Crypto lending platforms help match borrowers to those willing to lend digital assets. For loaning crypto, investors can earn annual percentage yields (APYs) that far outpace those offered by the traditional banking sector. Before jumping into lending crypto, there are several important factors to take into consideration such as the ease of use, loan and interest rates, supported crypto, fees and security.
In this guide, we will review the best crypto lending platforms available in the market and what to look for when selecting a lending platform.
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Cryptocurrency Lending Platforms Reviewed
1. Binance Earn - Overall Best Crypto Lending Platform
Binance is known as a world-leading cryptocurrency exchange, thanks to the platform’s ongoing success. The exchange now offers several lending products that are similar to those offered by specialized crypto-lending platforms. Alongside the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies and trade derivatives, earning and financing products now include Binance’s Earn module, Crypto Loans, the Binance Visa Card, and Binance Pay. By leveraging its deep liquidity and market connections, these crypto lending services support an expansive range of cryptocurrencies. Moreover, new users can get up to $100 for free using a Binance referral code.
Thanks to Binance's far-reaching ecosystem, over 60 cryptocurrencies are supported within the lending section, which is far higher than many other crypto lending platforms. Digital assets include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance USD, Polkadot, and Near. At the time of writing, APYs range from 0.5% to an impressive 25%, but are not fixed and can vary on a daily basis.
One of the disadvantages of Binance’s savings products is the tiered reward structure, which can limit the returns for high-volume lenders. For example, when subscribing to the BTC flexible savings product, lenders can earn 5% APY on the first 0.01 BTC, 0.8% APY between 0.01 and 0.5 BTC, and 0.1% APY for any deposits above 0.5 BTC. A list of example interest rates can be found in the table below.
|Bitcoin (BTC)||<0.01 BTC: 5.00%, 0.01-0.50 BTC: 0.80%, >0.50 BTC: 0.10%|
|Ethereum (ETH)||<0.2 ETH: 2.40%, >0.2 ETH: 0.10%|
|Binance USD (BUSD)||<2000 BUSD: 10.00%, 2000-20,000 BUSD: 2.00%, >20,000 BUSD: 1.00%|
|Near (NEAR)||<200 NEAR: 6.00%, >200 NEAR: 0.4%|
While the tiered rewards structure is not as optimal as other crypto lending platforms, it is hard to overlook the broad ecosystem situated behind Binance’s lending services. For those already using the Binance cryptocurrency exchange, savings products are an extremely useful and convenient service to put idle digital assets to work.
To start lending and earning interest on Binance, users must first deposit assets into the regular Binance spot wallet. From there, lenders then have the choice to subscribe to a range of flexible or locked savings products located within the Binance Earn module. Cryptocurrency deposits and transfers to the Binance Earn module are free but all withdrawals incur a flat rate charge.
There are 189 flexible products on Binance which range from 0.5% to 20% APY. Lenders can subscribe and unsubscribe at any time. In comparison, locked products require users to subscribe and lock in cryptocurrencies for a set period. Periods range from 7 to 90 days.
There are far fewer locked products available but APYs are slightly higher as a result of the time commitment made by crypto lenders. The longer the locking period, the higher the APY rewards. Like Nexo, locked savings rewards are distributed at the end of the locking period rather than on a daily basis.
For full automation, flexible product lenders also have the option to utilize an Auto Transfer function. By enabling Auto Transfer for a specific cryptocurrency, Binance will automatically subscribe to the associated flexible savings product each time a lender deposits that cryptocurrency into their Binance spot wallet. The lender can then instantly begin accruing daily interest.
All services hosted by Binance are accompanied by the security procedures and compliance implemented by the wider Binance ecosystem. This includes the provision of adequate KYC documentation, the offline storage of digital assets, the mandatory implementation of 2FA, security notifications, and real-time monitoring by Binance staff. At times of trouble, customer support can also be contacted via an online ticketing system or the native web chat solution.
2. Nexo - Best For Lending Stablecoins
Nexo is a leading crypto lending platform that allows users to make money with cryptocurrency deposits and take out crypto-backed loans. The application was launched in 2017 and is headquartered in London, UK. According to the company’s website, since its inception, Nexo has grown to manage over $12 billion in assets and works with over 4 million users worldwide. Alongside crypto lending, the platform features the ability to buy and sell crypto, crypto-backed loans, and a crypto-backed credit card.
Nexo supports 32 assets for lending which include 24 cryptocurrencies, 5 stablecoins, and 3 tokenized fiat tokens. The majority of popular cryptocurrencies are supported including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polkadot, and Polygon. Crypto fixed APYs range from 4% - 8%, while stablecoins range from 8% - 12%. A list of example interest rates can be found in the table below.
|Bitcoin (BTC)||4% - 8% APY|
|Ethereum (ETH)||4% - 8% APY|
|Polkadot (DOT)||10% - 15% APY|
|Polygon (MATIC)||10% - 16% APY|
|USDT||8% - 12% APY|
|USDC||8% - 12% APY|
|Solana (SOL)||4% - 8% APY|
For each of the supported coins, users can lend their assets and earn interest by simply holding assets within a Nexo account. This is known as a FLEX term and allows for crypto to be withdrawn at any time. For flexible contracts, daily payments are added to the cumulative total, which means rewards will compound on a daily basis. With flexible terms and the ability to earn compounding interest, Nexo is one of the best places for earning crypto interest in the market.
However, to reach the highest APYs offered by Nexo, users must opt for a fixed-term contract, and opt to have rewards paid in the platform’s native token, NEXO. It is only through this combination that the highest interest rates can be achieved.
Fixed-term contracts range from 1 to 3 months and result in a lender’s assets being locked within the platform. For that loyalty, Nexo offers increased APYs. However, due to the lock-up period, fixed terms are only a viable option for those that will not need their crypto for a set period of time. There is also a $50,000 limit on all fixed-term contracts. Unlike FLEX, fixed-term payments are accrued and then added to a lender's balance at the end of each term period.
To fully maximize either FLEX or fixed-term returns, a lender can also opt to ‘earn in kind’ and get rewards distributed in NEXO tokens. This is a blanket option which means that when the option is enabled it is applicable to all digital assets held within the Nexo platform.
What makes Nexo a top lending platform for cryptocurrency is that token holders can join a loyalty tier program which comprises Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Entry to each tier is based on the percentage of NEXO tokens held within an account. Each tier offers access to a range of platform benefits including lower APRs for loans and a higher number of free cryptocurrency withdrawals. Silver tier benefits start when an investor’s portfolio consists of 1% NEXO tokens. The subsequent Gold and Platinum tiers then start at 5% and 10% respectively. The higher a lender’s portfolio value, the more NEXO tokens are required to access tier benefits.
One of the only downsides to Nexo is that only 1 free cryptocurrency withdrawal can be completed per month. While crypto deposits are free, multiple cryptocurrency withdrawals incur a charge, which varies for each asset. The only way to increase the number of free withdrawals is to join Nexo’s loyalty program.
As a result of its partnership with BitGo, Ledger, and Bakkt, the Nexo lending platform is insured for $375 million. While this does not cover the total $12 billion in AUM, the insurance may help if a small breach of the platform ever occurred. BitGo is also entrusted with the private keys of all retail digital assets. These private keys are stored within military-grade Class III vaults and carry a further $100 million in insurance protection.
To ensure that the insurance is never required, Nexo employs encryption technology, biometric identity verification, two-factor authentication (2FA), address whitelisting, email confirmations, and requires all users to submit Know-Your-Customer (KYC) documentation.
3. CoinLoan - Great For Bitcoin Rates
CoinLoan is the final website that we have on our list of best crypto lending platforms. Launched in crypto-friendly, Estonia, CoinLoan went live in 2018 with a vision to simplify the ways of interacting with cryptocurrencies and offer users an all-in-one platform. The company is regulated and holds a license from the Estonia Financial Authority, which ensures that the platform’s core products, including its Interest Accounts, Instant Loans, and its native cryptocurrency exchange are all compliant with all European and international regulations. It is also licensed by FinCEN and can be found within the IRS’s FATCA database.
CoinLoan supports 25 different cryptocurrencies, which include 16 cryptocurrencies, 6 stablecoins, 2 tokenized fiat currencies, and 1 tokenized gold token. Although the crypto lending service has less coverage than comparable crypto lending providers such as Nexo, Celsius, and BlockFi, one of CoinLoan’s greatest advantages is that the company can serve customers everywhere in the world. Fixed APYs are also competitive and range from 3% to 12.3%. For example, CoinLoan offers one of the highest interest rates for XRP up to 7.2% APY. A list of example interest rates can be found in the table below.
|Bitcoin (BTC)||5.2% to 7.2%|
|Ethereum (ETH)||5.2% to 7.2%|
|Binance USD (BUSD)||10.3 to 12.3%|
|XRP||5.2% to 7.2%|
|USD Coin (USDC)||5.2% to 7.2%|
|Polkadot (DOT)||5.2% to 7.2%|
To start automatically accruing interest, lenders can deposit cryptocurrencies into one of CoinLoan’s Interest Accounts for free. Interest is then accrued on a daily basis and is distributed at the end of each month. While this allows for monthly compounding, it will not offer the same compounding effect that is available with other platforms, such as Nexo or Celsius.
Unlike other lending platforms, there are no fixed-term products to further boost APYs, however, this does mean that all assets are free to be withdrawn at any time. This could make the platform a strong choice for those that wish to get high APYs but still keep assets relatively liquid. To complement the flexibility of the Interest Account, all cryptocurrency deposits are free and only certain Ethereum-based tokens incur a withdrawal fee if multiple withdrawals are requested per month.
All rates offered within the platform can be incrementally increased by staking set numbers of the platform’s native CLT token. The number of CLT tokens and the corresponding APY increases are as follows: 125 CLT = +0.1%, 375 CLT = +0.3%, 1000 CLT = +0.8%, 1,250 CLT = +1%, and 2500 CLT = +2%.
Although all crypto APYs are high, CoinLoan is most famously known for offering one of the best rates for earning interest on Bitcoin. Basic APY rates for BTC start from 5.2%, but can be increased to 7.2% APY by staking CLT. There is no tiered structure to rewards and no upper limit to the amount of BTC that can be deposited.
Like Nexo, CoinLoan lenders can also earn interest on tokenized versions of EUR and GBP. Basic APYs for these tokenized fiat currencies start from an impressive 10.3% and can be increased to 12.3% when staking the maximum number of CLT tokens. This far outpaces the returns from traditional banking institutions and also beats the returns offered by Nexo.
To ensure protection for all users, CoinLoan places a high priority on security. The platform employs the latest encryption standards, which include firewall and DDoS protection. Login attempts are always sent to users and 2FA is actively encouraged. The company also supports a bug bounty program to search for any internal weaknesses.
For all issues or concerns, CoinLoan offers a detailed help center guide or a customer support representative can be contacted via an online chat system. According to the website, users can expect a reply within a couple of minutes.
Best Crypto Lending Platforms Compared
For an overview of our picks for the best cryptocurrency lending platforms, see how we rated them in the comparison table below.
What To Look For When Choosing A Crypto Lending Site
While hugely beneficial to cryptocurrency investors, not all crypto lending platforms are created equally, which can make the process of choosing a platform confusing. Here are some general factors that everyone can use to help decide which crypto lending platform is best for them.
- Interest rates. Many of the products and services offered by crypto lending platforms involve some form of interest rate. Interest-generating products offer APYs, while crypto-loans incur APRs. All interest rate details should be clearly outlined, understood, and compared.
- Loan-to-value ratio. A loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is a specific term related to crypto-backed loans. The ratio often determines how high the APR is, which is extremely important for those looking to borrow assets.
- Supported cryptocurrencies. It is important to look at what cryptocurrencies are supported within all of the products and services offered by a crypto lending platform. What digital assets can accrue interest? What digital assets can be deposited as collateral? The range of cryptocurrencies offered can quickly shorten a list of prospective lending platforms.
- Fees. Not all of the services offered by crypto lending platforms will be free. In particular, crypto-backed loans typically incur an interest rate fee, as well as subsequent liquidation fees if loans cannot be repaid. Secondly, for those using interest-generating products, don’t forget to check whether there are any deposit and withdrawal fees that may eat into rewards.
- Insurance fund. The biggest risk with centralized crypto lending platforms is their underlying businesses becoming insolvent. Those with an insurance fund mitigate this risk substantially.
- Security. Like all cryptocurrency-focused platforms, security should be a top priority. Understand how digital assets are kept secure and whether a company implements a fail-safe if things go wrong. Check for industry-standard measures such as two-factor authentication (2FA) and email notifications.
- Customer support. If things do go wrong, is there a dedicated customer support team to deal with inquiries? Is the team accessible via phone or can customer support only be reached through an online ticketing system? Most decentralized platforms won’t have customer support (although they will often have a helpful community). However strong customer service from a centralized lending platform is always a tick.
- User-friendliness. Managing digital assets can be a confusing process for many investors, which is why having an easy-to-understand user interface is so important. Is the correct information easily accessible within a few clicks? Can all of the processes be followed clearly, even by someone new to the cryptocurrency industry? Make sure that a platform is easy to navigate before committing funds.
What Is A Crypto Lending Platform?
Crypto lending was developed to offer a safe and secure platform to leverage digital assets to either earn interest, borrow loans, or pay for goods and services. Fulfilling a role similar to a bank in traditional finance, crypto lending platforms are centralized organizations that offer financial solutions to cryptocurrency investors.
Cryptocurrency assets deposited with a crypto lending platform become the custody of the associated company. The company then uses those digital assets to generate returns for customers, whether through loans or other yield farming crypto platforms. A proportion of those returns is then passed back to all cryptocurrency lenders utilizing the platform.
How Crypto Lending Platforms Work
The primary purpose of a crypto lending platform is to connect those looking to lend with those looking to borrow. Crypto lending platforms will lend customers digital assets to retail and institutional borrowers. All borrowers must agree to pay an associated Annual Percentage Rate (APR) along with any loan fees that may be applied. The culmination of APRs, loan fees, and, in some cases, liquidation fees, help to generate profit for all lenders. All transactions are brokered by the platform and a portion of the profit is paid to the lender as an interest payment on their deposit.
Types of Crypto Lending Platforms
The opportunity to earn high APYs by lending digital assets is no longer a unique feature associated with dedicated crypto lending platforms. While these services still dominate the crypto lending sector, several cryptocurrency exchanges and decentralized applications can also be grouped within the umbrella of a crypto lending platform.
1. Centralized crypto lending platforms
These are still one of the most popular ways for investors to put digital assets to work. These ‘bank-like’ service providers take custody of cryptos and put them to work, much the same as a traditional bank would. By optimally seeking the best returns from borrowers or by taking advantage of market inefficiencies, lenders are rewarded with high APYs. The efficiency and simplicity of these applications have made them extremely popular among crypto investors.
Seeing the popularity of interest-earning opportunities, many cryptocurrency exchanges have now expanded to include crypto lending services. With deep liquidity and wider ecosystems, many crypto exchanges can offer investors a broader range of savings and lending accounts.
2. Decentralized protocols
DEX's protocols are another type of crypto lending that individuals can use to maximize returns from digital assets. These applications are built using programmable smart contracts and run on a blockchain, such as Ethereum. Examples include UniSwap, PancakeSwap and Curve Finance. Unlike dedicated crypto lending providers and cryptocurrency exchanges, these applications are not controlled by a single entity and generate returns by lending liquidity to other decentralized finance (DeFi) applications.
What does DeFi mean? Read our article on what is DeFi and how it work.
CeFi vs. DeFi Lending Platforms
Centralized crypto lending platforms should not be confused with decentralized finance (DeFi) applications that are built on a blockchain. Many DeFi protocols also provide opportunities for investors to earn and borrow cryptocurrencies, however, all processes are completed using pre-programmed smart contracts. Unlike crypto lending platforms, there is no one entity in control. Historically, the risks of using DeFi are slightly higher than licensed CeFi platforms.
How Safe Are Crypto Lending Platforms?
Lending crypto assets to a crypto lending platform always carries risk. By depositing digital assets with a centralized organization, the control and responsibility of those assets are passed to the crypto lending company. Unless all of the company’s funds are insured, there is no guarantee that digital assets will be returned if something goes wrong.
Unlike banks, crypto lending platforms do not need to keep a minimum amount of reserves within the platform to cover liquidation events. As a result, crypto lending platforms are free to put a higher percentage of digital assets to work and, therefore, generate higher revenues. However, this can also mean lending platforms can become overleveraged if not managed accordingly. A recent example is the Celsius platform which overleveraged its holdings and had to freeze withdrawals. Many platforms try to lower this risk by implementing measures such as overcollateralized loans.
However, most crypto lending platforms implement state-of-the-art security measures to ensure that doesn’t happen. Particularly for those regulated and licensed, crypto lending platforms can be considered safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the interest rates offered by the top-tier crypto lending websites offer up to 12% APY on cryptocurrency deposits. Given the crypto-asset holds its value or increases, diversifying into a reputable lending platform can be a profitable passive income strategy.
Whether loaning crypto is a good idea depends solely on each cryptocurrency investor. Each investor will have a certain level of liquidity that they will be happy to deposit into a lending platform. The remainder they may then wish to keep locked offline within a cold storage crypto wallet. With more than 8 Billion locked into DeFi at the time of writing, lending crypto is a very popular investment option but there are some risks involved. As a result, how much an investor wishes to deposit and put to work will depend on an individual's circumstances.
Many cryptocurrency investors purchase digital assets with the expectation of holding long-term and waiting for capital appreciation. However, this typically means leaving cryptocurrencies sitting idle within a cryptocurrency wallet, effectively locking away liquidity. Delegating a portion of crypto into a lending platform can provide dividend-like returns and allow the asset to appreciate with the market.
When a crypto loan is not paid back, or if the loan-to-value ratio becomes too high, a crypto lending platform will begin to liquidate the cryptocurrency used as collateral. The cryptocurrency will be sold at the current market rate and used to cover any liquidations. This is why most crypto lending platforms such as Nexo offer over-collateralized loans so that the risk to the company, and by association lenders, is lessened.
Cryptocurrency loan platforms are extremely useful for users to fully maximize and leverage digital assets. These platforms, created by centralized organizations, are arguably much safer and much easier to understand than many decentralized exchanges and finance protocols and provide products and services not dissimilar from the traditional banking industry.
There is a wide variety of options available so it is crucial to perform thorough due diligence when choosing a platform. Look for the interest rates offered, what cryptocurrencies are supported, the fees involved, and, most importantly, check how funds will be kept safe. Find a crypto lending website that can offer the right balance and start to put digital assets to work.