What is Coinbase? The Ultimate Guide

We have all the information you need to know to better understand this provider.

Updated: January 11, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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You’ve most likely heard of cryptocurrency before, but how much do you really know about it? It all started with Bitcoin, but then many other providers have followed suit and there are a wide variety of crypto platforms out there, with tons of different options to invest in.

Not only are there several different types of crypto, but there are also several trading platforms that let you dabble in trading crypto on various strategies and levels.

Coinbase is one such app, specifically designed to buy, sell, and manage your cryptocurrency portfolio. 

To learn more about Coinbase on a deeper level, keep reading. We have all the information you need to know to better understand this provider. 

About Coinbase: The Overview

Coinbase is like a trading platform if you will. The biggest difference is that instead of looking at stocks, bonds, etc., you are looking at cryptocurrencies. It’s a broad crypto exchange platform that gives you access to all of the most popular cryptos, and then some. 

With Coinbase, you can invest in Bitcoin, Solana, Ethereum, and other popular providers. That being said, Coinbase also has its limitations and they don’t have every single crypto out there. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a provider that does. 

What Coinbase does have is more than 170 cryptos to work with, which provides you with substantial opportunity. The crypto available here is considered some of the most popular choices.

According to Coinbase themselves, they have helped more than 100 million people with crypto trading. 

Throughout the year, they even offer different specials, giving you free crypto just for starting an account. 

One of the reasons Coinbase has become so well-known is that they were the first crypto business to go public in the US. They started trading for the very first time on the NASDAQ at $381 (£276) per share.

Using Coinbase for Crypto Needs

Through Coinbase, you have the ability to sort through different “brands” of crypto, checking prices, comparing, converting, and making buys or sells as well. On their platform, you can check out trends, as well as track the highs, lows, and current prices for any crypto that they offer on their platform. 

Of course, you can also manage and watch your portfolio of crypto, and find a lot of really news and resources here as well. 

Below, you will find some intuitive insight into using Coinbase, and how it works. 

Getting Started

The first step will be setting up a Coinbase account. You can access them on a desktop, but the easiest access is through your mobile device, using the Coinbase app.

They have versions of the app for Androids and iPhones. 

Once you get the app downloaded, you need to set up an account. Here are the things you need for that. 

  • Email address
  • Personal identification information (DOB, name, social security number)
  • Phone number
  • Mailing address
  • Confirmed income
  • Profile setup
  • Bank account, or payment method 

As you work through setting up your profile, you will provide your personal information, verify your phone and email, and link a bank account to the platform. Be sure to let Coinbase know how you plan to use your platform. This includes investing, online payments, purchases, and more. 

You do have to be a legal person to open a Coinbase account. You also have to be 18 years or over to qualify. Be sure to create a secure password that no one will know, but that you can remember. 

Once you set up the account, verify, and connect a payment method, you can start trading right away. That payment method could be a bank account, debit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, or even wire transfer. 

Top Features of Coinbase

There are several platforms out there similar to Coinbase, so where does it really stand out? Is it better than other cryptocurrency wallets or traders out there? 

Ultimately, that’s up to you to decide, but it’s certainly a worthwhile option to check out. 

These are some of the things that stuck out to us. 

  • Access to multiple trading platforms
  • Earn while you learn approach
  • You can withdraw quickly if needed
  • Full disclosure of all fees

When you compare Coinbase to other crypto platforms, the nice thing is that this is almost an all-in-one location. You have access to multiple different cryptocurrencies, where some platforms only have one or two available. 

On the platform, you could also upgrade to Coinbase Pro, which offers some advanced options and more trading functionality overall. Here, you can do crypto to crypto, as well as place limit and stop orders if you want to. 

And then there is Coinbase One, which is a monthly subscription platform. For the monthly fee, you pay no trading fees, as well as some additional benefits. 

Coinbase is all about educating their traders. They have several different videos and lessons that you can go through. As you go through these trainings and learn more, some providers will pay you small amounts of cryptocurrency. You’re learning, but you are also earning and that’s pretty cool. 

Coinbase has some of the quickest withdrawal capabilities on the market. In fact, you can withdraw crypto immediately after your purchase, which is pretty rare. In most cases, you have to wait several days while everything clears, but they offer a way around this for those who qualify.

This gives you faster access to your cash or crypto when you need it. 

Coinbase will never have hidden fees. They always tell you about their fees up front, which is something not everyone does. That being said, you should also know that their fees may be higher than some of the other providers out there. The fees are not unreasonable, but they are certainly not the lowest out there either. 

What to Expect from Coinbase

Coinbase started out with less than 50 cryptocurrencies available to their customers. They are constantly growing and expanding this. There are thousands of cryptocurrencies out there, but Coinbase works to connect with the best. 

From their menial starting places, they now offer more than 170 cryptocurrencies to choose from. Considering that this started out much smaller, it’s nice to see they continue to expand. In addition, they also have more than 500 crypto to crypto trading options, which gives you an even larger trading database. 

The minimum trade amount for any cryptocurrency is only £1, which offers you plenty of flexibility. They also have rewards on some types of coins, which could be a benefit to you. Coinbase offers crypto wallet storage, but you can incorporate your own wallet if you prefer. The security of incorporating your own wallet isn’t 100%, but they do have some security in place. 

Finally, you have a valuable user-friendly website and app that makes your crypto trading very simple and easy. They are transparent about details, and provide you with a host of information for education and trading. The app is highly-rated and reportedly a great choice for beginners as well as advanced users. 

Don’t forget you have stellar customer service at your fingertips using email, chat, or even a phone call if you need it. 

Cryptocurrencies Supported by Coinbase

One of the great things about Coinbase is that they host a large number of popular cryptocurrencies. Remember that the platform gives you access to more than 170 cryptocurrencies, and even more for crypto to crypto trades. 

While we aren’t going to list all 170 cryptocurrencies, these are some of the big names that are supported. 

  • Bitcoin
  • Dogecoin
  • Solana
  • Ethereum
  • Tether
  • Chainlink
  • Litecoin
  • Cardano

If you do want to see an all-inclusive list, you can easily find that information on the Coinbase website or platform. This is the best way to find the most current listing as they keep it updated. 

Buying and Selling on Coinbase

Using Coinbase is straightforward and simple, assuming you’ve already set up your account and payment method. Even if you still need to do that, it doesn’t take too long to do if you just take a few moments and go through the process. 

When you’re ready to buy or sell, it’s very simple. Here are the steps. 

  1. Click on the buy/sell button, which should be easy to spot in your app. 
  2. Choose whether this will be a repeated purchase or just one time. 
  3. Provide the amount you are buying or selling. 
  4. Choose which cryptocurrency this transaction will be for. 
  5. Enter your payment method of choice.
  6. Confirm and complete. 

Much like when you trade stocks, these do not settle immediately. Depending on your payment method, or the cryptocurrency, it is possible that it will take up to 5 days to process. However, remember that Coinbase offers immediate withdrawal, even though a transaction may still be processing. 

Once you’ve sold, you can make withdrawals if you need to. You can move any liquidated cash to your bank account at your leisure. You can also use that to turn around and purchase different or more crypto if you want to. 

It’s easy to withdraw funds, just like it is to buy or sell.

On your home screen, there is a withdrawal button. Just click on that, enter your dollar amount, preview the withdrawal, and confirm. Withdrawals can sometimes take up to 3 days to complete, depending on how or where you are receiving the funds. 

Disadvantages of Coinbase

While Coinbase is an overall great platform, with plenty of functionality, it isn’t perfect. Let’s be honest. It is challenging to find anything perfect as it is. And the truth is, cryptocurrency is still new, so there are limited regulations that are still changing as they figure out the details. 

So, what are the disadvantages? When you check out what users mention the most, it comes down to the fees, as well as the security and storage. We mentioned both of these above for you, but let’s take a closer look. 

The fee structure for Coinbase is somewhat confusing, even for people who have been using it for a while. It’s a tiered structure with taker’s fees and maker’s fees. The tiers drop depending on what level you are trading at.

The company describes their fees as being an average of .5%, but it does vary on different sales and purchases. 

But in addition to the spread on a buy or a sell, you also have fees that can be added for certain factors. For example, the payment method that you choose might incur another fee to deal with. Some other fees that are on an “it depends” basis include the size of your order and even market conditions at the time of your trade. 

And then another fee to be aware of is the transfer of fees when you use external blockchain networks. There are costs to Coinbase for transactions made this way, and so they charge a fee back to you to help cover their costs. 

In terms of security and storage, this has to do with the type of business cryptocurrency is. If you have investment or banking relationships, you’re used to being insured for fraud, crime, or even company failure. 

But that isn’t the case with crypto traders like this one. That being said, they make a statement that they do carry crime insurance to protect a portion of digital assets. We just don’t know what that portion is or whether or not you will be covered if you are a victim. 

Cash is protected much like bank accounts are, and customers have the ability to keep custody of their own digital assets or use the Coinbase wallet if they prefer. 

Could Coinbase Be a Good Fit for Your Needs? 

Coinbase has a lot to offer, and several different features and resources for users to depend on. It’s clear by their massive number of users, and the ability to be publicly traded, that they must be doing something right.

While their fee structure is a bit confusing, the platform is intuitive and user-friendly, with access to a lot of the most popular cryptocurrencies all in one place. It isn’t right for every single user out there, but it’s a great option for many. 

Take the time to learn and understand the platform, but also to learn and understand the cryptocurrency that you are investing in.

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