Ethereum is sick. The network is congested. Transactions have slowed, gas fees have skyrocketed, and if any more symptoms appear, the 2nd largest cryptocurrency by market cap will need to take a COVID-19 test before coming back to work.
In all seriousness, it has become more difficult than ever to use the Ethereum network. A number of traders having recently purchased the native token, Ether (ETH), find themselves unable to participate in the decentralized applications (dApps) built on the platform because of the outrageous gas fees charged by the network.
But what is gas, anyway? And how does gas work on the Ethereum network? Stick around and find out how you can pay less gas when trading your crypto.
What are Gas Fees?
Gas fees aren’t really a complicated idea. Using a proof-of-work consensus mechanism, Ethereum gas fees are paid to miners who work tirelessly to process your transactions. In this way, gas fees provide an incentive to those who secure the network by mining.
Thankfully, plans are in the works to update the Ethereum network to proof-of-stake. But in the meantime traders must pay a heavy price to trade ETH and ERC-20 tokens.
How Gas Fees Work
Gas fees are paid in ETH and are denoted in gwei. Gwei, itself a shortening of giga-wei, refers to a quantity of 1 million wei — the smallest unit of ETH.
A recent upgrade to Ethereum updated the network’s fee mechanism to some extent. By making fees more predictable for traders — and burning a portion of the fees collected — the London upgrade has helped spur additional demand for the currency.
Despite the upgrade, gas fees remain incredibly high on the Ethereum network. And traders are increasingly searching for alternative smart contract platforms for trading their crypto.
Ethereum vs. Ethereum Competitors
Smart contracts and the platforms hosting them have revolutionized the altcoin market. And as the 1st blockchain to implement them, Ethereum has a few advantages over its competitors.
First and foremost, Ethereum has the largest number of dApps created on its platform. And among them are some of the largest cryptocurrencies by market cap.
Using the ERC-20 standard, the popular decentralized exchange (DEX), Uniswap (UNI) has helped push the price of ETH to new heights. And with an array of decentralized finance (DeFi) tokens available to swap on the DEX, Uniswap continues to garner the attention of new participants.
But alternative networks, while not as developed, have seen an explosion of interest lately. And as Ethereum gas fees climb, platforms like Cardano (ADA) and Solana (SOL) continue to eat into ETH’s market share.
Due to their innovative use of the proof-of-stake mechanism, these Ethereum killer platforms have increased throughput, lightning speed transactions and most importantly — cheap transaction fees.
Where to Buy Ethereum
As the 2nd largest cryptocurrency by market cap, ETH is available on most exchanges. And while the accessibility of the token helps expand the adoption of crypto, choosing a reputable trading platform among a crowded field has become more difficult.
While Coinbase remains the most popular U.S.-based exchange, a number of competitors with their own distinctive features come highly rated by discerning investors.
Voyager, a mobile brokerage with a fantastic altcoin selection, offers incredibly low fees to its members. Crypto.com, the industry’s fastest growing exchange, is offering terrific rewards for assets held on the trading platform.
Gemini, another fantastic exchange, offers best-in-class security and focuses on licensing and compliance as pillars of its platform. Whichever exchange you decide on, ETH will likely be prominently featured.
Coinbase is one of the Internet’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms. From Bitcoin to Litecoin or Basic Attention Token to Chainlink, Coinbase makes it exceptionally simple to buy and sell major cryptocurrency pairs.
You can even earn cryptocurrency rewards through Coinbase’s unique Coinbase Earn feature. More advanced traders will love the Coinbase Pro platform, which offers more order types and enhanced functionality.
Though Coinbase doesn’t offer the most affordable pricing or the lowest fees, its simple platform is easy enough for complete beginners to master in as little as a single trade.
- New cryptocurrency traders
- Cryptocurrency traders interested in major pairs
- Cryptocurrency traders interested in a simple platform
- Simple platform is easy to operate
- Comprehensive mobile app mirrors desktop functionality
- Coinbase Earn feature rewards you with crypto for learning about available coins
- Higher fees than competitors
Voyager is a leading name in the sphere of cryptocurrency investing, giving you access to over 50 tokens and coins. Buy, sell and swap assets using Voyager Crypto’s simple mobile platform available as a free download for iOS and Android users.
When you invest through Voyager, you’ll pay nothing in commissions, which is a major benefit when compared to other cryptocurrency brokers. Voyager is also one of the only brokers we’ve seen that allows users to earn interest on their crypto investments.
Though the broker could do more to improve its customer service, it’s an excellent option for beginner investors and seasoned professionals alike.
- Cryptocurrency investors looking for a wide selection of supported projects.
- Investors who prefer mobile trading.
- Anyone interested in earning interest on their crypto investments.
- Simple, straightforward and intuitive mobile platform
- Wealth of investment opportunities
- Allows users to earn interest on select crypto investments
- Only available for mobile users — no desktop platform
- Limited routes to contact customer service team
Crypto.com strives to make cryptocurrency a part of everyday life by offering a full suite of services for crypto users. The company offers a Crypto.com App, Exchange, Visa Card, DeFi swap, DeFi Wallet, DeFi Earn, Crypto.com Price, staking, crypto lending, and many other services. What really sets them apart, however, is the combination of super low fees and incredibly generous rewards programs for their users.
- Traders who want access to a secure, low-cost cryptocurrency exchange
- Passive investors who want to earn interest on their balance without frequent trading
- Mobile investors who prefer to handle all their crypto needs via their phone or tablet
- Low fees
- High security
- One-stop shop for all your crypto needs (wallet, trading, spending, and more)
- Lots of ways to earn interest, rewards, and rebates
- Low privacy
- Customer service response time could be improved
Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian that offers investors access to 26 coins and tokens. Founded in the US, Gemini is expanding globally, in particular into Europe and Asia. Offerings include both major cryptocurrency projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and smaller altcoins like Orchid and 0x.
Gemini is 1 of the only brokers with multiple platform options based on skill level. New investors will love the streamlined interface of Gemini’s mobile and web apps, while advanced investors might appreciate all the tools that come with ActiveTrader.
In addition to a host of platform choices, Gemini users also have access to insured hot wallets to store tokens without worrying about digital asset theft. Learn more about what Gemini can do for you in our review.
- New investors looking for a simple mobile and web app
- Experienced investors who need a more advanced platform with more tools
- Users looking for a 1-stop-shop to buy, sell and store all of their coins
- Easy and quick signups — can get started in as little as a few minutes
- Multitude of platforms to accommodate traders of all skill levels
- Hot wallets include insurance to protect your from theft and hacking attempts
- Charges both a commission and a convenience fee for users buying and selling through the desktop or mobile app
Best Time to Pay Less Gas on Ethereum
If you’re ready to dive into the Ethereum network, one way you can save on gas is by watching the time. Ethereum gas fees fluctuate a lot and if you time your trades correctly, you can save considerable money on your transactions.
In short, Ethereum gas fees are cheapest when less people are using it. But before you stay up all night, remember that as North America sleeps, participants in Asia start trading. With that in mind, 3 a.m. EST is probably the best time to save money on Ethereum gas fees.
Alternative Ways to Save on Fees
- Polygon network
The Polygon (MATIC) network is a powerful Layer 2 solution. And with popular dApps like SushiSwap (SUSHI) deploying on the network, the ETH compatible side chain has become a favorite way for experienced traders to swap ERC-20 tokens.
- Optimistic Ethereum
Optimistic Ethereum is another Layer 2 solution available to savvy consumers. While generally less developed than the Polygon network, Optimistic Ethereum separates itself from competitors with a minimalist approach to their code, allowing any project to deploy with a single click. And now, Uniswap (UNI) has done just that.
Arbitrum was designed as an easy-to-use platform for developers to launch Scalable, Ethereum compatible smart contracts. Arbitrum is unique for its EVM-compatible rollups, allowing languages that can already compile to EVM work immediately, out of the box. Arbitrum doesn’t have a token; instead it uses ETH to process transactions, similarly to Ethereum’s mainnet.
- A different blockchain
These days, there are certainly no shortages in alternative blockchains. Cardano (ADA), Binance smart chain (BSC) and Solana (SOL) represent the most popular smart contract platforms competing with Ethereum.
Layer 1 vs. Layer 2 on Ethereum
While Ethereum itself is a Layer 1 smart contract platform, Layer 2 solutions to the network’s high fees have become increasingly popular. But low fees aren’t always the most important consideration when it comes to trading your crypto.
While scalability and cheap gas are fantastic reasons to use Layer 2 solutions, Layer 1 networks are inherently more secure. And because of the risks already involved with cryptocurrency trading, some participants feel more comfortable keeping their trades within the Ethereum network.
Deciding the best way to save on Ethereum’s gas fees can be a highly personal choice. Often the decision comes down to your own comfortability and trading strategy. From proof-of-work blockchains to Layer 2 solutions and the options presented here, including the best time to use the Ethereum network, can help you save a lot of money.
Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank cryptocurrency exchanges and tools. We prioritized platforms based on offerings, pricing and promotions, customer service, mobile app, user experience and benefits, and security. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit see our Cryptocurrency Methodology page.
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