The bottom line:
Uniswap brings hassle-free swaps for ERC-20 tokens to Ethereum and several compatible blockchains. The platform lets users swap through liquidity pools or fund liquidity pools to earn swap fees. Uniswap’s NFT marketplace also aggregates NFTs from leading marketplaces. I found the platform easy to use but had to dig for a few details on liquidity pool positions. Overall, I give Uniswap two thumbs up for user experience, UI, and features.
Best for fast crypto swaps
On Uniswap's website
Total Value Locked
Token Market Cap
Expert Review: Uniswap in Action
I put Uniswap to the test and found most features of the app easy to use.
For testing, I used the MetaMask wallet, a multi-blockchain wallet that can automatically detect new tokens. Fees can get pricey on Ethereum Mainnet, so I used the Polygon network.
Uniswap supports Ethereum, Polygon, Optimism, Arbitrum, and Celo networks, all of which are also supported by MetaMask. However, some actions require the Ethereum Mainnet, as I discovered when shopping for NFTs on Uniswap.
For swaps and funding liquidity pools, Polygon works well on Uniswap. It also costs less than the Ethereum network and provides near-instant transactions.
You can add crypto assets to your Uniswap-connected wallet in two primary ways: Send it from an exchange (or another wallet) or buy assets on Uniswap’s platform using a third-party provider.
In the US, Uniswap partners with MoonPay, a provider that supports a number of tokens, including ETH, MATIC, and USDC. MoonPay’s available assets vary by blockchain, however.
I used Coinbase Advanced to buy some USDC, transferring the tokens over the Polygon network from my Coinbase account to MetaMask.
Swapping cryptocurrencies on Uniswap proved painless and intuitive. Uniswap reads the balances in your connected wallet, so you’ll see available token balances as you choose your trade.
I swapped some USDC stablecoin for MATIC. Uniswap passed the transaction over to MetaMask for authorization.
Swap fees vary depending on the cryptocurrencies you’re trading and the fees chosen by the liquidity providers. On Uniswap, you can trade (swap) – or provide liquidity by depositing crypto into a smart contract in a matched pair, such as MATIC and WETH.
|Very stable pairs||0.01%|
When making swaps, however, Uniswap doesn’t make these numbers obvious. Instead, the app displays the best price for you. A drop-down box details the expected output from the trade (how much of Token B you’ll get for Token A).
Waiting to trade for a few seconds could result in a higher or lower output.
Uniswap displays both the token quantity and the value in fiat, but fiat prices can take a while to load.
Uniswap offers a list of top tokens by blockchain, showing 100 popular tokens under Ethereum Mainnet, but just 82 under Polygon. The Celo network displays only eight tokens. The top tokens list serves as a handy way to gauge trading activity.
Token stats include:
- Total Value Locked (TVL)
- Trading volume
- Price change
- Price charts
The top token lists don’t show every token on Uniswap, however. You can find more obscure tokens using the search box in the swap screen if some industrious traders have funded a liquidity pool.
Uniswap displays a warning if the token is unavailable on leading exchanges. For example, I saw this message when searching for stETH (staked ETH).
Uniswap aggregates NFTs from several marketplaces, including Opensea, the leading NFT marketplace. You can even buy property NFTs for the Decentraland metaverse. In June of 2022, Uniswap Labs acquired Genie, a startup NFT aggregator. Then they combined the tool with Uniswap’s core tools, bringing more value to users.
While alternative networks like Polygon work well for swaps and liquidity pools, I quickly discovered that buying NFTs on the platform requires that you use Uniswap with the Ethereum Mainnet.
Attempted purchases with Polygon were greeted with a message stating, “Wrong network.”
I also didn’t have 66 ETH in my wallet. Maybe next time, CryptoPunks.
Currently, Uniswap offers NFTs from the following platforms:
- Larva Labs
- X2Y2, Foundation
One of Uniswap’s best features is the opportunity for token holders to earn a return by funding liquidity pools.
In a liquidity pool, you deposit paired tokens in equal value based on the exchange rate.
For example, I deposited 0.01932 WETH along with 30.1711 MATIC.
Uniswap lets you define a price range, preventing trades outside that range. If you choose a common pair and fee, Uniswap selects a default price range you can modify.
Within seconds (using Polygon), I added liquidity to the pool, earning 0.3% when someone used the pool to swap tokens. Closing a position is just as quick.
Liquidity pools attempt to keep the balance of the pool at a 50-50 ratio for paired assets. Uniswap’s Automated Market Maker (AMM) algorithm raises the price of in-demand tokens if there is more buying pressure for one of the tokens in the pair.
Arbitrage traders play a role when pool prices get out of sync with the outside world. For example, if a token is 10% less on Uniswap, arbitrage players can buy the token and sell it on an outside exchange, pocketing the difference. The buying pressure raises the token's price in the pool, restoring balance to the universe.
In my own experience providing liquidity on Uniswap for a few days, the asset values tracked the outside market closely, increasing the value of my position as the crypto market rallied. Fees from trades added to the value as well, although the numbers were small.
Uniswap vs. Centralized Exchanges
I found Uniswap easier to use than centralized exchanges like Coinbase or Binance. Even as an experienced user, today’s exchanges can be overwhelming, with endless menus to dig through.
Uniswap uses one simple menu and search bar, giving a more streamlined experience. Uniswap’s fees also compare well with centralized exchanges.
Where I felt limited in comparison to centralized exchanges was in the selection of tokens. For example, because Uniswap only supports ERC-20 tokens, you can’t swap MATIC for BTC. You’d have to use WBTC (wrapped Bitcoin) instead. With Coinbase, I can trade MATIC for real BTC.
I found the discord server impossible to navigate. Maybe I need to ask my teenage son for help.
Instead, I opened a ticket to ask a question about how to view liquidity pool starting deposits. Within an hour, I received a reply by email. The response spoke to someone already knowledgeable about the space (a fair assumption given the question), pointing me to Uniswap Info and external DEX explorers (which may or may not be accurate).
After some blockchain digging, I found the numbers I needed. Beginners may not fare as well, but I can’t fault Uniswap for that – and I did get a speedy reply.
What is Uniswap?
Uniswap is a decentralized exchange, meaning that it's not run by a company like Coinbase or Binance. Instead, users govern the platform using the UNI token that makes token holders eligible to vote on proposed changes to Uniswap.
The Uniswap app is designed and maintained by Uniswap Labs, a New York company, but the protocol itself is governed by the community. Hayden Adams, founder of the Uniswap protocol and CEO of Uniswap Labs, is regarded as a thought leader in crypto and often tweets his take on industry happenings.
Centralized exchanges are subject to Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulations. It can take days to get permission to spend your money on crypto. Uniswap doesn’t need your identity. Just connect a supported wallet and Bob’s your uncle.
Uniswap was first built for Ethereum, using smart contracts to provide exchange functionality. Smart contracts work like a series of switches: If this happens, do that, and then move on to the next switch if needed.
Now, Uniswap offers support for Ethereum-compatible networks like Polygon and Optimism. These networks bring lower-cost transactions, sometimes slashing transaction costs to pennies.
Swaps are limited to ERC-20 tokens, a token standard for Ethereum. When you make a swap, the funds are placed in your wallet. No extra steps or withdrawal fees.
In 2022, Uniswap surpassed $1 trillion in trading volume since its inception. To date, nearly 5 million unique wallet addresses have used the platform.
Uniswap Pros and Cons
- Easy-to-use interface
- Low-cost trades
- No KYC or AML requirements
- Trade or earn by providing liquidity
- Multiple blockchain networks supported
- Can be intimidating for beginners
- Higher fees when purchasing through MoonPay
- High gas fees on the Ethereum network
Uniswap is easy to use, but can still seem intimidating if you’re coming from a centralized exchange like Coinbase. In practice, you may end up using both. For this Uniswap review, I bought some USDC stablecoin on Coinbase, sent it to my MetaMask wallet, and then used Uniswap to make swaps.
Uniswap Notable Features
|Swaps||You can use Uniswap to “swap” ERC-20 tokens for others. For example, you can swap USDC for MATIC.|
|Buy NFTs||Uniswap acts as an NFT aggregator, bringing a searchable assortment of NFTs from top marketplaces.|
|Liquidity pools||Earn a return by providing tokens other users can swap. Withdraw whenever you want.|
Whether you’re looking for the next hot token or want to rebalance your portfolio, Uniswap makes it easy to swap ERC-20 tokens with low fees. You can also provide liquidity for other users who want to swap tokens, earning a fee for making the trades possible.
|Network fees||Vary by network, with ETH being costlier for transactions compared to Polygon (MATIC) or others|
|Swap fees||0.01%, 0.05%, 0.3%, or 1%|
|Purchase fees (MoonPay)||4.5% (card purchases), 1% (bank transfers), $3.99 minimum|
Uniswap’s fees compare well with centralized exchanges like Coinbase. Most swaps on Uniswap cost 0.3%, whereas Coinbase Advanced charges 0.6% for market orders if your 30-day trading volume is under $10,000.
However, swaps can get costly on Uniswap if you’re using the Ethereum network and gas prices spike during high network usage. Fortunately, you can choose less expensive (and faster) networks like Polygon.
Uniswap Alternatives Comparison
A handful of decentralized exchanges (DEXs) compete for the top slot, each bringing its own benefits.
|Exchange||Fees||Supported networks||Notable features|
|Uniswap||0.01% to 1%, with most swaps at 0.3%||Ethereum, Polygon, Optimism, Arbitrum, Celo||Swaps, NFT marketplace, liquidity pools|
|PancakeSwap||0.25%||Ethereum, BNB Chain, Aptos||Swaps, perpetual swaps (futures), yield farming, NFTs, liquidity pools, trading competitions|
|SushiSwap||0.3%||Ethereum, Arbitrum, Avalanche, Polygon, Optimism, and others||Swaps, liquidity pools, extra perks for SUSHI token holders|
Uniswap focuses on simplicity, whereas competitors like SushiSwap and PancakeSwap (both forks of Uniswap's open-source codebase) bring new features that may be attractive to some users. For example, PancakeSwap offers perpetual futures, a decentralized way to bet on the future price of crypto assets without taking delivery of the tokens. SushiSwap brings revenue sharing to SUSHI token holders, who get a piece of the action for swap fees on the platform.
How to Connect MetaMask to Uniswap (Step-by-Step)
When you use Uniswap, you’re using funds in your own wallet. Transactions also settle in your own wallet. Here’s how to connect MetaMask, one of the most popular crypto wallets.
Read our full MetaMask Review.
Step 1: Download the MetaMask Wallet.
Visit MetaMask to get the download link for the Chrome extension. MetaMask also offers a mobile version for Android and iOS devices. We’ll use the Chrome extension in this example.
Step 2: Create a new wallet.
Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your wallet for first use. MetaMask will generate a 12-word recovery phrase. Write this down and store it safely. Create a password as well (and write it down).
MetaMask supports enhanced token detection, which is handy for new tokens you pick up on Uniswap. Go to settings (top-right circle icon) and then search for “enhanced token” to toggle this feature to the on position.
Step 3: Choose your network.
MetaMask supports Polygon and Optimism in addition to Ethereum. Both alternatives offer lower transaction costs. However, some features, such as NFT purchases, are limited to Ethereum.
Step 4: Fund your wallet.
You can transfer your crypto from another wallet or an exchange like Coinbase.
Step 5: Connect to Uniswap.
Visit Uniswap and click on Launch App in the top-right corner. In the app, click on Connect Wallet, again in the top right corner. Click on the MetaMask icon in the list (center screen) and accept the connection in your MetaMask wallet.
Uniswap also works with several other popular wallets, such as:
- Trust Wallet
- Coinbase Wallet
- Brave Browser Wallet
- Ledger Live (requires WalletConnect in the Ledger Live App)
- WalletConnect-compatible wallets
To Sum It Up
Decentralized exchanges like Uniswap can still be easy to use. Depending on what you need to do, they might be easier to use than centralized exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, and others.
As an added benefit, you can keep your crypto in your own wallet rather than trust a centralized exchange. NFTs and the ability to earn with liquidity pools add to Uniswap’s value. As a caveat, it can be more difficult to track your trades when compared to centralized exchanges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you lose money on Uniswap?Expand to learn more
Yes. One risk is impermanent loss when providing liquidity. Impermanent loss refers to when the value of your investment in the liquidity pool falls below the value it would be if you had just held the tokens without providing liquidity.
Should I use Uniswap or Coinbase?Expand to learn more
Each exchange serves a different purpose. If you want to buy BTC or Cardano (ADA), you won’t find those cryptocurrencies on Uniswap. However, Uniswap can be a better choice if you need to exchange Ethereum-based tokens.
Why do people use Uniswap?Expand to learn more
Low swap fees, selection, and anonymous trading are just some of the aspects of Uniswap that make the exchange an attractive option. Liquidity pools also offer a strong income opportunity when providing liquidity at scale.
Can US citizens use Uniswap?Expand to learn more
Yes. Uniswap is available to US citizens. No proof of identity or residency is required.
What country is Uniswap based in?Expand to learn more
Uniswap Labs, the company that maintains the platform, is based in New York, NY, USA. The exchange transactions, however, live on the Ethereum blockchain.
How does Uniswap make money?Expand to learn more
Uniswap returns trading fees to liquidity providers but can keep a small amount of these fees if community governance votes to enable fee sharing with the treasury. Uniswap also issues the UNI (governance) token, which currently has a market cap of over $4 billion, and engages in fundraising to fuel development.