Coinbase Review 2021

Many people are curious about cryptocurrency investing but don't know where to start. This Coinbase review will tell you everything you need to know to get started.
By Rebecca Lake

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Investing money can help you build wealth and reach your financial goals. Cryptocurrency is something you might consider if you'd like to go beyond stocks or bonds in your portfolio.

Trading crypto is a little different than investing with a robo-advisor or opening a brokerage account. It can be riskier, for one thing, but it can also yield the potential for greater rewards.

According to Gemini's 2021 State of Crypto report, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they're interested crypto investing. Coinbase is a cryptocurrency app that's making it easier to buy and sell.

If you're crypto-curious or you're ready to start investing, this Coinbase review covers the basics of how this app works.

What Is Coinbase?

Coinbase is a cryptocurrency app that allows you to start building a crypto portfolio in minutes. The company was founded in 2012 on the idea that anyone should be able to send or receive Bitcoin. It's since evolved into an app that lets more than 56 million verified users invest, spend, save, earn, and use crypto.

This is not a robo-advisor or an online brokerage. So you can't trade stocks or mutual funds here or open an individual retirement account. And it isn't a bank either so there are no checking accounts or savings accounts. But you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin from your desktop or mobile device with the Coinbase app.

The app is supported in over 100 countries. And more than $335 billion in cryptocurrency volume is traded quarterly. Cash balances in Coinbase accounts are covered by up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance protection. So if you're wondering, "is Coinbase legit?" you can rest assured that it is.

Who Is Coinbase For?

Generally speaking, the Coinbase app is designed for people who have an interest in cryptocurrency investing and want a convenient way to trade.

Some of the investors who might consider using this app include:

  • Beginners who are just getting started with cryptocurrency trading.
  • Experienced crypto traders who want an accessible mobile app with low trading fees.
  • Individuals who want to be able to trade, earn and spend cryptocurrency all in one place.
  • Anyone who'd like to expand their cryptocurrency knowledge.

If you have no interest in crypto at all, then you might want to consider a robo-advisor or an online brokerage instead. And if you need banking products, you may want to look elsewhere. But if you're ready to add crypto to your portfolio and you want to do so through a trusted online cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase could be a good fit.

Top Features of Coinbase

The Coinbase cryptocurrency app comes with several features that make it attractive for beginning and advanced investors alike. Here are some of the main highlights:

  • Ease of use. The Coinbase app is easy to use and you can create an account to start trading in minutes. You can use the app to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, track pricing and schedule automated crypto purchases according to a schedule you set.
  • Learn and earn. Want to get cryptocurrency for free with zero investment? Coinbase allows you to earn up to $32 worth of crypto just for learning more about them through simple online lessons.
  • Vault protection. Coinbase helps you keep funds secure by allowing you to store them in a vault with time-delayed withdrawals.
  • Digital wallet. Coinbase's wallet feature allows you to store all of your cryptocurrencies and NFTs in one place. You can also trade more than 500 cryptocurrencies and connect it to the desktop version of the app.
  • Coinbase Visa. Though it has yet to officially launch, Coinbase has plans to roll out a Visa debit card that would allow you to store and spend your crypto. You'll also be able to use the card to earn crypto rewards back on eligible purchases.

How Coinbase Works

The Coinbase app is designed specifically for cryptocurrency trading. When you create an account you'll be able to trade more than 50 cryptocurrencies through the app, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. You'll need to add a payment method to start trading, which can be a bank account, debit card, PayPal account, or Apple Pay wallet. Once your profile is complete, you can browse cryptocurrencies to decide which ones you want to buy or sell.

On the desktop, this is simple as signing into your account, then clicking Buy/Sell on the upper right-hand side. You'd then click the Buy field to choose the crypto asset you want to purchase, enter the amount you'd like to buy and choose your payment method. All you have to do then is confirm the purchase, then click Buy to complete it.

If you're trading through the app, you'd login then select Buy and choose the asset you want to purchase. Enter the amount you want to buy, confirm the information is correct and tap Buy Now. That's all that's needed to purchase crypto with the Coinbase app.

This is all included with a basic Coinbase account. If you're looking for more features you can try Coinbase Pro instead. With Coinbase Pro, you can track the market, view open orders and trading history and take advantage of an industry-leading API.

Getting Set Up

You can create an account with Coinbase online or download the Coinbase cryptocurrency app in the Play Store or App Store. You'll need to be at least 18 to invest and have a government-issued ID. You also have to verify your email and phone number and share personal information, including your Social Security number, occupation, and place of employment. But otherwise, it takes just minutes to create your account and start trading.

Once you have a Coinbase account setup, you can decide whether you want to upgrade to Coinbase Pro to unlock additional features and benefits. If you're using Coinbase on a desktop, the company recommends doing so via the Chrome browser. And if you're using the Coinbase app on your phone, be sure that your operating system is up to date.

Rating the Features

Coinbase is one of the top-rated cryptocurrency exchange apps around. Overall, it rates well for user experience and services, though it's important to consider what you might pay to invest here versus other crypto apps.

User Experience

Coinbase offers a solid user experience overall. Beginners will find the Coinbase app easy to navigate while more advanced crypto traders may appreciate the features included with Coinbase Pro. Compared to other cryptocurrency apps, there are more crypto options to choose from and low minimum investment requirements reduce barriers to entry.

Goal Setting

Since this isn't a robo-advisor or brokerage, there's less emphasis on goal setting. So Coinbase doesn't score as well where that's concerned. But you may already have clear goals for crypto trading in mind. The Coinbase app lets you see at a glance what kind of progress you're making and how your investments are performing at any given time.

Services

The main service Coinbase provides is as a cryptocurrency exchange. And it carries out that service well by making trading accessible to investors of all skill levels. Coinbase has an online help center that's designed to answer most questions but you can call the automated phone service as well or send a secure message.

Safety and Security

Coinbase utilizes a number of measures to protect investor accounts. First, 98% of assets are stored offline as a security measure against theft or loss. Sensitive data is disconnected from the internet, then split and encrypted. Two-step verification is required on all accounts as are strong passwords. Coinbase employees must pass a criminal background check and the Bug Bounty program helps the company to detect software vulnerabilities.

Education

Cryptocurrency can be confusing if you're new to trading, so Coinbase helps with that by offering educational resources. This includes tips and tutorials, market updates, answers to top crypto questions and crypto guides. And remember that you can earn up to $32 in cryptocurrency by completing online lessons.

Commission and Fees

Coinbase charges fees to purchase cryptocurrency, which can range from 1.49% to 3.99%, depending on the payment method you choose. In addition to payment method fees, Coinbase charges a spread on crypto transactions as well as a Coinbase for executing trades. You won't know exactly what you'll pay until you complete the transaction so Coinbase loses some points there for lack of transparency. But you can pay less in fees by upgrading to a Coinbase Pro account.

Pros and Cons

Coinbase may work well for some investors but not so much for others. Whether it's a good fit for you can depend on your goals for investing in crypto and what you need from an app. To finish up this Coinbase review, here's a side-by-side look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Variety. The Coinbase app makes it possible to trade more than 50 cryptocurrencies in one place so you can pick and choose which crypto options you're most interested in. And compared to other cryptocurrency apps, Coinbase gives you more trading options.
  • Low minimums. The minimum amount required to buy or sell cryptocurrency through Coinbase is just $2 so you can trade in smaller increments or larger ones, depending on your goals.
  • Insurance. Any cash in your Coinbase account is protected by the FDIC up to the $250,000 limit that applies per depositor, per account ownership type, per financial institution.

Cons

  • Fees. The Coinbase fee structure can be confusing to understand and for regular app users, it can be more expensive compared to other crypto trading platforms. More advanced traders can pay lower fees through Coinbase Pro.
  • No futures or margin. You can't yet trade crypto futures or trade on margin with Coinbase, which may be a con if you're interested in either of those things.
  • Limited wallet control. Coinbase, like other cryptocurrency exchanges, maintains control over its users' digital wallets. If you want to use an external storage wallet to manage your crypto you won't be able to do that with your Coinbase account.

Bottom Line

Coinbase makes it as simple as possible to get started with cryptocurrency investing. After reading this Coinbase review you should have a better idea of how the app works and what it could do for you. When comparing Coinbase with other cryptocurrency apps, remember to consider things like crypto options, fees and security to help you decide where to invest.

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