Coinbase review 2021 – Pros and Cons uncovered

Coinbase review – overall score 4.6

Before reading the review, please take a moment to read our disclaimer.

Coinbase is one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges globally. Coinbase is based in the US and listed on the NASDAQ. In terms of trade volume and client base, Coinbase is bigger than its closest competitors such as Kraken and Binance.

Employees, client base and quarterly trade volume at Coinbase and its competitors
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

Why is this important? It is not easy to determine how safe a cryptocurrency exchange is. In most cases, cryptocurrency exchanges do not qualify for deposit insurance programs, so you have to be especially thorough when selecting your provider. In general, it is a good sign if

  • the exchange has a sizable client base,
  • it has a robust traded volume per quarter,
  • it is an established company (e.g. it’s been around for several years and has many employees),
  • or the company that operates the exchange is listed on a stock exchange.

Coinbase overall Pros and cons

ProsCons
Solid company background High fees
Easy-to-use trading platforms  Limited selection of crypto coins
 High-quality educational materials No 24/7 or live chat support
Coinbase main features and highlights
🗺️ Country of regulationUSA, Ireland, UK, Hungary, India, Australia, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore
💰 Trading fees classLow
💰 Inactivity fee chargedNo
💰 Withdrawal fee amount$0
💰 Minimum deposit$0
🕖 Time to open an account1-3 days
💳 Deposit with bank cardNot available
👛 Depositing with electronic walletNot available
💱 Number of base currencies supported23
🎮 Demo account providedYes
🛍️ Products offeredStock, ETF, Forex, Fund, Bond, Options, Futures, CFD, Crypto, Warrants, Structured Products
  
🗺️ Country of regulationUSA, Ireland, UK, Hungary, India, Australia, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore
💰 Trading fees classLow
💰 Inactivity fee chargedNo
💰 Withdrawal fee amount$0
💰 Minimum deposit$0
🕖 Time to open an account1-3 days
💳 Deposit with bank cardNot available
👛 Depositing with electronic walletNot available
💱 Number of base currencies supported23
🎮 Demo account providedYes
🛍️ Products offeredStock, ETF, Forex, Fund, Bond, Options, Futures, CFD, Crypto, Warrants, Structured Products
Coinbase review

Coinbase fees - 1.0

Coinbase has really high trading fees and there is also a withdrawal fee for most withdrawal methods. As a plus, most deposit options are free and there’s no inactivity fee.

ProsCons
No deposit fees for SEPA, ACH and crypto High trading fees
No inactivity fee• High withdrawal fees for most methods
  

How we ranked fees

We ranked Coinbase fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed crypto service exchanges.

First, let’s go over some basic terms related to crypto service fees. Just as with brokers, what you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.

  • Trading fees occur when you trade. These are mostly commissions, but some exchanges may also charge spreads (the difference between the bid and ask price).

  • Non-trading fees include charges not directly related to trading, like deposit and withdrawal fees, inactivity fees, conversion fees and bank transfer fees, among others.

In this review, we used two different calculation methods to represent the exchange’s fee structure in a comprehensive number. This means that we replicated the two most popular ‘buy’ scenarios for cryptocurrencies, as suggested by our clients. In this review, we calculate the

  • fees of an instant purchase – we buy a coin straight, for example with a credit card or other instant deposit

  • fees of a non-instant purchase – we first deposit in a fiat currency (USD, EUR, etc.), then convert the deposit into a coin

For both scenarios, we calculated with a $2,000 trade value, assuming 50,000 BTC/USDT as the market price, which means trading 0.04 BTC per transaction.

Coinbase trading fees

Coinbase trading fees are high. The fee structure was sometimes not transparent and it was difficult to understand.

Coinbase fees for instant purchases

Coinbase has really high instant buy fees. Most of this comes from the instant deposit by credit/debit card, which alone costs 3.99%. On top of this, there is a 0.5% spread cost you pay during the transaction.

Coinbase fees for a $2,000 trade
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

The two most important fee elements when you do transactions on Coinbase are Coinbase’s spread and Coinbase’s fees. 

The Coinbase spread is roughly 0.5% of the trade value. The Coinbase fee is either a flat or variable fee, whichever is higher.

The Coinbase flat fee is charged if you buy/sell crypto under a certain amount, as per the table below.

Coinbase flat fees
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

The Coinbase variable fee depends on the payment method you use and your location, as per the table below.

Coinbase variable fees
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

Coinbase non-trading fees

Coinbase does not charge an inactivity fee or any account management fees. On the other hand, there are many cases when withdrawal fees are charged.

Coinbase deposit fees and options

As we have seen, Coinbase may charge a Coinbase fee when you deposit or withdraw. In the table below, you can see what the costs are for each deposit method and how they stack up against Coinbase’s competitors.

Coinbase deposit fees and options
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

*Credit/Debit cards can only be used to instantly buy cryptos, but not for depositing money.

Coinbase withdrawal fees and options

Coinbase charges fees for most withdrawal methods.

Coinbase withdrawal fees and options
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5
Coinbase review

Account opening - 3.3

Coinbase offers its services in more than 100 countries. Account opening is really quick and user-friendly, but the number of fiat currencies supported is limited compared with other exchanges.

ProsCons
Available in many countries Limited number of fiat currencies
•Easy and quick account opening• Withdrawal fee for most withdrawal methods
  

Coinbase is available in 100+ countries, as per the table below.

Coinbase accepted countries
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

Minimum deposit amount

There is no minimum deposit at Coinbase, similarly to other crypto exchanges.

Account types

Similarly to many other crypto exchanges, you can use a Standard or Pro account. The Coinbase Pro account is suitable for users who prefer advanced trading platforms and research tools.

Besides individual accounts, you can also open a business account.

Coinbase account types
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

How to open an account

We really liked that account opening was easy and quick at Coinbase. Our account was verified in a few minutes.

What are the steps for account opening?

  1. Go to Coinbase’s website
  2. Click ‘Get started’
  3. Enter your name, email address and password
  4. Verify your email
  5. Add your phone number
  6. Select your country of residence
  7. Add your address and answer a few questions about your employment status
  8. Add basic info, like email address, username, password, country of residence
  9. Verify your identity by uploading your passport / national ID.
  10. You’re done! Verification will take only a few minutes.

Deposit and withdrawal of fiat currency

Once you have opened your account, there are three ways to get started:

  • Buy cryptos directly using credit/debit cards or electronic wallets
  • Deposit fiat currencies to your account and buy crypto using this fiat currency
  • Deposit crypto to your wallet

We don’t recommend buying directly with a credit/debit card, as it’s really costly. Having said that, it can be a great option if you want to get into a position immediately. Below, you can check the conditions for fiat currency deposits.

Fiat currency deposit/withdrawal options

Normally, the simplest deposit option would be to use your credit or debit card, but this is not possible at Coinbase. You can only use credit/debit cards to buy crypto directly.

Coinbase deposit options
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

You can check here how much each deposit/withdrawal method costs.

Fiat currency selection

Coinbase accepts the following fiat currencies:

  • USD
  • EUR
  • GBP
  • CAD
  • SGD
  • MXN
  • CLP

This selection of fiat currencies is limited compared with that of Binance.

Also, exactly which of these currencies is available for you depends on your country of residence. For example, EU customers can only use EUR as a fiat currency.

Fiat currencies at Coinbase vs similar crypto exchanges
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5
Coinbase review

Research & platform - 3.6

Coinbase has easy-to-use trading platforms, with great extra features like API access. On the other hand, order types and charting tools are limited.

ProsCons
•Easy-to-use trading platforms• Limited order types
• Extra features, including order book or API access• Poor charting tools
  

Coinbase provides two trading platforms. There is a simple trading platform dedicated to beginners, where you can deposit, buy and convert coins/fiat currencies, but you can’t use advanced tools like API or an order book.

Coinbase Pro, Coinbase’s other platform, is suitable for traders looking for more advanced tools. You can use multiple order types and some advanced tools here.

Coinbase’s trading platforms are available only from your browser. There is also a native app for iOS and Android which makes it easy to buy and sell crypto assets directly from your mobile device.

Web Platform

Look and feel

Coinbase’s basic web platform is easy to use and well-designed. We could find all features easily and quickly.

The platform consists of the following sections:

  • ‘Home’ section shows the aggregate value of your portfolio and some other features like a referral program
  • ‘Portfolio’ section shows your portfolio’s breakdown for each coin
  • Under ‘Trade’, you can buy/sell/convert cryptos
  • You can find great educational tools if you click ‘For you’
  • You can see notifications about password changes or trade executions if you go to ‘Notifications’
  • In the top right corner, you can easily change your profile’s settings and you can also generate transaction reports
 

The Coinbase Pro platform offers additional features compared with the basic platform, including a charting tool, limit/stop order types, and other advanced research tools (e.g. API or order book).

Login and security

Two-step authentication is required for all logins. When you log in, the system sends you an SMS with the code. We think this is a great security feature.

Placing trades

Coinbase platforms provide a limited number of order types:

  • Coinbase’s basic platform only lets you place market orders. On the plus side, you can set daily/weekly/monthly purchases.
  • Coinbase Pro allows market, limit and stop orders as well.

This is not a particularly impressive selection, as other crypto exchanges provide up to 5-7 order types.

Coinbase review – Base trading platform – Order types

Charting tools

Coinbase has limited charting tools. On Coinbase Pro, you can use the EMA indicator in two setups: EMA12 and EMA26. By contrast, Binance, a competitor of Coinbase, provides 80+ indicators.

Mobile Investment Platform

Coinbase is available on both iOS and Android. In this review, we tested Coinbase on Android.

Look and feel 

Coinbase’s mobile platform is well-designed and easy to use, similarly to Coinbase’s basic web platform. The same features are available on the mobile app as on Coinbase’s web platform.

Login and security

Logging in for the first time requires two-step email authentication. After that, you can use passcodes.

Placing trades

You can use the same order types as on Coinbase’s basic platform.

Charting tools

There is only a basic charting tool you can use on the mobile app. It can show only the price trend for the last hour/day/week/month/year but is not suitable for any kind of in-depth analysis.

Coinbase review

Customer service - 1.5

Coinbase offers limited customer service. There’s no live chat, phone or any 24/7 support, although there’s a great FAQ page and you can reach out to Coinbase on various forums.

You can contact Coinbase only via email (in the form of a ticketing system). Submitting a ticket is really easy. You just have to go to Coinbase’s website and click ”Contact us’, then select the product and the topic you have a question about. There’s also a chatbot and a great FAQ page.

Similarly to some other exchanges, Coinbase is also present on some third-party forums, dispersing advice in relevant threads.

Still, we really missed live chat support, as this is the most convenient support channel in our opinion. This also means there is no 24/7 support at Coinbase, even though this could be a useful feature for many customers across the globe.

Coinbase review – Customer service

Coinbase review

Product selection - 2.0

Coinbase has a great selection of the most important cryptocurrencies, though still lagging far behind Binance. Another drawback is the lack of margin or derivative trading.

ProsCons
•Good selection of the most important currencies•No margin or any derivatives trading
 •Selection falls well short of Binance
  

Available coins at Coinbase

Interactive Brokers Interactive Brokers is a US discount broker. It is listed on a stock exchange and regulated by several authorities, including top-tier ones like the FCA and the SEC. Visit broker
Alpaca Trading Alpaca Securities LLC is US-based broker providing commission-free API stock trading. The company is regulated by the top-tier SEC and FINRA: Visit broker
TradeStation Global TradeStation Global is an introducing broker of Interactive Brokers. This practically means that assets and cash are held with Interactive Brokers, but services like fees and customer support are provided by TradeStation Global. TradeStation Global is regulated by the top-tier UK FCA. Visit broker
Zacks Trade Zacks Trade is a US discount broker that also allows international clients to open an account. Zacks Trade is a division of LBMZ Securities, which is regulated by SEC and FINRA. Customers are protected by the SIPC scheme, up to $500,000 (including a $250,000 limit for cash). Visit broker
Saxo Bank Saxo Bank is a Danish investment bank. It is regulated by several financial authorities globally, including the top-tier UK FCA. Visit broker

Coinbase has a great selection of the most popular coins including BTC, Dogecoin, Ethereum, BTC Cash, etc; though this is by no means the biggest selection on the market.

Number of coins available at Coinbase vs. competitors
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

Unlike Kraken or Binance, Coinbase doesn’t provide any margin trading or derivatives trading.

Coinbase review – Product selection

Coinbase review

Safety

Coinbase is one of the largest crypto exchanges, with high revenues and a huge client base, while the company is also listed on NASDAQ; all great indicators when it comes to safety.

ProsCons
•Listed on NASDAQ•None 
• High revenue and big client base 
  

Is Coinbase regulated?

Before we dive deeper into this question, please take a moment to read our disclaimer.

Cryptocurrency exchanges do not qualify for deposit insurance programs, as they are not savings or financial institutions. Therefore no, this service is not regulated in the same sense as broker services are. Still, there are a few signposts that may help you judge the safety of crypto exchanges. Among others, it’s worth checking whether the service:

  • is listed on an exchange
  • has a long track record
  • has significant volumes traded on its platforms
  • has a big client base and workforce
  • vows to guarantee FDIC/SIPC insurance on deposits

At the time of our review, Coinbase was the only crypto exchange listed on a stock exchange. Coinbase went public on NASDAQ in April 2021.

In comparison with its closest competitors, Coinbase has a large customer base, trade volume and revenue. These are all great signs for Coinbase’s safety.

Coinbase and its competitors’ fundamentals
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

Is Coinbase secure and safe?

Coinbase trading platforms use two-factor authentication to make your account more secure.

Regarding safety, you should be aware that in most cases, crypto exchanges face less stringent regulations than brokersInvestor protection schemes like SIPC in the US or FSCS in the UK are not available for investors of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Coinbase review

Education - 3.8

Coinbase has high-quality educational tools. There are many articles and videos, all of which are well-structured and well-designed. On the negative side, there is no demo account.

ProsCons
• Quality educational texts•No demo account
•Great educational videos 
  

At Coinbase, you have access to the following educational tools:

  • An education section on Coinbase’s website
  • Educational materials available if you log in to Coinbase’s trading platform
  • Videos and webinars on Coinbase’s Youtube channel

We really liked the quality of Coinbase’s educational materials. They’re frequently updated and customers can easily understand the various concepts discussed.

Coinbase even provides the opportunity to earn crypto by learning. If you click ‘Get more crypto’, you can earn cryptocurrencies if you complete some courses created by Coinbase. This is a superb feature.

On the negative side, there’s no demo account. We think that demo accounts are the best way to learn how to trade on a platform.

Coinbase review – Education

Coinbase review

Extra features

Coinbase has some interesting extra features, including a debit card and a staking service. However, margin or derivatives trading are not available.

Coinbase Card

You can use Coinbase’s Visa debit card to spend your crypto directly. There are some fees and limitations though that you should be aware of when using this service.

Coinbase Card
 Saxo BankFusion MarketsCMC MarketsInteractive BrokersCapital.com
EURUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
GBPUSD spread1.30.20.90.31.3
AUDUSD spread0.80.00.70.10.6
EURCHF spread1.40.62.50.42.2
EURGBP spread1.40.31.10.21.5

Staking

At Coinbase, you can participate in transaction validation, called staking. This process is similar to mining and you can earn staking rewards on your holdings. However, the commission for this service is a minimum 25%.

Coinbase review

Bottom line

Coinbase is one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the US. It’s listed on NASDAQ stock exchange, and it has strong revenue numbers and a large customer base.

On the plus side, Coinbase has a solid corporate background, provides an easy-to-use trading platform, and its educational materials are high quality.

There are some drawbacks to Coinbase, though. Trading fees are really high, its crypto coin selection is limited, and customer support lacks live chat and 24/7 options.

Feel free to try Coinbase, but be very careful as crypto exchanges are not overseen by financial regulators.

If you come across anything that you think would be nice to include in this review, let us know at info@brokerchooser.com.

Disclaimer: Neither BrokerChooser nor any of its partners accept any responsibility, duty of care or other liability however arising to You or any other third party in relation to this material provided however that nothing in this disclaimer excludes or restricts any liability or duty which BrokerChooser may have under applicable law or regulation which is not capable of being so excluded.

This material and any information contained herein is provided to You for information purposes only. BrokerChooser is not making any recommendation or soliciting any action based on the information contained herein or making any offer, solicitation or recommendation to invest in a particular investment or undertake any course of action.

This information is furnished to You with the express understanding that it does not constitute investment or any other advice and You will determine, by seeking your own independent advice, the economic risks and merits as well as the legal, tax and accounting consequences of taking any course of action, adopting any investment strategy and/or investing in any asset. Furthermore, BrokerChooser does not provide tax, accounting or legal advice either, hence if You require advice in relation to such matters, You should consult your respective tax, accounting or legal advisers.

Recent performance of several crypto currencies might make it tempting to start trading digital currencies. However, You should be aware that these assets are extremely risky, they tend to be much more volatile than more traditional investments such as stocks, bonds or fiat currencies etc., hence it is of utmost importance that You seek your own independent advice with respect to the economic risks and merits as well as the legal, tax and accounting consequences of taking any course of action, adopting any investment strategy and/or investing in any crypto currency, crypto asset and/or crypto commodity.

You should also be aware that in most cases, crypto exchanges face less stringent regulations than brokers and other regulated financial intermediaries; and that investor protection schemes such as schemes of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation in the United States or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the United Kingdom are not available for investors using crypto exchanges.

Please note that this material and all the information contained herein are derived using various proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by BrokerChooser to be reliable. It is not necessarily comprehensive and its accuracy cannot be assured. In addition, the information and analysis contained in this material are based on professional judgement and may vary from conclusions or analysis provided by other qualified professionals asked to perform similar analysis. Moreover, this material and the information contained herein are subject to modification, change or supplement without prior notice to You.

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