The last few days saw a blizzard of news and blog posts about the fall of MtGox. After determining that "the increase in the flow of withdrawal requests has hindered our efforts on a technical level", a statement reads, MtGox put a temporary halt on all BTC withdrawals. They plan to post an update by Monday, but the damage is already largely done. Bitcoin prices have tumbled from $900+ on MtGox down to the sub-$700 range, which is bad enough, but along with the drop in MtGox prices we've also seen all the other BTC exchanges -- and cryptocurrencies in general -- drop 10-15% in the past two days.
Here's my question: who in their right mind is still using MtGox anyway!? For one, they only deal in Bitcoins -- no Litecoins (despite many rumors over the past year), no DOGE, no VTC... nothing but BTC and fiat. Sure, there are lots of people that are mining Bitcoins with their ASICs, but the other problem is even worse. Getting USD and even EUR out of MtGox is a major pain in the butt -- last I tried (which granted was six months back), USD wire transfers simply didn't happen at all. After three months, I canceled my wire transfer and got the money out through a different medium (Coinbase). It was as good as the old Dwolla days in most respects, and so I've completely halted any and all use of MtGox.
If I lived in Japan, I think MtGox might be great stuff, but for everyone else? Yeah, I'd look to other options. They've stagnated long enough, just like their name (Magic The Gathering Online eXchange if you didn't know). Apparently I was ahead of the curve, but during the past week or so it looks like many others have decided it's time to pack up their BTC and leave MtGox. The growing list of available cryptocurrency exchanges has more than picked up the slack for BTC trading regardless; here's how I break them down (which is totally arbitrary, and MtGox isn't on my list -- though they probably belong in the Tier One category just by reason of having been around for several years...or Tier Two for remaining largely unchanged for several years, other than to make their interface much worse with the last update):
Tier One (safe, large, and reasonably fast):
BTER: Currently trades 36 different coins, with generally fast performance
BTC-e: My original LTC exchange; they only trade in eight cryptocurrencies (and three fiat currencies -- USD, RUR, and EUR), but they're usually fast and stable.
Bitstamp: This is basically the heir apparent for MtGox (and they have been for months). They do a large volume of BTC trades for USD, and other than some support for Ripple that's all there is here.
Tier Two (lots of coins, possibly slow performance, security may be lax):
CoinedUp: They trade a lot of cryptocurrencies, but performance ranges from a bit laggy to downright awful at times. The good news is that they often list some of the newer coins before bigger exchanges -- like VTC made an early home here. So far no terrible security holes, but they need more (and more powerful) servers, period.
Cryptsy: This is one of those bipolar exchanges where when things work well, it's awesome, but when things go south, it can be horrible. People have experienced delays of over a day when depositing some coins, performance can be pretty slow at times, and it's a bit crazy to see what coins are listed and which ones aren't. The site has a nickname of "Craptsy" because users get frustrated on a regular basis. With all that said, I still use Cryptsy regularly, and with over 100 listed currencies it's hard not to -- I just try to avoid dealing with them on newly listed coins.
Coins-E: I haven't used them much, but they're a lot like Cryptsy and CoinedUp in that they have a lot of currencies they trade in. 41 coins are currently listed, and like CoinedUp and Cryptsy the site can be a bit sluggish at times.
Tier Three (like tier two, only newer -- or I just haven't used them as much)
Vircurex: Eighteen coins on offer, and while the site has been around for a while I just haven't used them much. Not necessarily a bad exchange, but if you're looking to trade new alt-coins look elsewhere.
CoinEx: This exchange has promise, but the lack of https and the "beta" status are always a bit scary. There are currently 47 coins listed here.
Coinmarket.io: A newer exchange, but the good news is the site has always been pretty responsive when I've visited. Mostly I've traded LEAF, SMC, and CON here, and I've deposited and withdrawn quite a few times without trouble. They could become a Tier Two if they keep growing and don't have any security problems.
CryptoRush.in: Another new exchange that I've had some good experiences with. 52 currencies listed, with two apparently pulled due to technical issues (maybe).
PoloniEx: An up and coming exchange that has performed well for me when I've used it. They list 33 coins right now, including some personal favorites like DRK, VTC, and MRC.
C-Cex: Too new to really say much more than that the site looks okay and performance is good so far.
Bitfinex: Offering trades in BTC and LTC, the big draw here is for those that want to play with margin trading. Built to handle some of the same functionality as the old Bitcoinica, I can't say I'm all to fond of playing with the site or leverages. I lost 70 BTC on a bad leverage call back in the Bitcoinica days, and while it was only worth $150 at the time, the loss still smarts. Some are surprised Bitfinex is still around, but the site at least appears to work well enough.
Tier Four (tread carefully!)
Crycurex: Only five coins listed, the site is in beta, and a deposit I sent through over six hours ago still hasn't cleared. Apparently all deposits and withdrawals are done manually right now (red flag much?), so I'd look elsewhere if at all possible until the site has a better UI and is more automated.
Any other exchange you might come across is at present a site that I haven't used (yet). They might be good or they might not, but I'd enter cautiously. Some are actually big and probably reasonably safe (e.g. BTC-China), but they cater to a non-English market so I have no need for their services. I could come up with a list of at least a dozen cryptocurrency exchanges that have disappeared, sometimes with everyone's coins in tow, sometimes after being hacked and losing everyone's coins. Neither is good, no matter how you slice it, so choose your exchanges -- and your mining pools, and your passwords! -- carefully.