If you have been in the cryptocurrency space for any length of time, you will have heard of the Bittrex exchange or “Trex”.
This US based exchange has developed a name for itself given the amount of coins that they list on their books. In fact, there are some coins that you can only get on an exchange like Bittrex.
But is it all its made out to be? Are there newer alternatives?
In this Bittrex review, we will give you everything you need to know about the exchange and their reputation. We will also give you some top tips in order to make the most of your trading.
Bittrex Inc. was established in 2014 and is based in Seattle, Washington State. It is a small to mid-sized exchange based on their 24 hour trading volume of over $46m. This places them at number 40 in the exchange rankings.
Bittrex was founded by four cyber-security experts. They are Bill Shihara (CEO), Richie Lai (CIO) and Rami Kawach (CTO). They all have similar backgrounds having worked in network security in companies such as Amazon, Blackberry and Microsoft.
While Bittrex Inc. is a US based company, they have recently expanded their operations with an international arm. This is based in Malta and is officially called Bittrex Malta. All traders who are based outside of the USA will be directed to the international.bittrex.com.
The international exchange is nearly identical to the Bittrex.com exchange as it uses the same platform and technology. This is just so that Bittrex can effectively segment and regulate their international traders in a European corporation.
Until very recently Bittrex was just a crypto-to-crypto exchange. However, they have recently got a number of banking licences which allows them to take fiat funding and to process fiat withdrawals. This could give them an advantage over some of the larger exchanges that do not have this functionality.
Is Bittrex Safe?
One of the most important questions that any cryptocurrency trader can ask is whether an exchange is safe and secure. Indeed, recent history is littered with a number of high-profile exchange hacks.
Unlike some of the other older exchanges in the space, Bittrex has not suffered any breaches. Indeed, the fact that the three founders are cyber-security experts is a great advantage for the exchange.
Let us take a closer look at some of the more specific security procedures and protocol at Bittrex.
On the exchange coin management side, Bittrex claims that they operate what is called an “elastic, multi-stage wallet strategy”. This basically governs how they access their coins and move them from cold to hot wallets.
They also state that the majority of their coins are kept in cold storage. This is one of the most important requirements for cryptocurrency exchange security. Cold storage is the practice of keeping coins in an “air-gapped” environment where they can’t be accessed.
When the exchange needs to access these cold stored coins, they will probably require a multi-signature authentication and it will be moved into the exchange’s “hot” wallets. These are the wallets that are connected to the servers and process the deposits / withdrawals.
Check domain and Valid SSL
As is standard with most websites these days, Bittrex makes use of full SSL encryption on their domain. This means that all of the information that you send them from your browser should be free from interference.
It is also a great way for you to tell whether you are on a phishing site. If the SSL certificate for the site is invalid then it is likely that hackers are trying to harvest your information.
You will want to make sure that you access the site directly (don’t follow links from other sites). Make sure you have a green padlock in your browser and you are either on bittrex.com or international.bittrex.com.
Most cases of exchange theft and phishing come about because of user fault. That is why exchanges implement a number of procedures in order to prevent particular attack vectors.
Therefore, the first thing that you will want to do when you have created your account is to enable two factor authentication. This will act as an extra gate in case of someone getting hold of your account password.
Steps to set up 2FA on Bittrex. Image Source
The Bittrex 2FA makes use of the Google authenticator application which you can download from the apple iStore or Google Play. You will scan the QR code, confirm the authentication on the exchange and in an email that they send.
When it comes to fees, Bittrex has chosen to go with a flat rate fee on all of their transactions. This is a simple 0.25% fee that is applied for all pairs. This is relatively in line with other exchanges such as Bitstamp etc.
While the flat rate fee is easy to understand, it is disadvantageous for those users who trade large amounts of volume and can be a market maker. The “maker-taker” model is something that other exchanges such as BitMEX use.
This model will incentivise those traders who add liquidity to the order books with limit orders. We can only assume that Bittrex does not need this excess liquidity. However, you will not get any fee benefits if you place large trades that are making liquidity for the exchange.
Deposit / Withdrawal Fees
If you are funding your account in cryptocurrency, Bittrex will not charge you any fees. However, if you are to withdraw crypto from your Bittrex wallet then they will charge a fee that is commensurate with the network or “miners” fee.
In the case of fiat funding, it does not seem as if Bittrex will charge any fees on their end. The only fees that you are likely to encounter are the fees that your bank or intermediary banks are likely to charge for routing the funds.
One of the strongest advantages of Bittrex over some of the other exchanges is the number of cryptocurrencies that you can trade. In fact, they are probably one of the top exchanges when it comes to coin support.
This is even more attractive when you think about the fact that they have now introduced fiat funding. This means that they are probably one of the only exchanges that you can easily convert fiat currency into a range of different smaller altcoins.
Apart from all of the listings, they have also created four different markets for some of the coins. For example, they have the BTC market which has over 220 coins which you can trade. They also have Tether (USDT) markets, an ETH market and the newly introduced USD fiat market.
List of Fiat Pairs at Bittrex
As you can see above, this is quite a mixed selection. They have a combination of some of the large cap coins with some more medium cap size that are below the top 20 on CMC.
While it is great to see such a large selection of coins that are listed on their books, this does not mean that all of these coins are created equal. Some of them have very thin volume and hence are quite illiquid so be aware of this before placing an order.
So you want to give Bittrex a try?
You will need to create an account and signup on their exchange. You can head on over to their registration page and you will be presented with the following form.
Bittrex registration form
Once you have signed up and created your account you will need to confirm the registration by following the link that they sent to your email. After confirming your account, you will need to give them some basic information about yourself.
This includes such information as your personal details as well as residency etc. This is required because they will have to confirm the identity of the user to fully activate the account.
KYC and Verifications
While anonymous accounts can be great for the privacy of the user, they are viewed with a great deal of skepticism by international regulators. Given that Bittrex is now trying to expand, they have decided to eliminate all anonymous accounts.
This means that if you want to start trading on Bittrex you will have to complete their mandatory KYC and AML checks. For the basic level of verification, you will need to provide them with a copy of some form of government issued ID.
Bittrex makes use of a third-party verification system called NetVerify. They will ask you to upload your ID as well as to take a picture to ensure that the ID is indeed you. Make sure that when you are submitting your ID that you get the full document and do not cut off any portions of the image.
Instructions for Verification on the Exchange
Assuming that the documents are perfectly clear and your selfie is well taken then you can expect a verification within a few hours. The NetVerify software is automated so it should speed up the process for you.
However, these are just guidelines.
During the bull run of 2017, verifications were taking days. This could have been as a result of the massive influx of new users that they were getting. In fact, there was a period in which they actually had to halt new users due to the influx.
However, given that Bittrex has increased their support headcount as well as the fall in trading demand, verification times are way back down. Hence, the 2-3 hour waiting period is probably in line with what you should expect. For example, there was this reddit post where most users confirmed the really quick verifications.
If you have a company that deals with cryptocurrency on a regular basis then you may want to consider a corporate account. These accounts have a lot less restrictions and have better rates, customer service and no limitations.
However, in order for you to get access to this account level you have to complete their corporate KYC checks. These require a lot more paperwork and back and forth than when setting up your own personal account.
They will need information such as articles of incorporation, business address verifications as well as tax numbers. They will also require all persons with more than 25% shareholding in the company to complete a “significant persons” KYC. Corporate verifications could take up to a week.
These are only some of the requirements for opening a corporate account. If this is something that could really suit your company’s needs then you can request a corporate account through this form.
Funding / Withdrawal
Once you have completed the verifications you are ready to fund your account and begin trading. The easiest and quickest way to do this is probably through crypto funding of some sort.
In order to fund your account with Bitcoin for example, you will navigate to the “wallets” section in the header. This will take you to the wallet overview of your account. You will need to select the green arrow (see below) which is the shortcut to fund your account.
Easy access to deposit / withdrawal from Bittrex Wallet
This will then present you with a box that will give you the chance to generate a deposit address on the exchange. This is the address that you can use to send the external funds to. Once you have processed the transaction it should take about an hour or so for the funds to arrive (depends on blockchain demand).
When it comes to withdrawing your funds, you will follow a similar process. You will hit the red up arrow which is to withdraw and then you will be presented with the below box. The transaction fee that they are stating is the miner fee needed for the network.
Withdrawal request form at Bittrex
Given that Bittrex now has fiat functionality, you now have the option to make payments and withdraw in USD or an equivalent. This is open to people or companies that are based outside of the USA or in one of the qualifying states (currently 31 states eligible)
This is not something that comes standard and you will have to request to have this functionality added to your account. To do this, you will need to complete this form. They ask you some additional questions just to ascertain your fiat trading demands. This will need to be completed for both the corporate and personal accounts.
In terms of the limits for transfers, you have the following:
- Personal Accounts: You have a deposit minimum of $1,000 and you have a withdrawal minimum of $50. There are no maximum limits placed on these transactions.
- Corporate Accounts: There are no limits that are placed on corporate transactions. However, if you are withdrawing more than $10m in funds from Bittrex then you should email firstname.lastname@example.org beforehand just to confirm it.
In both of these cases, they will give you their bank account information once you have completed the fiat account request form.
Bittrex Trading Platform
Let’s move onto one of the most important aspects of Bittrex. That is their trading platform and matching engine.
The trading platform was upgraded in 2018 and a much more user-friendly interface was introduced. The Bittrex trading / matching engine was also custom built and is able to handle extensive load while matching the trades within milliseconds.
When taking a look at the trading platform, it is indeed quite impressive from a first glance. The new user interface is easy to understand and everything is well laid out. You can also easily switch between the different markets right on the left toolbar.
The main trading interface is given below. At the top you have the price chart and the depth chart. These are not both visible and you will have to toggle between them in order to view one other the other. Below that you have the order books together with the order form.
User interface of the Bittrex trading platform
You will have to scroll down a bit more if you want to get to the past orders as well as all of your open orders. In the top right of the platform, you have easy access to your wallets, the other markets as well as your general account settings.
Something that we really like about the Bittrex platform is their charting functionality. There are plethora of studies, indicators and tools. Unlike other exchanges, they have developed this themselves and they do not use third party charting packages like TradingView etc.
So, the trading tools that you have at Bittrex are great for those individuals who like to use technical analysis to inform their trading and do not want to switch to external providers.
You can also switch away from the price chart to the market liquidity charts. These are helpful for technical traders as you can get a sense of the bullish / bearish sentiment on the market. This can be switched in the top left of the market chart section.
In Feb 2019, Bittrex rolled out a whole host of updates to their trading and matching engine. The impact of this is to even further increase the speed of transactions. The Bittrex team claims that it can execute these orders already 20 times faster than the original build.
When you are placing trades at Bittrex, you have a range of order types. These are pretty standard on exchanges by most measures. Here are some examples of the orders that you can place:
Bittrex Order Form
- Limit Order: This is the default order that will be placed and this is basically placing the order at a certain predetermined level.
- Stop Limit (Conditional): This is an order that will only be placed based on certain conditions being met. For example, you can place a condition for the order to be placed if the price is above or below certain levels. This also allows you to effectively place stop positions where you can set a “Trigger” price for the stop orders to be submitted. These will not be placed until these order conditions are met.
When placing a limit order, you have to also choose how long you would like the order to remain for. This is called the “time in force”. There are two options when it comes to this:
- Good ‘Til Cancelled: This is the default order and it will remain live until you actually cancel it. So, once you place this order you can leave it and it will remain in the order books for an extended period of time.
- Immediate or Cancel: Immediate or cancel is another name for fill or kill. In other words, if this order is not filled the moment that you have placed it, it will be cancelled.
So, while these do give you some degree of control over your order, the Bittrex order forms are far less sophisticated than some of their other rivals. This could however be changing based on disclosures in the team’s 2019 technology roadmap.
While the Bittrex trading platform is quite advanced, it does not offer anything else in the way of mobile applications or desktop clients. This is quite unfortunate as it leaves them at a disadvantage to some of the other exchanges that do.
There are other applications that are available for download on the App store and Google play store. These make use of the Bittrex API key so that you can trade on your mobile device with their third-party applications.
Compendium of third party Bittrex linked applications. Source: Play Store
We would, of course, caution against this.
You have no way of knowing whether these applications are safe. Given that you are handing them the write access to the API interface, they could easily steal your API keys and use them to run pump and dump schemes on the exchange.
Customer support is a really important requirement for us when we are looking into exchanges. Slow and unresponsive customer support is something that most cryptocurrency traders will have experienced at some point.
When it comes to the Bittrex support, there are only really three direct methods that you can use when dealing with their support desks. They are through a support ticket, direct email or through the 24/7 online chat function.
Example of a Support ticket at Bittrex
Unfortunately, they do not have any telephone support numbers. This may place them at a slight disadvantage to some of the other exchanges such as Coinbase and Bitstamp that have introduced telephone support numbers.
Feedback on support times have varied. During the bull run of 2017 they were taking days to get back to users. However, since things have calmed down and they have expanded their team, the waiting times have fallen dramatically.
In terms of other platforms to get hold of their support, they seem to be relatively active in their unofficial subreddit. They also have a Twitter account that you can tweet at should you have an urgent query.
For those traders that like to develop their own trading algorithms and crypto bots, the Bittrex API would be right up your alley. They have a full REST API as well as WebSocket API for more routine general requests of market orders, prices etc.
If you are looking to develop your own trading scripts then you will need to get your API key generated. You can only generate an API key once you have activated two factor authentication on your account. If you have done this then you can head on over to the “API keys” section on the platform.
Here, you can generate your keys. You will need to decide what permissions you are willing to attach to this key. If you are only going to be trading and not withdrawing automatically, then you may want to disable the withdraw functionality. This could also help in the case of any breach of your API key.
Creation of the Bittrex API key
You can also limit the trade size on the API. This could be prudent to do in case your bot was to issue any wayward orders as a result of bugs in the code.
There are certain limitations that you have with the API. For example, you are allowed to have up to 500 open orders in your account and you are limited to 200,000 orders per day. In terms of rate limits, you are allowed a maximum of 60 API calls per minute. You can read more about the API in their official docs or on the Bittrex API GitHub.
Bittrex vs. Kraken
One of the most relevant competitors to Bittrex in the US is the Kraken exchange. This is a relatively well-established exchange that was launched a year before Bittrex and is based in San Francisco, California.
Kraken is similar to Bittrex in many ways given that they offer Fiat funding, that they have a lot of coins and that they have never suffered any sort of security breach. Let us take a closer look at these exchanges in a side by side comparison.
|Buy / Deposit Methods||Crypto, USD and EUR||Crypto, CAD, EUR (SEPA wire), GBP|
|Available Crypto Pairs||Over 20||Over 250|
|Trading Platform||Advanced Proprietary Technology||Third Party Tradingview Charts|
|Customer Support||Ticket Support System, Email, Live Chat||Email, Contact Form, Support Number|
|Verification Times||3-4 hours||1-3 days|
|Trading Fees||0.25%||0% – 0.26% (maker taker model)|
|Funding Fees||Free for all funding (excluding interbank fees)||Free for SEPA EUR, $10 Fee for USD and CAD, Free for Crypto|
|Margin Trading||None||10 different pairs up to 5x leverage|
|OTC Trading||None||“Dark pool” for large blocks|
As you can see, it is quite a mixed bag when it comes to the relative benefits of either exchange. While Bittrex has many more coins that you can buy, Kraken offers margin trading up to 5x on at least 10 different pairs.
While Kraken has lower trading fees (especially for market makers), Bittrex has free fiat deposits and withdrawals. Of course, this depends what sort of currency you would like to fund with as Kraken has GBP and CAD trading pairs as well.
The Kraken charting functionality may not be as advanced as that on Bittrex, it does have a pretty well-established OTC trading desk which could allow institutional investors and crypto whales to avoid moving the markets with their large orders.
In the end it really will come down to your own personal trading requirements. There is nothing stopping you from having an account at both. If you wanted more information you could read our in depth Kraken review.
What We Didn’t Like
While Bittrex has developed quite a sophisticated exchange and trading platform, there are a few things that we thought warranted some improvement.
Firstly, while the Fiat funding option is a great way for a whole host of traders to start using the exchange, it is quite involved to set up. You have to go through a number of steps before your account will be activated for fiat trading. They should make it easier to follow.
We also thought that it was unfortunate that Bittrex did not have any mobile applications or PC clients. Even though they have an advanced web-based platform, there are quite a few traders who would like to access their account while away from the desk.
While the Bittrex fees are simple to understand and relatively low, they do not encourage traders to provide liquidity by being market makers. This means that some other exchanges could have lower fees than Bittrex when traders provide facilitate this type of liquidity.
Lastly, the verification and KYC requirements could be an issue for some traders. Many traders still feel uncomfortable providing extensive personal documents to centralised exchanges. However, this is probably less of a determining factor nowadays as most exchanges usually require identity verification.
Bittrex is probably one of the more advanced cryptocurrency exchanges on the market today. We liked the fact that the exchange is US based and has some of the most secure protocols in place to keep hackers at bay.
There extensive range of cryptocurrency assets coupled with the fiat funding option will allow traders to make the most of their highly advanced trading platform.
While there were some things that we thought warranted improvement, these could all be worked on in time. Bittrex has only just released the fiat funding functionality and are busy testing it before a full roll-out is implemented.
So, is it the exchange for you?
If you are looking for a well-established US based exchange with over 240 listed coins, strong security protocols and fiat funding options then Bittrex is a strong candidate.
Featured Image via Bittrex