Coinbase Bitcoin Exchange Review 2018
Coinbase is the world’s most popular way to buy, sell, and exchange Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. With over $50 billion in digital currency exchanged and 10 + million satisfied customers, it is the largest Bitcoin broker.
It’s user-friendly interface, straightforward buying/selling mechanism, and streamlined payment methods (instant credit card, bank account, wire transfer) make it the exchange of choice for beginners and pros alike. It isn’t the most comprehensive or in-depth platform on the market—however, if you want a simple and secure way to get cryptocurrencies, Coinbase is highly recommended.
In this review, I’ll cover everything you need to know about this San Francisco giant.
Coinbase is second to none. 98% of funds are stored offline and all accounts require two-step verification. You are also covered by insurance for any breach security on their end.
Since Coinbase is regulated and compliant with US laws, it requires verification. They also may track user spending trends.
Ease of Use
Coinbase is one of the most beginner-friendly platforms on the market. A simple dashboard, account setup, and buying/selling process create a hassle-free experience.
Coinbase has finally added phone support for verification and locked accounts. Their resources are being stretched thin and support is overburdened. Expect delays.
Coinbase is one of the most reputable, recognized, and trusted names on the market. They are backed by credible investors and are the highest funded BTC startup of all time.
A simple and straightforward broker with high security and a good reputation. It isn’t the most comprehensive platform out there, but it does what it does well.
Coinbase was launched in San Francisco in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. By 2013, it was the highest-funded bit-startup and the world’s largest exchange.
It has 13.3 million users and is widely regarded as one of the best exchanges for first-time buyers. The simple user interface, ease of buying BTC (and other coins) with credit cards, speed of transactions, and relatively tight security offer a great combination of peace of mind and convenience.
Unlike traditional exchanges where the platform serves as a middleman, Coinbase is what’s known as a digital currency broker.
What is a Bitcoin Broker?
A Bitcoin (or other digital currency broker) is a business that deals directly with the customer. The broker sets the price and the customer buys the currency from them directly. It’s just like those currency exchange counters at the airport (except not a complete rip off!).
A broker’s price will be more stable than the price at a traditional exchange.
Coinbase Features at a Glance
Coinbase isn’t the most feature-rich platform on the market, but it has its share of features that its following swears by. There’s a reason it has become the top broker in the world.
How Does Coinbase Work?
Coinbase is well known for its simplicity and ease of purchasing Bitcoin and altcoins (alternative cryptocurrencies like Litecoin). This makes it the ideal platform for first-time buyers.
The most popular method is by credit card. Once you sign up and verify your identity, you just click the Buy/Sell tab on the Coinbase Dashboard, click the currency you want, and click the Buy button. It’s that easy.
What’s the Catch? Why is Coinbase so Easy?
Coinbase is one of the most simple and straightforward platforms on the market. The downside to this is that there are very few currencies to choose from and few advanced options. Professional traders engage in different kinds of trading (for example, margin trading) and Coinbase doesn’t support this. You will need a traditional exchange rather than a broker for that.
If you want to buy altcoins, you have to choose a different exchange. However, it carries the major digital currencies that most first-time buyers want, so that’s all that matters.
Is Coinbase Safe?
Coinbase is one of the most reputable names on the market, and the largest crypto broker in the world. It is based in the USA, regulated, and compliant with all laws (it’s so safe, that some pro traders don’t like it! - more on this later…).
On top of that, it is backed by Wall-Street investors including the New York Stock Exchange. Coinbase security features include:
Coinbase fees are relatively straightforward. Coinbase represents a fast and easy way for newcomers to get into the crypto world, but their fees are a bit steep.
For example, if you decide to buy $100 worth of Bitcoin via your credit card, your card will be charged $103.99. The payment method accepted varies by country. Credit cards are accepted from the US, Canada, UK, EU, Singapore and Australia.
They also charge 1% on each transaction.
Coinbase currently operates in 32 countries, but they are not yet worldwide. Here is a screenshot of the countries they support:
Due to security, regulatory compliance, and fraud prevention concerns, there are limits to how much digital currency you can buy or sell on the site. Limits vary based on your payment method, your account age, purchase history, and other factors.
Note: Your account limit is calculated automatically. Customer support CANNOT help you.
The numbers will vary greatly, but research has shown that the limits range anywhere from $500 weekly to $50,000 per month for fully-verified users. EU users can have up to €30,000 in their account at any time.
Coinbase Shift Card
One great feature of Coinbase that I particularly like is the Shiftcard. It’s a VISA card that allows users in select states and territories to spend Bitcoin anywhere VISA is accepted. When you swipe, the equivalent in BTC is deducted from your account.
It costs $10 to get from Coinbase and there are no fees for transactions. The spending limit is $1,000 and the daily ATM withdrawal limit is $200.
What We Like/Dislike
Coinbase is considered the world’s most popular broker and go-to for most newcomers into the world of Bitcoin; however, it isn’t without its flaws. In the end, the pros outweigh the cons, especially for new users.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Warning: Coinbase is currently suffering from overload
Amid the explosion in Bitcoin trading, Coinbase and other exchanges are reaching critical mass. Some have outright stopped new user registration until they figure things out.
Coinbase is currently struggling to keep up with demand. They’ve issued a “degraded service warning” on their site. Wire deposits and withdrawals may be delayed up to 5 days.
It should be corrected soon. Stay tuned for details.
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Coinbase Support Phone Number:
+1 (888) 908-7930
Phone hours of operation:
Monday - Friday, 6 AM to 6 PM Pacific Time Zone
How to Use Coinbase to Buy and Sell Cryptocurrency
Buying and selling cryptocurrency with Coinbase is as easy as it gets. Here is exactly how to do it.
Step 1) Create Your Account
To create your account, you only need your name, email, and password. Robots are not allowed to register, so if you are a programmable machine, you should stop reading now.
Step 2) Verify Your Email Address
Check your email and click the link to get started buying Bitcoins right away.
Step 3) Verify Your Phone Number
To verify your phone number, enter the code Coinbase sent to your phone. You will also receive a link to download their mobile app. We recommend doing so.
Step 4) Set Up Your Payment Method
Setting up a payment method requires a bit of verification. If you wish to connect your bank account or credit card to Coinbase, you will need to verify two small transactions. Learn more about that from Coinbase support. Either way, you may need to verify your identity by uploading identification and eventually verifying your physical address to increase limits.
How to Buy/Sell Bitcoin on Coinbase
Buying Bitcoin is comically easy.
Step 1) Click Buy/Sell From the Dashboard
Step 2) Buy Your Bitcoins
Click the currency you want, choose the amount, and click the big blue button. Done.
Reviews for Coinbase vary from borderline cult of personality-like devotion to complete disgust. It comes with being the top dog on the market. Those who love you really love you; those who want your spot really hate you.
Coinbase isn’t without its flaws, and many of the complaints are in regards to customer service. In general, however, there’s a reason they are on still on top: they’re pretty good.
Most poor reviews focus on a few key factors:
Positive reviews focus on:
The Best or the Worst?
The following two screenshots represent the love/hate feelings toward Coinbase on Bitcoin Reddit.
It’s safe to conclude that Coinbase is a solid platform for first-time buyers. The only issue is that the customer support is lacking. Also, many hardcore traders don’t like the strict verification or the company’s connection “old money” on Wall Street.
Top 3 Coinbase Alternatives
If Coinbase’s lack of support, connection to Wall Street finance (down with centralization!), or lack of anonymity don’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other options to choose from. In my opinion, the top 3 are:
The “E-Bay” of Bitcoins, LocalBitcoins is what’s known as a peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange. Buyers and sellers agree on a price and the platform acts as escrow. It directly connects you to the other party and everything is 100% anonymous. It’s a good alternative for those who value their privacy and don’t want their BTC to be anyone else’s business.
Bitpanda is a great alternative for European users who require more payment options. Unlike Coinbase, Bitpanda accepts Skrill, Neteller, OBT, and more. Their credit card fees are higher than Coinbase, but they accept so many other payments that it probably won’t affect you. It is based in Austria and available only to European customers.
Coinmama is a highly respected broker based in Israel with good support. If you prefer your privacy but still want a broker, Coinmama is a solid alternative. They allow you to purchase up to $150 worth of currency without verification. The downside is that their fees are quite high (6% credit card fee).
Coinbase vs Bittrex
Coinbase and Bittrex are two heavy hitters on the crypto market. But each has a strategic advantage over the other. You’ll most likely end up using both during your crypto trading adventures. This comparison will help you determine which is the right decision for you.
Bittrex is a Las-Vegas based digital currency exchange. They are well known for their low fees and vast currency options. The company bills itself as a next-generation trading platform, and has one of the fastest trading services available.
Whereas Coinbase is just a broker, Bittrex is an exchange. Buyers and sellers make deals with each other and Bittrex takes a commission fee. Think of it like the New York Stock Exchange (only way cheaper and more trustworthy!).
Verdict: Coinbase vs. Bittrex
Comparing the two sites is not very fair, since they are two different types of businesses. Each has its own use. Both are extremely secure and reputable, so you can’t go wrong with either.
Coinbase - Good for Beginners
Beginners with fiat currency (USD, EUR, GBP, etc.) who want a quick way to get into crypto are ideal for Coinbase. They allow fast and easy credit card payments at a reasonable price. Your only options are Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum, but if you’re new, then that’s probably what you want.
Bittrex - Good for Experienced Traders
Bittrex is better for users with experience. If want to get into complex trading of hundreds of different currencies, then Bittrex is the better option. This will require you to already have some crypto of your own, though.
My recommendation is to start at Coinbase, buy some crypto, and get an understanding of the industry. Then, move on to Bittrex and begin investing in altcoins and trading.
Throughout my research, I noticed the same questions popping up over and over. They are answered here.
Q: Can I buy Bitcoin with PayPal on Coinbase?
A: No. Coinbase does not accept PayPal. Sorry.
Q: Is it Safe to Use My Bank Account on Coinbase?
A: Yes. 100%. Coinbase is fully regulated and compliant. Coinbase is 100% legit and safe to connect an account to.
Q: Is Coinbase a Scam?
A: I understand that new users are a bit suspicious of cryptocurrency. However, Coinbase is not a scam. It is a startup valued in the billions of dollars.
Q: What Are Coinbase Recurring Payments?
A: Recurring payments can be set up to make future transactions automatically (buy, sell, send). For example, if you want to buy $50 of BTC every week, you can have it instantly done by setting up a recurring payment on your Coinbase account.
Q: What is Coinbase Wallet?
A: A wallet is a place where your Bitcoins are stored for use. Think of it like the wallet in your backpocket. Coinbase’s wallet is highly secure and allows you to send money, access the VISA Shiftcard, and perform instant exchanges.
Q: How Good is Coinbase Support?
A: Coinbase support is notorious across the web for being slow. However, many have claimed they’ve had no problems with it. At this moment, they are overloaded due to the popularity of the site, so requests will take longer than expected.
As a newer crypto user myself, I can’t help but recommend Coinbase as the go-to launching point for beginners. I think that its combination of simplicity, security, and speed make it ideal for getting started.
Buying is a breeze, their wallet is secure, the interface is user-friendly (I’m a sucker for blue and white color schemes), and their security gives me peace of mind. They also allow you to buy crypto instantly with USD and their credit card fees are reasonable.
All of the negatives about Coinbase are in regards to its simplicity (few currencies, no in-depth tools, few payment options). But that’s because it’s aimed to be as simple as possible for new users. You can always purchase your crypto from Coinbase and move elsewhere once you’ve got more experience.
Verdict: A great, albeit limited, launching point for crypto trading!