An in-depth look at cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase
- Easy to use for cryptocurrency beginners: The main Coinbase website and mobile app are very easy to use and allow you to buy, sell, and exchange cryptocurrencies quickly.
- Support for a large number of cryptocurrencies: Coinbase currently supports over 100 currencies for trading, and the number grows regularly.
- Opportunities to earn cryptocurrency: Earn interest on eligible balances, or get a small amount of a new currency through Coinbase Earn.
- Lower pricing available with Coinbase Pro: Any user can switch to Coinbase Pro, an active trading platform with more features and low fees.
- High transaction fees: Transaction fees are often expensive on the primary Coinbase platform.
- Customer service issues: Coinbase gets poor marks for customer service, including in the event of serious account security issues.
- No access to trade many altcoins: While Coinbase supports an impressive list of currencies, many are missing.
Coinbase is a cryptocurrency trading and investing platform that offers users the ability to buy, sell, and exchange over 100 tradable cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin. Coinbase is a large company with over 73 million users and $255 billion in assets on the platform.1
Beginners will likely prefer the original Coinbase platform for simple buy and sell orders. More advanced users can access additional features and order types through Coinbase Pro, available to any Coinbase user.
Cryptocurrencies are a relatively new asset class that can be risky and volatile, which isn’t suitable for all investors. However, if you’re interested in cryptocurrency, Coinbase is an excellent option for newbies and veterans alike.
Investing in cryptocurrencies, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and other Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is highly risky and speculative, and the markets can be extremely volatile. Consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. This article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or timeliness of the information be guaranteed.
Coinbase was founded in 2012 as a place to send and receive Bitcoin. The company has grown to support dozens of unique cryptocurrencies and has more than 2,700 employees worldwide.1 Coinbase is a decentralized company with no main headquarters.
Coinbase operates with users in more than 100 countries, and customers trade approximately $327 billion per quarter. Coinbase manages a robust cryptocurrency ecosystem supporting 9,000 financial institutions.1
Coinbase runs two separate trading platforms in addition to a standalone cryptocurrency wallet service. Between the suite of Coinbase products, you’re likely to find anything you need to start and manage a cryptocurrency portfolio or trading plan.
Cryptocurrencies Available on Coinbase
Coinbase supports trading of over 100 cryptocurrencies and regularly puts new coins on the list. There are too many to list here, so here’s a glance at some of the most popular currencies on Coinbase:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Solana (SOL)
- Polkadot (DOT)
- USD Coin (USDC)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Uniswap (UNI)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Shiba Inu (SHIB)
- Algorand (ALGO)
- Stellar Lumens (XLM)
- Polygon (MATIC)
- DAI (DAI)
- SushiSwap (SUSHI)
As mentioned above, the company runs two different platforms known as Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. Each allows you to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies but offers unique features.
Trading on Coinbase is beginner-friendly and easy to use for anyone with basic computer skills. Coinbase is available on the web or through Android and iOS mobile devices. If you’ve ever traded stocks through an online brokerage, you’ll find a somewhat similar experience.
On the main dashboard, you’re able to view your Coinbase portfolio, and you’re never more than a couple of clicks away from a screen to buy and sell currency.
Cryptocurrency markets operate 24/7, so you can log in and enter a trade at any time. Purchases are available using funds in your account or directly through a connected bank account or card. Additional fees may apply depending on how you pay for your crypto purchase. Purchases are credited to your account instantly, though you may have to wait for your deposit to clear before making a withdrawal.
Coinbase Pro sounds like something exclusively made for professional traders, but anyone with a Coinbase account can access and use the pro version. It gives you more trade types, notably limit and stop orders unavailable on the main Coinbase platform.
Coinbase is not forthcoming with its pricing and fees and recently removed its full fee schedule from the Coinbase online help section. However, costs are shown on the trade screen when entering a trade, so you know what you’re paying before you enter a trade.
These are the fees you can expect on the main Coinbase platform:
|Trade Size||Coinbase Fee|
|$10 or less||$0.99|
|$10 to $25||$1.49|
|$25 to $50||$1.99|
|$50 to $200||$2.99|
Trades above $200 have a percentage-based fee rather than a flat fee.
In addition to fixed trade fees, Coinbase transactions are subject to a spread-based fee of 0.50%.
Other fees may be charged for certain account funding and withdrawal methods, and other less common services:
|Payment Method||Coinbase Fee*|
|Wire Transfer||$10 incoming, $25 outgoing|
*Fees were confirmed through a test trade
Coinbase uses industry-leading security practices to keep customer deposits and assets safe. That said, there are always some risks when using cryptocurrency, so it’s essential to follow online best practices to keep your account information secure.
Notably, 98% of customer assets are stored offline using cold storage in a network of safe deposit boxes around the world, supported by digital and paper backups. It uses bank-standard encryption and security for its website. In addition, all accounts must use two-factor authentication, a measure to help prevent others from logging into your account unless they have physical access to your phone.
Even with these strong security methods, thousands of users have fallen victim to hackers and schemes that have drained their accounts.2 It’s essential to use unique, random passwords on financial websites such as Coinbase to prevent this type of loss. If someone has access to your email or phone, they may be able to access your account, so always keep those private.
Opening a Coinbase Account
Signing up for Coinbase is a reasonably quick and easy process similar to opening a new bank or brokerage account online. Plan on entering your personal contact information, including your Social Security number, to open a fully verified account.
New account holders have to submit a picture of a government ID to prove you’re who you say you are. If you’ve heard that cryptocurrency is anonymous, this should be your evidence that Coinbase may track your transactions for tax reporting and other regulatory reasons.
Once you’ve set up your account and your information is verified, you’re able to buy and sell cryptocurrency up to your Coinbase account limits.
Customer service is one of the most significant issues users have with Coinbase. It’s nearly impossible to reach a human for any type of help, so consider Coinbase to be primarily self-service.
Officially supported customer service options are the Coinbase help page, emailed support tickets, an automated phone system, and a chatbot.
When all works as expected, you’re likely to find yourself to be a happy customer. But sometimes, things don’t go as planned, and customer reviews indicate poor customer service experiences and little help navigating scams, hacked accounts, and locked accounts.
At Trustpilot, for example, Coinbase holds a rating of just 1.6 stars with over 6,000 reviews. Most complaints focus on customer service, lost funds, and frozen accounts.3 Customers at other rating sites left similar complaints.4
Coinbase also suffers from a problem that seems to be plaguing many industry competitors. In fact, more than 11,000 complaints were filed with the Federal Trade Commission, and many past users claim they’ve been left with little to no support after losing funds due to hacked accounts.5
You can view and manage your account at any time using the Coinbase website and mobile app. You’re never far from viewing your portfolio balance or entering a trade:
If you want to manage your crypto on the go, the mobile app has everything you need:
How Coinbase Compares to Other Cryptocurrency Companies
The cryptocurrency marketplace is evolving quickly with new competitors. You also have the option to manage your cryptocurrency without a major centralized exchange like Coinbase. Major competitors to Coinbase include Gemini, Binance, KuCoin, FTX, Kraken, and many others.
Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts use a combination of multiple exchanges and crypto wallets to access a wide range of currencies, keep their crypto secure, and keep fees as low as possible.
Coinbase vs. Gemini
Gemini is one of the closest direct competitors to Coinbase. Here’s a head-to-head comparison:
- Coinbase has spread pricing and Gemini fixed fees.
- Both are U.S.-based firms that cooperate with United States regulators, namely FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network).
- Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are comparable to Gemini’s Gemini and ActiveTrader platforms.
Aside from the user interface, the most significant differences are available currencies and opportunities to earn from your cryptocurrency account. Coinbase offers the option to earn up to 5% on a limited set of coins.6 Gemini pays interest on nearly all supported currencies with rates up to 7.4%.7
If you are interested in an account at Gemini, either in addition or instead of a Coinbase account, check out the full Gemini review.
Coinbase features a top platform for anyone to buy, sell, store, and exchange cryptocurrency. It’s particularly good for beginners to cryptocurrency who want a simple buying and selling experience without worrying about the complexities of external wallets and decentralized exchanges.
The biggest downsides of Coinbase are its pricing structure and customer service. If you can handle your account on your own and agree with the fees, Coinbase is an overall great choice for anyone looking to get involved with cryptocurrency.
Investopedia is dedicated to helping those interested in cryptocurrency investing make informed and safe decisions. We are committed to providing our readers with unbiased reviews of the top cryptocurrency exchanges for investors of all levels.
Exchanges were reviewed on points including security, fees, number of cryptocurrencies available, and more. We also considered if the exchange is regulated by a proper agency or entirely decentralized. Our full cryptocurrency exchange methodology, including the review process and weighted data points, is available for review.