Coinbase Review 2022: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Coinbase is one of the most established cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States and one of the largest in the world. But always consider the risks of trading these speculative currencies.
Mar 2, 2022

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

Coinbase is the largest U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, trading more than 150 cryptocurrencies. Coinbase fees, however, can be confusing and higher than some competitors. While Coinbase offers attractive features, cryptocurrency trading is highly volatile, so always consider the risks.

Coinbase
Coinbase
Fees
0.5% - 4.5%
varies by type of transaction; other fees may apply
Account minimum
$2
Promotion
Get $5 in Bitcoin
when you make your first trade. Terms Apply.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers access to nearly 100 cryptocurrencies.

  • Low minimum to fund account.

Cons

  • Higher fees than other cryptocurrency exchanges.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Robinhood Crypto
Webull Crypto
eToro
NerdWallet rating 

3.5

/5
NerdWallet rating 

3.5

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.0

/5

Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

1%

for cryptocurrency

Account minimum

$0

Account minimum

$1

Account minimum

$10

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion

Get $5 in Crypto

after opening a Webull account, activating crypto trading, and completing 1 crypto trade before 8/31/2022.

Promotion

Get $10

when you buy $100 worth of crypto.

Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox

Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

Where Coinbase shines

Selection. Coinbase has greatly expanded its crypto offering, now with access to more than 150 cryptocurrencies.

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.

Coinbase also is trying out a new option, called Coinbase One, which offers no-fee trades and other benefits in exchange for a monthly fee. In May of 2022, the cost was about $30, though the program was still in beta testing.

Coinbase 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 certain cryptocurrencies.

Where Coinbase falls short

Fees. Coinbase has higher fees (and at times a more confusing fee structure) than other cryptocurrency exchanges.

Coinbase is best for:

  • Cryptocurrency traders looking for convenience.

  • Traders who want to easily convert one cryptocurrency to another.

Coinbase at a glance

Minimum trade

$2.

Trading and transaction fees

0.5% to 4.5% depending on payment method, cryptocurrency type, transaction size and platform. Other fees may apply.

Number of cryptocurrencies

More than 150

Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs

More than 450.

Website transparency

Important information, including investment minimums, supported assets and how to close the account, can be easily found on the website.

Can use your own digital wallet?

Yes.

Mobile app

Two highly rated apps for iOS and Android.

Customer service

Phone, email and chat.

More details about Coinbase's ratings

Minimum trade

The minimum amount needed to buy cryptocurrency on Coinbase is $2.

Trading and transaction fees

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%.

  • 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.

By comparison, Coinbase Pro’s pricing model is more straightforward, however 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.)

Pricing tier

Taker fee

Maker fee

Up to $10K

0.60%

0.40%

$10K - $50K

0.40%

0.25%

$50K - $100K

0.25%

0.15%

$100K - $1M

0.20%

0.10%

$1M - $10M

0.18%

0.08%

$10M - $20M

0.18%

0.08%

$20M - $100M

0.15%

0.05%

$100M - $300M

0.1%

0.02%

$300M - $500M

0.08%

0.00%

$500M+

0.05%

0.00%

Number of cryptocurrencies

Coinbase offers more than 150 cryptocurrencies for U.S. customers to trade, a larger number than many other platforms.

Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs

Coinbase offers more than 450 crypto-to-crypto trading pairs.

Digital wallet options and security

While cryptocurrency exchanges are not protected by the FDIC or the SIPC, Coinbase says that the digital currency it holds online is insured. The company says it holds less than 2% of customer funds online, with the rest stored in offline cold storage — away from possible online breaches — and says that if it were to suffer a breach of its online storage, "the insurance policy would pay out to cover any customer funds lost as a result."

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.

Coinbase has also said that there is 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 has said that no such situation is imminent, however.

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.

Mobile app

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.

Customer support options

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 offers a creative way to incentivize users to understand what they’re doing: Coinbase Earn. This lets you “earn while you learn” through a series of video classes and exams that discuss cryptocurrencies and how to trade them. By taking the classes, it’s possible to earn a set amount of the cryptocurrency you’re learning about.

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 costs can be difficult to track unless you use the more advanced Coinbase Pro.

But understand that investing in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is highly speculative and known for its volatility. A common guideline: Never invest any more than you can afford to lose.

How do we review cryptocurrency platforms?

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