Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: What Are They and What’s the Difference?

Last Updated on September 13, 2021

MyFinancialTimes is a reader-centric site. We may receive compensation from the products and services we mention or recommend in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Remuneration may impact where offers appear. We may not include all available products or offerings. To learn more you can visit our advertising policy and editorial policy.

Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are two popular services from the cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase Global. But which one is better for you?

We’ll compare both so you can figure out what’s the best fit whether you’re a Bitcoin beginner or a seasoned crypto trader.

What Is Coinbase?

Coinbase is the largest and most popular service offered by Coinbase Global. It allows you to easily buy and sell cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, altcoins and stablecoins. Generally designed for newbies rather than pros, it’s best for those who are just starting out with cryptocurrencies, and only need basic services for buying and selling a variety of cryptocurrency types.

There are no frills with this version, and that’s exactly what fans of the platform are looking for. It just gives you the simple ability to buy and sell the crypto you want and have an easy, hassle-free experience doing it.

The Pros and Cons of Coinbase 

Just like with any trading platform, there are a number of specific pros and cons to the Coinbase service.

First, the good points: If you have Paypal, you’re going to be in luck, as you can make withdrawals via Paypal. It also allows you to purchase a range of cryptocurrencies with either a debit or credit card. (It’s literally as easy as ordering your favorite pair of jeans online.) Another positive point is its sheer range and reach: it’s available for use in dozens of countries around the world.

Coinbase is a popular and well-liked platform. But like with any trading platform there are some cons. The first is a fee structure that isn’t exactly low: namely, 3.99 percent if you use a debit or credit card. That does come down rather significantly, though — to 1.49 percent — if you use your bank account or the Coinbase Wallet feature. (These fees pertain to US transactions; fees vary based on country.)

Another con is order limits. No, there’s no limit to the actual amount of transactions you can make, but there is a minimum order amount for each cryptocurrency type. For instance, the minimum order for bitcoin is 0.001 BTC.

That sounds like pocket change, but given that Bitcoin is trading at around $36,800 at the time of writing, 0.001 BTC adds up to $36.80. Besides these lower limits, there are limits placed on maximum order transaction size (depending on payment method and the region where you live).

Another potential con is that the platform tracks all of your cryptocurrency purchases. Some find this invasive, but if you like to have everything organized without having to write it down yourself, this con quickly turns into a pro.

The Pros and Cons of Coinbase Pro 

Are you a bit more advanced of a cryptocurrency trader? Coinbase Pro might be the right choice for you. First, just like Coinbase, it’s free to sign up for, and hold funds in, a Coinbase Pro account. It’s not like Amazon Prime, where you have to pay more to get a higher level of service. It does outshine Coinbase in some areas, though.

First of all, trading fees are much lower — they’re capped at 0.50 percent — which makes it great for active crypto traders.  Also, you have more trading options with Coinbase Pro than you do with Coinbase.

Besides being able to buy, sell, send, receive, and exchange — as you can do with Coinbase — you can also make more advanced trades such as stop loss orders, time in force orders, and stop limit orders.

One more pro is that it goes way beyond the basic as far as its dashboard and user-functionality. While beginners will like the simple dashboard that Coinbase offers, Coinbase Pro has a number of advanced trading charts that give valuable insights to more advanced traders.

Very simply, it puts way more information at your fingertips, which is something that experienced traders demand when they’re choosing a trading platform.

That last pro becomes a con for those who aren’t advanced traders. Detailed charts with tons of moving arrows are rather overwhelming if you just want to buy and sell a little Bitcoin.

Also, while the fees are quite competitive (and way better than those for regular Coinbase), they’re not the absolute lowest on the market.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Pro: The Top Features of Each

While these are very different services with distinct advantages and disadvantages to each, they do share a number of similar — and welcome — features. Here are some of them:

● Mobile Apps — Both products are available on their own dedicated mobile apps which are free to download.

● Digital Wallet — Both services provide digital wallets to store your cryptocurrencies, so you can keep track of your payments, transactions, and holdings.

● Wide Availability – As global as the concept of cryptocurrency trading itself, both have a deep international reach.

● User Education – Despite one being better for beginners and the other for more seasoned investors, both services are committed to user education. Each one provides videos, how-to articles, and market updates tailored to its target audience.

Which Is Right for You?

So the big question: Which is better? The answer varies based on what you’re looking to get out of either of these products. Both are excellent trading platforms, with a lot of good reviews from industry experts and regular folks alike.

If you are just starting out or if your intention is just to simply buy and hold cryptocurrencies as a pastime, then the Coinbase platform is right for you. If you are looking to trade in and out of cryptocurrencies — and do more frequent, complex, and high-value trades — then you would be well advised to consider Pro, given its significantly greater range of capabilities and benefits.

One important note: If you start out with Coinbase (as you should if you’re a beginner) and soon gain knowledge and confidence and want to do more, it’s a good idea to upgrade to Pro as soon as you can, because the fee savings alone makes it worth the switch.

No matter which of these two products you choose, both of the platforms provide good performance and a high level of security — whether you’re dipping your toe into crypto or you’re bravely navigating the deep end of the sea.