Coinbase Review 2021: Is it the Best Crypto Exchange?

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Coinbase is one of the most popular – and arguably safest – cryptocurrency platforms in the world, especially for beginner crypto investors.

In fact, Coinbase just reported 56 million users, $335 billion in trading volume, and $1.8 billion in revenue for Q1.

That’s more in revenue in the last 90 days than they did in all of 2020.

Take a look at the immense growth rate of cryptocurrencies held by Coinbase:

As you can see, Coinbase is becoming a force to be reckoned with and it will likely only grow stronger.

Let’s walk through this in-depth Coinbase review and find out if it’s the best cryptocurrency trading platform for you.

Coinbase Review 2021

MMW Rating
4.4/5

Coinbase is one of the most popular cryptocurrency trading platforms in the world that is a perfect fit for beginner traders who want solid safety and security measures in place.

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, let’s take a look at the Coinbase pros and cons:

Pros Cons

High liquidity

No anonymity

Great for new users

Limited number of altcoins

Available on mobile

Poor customer service support

Solid safety measures

Higher fees than most other exchanges

Access to 30+ cryptocurrencies

May have to purchase hardware wallet

Low account minimum to start investing

Below are some Coinbase key features that you should know about before reading further:

Coinbase Key Features

Liquidity

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Usability

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Safety Features

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cryptocurrencies Offered

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fees

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Customer Service

⭐️⭐️

Coinbase Review Verdict


If you’re new to cryptocurrency investing and if you don’t have much experience, then Coinbase would be an excellent platform for you to start trading.

Here’s a bonus: If you open a free Coinbase account today with the link above, you’ll get an extra $5 worth of free bitcoin.

Coinbase Features


Coinbase is a user-friendly and easy-to-use cryptocurrency exchange platform.

It’s the perfect place for novice crypto investors.

Coinbase Features

Minimum Needed to Open Account

$2

Minimum Needed to Trade

$2

Trading & Transaction Fees

0.5% to 4.5%

Flat fee: $0.99 to $2.99

Depends on:

- Your country
- Payment method
- Cryptocurrency type
- Additional fees may apply

Cryptocurrencies Available for Trading

30+ Regular Coinbase

A few more on Coinbase Pro

Digital Wallet Available

Yes

Year Founded

2012

Customer Service

Coinbase customer service

If you need to immediately disable your account, call:

+1 888-908-7930 (US/International)

0808-168-4635 (UK)

1800-200-355 (Ireland) 

Country Availability

100+ countries

All US states, excluding Hawaii

Versions Offered

Coinbase (for the beginner)

Coinbase Pro (for the advanced trader)

Who should use Coinbase:

  • New crypto-traders
  • Novice crypto day traders
  • Crypto traders who want their crypto insured 
  • Traders who want to exchange 1 cryptocurrency for another

Coinbase is considered to be one of the safest and largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. 

When I hear the word “safe” used with the word “cryptocurrency,” I actually feel relaxed, because I know that in the world of cryptocurrency, you’ll be exposed to:

  • Scams
  • Hackers
  • Fraudsters

And truth be told, I’m a total novice when it comes to investing in cryptocurrency

The one thing I do know is that there are plenty of hackers that could hack your account and steal your money. 

That’s the last thing I want. 

This is the Number 1 reason why I am drawn to Coinbase – because of the strong safety measures they take to protect your investments.

What is Coinbase?


Coinbase is a world-renowned cryptocurrency exchange platform that was founded in the tech start-up world of San Francisco, California in 2012. It
 is considered one of the largest and most trusted companies in the industry.

top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges screenshot

Source: CoinMarketCap

Coinbase is not just a place to buy and sell cryptocurrency.

Here are some additional things you can do with Coinbase:

  • Store your cryptocurrency
  • Pay for stuff in cryptocurrency
  • Platform to send and receive cryptocurrencies

Keep in mind that Coinbase offers 2 versions – Coinbase and Coinbase Pro (for the advanced investor). 

For purposes of this article, you’ll primarily receive information about Coinbase.

Cryptocurrencies Available for Trading on Coinbase


Below is a list of available cryptocurrencies that you can:

  • Sell
  • Buy
  • Send
  • Receive

Keep in mind that the list below is strictly for cryptocurrency in the US.

Cryptocurrency type varies by:

  • State
  • Country
  • What you do with your cryptocurrency (sending, receiving, buying, selling, etc)

Below are some of the top traded cryptocurrencies on Coinbase:

Name (Traded in the US) Ticker Symbol

Bitcoin

BTC

Ethereum

ETH

Cardano

ADA

Uniswap

UNI

Litecoin

LTC

Chainlink

LINK

USD Coin

USDC

Bitcoin Cash

BCH

Stellar Lumens

XLM

Wrapped Bitcoin

WBTC

Filecoin

FIL

Aave

AAVE

Cosmos

ATOM

EOS

EOS

Tezos

ETZ

Algorand

ALGO

Dai

DAI

Ethereum Classic

ETC

When you’re signed into Coinbase, you’ll see the top traded cryptocurrencies, as shown below, along with their daily statistics.

coinbase cryptocurrency prices

Although one of the weak spots on Coinbase is the fact that they don’t have a wide selection of cryptocurrencies, they do offer the most popular ones, and in my opinion, that’s all you’ll need.

If you’re new to the crypto investing world, then I’d honestly just focus on getting your feet wet by investing in the main cryptocurrencies.

When you feel like you’re more advanced and understand some of the basic concepts of investing in cryptocurrency, then you may want to upgrade to Coinbase Pro.

How to Set Up a Coinbase Account (Step-by-Step Guide)


For those of you who are wondering how to set up a Coinbase Account, I’ve outlined a simple, step-by-step guide for you below with screenshots of how I set up my own Coinbase account. 

Hint: It took me less than 5 minutes to complete the account set-up (costs $0).

First, you want to go to the Coinbase home page.

coinbase account creation page

Here, you’ll want to include your:

  • Email address
  • Legal last name  
  • Legal first name
  • State of residency
  • Confirmation that you’re 18 or older

Next, you’ll be led to a new screen with a welcome message that looks like this:

coinbase account creation page 2

It’s true that once you sign up to Coinbase, you’ll get $5 in Bitcoin for free.

Next, you have to click “Continue” and verify your email address to get started with Coinbase.

coinbase account creation page 3

You’ll receive an email from Coinbase.

Once you verify you are trying to set up a Coinbase account, you’ll have to set up a two-factor verification with your phone number. 

This helps prevent hackers from obtaining access to your passcode and stealing your Coinbase account information. 

Every time you log into Coinbase, you’ll have to log in using your:

  • Email
  • Password
  • Random code from the 2-factor authentication

It might be a hassle, but it’s worth your safety.

coinbase account creation page 4

After entering your phone number, the next step is to test out the two-step verification and see if it works.

You’ll have to press “send code” and Coinbase will automatically send a text message to the number you inputted.

That text message will have the authentication code, which you’ll have to type into the space, which I’ve shown below.

coinbase account creation page 5

After clicking “submit,” the next step is about verifying your identity. 

This is one of the cons that I mentioned earlier as it relates to Coinbase: There is no anonymity – especially once you upload your driver’s license or other government-issued ID.

coinbase account creation page 6

After you complete your personal information and verify your identity, it’s time to check out your own Coinbase account dashboard.

coinbase platform dashboard screenshot

As you can see, the Coinbase dashboard is clean, user-friendly and it’s pretty easy to navigate (even for beginners like myself).

How do I claim my free $5 of Bitcoin?


Two of the most appealing features to set up an account with Coinbase include:

  • Setting up an account is free
  • After you set up your account, you get $5 of Bitcoin

Being a beginner crypto trader myself, I was pretty excited to see I would get a free $5 of Bitcoin just after signing up. 

If you remembered the screenshot from my Coinbase dashboard, above, you’ll likely see the section that says “Get $5 in free Bitcoin.”

coinbase claim free 5 dollar screenshot

The process of redeeming your Bitcoin is pretty straightforward.

To redeem your $5 of Bitcoin, you will have to upload a government or state-issued ID to confirm your identity.

You’ll see something like the picture below pop-up on your screen when you are verifying your ID.

coinbase claim free 5 dollar part 2 screenshot

If you click that you don’t have one of these IDs, then you’ll be led to a Coinbase webpage that will show you some of the accepted ID’s – both within the US and outside of the US. 

Here’s a quick intro of which IDs you can use if you’re in the US:

  • Passports 
  • Driver’s licenses

Here are some of the IDs you can use if you’re outside of the US:

  • Passport
  • National ID
  • Government-issued ID

Once you’ve figured out your ID, the next step is selecting a way to upload a picture of the front and back of your ID card to Coinbase.

coinbase claim free 5 dollar part 3 screenshot

Trust me, you probably don’t want to use your webcam (I unsuccessfully tried taking a picture with my laptop camera of my driver’s license and after 4 failed attempts, I used my phone to take the pictures).

Once you upload the front and back of your ID card, Coinbase may take some time to verify your information.

Once it’s verified, you’ll have $5 of free Bitcoin at your disposal!

It never seems like the market is in my favor, because the second I got my $5 of Bitcoin, the Bitcoin rally stopped and started declining lol ☺

coinbase platform dashboard screenshot with 5 dollar sign up gift

Clearly, back when I first started (which is when I took this screenshot), I did not have much luck with my Bitcoin investments. 

My mom, on the other hand, actually had a lot of luck investing in Bitcoin (she also opened a Coinbase account). 

She made over $5,000 in just a month!

How to Buy Bitcoin on Coinbase


Buying Bitcoin is very straightforward.

3 steps are involved when it comes to buying Bitcoin – or any other type of cryptocurrency for that matter. 

These 3 steps include:

  • Verify your account
  • Add a payment method
  • Start buying cryptocurrency

Coinbase explains these 3 steps on your dashboard:

coinbase dashboard 3 step process screenshot

Once you’ve set up your account, the next step is to add a payment method.

A payment method sets you up to purchase Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies on Coinbase.

Even if Coinbase did accept credit cards, I would recommend against using credit cards to buy cryptocurrency. 

Below are the 3 acceptable payment methods:

  • Debit card
  • Bank account
  • Wire transfers
coinbase payment methods screenshot

Once you’ve completed this information, it’s time to buy, sell or convert your cryptocurrency.

coinbase buy tab screenshot

Now, I haven’t included my payment information in this screenshot for safety reasons, but you get the point.

Conversely, if you want to sell your cryptocurrency, you can use the “sell” button.

coinbase sell tab screenshot

You don’t just have to sell Bitcoin, either.

You could sell from a variety of your holdings, which you can access by clicking the cryptocurrency button.

coinbase sell tab 2 screenshot

Lastly, Coinbase will also give you the chance to convert your cryptocurrency from 1 into another.

You can do this by clicking the “convert” tab.

coinbase convert tab screenshot

As you can see, Coinbase is very straightforward and very user-friendly.

How to Earn Rewards on Coinbase


Everyone loves to earn rewards, and that’s why I thought it was appropriate to show you some of the hidden ways you can earn money on Coinbase. 

There are several ways you can earn rewards on Coinbase:

  • Invite friends to Coinbase
  • Set up a recurring buy of $50+ 
  • Get the free $5 bonus in Bitcoin
  • Watch videos about cryptocurrency

Of course, the first (and most obvious) way to earn money is by verifying your ID to get the free $5 of Bitcoin.

The second way you can earn money (also in Bitcoin) is by inviting your friends to use Coinbase.

You’ll earn up to $10 in Bitcoin when your friend buys or sells $100+ in cryptocurrency.

It looks like you’re not restricted to inviting just 1 friend.

Coinbase does, however, mention that payouts may not be guaranteed, depending on the available supply of Bitcoin.

coinbase invite friend page screenshot

Another popular option is to earn bitcoin rewards when you set up a recurring buy on any type of cryptocurrency. 

A recurring buy means buying a cryptocurrency on autopilot over a set period of time. 

This could mean you buy a cryptocurrency every:

  • Day
  • Week
  • Month

…You get the point. 

You’ll have to set up a buy of $50 or more to earn $10 in Bitcoin after the 4th and 8th recurring buy. 

This feature is available to you when you click on:

So, if you’re serious about buying into cryptocurrency, this could be a neat little incentive for you to earn money while you’re buying.

coinbase recurring buy reward

The last cool option to earn money on Coinbase that I found was earning while watching videos on how cryptocurrency works.

You’ll find this feature also by clicking on the “Earn Rewards” tab.

From there, you can find many different videos, where you have the potential to earn more than $51!

Most videos have small pop quizzes that follow the material and they only take 1 to 3 minutes to complete watching.

coinbase earn rewards page screenshot

The only downside to earning money with the video feature is that sometimes you’ll be placed on a waitlist and you’ll have to wait until Coinbase has enough cryptocurrency to pay you, after watching one of their movies.

Coinbase Fees


Coinbase is pretty awesome, especially for beginners. 

However, there are some downsides. 

One of those downsides is the fees, which are a bit more expensive than other cryptocurrency exchange platforms. 

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Fees are charged on sales (depends on the market fluctuations)
  • Fees are charged on purchases (depends on the payment method)

Below is a chart of flat fees of how much you can expect to pay, depending on your transaction amount.

Total Transaction Amount Estimated Fee

Transaction < $10 or Less

$0.99

$10 < Transaction < $25

$1.49

$25 < Transaction < $50

$1.99

$50 < Transaction < $200

$2.99

Depending on your payment method, you should also expect to pay a fee, and I’ve listed those estimated fees below.

Payment Method Estimated Fee

Bank Account

1.49%

Coinbase USD Wallet

1.49%

Debit Cards

3.99%

ACH Transfer

$0

Wire Transfer

$10 incoming

$25 outgoing

If you want to invest more than $25,000 per day, then you’ll want to check out Coinbase Pro, since functions for serious traders are built into that software.

Is My Coinbase Money Safe?


When you’re investing a good chunk of your money into Coinbase, you’ll want to make sure your money is safe from hackers. 

Let me answer your question: Your money is safer with Coinbase than with other cryptocurrency exchanges. 

How Coinbase keeps your money safe:

  • Coinbase privately insures investor funds
  • Almost 99% of assets are in an offline cold storage
  • 2-step Coinbase account password authentication
  • US Dollars held in Coinbase wallets are insured up to $250,000 by FDIC Insurance

In fact, Coinbase is known for the strong safety measures it takes for investors like you.

Coinbase is also known to help prevent hackers from scamming Coinbase customers by proactively taking steps to stop illegal and unauthorized Bitcoin transactions.

In addition to these safety measures, your money will also be insured in several other ways if you decide to invest with Coinbase.

If you transferred US dollars into your Coinbase account and currently still hold your US dollars in cash, then you’ll be insured up to $250,000 by FDIC Insurance.

Typical FDIC limits are $250,000 per person, (or per account holder), per FDIC insured bank or entity.

Your cryptocurrency investments do not fall under FDIC protection, since these are cryptocurrency investments and not US dollars.

Although Coinbase does say they take strong safety measures (like the 2-step password authentication process), you can also take safety measures on your own to protect your money and crypto investments.

You can take these safety precautions by storing the password to your crypto investments offline (just like Coinbase), away from hackers.

You would use what is known as a “hardware wallet”.

To keep things simple, your private key has 64 characters that range from 0 to 9 and from A to F. 

It’s a complicated password to unlock your crypto account, completely separate of the password you use to log into Coinbase.

The best hardware wallet to safely store your cryptocurrency is known as the Ledger Nano X. And yes, even my mom bought one as well ☺

Below are some fast facts for the Ledger Nano X hardware wallet:

  • Small
  • Easy to use
  • Supports a wide range of digital coins

The Ledger Nano X is essentially like a USB stick, just optimized to hold information for your cryptocurrency assets (especially Bitcoin).

I cringe even thinking about Coinbase taking over and freezing my assets, but based on my research, it sounds like this happens sparingly and depends on the investor’s situation.

FAQs


Is Coinbase safe and legit?


Yes, Coinbase is legit. Because Coinbase is regulated, it also is considered safe for investor funds. Plus, Coinbase is privately insured in the case Coinbase is hacked and your funds are stolen.

Can you get scammed on Coinbase?


Coinbase itself is not a scam. However, scam artists may impersonate Coinbase customer service representatives to try and obtain access to your personal information. 

If you ever feel like you may be talking to a scam artist, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself – and your wealth:

  • Listen to your gut
  • Don’t transfer any money
  • Don’t give out personal information
  • Don’t give remote access to your computer
  • Request for some time and call back yourself

Below are some common scams noted by Coinbase:

Scam Name What it is

Technical Support & Impersonation Scam

Con artists impersonate customer service representatives and call you directly with deceiving claims, trying to manipulate you into giving them information.

Giveaway Scams

Con artists use social media to promote fake giveaways in the name of the company.

Investment Scams

Con artists ask you to invest money in investments that sound like they’re too good to be true.

Extortion Scams

Con artists may use some of your information they found in the past to trick you into believing they are legit.

Telegram Scams

Coinbase does not have an official presence on the messaging platform called Telegram.

Always be cautious, and remember to never give out your personal information if the situation feels weird, and you’re seeing red flags.

You have a much higher chance of encountering a fraudster when receiving a call versus making the call yourself.

Is it safe to link my bank account to Coinbase?


Yes, it is safe to link your bank account information to Coinbase. Per Coinbase, all personal information is protected.

Does Coinbase report to IRS?


Yes, chances are that Coinbase is reporting your trade activity (profits and losses) to the IRS. Even if you just started trading a few days ago, chances are your trade activity is being reported. 

The form that you’re most likely to receive is Form 1099-K from Coinbase. 

If you receive Form 1099-K, then the IRS will have also received a copy of the same form for their files.

Coinbase Review: The Bottom Line


Coinbase is considered to be one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges in America.

Here’s a quick recap for Coinbase:

  • It’s user friendly
  • It’s easy to set up
  • Fees can be a bit high
  • Its crypto is privately insured
  • It trades the top cryptocurrencies

Keep in mind that cryptocurrency is highly volatile and it might not be for you.

That’s ok. 

I am just getting used to the idea of investing in cryptocurrency because it is:

  • Risky
  • Fairly new
  • Highly speculative

Plus, cryptocurrency doesn’t have a decade-long track record like the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA).

However, for what it’s worth, the more I inform myself, the more of a believer I’m becoming.

As you can see, I’ve started investing in Bitcoin myself (now, I have about $50 in Bitcoin) and I’m slowly getting into the groove of things. 

Here’s when you should consider investing through Coinbase:

  • You’re investing for retirement
  • You don’t have high-interest debt
  • You have an emergency savings fund

Assuming that your other finances are in shape, then I would recommend checking out investing in cryptocurrency with top crypto exchanges like Coinbase

What are your thoughts on cryptocurrency investing?

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Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith
The Millennial Money Woman was founded by Fiona Smith. She holds her Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning and has co-founded a local non-profit community teaching financial literacy to young professionals.

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