Coinbase Review

Simple-to-use crypto exchange, ideal for beginner investors

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Coinbase

Coinbase

overall rating
3.6

Our Take 

Coinbase is one of the most trusted cryptocurrency exchanges in the U.S and offers a simple on-ramp for new crypto investors to buy their first crypto, as well as a wide range of user education materials and easy-to-use mobile app. Coinbase also offers an advanced trading platform, institutional custodial accounts, and its own cryptocurrency wallet. Overall, Coinbase is one of the best platforms available for crypto investors and traders.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications 
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Well-designed mobile apps

  • Educational videos and articles

  • Over 100 cryptocurrencies available

  • Available globally in over 100 countries

  • Most crypto stored in offline “cold wallets”

  • Over-the-counter purchase and custodial offerings for institutions

Cons
  • High fees, especially when using a credit or debit card

  • Many complaints about user support

Key Takeaways
  • Coinbase is a centralized cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to buy, sell, and trade crypto.
  • Coinbase is a U.S.-based company headquartered in Delaware.
  • Coinbase offers a simple web-based dashboard, as well as two mobile apps (Coinbase, and Coinbase Pro).
  • Coinbase is a regulated exchange, complying with the U.S. “Know Your Customer” (KYC) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations.
Specifications 
  • Year Founded 2012
  • Official Website www.Coinbase.com
  • Cryptocurrencies Available 100+
  • Customer Support Email, Phone

Introduction

Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to buy, sell, and trade supported cryptocurrency. Coinbase also offers “staking” of certain crypto, which rewards users for depositing and keeping their crypto on the Coinbase platform. Over 100 cryptocurrencies are currently offered on Coinbase, with more being added weekly.

Coinbase helps new crypto investors to use fiat currency (such as U.S. Dollars) to purchase crypto, such as Bitcoin. Users can also trade support cryptocurrency on the platform, exchanging one crypto for another.

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 The Balance or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or timeliness of the information be guaranteed.

Coinbase is one of the most popular options available for buying or selling crypto in the U.S. today. We’ve reviewed Coinbase’s platform, fees, user experience, customer service, available crypto, and more to determine if it’s a good option for crypto investors and traders.

Company Overview

Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam as a way for crypto enthusiasts to safely purchase Bitcoin. It has grown to one of the largest exchanges in the world and is the leading crypto exchange in the U.S. Coinbase is currently headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, and is available in 49 states (not available in Hawaii).

Coinbase operates in over 100 countries around the world and has over 60 million verified users. Coinbase also hosts over $180 billion in assets on its platform and is continuing to add cryptocurrencies every week. 

Coinbase offers two trading platforms; Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. The standard Coinbase platform is perfect for beginners who are just dipping their toes into cryptocurrency investing. It offers educational videos, and a simple-to-use mobile app to help users buy, sell, and trade crypto. Coinbase Pro is better-suited for advanced traders, with advanced charting, more order types, and lower trading fees.

Cryptocurrencies That Trade on Coinbase

Coinbase offers a wide selection of popular cryptocurrencies on its platform, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Cardano (ADA), Solana (SOL), Tether (USDT), Polkadot (DOT), and even Dogecoin (DOGE). There are now over 100 cryptos supported, with more being added weekly. For a full list of support crypto assets, Coinbase keeps an actively updated list here.

Coinbase does not currently support XRP, and the company that created it is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It also doesn’t support competing for exchange coins, such as Binance Coin (BNB) or FTX (FTT).

Trading Experience

Coinbase is one of the easiest platforms to use for beginner crypto traders, with a minimalist web-based user dashboard as well as a well-designed mobile app. When a user logs into Coinbase, the home screen immediately shows your current portfolio of crypto assets, as well as their current prices. 

Users can access a list of tradable crypto on the “Trade” tab, which allows them to view current prices, as well as buy, sell, or convert crypto. Crypto can be purchased in a variety of ways, either from a linked bank account, credit card, debit card, wire transfer, or ACH transfer. Purchases can also be made by trading one crypto for another.

Coinbase offers the ability to set up recurring crypto purchases, either daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. This allows investors that want to dollar-cost-average into a certain cryptocurrency to set up automated purchases regularly.

Users can withdraw crypto assets onto their own “hot wallet” or “cold wallet” using the withdraw option. Depending on the crypto being transferred, there will be network fees charges for withdrawing crypto from the platform.

Fees

Coinbase is a publicly-traded company that earns most of its revenue from user fees. There are fees for almost every transaction on the platform, including deposits, purchases, trades, exchanges, and transfers. 

Coinbase is not transparent regarding its fees, but here is a breakdown of what we found when performing a test transaction: 

Payment Method Coinbase Fee 
Bank Account 1.49%
USD Wallet  1.49% 
Debit/Credit card  3.99% 
ACH Transfer  Free 
Wire Transfer  $10 deposit, $25 withdrawal 
Crypto Conversion  Spread fees (about 0.50%) 
Purchases  Spread fees (about 0.50%) 
Trades Spread fees (about 0.50%) 
Coinbase Card transaction fee  2.49%

There are also flat fees for transactions on Coinbase under $200. Here’s a quick breakdown of smaller transaction fees:

  • $10 or less = $0.99 fee
  • $11 to $25 = $1.49
  • $26 to $50 = $1.99
  • $51 to $200 = $2.99

Security

Coinbase boasts a host of security features, making it one of the most secure cryptocurrency exchanges on the market. From FDIC insured to encrypted servers to cold storage of your cryptocurrency, Coinbase offers a secure way to purchase, trade, and store cryptocurrency.

Here are a few of the security features offered by Coinbase:

  • Two-Factor Authentication. Coinbase offers two-factor authentication via SMS or the Google Authenticator App.
  • Cold storage and crypto vaults. Coinbase keeps 98% of all crypto balances in “cold storage”, which means that the crypto is stored on servers that are not connected to the internet. Coinbase also offers a cryptocurrency vault option. These vaults can be set up to require multiple user approvals before funds are withdrawn, helping secure your digital assets further.
  • Digital wallet. Coinbase offers a digital wallet for storing cryptocurrency that offers biometric access controls for extra security. The wallet also comes with a 12-word recovery phrase used to access the wallet if you lose your password.
  • FDIC Insurance (up to $250k). Coinbase offers up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance in the U.S. Dollar deposits. This is similar coverage to bank account deposits at U.S. banks.

FDIC insurance does not cover any cryptocurrency assets.

Opening a Coinbase Account

Users can sign up for Coinbase with an email address and password. Coinbase will then send a verification email to confirm your information. Next, you will need to provide your personal information, including your full name, address, and social security number.

Before buying or selling crypto, you will need to verify your identity with a government-issued photo ID by uploading a picture of it to the app or website. This follows modern Know Your Customer (KYC) standards of security in the U.S. Once verified, you can connect a bank account, debit card, or credit card to immediately begin purchasing crypto.

Customer Service

Until recently, Coinbase only offered email support, as well as support docs on its website. In August of 2021, it launched 24/7 phone support, but only for clients who need their accounts immediately locked due to suspected fraudulent activity. Coinbase does offer a huge database of help documents, as well as a virtual chat assistant to help users find the relevant information they are searching for.

Most crypto exchanges offer very little in terms of customer service teams, and Coinbase offerings are on par with most of the industry. 

Customer Satisfaction

Coinbase has some very poor customer reviews, with many customer complaints about missing funds, the inability to log in, and difficulty in transferring funds off the platform. While Coinbase recently launched phone support for accounts with suspected fraudulent activity, these reviews may be a cause for concern about Coinbase’s customer service. 

Like most crypto exchanges, support is mostly self-service via help docs and chatbots, so those that want direct access to human support should consider these poor user reviews before signing up for Coinbase.

There are no formal rating agencies for cryptocurrency exchanges. All user reviews are self-reported and may be anecdotal.

Account Management

Coinbase is a web-based platform that allows users to buy, sell, and trade crypto as well as monitor their portfolios. Users can log in using a web browser to access their account, deposit funds, or make any trades they wish. 

Coinbase also offers an intuitive mobile app for both its regular and Coinbase Pro platforms. These apps offer simple user dashboards, showing user portfolios, trade histories, and current market prices of cryptocurrencies. The Coinbase mobile app also offers access to news reports and user education on support cryptocurrency.

How Coinbase Compares to Other Cryptocurrency Companies

Coinbase is one of the best places for beginners to buy their first crypto. With a simple-to-use mobile app, wide selection of cryptocurrencies, and focus on security, users can trade with ease. Coinbase hosts the most popular cryptocurrencies on the market, with new assets being added weekly. 

However, Coinbase doesn’t offer as many cryptocurrencies as some other exchanges, and its fees are some of the highest in the industry. Here’s how Coinbase compares to another large crypto exchange in the U.S.

Coinbase vs. Gemini

Both Coinbase and Gemini are U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchanges with a focus on security and user experience. Both offer access to Bitcoin and other top cryptocurrencies, as well as built-in digital wallets. 

Both also cater to institutional investors with white-glove trading and custodial services. But while Gemini only offers access to a little over 50 cryptocurrencies, Coinbase hosts well over 100 that are currently supported. 

Here are a few other key differences between Coinbase and Gemini:

  • Coinbase is available in 100+ countries, while Gemini is only available in a little over 60
  • Gemini is available in Hawaii, while Coinbase is not
  • Coinbase wallet supports all ERC-20 tokens, while Gemini wallet only supports crypto that is tradeable on its platform
  • Gemini offers insurance on its “hot wallet”, while Coinbase does not

New crypto investors will find that both Gemini and Coinbase offer very simple onboarding experiences, especially for those looking to purchase their first cryptocurrency. While Gemini offers a few more security features, such as “hot wallet” insurance, Coinbase offers far more crypto for purchase and trading. 

Read the full Coinbase vs. Gemini review.

Final Verdict

Coinbase is one of the biggest names in cryptocurrency for a reason. It offers a superb user experience, walking new users through signing up and purchasing crypto with ease. It also has built-in educational tools throughout the platform, to help keep users informed on their investments, as well as learn about the cryptocurrency market.

Coinbase has a huge focus on security, requiring two-factor authentication, and identity verification for all users. Along with keeping most of its digital assets in offline “cold storage”, Coinbase allows users to take custody of their own cryptocurrency as well, with the ability to withdraw assets at any time.

Coinbase fees are high, especially compared to other crypto exchanges. Those using credit cards to purchase crypto will pay a very large amount in fees. But fee-conscious users can use Coinbase Pro to lower trading fees, which has very competitive fees, and most of the same support cryptocurrencies as the regular Coinbase Platform. 

Coinbase also has some poor user reviews, mostly due to a lack of response from Coinbase support, and losing funds as victims of phishing scams (or other crypto fraud). It’s important to always be diligent about your crypto security, and follow recommended best practices around securing your online accounts.

Overall, Coinbase is a great option for beginners, active traders (through Coinbase Pro), and institutional investors. Its easy-to-use tools and wide selection of popular crypto give users the ability to trade the most popular investment on the crypto market.

Methodology 

The Balance 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 are only considered for review if they are safe, secure, liquid, and either regulated by a proper agency or entirely decentralized.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Coinbase. “Trade.” Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.

  2. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “Coinbase Global, Inc. S-1 Filing.” Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.

  3. Coinbase. “About Coinbase.” Accessed Oct. 15, 2021

  4. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “SEC Charges Ripple and Two Executives with Conducting $1.3 Billion Unregistered Securities Offering.” Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.

  5. Coinbase. “Security.” Accessed November 5, 2021.

  6. Coinbase. “How is Coinbase insured?” Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.

  7. FinCEN. “Information on Complying with the Customer Due Diligence (CDD) Final Rule.” Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.