Choosing the right broker to buy your cryptos can be a difficult process. Coinbase is one of the most popular choices that has been around for a while. But what exactly is the difference between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro? And which of the two is better?
With an easy to use platform and plenty of educational resources, Coinbase is more suited to the novice crypto investor. Coinbase Pro excels at low fees for high-volume trading with a complex web interface.
Neither platform has compelling research features but both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro provide excellent account security and fund safety through FDIC and private insurance policies.
In this article, we will discuss the differences between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. We’ll first have a look at what Coinbase and Coinbase actually are and what they are best used for. In the following section, we’ll compare the different features they offer and how you can best use these to invest in cryptocurrencies.
Lastly, we’ll compare the pros and cons of Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. We’ll take into account the usability of both platforms, the fees they charge and several other relevant factors.
Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro – Overview
Coinbase and Coinbase Pro offer several similar functions so and can be tough telling them apart. Let’s have a look first at what Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are and how you can best use them.
What is Coinbase?
Coinbase is an easy-to-use platform to buy and sell cryptocurrencies and manage your cryptocurrency portfolio. You can also earn up to $121 by learning about cryptocurrency with Coinbase and actually using them.
With Coinbase you can also build and manage your own cryptocurrency portfolio, sort of like with a traditional brokerage firm. However, Coinbase also gives you several additional features such as recurring buys and vault protection.
Coinbase stores all cryptocurrency held on its platform on secure offline storage. These storage facilities and the cryptos they hold are also covered by an extensive insurance policy and support dozens of the most common cryptocurrencies and tokens on the market today.
More than $150B worth of cryptocurrency have been exchanged on Coinbase since inception. Coinbase currently supports customer sign ups from more than 102 countries and has served more than 30 million customers worldwide.
What Coinbase is best for
- Starting out with crypto
- Crypto investing
- Crypto portfolio management
Coinbase is ideal for investors starting out in the crypto space. They offer a ton of features that make the transition from traditional financial products to crypto finance seamless and easy. Investing for the longer term and holding crypto-assets can also be done with Coinbase, even managing your crypto portfolio is easy with Coinbase’s portfolio dashboard.
However, you should consider a hardware wallet if you plan on holding your cryptos long-term.
What is Coinbase Pro?
Coinbase Pro is a secure and insurance-backed crypto trading platform for professional traders. It is run by the same umbrella company that runs Coinbase but is geared towards higher frequency and cost-efficient trading.
Coinbase Pro offers and extensive API that allows you to get access to accurate and real-time market data and automate placing trades via third-party integrations. You could also create your own trading bot using Coinbase Pro’s API and the data it provides.
Balances held on Coinbase Pro are also covered by FDIC insurance up to a maximum of $250,000 per customer. Overall, Coinbase Pro charges significantly fewer fees than the regular Coinbase trading platform, especially for higher trade volumes.
In contrast to Coinbase, Coinbase Pro also offers a professional trading platform that enable you to track prices accurately and place limit, trailing stop, and market orders.
What Coinbase Pro is best for
- Day trading
- High-frequency trading
- Speed trading
- Automated trading
Coinbase Pro is best for crypto trading that relies on accuracy and speed. Thus, it is best suited for day trading, high-volume trading needs, and speed trading. Its API also enables third-party apps to connect to Coinbase Pro in order to execute automated trading strategies.
Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro – Features
Coinbase offers the option to earn crypto while learning about crypto. On this page, you will find all available courses each paying between $5-$50 after completion. Currently, courses on Maker, Celo, Compound, and 10+ other cryptocurrencies are available.
By completing these courses you will be able to earn up to $121 in total crypto rewards. These rewards will then be credited directly to your Coinbase account.
Coinbase Pro does not offer such an earn feature. However, you can transfer funds from Coinbase Pro to Coinbase instantly in order to make use of this offer.
Another feature that sets Coinbase apart from Coinbase Pro are ‘Vaults’. Vaults are used to store your crypto assets securely by locking them in for a certain period of time. Say, you know that you won’t need to withdraw any Bitcoin in the near future you can enable the vault feature and lock your Bitcoin in for 30 days.
This will prevent anyone (including you) from transferring Bitcoin out of your Coinbase wallet. Coinbase Pro does not offer this feature.
Recurring buys are a third feature that Coinbase offers its customers and Coinbase Pro does not. With recurring buys you can set a specific amount of crypto to be bought at specific intervals. This allows to effectively set up a dollar-cost averaging strategy for your crypto investments.
With Coinbase Pro you are able to set limit order and schedule trades. But recurring buys as such are not available.
Market orders or spot orders are the most basic form of crypto trading are available on both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. A market order simply accepts the current market price plus the slippage and executes the trade at that price.
For most conservative crypto investing activity market orders will be sufficient for your trading needs.
In contrast to market order, limit orders only execute when a specific price limit is reached. You set the maximum price you are willing to pay for an asset and the trade is then executed once the market price hits your limit price.
This advanced trading feature is only available on Coinbase Pro.
An application programming interface (API) allows you and third-party apps to integrate with your Coinbase Pro account, read market data, and execute trades on your behalf. If you plan on automating your crypto trading, Coinbase Pro is your only option.
Coinbase does not allow you to programmatically engage with its data or your account. Luckily, funds are transferrable easily from Coinbase to Coinbase Pro instantly.
Margin trading is the process of leveraging your trading position in order to maximize profits (or losses). With margin trading you inherently carry a lot more risk and might lose your entire capital if the market turns against you.
Coinbase Pro has recently enabled margin trading on US accounts in 23 states. Click here to check if margin trading is available in your state.
Coinbase has recently enabled instant PayPal deposits and withdrawal for most US customers. In order to make use of this payment method, you need to have your account fully verified. PayPal account transactions are currently only available for Coinbase.
With Coinbase Pro you are not able to deposit or withdraw funds using PayPal. However, you would be able to top up your Coinbase account using PayPal and then import those funds into your Coinbase Pro account.
Coinbase and Coinbase Pro have taken out extensive insurance policies against hacking and other cyber attacks. Even though only about 2% of assets are held in online storage, an attack that results in the loss of customers’ funds would be covered by Coinbase’s insurance.
However, it is important to point out that this insurance does not cover any losses resulting from the compromise of your individual Coinbase account. This means the responsibility for ensuring the safety of your own account lies with you.
In addition to this insurance policy, Coinbase Pro also offers FDIC insurance up to $250,000 per customer on funds held in active accounts. This coverage only applied to balances held in USD.
Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are both available to customers in the United States. However, available trading pairs and margin trading requirements vary by state. Neither Coinbase nor Coinbase Pro is currently available in the state of Hawaii.
Furthermore, license regulations vary by state such that some features might not be available to you depending on the state you live in. To check whether you can use Coinbase and Coinbase Pro in your state click here.
Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro – Pros & Cons
In terms of features, both platforms – Coinbase and Coinbase Pro – go pretty much head to head. The type of feature that they offer simply differs:
Coinbase’s features are targeted to investors just starting out in crypto or planning their crypto portfolio for the long term. Coinbase Pro’s features are intended to be used by higher-frequency traders.
As a result Coinbase offers incentives such as Coinbase Earn where new users can learn about blockchain technology and earn rewards in crypto and Vaults. Coinbase Pro, on the other hand, offer far more features for actively trading cryptocurrencies and setting up automated strategies.
Neither is much better than the other in this category. It just depends on your needs as a crypto investor.
The user experience on both trading platform is well-designed and easy to use. Coinbase defintely offers a more beginner-friendly crypto approach that is focused more on education and security than Coinbase Pro.
In order to efficiently use Coinbase Pro a steeper learning curve is required. Even just finding the correct forms to place a market or limit order can be confusing for non-traders. Of course, this user experience makes sense if we think about their target audience: professional traders.
Coinbase provides you with a neat dashboard that quickly allows you to get an over of your past transactions and current holdings.
Not only does this dashboard work flawlessly and intuitive, you can use all of Coinbase’s functions either in the web app or the mobile app. All of the above features are available both on desktop and on mobile.
Because of their design choices and focus on complexity, Coinbase Pro is simply more tedious to use on mobile. A smaller screen makes the complex information displayed on Coinbase Pro desktops even less usable.
This is likely one of the reasons the Coinbase Pro app is rated rather poorly on app stores.
When in comes to fees Coinbase Pro clearly has the upper hand. Not only are the base fees charges per trasactions significantly lower than Coinbase’s, you also get volume discounts the more you trade.
As a result, fees on trades can range from a base level of 0.5% per trade to only 0.04% when you have a trading volume of more than one billion dollars. Sure, that’s a bit of a stretch but you get the point! Click here to check Coinbase Pro’s exact fee structure.
Coinbase charges a base spread of 0.5% in addition to a flat fee per transaction. This especially is detrimental for smaller traders and investors looking to start in crypto as most of their profits will be eaten up by fees.
For instance, a $10 transaction buying or selling Bitcoin would cost you $0.05 + $0.99 = $1.04. That’s a commission of more than 10%!
Cryptocurrency research capabilities of either Coinbase or Coinbase Pro are not that great. Perhaps doing your research elsewhere is good advice anyhow.
With Coinbase you are pretty much limited to the historic prices and some basic information on the crypto asset you are trading. In fairness, Coinbase offers a lot more educational material outside of its platform dashboard, i.e. Coinbase Earn.
Coinbase Pro provides even less information for you to research certain blockchain projects. In turn, you do get access to a huge amount of technical data such as prices, averages and more. For conducting fundamental research and analyzing news articles Coinbase Pro is not suited.
Neither of these two platforms is especially well equipped to handle extensive research needs. In my experience, it is best anyhow to conduct your research independently from your broker. This way you’ll make sure to align your incentives with that of the research provider.
With regard to security of your funds, both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are reasonable choices. Both platforms offer two-factor authentication for you account to prevent unauthorized access.
In addition to account security, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro have also taken out additional insurance policies to prevent a loss of customers’ funds in the event of a cyber attack. Furthermore, balances in Coinbase Pro are FDIC insured.
The reason I only gave four stars to each is that your Coinbase and Coinbase Pro account are vulnerable to being hacked. In the event that your password is compromised and your account accessed without your consent, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro do not take any responsibility for a loss of funds.
To make sure your crypto assets are safe, ALWAYS store them on a hardware wallet in cold storage. This will make it impossible for your cryptos to be stolen without the wallet or the seed phrase.
Coinbase is excellent for novice investors just getting into crypto. Coinbase provides a well-rounded resource of basic information with the potential to earn some crypto assets while doing so.
Coinbase Pro, on the other hand, offers exceptionally low fees for high-volume trading needs. Its complex interface is best suited for professional or semi-professional traders who are willing to take the time to get to know the platform and enjoy learning by doing.
If you are just starting out in crypto I’d recommend just signing up for a Coinbase account and going through some of their educational courses. However, if your trading volume already exceeds $10k per month go ahead and get started with Coinbase Pro right away.
And always remember: not your keys, not your crypto.