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Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Which Is Right for You?

15 mins
Fact Checked
by May Woods
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As products of Coinbase Global, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro enable easy access to cryptocurrencies.  However, they present distinct choices. While the former prioritizes simplicity for beginners, the latter caters to professional traders seeking advanced trading tools. This Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro guide will explore other critical distinctions between the two products. The aim is to help you determine which best suits your crypto approach.

Do note, though, that as of June 2022, Coinbase Pro began migrating into a new platform, Advanced Trade. It has stopped onboarding new customers but continues to serve current ones, yet to make that switch. This replacement is an upgrade of its predecessor’s extensive capabilities.

What is Coinbase? 

coinbase review neutral blue binoculars

Coinbase is a leading cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. Based in San Francisco, it has emerged as one of the world’s largest regulated trading venues for crypto assets, with over 50 million users globally. 

Coinbase at a glance

Crypto exchange & lending platform
Availability
100+
Crypto supported
240+
Trading fees
0%-0.001% for stable pairs | 0%-0.4% maker & 0.05%-0.6% taker for the rest
Sign up bonus
Up to $200 for the U.S.

What is Coinbase Pro? 

Coinbase Pro is a more advanced cryptocurrency trading platform owned by Coinbase Global Inc. that caters to active investors and professional traders. The crypto exchange was launched in 2015 as Coinbase Exchange before being rebranded to GDAX in 2016 and changed to Coinbase Pro in 2018. 

Its offerings include advanced charting tools, a streamlined trading interface, and sophisticated order types. It also supports automated orders and access to liquidity sources, supplying deeper market coverage. Tailored more for trading than long-term holding, it charges significantly lower trading fees, especially for high-volume users.

What is Coinbase Advanced Trade?  

Coinbase Advanced Trade is a premium trading feature that replaced Coinbase Pro. Like its predecessor, it caters to more active crypto traders with advanced functionality. It has sophisticated order options, TradingView-powered dynamic charting tools, market analysis overlays, and portfolio integrations across the Coinbase ecosystem.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Features

Both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro have specific attributes that characterize them. Here we look at some of their salient features:

Coinbase unique features

The platform boasts several unique features that set it apart from other cryptocurrency exchanges:

  • Beginner-friendly platform: Prioritizes user experience with a simple interface, educational resources, and automated features like recurring buys. This makes it easy for newcomers to navigate the crypto world confidently.
  • Earn crypto: Coinbase offers various ways to earn crypto. Users can participate in rewards programs to learn about specific coins or stake a range of assets.
  • NFT marketplace: The exchange has its own native NFT marketplace, allowing users to trade NFTs directly.
  • Educational resources: The platform provides a wealth of educational resources, including articles, videos, and tutorials, to help users learn about cryptocurrency and make informed investment decisions. 

Coinbase Pro unique features

 Here are some of the unique features that set Coinbase Pro apart from standard Coinbase:

  • Advanced trading interface: Coinbase Pro features a much more robust and highly customizable trading platform with interactive charts, technical indicators, depth charts, order forms, and real-time asset pricing. 
  • Lower fees: Coinbase Pro employs a scaled fee model based on 30-day trading volumes that charges between 0.00% and 0.60% for makers and takers compared to standard Coinbase’s higher simple card purchase fees. 
  • Margin trading: Coinbase Pro enables crypto trading with borrowed funds (margin). By allowing leverage in addition to capital, margin trading provides greater buying power. So, traders can put on larger positions to amplify gains or losses from market moves.
  • API integration: The platform offers an application programming interface (API) to facilitate third-party or custom-built trading tools to automate certain features. Users can build, backtest, or automate strategies leveraging Coinbase Pro’s API capabilities.

How does Coinbase work?

coinbase review

To use Coinbase, users first create an online account by providing an email and password. They can then connect a payment method like a bank account, credit card, or debit card to fund their account wallet

Once deposited, users can place market orders to buy crypto at the going market rate. Alternatively, they can set limit orders, allowing them control over the entry price. The purchased coins are stored in the user’s Coinbase account wallet to hold, send to other wallets, or trade further. 

When selling, users choose which asset wallet to liquidate and enter the fiat amount or quantity of crypto they wish to trade. Coinbase converts the coins to dollars and deposits cash back to the connected bank account.

The user-friendly interface and deep liquidity make it easy to execute trades with competitive pricing relative to peers. Regulatory compliance also boosts platform security and trust. This combination underpins Coinbase’s popularity as a mainstream gateway into crypto investing.

How does Coinbase Pro work?

To access it, users must first set up a Coinbase account and then upgrade to Coinbase Pro. Once enabled, users have a suite of sophisticated tools for their crypto trades. This crypto exchange facilitates trading across 500+ crypto pairs, including Bitcoin and different altcoins, against major fiat currencies and stablecoins.

CoinbasePro packages pro-grade trading tools with compliance assurances, reduced fees, and connection to regular Coinbase accounts into one platform. This way, it appeals to hobbyist day traders, investment funds, and anyone seeking advanced cryptocurrency trading capabilities. 

Pros and cons of using Coinbase

 Here are some of the main pros and cons of using Coinbase:

Pros:

  • Easy to use interface — Coinbase is designed with simplicity, ideal for beginners starting in crypto trading. It is a very intuitive site and app.
  • High liquidity — As one of the largest exchanges globally, Coinbase provides fast trades and steady pricing on major crypto assets. Spreads are competitive.
  • Compliance and insurance — Coinbase adheres to regulations safeguarding a degree of assets in segregated cold storage accounts. It remains breach-free to date.
  • Variety of payment methods — Users can fund accounts and cash out proceeds using bank accounts, debit cards, and more convenient transfer options.
  • Educational resources — Their blog and guides offer ample content for understanding cryptocurrency basics concepts and news.

Cons:

  • High baseline fees compared to rivals — Basic crypto-to-crypto conversions carry over a 2% transaction fee.
  • Historical support delays —- Their customer support channels have seen backlogs during high inquiry periods, resulting in very slow responses.
  • Limited available assets — While expanding, Coinbase supports fewer cryptocurrencies than the 2,000+ offered on the largest global platforms.
  • Platform outages during volatility — Excessive traffic has sometimes made Coinbase temporarily unavailable, especially during significant price swings.

Pros and cons of using Coinbase Pro

 Here are the main pros and cons of using Coinbase Pro:

Pros:

  • Lower trading fees at scale — Coinbase Pro uses a volume-based fee structure, so aggressive active traders benefit from lower maker and taker fees ranging from 0% to 0.60% with enough volume.
  • Advanced trading capabilities — Robust charts, indicators, and order functionality accommodate high-frequency traders completing complex strategies, including derivatives. 
  • Superior liquidity — By pooling liquidity sources from its retail arm, over-the-counter desks, and external venues, Coinbase Pro ensures reliable trade execution even during volatility.
  • Streamlined usage — Intuitive interface centrally combines trading, portfolio tracking, risk visualizations, funding management, and API access for operating seamlessly. 

Cons:

  • Complexity – beginners will find mastering this trading platform a steep learning curve.
  • It is custodial – Coinbase Pro controls your private keys, denying you the autonomy cryptocurrencies seek to give their holders.
  • Charges higher fees compared to competitors – Though Coinbase Pro sets low fees compared to Coinbase, it charges relatively higher than competing exchanges.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Qualities and features

features compared

Ease of use

Coinbase sets the standard for simplicity and intuitive design in crypto trading. It has an effortless onboarding process and a clean dashboard for managing crypto investments. These features suit those seeking a beginner-friendly user experience for buying and selling cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, Coinbase Pro offers robust tools for active trading yet carries a much steeper learning curve. Its diverse charting tools, order types, and data analysis features make it suitable for experienced crypto traders but may be overwhelming for first-time crypto traders. Thus, it is a better choice for the sophisticated investor.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Security

SECURITY

Both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro uphold robust security standards expected of any financial service provider. As they are interconnected, they implement similar security measures, including: 

Two-factor authentication (2FA)

The platforms require users to secure their accounts with two-factor authentication. Besides their passwords, users must enter a unique code sent either to their authenticator app or phones via text. This feature prevents breaches from stolen credentials alone.

Cold storage and crypto vaults

The cryptocurrency trading platforms store 98% of their funds offline to mitigate hacking and other cyber threats. This use of cold wallets makes user deposits inaccessible to bad actors. Again, they offer users crypto vaults connected to their accounts. These support multi-signature authentication, adding an extra layer of protection to holdings.

FDIC Insurance

The two also provide FDIC protection for their users’ USD-denominated hot wallets. In keeping with the US banking industry’s practices, the company insures up to $250,000 of every user’s funds.

Whitelisting crypto addresses

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro also allow users to whitelist approved crypto withdrawal addresses, restricting crypto destinations for enhanced security. As such, no one can easily steal your funds even if they access your account illegally.

Password management

Furthermore, the two assure you of the safety of your password on their databases. That’s because they hash it using the bcrypt algorithm. Not even Coinbase can decrypt that hash to reveal the underlying phrase.

Account lock 

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro can institute account locks if they flag suspicious activity. These locks will require mandatory resets to regain access. Users can also proactively freeze accounts if they feel compromised. 

Risk mitigation

Besides, the security teams of the two platforms audit them for vulnerabilities. They conduct stress tests in anticipation of deficiencies and draw contingency plans in case of those happening.

Enhanced account protection

Aware of the growing threat of credential stuffing, the crypto platforms monitor the darknet markets for data breaches. That way, they can identify if your account is vulnerable to attack and inform you of the same. Their security teams will also lock your account if they confirm it is under threat.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Cryptocurrencies offered

cryptos offered

Regarding supported digital assets, few exchanges parallel the breadth offered by Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. The duo furnishes individual and institutional traders access to over 250 cryptocurrencies. Investors can tap into the same spectrum of crypto assets across them.

And they’re not just familiar names either. Beyond leading digital assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum, users can trade other coins and tokens, making inroads across blockchain niches. Both are continually expanding their scope, regularly admitting new assets.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Custody

Both exchanges are custodial by design. That means they hold your private keys. However, Coinbase Pro users can link compatible hardware wallets to their accounts through the platform’s API keys. This way, they can have more control of their funds.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Staking and rewards

Coinbase offers a staking service for select cryptocurrencies, including Ether, Algorand, Tezos, Cosmos, and Cardano. To participate, clients must hold a minimum balance in the chosen cryptocurrency. The trading platform handles the technical aspects of staking and retains some earnings as compensation.

Staking on Coinbase

Crypto exchange & lending platform
Earn up to
10% APY
Stakable assets
15+
Funding methods
Crypto, wire transfer, debit card

Coinbase Pro, on the other hand, does not currently offer a staking rewards program.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Customer support

While Coinbase and Coinbase Pro provide a wide range of resources and functionalities, customer support remains an area for improvement. Both platforms primarily rely on self-service options, including comprehensive online knowledge bases and FAQs.

However, direct customer support channels like phone and live chat are currently unavailable.

crypto customer

For personalized assistance, users can submit email requests. Even with this provision, response times may vary. So, managing your expectations concerning immediate resolution of matters is important.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Fees

Both of Coinbase’s exchange offerings employ a dynamic maker-taker fee schedule. This tiered system incentivizes liquidity provision and rewards high-volume traders. A taker is any user whose order is immediately filled against existing orders in the order book. Takers pay a taker fee.

Conversely, a maker is a user whose order is placed on the order book and awaits matching with another order. Makers contribute to market liquidity and pay a maker fee, typically lower than the taker fee.

Here’s a breakdown of Coinbase’s maker-taker trading fees:

Pricing Tier (30-day volume)Taker feeMaker fee
Less than $10,0000.60%0.40%
$10,000 to $50,0000.40%0.25%
$50,000 to $100,0000.25%0.15%
$100,000 to $1,000,0000.20%0.10%
$1,000,000 to $20,000,0000.18%0.08%
$20,000,000 to $100,000,0000.15%0.05%
$100,000,000 to $300,000,0000.10%0.02%
$300,000,000 to $500,000,0000.08%0.00%
Over $500,000,0000.05%0.00%

Besides these marker-taker fees, Coinbase users attract extra charges.

Using a USD wallet will set you back 1.49% of the transaction value. Similarly, you’ll pay $3.99 for using your credit card on the platform. However, bank transfers are free, while inbound wire transfers will knock you back $10 compared to $25 for outbound ones. On top of those, you’ll draw a 2% crypto conversion fee.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: API access

Coinbase Pro has API support. Through this feature, its account holders can integrate third-party apps to integrate with their accounts, enhancing functionality. However, that is not the case with its basic counterpart.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: Wallets

By design, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro use custodial wallets to store cryptocurrency. This implies that a third party, in this case, Coinbase Global Inc., holds the private keys to your digital assets. This approach offers convenience and security, but users relinquish direct control over their private keys.

If you maintain accounts on both platforms, you’ll have separate custodial wallets — one for each platform. However, an internal transfer mechanism facilitates the transfer of funds between them.

Coinbase also provides a free, non-custodial hot wallet option, Coinbase Wallet. This downloadable app, available for smartphones and as a Chrome extension, grants users complete control over their private keys. While offering greater autonomy, hot wallets present an element of increased user responsibility for securing private keys.

How do the Coinbase services complement each other?

Coinbase unifies essential functions across its various cryptocurrency platforms, delivering consistent experiences. Users can access all accounts with the same login credentials and seamlessly move crypto freely between products without extra fees. 

The apps also share security protocols, reward programs, supported coins, and pricing data. This prevents issues like price conflicts or coverage gaps. It also means staking rewards and referral bonuses earned anywhere apply account-wide.

Ultimately, Coinbase ties the solutions together despite catering to different users. It emphasizes learning and retaining users within its suite of tools matching any investor’s needs.

Similarities between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro share key similarities, which include:

  • Security: Both offer top-notch security, with 98% of funds in cold storage and advanced fraud prevention measures.
  • Currencies: Access to a wide range of cryptocurrencies, currently over 260, allowing diversification and exploration.
  • Regulation: Both are regulated exchanges, ensuring compliance and consumer protection.
  • Insurance: Assets are insured against loss of funds or unauthorized access, providing peace of mind.
  • Basic functionalities: Both allow buying, selling, and storing cryptocurrency, catering to different levels of engagement.

Differences between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro cater to distinct user profiles within the crypto trading landscape.

  • Coinbase: Designed for simplicity and ease of use, featuring a streamlined interface, limited order types, and higher, spread-based fees. Ideal for entry-level investors making occasional purchases. Offers basic educational resources and a smaller selection of cryptocurrencies.
  • Coinbase Pro: Tailored for experienced traders, offering advanced charting tools, multiple order types (including limit and stop-loss), and significantly lower fees based on trading volume. It is ideal for active traders seeking greater control and execution precision. Features margin trading, API access, and a more comprehensive range of cryptocurrencies.

How will the phasing out of Coinbase Pro impact trading on Coinbase?

The phasing out of Coinbase Pro is likely to have a positive impact on trading on Coinbase, with the following key benefits:

  • Increased trading pairs: Users can access 200+ additional crypto pairs, expanding trading opportunities.
  • Staking rewards: The upgrade introduces a new option to earn up to 6% APY on certain crypto assets, offering a passive income stream.
  • Volume-based fees: Fees remain competitive and adjust based on trading volume, benefiting high-volume traders.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: A comparative glance

CoinbaseCoinbase Pro
Overall featuresSimple interface, educational resources, automatic purchases, margin trading (limited), NFT marketplaceAdvanced charting, margin trading, order book, API access, staking (limited), customizable alerts
FeesSpread-based (higher for smaller trades), maker/taker fees (lower for high volume)Maker/taker fees (lower for high volume), spread-based for market orders
Mobile appYes, with basic trading and portfolio featuresYes, with advanced charting, order book, and trading tools
Supported CryptocurrenciesOver 260Over 260
Buy/deposit methodsBank transfer, credit/debit card, ACH, PayPal, Apple PayBank transfer, ACH, wire transfer, crypto
Withdrawal methodsBank transfer, ACH, PayPalBank transfer, ACH, crypto
Order typesMarket, limit (limited), recurringMarket, limit, stop-limit, stop-loss, trailing stop, market buy and sell (limit only)
Suitable forBeginner and casual investors, long-term holdersExperienced and active traders, institutional investors

Keep in mind:

  • Fees may vary depending on location, payment methods, and trading volume.
  • Some features, like margin trading and staking, are subject to eligibility requirements.
  • This table provides a general overview and may not reflect all available features and options.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: A battle of trading preferences

The answer to which is better, Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro, boils down to individual trading needs. Whereas the former suits beginners with its user-friendly interface, the latter caters to advanced traders seeking lower fees and robust features. Whether you prioritize simplicity or sophistication, you must align your choice with the demands of your crypto journey. The right platform is the one that seamlessly fits your unique trading preferences. 

Frequently asked questions

Should I have Coinbase or Coinbase Pro?

Is Coinbase Pro better than Coinbase?

Why is trading disabled on Coinbase Pro?

Can Coinbase Pro be trusted?

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Is it safe to use Coinbase?

Can Coinbase freeze my account?

How do I convert Coinbase to Coinbase Pro?

How can existing users migrate from Coinbase Pro?

Why should I use the Coinbase wWllet?

Which cryptocurrency exchange should you choose?

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Alex Lielacher
Alex Lielacher is the founder & CEO of Rise Up Media, a content marketing agency that works with a range of bitcoin businesses. He first came across bitcoin in 2011 and has worked full-time in the cryptocurrency industry since 2016. Alex started his career in the banking industry in London, working in bond trading and sales. After a little over half a decade, he swapped his seat on the trading floor for a spot in cafés around the world, where he started his career as a freelance...
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