The world of NFTs has been enjoying lots of buzz over the past few years — from news of record-breaking sales to celebrity adoptions — making many people want to buy one for themselves.
Where to Buy NFTs
- NBA Top Shot
- Nifty Gateway
If you’re still a little hazy on understanding NFTs, here’s what you need to know: NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are units of data (unique code) that provide a secure record of ownership on a blockchain infrastructure (examples are Ethereum or Solana). NFTs are often associated with a digital asset like an image or video that lives on a blockchain. Some NFT projects you might recognize are Bored Ape Yacht Club or CryptoPunks.
NFTs can’t be copied or altered, so they can be used to track ownership of property that can’t be replicated, like the rights to an image. This technology is being applied to purchasing digital art, music and sports moments.
How to Buy NFTs
To buy and sell NFTs, this means having to visit an NFT marketplace. NFT marketplaces are online platforms for everything involving the sale of NFTs, and are powered directly on blockchain technology to verify the ownership of purchases. They also usually require cryptocurrency for purchases.
What Is an NFT Marketplace?
To use NFT marketplaces, you first need to establish a digital wallet to store your cryptocurrency. Digital wallets can be established through platforms like Gemini, Metamask, Binance and Coinbase. Once established, you can then link this wallet to the marketplace account where you plan to buy NFTs.
Today, most NFTs are purchased with ether (ETH), the native currency of the Ethereum network, which can be converted from U.S. dollars on exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini and Kraken.
Unlike Bitcoin, which functions mainly as a payment network and cryptocurrency, blockchain networks such as Ethereum and Solana let users build apps that can store personal data and set rules for complex financial transactions. These are called smart contracts, which are digital contracts stored on a blockchain that are automatically executed when certain conditions are met, like when an NFT transfers ownership and the original artist receives royalties.
NFTs are often sold through an auction system where you will put in a bid for the NFT. Some sites like OpenSea offer an option to buy the NFT now for a set price.
Centralized vs. Decentralized NFT Marketplaces
Crypto and NFT marketplaces are split into two types of general categories: centralized or decentralized. Depending on how new you are to buying NFTs, this will determine which type of marketplace may be best for your needs and values as a buyer. Here’s some of the key differences between both.
What Is a Centralized Marketplace?
Popular for beginner buyers, a centralized NFT marketplace is a marketplace created and directly managed by a corporate entity. Examples of centralized marketplaces include sites like Crypto.com and NBA Top Shot.
In a centralized marketplace, the owning entity acts as a third-party provider between a buyer and seller, directly setting all guidelines for transactions and fees carried out on the exchange. Since these types of marketplaces are owned by companies, they tend to be more user-accessible, regulation-compliant and capable of safeguarding assets from hacking incidents.
What Is a Decentralized Marketplace?
Recommended for experienced buyers, a decentralized NFT marketplace is a marketplace initially created by one person or group, but is automatically managed by a decentralized network of computers. Examples of decentralized marketplaces include sites like OpenSea and LooksRare.
Third-party authority is largely eliminated in a decentralized marketplace, providing unique opportunities for buyers. Buyers in decentralized marketplaces have complete control over their assets, possible lowered transaction fees as well as varied choices of NFTs that otherwise wouldn’t be available on centralized markets. Some platforms even allow buyers to use their tokens to vote on community policy changes.
Without a regulatory safety net, users are also more at risk of loss due to scamming or hacking incidents. Additionally, users may not be required to create accounts and verify their identity to buy and sell.
Tips for Buying NFTs
With the NFT market rapidly changing, those entering the market should do so with eyes wide open. Since their inception, NFT marketplaces have seen multiple reports of theft and fraud, as well as widely varied fees and commissions. Buyers should understand that it’s important to assess marketplaces, including occasionally inconspicuous FAQs and service terms, with scrutiny.
Know Why You’re Buying
NFTs are valuable — for a few different reasons. Due to the uncertainties of the NFT market, ask yourself why you’re buying a specific NFT. Maybe it’s a piece by your favorite artist, maybe it’s a high-value piece you’re looking to resell or maybe it just looks cool. In any case, understand why you want to invest in an NFT before the final purchase.
Know Who You’re Buying From
Scams are common in the NFT space, meaning it will be worth doing some research before buying just any NFT. If applicable, check beforehand if the seller has a verified profile on the marketplace you’re buying from, and if a seller’s information matches with that on their social media. Additionally, research on the NFT itself to see if its price value lines up with similar pieces by the same artist.
Know the Transaction Fees
When buying NFTs, it’s important to factor in additional or gas fees required by the marketplace of purchase. Some marketplace sites like Rarible take a percent of the sale price from both the buyer and seller, while a site like OpenSea takes no service fees at all from buyers. Take some time to understand the payment policies of your chosen marketplace so there are no sudden surprises.
Keeping everything in mind, here are 20 top NFT marketplaces to know.
20 Best NFT Marketplaces to Buy From
Coinbase NFT is the NFT marketplace of Coinbase, a well-known crypto exchange platform. With Coinbase NFT, users can explore NFTs ranging in the areas of photography and sports to classic collectibles and trading cards. The marketplace can store purchased NFTs directly into users’ Coinbase Wallets, and even provides resources like an NFT investment calculator to guide buyers.
Categories: Collectibles, digital art, fashion, music, photography, sports
Launched in February 2021, Foundation has hosted NFT sales of the viral internet meme Nyan Cat, Pak’s Finite and work by creators such as Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova and Edward Snowden. Creators’ work is arranged in a grid of cards, with trending auctions at the top of the page followed by featured artists. Works are listed at a reserve price, and bids can be placed for 24 hours, with a 15-minute extension if bids are placed in the last 15 minutes. The platform is built on Ethereum.
Category: Digital art
MakersPlace describes itself as a marketplace to buy, sell and discover “authentic” NFTs directly from digital creators. The MakersPlace team personally verifies every piece that is posted on the marketplace, all to ensure artists are properly represented and to increase trust amongst buyers. 3D art, animation and more art mediums can be found as NFTs on the website.
Categories: Digital art, photography
Founded in 2017 by the software development team of Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah, OpenSea claims on its website to be “the first and largest NFT marketplace.” On the marketplace, which is filterable by price and rarity, you can find everything from virtual real estate to sound loops from The Weeknd. A stats tab — almost like a stock ticker — ranks sellers by volume, average sale price and the number of assets sold. Buyers can purchase fixed-price NFTs directly from sellers or bid on NFTs in auctions, with an offer record stored in the user’s profile. OpenSea is compatible with multiple blockchains such as Ethereum, Solana and Polygon.
Categories: Digital art, music, domain names, video games, virtual worlds, sports, collectibles
Rarible is an NFT marketplace where users can mint, buy and sell digital collectibles ranging from gummy bear GIFs to animated videos commemorating sports milestones such as boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s undefeated 50-0 record. The layout is similar to Spotify, with a scrollable stack of columns featuring top sellers, hot collections and live auctions. A governance token known as RARI allows the most active buyers and sellers to vote for platform upgrades and participate in moderation decisions.
Categories: Digital art, photography, music, metaverse, memes, video games
Sorare is a cryptocurrency-based fantasy soccer league where users can collect player cards as NFTs and then use them in online competitions. The site has more than 300 licensed clubs, including the teams of Major League Soccer, and all transactions are done in Ethereum. Though users can participate in the fantasy league by purchasing low-cost digital players, exclusive NFT collectibles outcompete others through scoring multipliers.
Category: Sports collectibles
SuperRare is a peer-to-peer marketplace for buying and selling single-edition digital artwork. A tile of windows similar to an Instagram profile showcases art, list prices, sale prices and timed auctions. The site is home to a curated selection of artists and brands and has features like an active social feed, a calendar of upcoming exhibitions and an editorial page with profiles and artist statements. All transactions are made using ether, the native cryptocurrency to the Ethereum network.
Category: Digital art
Async allows users to create and collect interactive NFTs. Async Art allows artists to tokenize the individual layers of their art, whether its audio, video or photos. When an artist mints programmable art, they deploy instructions for how their finished media should be rendered.
Category: Digital art, music, video
Designed by the Vietnamese startup Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity is a Pokémon-inspired video game, where players collect cartoon pets, battle other players and build farming kingdoms. Characters and land plots are encrypted as NFTs, which can be bought on the Axie Marketplace.
Category: Video games
Crypto.com’s NFT marketplace allows users to buy and sell digital collectibles from brands, celebrities and artists like Snoop Dogg, Aston Martin and UFC. Purchases can be made with a credit or debit card, your account balance on Crypto.com or with Crypto.com Pay, using the app or a wallet like Metamask or WalletConnect that supports ERC20 tokens.
Category: Digital art, collectibles
Self-branded on its homepage as “the first-ever virtual world owned by users,” Decentraland functions as a self-contained marketplace where users can buy and sell land, estates, avatar clothing and names registered on the Ethereum ledger. MANA is Decentraland’s fungible, ERC20 cryptocurrency token. MANA is burned, or spent, in exchange for LAND parcels.
Category: Metaverse, video games
KnownOrigin is an artist-driven NFT marketplace for rare digital art that allows both collectors and artists to trade their NFT art on the Ethereum blockchain.
Category: Digital art
The LooksRare marketplace hosts a myriad of NFT collections, composed of various digital art and collectible images to choose from. LooksRare aims to be scalable and community-focused, offering instant payment for creators and future support for buying based on specific traits or full collections. The marketplace also implements a reward system providing LOOKS, a token earned by buying or selling certain NFTs on its platform.
Category: Digital art, images
Founded by former employees from Google, Uber and Coinbase, Solana-based marketplace Magic Eden houses over 8,000 NFT collections and hosts the Launchpad NFT minting platform. Magic Eden also currently acts as the “most liquid secondary marketplace” for creators, holding over 90 percent of market share for secondary trading volume on certain blockchain platforms.
Category: Collectibles, digital art, metaverse, sports
Backed by Marc Benioff-owned Time Ventures and billionaire investor Mark Cuban, Mintable is a two-sided marketplace for buying and selling NFTs that resembles eBay. Built on the Ethereum and Zilliqa blockchains, the site is integrated with MetaMask, where buyers can set up crypto wallets. Creators have options to mint free “gasless” NFTs, short-run printable series or traditional transaction-based items. Once they’ve set up profiles and loaded their wallets, buyers can purchase listed items or bid on auctions, with winners notified by email.
Categories: Digital art, domain names, photography, templates, videos, video games
Launched as a beta by DapperLabs in early 2020, fans can collect and trade NBA- and WNBA-licensed digital “moments” on NBA Top Shot. Released in limited-edition sets or available through open trade on the broader marketplace, moments feature video highlights, player stats and box scores. Collectors can display curated collections, follow their favorite teams and trade assets secured on the Flow blockchain.
Nifty Gateway is a centralized U.S. dollar marketplace that works with artists and brands to create Nifties — a branded term for NFTs. Sales are structured around “drops,” in which collections are made available for a limited time. After a drop ends or an artwork sells out, Nifties can be resold through the site’s peer-to-peer marketplace. Nifty Gateway has featured work by artists and brands like Beeple, BD White, Cam Hicks, Forbes and Playboy. Now owned by cryptocurrency exchange, Gemini, Nifty Gateway operates at high volume and includes a discovery page and a log of sitewide activity.
Category: Collectibles, digital art
The Sandbox marketplace is a video game where players can monetize experiences through the Ethereum blockchain. A cryptocurrency known as SAND functions as the game’s usage fee and utility token. A web-based marketplace lets users upload, publish and sell creations made in VoxEdit, a 3D voxel modeling package, as NFTs. Creations purchased or developed using the editor can be placed on land parcels, thereby altering the game mechanics through scripted behaviors.
Category: Metaverse, video games
ThetaDrop is an NFT marketplace powered by the video and entertainment blockchain Theta Network, calling itself “fast and green”. ThetaDrop incorporates live streaming during auctions and NFT drops, along with tie-ins to live television and cable broadcasts. It launched with the World Poker Tour.
Category: Digital art, images, music
Zora is a decentralized auction house with an overtly activist manifesto: to help artists recapture value that labels, galleries and big brands have traditionally taken as a commission for service and distribution. Buyers can find music, video, images, GIFs and text NFTs for sale through linked Ethereum wallets like WalletConnect and Coinbase. In addition to serving as a marketplace, Zora is an open-source protocol, built on the most common standard for NFTs, called ERC-721.
Category: Digital art