and you’ll quickly see how easy it is to buy Bitcoin and other Crypto.  Once you’ve taken that first step, you can come back and try the higher tiers.

Of course, you’re going to have to jump in and have a look around, don’t be shy!  Read through this section, open up an account or two, and have a go!  If you want to day-trade for instance, you’re going to need more than gateways like  Most exchanges have tutorials and some leveraged platforms, like SimpleFX, allow you to open ‘demo’ accounts so you can test the orders and your strategy without risking your money.

Payment gateway exchange (tier-1 – Simplest to use, fast access to Bitcoin and other Crypto) simply a website or service that allows you to buy crypto via bank transfer, credit/debit-card or cash.

  • Spot-based exchange (tier-2 – More options and control on how you buy/sell) is a platform that allows you and other people to buy and sell crypto to each other freely.
  • Leveraged, margin or futures exchange (tier-3 – Even more options and control, plus accelerated risk and reward) is a platform that allow you and other people to use your account’s capital to buy or sell positions in excess of account value (you do not own anything when margin or futures trading, as you would on a gateway or spot exchange).
  • Leveraged CFD Broker (tier-3 – Even more options and control, plus accelerated risk and reward) is a platform that allows you and other people to open contracts via a broker (same as the leveraged trading above, you do not own anything as you would on a spot exchange or gateway).
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How to use the orders on an exchange?

There are 3 basic types of order that you’ll need know to be able to use an exchange or broker.  These orders will buy and sell in an orderbook which is the list of all the buy and sell orders on that exchange.

  1. Limit Orders
  2. Market Orders
  3. Stop Orders

Limit order: A limit order is an order to buy or sell a coin at a specific price.  For a buy limit order to fill, someone must sell to your order at the price you have decided.

Market order: As opposed to a limit order, where you are looking for someone to buy or sell to you at your price.  A market-order buys or sells to and from limit-orders.  In the case of a market-buy, your order fills whatever capital you decide to put towards the order but the price at which your buy executes depends on the size of the order and how liquid the orderbook is.  Market orders can experience ‘slippage’ which is when your order executes over a range of prices rather than at a specific one.

Stop-order: Stops are orders that trigger automatically on a condition, used to open/increase or close/decrease positions.  A stop-order is a market-order that will execute if a certain price is reached.  E.g. I’m holding a long position in BTCUSD from $11,600, if the price goes up I have limit-orders set to take profit at higher prices but, if the price goes against me and reaches $11,500, a stop-order to sell at market will exit the position ($11,500 is where I consider my analysis to be wrong, therefore must close the trade and take the loss – which is why this would be called a ‘stoploss’, because it closes the position and stops loses outside of your planned risk).  To open a position with a stop, take the following example: (I have no position open and the current price is $11,600) I have a stop-order to buy at market if the price reaches $11,800 which will open a long position.  If the price is not reached, then the order won’t fire.

Check out the most comprehensive Real Time Bitcoin Price Chart here.

Technical and Fundamental Analysis.  How do I decide what to buy or sell?

Technical Analysis, is an analysis performed on the price movements of an asset, currency etc.  In other words, technical analysis is using charts to plot where you want to buy and sell something.

Fundamental Analysis, is an analysis performed on everything off the charts i.e. the news, the team who are working on the project, company, coins, currency etc.

Both have their merits and, especially for longer-term investments, a combination of both is essential.  Traders will debate the strength and importance of one or both sides.  The basic facts are these; you need technicals to know what the price is, and you need fundamentals to know the ecosystem.  You’ll have to figure out what works best for you however, you will benefit from the right amount of both.

How do I read charts?

As we said above you are going to need some technical analysis to decide where to buy and sell.  This is where a great tool like comes in.  This web-service/tool allows you to see the charts of Bitcoin and other cryptocoins (plus many other financial instruments) all in one place.

What does a chart actually show?

A chart, in it’s simplest form, shows the price of something – like BTCUSD – plotted over periods of time.  In other words, it’s an illustration of how price has changed up to the current date.  On the right-hand side is the price of the asset and at the bottom is the date.  The ‘price’ over time can be shown by a line, candlesticks or a variety of other ways.  The two charts below show a candlestick-chart and a line-chart.

The line-chart is the simplest form of graph, which shows what the price was at the close of each period.  The chart has a timeframe, in this case 1-Day timeframe (Traders call this a 1D chart, or a Daily-chart).  This means that at the end of each day, the line will mark a price, and the next period starts – at the end of that next day, again, a new price point will be marked for that period… and onwards.

The candlesticks show a bit more detail.  Instead of only marking the price at the close of each period, or the ‘closing price’, candlesticks have 4 pieces of information.  A candlestick comprises an Open, a High, a Low and a Closing price (OHLC).  So, for each period you can see a little more information on what happened during that period.

Capitalising on Momentum

You may have heard of the phrase, “the trend is your friend”.  This is an old trading and investing adage.  Basically, this refers to the direction in which a coin, stock or asset is moving – up or down.  It’s such a simple concept that this alludes most traders as they try and call the tops and bottoms of the markets there are trying to capitalise on.

If you can find the trend, what that means is that you have found a direction in the market.  You have found an instrument that is moving, and with this information you can enter the market with the aim of following the trend until it stops and changes direction.

How do I find trends on a chart?

An easy way is by using Moving Averages.  Moving averages (MA) show trends by averaging a number of closing prices which then displays a smooth line over the candlesticks.  The candlesticks may look ‘choppy’ or ‘noisy’ (volatile), but the MA helps to cut out the noise and simply shows a smooth gradient which can help to identify the general direction.

Once you have a found a trend, don’t bet against it.  Sure, it will stop, but once something is moving, statistically, it is in your favour to ride that out, as opposed to trying to be clever by attempting to decipher how and when it will stop.  A good analogy is surfing waves at the beach, you wouldn’t have much fun if you spent all day trying to surf the wrong way up the waves, right?  It’s the same for markets, be the pro-surfer/trader that picks their waves carefully, and capitalises on the strongest, cleanest waves that will offer the highest value returns.



Basic Trading Strategies

Trading strategy can be an in-depth, mathematical, complex, risk reducing, opportunity gaining exercise which you can use to build a trade plan… But let’s start with just a couple of simple bits of reasoning that will allow you to easily monitor your risk, reward and general expectations of each trade you make.

A very common day-trading strategy is to accept a risk of 1 to gain a reward of 2-3.  So, for every $1 risked in a trade, there should be a planned reward of $2-3.  Trades will go wrong, your analysis could be incorrect, you may have been hasty and entered at a bad price.  The bottom line is that if you’re correct more than you are incorrect, then over time you’ll pick up more wins than losses and your balance will go up.


This is a strategy where by, you open a position as normal.  If the market moves in your favour and you have the chance to close half of your position at 1-1, the remaining position is free to your stop-loss – as shown in the chart below.  In crypto markets, it’s a regular occurrence for the coin you’re holding to multiply many 100’s of percent so it’s possible to buy something at, say, 100 sats and sell 50% at 200.  So, now you’ve taken what you started with out the market and what you have left is completely free.

As you can see, the risk/reward is simply a measure of where you enter the market (entry-price), where you’ll exit with a stop-loss if the market goes against you (Risk), and where you’ll take profit (Reward).

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