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As the leading mainstream cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, Coinbase has become a standard on-ramp for new crypto investors. Coinbase offers a wide variety of products including cryptocurrency investing, an advanced trading platform, custodial accounts for institutions, a wallet for retail investors, and its own U.S. dollar stable-coin.
Coinbase was founded in 2012 and is a fully regulated and licensed cryptocurrency exchange supporting all U.S. states except Hawaii. Coinbase initially only allowed for Bitcoin trading but quickly began adding cryptocurrencies that fit its decentralized criteria.
Its list expanded to include Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, XRP, and many others with the promise of more as long as its requirements are met.
Solid variety of altcoin choices: Coinbase offers over 25 cryptocurrencies for investment, trading, and also staking.
Extremely simple user interface: Coinbase is perhaps one of the easiest on-ramps to crypto investing. It is easy to sign up and buy cryptocurrencies within a matter of minutes. It also has a learning program that pays users cryptocurrency to learn more about how cryptocurrency works.
High liquidity: Coinbase consistently ranks among highly liquid exchanges. This protects the investor from serious price slippage in an already volatile market.
High fees when not using Coinbase Pro: Coinbase has high fees compared to some of its largest competitors. Many newcomers who use the standard Coinbase platform will be subject to these fees unless they use Coinbase Pro—free to switch to and with lower fees—which has more features that could be overwhelming to new crypto traders.
Users do not control their own wallet keys: This is consistent with many centralized exchanges but it still remains a con for all of them. When a user purchases cryptocurrency on an exchange, it is stored in a wallet that Coinbase has control over. This means that the user does not have autonomous control over their holdings, which, in essence, goes against the ethos of decentralized currency or finance. This can be avoided if the investor withdraws their currency to their own personal wallet, preferably a hard wallet.
Not a large enough variety of altcoins for altcoin traders: Coinbase has a good variety of altcoin options for newer investors to dabble in, but those interested in seriously trading of altcoins will not find a great selection here. That said, Coinbase plans to add more altcoins over time.
Cryptocurrencies Available on Coinbase
Coinbase has a solid number of options to invest and trade in and has plans to add more to the list. The following currencies are listed right now:
EThe Balancer (BAL)
Band Protocol (BAND)
Basic Attention Token (BAT)
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bancor Network Token (BNT)
Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (BSV) (Send Only)
Ethereum Classic (ETC)
The Graph (GRT)
Kyber Network (KNC)
Loom Network (LOOM)
OMG Network (OMG)
USD Coin (USDC)
Universal Market Access (UMA)
Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC)
Stellar Lumens (XLM)
Trading on Coinbase is an extremely easy process and geared toward a beginner. The platform can also be accessed through your android or iOS devices. Coinbase does not offer any downloadable trading software and it is all browser-based, including its more advanced trading platform, Coinbase Pro.
When you log in you are immediately shown your portfolio balance and its performance in a selection of time frames like one hour, 24 hours, one week, and one year.
A banner above your portfolio balance has a “Buy crypto” button where you can enter a dollar value and place market orders for whichever crypto you choose that Coinbase has available. This button also brings up the options to sell or convert your crypto or even set up recurring orders—daily, weekly, on the 1st and 15th, once a month.
Buy crypto Coinbase
On the top right of the page, you will find the options to send and receive. This allows users to send crypto out of their Coinbase wallets or receive crypto from elsewhere into their Coinbase wallets. While most crypto-first exchanges do offer the ability for users to withdraw to their own private wallets, this is unfortunately not the case for some other brokers and exchanges out there. This ability is hugely important to investors who wish to make sure their holdings are safe and secure in their own offline wallets.
While Coinbase is an incredibly simple on-ramp to crypto investment for those who are just starting out, Coinbase Pro offers a far larger and more robust charting and trade experience.
Coinbase users can purchase crypto using market orders that experience high fees compared to other exchange options out there. With that in mind, Coinbase wanted to create a free option for Coinbase users to graduate to when they were a bit more practiced. With Coinbase Pro, users can place market, limit, and stop orders with lower commission fees. Coinbase Pro also has the option of margin trading and has significantly fancier charting capabilities.
Traders using Coinbase Pro can see as short-term as 1-minute candle or line charts and can use overlays like exponential moving averages. Currently, the only 2 available overlays and indicators are EMA (12) and EMA (26). Coinbase Pro also has over 100 trading pairs available worldwide (nearly 40 trading with USD) and more than 40 crypto to crypto trading pairs in 42 regions. Compared to other serious trading tools out there, Coinbase Pro is still bare-bones with regard to indicators.
While the standard Coinbase platform is a great tool to help people understand how easy it is to purchase, store, and move cryptocurrency, Coinbase Pro is, by far, a better platform for those who wish to actively trade or invest with lower fees and more features.
Coinbase has an incredibly convoluted fee system that is also quite expensive if you are not using Coinbase Pro. The cost of trading on Coinbase’s standard platform is quite high in comparison to its competitors. Those who are new to crypto and are looking for ease of use may overlook this.
Coinbase’s fees vary across different countries and regions, but for the purposes of this review, we will focus on fees within the United States.
Payment Method Coinbase Fee
Bank Account 1.49%
Coinbase USD Wallet 1.49%
Debit/Credit Card 3.99%
ACH Transfer Free
Wire Transfer $10 ($25 outgoing)
Crypto Conversion 2.00%
In addition to these fees, Coinbase also charges variable spreads on purchases and trades. Coinbase says that they typically charge about 0.50% for the purchase and sale of cryptocurrency below $10,000 in value. This fee is significantly reduced for sums between $10,000 and $50,000 (0.35%) and continues to decrease with each pricing tier until maker-taker fees reach 0.00% and 0.04%, respectively, for sums of $500,000,000 and up. Market fluctuations can make this higher or lower.
There is also a “Coinbase Fee” in addition to the spread and the cost of depositing money mentioned above in the chart. This fee is dependent on the value of the purchase, payment type (debit/credit), and region you are purchasing from.
Coinbase gives the following examples of “Coinbase Fees” one might experience on its platform:
If the total transaction amount is less than or equal to $10, the fee is $0.99 | €0,99 | £0,99
If the total transaction amount is more than $10 but less than or equal to $25, the fee is $1.49 | €1,49 | £1,49
If the total transaction amount is more than $25 but less than or equal to $50, the fee is $1.99 | €1,99 | £1,99
If the total transaction amount is more than $50 but less than or equal to $200, the fee is $2.99 | €2,99 | £2,99
Coinbase Pro Fees
Coinbase Pro fees are significantly less expensive and less complicated. With Coinbase Pro, digital assets and ACH transfers are free to deposit and withdraw. Wire transfers are $10 to deposit and $25 to withdraw.
Pricing Tier Taker Fee Maker Fee
<$10K 0.50% 0.50%
$10 – 50K 0.35% 0.35%
$50 – 100K 0.25% 0.15%
$100K – 1M 0.20% 0.10%
$1- 10M 0.18% 0.08%
$10 -50M 0.15% 0.05%
$50 – 100M 0.10% 0.00%
$100 – 300M 0.07% 0.00%
$300 – 500M 0.06% 0.00%
$500M – 1B 0.05% 0.00%
$1B+ 0.04% 0.00%
Coinbase uses a variety of safety measures for account holders. It is important to understand that any crypto on any exchange account is only as secure as the account holder makes them. It is imperative to use strong passwords and to utilize the available security features like 2-step verification.
Coinbase has 2-step verification, biometric fingerprint logins, insurance in the event that Coinbase itself is breached (this insurance does not apply if your account is breached due to your own lack of security measures), and also stores 98% of users’ funds in offline cold storage.
Digital currency is not considered legal tender and therefore is not backed by SIPC or FDIC. Coinbase provides insurance by pooling Coinbase balances and holding them in USD custodial accounts, USD denominated money market funds, or liquid U.S. Treasuries.
Coinbase provides a solid amount of security in comparison to a number of other leading exchanges. This is one of the reasons Coinbase is a great offering for those looking to safely get started investing in cryptocurrency.
That said, the premise of cryptocurrency is to remove intermediaries where possible and to be in total control of your own funds. While Coinbase does provide an easy entry to cryptocurrency investing, it is important to learn about proper cryptocurrency security and storage. Savvy crypto investors may use Coinbase Pro for its reduced fees and then withdraw their holdings to their own secure cold storage.
Opening a Coinbase Account
Signing up for Coinbase is a very straightforward and easy process. First, you enter your name, email, and the password you wish to use. You will then be asked to verify your email address. Next, Coinbase asks you to enter in your phone number to receive a verification code and enter it. Coinbase will later use this phone number to send 2-step verification codes. After this stage, it will prompt you to enter your identification information.
Just like any bank account or investment account, you must prove your identity via state identification. For users in the United States, this will require a social security number. At this point, your Coinbase account will have been created and you are able to add your bank account, credit card, or debit card information to enable deposits and withdrawals so that you can start trading or investing.
Coinbase is an ideal tool for new crypto investors who may not have any other investment experience. While the standard platform is overpriced, its features, like its learn program and the ability to easily set up recurring purchases, provide the inexperienced with a clear path to becoming invested and actually understanding cryptocurrency.
Those with more trading experience will find that Coinbase Pro is a cheaper and more robust option, but it is still lacking in terms of features. If you wish to trade seriously, you may find that Coinbase is not the right fit for you. Overall, Coinbase is designed with the beginner in mind.
Investopedia is dedicated to helping those interested in cryptocurrency investing make informed and safe decisions. We are committed to providing our readers with unbiased reviews of the top cryptocurrency exchanges for investors of all levels.
Exchanges are only considered for review if they are safe, secure, liquid, and either regulated by a proper agency or entirely decentralized.