Note: the data in this article is valid as of the date of publication: 1. March 2020
Fee levels on bitcoin futures can be confusing for many traders. There are often multiple dimensions at play. There typically is not merely a fixed fee charged. Instead, there is usually other factors that change the fee charged based on the context of the account trading, such as:
There is usually a lower fee charged for passive “maker” limit orders which get filled by another trader, and higher fees charged for active aggressor/”taker” orders where the account is filling a passive order.
There is often volume-based discounts applied for highly active traders who pay lower maker and taker fees if they have traded above a certain level.
Some exchanges charge higher fees for using higher leverage in their positions.
Many exchanges have “Designated Market Maker” programs which offer benefits for providing consistent liquidity and/or hitting volume targets
Many exchanges have exchange-tokens issued by the platform to induce incentives, where benefits are valid if user is holding the token in their account.
While some exchanges have public VIP / marketmaker programs, others keep it behind the scenes, but just about all of them have some sort of “whale” benefits. This article will only go over the public programs as I am not at liberty to disclose any private incentives, if there are any.
Note that every trade constitutes both a maker and taker side — so the exchange earns money on the combination of maker and taker fee for every volume traded.
Overview of exchange fee structure and incentives
The BitMEX fee structure can be found here: https://www.bitmex.com/app/fees
BitMEX also has a referral program where the referrer gets lifetime benefits (10–15%) and the referee gets 30-days 10% trading fee discounts.
Sign up here: https://www.bitmex.com/register/RrmvSe
The OKex fee structure can be found here: https://www.okex.com/en/fees.html
The fees vary based on whether the user is in the “VIP” program, and by the volume of trading in the past 30 days and/or the OKB exchange token holdings in the account.
OKex also has a modest referral program with some relatively strict requirements for the user being referred having minimum trading volumes and being fully verified, more details here: https://okexsupport.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360034107232-OKEx-Launches-Referral-Program-
Sign up here: https://www.okex.com/join/1878142
The fee structure can be found here: https://huobiglobal.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000113122
Huobi, like OKex, has a VIP program and exchange token (HT) where they incentive volume and token holdings and the fee varies by these factors:
Huobi also has an “invite program” where you can earn 30% of the fees generated for the first 3 months of your referees: https://www.huobi.com/en-us/invite/
Binance has the most valuable exchange token in the space: BNB, and a fee structure that varies based on volume: https://www.binance.com/en/support/articles/360033544231
Binance also has a referral program where you can earn 20–40% of trading fees of referees based on BNB holdings: https://www.binance.com/en/activity/referral
Sign up here: https://www.binance.com/en/register?ref=E2P5PUJV
ByBit has no exchange token or other incentives, their fee structure is similar to BitMEX’s: https://help.bybit.com/hc/en-us/articles/360009712294-What-are-the-trading-fees-like-on-Bybit-
ByBit has a referral program paying a $10 Trading Bonus for each registered friend initially depositing at least 0.02 BTC — this bonus can be used as margin for trading and covering losses but can’t be withdrawn. https://help.bybit.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018672373-Bybit-s-Referral-Program
Sign up here: https://www.bybit.com/app/register?ref=x1rNr
FTX has an exchange token FTT which has a buy and burn of 30% of revenue and fee incentives for holding certain USD amounts of the token. They also provide discounts for volume and have a marketmaking program: https://help.ftx.com/hc/en-us/articles/360024479432-Fees VIP program FTX has a VIP fee program for high volume traders. If you are a professional trader or trading firm that uses other…help.ftx.com
FTX has a referral program where you earn 30% of referees fees and they get a 5% discount on their fees: https://help.ftx.com/hc/en-us/articles/360024780431-Referrals This is good until June 2021 where they will revisit the program’s terms.
Sign up here: https://ftx.com/#a=1574341
CoinFLEX has an exchange token FLEX which provides fee discounts, particularly on taker-trading through its trade-mining program: https://coinflex.com/fees/ FLEXMaker Program - CoinFLEX The NEW FLEXMaker Program (Last edited on 30th January, 2020) As part of our new set of offerings to our various…coinflex.com
CME, as a listed and regulated exchange, has a different type of fee structure than original crypto exchanges. It charges the same for buy/sell, maker/taker, and the fees vary based primarily on the type of trader: https://www.cmegroup.com/company/files/cme-fee-schedule-2020-02-01.pdf
Deribit has no volume incentives or exchange token — they have an aggressive maker rebate and a slightly different fee structure for fixed-maturity versus perpetual. See fee structure details here: https://www.deribit.com/pages/information/fees
Deribit has an affiliate program where you get 20% of referees’ fees for the first 6 months and 10% thereafter, and the referred users can earn 10% discounts on trading for the first 6 months https://www.deribit.com/pages/information/affiliate-program-terms
Sign up here: https://www.deribit.com/reg-522.2940
BTSE has a Liquid-based exchange token where the fees vary based on holdings of the token, exchange volume, or market-maker status: https://support.btse.com/en/support/solutions/articles/43000064283-what-are-the-btse-trading-fees-
BTSE also has a referral program with unlimited time-period multi-level payouts where you can earn on the referred users of your referrals! Read more here: https://www.btse.com/en/referralprogram/
Kraken Futures has a flat 0.075% and -0.02% taker/maker fee model. There is no volume discount or exchange token benefits: https://support.kraken.com/hc/en-us/articles/360022835771-Transaction-fees-and-rebates-for-Kraken-Futures
Bitfinex has both an exchange token, LEO, and volume discounts for their trading fees on derivatives: https://www.bitfinex.com/fees
Bitfinex has a polished affiliate program with multi-level and up to 38% of fees earnable: https://www.bitfinex.com/affiliate
Sign up here: https://www.bitfinex.com/?refcode=Hy8xuV49
Bakkt is one of the worst performing exchanges in the space and, like CME, charges a flat dollar rate on contracts sold: $1.25 per 1 BTC. More can be found on their latest trading brochure: https://www.bakkt.com/publicdocs/Bakkt_Bitcoin_USD_Cash_Settled_Monthly_Futures_Overview.pdf
The trend in derivatives exchanges is to offer a loyalty-style exchange-token where fees are reduced if the account is holding more of the token. Additionally, most exchanges provide a volume-based discount so the more trading activity being done the lower the fees. Some exchanges offer a VIP or Marketmaking program that attaches additional benefitts beyond holding an exchange token or giving volume discounts.
Since liquidity is so important on high leverage futures exchanges, many provide maker REBATES where the trader gets paid for providing passive liquidity and getting filled on the market. This is made up by a higher taker fee so that the exchange ensures they are making a net profit off any trading activity.