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Lesson 7
2 min

What are crypto brokers and crypto exchanges?

What is the difference between crypto brokers and crypto exchanges, and where best to buy and sell cryptocurrency?

Key Points:

  • A crypto broker simplifies the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies for their customers.
  • Crypto brokers set prices derived from various exchanges, provide a simplified and user-friendly interface.
  • A crypto exchange is where buyers and sellers trade cryptocurrencies directly with each other based on real-time market prices.
  • Crypto Exchanges offer a range of trading tools and options, catering to more experienced traders who seek control over their trading strategies and executions.

What is a Crypto Broker?

A crypto broker acts as an intermediary between you and the cryptocurrency markets. Brokers simplify the process of purchasing cryptocurrencies by offering straightforward trading interfaces and fixed or straightforward pricing structures. These platforms are particularly appealing to beginners or casual investors who prefer a more guided and less technical trading experience. Additionally, brokers often may provide additional services such as wallets for storing your crypto and educational resources to help you understand the market dynamics.

Overall, crypto brokers are more service oriented platforms, catering to customers seeking a more hands-off approach.

What is a Crypto Exchange?

A crypto exchange is a marketplace where users can buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies directly with one another. These platforms provide a suite of tools for engaging in sophisticated trading strategies, such as live market orders, limit orders, and sometimes advanced charting tools. Exchanges are ideal for experienced traders who seek control over their trading activities and wish to engage actively with the crypto market's fluctuations.

Crypto exchanges provide customers with access to a vast array of assets and tools. It can initially be an intimidating environment, but as users gain experience exchanges can become pathways to successful trading journeys. 

How Do They Compare? 

Crypto brokers and exchanges each offer unique pathways to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies, catering to different user needs and preferences. To help you choose the platform that best fits your trading style, let’s explore the specific advantages and disadvantages of both options. It’s important to note that many platforms today offer both brokerage and exchange services.

Crypto Brokers:


  • User-friendly interfaces make it easy for newcomers.
  • Fixed pricing can simplify the buying and selling process.
  • Additional services such as educational resources and custody solutions.


  • Higher fees than exchanges due to added services and convenience.
  • Less control over trade execution and market timing.
  • Limited access to trading tools, such as limit orders and leverage trading, or other exchange services, such as staking and trading competitions. 
  • Lower liquidity than exchanges - which can limit the ability to perform large trades, or engage in the trading of multiple assets. 

Crypto Exchanges:


  • Offers more control over trades and the ability to execute advanced trading strategies.
  • Generally lower fees compared to brokers.
  • Higher liquidity which allows for better price discovery and faster execution of large trades.


  • Can be complex and intimidating for new users.
  • Requires a deeper understanding of market terms and trading techniques.
  • Asset pricing may fluctuate vs. the fixed pricing provided by brokers.
  • Lack of face-to-face connection, the exchange experience can feel more impersonal than working directly with a crypto broker. 

Over the years, crypto exchanges have become increasingly user-friendly, offering a robust set of products and services that enable both novices and season traders to make the most of their crypto journey. Uphold has launched several initiatives to support a better experience for users, including but not limited to:

Analyzing Which is Best for You

Choosing between a crypto broker and a crypto exchange depends largely on your experience level, the complexity of your trading strategy, and how much time you are willing to invest in managing your cryptocurrency holdings. Beginners may benefit from the simplicity and extra services provided by brokers, whereas more seasoned traders might prefer the flexibility and lower costs associated with exchanges.

Ultimately, the best choice is one that not only fits your current needs but also aligns with your overall investment goals and how actively you want to participate in the crypto market.

Lesson 17: A roundup

  • Crypto Broker: An intermediary that facilitates the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies with simplified, fixed pricing. Ideal for those new to cryptocurrency or seeking straightforward transactions. Benefits include:
  • Crypto Exchange: A platform where traders buy, sell, and exchange cryptocurrencies directly with one another based on real-time market prices. Best suited for experienced traders looking for control over their trading strategies. Benefits include:
  • When choosing the right platform for you, consider your experience level, comfort with market dynamics, and specific needs. Regardless of your decision, always do your due diligence before moving forward with a platform.
  • With Uphold App, Uphold’s Trading Toolkit, Vault, and more, Uphold aims to cater to users of all experience levels, and provide the tools necessary to ensure a comprehensive and enjoyable trading experience for all.
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