Coinbase Review 2021 : Pros, Cons and More

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13 min read
Learn more about Coinbase, one of the most popular crypto exchange platforms in the world. It makes it easy to buy, sell, and store cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and more
Article review author
Daniel Olagbami
Article head image
Rating: 3.8 / 5
4/5
Open Account
Easy and straightforward.
5/5
Interface
Smooth, intuitive, and easy to use - perfect for beginners.
2/5
Customer Support
Coinbase has a terrible reputation for custom service, which it has definitely earned.
5/5
Security
Coinbase has never been hacked, and has impressive security credentials.
2/5
Fees
Prepare to pay a premium for the easy interface - Coinbase has fees well above industry average.
3/5
Withdrawal
While the interface makes depositing and withdrawing funds simple, high fees might be off putting.

Coinbase Overview

Founded in 2012, Coinbase is one of the first and leading cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Based in the United States, Coinbase is fully regulated and is one of the market leaders in the crypto exchange space.

With a smooth trading interface and a variety of well-integrated mobile apps, Coinbase overall has a very pleasant user experience.

The first exchange to launch on the stock exchange as of April 2021, Coinbase holds over $90 billion worth of assets. Funds are insured and kept offline in cold storage for maximum security.

It also provides trading access for over 50 cryptocurrencies including major coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP and others.

Coinbase is a secure platform available both online and as an app for buying, selling, transferring and storing digital currencies. It provides access to crypto such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), Cardano (ADA), and 50+ others.

Launched in 2012, it is one of the oldest crypto exchanges in the space and has grown rapidly in the last decade. Coinbase can be used to convert one cryptocurrency to another or to send and receive cryptocurrency. Traders can view price movement, trends, portfolio summaries, and related industry news.

More recently, Coinbase became the first crypto exchange platform to go public and list on the NASDAQ stock exchange with a total value of over $90 billion.

Coinbase has stated that its main aim is to expand worldwide access to various currencies by making buying and selling digital currency easy. Some of Coinbase’s benefits include:

  • Free transfer of digital currency between online Coinbase wallets.
  • Extensive insurance.
  • Coinbase is a “one stop shop” – a wallet, an exchange, and merchant tools within one simple easy to use interface.
  • Coinbase Earn – an easy way to “earn while you learn”. Users can earn small amounts of cryptocurrency by watching a series of videos and answering related questions.
  • Coinbase Pro – Coinbase’s advanced charting platform, which allows users to place market, limit and stop orders whilst also having access to a few more cryptocurrencies.

Coinbase is one of the first and certainly one of the best when it comes to the cryptocurrency space. It has a smooth and intuitive platform making it seamless for those new to the world of crypto trading.
This simplicity comes at a high price however as the fees add up quickly, especially if you’re aiming to trade regularly.
For those with a bit more knowledge when it comes to trading, Coinbase Pro may be more suitable.

Learn more

Pros / Cons

Advantages bg
Cons Icon
Cons
  • Higher fees when not using Coinbase Pro
  • Limited access to altcoins
  • Wallets are custodial
Pros Icon
Pros
  • Only crypto exchange listed in the stock exchange
  • Strong security and insurance on deposits
  • High liquidity
  • Smooth user interface
Open a Coinbase account

Security

Coinbase is one of the few crypto exchanges that hasn’t been hacked (yet). Their security is above industry standard, with many measures taken to ensure that user funds are protected.

All bitcoins stored in Coinbase online wallets are insured, and 98% of customer funds are kept in highly encrypted cold wallets.

The exchange hosts sensitive data on air-gapped servers, and stores wallets and private keys using standard and proven AES-256 encryption. There is also a longstanding bug bounty program that helps alert the security team to potential exploits. During the high-profile 2020 Twitter hack, Coinbase intervened to prevent customers from sending bitcoin to hackers in a proactive move.

Due to Coinbase’s popularity, users with Coinbase accounts can be high-profile targets.

Coinbase users are at risk of fraud and theft, but security gaps almost always come from the user’s side.

0.004% of Coinbase users experienced account takeovers in 2020. The number seems low until you realize that Coinbase has 56 million customers. That’s 224,000 hacks in one year. The exchange does offer educational resources for users looking to improve their personal security and encourages users to implement two-factor authentication.

Regulation

Coinbase is currently headquartered in the US and regulated there under the title Coinbase, Inc. It is registered as a Money Services Business with FinCEN, and required to comply with consumer protection laws. Coinbase is subject to the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires the exchange to maintain currency records up to 5 years, and the infamous USA Patriot Act. Coinbase, Inc. is registered differently in different US states.

Outside of the US, CB Payments Limited is authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority to issue electronic money. Generally, Coinbase has a positive attitude towards regulation, complying with AML and KYC legislation.

Privacy

Just like every other exchange, Coinbase collects identifying user data. The way that data is processed depends on the user’s jurisdiction. For more detail on how your data is processed, check out the Privacy Policy and take a look at the table filed under “Our Relationship To You.”

In the privacy policy, Coinbase describes the extensive amount of personal data they may collect, ranging from formal identification to transaction information and correspondence. They also collect online identifiers such as tracking details, operating system, IP address, and usage data.

Information is also collected from third parties, including public databases, credit bureaus, and ID verification partners. The exchange also collects information from joint marketing partners, analytics providers,  and resellers – which means that Coinbase does buy information.

Personal user information is used to maintain regulatory compliance, detect fraud, facilitate corporate acquisitions, and to engage in marketing activities.

The Privacy Policy also states that user data can be used for any purpose. Whoa there Coinbase, I thought it was polite to pretend that user data was being used for good reasons.

So that’s nuts.

As it stands, Coinnbase has never had any reported data breaches. If you care deeply about privacy and how your identifying data is used, though, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.

How does Coinbase compare?

Coinbase has a reputation for being the best entry-level exchange. It’s true that Coinbase has turned user interface into an artform. However, you do pay a premium for ease of access and brand recognition. If you’re looking for a similarly well-known platform with lower fees, try Binance, which has 150+ coins and lower trading fees. Keep in mind that both have high withdrawal fees (upwards of 3%), and Binance has been hacked.

Customer Support

With a 1.3 star rating on Trustpilot, customer care is clearly an area that Coinbase might want to work on. 91% of ratings are bad, with customer complaints ranging from slow customer service to high transaction fees. Coinbase does not offer phone support with a live agent, or a 24/7 chat function. Users with problems are encouraged to request customer support exclusively via email. There have been many reports of Coinbase failing to detect and prevent suspicious activity resulting in the loss of customer funds.

The exchange is aware of their bad reputation, and recently released an update on their plans to improve customer service. Hopefully plans to quadruple customer support staff and introduce live messaging will improve customer experiences.

Opening an Account and Trading

How to get started with Coinbase?

Getting started with Coinbase is straightforward. The platform requires extensive information, including your legal name, home address, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security number/Government issued ID and how you plan to use Coinbase.

These ensure you can comply with federal regulations. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to signing up for Coinbase.

01
Download the Coinbase app for iPhone or Android, or visit the website.

02
Open Coinbase and tap “Get started”.

03
Create an account with your name, email address and strong password and tap “Start”.

04
Verify your email by tapping a link that was sent to your inbox

05
Enter your phone number and verify it by entering a code that was texted to you.
06
Enter in your name, date of birth, address, reasons for using Coinbase, source of funds, job role and the last four digits of your Social Security number (US users only).

07
Now you can link your bank account. Search for your bank.

08
Log into your bank account with the username and password you normally use for banking.
09
Select the bank account you want to link to Coinbase for purchases and tap “Continue”

10
Congrats! You’re synced up and ready to go.

This link provides a full breakdown of all supported cryptocurrencies on Coinbase and Coinbase Pro broken down by core countries also.

Coinbase Fees and Trading costs

Coinbase has a complex fee structure based on two factors:

  • Coinbase charges a spread of about 0.5% for cryptocurrency sales and purchases. These rates may be higher or lower depending on market fluctuations.
  • Coinbase also charges a fee, the greater of either a flat fee or a variable one depending on the amount purchased and the payment type.

For example, if you purchase $100 worth of Bitcoin in the US and pay with a US bank account or your USD Wallet, the flat fee would be calculated as $2.99. The fee structure is similar for the rest of the world.

The variable percentage fee would usually be 1.49% of the total transaction (or $1.49). Since the flat fee is greater than the 1.49% variable fee, the fee charged would be $2.99.

A bitcoin purchase with a debit card would have a fee of 3.99% since the variable percentage fee is higher than the flat fee.

Coinbase gives these fee guidelines for total amount of trade:

Withdrawal fees update

Coinbase previously paid the network fees for crypto withdrawals from Coinbase Pro. As of September 2020 however, Coinbase announced that the fees would be passed on to the users instead. This is mainly due to the increased costs associated with high network activity.

Coinbase ensures that the fees are communicated before withdrawal, so there are no additional hidden fees.

Coinbase Pro Fees

Coinbase Pro’s pricing model is  more straightforward, as it’s based on monthly trading volume and liquidity of the asset at the time of purchase. If the asset is immediately available for purchase you are charged a “taker” fee.

If the order needs to wait for a buyer you are charged a “maker” fee. On Coinbase Pro, any deposits and withdrawals must be made through a linked bank account. No card purchases are allowed. Wire transfer fees still apply.

Coinbase Pro has relatively low fees ranging from 0% to 0.50% for taker trades, although the interface is not as easy to use as the standard Coinbase.

Compared to Coinbase’s fees which can go as high as 4%, avid crypto investors may prefer Coinbase Pro.

Deposits of available cryptocurrency into your Coinbase Pro wallet are unlimited. There is also no restriction on deposits in USD via wire transfer.

Coinbase Pro offers its users a highly liquid trading platform with users able to withdraw $10,000 per day from personal accounts, and $50,000 per day from an institutional account. They allow higher withdrawal limits upon request and approval.

FAQs

Is Coinbase Safe?

Although there is no 100% guarantee of safety when using any online exchange, Coinbase does pride itself in its extensive security profile. Skeptics will be happy to know that the exchange also insures online holdings.

How to withdraw money from Coinbase?

To withdraw your funds, sign in to your Coinbase account or open the Coinbase app on your mobile phone. To withdraw money, you need to:

  • Ensure that any cryptocurrencies you hold have been sold for the respective fiat currency you want to cash out in e.g. US dollars or Pounds sterling.
  • Click withdraw, and enter the amount you wish to withdraw from your balance.
  • Select the destination of the withdrawal e.g. bank account or Paypal.
  • Confirm by clicking ‘Withdraw now’.

How to send/receive Bitcoin on Coinbase?

Coinbase wallets are able to send or receive supported cryptocurrencies. These features are available both via the web and mobile app.

To send crypto on the web app,

01
Navigate to the Dashboard, select Pay from the left side of the screen.
02
Select Send and enter the amount of crypto you'd like to send.
03
Enter the address of the crypto, email address and phone number of the recipient.
04
Select Continue to review and confirm the details of this send.

Sending crypto on mobile

01
For mobile, tap the direction button, then click send.
02
Select the desired asset and enter the amount of crypto currency you would like to send.
03
Tap continue to review and confirm the details of the transaction.
04
Enter the recipient address from Contacts, enter their email, crypto address or scan their QR code.
05
Leave an optional reference note and follow any remaining prompts to complete the transaction.

Receiving crypto

01
For the web, on the main dashboard, select ‘Pay’ and then ‘Receive’.
02
When selected your wallet QR code and address will appear which can be used to receive the relevant cryptocurrency.
03
On mobile, tap the directional button and select ‘Receive’.
04
Select the crypto asset you would like to receive under ‘Currency’.
05
When selected, the QR code and address should appear.

Which coin will Coinbase add next?

Coinbase covers assets that make up around 90% of the total crypto market, however Coinbase are constantly evaluating new cryptocurrency they believe to be secure and beneficial to their customer base.

How do you transfer from Coinbase to Binance?

Once in your Coinbase account, click the “Accounts” tab then select the cryptocurrencies you want to transfer.

Click on the “Send” button, when prompted to enter the “Recipient Address” paste the Binance wallet address of the associated cryptocurrency you want to send.

How to avoid Coinbase fees?

Coinbase withdrawal fees can be quite high especially if users withdraw cryptocurrency to external wallets. Coinbase charges users a fee based on the estimated network transaction fee.

The high fees can be somewhat avoided however as Coinbase doesn’t charge for transferring cryptocurrency between Coinbase wallets.

Since Coinbase and Coinbase Pro (GDAX) are owned by the same company, any exchanges between both would be instant and free.

From Coinbase Pro, you can then send your cryptocurrencies to an external wallet outside the Coinbase platform without paying any network transfer fees.

Supported Countries

Coinbase is available in over 100 countries across the world, covering North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Core markets have full platform capabilities, whilst other countries only have the option to convert cryptocurrencies already available to the user.

Additionally, Coinbase has brokerage services in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Singapore.

Coinbase is regulated by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission and the FCA (United Kingdom)

Supported Currencies

Coinbase provides support for a variety of currencies, but this is largely dependent on location. As mentioned above, the ability to buy, sell, deposit and withdraw certain cryptocurrencies is dependent on the cryptocurrency, the user’s location and the payment method available.

Coinbase Payment Methods

Depending on your location, Coinbase allows account funding via a variety of different payment methods. Coinbase and Coinbase Pro currently support 3 payment methods:

  • debit cards
  • wire transfers
  • bank transfers

A major downside for Coinbase are the high fees. Debit card purchases are charged a 3.99% fee, while bank transfers are charged a 1.49% fee.

Be aware that credit cards are no longer accepted as a form of account funding except in Australia.

If you want to link a payment method, follow these steps:

Go to Payment Methods on web or select Settings > Payment Methods on mobile

01
Select Add a payment method
02
Select the type of account you want to link
03
Follow the instructions to complete verification depending on the type of account being linked

For more information on how to deposit or withdraw via the various methods, follow the relevant links below:

US customers
UK customers
European customers

Coinbase’s Services

Coinbase offers a wallet service that can be accessed as a mobile app on Google Play or the App Store, or as a web app via Chrome. The Coinbase wallet supports 500+ tokens, as well as NFTs and access to decentralized exchanges, or DEX.

Coinbase Learn

Coinbase offers a service called Coinbase Learn, which provides users with extensive educational resource, from crypto basics to market updates. 

Coinbase Earn

Want to get free money while learning more about up-and-coming cryptocurrencies? Coinbase Earn offers users the chance to do precisely that. By completing courses on different tokens, users can claim an amount of the token. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

Helpful?
FAQ

New to crypto? Here’s our guide!

FAQ Image #1 01 Why Bitcoin? It seems like the buzz around Bitcoin just keeps growing. Bitcoin is a constantly evolving technology with a passionate community. What is it about the digital asset that makes it such a controversial topic and attractive investment?
FAQ Image #2 02 How to Get Started with Bitcoin It can be difficult to get past the technical jargon surrounding bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies in order to figure out how you can buy and store them. Beginners can purchase Bitcoin, for example, on many exchanges using fiat currency like U.S. Dollar, Euro or British Pound.
FAQ Image #3 03 Blockchains 101 Blockchains are a type of database where data is stored in blocks that are chained together. As new data comes in, it is entered into a block, which is then chained to the previous block. The Bitcoin blockchain serves as a ledger that records every Bitcoin transaction in history.
FAQ Image #4 04 Bitcoin in the Real World Ok - you’ve found an exchange, bought your Bitcoin, and stored it safely. What’s next? By now you can buy just about anything with Bitcoin if you try hard enough, from Amazon gift cards to an old master painting. You can also convert your BTC to fiat with ATMs, an exchange, and more.