I’m an Australian citizen who has been a regular user of Independent Reserve since 2017, and in that time, I’ve traded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crypto (BTC, ETH, BCH and more) with them. The following is my definitive Independent Reserve review (now updated for 2021) based on my extensive experience using them over the past 3+ years. The bottom line is that in my view, Independent Reserve is a very high-quality, extremely well-built exchange that I recommend wholeheartedly. Read below for all the details, including the 1 thing I don’t like about it.
RELATED: See also my CoinSpot review, CoinJar review, Cointree review, Bitaroo review, Digital Surge review and Swyftx review. I’ve spent dozens of hours digging into different Australian cryptocurrency exchanges and have written honest reviews of all the major exchanges (along with tips on how to use them to avoid getting fleeced).
Getting started with Independent Reserve
I first joined Independent Reserve on May 24, 2017 – here’s the short welcome email:
Like all exchanges, Independent Reserve is required by law to verify the identity of all account holders, and will ask for a photo of your ID and basic personal information such as name and address. Signing up is very simple and it should not take you longer than 24-48 hours to have your account verified and opened. Then you can deposit funds via electronic funds transfer, PayID/Oski, or Poli (Poli was how I funded my account, as it’s instant and has no additional fees – you just securely login to your online banking through their interface and deposit however much you want).
Shortly after opening my account and put some money to trade with in there, I started trading a bit of BTC and ETH through the platform. Each time you deposit money, withdraw or get a trade filled, Independent Reserve will helpfully send you an email (you definitely want to get emails when an order of yours gets filled). Here are some of my emails from back then showing my activity (depositing a few amounts of $5000 AUD and purchasing BTC and ETH):
I continued to use Independent Reserve for most of my crypto trading since then, especially during the insane boom at the end of 2017, and as cryptocurrency has gone nuts again in 2021 and beyond, I’ll definitely continue to use it. So what made it my exchange of choice?
What Independent Reserve does great
- Ease-of-use and clear interface
It is very easy to use Independent Reserve and place buy/sell orders. Here’s a screenshot:
If you’ve ever brought stocks before, this works the same way – you can place market or limit orders, you enter how much you want to buy, and at what price (if placing a limit order) and then submit the order. After submitting an order, you can cancel it at any time (orders take a couple of seconds to cancel). As seen above, Independent Reserve will tell you the total cost of an order you’re putting in, including the broker fees, and you can see the Level 2 (list of buyers and sellers) on the right.
An important tip on placing orders at Independent Reserve (this applies anywhere): DON’T USE MARKET ORDERS! A market order can fill at any price, and you’ll lose a lot on the spread between bid and ask. Instead, place a limit order to get a better entry or exit price. In the screenshot above, I’m placing an order to buy 1 BTC, and bidding $14,608 for it (that would at least temporarily make me the highest bidder), so that if anyone market sells 1 BTC my order would get filled and I’d pay $14,608 for it. That’s much better than placing a market order to buy, which would fill at $14,678.35 (per the screenshot above) – significantly more expensive than being patient and strategic via a limit order.
In all the trading I did on Independent Reserve, never once did I run into any issues, errors or bugs of any kind – their trading interface works perfectly.
Also, beyond just the trading screen, all other pages within the Independent Reserve member area (accounts page, settings etc) are also extremely clear and I never once had any issues doing what I needed to do. It’s super-easy to initiate a withdrawal (for free) of AUD or any crypto, find the address to deposit a given crypto, see your balances, get a history of your transactions or anything else. So as far as the quality of their platform and interface, Independent Reserve passes with flying colors.
- Relatively high trading volume
Of the handful of Australian based exchanges, Independent Reserve is one of the more popular ones, which is important for liquidity – the more users there are trading on the platform, the easier it is to buy and sell there. With other exchanges with much fewer users, you’ll have some difficulty trading large volumes and the spreads between bids and asks can be higher.
- Excellent support
You can email email@example.com about anything and expect to get a response the same day if it’s within AU business hours. Here’s an interaction I had with their support recently:
In my other interactions with Independent Reserve’s support, I had a similar experience as this – fast and competent support.
- A good amount of different cryptocurrencies to trade
Here are all the different cryptocurrencies you can trade on Independent Reserve:
Beyond just Bitcoin and Ethereum as expected they also have Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Tether, Litecoin, EOS, Ethereum Classic etc. Every so often, you’ll get an email from Independent Reserve about a new cryptocurrency they’ve added, and they’re constantly trying to bring more on. For my purposes though I only ever traded BTC and ETH (and of course sold useless BCH and BSV).
- Fast deposits and withdrawals
Depositing and withdrawing both fiat currency and cryptocurrencies is very fast on Independent Reserve. For fiat currency, you can deposit funds instantly via Poli (as mentioned earlier), and withdrawing as I’ve done a lot of it has never once taken more than 1 business day withdrawing to an Australian bank account (or it’s done on the same day). There are also no withdrawal fees. Withdrawing and depositing cryptocurrencies is also fast – for depositing, it’ll be credited to your account as soon as Independent Reserve verifies the transaction has definitely gone through on the blockchain, and cryptocurrency withdrawals are also sent immediately.
Like with the trading itself, I never once had any issues depositing and withdrawing money and cryptocurrency on Independent Reserve. It’s fast and reliable.
- Reasonably good reporting and record-keeping
You can verify all your transactions for any cryptocurrency or fiat currency in Independent Reserve’s online dashboard, and also download your transactions for any given date range in .pdf or .csv format by going to the accounts page and clicking the little down arrow:
All the data is there, but trying to use it to calculate your taxes may be a painful exercise for you, since there are no summaries given (no total profit, total fees paid etc.) – it’ll just list every single trade, deposit, brokerage fee, GST fee, withdrawal and so on without any bottom-line figures. I found that strange as every stock trading broker I’ve used will include your overall realized gain or loss in your statements. Instead, Independent Reserve chooses to charge a $29.95 fee for this information via their KPMG Tax Summary service (available in the accounts screen) which is a bit annoying. It may be worth getting that as the time you’d take, or an accountants fee, to work out your taxes from the raw transaction data will probably be worth far more than $29.95.
The one thing I don’t like about Independent Reserve
The rather high trading fees. For a standard account, Independent Reserve charges 0.5% of the value of the trade whether you’re buying or selling, so if you buy a cryptocurrency and sell it one time that’s 1% of the value of the cryptocurrency. Suppose you make a few round-trip trades of similar amounts, and that’ll easily add-up to a few percent of the value of the cryptocurrency you traded. In addition to the spreads between bids and asks also potentially eating away at profits, that’s significant. Going back to stock brokerages again, I am used to flat fees of say $10 per roundtrip trade, or as little as $1 for a trade as I often pay at Interactive Brokers (a trustworthy stockbroker, for example). Unless you’re trading very tiny amounts of say a few hundred dollars worth, Independent Reserve’s fees will be much higher than ordinary traditional online brokers I’m familiar with. Personally, having traded a fairly large amount of cryptocurrency at Independent Reserve over the past 3 years, the fees have gone into the thousands for me.
It’s worth mentioning Independent Reserve offers so-called premium accounts, giving higher insurance, lower fees and premium support:
These are very expensive and I don’t see them being worthwhile for the vast majority of accounts, or almost anyone for that matter. ‘bp’ in the above refers to 0.01%, by the way, so in their Diamond plan for $31,999 per year you still only get a 50% fee reduction (0.25% trading fee vs the default 0.5%). So someone trading a significant amount of cryptocurrency is going to be paying a fair amount in fees under any circumstance.
The bottom line
Overall, Independent Reserve is a fantastic exchange – it’s well built, reliable, trustworthy, has great support and you can feel comfortable trading cryptocurrency there. I have used it regularly over the past 3+ years and will continue to use it for any cryptocurrency trading in future as I believe the trading fees are worth it for the service they provide. 4/5 stars overall.
Sign up to Independent Reserve – use the referral code ENFYPG
If you found this review helpful and would like to sign up, you can do so at our referral link here. By using our referral code (ENFYPG) we may receive some compensation from Independent Reserve. This does not impact you in any way, so it’s up to you whether you sign up through our link or not. Obviously it’s appreciated if you do.
Reviews of other Australian cryptocurrency exchanges
I’ve tried and reviewed all the major cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia. Have a read through my other reviews to see what other exchanges you should try beyond Independent Reserve:
- CoinSpot review (a good exchange as long as you avoid its instant buy/sell type features)
- CoinJar review (reasonable fees, but slightly less volume than Independent Reserve)
- Cointree review (strongly not recommended, since the prices there are worse than other places whether you’re buying or selling)
- Bitaroo review (a new exchange with great fees and excellent support. Only downside for now is the lack of volume, and they only let you trade Bitcoin)
- Digital Surge review (good for trading altcoins)
- Swyftx review (similar to Digital Surge — good for trading altcoins, but not the best for Bitcoin trading)
Finally: Do you have to use an Australian-based crypto exchange if you're Australian?
It's worth mentioning that as an Australian, you're not limited only to Australian-based crypto exchanges. In addition to the above, I also recommend signing up to Binance (see my Binance review), the biggest exchange in the world right now. You can sign up and use them as an Australian and buy crypto with AUD with no issues. I've been a Binance user for a while and enjoy a lot of their features, especially the ability to earn passive interest on crypto and stablecoins. Binance has heaps of features that no Australian exchange offers, so you should definitely sign up to them.
Also, in addition to Binance, check out Bittrex, Bitstamp and Poloniex (all these exchanges allow Australian users). These are my personal referral links which can sometimes get you perks if you sign up through them (e.g. if you sign up to Poloniex using my Referral Code RKLBN4YZ, you'll also get a 10% rebate on trading fees).