Essential Exchanges for Bitcoin Traders

Great, you got your Bitcoins and now you want to trade for profit (hopefully). The three exchanges I recommend are all advanced platforms that provide unique exposure and amplify your gains/losses. 

Best Product
Bitstamp  Basic Spot Trading
For Non-Traders
A 5 Year Old Would
Lose Interest
Bitfinex Low Leverage Spot Margin
and P2P Lending
1 Hour of Practice
Okcoin High Leverage Inverse
Non-Linear Futures
1 Week to Learn
Bitmex High Leverage Inverse
Non-Linear Perpetual
Still Figuring It Out
After 2 years 

Essential Bitcoin Exchanges:

(click on the links to register, they contain a promo-code for 10% off your trading fees):

Bitfinex : Once the most trusted and liquid exchange until a string of unfortunate events culminated into a near fatal hack. However, as of 1/13/2017 they are the only major exchange legally able to offer spot margin (as opposed to futures) so might as well add them to your arsenal. Offers leveraged (up to 3.3x) spot margin trading, USD/BTC is the only pair worth trading on here, but there are also some alts and tokens if you like low volume and poor liquidity.

Okcoin : The undisputed main exchange with the highest liquidity. Offers leveraged (up to 20x) futures trading, CNY pairs, USD pairs, LTC and P2P lending. Best phone app of any exchange. Really low fees (0.03%!) Only drawback is a lot of price manipulators splashing around.

Bitmex : Offshore futures-only exchange and thus immune from periodic US and Chinese crackdowns. You cannot deposit fiat, all contracts use Bitcoin. Offers leveraged (up to 100x) futures contracts for BTC against CNY, YEN, USD as well as various big cap altcoins. 

Once you've registered, check out these guides to start trading: 

beginner: Bitfinex Guide

intermediate: Okcoin Guide

complicated: Bitmex Guide

Optional Exchanges:

(click on the links to register, they contain a promo-code for 10% off your trading fees):

Kraken : The main place to trade your EUR for BTC. It's not really their fault that their KYC requirements are the most stringent and hardcore of all major Bitcoin exchanges. Pretty smooth and professional overall, very competent staff. Its not essential because the leverage is low (2x) the fees are really high (0.26% + 0.02% interest every 4 hours) and other markets are more liquid.

BTC-e : The infamous exchange owned by anonymous Russians in Cypress. It seems shady and is well known as a Balkan laundering hub since no KYC is necessary. Ironically, I've found BTC-e to be one of the most stand-up exchanges -- staff is always online, they haven't had any major hacks, they don't engage in volume manipulation, etc. It has no special features but bitcoin generally trades at a significant discount there since most traders are wary of it.

BTCC : Formerly BTC China. Pretty good exchange with most of the same features as Okcoin, as well as a mining pool. It's probably where I would move my primary trading activities to if something happens to Okcoin. 

Huobi : Pretty similar to BTCC and Okcoin. Futures on Huobi is run separately through BitVC. They should have put more effort into making it accessible to English speakers. 

The top 3 Chinese exchanges (BTCC, Huobi, Okcoin) have all taken turns being top dog over the years; they are all roughly in the same league. But right now, Okcoin does it best.