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Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Which should you choose?

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With such similar-sounding names, it can be easy to get Coinbase and Coinbase Pro mixed up, since they’re both popular ways to trade cryptocurrency. Coinbase remains the entry-level service, while Coinbase Pro ups the ante in many ways. Each offers a different level of services, costs and features, so cryptocurrency traders looking to get in the game may want to figure out which exchange works best for their needs.

Here’s how Coinbase compares to Coinbase Pro across several key dimensions and what you need to know.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Trading commissions and other fees

There are some notable differences between the fee structures on Coinbase and Coinbase Pro.

Coinbase’s fee structure can be uncertain, because it’s not clearly disclosed, and the service charges varying fees based on the size of your purchase and how you pay for it. Recently, the company began obscuring the fees for this service tier, making it harder to see what you’re paying.

For small transactions, Coinbase includes a spread markup of 0.5 percent of your trade value, which is why the buy and sell prices may differ from what you see on other services. Then it tacks on some other fees based on how large your purchase is, as shown in the table below.

Coinbase’s fee structure:

Transaction amount Fee
$10 or less $0.99
More than $10 and up to $25 $1.49
More than $25 and up to $50 $1.99
More than $50 and up to $200 $2.99

And if you work those numbers a little bit, you can see what a big cut Coinbase can take. For example, if you buy just $10 worth of crypto, you’ll pay a fee of $0.99 – good for nearly 10 percent of your investment. And that’s on top of the embedded fee you’re already paying in the spread markup. Even at $200, you’re still adding on a $2.99 fee, nearly a 1.5 percent fee for the purchase.

On purchases greater than $200, Coinbase adds a variable fee in place of its flat fee above. (See the table below.) So if you’re buying with a debit card, expect another 3.99 percent to be added to the welter of fees.

Coinbase funding fees:

Payment method Fee
U.S. bank account 1.49 percent
Coinbase USD wallet 1.49 percent
Debit card 3.99 percent
Instant card withdrawal Up to 1.5 percent of any transaction; minimum fee of $0.55

How does that compare to the fees at Coinbase Pro? Well, Coinbase Pro uses a volume-based sliding scale that’s more typical for crypto exchanges, with varying rates for those who provide liquidity (makers) and those who take liquidity (takers). Your price also depends on the amount of dollar volume you’ve generated over the prior 30 days.

Coinbase Pro fees

Pricing Tier Taker Fee Maker Fee
$0 – 10K 0.60 percent 0.40 percent
$10K – 50K 0.40 percent 0.25 percent
$50K – 100K 0.25 percent 0.15 percent
$100K – 1M 0.20 percent 0.10 percent
$1M – 20M 0.18 percent 0.08 percent
$20M – 100M 0.15 percent 0.05 percent
$100M – 300M 0.10 percent 0.02 percent
$300M – 500M 0.08 percent 0.00 percent
$500M+ 0.05 percent 0.00 percent

If you made a $200 trade on Coinbase Pro, even at the highest taker rate, it would cost $1.20. That’s a sizable difference from what you’d pay on the entry level Coinbase trade.

Advantage: Clear and huge advantage to Coinbase Pro, and more so for anyone looking to trade regularly.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Transparency about fees

For two trading services that are offered by the same company, their transparency about fees could not be more different. Coinbase doesn’t give the public what it needs to know before becoming a customer. That’s a shame, but not surprising, given the large fees extracted from its clients’ wallets, at least in percentage terms. Yes, Coinbase tells you the fee you’ll pay right before you make the trade, but it’s purposely avoiding sharing its fees until you get there.

On the other hand, Coinbase Pro does a quite good job about sharing its fee structure with potential clients. This is also not surprising, given that the structure is broadly in line with those offered at other major crypto exchanges, even if it’s not always the cheapest among its rivals.

Advantage: Coinbase Pro. It’s just too hard to trust a service that tries to obscure its prices.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Available cryptocurrencies

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are close when it comes to the number of cryptocurrencies available on their respective platforms. According to Bankrate’s most recent count, Coinbase offers 174 coins on its platform, while Coinbase Pro lists 158 pairs with U.S. dollars. But both platforms contain the most popular coinsBitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Polkadot, Solana and plenty of others. So unless you’re into niche coins, you’ll find it on either platform.

Advantage: Tie.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Staking

Staking rewards are a kind of income generated from holding cryptocurrency and helping to support a given crypto ecosystem. You could think of it like interest on a bank account or a stock dividend, but it’s riskier than those kinds of income. By staking your coins with a larger group that’s validating crypto transactions, you could earn even more coins.

On Coinbase, clients can stake their crypto coins, and owners can earn staking rewards on a few coins, including Ethereum, Algorand, Tezos, Cosmos and Cardano. You’ll need a minimum balance in that specific cryptocurrency to participate and you’ll need to hold the coins on Coinbase.com. Coinbase will handle the technical side of things once you sign up, and it will take a cut of your staking rewards.

Coinbase Pro does not offer staking rewards.

Advantage: Coinbase.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Custody

The ability to take control of your cryptocurrency – or custody your assets – is a big deal to many holders of digital currencies. If you trade with some traditional brokers, you won’t be able to take custody of assets yourself. Instead, they’ll be held by another financial institution. That doesn’t sit well with those who view the promise of crypto as avoiding financial intermediaries.

Both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro allow you to take custody of your assets yourself. You can set up a wallet, either a hosted wallet with Coinbase or Pro, or you can bring your own third-party wallet. You can pick the crypto wallet that works best for you, whether you use a hardware wallet or a software wallet or would prefer to leave your coins on the platform for trading.

Advantage: Tie.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Ease of use

Coinbase has a relatively straightforward trading platform. You’ll basically need to click buy or sell next to the asset you want to purchase. It really couldn’t be much easier, and that may be important to the beginners that Coinbase is targeting. It’s a really stripped-down experience.

Coinbase Pro offers a more sophisticated trading platform, with a trading interface that looks daunting at first glance. You’ll get a trading platform that feels more professional: a feed of live prices, charts, charting tools, an order book and trade history. It may look overwhelming at first, but you’ll quickly discover how to input your orders and how to find what you need.

Advantage: Coinbase Pro. The trading platform may look too complex, compared to Coinbase’s simplified interface, but before long you can be zipping around rather easily. So the minimal increase in complexity is quickly outweighed by the other features and benefits.

Bottom line

Unless you’re planning on doing very little trading – and maybe even if you are – Coinbase Pro is the hands-down winner here. You’ll get reasonable and transparent pricing as well as other features that make its slightly more-difficult-to-use trading platform worth the little bit of extra time it takes to learn. Yes, those interested in staking are left out at Coinbase Pro, but is it really worth the much higher percentage fees that you’re paying to go with the entry-level Coinbase?

Written by
James Royal
Senior investing and wealth management reporter
Bankrate senior reporter James F. Royal, Ph.D., covers investing and wealth management. His work has been cited by CNBC, the Washington Post, The New York Times and more.
Edited by
Senior wealth editor