What do you need to know about Coinbase fees? This crypto exchange gets high marks for being newbie-friendly, and if you are new to cryptocurrency you may appreciate the ease of use. But as you learn more about trading crypto you may decide that Coinbase’s fee structure isn’t for you; there seems to be a concerted effort to steer investors toward the exchange’s Coinbase Pro option.
Coinbase is a U.S. company launched in 2012. Formerly known as GMAX, there are some 43 million Coinbase subscribers. Some of these users may also use Coinbase Pro, a trading platform for professionals. Coinbase Pro operates separately from Coinbase.
Billed as one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the space, you can use Coinbase to buy and sell virtual currency, you may have access to a free crypto wallet service, and you can do conversions between multiple types of cryptocurrency. There may also be options to earn income through crypto staking.
Many Coinbase services come with fees, but some of those fees can be avoided by upgrading to the Coinbase Pro membership. You’ll need to read the terms of service carefully, as options are always subject to change.
Review sites consistently rank Coinbase down for having unclear fee policies, confusing fee structures, and a lack of consistency in this area overall. It is a good idea to compare the Coinbase fee structure offered to you with other exchanges that provide similar services including Coinbase Pro.
One Nerdwallet review of Coinbase describes the company’s fee structure as, “a confusing combination of elements” that essentially relies on the following factors:
- Coinbase charges a spread when you buy or sell cryptocurrency. This spread may be affected by market conditions.
- Coinbase reportedly sets its fees based on your payment method, volatility, liquidity, and other variables. This means the fees you encounter may be subject to change more frequently than you might expect.
- Coinbase charges fees meant to offset transaction costs with external blockchain networks.
While specific minimum investment amounts are always subject to change, at press time a minimum of $2 is required to buy crypto on Coinbase.
When you open a Coinbase account, you agree to pay trading fees; a “maker” fee as a seller or a “taker” fee as a buyer. These fees are tiered based upon trading volume. You may be required to pay a percentage of the transaction between .04% and .50%.
You may be required to pay a flat fee of 0.50% when you buy crypto directly from Coinbase. You may be subject to a variable fee depending on where you purchase from, the type of purchase you want to make, and how you wish to pay.
For example, wire transfers may cost between $10 and $25. A PayPal payment is charged a small percentage of the transaction amount (2.5% at press time). ACH transfers were listed as free at press time.
You are charged a commission (under 2% at press time) for exchanging crypto for fiat currency.
The actual “spread” you are charged is subject to change due to volatility, liquidity, and other variables but you may typically be able to expect a “spread margin” of 2%. This is charged for crypto and coins that are handled like crypto such as those involving USD Coin. Coinbase has been making a move toward low or no fees for this, but it’s unclear at press time whether there is meant to be widespread use of those low-or-no-fee conversions on the platform.
Not only are you charged a fee when taking your money out of Coinbase, but you may also be charged more if you are trying to do so during peak traffic times. Gas fees will be an important factor when you decide on the timing of your transactions.
If you are considering using Coinbase Pro, you will want to know how the Pro fees differ from what’s been described above. A great example is when you want to convert one type of cryptocurrency to another using Coinbase Pro; you are typically not charged a fee to do so. With Coinbase Pro you can use the system to execute trades, install your limits and deliver stop orders while exchanging one type of crypto to another.
You may be given lower fees on Coinbase Pro if you trade in volume; it’s good to learn more about those options early if you anticipate doing a lot of buying and selling.
It may be tempting to use Coinbase Pro right out of the gate to avoid certain costs. While there are no monthly fees to use a Coinbase Pro account, the features you have access to include advanced trading options.
If you are a beginner it may be wise to consider using the more expensive Coinbase option first, learn the ropes, and avoid the temptation to do riskier trades with advanced tools you know little about–for now. Also, the Coinbase Pro option does not permit you to stake crypto to earn passively from it. If that is your goal, the Coinbase “main” platform may be more suitable for your needs.
The more time you invest into learning about crypto and how it works, the closer you get to being ready for Coinbase Pro. But not all crypto buyers want to go the professional route. You may wish to look into a rival program such as Binance.
Joe Wallace has covered real estate and financial topics, including crypto and NFTs since 1995. His work has appeared on Veteran.com, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and many print and online publications. Joe is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.