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Coinbase app

Coinbase review 2024

Rudmer Zwerver / Shutterstock

🗓️

Updated: March 12, 2024

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Coinbase logo

3.7

Commissions and fees3

Customer service1.5

Ease of use4.5

Cryptos supported4.5

Features5

Coinbase provides an intuitive trading platform and no fewer than three ways to store your cryptocurrency. But it doesn't stop there. Coinbase also provides a Visa debit card to allow you to easily spend your cryptocurrency.

What is Coinbase?

Coinbase is a legacy cryptocurrency ecosystem. Founded in 2012 (around the same time as Bitcoin), Coinbase navigated the prestigious Y-Combinator to become a crypto goliath.

Now a publicly traded company, it offers many creature comforts you’d find from a big bank. Beyond buying and selling cryptocurrency, notable features include a Visa debit card, a standalone wallet, and staking. It’s a one-stop shop.

Despite being a user-friendly onramp, high fees and support hiccups turn users off. But is this the right platform for you? This in-depth Coinbase review dives into the details, including key features, hidden fees, and the best alternatives.

Who is Coinbase for?

Coinbase is a comprehensive cryptocurrency exchange. It lets you buy, sell, exchange, store and spend cryptocurrency. The platform is a good choice for anyone interested in investing in bitcoin, for example, whether you are a beginner or an active trader.

  • For beginners — Coinbase offers a small minimum initial investment of $2 in your local currency, as well as plenty of educational resources to help you learn the ropes.
  • For active traders — Coinbase offers a plan that has some of the lowest commissions in the industry. Plus you can trade over 150 cryptocurrencies, including all the most popular ones.

And as we'll see shortly, Coinbase even gives you an opportunity to earn more crypto on the balance that you already have in your account.

Coinbase pros and cons

Pros

Pros

  • Robust product ecosystem: Coinbase is a one-stop shop that offers convenience across its product breadth.

  • USDC balance incentives: You’ll earn 5.1% by maintaining a balance at Coinbase. Using the card to spend this balance avoids fees, yet can earn an additional cashback.

  • Educational resources: Coinbase offers free educational courses and quizzes about crypto that reward users with small amounts of crypto. This helps beginners learn.

  • Wide variety of assets: Coinbase supports trading hundreds of different crypto assets beyond Bitcoin and Ethereum. This gives traders more investment options.

Cons

Cons

  • Confusing and higher fees: Fees are not transparent. Many reports of users who incurred high fees due to a lack of clarity. Coinbase Advanced's tiered fees are up to 4x higher than Kraken for entry-level amounts. Coinbase One does reduce fees, though.

  • Cash-out challenges: Various users face prolonged wait times to cash out. Beyond that, you’ll incur additional fees if selecting the default cash-out option.

  • Unhelpful support team: Users are frustrated with prolonged, yet vague responses. Coinbase One provides priority support but users report frustration even so. Users shouldn't have to pay extra for support.

  • Overarching lawsuit: A 2023 New York State Department of Finance examination found that Coinbase failed to conduct adequate anti-money laundering assessments.

Coinbase features

Coinbase trade fees
Dynamic; influenced by payment method, order size, market conditions, and region. Avoidable with Coinbase One (excluding spread fees). 
Coinbase Pro trade fees
Maker/taker fees ranging from 0.80% to 0.00%
Supported countries
100+, including U.S., UK, CA
Minimum purchase
$2 of digital currency denominated in your local currency
Payment methods
Bank account (ACH), debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, wire transfer, PayPal
Mobile app
iOS: Coinbase (4.7 stars), Coinbase Wallet (4.6 stars)Android: Coinbase (4.2 stars), Coinbase Wallet (4.4 stars)
Customer service
Email, live chat, and phone support. Priority support available through Coinbase One
Supported currencies
200+

Coinbase card

This is a notable feature with great perks for a Visa debit card. The Coinbase Card lets you spend balances and earn crypto rewards. The earn rates are high, exceeding 10% in some cases. You can expect a 0.5% to 4% earn rate on average. 

However, the earn rates are promotional and vary by crypto. Each month, you select a coin from the rotating schedule. You’ll then earn cashback from that coin, deposited into your Coinbase account. As such, you'll need to spend time with card management. There's also no guarantee your reward coins will retain value.

A key drawback is the potential to pay hidden fees if you’re not careful. The Coinbase Card is only beneficial if using it to spend a USD or USDC balance. Otherwise, the card charges a 2.49% crypto conversion fee, cutting into your earn rate. There are also potential tax implications for converting crypto assets into fiat currency. 

The Coinbase Card is compelling when maintaining a USDC balance. You’ll maximize rewards with 5.1% earned on the balance, amplified by crypto rewards on card spending. 

Overall, the debit card presents a lucrative opportunity. You can read more from our Coinbase card review

Coinbase Advanced Trading

Coinbase Advanced Trading is a sophisticated trading platform. Formerly known as Coinbase Pro, it provides users with professional-grade tools and lower trading fees. The platform is designed for active traders as the tiered fee structure rewards volume. 

Compared to the primary Coinbase platform, Advanced Trading offers several benefits, namely, reduced trading fees, advanced TradingView charts and sophisticated order types. However, the expansive feature set may seem overwhelming for casual investors. If these use cases don't appeal to you, then the regular platform is best.

Coinbase Pro

Coinbase Pro was a platform for sophisticated cryptocurrency traders. It has now migrated to Coinbase Advanced, as explained above.

Coinbase wallet

Compared to the standard exchange, Coinbase wallet is a more secure platform to store funds. Exchange deposits are more prone to hacks and failures. 

Like Metamask, this wallet is self-custodial, meaning you own funds in your wallet. However, you can lose access by forgetting your private keys since you're fully in control.

While you can seamlessly transfer funds between the Coinbase exchange and your wallet, you may face withdrawal challenges from the overall Coinbase platform. Especially considering account lockups, storing your crypto wealth elsewhere is better.

A standard solution is cold storage wallets. While they maximize security, you're also most prone to losing access if you forget your password or seed phrase.

NFT marketplace

CryptoPunks, Pudgy Penguins, and Bored Apes - the Coinbase NFT Marketplace has it all. You can buy, sell and interact with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) here. Coinbase launched the marketplace in early 2022 to provide its users access to digital collectibles and crypto art.

To access the marketplace, you can connect crypto wallets like Coinbase Wallet or MetaMask. The social features allow you to follow profiles and comment on NFTs. Additional gamification elements like rarity tags, floor prices, volume metrics, and trending collections cater to enthusiastic collectors.

For existing Coinbase users, the NFT marketplace provides a trusted entry point. However, OpenSea remains the dominant NFT marketplace. 

Coinbase Learning Rewards

Coinbase pays you to learn about crypto through the learning rewards feature. Watch videos and receive crypto for every quiz you complete. Currently, the courses are limited to a handful of protocols.

You'll receive rewards in the currency of the course content. For example, the NEAR Protocol course will earn you $3 in NEAR coins.

Otherwise, the terms disclose that Coinbase receives fees from asset issues in exchange for creating and distributing learning rewards content. This can result in course biases, highlighting the importance of cross-referencing information and creating an independent investment thesis. Nevertheless, Coinbase Learning Rewards is an excellent educational resource to learn more about protocols of interest.

Coinbase Earn (staking rewards)

Coinbase Earn allows you to earn passive income from your crypto holdings. It's a great way to squeeze out additional yield if you plan on holding for the long-term. By staking on Coinbase, you can earn around 2% to 20% (APY). The APY varies depending on the underlying asset. 

You can think of staking as similar to investing in a CD. You're rewarded by locking up funds for a set duration, with potential penalties for early redemption. You earn money with crypto staking by contributing to the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. This is the backbone of blockchain and is used to validate transactions. It's a comparable process to bitcoin mining.

On Coinbase, you can stake coins like Ethereum, Solana, Polkadot (DOT), and many more. While you retain full ownership of your staked crypto, you may be affected by lockup periods imposed by particular protocols. This is standard practice for staking.

Unfortunately, Coinbase charges up to a 35% commission on popular altcoins. While the fee varies by asset, a high percentage eats into your returns. For example, could you imagine a 35% deduction from your dividend investments? 

Otherwise, Coinbase offers an intuitive, user-friendly approach to cryptocurrency staking. However, experienced traders should seek higher yields elsewhere.

USDC Rewards

Not to be confused with staking, Coinbase offers a 5.1% reward rate on your USDC balance. This is the equivalent feature to a high-interest savings account as you maintain transaction flexibility. You won’t need to lock your money up, as commonly experienced with staking.

USDC is a stablecoin. It maintains a 1:1 peg with the US dollar and is backed by reserve assets such as cash, cash equivalents, or securities. However, the peg briefly broke during the Silicon Valley Bank fiasco, as it was revealed the reserves were held at the collapsing bank.

Despite stability concerns, this feature is compelling when combined with the Coinbase Card. You'll receive cash back from card spending on top of your account rewards rate. This combination is amongst the highest-yielding bank accounts.

Coinbase One

Coinbase One is a premium membership program. It costs $29.99 monthly and provides additional benefits beyond the standard Coinbase experience. The main highlights are zero trading fees, boosted staking rewards, priority support and pre-filled tax forms.

The zero trading fees can lead to significant cost savings. However, spread fees still apply at an estimated 0.50% cost. Even occasional traders may find the boosted staking yields and pre-filled worthwhile.

The 24/7 priority customer support brings peace of mind to urgent issues or uncertainties. Given the standard slow times of Coinbase support, it seems like a critical benefit. 

Mobile trading

The standard Coinbase app offers a variety of mobile trading features. With solid reviews, the app includes traditional portfolio management, staking, and international crypto transactions. Advanced traders can leverage in-depth technical analysis, TradingView charting, and research tools.

The app scores 4.7 on the Apple Store and 4.2 on Google Play. Reviews praise Coinbase's easy user interface but criticize it for its high fees compared to competitors and issues contacting customer support.

Aside from trading, Coinbase has a separate wallet app. As explained above, the wallet app is to store your crypto more securely, whereas the mobile trading app is for frequent transactions.

Coinbase Commerce

Coinbase Commerce is for businesses. It's a payment processor that allows merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments. The critical advantage is avoiding high fees imposed by legacy payment processors. Merchants can avoid credit card chargeback costs and pay only a 1% Coinbase transaction fee. 

Coinbase automatically converts the payment currency into USDC when a customer pays in crypto. This is done to remove volatility concerns. The merchant receives the payment instantly in their linked digital wallet. 

Coinbase cryptocurrencies

Coinbase offers hundreds of tradable cryptocurrencies. This includes leading options such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tether (USDT). You can also trade altcoins on Coinbase, such as XRP, Solana, etc.

The full list of tradable assets is published on their website. 

How to buy cryptocurrency with Coinbase

Coinbase offers a user-friendly process to buy cryptocurrency. Of course, the first steps are creating an account and providing funding (explained in sections below). You can then use Coinbase to purchase cryptocurrencies. The process varies by platform and is described in this section.

However, before you buy cryptocurrency, it’s important to understand fractional ownership. Given the high purchase prices, it’s common to see decimals. You’ll usually buy a portion of a cryptocurrency (as shown in the image below). Though the fractional amount of crypto you own stays constant, its value changes over time.

Otherwise, the following sections detail the step-by-step process of buying cryptocurrency with Coinbase.

  • a) Buying cryptocurrency on Coinbase.com

    +

    1. On the platform, navigate to the upper right-hand side and select Buy / Sell

    2. Within the Buy tab, select the cryptocurrency you'd like to purchase

    3. Enter your desired purchase amount. You can enter this in crypto, or native currency. During this step, you can establish a recurring purchase by selecting One-time order, then choosing Recurring buy

    4. Select your desired payment method

    5. Click Preview Buy to review your purchase

    6. Click Buy to complete your purchase.

  • b) Buying cryptocurrency on the Coinbase mobile app

    +

    1. In the app, navigate to the menu icon or Trade tab

    2. Within the Buy tab, select the asset you'd like to buy

    3. Enter your desired purchase amount. You can enter this in crypto, or native currency. During this step, you can establish a recurring purchase by selecting One-time order, then choosing Recurring buy

    4. Click Preview Buy to review your purchase

    5. Click Buy to complete your purchase.

Supported countries

Coinbase is available in over 100 countries, including the US, Canada, the U.K., and many countries in Europe, South America and Asia.

Coinbase fees and limits

Similar to a big bank, Coinbase provides comfort over rock-bottom fees. The exchange is a great entry point for newcomers, given its ease of use and security features.

However, the fees are comparatively high, complex, and obscured. That said, you can minimize costs with some know-how. As for limits, the amount you can purchase generally increases with time.

The critical takeaway is to avoid fees by selecting your deposit and withdrawal method cautiously. Otherwise, Coinbase Advanced Trade and Coinbase One are further options to reduce trading fees. The following section dives into the various fees that encompass Coinbase.

Coinbase fees

Coinbase charges fees when buying, selling, or converting cryptocurrencies. They don’t publish the fees, but it's a dynamic calculation when you place an order. Despite the mysterious shroud, Coinbase reveals that your fees are influenced by your payment method, order size, market conditions, and region.

As shown below, you can view the fees in the trade preview screen. This is strongly recommended since you agree to pay applicable fees when completing an order.

You can reduce these fees through Coinbase Advanced or by enrolling in a Coinbase One subscription.

Deposit and withdrawal fees

The most significant Coinbase fees relate to account funding and withdrawals. Users report deceptive practices that nudge you towards high-fee transactions. The fees adjust based on your transaction method, with faster options generally costing significantly more. The following table highlights Coinbase deposit and withdrawal fees:

-
Transaction cost
Bank Account (ACH)
Free
Instant Cashouts to bank accounts
1.5%
Debit Card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay
3.99%
Wire Transfer
$10 deposit, $25 withdrawal
PayPal
4.49%

Coinbase spreads

You'll experience a spread when buying and selling cryptocurrency on any exchange. The spread is the difference between the buying and selling price. It's a hidden fee that's crucial to be aware of.

While the Coinbase spread varies with the market, it's approximately 0.50%. You can avoid the spread fee with the Advanced Trade platform, which uses maker-taker fees instead.

Staking service commissions

There is no fee to stake or unstake, although Coinbase takes an earnings commission. The percentage varies by asset, but the standard commission is 26.3% to 35% for altcoins such as ADA, MATIC, and SOL. 

Coinbase charges a 25% commission on ETH staking.

Coinbase One fees

Coinbase One costs $29.99 per month. As mentioned above, it removes trading fees aside from the spread. However, you'll see trading fees if you exceed a monthly trading cap or aren’t using the simple trade feature. 

Coinbase Advanced Trade fees

Coinbase Advanced Trade offers tiered discounts based on your trailing 30-day trading volume. The platform uses a maker-taker model that generally results in lower fees than the standard Coinbase platform. As you trade more, your fees decrease:

Trading volume
Fees (Maker | Taker)
≥ $0
0.60% | 0.80%
≥ $1K
0.35% | 0.55%
≥ $10K
0.25% | 0.40%
≥ $50K
0.15% | 0.25%
≥ $500K
0.10% | 0.20%
≥ $1M
0.07% | 0.16%
≥ $15M
0.05% | 0.14%
≥ $75M
0.02% | 0.10%
≥ $250M
0.00% | 0.08%

Coinbase Card fees

You can avoid Coinbase Card fees with diligent use. While the card touts free spending in local currency and USDC, other cryptocurrencies impose a 2.49% transaction fee. For example, you'll pay transaction fees using the Coinbase card to spend your Bitcoin balance.

Additionally, spending on other cryptocurrencies could induce tax implications. As such, it's paramount to maintain a balance in USD or USDC when using your Coinbase Card.

Furthermore, ATM withdrawals may result in fees. While Coinbase doesn't charge withdrawal fees from their end, the ATM provider may issue one. Fortunately, you can see ATM provider fees before accepting a transaction.

Asset Recovery Fees

Sending an unsupported cryptocurrency to Coinbase will cause you to lose it. As per their terms, Coinbase bears no responsibility for lost assets. However, your asset may be eligible for recovery. Coinbase charges an undisclosed network and a 5% recovery fee.

How to open a Coinbase account

  1. 1.

    Account Creation: Visit the official Coinbase website or download the Coinbase app. During this step, you must provide accurate personal information, including your legal full name, an accessible email address, and a secure password. Additionally, reading and agreeing to the User Agreement and Privacy Policy is essential to proceed.

  2. 2.

    Email Verification: Coinbase will send a verification link to your registered email address after creating your account.

  3. 3.

    Phone Number Verification: The next step involves verifying your phone number, which adds a layer of security to your account through 2-step verification.

  4. 4.

    Personal Information Submission: Coinbase requires further personal information to comply with regulatory standards. This includes your date of birth, address, and relevant details from a valid ID (passport, driver's license, etc.). You'll also need to provide information regarding the intended use of your Coinbase account, source of funds, employment status, and gender.

  5. 5.

    Identity Verification: To complete the setup of your Coinbase account, you must undergo an identity verification process. This typically involves submitting a photo of your valid ID and possibly additional documentation, depending on your region and the requirements at the time of your application.

  6. 6.

    Linking a Payment Method: The final step to operationalize your Coinbase account fully involves linking a payment method. This is further explained in the Funding Your Account section.

Sign-up promotion

Coinbase currently offers new users two incentives through their sign-up promotions.

  1. 1.

    Spin a wheel: Receive a random reward between $3-$200 in either USD or Bitcoin. 89% of wheel spin rewards are between $3-$5, while 11% are between $6-$200.

  2. 2.

    First trade promo: You’ll receive a promotional code highlighting a reward for your first purchase, along with the type of currency you’ll receive. To qualify, you’ll need to make a trade within 90 days.

Both offers are time-sensitive and subject to eligibility criteria. You cannot combine them with other promotions.

Funding your account

Before trading, you'll need account funding. You can deposit a cash balance or buy cryptocurrency directly through a connected payment method.

Regardless, you have various funding options, ranging in speed and fees. While the best option to avoid fees is an ACH bank transfer, the following table dissects your choices:

-
Best for
Direct Buy
Add Cash
Speed
Transaction Cost
Bank Account (ACH)
Large, small investments
3-5 business days
Free
Debit Card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay
Small investments
Instant
3.99%
Wire Transfer
Large investments
1-3 business days
$10
PayPal
Small investments
Instant
4.49%

How to cash out on Coinbase

To cash out on Coinbase, you must first sell your cryptocurrency for cash, such as USD. Note that this will likely incur capital gains taxes. You can then withdraw through your preferred method using the following steps:

  • a) How to cash out on Browser

    +

    1. Sign in to Coinbase.com

    2. Select My Assets, and then your local currency balance

    3. Within the Cashout tab, enter your desired withdrawal amount

    4. Select Transfer to, then chose a destination (explained below)

    5. Select Review. Ensure to double-check fees

    6. Complete your transfer by selecting Withdraw cash

  • b) How to cash out on the Coinbase mobile app

    +

    1. Sign in to the Coinbase mobile app

    2. Within the Cashout tab, enter your desired withdrawal amount

    3. Select Cash out from, then choose a Deposit to destination

    4. Select Preview cash out. Ensure to double-check fees

    5. Complete your transfer by selecting Cash out now

As per Better Business Bureau reviews, various users report withdrawal challenges. Comments consistently include account lockouts while placed under review. Despite users’ best attempts, they're put on hold for weeks, only to grapple with an unhelpful support team. While Coinbase One offers priority support access, depositing funds on a platform without redemption certainty is fearful. This is a defining flaw that should be emphasized until resolved.

Reddit users also report deceptive withdrawal fees. By default, Coinbase selects instant withdrawal, incurring a 1.5% fee. To avoid fees, you'll need to be extra diligent and select ACH transfer, which takes 3-5 business days to receive. The following table details your Coinbase cashout options:

-
Best for
Speed
Transaction Cost
Bank Account (ACH)
Large, small cashouts
3-5 business days
Free
Instant Cashouts to bank accounts
Small cashouts
Instant
1.5%
Debit Card
Small cashouts
Instant
3.39%
Wire Transfer
Large cashouts
1-3 business days
$25
PayPal
Small cashouts
Instant
4.49%

Best alternatives to Coinbase

Crypto.com

Crypto.com is better for high-volume traders. Their trading fees start at 0.40% but nosedive as you increase volume. Likewise, Crypto.com has comparable creature comforts to Coinbase. They offer a debit card, staking, and an NTF marketplace.

However, the main drawback is that you’ll need to stake CRO tokens to maximize discounts and earn rates. CRO is the native token created by the platform. As such, Crypto.com is best for high-volume traders or those willing to bet on the house.

Binance.US

Binance is a leading alternative to Coinbase, offering several advantages for cryptocurrency traders. Most notably, it provides exceptionally low trading fees starting at just 0.10% for makers and takers. This compares favorably to Coinbase.

While Coinbase offers a smooth onboarding for crypto newcomers, Binance provides a more comprehensive trading experience for intermediate users.

However, only Binance.US is available in the United States. It’s a diluted version, with less selection than Coinbase. Furthermore, it’s banned across various States.

Ultimately, Binance is a superior exchange for low-cost trading. The expansive features make it suitable for traders seeking to graduate beyond Coinbase's entry-level experience.

eToro

eToro is both an investment brokerage and a cryptocurrency exchange. It offers crypto only in the US. eToro accommodates more than 70 cryptos.

You’ll pay a 1% flat rate fee on your crypto trades. While on the higher end, it offers transparency and predictability compared to Coinbase’s dynamic pricing

eToro It also provides a virtual trading account of up to $100,000 to help you either learn to trade or become a better trader. And if that's not enough, it also offers “copy trading,” which lets you copy the trading patterns of more successful investors.

Disclaimer: Moneywise is compensated if you access certain of the products or services offered by eToro USA LLC and/or eToro USA Securities Inc. Any testimonials contained in this communication may not be representative of the experience of other eToro customers and such testimonials are not guarantees of future performance or success.

Robinhood

Though it's best known as an investment app where you can trade stocks, options and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) commission-free, Robinhood also offers trading in several cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin. And as is the case with other securities, cryptos can be traded commission-free.

Bottom line: Is Coinbase worth it?

Coinbase is worth it for newcomers who want a smooth onramp into crypto. Their robust ecosystem encompasses debit cards, wallets, trading, and more. Beyond that, it’s an appealing place to store USDC to maximize yield between the rewards rate and Coinbase Card cashback.

However, Coinbase has some challenges to address. Namely, users are consistently frustrated by high fees, unresponsive support, and account lockups. While Coinbase One addresses the first two issues, the final remains unsolved. Until then, the prospect of a wedge between your deposits can make anyone uneasy.

As such, Coinbase is best for entry-level investors depositing small amounts. Advanced traders and high rollers should look toward other top crypto exchanges.

See our investment review methodology 

Coinbase FAQ

  • Is Coinbase safe?

    +

    Coinbase is heavily regulated but still prone to hacks if you don't take proper precautions to secure your account. For maximum security, consider shielding your crypto in a cold storage wallet.

  • Is Coinbase a centralized exchange?

    +

    Yes, Coinbase is a centralized exchange. They act as an intermediary that manages transactions.

  • How do I cash out on Coinbase?

    +

    To cash out on Coinbase, you'll need to sell your cryptocurrency for cash, likely incurring capital gains taxes. Afterward, you can withdraw your cash balance to a bank account, debit card, wire transfer, or PayPal. Take extra caution to review their fees.

  • Are Coinbase and Coinbase Wallet the same thing?

    +

    No, they are different products and separate apps. Coinbase is an exchange for buying and selling cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, Coinbase Wallet is a self-custodial wallet designed to store your crypto with enhanced security.

With files from Kevin Mercadante

Daniel Schoester Freelance Writer

Daniel is an expert on travel, finance, and SEO. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Here, he learned various SEO tactics that were instrumental in quadrupling monthly traffic to one million views. Now the founder of Croton Content, Daniel helps financial companies scale through evergreen content. Aside from Money Wise, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hardbacon. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.

Disclaimer

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