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Coinbase review – is it really the world’s most trusted crypto exchange?

In this Coinbase review, we take a cold, hard look at the good, bad and ugly of the ‘world’s most trusted crypto-exchange’. Those words came straight from Coinbase itself, but the negative reviews suggest otherwise…

So is this really the best crypto-exchange to use? Is your money safe with Coinbase? And can it really be trusted? This is my open and honest Coinbase review based on my personal experience. You be the judge.

Heads up – We aim to produce honest and accurate content, however, we are not financial advisors. If you need financial advice, Unbiased can connect you with a suitable professional for free. Some of our links may earn us a small commission to help us run the site.

What is Coinbase?

Quick glance

  • Largest cryptocurrency exchange platform in the US (based on trading volume)
  • Founded in 2012
  • Set up by a former Airbnb engineer and a Goldman Sachs trader
  • 43 million users across 100 countries
  • Total assets £21.3 billion (2021)
  • 3,730 staff (2021)
  • Valued at $47bn when floated on the NASDAQ in April 2021

Fun facts

  • No physical offices – since the Covid19 pandemic hit, in May 2020 all employees started working remotely full time.
  • Blocked crypto wallet addresses related to Russia – In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Coinbase blocked 25,000 crypto wallet addresses related to Russia, as they were believed to be linked to illicit activity. (Though the question has to be asked, if they were illicit accounts, why wait for an invasion?)
  • Went viral during Superbowl 2020Coinbase‘s Superbowl ad went viral and was considered the most effective of the game. It had no words, just music and cost $217k per second, $13m in total. It was simply a black background with a bouncing QR code, satirising the old DVD screensaver. The link took people to a webpage offering $15 in free Bitcoin for new accounts. It was so successful, it had 20m hits in 60 seconds, causing the site to crash. Watch it on YouTube.

Coinbase overview

Coinbase largely consists of three main ‘products’, plus three key features (though there are lots more):

Main products

1. Coinbase App

2. Coinbase Pro

3. Coinbase Wallet

Key features (in addition to standard trading)

1. Coinbase Card 

2. Coinbase Learn

3. Coinbase Staking

Coinbase app

Overall, the Coinbase app is intuitive, user friendly and helpful. 

It’s particularly useful when planning your journey through educational hints, tips and lessons. This includes features such as:

    • Unsure what to buy? Most popular assets
    • How to start with Dollar Cost averaging
    • Not ready to buy? Deposit funds and be ready

You can also use the Coinbase app to set up useful features, including:

    • Setting up recurring buys
    • Creating watchlists and alerts
    • Sending and receiving/paying crypto with friends and family

Then there are the categories of cryptocurrencies you can invest and trade in which is, frankly, vast:

    • Earn crypto interest
    • DeFi
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Smart Contracts
    • Web 3.0
    • NFT platforms
    • Stablecoins
    • Lending and borrowing
    • Ethereum tokens
    • Governance tokens
    • ‘Top Picks’
Coinbase app homepage

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Coinbase Pro

Welcome to Coinbase Pro, your comprehensive real-time crypto-trading. When I say ‘comprehensive’, I mean it. Seriously, this place is a rabbit warren of crypto information and to be honest? It’s somewhat overwhelming to anyone other than seasoned crypto-traders.

Essentially, from this interface, individuals can access real-time order books, trade history and charting tools.

You can even access Coinbase APIs to plug in your own crypto-trading bots.

Coinbase pro dashboard

However, the key message and benefit of Coinbase Pro is that all your digital assets held in online storage are fully insured (up to $250,000).

Warning: features of Coinbase Pro are restricted by location and, currently, only crypto-to-crypto trading pairs are supported in the UK. Check out this Coinbase Pro locations page for more details.

Coinbase Wallet

Fundamentally, Coinbase Wallet is a software-based (app or browser extension), self-custody wallet. It has three main functions:

1. Keeps you secure. The Coinbase Wallet gives you control of your tokens or private keys by storing them directly on your mobile device, rather than a centralised exchange such as Coinbase.

2. Acts as your passport to the world of crypto and the decentralised web. Essentially, you’ll need one of these to access some features such as earning interest and trading some assets like NFTs. Plus you can also use Decentralised Apps (DAPPs) to lend out your crypto and earn a return.

3. Connects to your Coinbase account to safely transfer crypto.

Coinbase Wallet features

    • Makes it easy to store and manage your crypto
    • Free mobile app and browser extension
    • Link your Coinbase Wallet to your Coinbase account to safely transfer crypto
    • Chat support (though reviews suggest customer service can be hard to get hold of)

Coinbase Wallet reviews

Coinbase reviews Playstore

Unfortunately, it’s not pretty reading. My finger was hovering over the ‘install’ button on the PlayStore, ready to get going. But the reviews made me hesitate. Here are the facts:

  • 5m downloads
  • 3.9 stars of 44k reviews (reviews are mainly either 5 or 1 star)
  • Negative review comments include:
    • Fees are high to transfer or convert crypto into fiat money or another crypto (this is a very common one)
    • Coinbase stole their crypto (unfortunately a lot of people say this)
    • Some can’t get their money out
    • People had their wallets drained
    • Others expressed privacy concerns

You also have to go through the faff of having to verify your ID again.

I really wanted to love this app, but I can’t get past all of these comments…and there are a lot.

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Coinbase Card

Coinbase Card is a Visa debit card that allows you to spend cryptocurrency anywhere in the world.

Crucially, it’s funded by your Coinbase account and provides a number of features:

  • Spend crypto instantly (sounds easy…and dangerous)
  • Use it anywhere in the world – use contactless, PIN or even withdraw cash.
  • Security – uses features such as two-step authentication and instant card freezes.
  • Choose which crypto to pay in – simply select your chosen crypto wallet to pay from.
  • Track your spending – reports, receipts and notifications, it’s all here.

Coinbase Card reviews

Honestly, it’s pretty bleak reading. Only 100k+ downloads and a rating of 2.4. PlayStore reviews don’t get much worse.

Many comments seem to be lamenting the authorisation process not working or the app not responding. In fact, the sub-3 star reviews seem to be putting people off installing it at all (as it did with me).

Coinbase Visa Card screenshot
Coinbase card Playstore reviews

Looking for a higher-rated crypto card?
Check out our Crypto.com review.

Coinbase Learn

With Coinbase Learn, things start getting a little better. We like financial education. We like when it’s free. And we like it even better when it earns us rewards (biased and arbitrary as they may be).

Essentially, with Coinbase Learn, you get rewarded in crypto relevant to the module you took by taking lessons that teach you about the world of cryptocurrency.

Topics can include:

  • How does ‘the graph’ work?
  • What is Bitcoin?
  • What is Etheruem?
  • Beginner’s guide to DeFi tokens and altcoins
  • Crypto slang explained
Screen showing Coinbase Learn $1 GRT reward

My Coinbase Learn experience

One of my first lessons was a short course explaining ‘the graph’. It was a series of four short modules, each around one minute long.

At the end was a mini-quiz as a knowledge check and in return, I earnt $4 GRT (an Ethereum token that powers ‘the graph’).

Quite what amassing a GRT fortune will yield remains to be seen. And there seems to be a lot of GRT on offer to download the Coinbase Wallet (see what I mean about the bias?).

However, take it with a healthy dose of cynicism and see it for what it is, and it does help dispel some of the murky myths of crypto.

Coinbase Staking

Coinbase crypto staking allows you to earn up to 5% APR on your crypto. That’s far better than any traditional savings account right now.

Essentially, you’re contributing your crypto to the proof-of-stake network of a given cryptocurrency.

This makes the network more efficient and in return, you earn rewards. There’s more to it than that and it’s worth extra research, but using a platform like Coinbase makes it a whole lot easier.

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Coinbase fees

Let me level with you, Coinbase‘s fee structure can be confusing and isn’t exactly transparent.

The best thing you can do to keep fees low is make sure you put your cash in via a bank transfer. Don’t buy directly from a credit or debit card.

After this point, you’ll typically pay at least 1.49% per transaction (transactions include buying and selling). If you’re trading smaller amounts then Coinbase is going to charge even higher fees:

  • If the total transaction amount is less than £10, the fee is £0.99
  • If the total transaction amount is between £10 and £25, the fee is £1.49
  • If the total transaction amount is between £25 and £50, the fee is £1.99
  • If the total transaction amount is between £50 and £200, the fee is £2.99

So if you buy £100 of Bitcoin, it’s going to cost you £2.99 to buy it. That’s a whopping 3% fee. And you’ll then pay another fee when you come to sell it too.

Fees can eat into your investment gains (or losses) so keeping them low is key. By comparison, Crypto.com‘s fees are just 0.4% per transaction.

Coinbase Pro fees

Fees get better here; they’re both cheaper and simpler.

Typically, it’s a straightforward 0 – 0.5% with a simple tier system.

Plus there are no hidden extras for bank account fees, wallets or debit/credit cards.

In addition, there are no limits on the amount you trade. On the other hand, with the base Coinbase account, the trade amount is limited by where you live and how you pay.

Coinbase reviews

Trustpilot Coinbase review screenshot

We’ve already seen Coinbase Card and Wallet review poorly on Google Play.

Sadly things don’t get much better on the independent review site, Trustpilot.

Of the 6,990 reviews that existed when I checked, 78% rated Coinbase as ‘bad’. That’s the lowest category.

User complaints were themed around funds being withheld, poor customer service and unnecessary personal details being collected.

Looking for a different crypto exchange?
Check out our Crypto.com review.

Is Coinbase good for beginners?

According to Coinbase, there’s lots to be reassured of.

  • All funds are fully insured
  • 98% of coins are stored in offline cold storage
  • Adheres to GDPR regulations
  • Offers 2-factor authentication

Those negative reviews though… Worth considering.

Is Coinbase safe for UK?

The simple and user-friendly mobile app will certainly appeal to crypto new starters.

There’s also a lot of information and lessons there to help you buff up your knowledge.

On the flip side, the services and options are so broad you could easily be overwhelmed. Plus there are many features that should really only be considered by seasoned crypto investors, so I like to stay in shallow waters.

Coinbase review - what we like

  • Usability – User-friendly mobile app.
  • Learning – Free information and lessons.
  • Speed – Quick and easy to start trading once registered.
  • Security – Trusted by millions of users (despite the reviews).
  • Features – Broad range of crypto services to suit beginners and seasoned crypto investors alike.

Coinbase review - what we don't like

  • Negative Reviews – We simply can’t ignore the negative reviews and bad press on multiple review platforms.
  • Set-up time – The registration process can take a long time compared to other platforms.
  • Fees – Oh heck, those fees! It’s definitely one of the most expensive platforms we’ve seen.

My Coinbase experience

I started using Coinbase as a crypto-newbie. However, it took a long time to get registered and approved which was frustrating as I was ready to get going.

So in the meantime, I started buying crypto through my Revolut bank account. This was much quicker and much easier to set up, register and start trading.

The two don’t really compare though. Revolut is a bank account that can be used to buy common cryptocurrencies. Whereas Coinbase is the largest crypto-exchange out there with a raft of features (which I haven’t used to anywhere near their full extent).

As part of this Coinbase review, I’ve been taking a deeper dive into the various features…

Initially, I liked the Crypto Earn lessons to increase my knowledge. But I soon found many of them to simply be a funnel to entice me to download the Coinbase Card or Wallet.

In truth though, the reason I don’t use Coinbase is more to do with the negative reviews. There are simply too many of them for me to get past, and that’s disappointing.

Coinbase review summary

When it comes to crypto-exchanges, it doesn’t get much bigger than Coinbase. Their power is such that simply getting a crypto listed on this exchange determines its widespread adoption. This is the so-called ‘Coinbase effect’.

And while it’s easy to use, once registered, it’s also comprehensive, almost overwhelmingly so. In addition to crypto, you can also trade other assets such as DeFi , Smart Contracts and NFTs.

All this makes Coinbase a credible option for newbie and seasoned crypto-investors.

But, and it’s a big but, it’s hard to ignore the reviews and of course the high fees. In writing this Coinbase review, the research I undertook around Trustpilot, Google Play Store and other sites was seriously concerning.

Coinbase calls itself the world’s most trusted crypto exchange. But it’s hard to believe such a bold statement when you read the reviews.

That said, one has to wonder why they also have 43 million users despite so many negative reviews.

Personally, I’ve continued to use it as one of the crypto exchanges I trade from, and I use it to get free Bitcoin and crypto too. But I don’t use the Wallet, Card or more advanced features. I just can’t get past those reviews to trust it more.

If you still have questions, please come join our supportive UK Personal Finance club on Facebook, where you’ll find other like-minded individuals. It’s a safe, private community where you can ask questions and learn more about making the most of your money. Best of all, it’s free! I’d love to see you there.

Here’s to your Financial Fitness.

EatSleepMoney.co.uk does not offer financial advice and is intended for reference/information only. Remember, you should always carry out your own research and/or take specific professional advice before choosing any financial products or services or undertaking any business or financial venture. If you need financial advice Unbiased can connect you with a suitable professional for free. Investments may go up as well as down and you may get back less than you put in.

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