June 10, 2021

Coinbase vs BlockFi

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Coinbase and BlockFi are some of the biggest names in crypto trading. But how do you choose which platform to use? Get to know the pros and cons of each.

BlockFi and Coinbase have different business models, but offer some of the same features.

Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange, while BlockFi offers "crypto banking".

The platform you choose will depend on what you're trying to do with your crypto. Find out how Coinbase and BlockFi work, what their fees are, and what special features they offer in our review below.

 CoinbaseBlockFi
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Coinbase

BlockFi

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Benefits and Features

Cryptocurrencies Supported
50
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Chainlink, PAX Gold, USDC, Binance USD, PAX, GUSD
Countries Supported
Over 100
Worldwide, except for countries that are sanctioned or watch-listed
Fiat Currencies Supported
USD, GBP, EUR
USD
Digital Wallet
Yes
Yes
Transaction FeeGreater of Minimum Flat Fees or Variable Fees (1.49%+) by Location and Payment Method:
Minimum Flat Fees
  • < $10: $0.99
  • $10.01 - $25: $1.49
  • $25.01 - $50: $1.99
  • $50.01 - $200: $2.99
No
Copy Trading
No
No
Limit Orders
No
No
Margin Trading
No
No
Spread
0.50%
0.7% - 1.5%
Interest Accounts
USDC only, 1.25% APY
Up to 8.6%
Crypto Loans
Invitation only
Yes
Ethereum (ETH) Interest Rates
6.0%
0.5% - 4.5%
Bank Account Purchase Fee
1.49%
No
Debit Card Purchase Fee
3.99%
No
USD Coin (USDC) Interest Rates
0.15%
8.6%
Mobile App
Yes
Yes
ACH Transfer Fee
Free
No
Wire Transfer Fee
$10 ($25 outgoing)
No
Crypto Conversion Fee
up to 2%
No
Other FeesInstant Card Withdrawal: up to 1.5% + minimum fee of $0.552% Origination Fee on crypto-backed loans
Withdrawal Fee varying based on cryptocurrency: 0.00075 BTC, 0.02 ETH, 0.0025 LTC
Address Allowlisting
Yes
Yes
Anonymity
No
No
Biometric Login
Yes
Yes
Cold Storage
Yes
Yes
InsuredUSD balances FDIC insured up to $250kFDIC insurance on cash holdings up to $250,000 and digital asset insurance on custodied cryptocurrencies
Maximum Trading Amount
Unlimited
Single-trade limit of $1.2m USD or equivalent
Two-Factor Authentication
SMS or Google Authenticator
Yes
Withdrawal Limit
$50,000 / day
7-day Withdrawal Limit varies by cryptocurrency: 100 BTC, 5,000 ETH, 10,000 LTC.
Up to $5,000 USD via direct bank withdrawal
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Coinbase: Pricing information from published website as of 04/13/2021.

BlockFi: Pricing information from published website as of 05/03/2021.

What are Coinbase and BlockFi?

It's important to recognize out of the gate that Coinbase and BlockFi are fundamentally different services. Here's how they differ:

Coinbase
Coinbase is one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges today, and its main draw is that it's incredibly user-friendly.

Coinbase allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, track the market, and manage their portfolios through a desktop site and a mobile app.

Founded in 2012 and based in San Francisco, they started by offering the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin via bank transfers. Since then, they've grown to offer nearly 50 cryptocurrencies to trade.

While they're known for having high fees, those can be mitigated by using Coinbase Pro, a separate app targeting more experienced traders. Coinbase makes money through fees, which they charge for deposits, withdrawals, and buy/sell transactions.

BlockFi
While BlockFi does have a limited exchange, it is better known for its crypto banking services.

Users can earn interest on their cryptocurrency assets through their BlockFi Interest Account, and borrow against the value of their crypto with crypto-backed loans. Like Coinbase, they also have an easy-to-use desktop site and mobile app.

New York based BlockFi was founded in 2017 with the goal of providing banking services to untraditional markets. They currently offer 9 cryptocurrencies for trade, including several stablecoins.

BlockFi makes money by lending users' savings out to institutional borrowers and charging interest on the loans.

Pros and Cons

Both platforms are reputable, prioritize security, and have respected investors.

The right fit for you depends on what you're trying to get out of your crypto: High-interest returns, or the opportunity to focus on (and hone) your trading. Review our main pros and cons below.

Coinbase Pros & Cons

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Wide range of currencies
  • Secure, no successful hacks
  • Available in more countries
  • High fees
  • No private keys
  • No phone support

Choose Coinbase if: You prioritize trading capacity above all else, or want advanced trading features with Coinbase Pro

BlockFi Pros & Cons

  • High-yield interest accounts
  • Crypto-backed loans
  • Phone support
  • Gemini as custodian
  • Limited number of currencies
  • Slow withdrawal times
  • Non-transparent fees on exchange

Choose BlockFi if: You are willing to take more risk for more potential returns, or you want the ability to borrow against your crypto

BlockFi

Get Up to $250 Bonus

DepositCrypto Bonus
$100 - $1,499$15
$1,500 - $19,999$20
$20,000 - $39,999$40
$40,000 - $74,999$75
$75,000 - $99,999$100
$100,000+$250

What cryptocurrencies do they support?

Coinbase
Coinbase currently supports 49 cryptocurrencies to buy and sell in the U.S. It only offers one stablecoin, USDC.

  • 0x, Aave, Algorand, Ankr, Augur, Balancer, Bancor Network Token, Band Protocol, Basic Attention Token, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, Celo, Chainlink, Civic, Compound, Cosmos, Curve DAO Token, Dai, Dash, Decentraland, district0x, EOS, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Filecoin, Kyber Network, Litecoin, Loopring, Maker, NuCypher, Numeraire, OMG Network, Orchid, Polygon, Ren, SKALE, Stellar Lumens, Storj, SushiSwap, Synthetix Network Token, Tezos, The Graph, UMA, USD Coin, Uniswap, Wrapped Bitcoin, yearn.finance, Zcash

Ripple (XRP) is currently only available for transfer.

BlockFi
BlockFi supports 9 cryptocurrencies for trade in the U.S.

  • Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Chainlink, PAX Gold, USDC, Binance USD, PAX, GUSD

Where are they available?

Coinbase
Coinbase is available in over 100 countries, but not every country gets the same services. Here they are broken down by continent.

  • Buy, Sell, and Convert
    • North America: The United States, Canada
    • Europe: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia Finland, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
    • Oceania: Australia

  • Buy and Convert
    • North America: Mexico
    • South America: Chile
    • Asia: Singapore

All other supported countries only offer conversion services. Find the list on Coinbase's supported countries page.

BlockFi
BlockFi is available worldwide, except in countries that are currently sanctioned or watch-listed.

It is available in all 50 U.S. states, but not all residents are able to receive full service. They do not currently have any trading pairs in: New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Vermont, and West Virginia. BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) is not available in the state of New York.

Features

The features Coinbase and BlockFi offer are where the two companies diverge. Let's see how they compare in detail.

Exchange:
Both platforms offer an exchange that allows users to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. They differ in how many cryptocurrencies they support, and the fees they charge.

In terms of supported crypto, Coinbase is far superior, with 49 to BlockFi's 9. If you're interested in variety, Coinbase is the answer.

However, if you're only looking to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Chainlink, which are some of the most commonly traded cryptocurrencies, you ought to take fees into account.

We'll go into fees in more detail below, but overall, trading on BlockFi is cheaper than on Coinbase. And trading on Coinbase Pro is likely cheaper than BlockFi. If you want to use BlockFi's other services, you may save on trading there by avoiding the costs of transferring your assets.

Earn:
BlockFi has a lot to offer for those wanting to earn interest on their cryptocurrency. Coinbase, on the other hand, has virtually nothing.

At the time of this writing, Coinbase offers 1.25% APY on deposits of USD Coin (USDC). They do have a waitlist for users interested in staking Ethereum (ETH), with potential returns as high as 7.5%, but the feature is very new.

What is staking?: "Staking allows customers to earn a yield of up to 6% for simply holding ETH2. The reason your crypto earns rewards while staked is because the blockchain puts it to work by making the underlying blockchain of that asset more secure and more efficient."[1]

Meanwhile, BlockFi's Interest Account is one of their primary offerings.

Users can earn up to 8.6% on their crypto assets, paid monthly, with no fees or minimum deposit. They offer 9 cryptocurrencies and stablecoins to earn from, and a rate of 8.6% for USDC.

Keep in mind: Some currencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, decrease in earning potential as you deposit more:

  • Bitcoin
    • 0 - 0.5 BTC = 5% APY
    • >0.5 - 20 BTC = 2% APY
    • >20 BTC = 0.5% APY

  • Ethereum
    • 0 - 15 ETH = 4.5% APY
    • >15 - 1000 ETH = 2% APY
    • >1,000 ETH = 0.5% APY

Is lending my crypto safe?
There's inherent risk involved with offering your cryptocurrencies to be lent out. Cryptocurrencies are not insured by the FDIC or SIPC, and while BlockFi does attempt to mitigate risk by only offering over-collateralized loans to trusted institutional borrowers, the fact is that there's always the chance of a market crash, where the value of the collateral becomes insufficient to repay the loan balances. It's up to you to decide whether you think the returns are worth the risk.

Borrow:
BlockFi has a well-developed borrowing service, but Coinbase does not. Crypto-backed loans allow traders to borrow cash or other coins against the value of their cryptocurrency holdings.

This is another service that Coinbase technically has, but not to any meaningful extent. In fact, it's invite-only. It's also not available in every state.

BlockFi's lending program is far more comprehensive, and available in 45 states. Loan interest rates depend on the LTV (loan to value) ratio, ranging from 20% - 50%. You can get loans in USD, GUSD, and USDC for as much as 50% of the value of your crypto collateral, at these tiered interest rates:

  • 50% LTV - 9.75%
  • 35% LTV - 7.9%
  • 20% LTV - 4.5% (available only for BTC-backed loans valued up to $20k USD)

There is a 2% origination fee for new loans.

Debit/Credit Card:
Neither Coinbase nor BlockFi has a card yet—but both have one in the works.

Coinbase Card is a Visa debit card that will let you earn rewards for spending any of the assets in your portfolio everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. There are no annual fees, and users can earn up to 4% cash back.

BlockFi's Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card with Visa will offer 1.5% cash back in Bitcoin for every transaction.The Bitcoin will be automatically transferred to your BlockFi Interest Account every month to accrue interest.

You can find waitlists for each card on their respective websites.

Fees

When choosing a platform, you'll want to know if their fees are going to eat into your earnings.

See below to compare fees between Coinbase, BlockFi, and Coinbase Pro.

Coinbase
Coinbase is known for being beginner-friendly, yet expensive. Here's how their fees break down:[2]

  • Deposit Fees: From 1.49% - 3.99%
    • Varies by country and payment method
    • ACH Transfers are Free
    • Wire Transfers are $10

  • Withdrawal Fees: From $0.00 - $25, or as high as 2%
    • Varies by country and withdrawal method
    • ACH Transfers are Free
    • Wire Transfers are $25 outgoing
    • Credit Transaction Fees are 2%

  • Trading and Transaction Fees: From 0.5% - 4.5%
    • Varies by payment method, cryptocurrency type, and transaction size
    • The spread is 0.50%
    • Buy/Sell Transaction Fees are the tiered from $0.99 to 1.49%
    • Bank Account Purchase Fees are 1.49%
    • Wallet Purchase Fees are 1.49%
    • Debit Card Purchase Fees are 3.99%
    • Crypto Conversion Fees are 2%

Coinbase Pro
Coinbase is known for being expert-oriented and relatively inexpensive. Here's how their fees break down:[3]

  • Deposit Fees: From $0.00 - $10
    • Varies by country and payment method
    • ACH Transfers are Free
    • Wire Transfers are $10

  • Withdrawal Fees: From $0.00 - $25
    • Varies by country and withdrawal method
    • ACH Transfers are Free
    • Wire Transfers are $25 outgoing

  • Trading and Transaction Fees: 0.5%
    • Varies by payment method, cryptocurrency type, and transaction size
    • Buy/Sell Transaction Fee is 0.50%
    • Bank Account Purchases are Free
    • Wallet Purchases are Free

BlockFi
There are no fees for setting up or using a BlockFi Interest Account.

Crypto-backed loans have an Origination Fee of 2%.

The exchange charges a spread that appears to range from 0.70 - 1.5%.

  • Withdrawal Fees, varies by currency [4]
    • Bitcoin: 0.00075 BTC
    • Ethereum: 0.02 ETH
    • Litecoin: 0.0025 LTC

As you can see, from a trading perspective (in terms of cost alone), Coinbase Pro outperforms both BlockFi and Coinbase.

Security

There's a common mantra in the world of crypto: Not your keys, not your coins. This means if you don't have control of your private keys, you don't actually own your cryptocurrency.

Whether you agree with this sentiment or not, it does highlight an important point in security. Cryptocurrency is typically not insured, and exchanges have been hacked and robbed in the past, to the tune of billions of dollars.

Coinbase and BlockFi are both platforms that will likely have you leaving your money in their hands. That means security matters. Let's see what they each do to keep your money safe.

Coinbase[5]

  • Insurance
    • Coinbase has secured independent insurance for coins lost to cybersecurity breaches or employee theft for up to $250,000
    • USD balances are FDIC insured for up to $250,000

  • Cold Storage
    • By keeping around 97% of users' funds offline, they make it inaccessible to hackers even in the case of a breach

  • Two-Factor Authentication
    • Using SMS or Google Authenticator, 2FA helps keep unwanted people out of your account

  • Biometric Login
    • Adds another layer of security and convenience

  • Address Allowlisting
    • This allows you to choose which wallet addresses you allow withdrawals to—and which you don't

BlockFi[6]

  • Two-Factor Authentication
    • Generated by an authenticator app to prevent undesirable account activity

  • Address Allowlisting
    • Lets users choose which wallets they want to allow their cryptocurrencies to be transferred to

  • PII Verification
    • Ensures that it's you using your account, and not someone else

  • Cold Storage
    • The majority of user assets are kept offline in cold storage

  • Gemini as Custodian
    • Gemini is one of the most security-minded cryptocurrency exchanges out there; they go to great lengths to protect user funds
    • Gemini is SOC 2 Type 1 security compliant

  • Insurance
    • Cash funds deposited with Gemini are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per customer
    • Digital assets are insured against theft, as long as it is not determined to be the user's fault

In terms of security, Coinbase and BlockFi employ a list of features that are largely the same.

Best practices in the cryptocurrency world still dictate you move your holdings off of the exchange (Coinbase). However, if you're using a BlockFi Interest Account or their crypto-backed loans, this is obviously not possible.

Has BlockFi or Coinbase been hacked?
BlockFi was hacked in May 2019 in a "SIM Swap Attack" that targeted an employee's phone. The hacker gained access for approximately 90 minutes, acquiring customer names, email addresses, dates of birth, addresses, and activity history, but no funds, BlockFi reports.
To date, Coinbase has never been hacked.

Ease of Use

Or put another way: "How confusing is it?"

This is an important question, especially for those who are just getting started in the world of crypto. In this regard, Coinbase and BlockFi are not too different.

With Coinbase, you really don't have to worry, because user-friendliness is where they've pitched their flag. Both their app and desktop site are intuitive and simple, laid out so that even the newest traders can figure out what they're doing in a matter of minutes.

As mentioned above, that does come at the cost of higher fees, but if you're willing to take the time to learn, Coinbase Pro will allow you to trade a lot more cheaply.

BlockFi's interface may be a little less straightforward than the primary Coinbase app, but not by a significant margin. With simple commands like "deposit, withdraw," and "trade," even beginners should have an easy enough time getting started.

Customer Support

While Coinbase does have a wide knowledge base available, sometimes you may find you need the help of a person.

Coinbase doesn't currently offer phone support, but you can contact them through their website at help.coinbase.com, or through the "Contact Us" button at the bottom of the page.

BlockFi does offer phone support to active customers from 9:30AM - 5:00PM EST Monday through Friday. You can also contact them via their website contact page, or through the "Help" section on their app.

If BlockFi's AI bot can't answer your questions, you'll be able to submit a ticket to their support team.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, whether you choose BlockFi or Coinbase comes down to what you want to do. They're both reputable, reasonably secure options for cryptocurrency transactions, but they offer sufficiently distinct services that it wouldn't be unreasonable to use one or the other or both.

If you're looking for pure trading capacity, Coinbase is where you should go. Experienced traders should opt for Coinbase Pro to save on fees and get access to higher-level features.

And those with a higher risk tolerance seeking more ways to benefit from their crypto assets should take advantage of BlockFi's Interest Accounts and crypto-backed loans.

References

Jeremy Harshman is a protector of art and writing at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Jeremy Harshman at jeremy.harshman@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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