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Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro

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Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are two of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, with hundreds of billions of dollars traded through the platforms annually. They are both designed to help users buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrency.

Coinbase Global, Inc. owns both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro, but they offer very different platforms for trading cryptocurrency. While Coinbase is aimed at helping beginner investors make their first cryptocurrency purchase, Coinbase Pro is a professional-level trading platform aimed at active traders.

The biggest difference between the two platforms is their user interface. Coinbase offers a clean, simple way to buy and sell cryptocurrency with only a few options for placing orders. Coinbase Pro, on the other hand, gives users advanced charting and trading options, giving superior control for advanced traders.

We’ve reviewed both platforms based on their supported currencies, security, fees, features, and more so you can decide which option is right for you.

Unlike traditional brokerage firms, cryptocurrency exchanges are not members of the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC). Therefore, unless user terms specify otherwise, investors with cryptocurrency assets commingled on a custodial cryptocurrency exchange could potentially lose their funds as unsecured creditors.

Investing in cryptocurrencies, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and other Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is highly risky and speculative, and the markets can be extremely volatile. Consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. This article is not a recommendation by The Balance or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or timeliness of the information be guaranteed.

Coinbase


Coinbase

Coinbase

What We Like
  • Beginner friendly

  • Cryptocurrency watchlist with price alerts

  • Two-factor authentication and cold storage

  • Buy with debit cards

What We Don't Like
  • Higher fees than most exchanges

  • Tracks how users spend cryptocurrency

  • No control over private keys

Coinbase Pro


What We Like
  • Advanced charting and trading options

  • Two-factor authentication and cold storage

  • Multiple trade options including stop and limit orders

What We Don't Like
  • Too complicated for beginners

  • No control over private keys

  • High fees compared to competing platforms

At a Glance

  Coinbase Coinbase Pro
Features Simple interface. Buy, sell, and exchange crypto. Price quoted in USD. Professional trading interface. Multiple order types. Advanced charting and analysis.
Fees 0.60% per trade, lower with volume. Miner fees also apply. Some deposit and withdrawal methods incur a fee. 0.60% per trade, lower with volume. Miner fees also apply. Some deposit and withdrawal methods incur a fee.
Number of cryptocurrencies supported 170+ 170+
Security features 2FA via SMS or Google Authenticator app. Cold storage and multi-signature wallets. USD balances are FDIC insured (up to $250k). 2FA via SMS or Google Authenticator app. Cold storage and multi-signature wallets. USD balances are FDIC insured (up to $250k). Whitelisting pre-approved addresses.
Types of transactions Buy. Sell. Exchange. Send. Receive. Deposit. Withdraw. Buy. Sell. Trade. Deposit. Withdraw. Stop order. Limit order. Time in force order policies.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Ease of Use

Coinbase is designed with beginners in mind, offering a simple interface for buying and selling cryptocurrency. They also have a user-friendly mobile app on both iOS and Android for access on the go.

Coinbase makes it easy to get started with a simple signup form and verification process. Once you have signed up, you can connect a bank account or other source of funds to immediately begin purchasing crypto.

While Coinbase is an extremely intuitive platform to use, Coinbase Pro might seem intimidating to beginner investors when they first log in, as it’s designed with professional traders in mind. It presents users with a live price feed, multiple order options, and up-to-the-minute price charting, which might feel overwhelming if you’ve never traded cryptocurrency. 

Signing up for Coinbase Pro is very similar to Coinbase. If you already have a Coinbase account you must use the same email address. Both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro will use your same login setting to access either platform.

Coinbase Pro offers a mobile app on both the iOS and Android platforms.

Coinbase does not allow new customers to link a credit card to their account in the U.S.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Security

Since your account login information for both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are connected, they both offer the same security features. 

Here are some of the security options available on both platforms:

Two-Factor Authentication

An industry best practice, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro offer two-factor authentication via SMS or the Google Authenticator app. This makes logging into your account more secure and makes it less likely that hackers can gain access to it.

Cold Storage and Crypto Vaults

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro store 98% of crypto assets offline in secure cold storage (not on the internet) and away from the prying eyes of online hackers. 

Both also employ an additional layer of protection through cryptocurrency vaults to prevent fraudulent withdrawals. Vaults are time-locked and can be set up with multiple user approvals so that any withdrawal request will be canceled if all approvals are not completed within a 24-hour period.

FDIC Insurance (up to $250,000)

Coinbase offers FDIC insurance on USD deposits. Like a traditional bank, Coinbase offers FDIC insurance on deposits up to $250,000. This coverage does NOT, however, extend to your cryptocurrency funds.

Whitelisting Crypto Addresses

Another layer of protection is the ability to restrict access to addresses that can withdraw your cryptocurrency. These addresses are saved in your address book, blocking any other addresses from accessing your funds. This feature is only available on Coinbase Pro.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Features

Both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro allow users to buy and sell cryptocurrency with ease, but they both go about it in different ways. Below are a few of the unique features on each platform.

Coinbase Unique Features

Free education and free crypto: Coinbase has user education built into its platform and mobile app, helping beginners learn about cryptocurrency. These are bite-sized videos that teach users about a certain cryptocurrency project and will even reward them with a small bonus amount of the currency.

Newsfeed: Coinbase keeps users up-to-date on current events with a newsfeed built into the platform. These are curated articles from around the web on updates and breaking news within the crypto space.

Price Alerts: Coinbase allows you to create a watchlist of cryptocurrencies that will give you price alerts when there are big swings in price. These can be set up to be pushed to your mobile phone, or simply appear within the app.

Coinbase Pro Unique Features

Multiple trade options: Coinbase Pro offers more control over your cryptocurrency trading, giving users access to multiple trade options. Stop orders allow users to set a sell price to limit their losses. Limit orders allow users to set a buy point if they think a cryptocurrency will drop in value, letting them purchase at a lower price.

Advanced charting: Coinbase Pro allows users to create advanced charting views, such as minute-by-minute trading and viewing the moving averages for each cryptocurrency. The standard view shows the candlestick chart of the high and low prices within a specific time frame, similar to advanced stock charting programs, as well as open and close prices. You can also add multiple overlays to view the 12-day and 26-day exponential moving averages (EMA) to give you more insights into how a cryptocurrency is performing.

API keys: Coinbase Pro gives access to their API keys, allowing third-party apps to integrate with your Coinbase account.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Currencies

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro both offer access to buy, sell, and trade 170 cryptocurrencies and counting. While there are many cryptocurrencies in existence, Coinbase carries some of the most widely traded ones on the market.

Both Coinbase platforms allow you to purchase cryptocurrency in dollar amounts, allowing you to buy fractions of coins. Coinbase has a $2 minimum order amount. Coinbase Pro has no minimum dollar requirement, though the order cannot be smaller than 0.001 BTC, 0.01 BCH, 0.01 ETH, or 0.1 LTC.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Fees

Coinbase is a great way to help beginners get started, but it can be expensive. Understanding how they charge fees for buying and selling crypto may help you save a lot.

Coinbase charges maker-taker fees as high as 0.6%. Of course, makers pay less than takers and higher trade volumes mean lower fees. Instant buy purchases from Coinbase will carry a higher fee than buy trades on the exchange, but those aren't published by the company. Additionally, Coinbase charges extra fees based on the account used in the transaction.

Here is a breakdown of how Coinbase charges fees based on account type:

Account Fees
Card Buy A fee will apply
Instant Cashout to Bank A fee will apply
ACH Transfer Free 
Wire Transfer $10 ($25 outgoing)
SEPA (EUR) 0.15 EUR
SWIFT (GBP) Free deposit, 1 GBP withdrawal

Coinbase may be best for buy-and-hold investors who want to purchase a currency and hold it for the long term.

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro both use a maker-taker fee schedule for their exchanges. When users place an order at the market price that gets filled immediately, they are considered a “taker” and are charged the taker fee. When users place an order that is not immediately matched, it is placed in the order book (until a match is found), and they are considered a “maker” and are charged a maker fee when the trade executes.

Here is a breakdown of the maker-taker fee structure:

Pricing Tier (30-day volume) Taker Fee Maker Fee
Less than $10,000 0.60% 0.40%
$10,000-$50,000 0.40% 0.25% 
$50,000-$100,000 0.25% 0.15%
$100,000-$1 million 0.20% 0.10%
$1 million-$20 million 0.18% 0.08%
$20 million-$100 million 0.15% 0.05%
$100 million-$300 million 0.10% 0.02%
$300 million-$500 million 0.08% 0.00%
Over $500 million 0.05% 0.00%

Coinbase Pro only allows bank account, wire transfer, or Wallet transactions; it does not accept credit card or debit card purchases.

Coinbase Pro is very expensive compared to competing active trader platforms from Gemini and Kraken.

Final Verdict

When comparing Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro, as you might expect, there are a lot of similarities. Both have access to similar currencies, both are regulated exchanges with insurance, and both offer extremely safe storage of your digital assets.

If you are new to the cryptocurrency space, Coinbase is a great starting point. With its simple user interface, simple price charts, and user education built right in, you can become knowledgeable in no time. If you are looking to actively trade crypto and want access to advanced charting, and other tools Coinbase Pro is designed for you. 

No matter which platform you choose, understand that investing in cryptocurrencies is highly speculative, so never invest more than you are willing to lose.

FAQs

What Are Coinbase and Coinbase Pro?

Both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are cryptocurrency exchange platforms designed for buying, selling, and trading these currencies. They are designed to help users use their fiat money (such as U.S. dollars) to purchase cryptocurrency.

Both platforms are owned by Coinbase Global, Inc., and are the largest regulated cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States. They both offer protection for your deposited U.S. dollars, as well as your purchased cryptocurrency.

If you are looking to start investing in crypto, or if you already own some crypto and want to actively trade them, both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro can help you achieve those goals.

How Do Coinbase and Coinbase Pro Work?

Coinbase is an exchange, meaning it functions as an online brokerage for buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies. Users create an account and add funds via a standard financial account or credit card to purchase cryptocurrency. Those funds are used to purchase cryptocurrency, and Coinbase will store that currency until you sell, trade, or move it to your digital wallet.

For example: If you want to buy some Bitcoin, Coinbase will broker the transaction. You would create a Coinbase account, connect your bank account, and submit an order to purchase Bitcoin. You are exchanging U.S. dollars for Bitcoin, and Coinbase is storing that Bitcoin for you until you decide to do something with it.

Coinbase Pro functions the same way, allowing users to deposit fiat funds and exchange them into cryptocurrencies. The main difference is that Coinbase Pro does not allow purchases via debit or credit cards.

Should I Use the Coinbase Wallet?

The Coinbase Wallet is a secure digital wallet that allows you to hold your cryptocurrency in one place. It has multiple layers of protection, including biometric access controls and a 12-word recovery phrase.

Coinbase Wallet is a popular choice for exchanging crypto and can be used on many decentralized applications.

Who Should Use Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro?

Coinbase is ideal for beginner investors who are just getting started with cryptocurrency. Coinbase makes it simple to buy your first digital currency with its easy onboard and intuitive interface. Add in their user education section and crypto bonuses, Coinbase is a fantastic place for crypto newbies.

Coinbase Pro is a solid platform for active crypto traders who do a high volume of transactions. With their advanced charting and multiple trade options, it’s a great choice for managing your crypto portfolio. Add to that Coinbase Pro’s security features and FDIC insurance on USD deposits, this is a great platform for advanced crypto trading.

How We Evaluated Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro

When reviewing Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro, we compared each platform based on ease of use, fee structure, security, unique features, and support currencies. We also considered the types of trades available on each platform and their relative cost to the wider cryptocurrency exchange market. 

While both platforms are owned by Coinbase Global, Inc., they offer very different functionality for users. In general, we feel that Coinbase is best suited for first-time crypto investors due to its simple interface and user education component. Advanced crypto traders should look at Coinbase Pro for its more advanced charting and trading options.

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