Coinbase: Is this iconic crypto exchange still good?
US crypto users have a tough deal when it comes to trading crypto. Many top cryptocurrency exchanges no longer allow American users on their platform, and especially before 2017, there were not many options for budding crypto enthusiasts. However, there was always the one main crypto platform for this group. Since 2012, there has been the ubiquitous Coinbase.
This exchange is one of the few that enables US users to purchase cryptocurrencies by linking their credit card or bank. Although its selection of cryptocurrencies was limited in the past, Coinbase now supports almost 30 different assets, making it a solid exchange for those beginning to test out altcoins.
Of course, Coinbase is not just geared towards US users, as the exchange also accepts customers from all over the world (with a few exceptions).
Quick Details About Coinbase:
- Exchange Type: Centralized Exchange
- Launch Date: June 2012
- Location: San Fransisco
- CEO: Brian Armstrong
The pros of trading cryptocurrency on Coinbase:
- Several mobile apps
- Can link your credit card to purchase crypto
- Insured and USA regulated
- One of the easiest exchanges to use
The cons of trading cryptocurrency on Coinbase:
- High Fees compared to other exchanges
- Smaller selection of coins than many other exchanges
- No ICOs or IEOs at this time
- Lengthy verification process
Coinbase features review
Coinbase seems to be primarily used as an onramp for fiat currency to be exchanged into crypto. Aside from that, it is also a popular wallet service for those that do not wish to use another wallet provider. Coinbase Pro (formerly known as GDAX) is the trading exchange from Coinbase and separate from the main website. It consistently clears over $50 million a day in volume and is one of the most popular exchanges within the USA.
Here’s a quick overview of the features offered by Coinbase:
- Pro trading exchange
- Around 30 crypto assets
- Purchase crypto with credit cards
- Mobile app
- Integrated wallet
- Affiliate program
While there are not as many assets listed on Coinbase Pro, there is a solid amount at almost 30 listed assets. The list includes most of the major high cap alts like Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Litecoin and more. Considering Coinbase only supported 3-4 coins for a long period of time, this is a huge step up and a welcome expansion for traders. In addition, there are numerous fiat currency pairings like USD, GBD Euro and some stablecoins as well.
For order types on the exchange, the standard offerings are present:
- Market order – executes immediately based on the market price
- Limit order -allows you to set the price to fill your order at
- Stop order – used for stop-loss requests
The fee structure is somewhat complex depending on what you’re used to. As Coinbase is split between the main website and the exchange, both have a different fee structure.
For all digital currency purchases and sales, there is a spread fee of 0.05%. This is the spread for orders, and it fluctuates depending on market volume and the time between placing the order and when it executes. They also charge a flat fee on top of the spread for all orders. The amount depends on the size of the order.
- If the amount is less than or equal to $10, the fee is $0.99.
- If the amount is more than $10 but less than or equal to $25, the fee is $1.49.
- If the amount is more than $25 but less than or equal to $50, the fee is $1.99.
- If the amount is more than $50 but less than or equal to $200, the fee is $2.99
These fees also vary between location and payment method.
Fees for Coinbase Pro
Coinbase Pro uses a tiered maker/taker structure that varies depending on how your order is executed. Taker fees are calculated based on a rolling 30-day period. For orders less than $10k, the maker/taker fee is 0.50%. For orders between $10-50K, the maker/taker fee is 0.35%. You can see a full list of the fees here.
Purchase crypto with credit card on Coinbase
Coinbase built its entire reputation and stronghold in the US around one solid principle, it is the easiest and most direct way to purchase crypto with your credit card or bank account. For US users that are blocked from international exchanges, Coinbase provided the only place to turn to for many years.
There are several ways to fund your account. You can utilize bank transfer, credit card, debit cards and Paypal to make your first purchases in crypto. Credit card transactions are some of the most expensive methods however, with the average charge being 4%. Bank wire transfers cost $10 for deposit and $25 for withdrawals.
There are several mobile apps that are tied into the Coinbase and Coinbase Pro platforms. First, there is the standard Coinbase app that was mainly used for making crypto transactions during a time where there were only a handful of assets offered. This is still a solid app for those looking for minimal features.
Next, there is the wallet app. This has several features that make it more useful to crypto enthusiasts. The Coinbase Wallet app offers all of the important features that are needed to have a convenient place for crypto storage and transfers. DApps are becoming a huge part of the crypto scene, and the wallet offers a DApp explorer to interact with and see the status of new projects. Another important distinction is that users hold their own private keys when using this app, as opposed to the exchange wallet that holds the private keys on Coinbase’s own servers.
Last, there is the Coinbase Pro trading app that has finally made its way to Android devices as well as Apple iOS. The app is available in over 100 countries and provides over 50 trading pairs. This app has all the features of their trading platform, with different order types, price alarms, and interactive charts for the perfect mobile experience.
Overall, Coinbase provides an excellent wallet service and has for several years now. It’s important to keep in mind that all exchange wallets store your private keys. Most of their crypto is kept in cold wallets, meaning offline storage which makes it more secure than other exchanges that mainly utilize hot wallets. The service is always free, and with staking being integrated into the platform, it is a solid choice for your storage needs.
Affiliate programs are a popular feature among crypto exchanges to bring in new customers and incentivize more participation on the platform. Coinbase offers affiliate bonuses to the tune of $10 for both the affiliate provider and the new user when opening an account and initiating a trade of $100 or more. To those that are active and try to reach many new users, this can be an attractive proposition.
Staking is a relatively new feature Coinbase added to allow Tezos XTZ, 0.26% users to stake their coins directly on the Coinbase platform. This is a feature that many other exchanges are lacking. Coinbase charges 25% of your received tokens. They have also stated they are considering staking support for other crypto assets in the future. This is good news considering the growing narrative that staking is going to become a feature that many cryptocurrencies will adopt in the future.
Is Coinbase a safe exchange to use?
There is next to no one in this space that has the reputation that Coinbase brings. They are one of only 4 exchanges to be licensed to operate in New York, which is no small feat. In addition, they hold 40 licenses to operate in the USA alone, as well as over 30 more worldwide. They also adhere to strict KYC regulations.
In a space that has seen numerous high profile hacks, scams, and bad actors, Coinbase is one of the few exchanges that has the record and reliability that is needed in crypto. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, Coinbase is internationally accepted to be a safe and trustworthy exchange.
This platform fills a specific role in this industry, and that is first and foremost being a fiat onramp for users to move back and forth from crypto and traditional banking. While Coinbase cannot compete with an exchange like Binance in terms of crypto assets offered, it doesn’t necessarily compete in the same niche. Coinbase’s main competitors are other exchanges that are US based such as Gemini and Bittrex.
These exchanges are for US users to transfer fiat from their bank. While you can argue that all major exchanges are Coinbase’s competitors in terms of market share, I just personally do not feel that they have the same user base. Industry giants like Binance offer credit card purchases as well, but US users are banned from Binance’s services. Coinbase remains the biggest exchange for crypto in the US.
Coinbase has gotten somewhat of a bad rap at times over the years due to the deep politics and tribalism in this space. That aside, it is important to take the platform and service for what it’s worth and decide if it’s right for you.
Many exchanges have come and gone over the years, and yet Coinbase has remained as a pillar of the crypto industry. While there are certainly cheaper exchanges out there, and many with more extensive crypto selections, Coinbase is a solid choice with some advanced features that should keep first-time users happy. Overall, this is a respected and trustworthy platform to use and that is not something that should be taken for granted in the cryptocurrency space.