Where to Buy Altcoins Canada: Ultimate Guide

Published: 17th May, 2024 | Last Updated: 30th May, 2024

Markos Koemtzopoulos

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

In this guide, I will show you where to buy altcoins in Canada. You have three options. The first is to use a crypto exchange that is regulated in Canada. The second is to deposit funds to a regulated exchange, buy USDC but then transfer your USDC to an unregulated crypto exchange that offers a wider selection of coins. The third option is to set up a digital wallet and connect it to a decentralized crypto exchange where you can buy any coin under the sun.

Where to buy altcoins in Canada

Option 1: Use a regulated exchange. 

Canadian crypto traders have access to three exchanges that offer 200+ digital assets. These exchanges are Coinbase, Kraken, and Crypto.com

You can check my review of the best Canadian crypto exchanges for more options but those three are the only ones with more than 200 coins.

If you care about security then the best crypto exchange is Kraken as it stores the majority of its crypto in cold storage and has never been hacked. See Is Kraken Good in Canada?

If you are looking for low fees use Crypto.com exchange and if you are looking for a household name then use Coinbase.

These Canadian crypto exchange options have not only been selected for their extensive coin variety but also their notable liquidity, ensuring stable and reliable trading conditions for investors.

Here is a list of coins you can buy on each

The benefit of using a regulated exchange for altcoins in Canada is that Canada is pretty strict on crypto. Only regulated exchanges are allowed to do business with Canadians. 

Pro Tip: 

Because regulated cryptocurrency exchanges are more conservative and want to appease regulators they tend to offer more established coins with larger market caps. This means that the returns you can make are also likely to be lower compared to an altcoin with a very low market cap that is going viral. 

While regulated trading platforms offer a user-friendly experience and are under the oversight of regulatory bodies, they might not offer the vast range of altcoins available in the market. In such cases, venturing into unregulated or decentralized exchanges might be an option worth considering. 

Option 2: Use an unregulated crypto platform 

If you still want to use a centralized exchange but need a wider coin selection then you are going to need to use an exchange that is not regulated in Canada. 

The ones you want to be looking into are MEXC, KuCoin, and Gate.io. Here you can find high-risk tokens with market caps under 100 million.

These are more lax in the KYC process. For example, MEXC lists more than 800 coins, does not require KYC, and allows you to withdraw up to 5 BTC per day. 

The only thing you need to check is whether the regulated exchanges will allow you to deposit crypto from an unregulated exchange and then withdraw fiat to your bank account. I think this should be feasible but you better make sure by testing with a small amount first. 

You should be especially careful with KuCoin because it is one of the crypto exchanges that are banned in Canada.

I use MEXC a lot because it lists a lot of coins that are trending on social media with low market caps. Larger online platforms such as Binance are slower to add coins with very low market caps until they see a certain amount of traction. See Is Binance Legal in Canada.

But if you are looking to make those 100x gains then you’re only going to find them on less mainstream exchanges. 

Pro Tip: 

Keep in mind that investing in low-cap altcoins is way riskier. So, yes you may find some gems that return 100x but you will also end up with many that result in significant losses. I teach a framework on how to research coins in my crypto crash course.

Option 3: Use a Decentralized Exchange. 

For the widest possible selection of coins, you need to choose a Decentralized Exchange (DEX). 

DEXs have seen significant growth, offering advantages like user control over private keys, although they come with their own set of challenges like less user support and no fiat transactions. 

To understand what decentralized exchanges are and how they work I recommend you read my explanation of Uniswap.

Decentralized exchanges that you can use from Canada

  1. Uniswap: This is the largest DEX in the crypto market. You can only trade ERC-20 tokens or some wrapped coins such as wBTC. See what is wrapping in crypto

  2. Raydium is the biggest decentralized crypto exchange in the Solana ecosystem. Solana is the fourth largest crypto coin by market cap after Bitcoin. Ethereum and BNB. It’s also the fastest-growing out of those four. For this reason, traders have started buying up meme coins hoping that they become the next Dogecoin. This is a highly risky strategy as few meme coins make it and most plummet to zero very fast. However, if you want to try your luck with this type of altcoin Raydium is the place to be. A fun place to check how these meme coins are performing is dexscreener.com. You will see that a lot of the top traded coins on DEXs are meme coins on Solana. 

  3. Chainge Finance is a new app that allows you to trade altcoins across blockchains in a decentralized finance manner. The reason I like it is because the user experience is so much better than any other DEX. However, the app is still being revamped and some users have complained of delays in their transactions going through. I view these as teething pains. You can check out my review of Chainge Finance here

  4. SushiSwap is another competitor to Uniswap. I am indifferent between the two. Uniswap has more liquidity so it is probably a safer bet. 

  5. PancakeSwap. If you want to buy altcoins that are native to the Binance Smart Chain then PancakeSwap is the place to do that.

  6. Trader Joe’s specializes in Avalanche tokens. I have seen some crypto influencers build a case for AVAX meme coins such as Coq Inu being the next big thing. If this is your view then Trader Joe’s is the place to buy those altcoins. 

How to buy altcoins in Canada

Steps to buy altcoins on Centralized exchanges

  1. Download the exchange’s mobile app

  2. Open an account and verify your personal information if required

  3. Deposit Canadian dollars using Interac e-Transfer. This is often the easiest way and is usually free. However, if you are looking to deposit a large amount you may need to make a wire transfer. Wire transfers tend to incur larger transaction fees, especially for withdrawals.

  4. Select the altcoin that you want to buy

  5. Place a market order. Professional traders who want to use limit orders need to install the pro version of the exchange. 

  6. Review fees and details and confirm. 

Steps to buy altcoins on decentralized exchanges

To use a decentralized crypto exchange you need a digital wallet. Some good crypto wallets are 

For more options see Which Is the Best Crypto Wallet in Canada

Once you have chosen a wallet follow these steps

  1. Deposit fiat currency on a centralized crypto exchange

  2. Buy USDC. USDC is a stablecoin that pegs its value to the US dollar. It is the only stablecoin that is allowed in Canada. See Canada Cryptocurrency Regulation for more.

  3. Send your USDC to your wallet. When you do this make sure you choose the correct network. USDC exists on many blockchains. For example, you can send USDC on the Tron network, the Ethereum network, etc. Which network you choose depends on which decentralized crypto exchange you are using. For example, Uniswap works with Ethereum-based coins so you need to select the Ethereum network. I will review decentralized exchanges further down

  4. Connect your wallet to the exchange. The simplest way to do that is to use the wallet’s Chrome extension. When you visit the exchange it will say connect wallet in the top right. Click on that and follow the instructions to connect. 

  5. Now that you are connected you can swap from USDC to the altcoin of your choice. 

  6. Select the altcoin from the dropdown, enter the amount you want to buy, review the estimated transaction fees, and click on confirm. 

Uniswap interface

Once you buy your altcoins you will need to store them somewhere. See Where Is the Best Place to Hold Crypto in Canada for more on this topic.

How to find an altcoin that is not listed

Sometimes if a coin is very new you won’t find its ticker or handle when you search for it on a DEX. 

What you need to do in this case is find its contract address. You can find this by visiting CoinmarketCap.com

The contract address will be listed alongside the blockchain it is on. You can also find this on the official site of the coin. Double-check to make sure you have the right coin because sometimes coins have the same tickers. 

How to find altcoin contract address

Paste the contract address into the search bar on the DEX and select the coin from the drop down.

Restrictions on buying Altcoins in Canada

For less mainstream coins Canada imposes restrictions on the net trading amount you can own. This can’t exceed $30,000 over a rolling 12-month period. These restrictions do not apply to large popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, etc. They also do not apply in the canadian provinces of Manitoba, Alberta, Quebec, and British Columbia.

Also, keep in mind that margin trading is not allowed. 

Which altcoins should I invest in? 

Here is some research I have done on some of the most popular altcoins.

There are four major themes that are trending in the crypto space these days:

  • Real-world assets

  • Gaming

  • AI

  • DePin (Decentralized Physical Infrastructure)

Various altcoins including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin

You can use them as part of your research process but don’t let that be your only source and make sure you do your own research. Keep in mind that altcoins are even riskier than mainstream coins. Make sure you have a balanced crypto portfolio. 

Should I use a Centralized or Decentralized exchange to buy altcoins in Canada?

Decentralized exchange concept illustration

When it comes to acquiring digital currencies, the choice between centralized and decentralized paths can be a strategic one. Centralized exchanges simplify the entry process for new crypto investors by providing direct fiat to cryptocurrency transactions and are supervised by a single authority. These platforms typically require compliance with Know Your Customer (KYC) rules, which involve providing personal information. However, they pose a higher risk of being hacked due to their storage of users’ funds and personal data.

On the other hand, decentralized exchanges:

  • Use smart contracts to facilitate transactions without a central authority

  • align with the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies

  • offer a peer-to-peer trading environment

  • preserve the anonymity of its users.

The choice between centralized and decentralized paths often boils down to individual preferences and investment goals. While centralized exchanges offer a more structured and regulated environment, decentralized exchanges provide a more flexible and private space for transactions. However, regardless of the path chosen, understanding the inherent risks and potential benefits is crucial for a successful crypto journey.

Pros and Cons of Each Approach

Centralized exchanges still account for the majority of cryptocurrency trading volume due to their regulated nature and ease of use for newcomers. They typically offer a user-friendly experience with simple procedures for transactions on a cryptocurrency exchange and have improved security measures such as storing most customer assets offline and obtaining insurance against hacking.

However, these platforms require the provision of personal information. In contrast, the use of decentralized exchanges (DEXs) offers the following advantages:

  • Preserves the anonymity of users as it does not require the provision of personal information

  • Provides a higher degree of privacy and control

  • Offers a decentralized and trustless trading experience

  • Allows users to maintain custody of their funds

Note that DEXs have a less user-friendly experience and lack the same level of customer support as their centralized counterparts.

Are Decentralized Exchanges allowed in Canada? 

At the time of writing, there is no regulation against decentralized exchanges in Canada. In the United States, the SEC is in the process of trying to get Uniswap to comply with KYC and AML regulations. 

It is not clear how this will play out but Canada is likely to follow whatever the US does. For the time being you can invest in altcoins using DEX from Canada without any hassle. Your only concern is going to be how to cash out your crypto into fiat currency. For this, you have to move your crypto assets to a regulated Canadian crypto exchange. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I buy altcoins in Canada?

To buy altcoins in Canada, you can use regulated exchanges like Kraken Canada, Coinbase, and crypto.com, which offer a variety of altcoins to choose from. Alternatively, you may consider unregulated or decentralized exchanges for a broader selection of altcoins.

Where can I buy low-market-cap altcoins?

You can buy low market cap altcoins on exchanges like MEXC, KuCoin, and Gate.io, or consider using decentralized exchanges such as Uniswap, Raydium, PancakeSwap, or Trader Joe. Keep in mind to do thorough research on any new altcoin before investing.

What are decentralized exchanges?

Decentralized exchanges (DEXs) are platforms that enable direct peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading without intermediaries, using smart contract-enabled blockchains for user wallet trades.

What is the difference between centralized and decentralized exchanges?

The main difference between centralized and decentralized exchanges is that centralized exchanges are supervised by a single authority, making it easier for new investors to enter, while decentralized exchanges facilitate transactions without a central authority, ensuring user anonymity. Ultimately, centralized exchanges are regulated by a single authority, while decentralized exchanges operate without a central entity.

What is Canada’s cheapest way to buy crypto?

In a study of the Canadian crypto exchanges, Crypto.com offered the cheapest trading fees with additional discounts for customers who use CRO. 

How to buy USDT in Canada?

USDT is banned on regulated crypto exchanges in Canada. You can only use USDC. To use USDT you would need to use an unregulated crypto exchange or a decentralized exchange such as Uniswap. 

Yes, Canadian users are allowed to buy and hold crypto. However crypto is not legal tender in the country and you have to pay capital gains tax on 50% of your profits. See Crypto Tax Canada for more.

How can I buy crypto instantly in Canada?

Most exchanges accept Debit card (not credit card) transactions which are instant. However, the deposit fees tend to be hefty between 3-5%. A cheaper option would be to use Interac e-Tranfer which takes up to 30 minutes and is usually free. 

If you want to buy more mainstream coins check out my guide on How to Buy Bitcoins in Canada.

Up next

Best Canadian Crypto Exchange: 19 Top Trading Platforms

Best Canadian Crypto Exchange

In this post, I will walk you through the top trading platforms to help you find the best Canadian crypto exchange. ​

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

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