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Coinbase Fees — Are They Reasonable?

Despite doomsday predictions by many die-hard crypto enthusiasts, Coinbase is solidifying itself as a leading cryptocurrency exchange. With their recent acquisition of Paradex, they’re setting up for the future of decentralized exchanges (DEX). Coinbase is by far the easiest way for Americans and citizens of most western nations to convert their fiat for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and ERC20 tokens. But are Coinbase fees worth the convenience?

Let’s first look at the value that Coinbase delivers. Technically Coinbase is a digital asset broker, meaning they’re legally certified to trade cryptocurrency for other assets like fiat. Most people won’t remember what bitcoin was like back before Coinbase, when you could go on an exchange like New Liberty Standard and just pay with PayPal or credit card without doing any identity verification whatsoever. The issue with this is how it’s like operating in the wild west, which led to a bad reputation for bitcoin for many years.

Another option was to use localbitcoins.com, but this had the downside of having to go and meet somebody to do the exchange. There also weren’t regulated exchange rates or security standards.

What Coinbase brought to the space is an easy way for people to legally buy into cryptocurrencies from the comfort (and safety) of their living room. Read more about Coinbase security.

Coinbase Fees

This data is taken directly from Coinbase’s fee schedule, but I will explain the fees below in an easier to understand way.

Credit / Debit Card Buys: 3.99%

Canada

Credit / Debit Card Buys: 3.99%

Europe

Standard Buy / Sell: 1.49%

Instant Buys (Credit / Debit Card): 3.99%

Bank transfers (SEPA) – in / out: Free / €0.15*

Singapore

Buy / Sell: 1.49%

Credit / Debit Card Buys: 3.99%

UK

Standard Buy / Sell: 1.49%

Instant Buys (Credit / Debit Card only): 3.99%

Bank wires: N/A*

Bank transfers (SEPA) – in / out: Free / €0.15 *

USA

Purchases

U.S. Bank Account: 1.49% with a $0.15 minimum

Coinbase USD Wallet: 1.49%

Credit/Debit Card: 3.99%***

Sales

U.S. Bank Account: 1.49%, with a $0.15 minimum

Coinbase USD Wallet: 1.49%

PayPal: 3.99%

USD Deposit Method

ACH Transfer: Free

Wire Transfer: $10 ($25 outgoing)

* Note – In some cases your bank may charge additional fees for transfers between your bank account and your Coinbase account.

** The base rate for all Purchase and Sale transactions in the U.S. is 4%. Coinbase waives a portion of the Conversion Fee depending on the payment method you use. The effective rate of the Conversion Fee disclosed here is calculated as the base rate, net of fee waivers. The base rate does not apply to U.S. Dollar deposits and withdrawals.

*** Note – Your bank may charge additional fees for Coinbase credit card purchases. To avoid these fees, switch to debit card or bank account.

Coinbase Fees Explained

If all those numbers having you spinning dizzy, read on. I’ll explain what the fees above actually mean when you’re buying or selling cryptocurrency on Coinbase. There are three main types of fees on Coinbase, and many different types within those three:

  • Buying Fees
    • Standard Buys
    • Instant Buys
    • Credit & Debit Cards
    • U.S. Bank Account
    • Coinbase USD Wallet
  • Selling
    • Standard Sell
    • PayPal
    • Coinbase USD Wallet
    • U.S. Bank Account
  • Transferring
    • ACH transfer
    • Wire transfer
    • Bank transfer (SEPA)

Buying Fees

This is probably where it’s most complicated.

Standard buys

Standard buys apply in two situations:

  • Making a purchase directly from your bank account
  • Using fiat you’ve already got in your Coinbase account to fund the purchase

If you’re buying directly from your bank account or you’ve already got your fiat currency in dollars, pounds, euros or yen sitting in your Coinbase account, standard applies to you. This would be the situation if you’ve just recently done a bank transfer to deposit money into your account, or if you’ve recently sold some cryptocurrency for fiat on Coinbase.

For these transactions, there’s a 1.49% fee across all countries.

Instant buys

Instant buys is a great feature offered by Coinbase where you can use your bank account to buy cryptocurrency and have it instantly available in your account.

This is an improvement over standard buys because you don’t have to wait for the payment to clear in order to trade the crypto that you purchased. Coinbase claims 3-5 business days for standard buys to clear, but many have seen longer wait times, especially during a hot market.

Instant buys have the same 1.49% fee as standard, so if it’s available in your country this is definitely the best way to buy.

Credit & Debit Cards

This is the most expensive way to buy cryptocurrency on Coinbase. Not only that, but many banks and credit card companies are blocking cryptocurrency transactions making this an even more difficult method.

This might be a good method for you if you’ve got a high-rewards credit card (and hopefully you’re working toward a sign up bonus).

Credit & debit card fees are 3.99% for all countries.

U.S. Bank Account (Not US Bank)

This is if you make a purchase straight from your bank account (a bank account in the United States). This is the cheapest way to buy on Coinbase, but also takes the longest. It’s basically the same thing as depositing your USD, waiting for it to show up in the Coinbase USD wallet, and then buying.

The fee for a U.S. Bank Account buy is 1.49%

Coinbase USD Wallet

There are two situations where this will apply, either if you deposit USD directly from your bank account into your Coinbase fiat wallet, or if you receive cryptocurrency and sell it for fiat and have a balance sitting in your fiat wallet.

The fee for a Coinbase USD Wallet buy is 1.49%

Selling Fees

There are four main ways to sell cryptocurrency on Coinbase: standard sell, PayPal, Coinbase USD Wallet, or U.S. Bank account.

Standard Sell

This is the opposite of a standard buy. You have the Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, or ERC20 tokens in your Coinbase wallet which you then sell for fiat.

The fee for a standard sell is 1.49%

PayPal

With this route you can actually have Coinbase deposit the sale proceeds into a PayPal account. The fees are steep, but if you really want PayPal then it’s an option. This is only available in the U.S.

The fee for a PayPal deposited sale is 3.99% (ouch)

Coinbase USD Wallet

This is where you sell your crypto for fiat which is deposited into your Coinbase USD wallet or depending on country other Coinbase fiat wallet.

The fee for a Coinbase USD Wallet sale is 1.49%

U.S. Bank Account (Not US Bank)

With this option you are selling your cryptocurrency on Coinbase and having the funds deposited directly into your United States based bank account.

The fee for a U.S. Bank Account sale on Coinbase is 1.49% with a $0.15 minimum.

Transfer Fees

There are three types of transfers that you’ll need to know to figure out your Coinbase fees. Each will depend on country and method of transfer you use. The three options are: ACH transfer, wire transfer, and SEPA bank transfer for you Europeans.

ACH Transfer Fee

This applies to the United States. ACH stands for Automated Clearing House, and is the standard way of transferring money in the United States. This is the method that’s used for payroll, insurance premiums, mortgage payments, and much more.

This is the method you’ll use if you buy a cryptocurrency with a bank account as the funding source. It looks like Coinbase has recently removed the ability to straight up deposit USD into your Coinbase wallet, so that will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on. They may only be allowing you to purchase, not deposit pure cash anymore.

ACH transfers are free on Coinbase (as they should be!)

Wire Transfer Fee

Wire transfers are very similar to ACH in that it’s bank account to bank account, but they are completed much faster. Wire transfers are usually transferred in 1-2 days, versus 3-5 for an ACH transfer.

They transfer faster because there’s an actual human element involved in wire transfers. Along with that comes an expense. Unfortunately wire transfers aren’t free even though they take 1-2 days to transfer (if you haven’t seen the beauty of crypto yet, this is a good start).

Wire transfer fee is $10 incoming to Coinbase or $25 for an outgoing wire transfer (free, ~6 minute EOS transactions sound pretty nice huh?)

SEPA Bank Transfer Fee

SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area, applying to the Europeans out there. I’m not very familiar with the SEPA system so if I botch this throw your brot and baguettes at me for an update.

On second thought, I’m not going to even try. If you’re a European and you don’t understand a SEPA transfer then my greatest service would be to refer you to the Wikipedia page above.

The fee for a SEPA Bank Transfer is free for incoming transfers or €0.15 for outgoing.

The Verdict on Coinbase Fees

Honestly I think that given the time we’re in and the value of the service that Coinbase provides, their fees are quite reasonable. They’re expanding out their customer support at absurd rates, developing support for ERC20 tokens which will provide access to directly purchase a whole host of tokens, and they provide a user-friendly interface for people to get into crypto.

It also helps that they’re one of the only FDIC and third party insured exchanges in the world. For more on that see is Coinbase safe?

About the author

Nick Hastreiter

I like to write about the future of different technologies and business models. With Future of Everything I approach this by interviewing founders, CEO's, and other game changers to share their vision for the future of their industry. Apply today to be a contributor (link on the menu at top)