April 27, 2021

Coinbase Review

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Coinbase is a digital currency exchange where you can buy and sell cryptocurrency. Find out if it's safe, and how it compares to other crypto exchanges.

Coinbase Promotions
Earn $5 in bitcoin for getting started on Coinbase

Overall Score

3.9

Cryptocurrency Trading

5.0

Interest Accounts

2.0

Crypto Loans

1.0

Mobile App

5.0

Commissions and Fees

3.5

Ease of Use

5.0

Research

5.0

Safety

4.5
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Simple interface for beginners
  • Over 60 supported coins
  • Earn cryptos by learning
  • Coinbase Pro platform has lower fees
  • Expensive and complex trading fee structure
  • Only email support

Bottom Line

Good beginner-friendly exchange with relatively high fees

If you've considered investing in crypto, you've probably heard of Coinbase.

It's the best-known crypto exchange in the US, and where most new investors get started.

But does their popularity come at the cost of security? And will their fees drain your returns? Below, learn about Coinbase's offerings, cost, and how it compares to other exchanges.

What is Coinbase?

Coinbase is a San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange. The company was founded in 2012 and offered the ability to buy and sell bitcoin through bank transfers.

Since then, they've expanded to many more cryptocurrencies, with the plan to continue. They provide the ability to buy and sell, convert one crypto to another, send, receive, and store cryptocurrencies.

Coinbase is ideal for anyone who wants to start trading crypto quickly and easily. Their desktop site is user friendly and they offer well-designed apps on both the App Store and Google Play Store.

Their fees can be a little confusing, and may be higher than some competitors, but some investors may find that their simple interface makes up for the cost.

Some of their fees can be mitigated by using Coinbase Pro — a separate app geared towards advanced traders.

Is Coinbase safe and legit?
Yes, Coinbase is a safe and legit place to buy and sell cryptocurrency. They are the largest Bitcoin exchange and broker in the world. San Francisco, where it's based, has exceptionally strict regulations, and Coinbase is backed by a number of high-profile investors. Coinbase has never been hacked, and even prevented users from being hacked off-platform.

Coinbase

Earn $5 in bitcoin for getting started on Coinbase

Personalized $5 reward offer is displayed after account creation. Limited time offer and while supplies last. Offer available to new users who have not previously verified their identification. Offer not available to new users who were referred to Coinbase through the Referral Program or who have previously opened an account using different contact information. Coinbase may update the conditions for eligibility at any time, in its sole discretion. See Terms and Conditions.

How Does Coinbase Work?

Coinbase lets you buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies quickly and easily. But how do they make money?

The simple answer is fees. Certain services they offer are free, like storing cryptocurrency and fiat currencies, or transferring them from one wallet to another. We'll explain the fees in more detail below.

Supported Cryptocurrencies
The list of supported cryptocurrencies on Coinbase changes frequently, and what you can do depends on your country. At the time of writing, Coinbase had 49 cryptocurrencies available to buy and sell in the U.S.:

  • Oxt, 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 available for transfer only.

Supported Countries
Coinbase is available in over 100 countries, but does not offer the same services in every country. Your abilities and available payment methods vary depending on where you are.

  • 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, and can be found by visiting Coinbase's supported countries page.

Pros and cons

Each crypto exchange comes with perks and flaws, and Coinbase is no exception. Review these pros and cons before downloading.

Pros

  • Easy to get started and easy to use
  • Available in over 100 countries
  • Offers 50 cryptocurrencies to buy, sell, and trade
  • Strong security measures
  • Cryptocurrencies are insured for up to $250,000
  • High liquidity

Cons

  • High fees
  • Lack of privacy
  • Customer support is lacking
  • User doesn't control wallet keys

Is investing in crypto a good idea?
There's risk inherent in any investment, and that goes double for cryptocurrency, which is extremely volatile compared to traditional investments like stocks and bonds. Those wild fluctuations in price mean that it's possible to gain and lose massive amounts of money in very short periods of time. In general, try to avoid investing any money that you can't afford to lose.

Coinbase Features

Using Coinbase is simple and straightforward, and both their desktop site and app are easy to navigate.

Their homepage features a Watchlist of favorite currencies, a list of Top Movers (currencies that have seen the biggest recent price change) to stay on top of crypto news.

They also have a dedicated section for tips and tutorials (perfect for crypto newbies) and courses that let you earn a free coin.

Quickly access your portfolio, which will display price movements by the hour or in varying increments. Check the prices page to see an updated status for all available currencies, and buy or sell with a few clicks with a connected bank account or by wire transfer.

Coinbase Wallet
The Coinbase Wallet is a standalone app that allows users to store their cryptocurrencies directly on their devices and manage their private keys. It does not require a Coinbase account to use, and is available anywhere in the world. Download: Apple, Google Play

Coinbase Pro
Coinbase Pro is the separate platform designed for advanced traders. The difference between Coinbase Pro and regular Coinbase is the user interface (and the fees that come along with it). Coinbase Pro is significantly cheaper, and designed to scare away novice users.

Coinbase is an app that new investors could reasonably expect to pick up and start using immediately. Coinbase Pro looks like something an investment banker would use. The difference is that with Coinbase, both the spread and the Coinbase Fees are significantly higher.

Here's an overview of Coinbase Pro's fees:

Transaction Fee
0 - 0.50%
Spread 
Bank Account Purchase Fee
Free
Wallet Purchase Fee
Free
Debit Card Purchase Fee 
ACH Transfer Fee
Free
Wire Transfer Fee
$10 ($25 outgoing)
Crypto Conversion Fee
0 - 0.50%

Coinbase Pro: Pricing information from published website as of 04/13/2021.

There's nothing barring you from having both apps. If you want the best of both worlds, try using Coinbase to get your data, and Coinbase Pro to carry out your transactions. If you can manage it, the savings are worthwhile. Download: Apple, Google Play

Coinbase Card
While it isn't available just yet, Coinbase has partnered with Visa to release a debit card that will allow users to spend their crypto and earn rewards. It will be accepted anywhere Visa debit cards are, with no annual or sign-up fee, and offer up to 4% cash back rewards on every purchase.

While spending USDC with the Coinbase Card is free, there is a 2.49% transaction fee on purchases and ATM withdrawals made with other coins. These are charged to facilitate the real-time sale of your coins when you make a purchase.

Since this fee is applied by Coinbase, there may be further fees charged by your ATM operator.

How do you get money out of Coinbase?
Withdrawing money on Coinbase is easy. Simply open the app or desktop site, and you'll find the "Withdraw" button plainly visible. You can then transfer your crypto to another wallet and your fiat currencies to a bank account.

Fees to Look Out for

When you buy or sell a cryptocurrency on Coinbase, you will incur a fee called "the spread," which is a margin added to the market exchange rate.

This fee is not immediately apparent. That's because it's automatically added to the price of the currency.

They may also charge a flat fee or percentage (the Coinbase Fee) for Buy/Sell Transactions, which you can get an overview of below.

Here's an overlook of the fees charged by Coinbase:

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
Spread
0.50%
Bank Account Purchase Fee
1.49%
Wallet Purchase Fee
1.49%
Debit Card Purchase Fee
3.99%
ACH Transfer Fee
Free
Wire Transfer Fee
$10 ($25 outgoing)
Crypto Conversion Fee
up to 2%
Withdrawal Fee 

Coinbase: Pricing information from published website as of 04/13/2021.

For deposits and withdrawals, in general, bank transfers are cheaper than wire transfers and debit. Credit cards are not accepted, except in Australia.

Remember, you can save a large amount on fees by using Coinbase Pro to execute transactions, compared to Coinbase.

Tax Season: If you're a US citizen, don't forget that you'll be required to report your gains and losses to the IRS, as cryptocurrency trades are subject to capital gains taxes.

While Coinbase doesn't interface with Turbotax directly, they do provide useful information on how to prepare your taxes when it comes to trading. Tools like Cointracker will help if you don't want to do it manually.

Security Measures and User Privacy

Due to federal regulations, cryptocurrencies are not insured by FDIC or SIPC protections. However, Coinbase has secured independent insurance for funds lost through cybersecurity breaches or employee theft, up to $250,000.

If losses are deemed to be the fault of the user, say through the loss of a password, they would not be covered.

Any cash balances are insured by the FDIC, up to $250,000, and are held in U.S. custodial accounts, money market funds, or U.S. Treasuries.

As an added hedge against security breaches, Coinbase reportedly keeps as much as 97% of its Bitcoin in offline storage, meaning that even if their system were to be compromised by hackers, much of it would be inaccessible.

However, Coinbase does not have a stellar reputation when it comes to privacy. Even users employing privacy-enhancing software like Tor have found their accounts frozen, and the platform has reportedly blocked anonymizing Bitcoin transactions, known as "CoinJoins."

Coinbase has been accused of tracking how users spend Bitcoin, and in 2019 Coinbase acquired a Blockchain Tracking startup called Neutrino, which aims to tie specific identities to blockchain addresses.

According to a report by The Block citing public records, Coinbase is selling its blockchain analytics software, Coinbase Analytics to the Secret Service, and may sell it to the DEA and IRS as well.

If privacy is an important concern, consider another exchange for your crypto trading.

Safe Crypto Storage: It's considered best practices in the cryptocurrency world not to leave your crypto on the exchange where you bought it. Instead, transfer it to a software or hardware wallet that you control. The lack of regulation currently surrounding cryptocurrency leaves investors with no recourse if it's lost or stolen. If you decide to invest in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, prepare to be much more hands-on safeguarding your funds than you're used to.

Common Complaints

  • Lack of direct ownership: When users purchase cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, they often expect to receive a "private key," a code that essentially proves ownership of the currency.

    This is not the case with Coinbase, which will only give you your private key in the case that you withdraw your currency to a personal wallet.

  • Closed and frozen accounts: In order to comply with federal regulations, Coinbase may close or freeze user accounts for behavior deemed to be in violation.

    Behaviors that may lead to this include transactions to adult services, gambling, use of darknet markets, and reselling coins on other exchanges.

  • Lack of privacy: As mentioned above, Coinbase makes an effort to track the spending of cryptocurrency traded on the platform. This clashes with the goal of anonymity professed by many blockchain adopters.

  • Can Coinbase steal my money? Complaints have been filed with the SEC of funds going missing on Coinbase—being transferred from one account to another and never arriving.

    When these complaints were brought up with the company, customers claimed that Coinbase failed to respond in a timely manner or address their concerns.

Can you get scammed on Coinbase?
While Coinbase takes security very seriously, it is very possible for users to get scammed, usually through behavior off the platform. Be on the lookout for anyone requesting personal information, and if you have your cryptocurrency stored elsewhere, remember the number one rule: Never give out your keys.

Create an Account

Creating an account on Coinbase shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

  1. Download the app or go to their desktop site to get started.

  2. Provide your name, a password, and the state you live in, as well as identifying personal information. You need to be 18 or older to sign up.

  3. You'll verify your email address and phone number, and send them a copy of a government-issued photo ID.

  4. Then, all you have to do is set up a payment method and you're ready to start trading.

Contact Customer Service

Contact Coinbase customer support through their website at help.coinbase.com.

They offer a wide range of knowledge support for you to search through, but if you want to talk to a person or open a ticket, you'll find the "Contact Us" button at the bottom of the page.

Coinbase does not currently offer phone support with a live person.

  • Coinbase is not accredited with the BBB, and currently has a D- rating.
  • Coinbase has a Trustpilot rating of 1.7.

Coinbase Alternatives

While Coinbase is the best-known mainstream cryptocurrency exchange, they are certainly not your only option. See how they stack up to some competitors.

Coinbase vs Binance:

 Coinbase
 Visit SiteLearn More
 

Coinbase

Binance US

SPECIAL OFFER
Earn $5 in bitcoin for getting started on Coinbase - Learn More

OFFER
Buy and Sell Cryptocurrency - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Stock Trading
No
 
Options Trading
No
 
Cryptocurrencies Supported
50
52
Countries Supported
Over 100
41 US States
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
0.10% spot trading fee or 0.50% instant buy/sell fee
Copy Trading
No
No
Limit Orders
No
Yes
Margin Trading
No
Yes
Spread
0.50%
0.01% - 0.95% depending on cryptocurrency
Interest Accounts
USDC only, 1.25% APY
Up to 10% APY
Crypto Loans
Invitation only
No
Bank Account Purchase Fee
1.49%
Free
Debit Card Purchase Fee
3.99%
4.5%
Mobile App
Yes
Yes
ACH Transfer Fee
Free
Free
Wire Transfer Fee
$10 ($25 outgoing)
  • Deposit: $15
  • Domestic Withdrawal: $15
  • International Withdrawal: $35
Crypto Conversion Fee
up to 2%
Free for USDC to BUSD
Other FeesInstant Card Withdrawal: up to 1.5% + minimum fee of $0.5525% fee discount for holding BNB; tiered discounts based on 30 day trade volume
Address Allowlisting
Yes
Yes
Anonymity
No
No
Biometric Login
Yes
Yes
Cold Storage
Yes
Yes
Maximum Trading Amount
Unlimited
Maximum order amount varies by currency
Two-Factor Authentication
SMS or Google Authenticator
Google Authenticator
Withdrawal Limit
$50,000 / day
Wire Transfer: $7,500,000 / day
 Visit SiteLearn More

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

Coinbase: Pricing information from published website as of 04/13/2021.

Binance US: Pricing information from published website as of 04/13/2021.

Coinbase and Binance are, roughly speaking, on the opposite sides of the exchange spectrum.

Coinbase is your best bet if you're new to crypto trading and want the easiest experience possible (and are willing to pay for it.) Binance is a lot less user-friendly, but they more than make up for that with industry-low fees.

It may come down to availability; there are currently a number of U.S. states where Binance is unavailable, while the only state Coinbase is lacking in is Hawaii.

Choose Coinbase for ease of use. Choose Binance if you want to save on your trades.

Coinbase vs Kraken

 Coinbase
 Visit SiteLearn More
 

Coinbase

Kraken

SPECIAL OFFER
Earn $5 in bitcoin for getting started on Coinbase - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
Buy and Sell Cryptocurrencies - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Stock Trading
No
 
Options Trading
No
 
Cryptocurrencies Supported
50
56
Countries Supported
Over 100
Over 170
Fiat Currencies Supported
USD, GBP, EUR
USD, EUR, CAD, AUD, GBP, CHF, JPY
Digital Wallet
Yes
No
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
0.00% - 0.26%
Copy Trading
No
No
Limit Orders
No
Yes
Margin Trading
No
Yes
Interest Accounts
USDC only, 1.25% APY
Yes, up to 17% APY
Crypto Loans
Invitation only
No
Bank Account Purchase Fee
1.49%
0.5% + $0.10
Debit Card Purchase Fee
3.99%
3.75% + €0.25
Wallet Purchase Fee
1.49%
1.5% or 0.9% for stablecoins & FX pairs
Credit Transaction Fee
2%
3.75% + €0.25
Mobile App
Yes
Yes
Wire Transfer Fee
$10 ($25 outgoing)
$4 - $35
Crypto Conversion Fee
up to 2%
1.5% or 0.9% for stablecoins
SEPA Bank Transfer Fee
Free (€0.15 out)
€0.09 - €35
Other FeesInstant Card Withdrawal: up to 1.5% + minimum fee of $0.551-time address setup fees for first-time deposits of many cryptocurrencies, varies by currency
Address Allowlisting
Yes
Yes
Anonymity
No
No
Biometric Login
Yes
Yes
Cold Storage
Yes
Yes
Two-Factor Authentication
SMS or Google Authenticator
Google Authenticator or Yubikey
Withdrawal Limit
$50,000 / day
Depends on verification level. Cryptocurrencies - Beginner: $5,000 / day; Intermediate: $500,000 / day; Pro: $10,000,000 / day; Fiat Currencies - Express: $9,000 / day; Intermediate: $100,000 / day; Pro: $10,000,000 / day
 Visit SiteLearn More

Buy and Sell Cryptocurrencies

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

Coinbase: Pricing information from published website as of 04/13/2021.

Kraken: Pricing information from published website as of 04/13/2021.

The number of cryptocurrencies supported on Kraken is quite a bit higher than Coinbase, giving you more trading options.

Kraken is slightly more difficult to use, but offers more features for advanced users, and scores slightly better on security.

And like Binance, Kraken beats out Coinbase and Coinbase Pro when it comes to lower fees.

Newer users may prefer Coinbase, but Kraken is overall probably the better platform.

Bottom Line: Should You Use Coinbase?

Coinbase certainly isn't for everyone, but that doesn't mean that it isn't for you.

Coinbase is a widely used exchange with a fair business model: They aim to make cryptocurrency trading accessible to everyone, regardless of their level of expertise.

The price of that accessibility is relatively higher fees compared to other exchanges. If you're just getting into the crypto game, consider trying Coinbase as a way of testing the waters and building confidence.

If you're already more knowledgeable, you would probably find other exchanges more attractive.

Coinbase

Earn $5 in bitcoin for getting started on Coinbase

Personalized $5 reward offer is displayed after account creation. Limited time offer and while supplies last. Offer available to new users who have not previously verified their identification. Offer not available to new users who were referred to Coinbase through the Referral Program or who have previously opened an account using different contact information. Coinbase may update the conditions for eligibility at any time, in its sole discretion. See Terms and Conditions.

Crypto.com

USD $10 Sign Up Bonus

You will need to stake in $1000 CRO to earn USD $10 worth of CRO. Only the first amount of CRO you stake is used to calculate the sign-up bonus.

BlockFi

Get Up to $250 in Bonus BTC

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

Jeremy Harshman is a protector of art and writing at CreditDonkey, a crypto 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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Coinbase Alternatives

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