MetaMask Swaps is a feature of MetaMask that allows you to do exactly that: swap one cryptocurrency token for another (for more on ERC-20 tokens and the difference between these and NFTs, or ERC-721, tokens, see here under 'Tokens'). It's super convenient and straightforward, and drastically reduces the number of steps needed, and the amount of exposure to third-party smart contracts, in order to obtain tokens that interest you.
Things to know before swapping:
- Even if a token complies with the ERC-20 standard, you shouldn't buy or obtain a token without doing your research on it first. One of the novelties of cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance is their programmatic nature; a token isn't necessarily a static asset; it may have functions that can affect how it is used, or how it affects your wallet--like this, for example. Of course, there are other less malicious caveats: for example, some tokens you can acquire, but in order to gain the utility intended from them, you need to stake them on a specific platform.
- Slippage is the amount of change between the price you click on and the final transaction price that MetaMask Swaps will tolerate. Given the highly liquid and fluctuating nature of decentralized finance and cryptocurrencies, prices can change from second to second; therefore, Swaps allows a little bit of a difference between the price you agree on and the final price, in order to ensure your transaction goes through--but not too much, in order to protect you from sudden spikes or drops.
- Custom tokens is what MetaMask calls those tokens that aren't common or widespread enough to be in MetaMask's standard list of tokens. If you swap some tokens into your wallet, but don't see them (after a few minutes--remember, blockchain is fast, but it's not instantaneous), try adding the tokens manually.
- Our support articles are for MetaMask Swaps only. In other words, MetaMask provides support for the swaps that happen within MetaMask itself. If you are performing swaps on a different platform or another DEX, MetaMask may provide some general orientation or guidance, but it should not be considered definitive; reach out to the support team or community for the exchange or platform where you are swapping for assistance.
Ready to dive in?
It doesn't matter whether you're on MetaMask Extension or Mobile, getting the tokens you want is only a few clicks -- or taps -- away.
On the main MetaMask application screen, look for a button with some arrows in a rectangular shape, marked 'Swap'. Smash that button!
You'll be presented with the main Swap screen.
Preparing your Swap
- First, choose the token that you have, that you're willing to 'spend', using the drop-down menu at the top.
- Further down, choose the token you're interested in acquiring using the second drop-down menu.
- Adjust the amount of the first token up or down until you're comfortable with the amount you're spending, and the amount you're acquiring.
- At the bottom of the screen, there's a "Get quotes" button. Smash that button!
You'll see the app go through a process of searching for the best price. This process is the secret ingredient in making MetaMask Swaps the cheapest and best swapping service out there. There's a lot going on behind the scenes while you're watching Swaps search.
First of all, Swaps is searching all the decentralized token exchanges and token swapping protocols to find you the most advantageous exchange rate.
At the same time, it's running test transactions, checking to make sure that if you do end up submitting a transaction, that it's likely to go through--and if not, those options are filtered out. MetaMask is saving users here from the pain of a failed transaction: with Ethereum mainnet gas fees and the complexity of token smart contracts, a failed transaction adds a significant financial injury to the insult of an incomprehensible error code. Swap's failure rate is very low, and improvements are in the works to make it almost nonexistent.
Some eagle-eyed users will have noticed on the previous screen, in the lower left-hand corner, a mention of "3% slippage". Slippage is yet another parameter that Swaps is using in your favor, and it's explained in more detail up above.
So with all of that DeFi number-crunching done, you get the quote screen:
Executing your Swap
There's kind of a lot going on here, but don't be alarmed. First of all, up at the top, you'll see that Swaps is continuing to do all the work that we mentioned previously on an ongoing basis, ensuring that you're getting the most up-to-date price and availability.
The main feature is in the middle of the screen: the amount of tokens that you are going to acquire (keeping in mind slippage) as of the last quote. You can see details such as the exchange rate, and optionally you can dive into how the quote got calculated, as well as advanced gas settings. That's a whole topic in and of itself (start here), but that's the amount the network is going to charge, plus MetaMask's fee.
If you're ready to go, smash that Swap swiper across the screen!
- As with all blockchain transactions, it's not instantaneous, but you should see your tokens in your wallet soon. If they're uncommon tokens, or for whatever reason they're not showing up in your wallet, follow our instructions here to add them.
Enter the SwapVerse
One of the truly incredible things about MetaMask, and one of the reasons that it is able to offer you such an unparalleled token-swapping experience, is that it is built to be network-agnostic: as long as the blockchain network you're connecting to is Ethereum-compatible, you can configure MetaMask to work on it.
So you can use MetaMask swaps on other networks, too. You don't have to be on Ethereum mainnet; you can use Swaps on Polygon, for example. As other sidechains and custom networks come online, try it out. Swaps enables you to trade tokens on any Ethereum-compatible network, right from your wallet, without having to interface directly with third-party platforms, thus lessening your exposure to potentially hackable or malicious smart contracts.
You even have the ability, through Swaps, to acquire non-Ethereum tokens on mainnet. For more on this, see our article on MATIC tokens on Ethereum here. But remember: always navigate the multiverse through bridges and portals.