Coinbase Review 2021: How It Compares and Is Coinbase Safe?

GOBankingRates Score

4.0
Our Take: Coinbase is a popular and established cryptocurrency exchange that shines for active trading and crypto-to-crypto trading with a great user experience. The fees can be confusing, and the customer service is only email-based. This Coinbase review explores all aspects of this exchange.
  • Available Cryptocurrencies
    5.0
  • Mobile App
    5.0
  • Fees
    3.0
  • Customer Service
    3.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Fee discounts for high volume trading
  • Active trading features
  • Crypto-to-crypto trading
  • Insured balances in the event of a breach

Cons

  • Confusing fee structure
  • Lackluster customer support

What Is Coinbase?

Coinbase is one of the oldest and largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, with more than 56 million verified users and 8,000 institutions. The exchange offers over 50 coins in more than 100 countries. Coinbase boasts exciting features for traders and recently launched its initial public offering, which exceeded all expectations.

Coinbase Features

Coinbase offers a variety of features for individuals, businesses and developers.

For individuals:

  • Buy, sell and use crypto on web and mobile
  • Wallet for secure self-storage
  • Coinbase Pro for advanced crypto trading

For businesses:

For developers:

  • Coinbase Cloud APIs
  • Coinbase Connect authentication
  • Bison Trails infrastructure platform

Crypto Offerings

Coinbase offers more than 50 cryptocurrencies for you to buy and sell, such as:

Some of the Available Cryptos on Coinbase:

Fees

Coinbase has a somewhat confusing fee structure depending on what you’re doing.

Wallet Service

Coinbase does not charge for USD wallet and hosted cryptocurrency wallet service.

Buy/Sell Transactions

Coinbase charges a spread of about 0.50% per buy/sell transaction plus a Coinbase Fee that ranges anywhere from $0.99 to $2.99.

Credit Transactions

Coinbase charges a flat fee of 2% for credit transactions.

Cryptocurrency Conversions

Coinbase charges a spread margin of up to 2% for conversions.

What Is Coinbase Best For?

Crypto-to-Crypto Trading

Coinbase offers over 60 crypto-to-crypto trading pairs in the U.S. and worldwide. This is an essential feature for investors who want to trade cryptos without having to convert any coins to cash or fiat currency first.

The benefits of crypto pair trading include better trading opportunities because of the volatile nature of cryptos. Savvy traders can take advantage of the changing prices and turn a quick profit.

Active Traders

Coinbase really shines for active traders because of the world-class Coinbase Pro platform. Traders have access to real-time order books, charting tools, trade history and an intuitive order process.

The platform boasts an industry-leading API that gives developers access to real-time market data and a trading API that lets you automate trading bots.

Coinbase Pro also offers excellent pricing tiers for high volume. Depending on how much you trade, you could pay as little as 0.00% for trading fees. Your pricing tier is calculated based on how much you trade over the trailing 30 day period.

Pricing Tier Taker Fee Maker Fee
Up to $10k 0.50% 0.50%
$10k – $50k 0.35% 0.35%
$50k – $100k 0.25% 0.15%
$100k – $1m 0.20% 0.10%
$1m – $20m 0.18% 0.08%
$20m – $100m 0.15% 0.05%
$100m – $500m 0.10% 0.02%
$500m – $1b 0.06% 0.00%
$1b – $2b 0.05% 0.00%
$1b+ 0.04% 0.00%

Security and Insurance

Security is a legitimate concern for a cryptocurrency exchange because of the number of high-profile hacks in the past. Here are just a few:

Coinbase High-Profile Hacks

  • In February 2019, hackers stole 450,000 account names and passwords from crypto brokerage Coinmama.
  • In March 2019, hackers stole $20 million from South Korea’s largest exchange, Bithumb.
  • In May 2019, hackers stole $40 million from Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange.

Security is a critical issue for any exchange. Coinbase offers several essential features to keep you and your assets protected.

Ninety-eight percent of customer funds are stored in offline cold storage. This means hackers can’t hack or steal those funds from the internet. Coinbase disconnects sensitive data from the internet, splits it with redundancy, applies military-grade encryption, then stores it on USB drives in safe boxes and vaults worldwide.

Coinbase holds all cash deposits in a custodial account at U.S. banks — for U.S. customers. This means all cash funds are FDIC-insured up to the per-depositor limit.

Where Does Coinbase Fall Short?

Here are some of the drawbacks of the Coinbase platform.

Confusing Pricing Model

Coinbase has a two-pronged pricing model for transaction fees. First, you’ll pay a spread of about 0.50% for buys or sells, plus an additional flat fee depending on the amount you purchase and the payment type. Here’s the fee structure on Coinbase:

Total Transaction Amount Fee
Less than or equal to $10 $0.99
Between $10 and $25 $1.49
Between $25 and $50 $1.99
Between $50 and $200 $2.99

If you want a more straightforward fee structure, you should consider Coinbase Pro’s pricing tiers.

Customer Support

Currently, Coinbase only offers email support on their website. The best they promise is that they will get to it “as quickly as possible.” For customers who want an interactive support experience, this isn’t very attractive.

Coinbase doesn’t offer live phone support, but they do provide an emergency phone number that you can use to disable your account if you believe it has been compromised.

Coinbase vs. Competitors

Kraken is another popular cryptocurrency exchange, but many options aren’t available for U.S. users. However, Kraken offers 24/7 global customer support, unlike Coinbase.

Binance is one of the world’s largest exchanges and has over 500 cryptocurrencies available for trade, but the core platform is unavailable for U.S. users like Coinbase. There is a U.S. offering, but it’s limited compared to the international platform.

Who Should Use Coinbase?

Coinbase is best for active investors who trade a lot because of the volume discounts. With Coinbase Pro, you’ll pay trading fees as low as 0.00%.

Editor’s Favorite

The exchange is great for those new to crypto because of the Coinbase Earn program. This program teaches you about cryptocurrencies and rewards you with up to $28 worth of crypto.

Coinbase is also a great option if you’re concerned about the security of your crypto assets because of the insurance it maintains.

Coinbase FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Coinbase.
  • Is Coinbase safe?
    • Coinbase uses extensive security measures to protect your privacy and your crypto assets. Ninety-eight percent of customer funds are stored in offline cold storage, and the company maintains insurance to protect against loss.
  • What is the minimum trade amount?
    • You can buy or sell as little as $2 worth of cryptocurrency in a single transaction.
  • What payment methods are supported?
    • For U.S. customers, Coinbase supports bank account ACH transfers, debit cards, wire transfers and PayPal.
  • Does Coinbase provide tax reports?
    • Yes, Coinbase provides tax reports. In addition, the exchange has a partnership with TurboTax that allows you to e-file your crypto gains and losses.
  • Is Coinbase regulated?
    • Yes, Coinbase complies with all applicable laws. The company is licensed appropriately in U.S. jurisdictions, registered as a Money Services Business with FinCEN and is committed to complying with international laws as needed.
  • Does Coinbase offer multi-factor authentication?
    • Yes, Coinbase recommends using a security key to protect your accounts. You can also use an authenticator app with a one-time password.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Scott Jeffries is a seasoned technology professional based in Florida. He writes on the topics of business, technology, digital marketing and personal finance. After earning his bachelor’s in Management Information Systems with a minor in Business, Scott spent 15 years working in technology. He's helped startups to Fortune 100 companies bring software products to life. When he's not writing or building software, Scott can be found reading or spending time outside with his kids.
Coinbase Review 2021: How It Compares and Is Coinbase Safe?
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