Coinbase Review [2021]: Is This Crypto Exchange Right for You?

Coinbase allows customers to buy, sell, exchange, receive, and send over 50 cryptocurrencies, but is it a good fit for you?
Last updated Aug 30, 2021 | By Lance Cothern | Edited By Jess Ullrich
Woman comparing crypto exchanges

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If you’re ready to start trading cryptocurrency, you may be searching for the perfect cryptocurrency exchange to meet your needs. There are several options out there, each with unique features and tools. One popular exchange you might want to consider is Coinbase.

Coinbase allows you to buy, sell, exchange, receive, or send over 50 cryptocurrencies. Although its fees are a bit higher than some other exchanges, its platform is straightforward and intuitive. Here’s how it works and what you should know about Coinbase fees, features, and tools.

Quick Summary

Coinbase allows you to buy and trade over 50 cryptocurrencies.

  • Grow your portfolio over time with recurring buys 
  • Buy, sell, store, receive, and send crypto all in one place
  • Cold storage and advanced security features
In this Coinbase review:

What is Coinbase?

Coinbase (COIN) is a cryptocurrency exchange where users can buy, sell, and store cryptocurrency. It was founded in San Francisco in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, and is currently run by CEO Brian Armstrong.

Today, Coinbase aims to build a more fair, accessible, efficient, and transparent financial system enabled by cryptocurrency. The exchange had 6.1 million active users and 56 million verified accounts in the first quarter of 2021. It’s also a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Coinbase
Mobile app iOS, Android
Fees Buy/sell transaction fees:
  • Spread fee: ~.50%
  • Flat fees: 99 cents to $2.99
  • Percentage-based fees: 1.49% - 3.99%
Cryptocurrency conversion fees:
  • Spread fee: up to 2%
USD deposit fees:
  • ACH transfer: free
  • Wire deposit: $10
  • Wire withdrawal: $25
  • PayPal: 2.5%
Available cryptocurrencies Coinbase lists over 50 cryptocurrencies in its asset directory, including:
  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Cardano (ADA)
  • Dogecoin (DOGE)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Uniswap (UNI)
Buy/deposit methods
  • Bank account transfer
  • PayPal
  • Debit card (buy only)
  • Wire transfer (deposit only)
Sell/withdrawal methods
  • Bank account transfer
  • Debit card (withdraw only)
  • Wire transfer (withdraw only)
  • PayPal (withdraw only)
Order types
  • Market
Other features
  • Automatically schedule recurring purchases
  • Secure offline storage
FDIC insured FDIC-insured for U.S. dollar amounts
Best for... New cryptocurrency traders who want to start gaining experience
Visit Coinbase

What does Coinbase offer?

Coinbase allows investors to buy, sell, exchange, receive, and send supported cryptocurrencies through its user-friendly web platform or iOS or Android apps. Its Coinbase Wallet also makes it simple to store your crypto in one place. In total, the exchange offers more than 50 cryptocurrencies, including popular options such as:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Cardano (ADA)
  • Dogecoin (DOGE)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Uniswap (UNI)

You can use Coinbase to buy and sell cryptocurrency by placing market orders. Market orders fill the cryptocurrency orders at the current market prices. The interface is straightforward, allowing you to buy and sell the cryptocurrencies you wish to invest in as long as they’re supported in your area. However, Coinbase is not currently supported in Hawaii.

When you buy and sell cryptocurrency, Coinbase charges fees to use its services. Those fees will vary based on the transaction amount. But in general, buying or selling cryptocurrency with U.S. dollars results in a .50% spread fee. You’ll also be subject to a flat fee ranging from 99 cents to $2.99 or a percentage-based fee from 1.49-3.99%, based on your area, the product, and payment type. And if you convert cryptocurrency from one currency to another, you have to pay a spread fee of up to 2%.

You can purchase cryptocurrency with fiat currency (U.S. dollars) in your Coinbase account, but depositing those funds may result in fees unless you deposit via ACH transfer. Coinbase supports recurring purchases. These can help you dollar cost average, or slowly build a cryptocurrency portfolio over time.

Coinbase offers two account tiers for consumers interested in investing money in cryptocurrency. In addition to its basic account, it also offers Coinbase Pro, a trading platform targeted toward more advanced cryptocurrency investors. It has a lower fee structure, more cryptocurrency trading tools, and a more advanced interface for more experienced crypto traders.

The Coinbase platform is also heavily focused on security. It uses cold storage to store 98% of customer funds offline, which helps to protect the funds from being accessed nefariously. Cold storage locations are distributed throughout the world in vaults and safe deposit boxes. All accounts must also use two-factor authentication, which could add further protection for users. Wallets and private keys, which are like a password for your crypto funds, are also protected by AES-256 encryption.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro

Coinbase offers two account tiers, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. Here are some of the significant differences between the two. 

  • Coinbase Pro offers an overall lower fee structure than Coinbase provides.
  • Coinbase Pro has more complex features designed for active and experienced cryptocurrency traders.
  • Coinbase Pro allows you to make stop and limit orders in addition to the basic market orders Coinbase allows.
  • Coinbase Pro provides access to advanced trading tools, including real-time orderbooks and charting tools, whereas Coinbase does not.
  • You can whitelist wallet addresses with Coinbase Pro, making it so you can send cryptocurrency only to the whitelisted wallets you’ve specified. This security feature helps to prevent accidentally sending cryptocurrency to the wrong wallet.
  • Coinbase provides a straightforward way to buy and sell crypto for newer investors.

Pros and cons of Coinbase

Benefits of Coinbase include:

  • Offers well over 50 cryptocurrencies to trade
  • Straightforward process to open an account and make trades for newer cryptocurrency investors
  • Free to create an account
  • Helpful security measures like 2-step verification and cold storage for 98% of customer funds

Coinbase does have drawbacks, including the following:

  • Higher fees than Coinbase Pro and some other crypto exchanges
  • Not all cryptocurrencies are available to trade
  • No human phone-based support available for everyday questions
  • Lacks detailed order types and analysis tools Coinbase Pro and other exchanges or platforms may offer

Who can open an account with Coinbase?

You must meet the following requirements to open an account with Coinbase:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • And have a:
    • Government-issued photo ID
    • Connection to the internet
    • Phone number connected to a smartphone that can receive SMS messages
    • Up-to-date browser or Coinbase app
    • Valid email address
    • Social Security number
    • Valid payment method

Before you open a Coinbase account, ensure that you’re comfortable with the level of risk that crypto investing presents. It’s generally recommended that alternative assets make up about 10% of an investor’s portfolio, so Coinbase account holders might consider limiting their cryptocurrency investments.

You could be well-suited for a Coinbase account if you understand Coinbase’s fees, cryptocurrency, the risks involved with trading it, and have an investment strategy for digital assets. If you’re still learning about crypto and blockchain technology, consider reading our cryptocurrency for beginners guide before you start investing.

How much can you earn with Coinbase?

Coinbase is an exchange that allows you to trade cryptocurrencies. Your returns that you earn with Coinbase depend on several factors. These can include the pricing of the asset when you buy, how much you buy, when you sell, how much you sell, and other factors.

Ultimately, this means each person will likely see their own unique returns based on their decisions. But it’s important to remember that investing in cryptocurrency, and investing in general, is a risky endeavor that could result in losses. There is no guarantee your investments will increase in value, though it is possible.

FAQs about Coinbase

Is Coinbase legitimate?

Coinbase is a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange. It’s a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ exchange, and there are more than 56 million verified Coinbase users.

Can you lose money on Coinbase?

You can lose money on Coinbase. Cryptocurrency can be a highly volatile asset. The negative side of volatility can be steep losses if a digital currency you’re invested in rapidly decreases in value. Before you invest in cryptocurrency, make sure you understand the risks involved. Also, ensure that cryptocurrency investing fits your risk tolerance profile and investment goals.

Which fiat currencies does Coinbase support?

Coinbase only supports the fiat currency that is your local currency. Currently, it accepts the following local currencies depending on your location:

  • U.S. dollar (USD)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • British pound sterling (GBP)

How do you contact Coinbase customer support?

You can contact Coinbase customer support through coinbase.com. Start by visiting its ‘Contact Us’ page. Choose the Coinbase product you’re using and fill out a series of questions to get directed to the correct contact method for your particular issue. Usually, this results in filling out a support request form. The company does not offer phone support with live agents.

How to open a Coinbase account

Opening an account with Coinbase is straightforward. After navigating to the Coinbase website or opening its app, you provide basic information about yourself. You’ll then be required to verify your email and your phone number.

Coinbase will also ask for some information about yourself, including the last four digits of your Social Security number. Then, you simply have to verify your identity and link a payment method to start trading.

Other platforms to consider

Despite its offerings, Coinbase may not be the exchange you want to use to learn how to buy bitcoin. One alternative you might consider is Kraken. Kraken caters to more advanced cryptocurrency traders, offering features like margin trading and cryptocurrency futures. The platform limits funding to ACH and wire transfers and does not accept credit or debit cards for transactions in U.S. dollars.

Read our Kraken review to learn more.

Another cryptocurrency exchange option is Gemini. Gemini doesn’t offer as many cryptocurrencies as Kraken or Coinbase. But it does offer a couple of interesting features, including a credit card that allows you to earn rewards in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency on the platform. It also offers a feature called Gemini Earn that allows you to earn interest on your cryptocurrency balance.

Read our Gemini review to learn more.

For a detailed comparison of all three exchanges, you can read our Kraken vs. Coinbase vs. Gemini comparison. And if you’re looking for more traditional investment options, consider looking through our list of the best cryptocurrency exchanges for more options.

Coinbase Benefits

  • Buy and sell popular digital currencies
  • Invest over time by scheduling buys daily, weekly, or monthly
  • Apps for Android and iOS

Author Details

Lance Cothern Lance Cothern, CPA is a personal finance writer and founder of MoneyManifesto.com. Lance's work covering several personal finance topics has been published in U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Credit Karma, Investopedia, and several other publications.