Coinbase Fees: Here’s a Full Breakdown of How To Minimize Costs

Coinbase app for cryptocurrency trading
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Coinbase announced Thursday that it expects to make its trading debut on the Nasdaq on April 14. The direct listing will make shares of COIN available to the general public. For many investors, Coinbase’s IPO presents a unique opportunity to invest in a company that offers a cryptocurrency trading platform.

Whether or not you’re looking to buy shares of Coinbase, you might find the idea of using the platform itself to invest in cryptocurrency to be an appealing option. But if you start using Coinbase without digging any deeper, you’re going to pay fees that can add up over time.

Trying to gain insight as to what the Coinbase fees are can be somewhat difficult, to say nothing about avoiding them. This guide is about just that — a breakdown of Coinbase fees and what you can do to maximize your investments.

Why Are Investors Taking an Interest in Crypto and Coinbase?

People all over the world are taking more and more of an interest in cryptocurrency, and the allure is clear. Traditional investing in stocks or other assets may have seemed off-limits or uninteresting to certain investors. However, crypto is an exciting, volatile asset with values changing daily and an overall trend that seems to be going upward.

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Many believe that cryptocurrency is the answer to the problems created by centralized financial institutions. Others believe in the underlying technology. Still others simply see the activity and don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to make some quick cash.

There are several ways to get involved in the crypto space, but centralized exchanges like Coinbase are an entry point for a lot of people because of their simplicity, ease of access and ability to trade the more popular coins such as Bitcoin and Ether.

What Types of Fees Does Coinbase Charge?

There are several fees Coinbase applies to transactions — margin or spread fees and what the platform calls the Coinbase Fee. Here’s a look at each type:

  • Margin or spread fees: The margin (or spread) is explained by Coinbase as a service charge of up to 2.00% that is added to the exchange rate on Coinbase Pro. This is the name of the Coinbase-owned exchange that processes all transactions.
  • Coinbase Fee: The Coinbase Fee is the one that tends to get confusing because there are so many factors at play. The user will pay either a flat fee or a variable percentage of the transaction, depending on region, product and payment method.

The flat fees charged by Coinbase are as follows:

Total Transaction Amount Transaction Fee
$10 or less $0.99
More than $10, less than or equal to $25 $1.49
More than $25, less than or equal to $50 $1.99
More than $50, less than or equal to $200 $2.99

Here are the variable fees for users in the U.S.:

Payment Method for Purchase or Payout Method for Sale Effective Rate of Conversion Fee (After Waiver)
U.S. bank account 1.49%
Coinbase USD wallet 1.49%
Debit card buy 3.99%
Instant card withdrawal Up to 1.5% of any transaction and a minimum fee of $0.55

Coinbase considers both fees when you preview a transaction. A U.S. customer making a purchase above $204, for example, will have the fee assessed at the 1.49% rate up to the maximum purchase amount.

You can verify this by initiating a purchase on Coinbase.com and previewing the buy at $205. Note that the fee simply grows in lockstep with the amount purchased up to your maximum.

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As you might imagine, these fees add up to quite a bit in funds that you might otherwise have invested. This begs the question: How do you avoid fees on Coinbase?

How To Minimize Coinbase Fees

The key to minimizing fees on Coinbase is understanding the link between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro.

What Is Coinbase Pro?

Formerly known as GDAX, Coinbase Pro is the preferred trading platform used to fulfill orders placed via Coinbase. It is a platform designed for crypto enthusiasts and is meant to provide a more detailed look at the cryptocurrency markets, enabling traders to make more informed decisions.

Because both are owned by Coinbase, transfers between them are instant and free. This is significant because the fees assessed for the same actions are far lower on Coinbase Pro than they are on Coinbase.

The breakdown of these transactions is a bit more technical. They follow what is referred to as a maker-taker model. Here’s an overview of types of transactions you might make:

  • Taker orders: Orders made at the market price and fulfilled immediately are considered “taker” orders and are charged a fee between 0.04% and 0.50%.
  • Maker orders: Orders that are not filled immediately are placed on the books and designated as “maker” orders that come with fees between 0.00% and 0.50%.
  • Partial orders: Partial orders are when a portion of the order is filled immediately, while the rest is left on the books to be filled at a later time. If this happens, the first part is assessed on the “taker” side. The remainder will be filled as a “maker” order.

Keep in mind that with Coinbase Pro the fees are based on the amount of the transaction, so you actually pay less for trading more:

Pricing Tier Taker Fee Maker Fee
Less than $10K 0.50% 0.50%
$10K to $50K 0.35% 0.35%
$50K to $100K 0.25% 0.15%
$100K to $1M 0.20% 0.10%
$1M to $10M 0.18% 0.08%
$10M to $50M 0.15% 0.05%
$50M to $100M 0.10% 0.00%
$100M to $300M 0.07% 0.00%
$300M to $500M 0.05% 0.00%
$500M and up 0.04% 0.00%

How To Use Coinbase Pro To Minimize Coinbase Fees

Now that you understand what Coinbase Pro is and how the fees work, its appeal for trading should be obvious. Here are the steps for doing so:

  1. Use your Coinbase credentials to sign in to Coinbase Pro.
  2. Select “deposit” under the wallet balance section.
  3. Choose the type of currency you’d like to transfer (USD, BTC, etc.).
  4. Select the Coinbase.com option.

At this point, you’ll be able to see the balance available in your Coinbase wallet for the currency you’ve chosen. Again, transfers between the two platforms are free and instant, and there’s no limit on deposits for digital assets.

Trades conducted with Coinbase Pro aren’t as intuitive as they are on Coinbase — you’ll need to use exact amounts rather than trading the equivalent volume of USD — but the trade-off is that the fees are substantially lower.

The process for withdrawing your assets to Coinbase is identical, except you’ll select “withdraw” under the wallet balance section rather than “deposit.” Transfers are instant, but there is a default daily limit of $250,000. If you need to regularly withdraw more than this, you can request to increase limits via the limits page on your profile.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro

To see a real-world example, let’s say you wanted to buy $2,000 worth of bitcoin. Why $2,000? Because that’s the default daily limit on both platforms using ACH transfers.

On Coinbase, that purchase would cost 1.49%, or $29.36. Using Coinbase Pro, you can complete the same purchase and pay only $10 — about one-third of the fee charged on Coinbase.

You can also use a debit card to make purchases on Coinbase. However, again, you’ll pay handily for the convenience. The fee for using debit cards on Coinbase is 3.99%, which brings the fee total to $76.74 for a $2,000 purchase.

Are Coinbase Fees Worth It?

For those who have only a casual interest in cryptocurrency or those who are just learning about it, the price may be worth it in exchange for the convenience of trading in a fiat currency and using a highly intuitive interface.

It’s easy to minimize fees using the Coinbase network. It just takes a bit of know-how. For most beginning traders, the limits that are set on your Coinbase Pro account will be more than generous enough to allow for normal activity. It looks intimidating, but using Coinbase Pro is a great way to deepen your understanding of the cryptocurrency space and gain experience as a trader.

FAQ

How Much Does Coinbase Charge Per Transaction?

The amount you’ll pay in fees using Coinbase varies based on the transaction type and payment method. For a more detailed look, see the section on Coinbase fees.

Are Coinbase Fees High?

Coinbase fees are somewhat high relative to similar crypto platforms, which is why so many users look for ways to avoid or minimize them.

What Are Coinbase Fees For?

When you use Coinbase to make trades, you pay for the convenience of trading without needing a true exchange. You can also make trades in USD, which is much easier to conceptualize than the raw decimal numbers that cryptocurrencies are broken down into.

Do I Need Coinbase Pro?

Coinbase Pro is a more advanced platform that is not optimized for the casual user. Anyone can learn to use it. However, those conducting many or high-volume trades will get the most out of it.

Can I Have Multiple Coinbase Accounts?

Maintaining multiple accounts with Coinbase is against its terms of use. Even so, Coinbase Pro allows you to manage multiple portfolios.

Does Coinbase Report to the IRS?

As of the tax year 2020, you’ll receive a 1099-MISC if you:

  1. Are a Coinbase customer
  2. Are required to pay U.S. taxes
  3. Earned $600 or more in rewards or fees from Coinbase Earn, USDC Rewards and/or Staking in 2020

All capital gains and losses should be reported on Form 8984.

Data is accurate as of March 31, 2021, and is subject to change.

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About the Author

Branford Shaw is a freelance writer and web developer in the Washington D.C. area with a background in sales and scientific research. He received a B.S. in Biology at Hampton University, where he honed his skills as a technical writer. With a wide variety of interests and experience, he is able to learn quickly and write about as many diverse topics, but his areas of expertise are in technology, travel, personal development, and freelancing/entrepreneurship.

Coinbase Fees: Here’s a Full Breakdown of How To Minimize Costs
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