Coinbase Review 2023: Pros, Cons and How It Compares
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The bottom line:
Pros & Cons
Offers access to more than 250 crypto assets.
Low minimum to fund account.
Quick crypto withdrawals.
Higher fees than other cryptocurrency exchanges.
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0% - 3.99%
varies by type of transaction; other fees may apply
Get $200 in crypto
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Where Coinbase shines
Trading platforms. Coinbase users can trade on several platforms. The original Coinbase platform is a relatively simple interface that allows users to use U.S. dollars to purchase cryptocurrency. Coinbase Pro has advanced charting functions and allows users to make crypto-to-crypto transactions and place market, limit and stop orders. Recently, Coinbase has added some of Coinbase Pro’s functionality and its lower costs to its classic interface with a feature known as Advanced Trade, and the company has announced that Coinbase Pro is being phased out entirely.
Coinbase has also rolled out a newer option, called Coinbase One, which offers no-fee trades and other benefits in exchange for a monthly fee of about $30.
Learn to earn. A novel way to “earn while you learn,” Coinbase provides a series of video classes and exams as a way to educate users about cryptocurrency trading and some of the cryptocurrencies on offer. And, by taking the classes, users can earn a few dollars worth of certain cryptocurrencies.
Quick withdrawals. Coinbase is one of the few crypto exchanges to allow users to withdraw crypto immediately after they purchase it using fiat currency, rather than waiting several days for the payment transaction to clear. This can be a big help for users who want to use cryptocurrency in decentralized apps and other external services.
Where Coinbase falls short
Legal woes. As the largest U.S.-based crypto exchange, Coinbase has been — and will likely continue to be — a focus of regulatory efforts to rein in the industry. In June 2023, Coinbase was hit with a sprawling complaint by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused it of dealing in unregistered securities. The case has implications for the entire U.S. industry, in part because it also names several popular cryptocurrencies as securities.
Fees. Coinbase has a lot of ways you can pay for crypto, and they can carry different fees that are at times hard to understand. While Coinbase discloses fees to users before completing a transaction, they are difficult to look up ahead of time. This can make life difficult for people who are choosing an exchange for the first time and who are sensitive to fees. And overall, some competitors do charge less.
Coinbase is best for:
Cryptocurrency traders looking for convenience.
Traders who want to easily convert one cryptocurrency to another.
Coinbase at a glance
Trading and transaction fees
Varies depending on payment method, cryptocurrency type, transaction size and platform. $2.99 for $200 Bitcoin purchase, or about 1.5%.
Number of cryptocurrencies
More than 250
Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs
More than 500.
Important information, including investment minimums, supported assets and how to close the account, can be easily found on the website.
Customers can use their own crypto wallets, and Coinbase has some insurance against cybercrime.
Rewards on a handful of coins, with rates up to about 6%
Coinbase's highly rated apps have options suited to both beginners and advanced users.
Phone, email and chat.
More details about Coinbase's ratings
Minimum trade: 5 out of 5 stars
The minimum amount needed to buy cryptocurrency on Coinbase is $2.
Trading and transaction fees: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Coinbase's fee structure is a confusing combination of elements that depend on three factors:
Coinbase charges a spread on cryptocurrency sales and purchases. While rates can vary depending on market fluctuations, the company has previously said the fee is about 0.5%. (This fee doesn't apply for orders placed with Advanced Trade.)
Coinbase also says it charges fees based on factors “including the selected payment method, the size of the order, and market conditions such as volatility and liquidity.”
In addition, Coinbase charges fees to cover the costs of executing transactions on the external blockchain networks that support the cryptocurrencies in which it deals.
Overall, these factors can make Coinbase fees difficult to predict on its main platform. The company says it clearly lays out fees for customers before finalizing a transaction. As an example, to buy $200 worth of Bitcoin with USD via ACH, the fee would be about 1.5%. However, if you bought the same amount of Bitcoin with a debit card, that fee rises to 3.99%.
By comparison, Coinbase Pro’s pricing model is more straightforward, though fees have risen slightly in recent years. It's based on your monthly trading volume and liquidity of the asset at the time of purchase; if immediately available, you're charged a “taker” fee, and if your order needs to wait for a buyer, you are charged a “maker” fee. With Coinbase Pro, deposits and withdrawals must be made through a bank account; no card purchases are allowed. Wire transfer fees still apply. (Dive into the differences: Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro.)
Up to $10K
$10K - $50K
$50K - $100K
$100K - $1M
$1M - $15M
$15M - $75M
$75M - $250M
$250M - $400M
Number of cryptocurrencies: 5 out of 5 stars
Coinbase offers more than 250 cryptocurrencies for U.S. customers to trade, a larger number than many other platforms.
Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs: 5 out of 5 stars
Coinbase offers more than 500 crypto-to-crypto trading pairs.
Security and storage: 3.5 out of 5 stars
While cryptocurrency exchanges are not protected by the FDIC or the SIPC, Coinbase says it "carries crime insurance that protects a portion of digital assets held across our storage systems against losses from theft, including cybersecurity breaches."
The company notes the insurance covers only losses related to Coinbase cybersecurity or employee theft; breaches to individual Coinbase accounts (say, if your password were compromised) are not covered. The company also has noted in regulatory filings that its insurance coverage limits are below the total value of cryptocurrency it holds for customers (and it does not say how much insurance it carries).
Coinbase also has had to deal with some customer concerns after it said there was a chance that the crypto assets it holds for customers could be subject to bankruptcy proceedings if the company were to have severe financial trouble. Coinbase said that no such situation is imminent, however, and in June of 2022 clarified its user policies to say that retail customers' assets were subject to the same protections institutional investors would have in bankruptcy.
Holding cash on Coinbase is different, as balances are held in U.S. custodial accounts, money market funds or U.S. Treasurys. If your funds are held in U.S. banks, they are insured up to $250,000 per individual by the FDIC.
Coinbase does allow customers to keep digital assets in their own custody, however. One option the company offers is its own Coinbase Wallet, which is set up to help users easily move money off of their exchange and out of the possession of the company.
Staking and rewards: 4 out of 5 stars
Potential APY on staked coins tops out at around 6% on Coinbase, and there are seven coins that can earn rewards.
Coinbase's staking program was part of the SEC's complaint against the company, so the legal questions over staking on the platform will likely linger as the case moves forward. Coinbase says it disputes the SEC's interpretation of the legality of its offerings. Chief executive Brian Armstrong said in a written statement in June that the company is "proud to represent the industry in court to finally get some clarity around crypto rules."
Mobile app: 5 out of 5 stars
The Coinbase apps for iOS and Android are highly rated by users and include many of the same functions and features as the desktop site. The site has advanced tools for more seasoned traders, but also an interface that provides a range of features for users with a variety of experiences. For beginners, there are simple tools for buying and selling; for more advanced crypto investors, there are options for comparing, tracking and trading digital assets.
Customer support options: 5 out of 5 stars
Coinbase has recently added 24/7 live phone support. It also allows customers to reach out by email or chat.
The platform also has a strong library of educational content, and Coinbase Earn is a creative way to incentivize users to understand what they’re doing.
Is Coinbase right for you?
Coinbase is considered one of the top cryptocurrency exchanges in the U.S. The interface for Coinbase basic service is quick and user-friendly, but it also has a handful of features that might appeal to more seasoned users. That said, the costs of using Coinbase can be difficult to track, especially if you are purchasing cryptocurrency with cash.
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