Coinbase exchange is one of the leading digital asset trading platforms because it offers essential features sought-after by most crypto investors. However, it faces stiff competition from several worthy alternatives. This guide looks into four of these Coinbase alternative trading platforms, putting them side by side to compare which might be the better choice for you.
Coinbase was co-founded in 2012 by former Airbnb engineer Brian Armstrong and former Goldman Sachs trader Fred Ehrsam. The two now serve as the CEO and board director, respectively.
When the San Francisco-based crypto exchange was launched, the blockchain landscape was less crowded, and competition from other platforms was minimal. Close to a decade later and the crypto scene has shifted massively.
Bitcoin has grown to become a trillion-dollar asset and a dominant topic of conversation in finance-related meetups. Millions of people have invested not just in cryptocurrency but also across the diverse marketplace that includes non-fungible tokens (NFTs), initial coin offerings (ICOs), mining, staking, and lending crypto for profit.
Coinbase may have started as a brokerage service offering users a means to purchase Bitcoin, but because the needs of its clientele have changed, the exchange has also evolved to keep up. Now users can trade, borrow, store, exchange, buy and sell a broad variety of digital assets.
If you are a newcomer to the crypto scene, you probably have already heard or read about Coinbase. It is a popular trading platform, and in the next section, we will discuss some of the reasons why that is the case. However, Coinbase is not the only platform worth considering if you are looking for a crypto investment partner.
There are other crypto exchanges that are just as good, and in this guide, we will focus on four of these worthy Coinbase alternatives. US-based Kraken exchange is one of them, and so are Kucoin, Uphold, and Binance. These alternatives offer lots of options to their users, from innovative features to other competing selling points.
We will compare and contrast each platform against Coinbase to see which is better. Looking at the features it offers, how much it costs to perform transactions on the platform, their safety and security measures, as well as the number of assets supported, and their accessibility.
Coinbase Exchange: At a Glance
Before we consider some of the best Coinbase alternatives, let’s point out why the exchange is very popular and what makes it stand out from the rest.
Brokerage – at its heart, Coinbase is a brokerage company enabling its users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin using some of the most popular payment methods, including credit cards, PayPal, and bank transfers.
Trading – after successfully launching the brokerage services, Coinbase introduced a new feature through a subsidiary allowing users to trade their assets. Called the Global Digital Asset Exchange or GDAX, the platform provided professionals and more advanced traders with the tools to buy and sell crypto amongst one another. This service was later rebranded into Coinbase Pro.
Staking – some Coinbase users can stake their crypto on the platform and earn a reward for doing so if they enroll in the staking program. Staking, unlike mining, is a process in which you lock up your assets for the privilege to participate in governance and transaction validation within a network that uses staking as a consensus mechanism. So far, there are six assets supported by Coinbase for this feature, and they are Ethereum 2.0 (ETH2), Tezos (XTZ), Cosmos (ATOM), Algorand (ALGO), DAI, and USD Coin (USDC).
Institutional – Coinbase is not just a platform for individual traders. Institutions are also supported with custom-made services that fit their needs, such as Prime brokerage, asset custody, hub, and Commerce products.
Storage – Coinbase’s users have the option to keep their crypto assets on the platform (delegated custody) or store the assets on self-controlled wallets (self custody). The exchange has a standalone mobile wallet called Coinbase Wallet that lets users control their private keys and thus are responsible for the safety of their assets.
Learning resources – The exchange caters to absolute beginners with a learning section that provides educational resources to brush up on unfamiliar concepts. Learners are also incentivized to participate through rewards in the form of token airdrops of the projects they learn about.
Coinbase Card – through a partnership with Visa, Coinbase users can now shop anywhere across the world and make payments using crypto held in their accounts using the Coinbase card.
Coinbase Fees and Pricing
Brokerage services on the Coinbase platform do not come cheap, with rates starting from $0.99 and rising to $2.99 from small value transactions. Large transactions are charged on a percentage basis at 1.49%, and credit card transactions are charged at a fee of 3.99%.
Crypto conversions attract a 2% transaction fee, while PayPal purchases or withdrawals will attract a 2.5% fee. Any other service for individuals not mentioned here has variable fees and generally costs higher than it does on other comparable platforms.
Coinbase exchange has invested heavily in the safety and security of its systems and, by extension, its customers’ assets. It uses cold and hot storage solutions to offer convenience and utmost assurance. At least 98% of assets are kept in cold storage solutions.
In addition, the platform employs the AES-256 encryption standard for encrypting users’ wallet addresses and private keys. Account login information is also hashed through the bcrypt technology.
Users are also provided with account security tools such as 2-factor authentication (2FA), universal second-factor authentication (U2F) through hardware keys as well as phone and SMS verification.
Despite the beefed-up security measures, Coinbase reported on October 1st, 2021 of a security incident that happened between April and May of the same year whereby hackers gained authorized access to 6,000 Coinbase accounts through elaborate phishing schemes.
Other than this minor incident, Coinbase has enjoyed a strong reputation for its security systems over the years.
Coinbase Pros and Cons
- Highly regulated.
- Heightened security measures and procedures to protect their systems and customers’ assets.
- Easy to use interface on the consumer-facing brokerage platform that is ideal for beginners.
- Support for multiple crypto assets across more than a hundred countries.
- US Dollar deposits are FDIC insured to the tune of $250,000 per account.
- Offers multiple products and services to cater to the wide-ranging needs of its individual and institutional clients.
- Transaction fees on the brokerage platform can be steep compared to other platforms.
- Due to its close working relationship with US regulators, Coinbase customers and the crypto community have privacy concerns about how it handles customer data.
- Services are not offered to all customers worldwide, with some customers having access to all the available features and others having access to a few of them.
- Coinbase has previously experienced service interruptions often during heightened volatility periods.
Coinbase Vs. Uphold
Uphold is a great Coinbase alternative, especially for newcomers to cryptocurrency who are somewhat familiar with other financial instruments such as stocks and precious commodities. The New York-based exchange offers multiple products outside cryptocurrency buying, selling, and trading.
Uphold touts itself as an easy-to-use financial tool that seeks to make financial investments as effortless as possible. Let’s find out how it compares against Coinbase.
- Cryptocurrencies – with Uphold, users can buy, sell, trade, and hold a broad variety of digital assets, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and seventy more cryptocurrencies.
- Precious metals – Uphold enables its users to buy and hold four metal assets: gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. The platform does not charge for holding the assets within your account.
- U.S. equities– the exchange also allows its users to buy and sell shares for US-based companies starting with as little as $1 thanks to the fractional equities service.
- Environmental assets – Uphold offers its users two assets that support the fight against global warming. The two assets are UPCO2 and Bitcoin Zero (BTC0). UPC02 is allegedly the world’s first tradable carbon credit token. These assets can be bought, sold, and traded like any other asset on the platform.
- Automated trading – Uphold offers a recurring buy feature called AutoPilot that lets its customers automatically buy supported assets at predetermined intervals and amounts.
- Uphold debit card – through a partnership with payment services giant MasterCard, Uphold issues a debit card that can be used to spend any of the assets held within an Uphold account, including precious metals, cryptocurrencies, and more than twenty fiat currencies.
Uphold Fees and Pricing
Uphold’s service fees are relatively competitive compared to Coinbase. For cryptocurrency transactions within the US and Europe region, the exchange charges a typical spread of between 0.8 and 1.2% (BTC & ETH). Other cryptocurrencies attract lower spread rates, making them even cheaper to buy, sell and trade.
Other services such as precious metal transactions are charged at a typical 3% on top of the bid-ask prices for acquiring those assets. The spread for fiat currencies and US stocks is 0.2% and 1%, respectively.
Asset security and safety are paramount for any financial service provider, and Coinbase has invested heavily in its systems. Let’s consider how well Uphold compares in terms of security. Here are some of the ways in which Uphold users are protected against hackers and some of the tools they have at their disposal to protect their accounts.
- Data encryption – account information is kept safe from prying eyes using sophisticated encryption algorithms.
- System audit – Uphold performs regular security checks and audits to ensure that the infrastructure is adequately updated and protected against newer threats.
- Active surveillance – there is constant monitoring of security systems, servers, and crucial infrastructure.
- Employee and contractor due diligence – some attacks are perpetrated by internal players, which makes it difficult to detect and protect against such security incidents. However, Uphold has opted to take a proactive approach to deter such behavior through rigorous background checks of all employees and contractors.
- Bug Bounty program – independent security analysts are incentivized to poke into the safety of Uphold systems using the bug bounty program.
- KYC (know your customer) provisions – all Uphold accounts are verified to protect users against phishing and impersonation.
- 2FA (second-factor authentication) – 2FA is an absolute necessity on any online account, and Uphold encourages its users to set it up either to use SMS or Email to access their accounts.
Uphold Pros and Cons
- Uphold offers a broader service suite than Coinbase, including cryptocurrencies, stocks, metals, and several fiat currencies.
- Offers automated trading or investing through AutoPilot feature similar to Coinbase’s recurring buy.
- Exchange users can buy as little as $1 for an equity stake in any leading publicly-listed US company.
- There is no cost to buying assets using a bank transfer method.
- Sending and receiving funds or assets within Uphold accounts is free.
- The combination of percentage and flat rate to pay for transaction fees makes small purchases extremely expensive.
- Customer service, especially through live support and phone, could be better.
- Supports fewer crypto assets compared to Coinbase.
- Does not have insurance for fiat deposits.
Coinbase Vs. Kraken
Kraken is another San Francisco-based crypto exchange with a history dating back to 2011. However, the platform was formally launched in 2013. The exchange is highly regulated, making it available in several US states and across several other countries in Europe, South East Asia, and Australia.
Like Coinbase, Kraken offers a wide selection of services and products that appeal to the typical crypto investor. Here are some of these:
- Trading – starting as a brokerage service, Kraken has expanded its offering to become a fully-fledged trading platform giving its users access to more than 70 different digital assets and a host of professional-oriented trading tools. Additionally, Kraken users can trade on margin, something that Coinbase users once enjoyed but was disabled due to regulatory challenges. There is also futures and OTC trading for more advanced and high volume traders, respectively.
- Staking – Like Coinbase, Kraken also offers staking-as-a-service with support for up to ten digital assets, which is unlike Coinbase’s six. Currently, Kraken users can stake Algorand (ALGO), Polkadot (DOT), Kusama (KSM), Cardano (ADA), Flow (FLOW), Ethereum (ETH 2), Solana (SOL), Cosmos (ATOM), Kava (KAVA) and Tezos (XTZ). Reward rates range between 4% and 23% APY depending on the asset. There is also the possibility to ‘stake’ non-staking assets such as Bitcoin (BTC) or fiat currencies to provide liquidity within other Kraken products.
- Kraken Terminal and Cryptowatch – Kraken’s Terminal is a suite of pro-trading tools such as OHLC charts, indicator panels, depth charts, charting tools, history scrollbar, and alerts, among several others. By API functionality, Kraken can now pull data from more than 25 other crypto trading platforms for use on the CryptoWatch interface.
- Cryptowatch service has access to more than 4,000 markets, an ideal feature for professional Kraken users and institutional clients.
- Multiple mobile apps – unlike most other crypto exchanges with a single app that does it all, Kraken has separated its mobile interfaces according to core features. There are three different applications: the Invest App for crypto brokerage services; the Pro app for added functionality such as pro trading tools; and the Futures app providing access to the futures trading function.
- The segregation of the Kraken mobile interfaces in separate independent apps may be a neat touch to reduce feature overload on a single interface giving users what they need in the most minimalist way.
- Knowledgebase – Kraken’s answer to the Coinbase Learn feature is the Knowledgebase, where newcomers to crypto can learn blockchain concepts, and the rest can brush up on their skills. This section has crypto guides, podcast episodes, webinars, and complementary videos.
Kraken Fees and Pricing
Kraken’s fees schedule is competitive across all products and services. For fiat deposits and withdrawals, the exchange charges 3.75% + €0.25 for credit cards and 1.7% + $0.10 for other bank transfer methods, including SWIFT and wire transfers.
Trading fees are charged based on a maker/taker model, whereby liquidity providers are charged less. Additionally, the more a trader’s monthly volume, the less they will have to pay in transaction fees. Currently, the platform charges 0.16% – 0.00% and 0.05% to 0.01% for maker/taker fees respectively.
Kraken is a highly secure crypto trading platform, having reported not a single incident since its launch in 2013. As proof of its security robustness, the exchange has reportedly only paid out a single bug-bounty reward. Bug bounties are used to incentivize independent system analysts to poke into the security of an interface to unearth any vulnerabilities.
Some notable security measures that Kraken has enforced include:
- Keeping 95% of its users’ assets in air-gapped offline cold storage facilities.
- Encrypting customer information and storing it with restrictive access.
- Performing regular system audits and maintaining fully-owned servers instead of using cloud services.
The Kraken users have several other security tools at their disposal to help secure their accounts, including:
- 2-factor authentication (2FA);
- Configurable API functionality with restrictive options for added security;
- Use of a Master Key and Global Settings Lock (GSL) features to lock and unlock accounts;
- Email privacy through PGP protocol to maintain private correspondence;
- Data encryption techniques.
Kraken Pros and Cons
- Has maintained a stellar security record, unlike Coinbase.
- Just as old and well-established as Coinbase. Both Coinbase and Kraken are based in San Francisco, California.
- Kraken is widely accessible worldwide, and several of its features are available to a wider selection of its user-base.
- Supports several crypto assets for trading and staking and multiple funding options to deposit and withdraw fiat currencies.
- It offers a robust suite of security tools to its users to secure their accounts, some of which are not available for Coinbase customers.
- Offers extra functionality over Coinbase such as margin and futures trading, the Cryptowatch feature connecting traders to more than 4000 markets across over 25 platforms.
- Transaction fees are much lower on Kraken than Coinbase, with some services such as staking, attracting zero fees, unlike in the latter.
- Within the United States, Coinbase enjoys more popularity than Kraken amongst regulators making it available across more states.
- Kraken is not as intuitive to use, especially for beginners as Coinbase is, which means it’s less ideal for crypto newcomers.
Coinbase Vs. Binance
Binance is currently the leading cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume. It is available across several countries and supports numerous altcoins and Bitcoin. If you have spent any amount of time in the cryptocurrency space, you probably have heard about Binance.
When comparing Binance and Coinbase, the two platforms couldn’t be more different. They might offer similar services in the same marketplace, but they each go about it very differently.
Starting with the kind of services they offer, how much they charge, the locations in which they operate, to their regulatory statuses. In this brief comparison guide, we will look at some of the features Binance offers its users, its coverage, and fees schedule as it relates to Coinbase’s.
- Trading – as a trading platform, Binance’s offering is exhaustive. You can get everything from spot and margin to derivatives trading. You can buy, sell, exchange and trade hundreds of assets across thousands of crypto markets.
- Staking and mining pools – there are two main ways in which blockchain networks maintain consensus, and that is through staking and mining models. Pooling resources is a common way to participate in such decentralized networks, and Binance allows its users to pool their resources on the platform.
- Multiple payment methods – Binance began as a pure crypto-to-crypto exchange but has added fiat support with time. Now anyone can buy and sell crypto through some of the most popular channels such as credit cards, SWIFT bank transfers, and third-party payment services providers.
- Savings, Lending & Yield Farming – these are all services on Binance through which its users can earn from their spare assets. Some earnings from these products are very high for passive income. Through the lending service, other exchange users can get crypto loans at very low hourly rates.
- Storage and asset custody – Binance users have the option to store their assets within their trading accounts or to hold them in more secure locations called Vaults. However, for added security, the exchange offers a self-custody mobile wallet called Trust Wallet that can hold numerous altcoins and other digital assets, including NFTs.
- Binance Pay – the Pay feature is Binance’s answer to PayPal for crypto, allowing merchants to accept crypto payments from Binance users. The users themselves can send and receive assets effortlessly at zero cost.
- Binance Visa Card – comparable to the Coinbase Card, the Binance Visa Card is a tool Binance customers can use to spend the crypto they hold within their accounts at zero cost.
- Binance Coin (BNB) – Binance has a native platform token called BNB, originally used as a utility token to pay for trading fees and claiming discounts. Now, the token has wide-ranging applications, including facilitating gas payments on the Binance Smart Chain. It can also be used for speculative purposes.
- Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and Binance Chain (BC) – the exchange has launched two independent blockchain networks to host a bunch of its already growing diverse ecosystem products such as the NFT marketplace, Binance DEX, the Binance Dollar stablecoin (BUSD), etc.
- Binance NFT Marketplace – a recent addition to the Binance ecosystem, the NFT marketplace is an online platform on which non-fungible tokens can be bought, sold, created, and traded. The marketplace supports NFTs created on Ethereum and BSC blockchains.
- Binance Launchpad – Binance exchange is responsible for the development of the initial exchange offering (IEO) phenomenon that proceeded the ICO (initial coin offering) mania. New blockchain startups that needed investment from the community would launch an investment round on the Binance Launchpad, and the exchange would facilitate the whole process. This feature has seen tens of projects launch and grow to become noteworthy players in the marketplace.
Binance Fees and Pricing
If you are looking for a cheap crypto trading platform, Binance charges some of the lowest fees in the market. Its transaction costs are not only low, but if you pay using the BNB token, you get a further 25% discount on the spot market.
Fees on Binance are charged on a maker/taker model, with the former getting a better deal than the latter, but still generally lower than other market participants. The more you trade, the lower the fees you will have to pay.
Spot trading fees range from 0.1% / 0.1% (maker/taker) to 0.02% / 0.04%. With the BNB discount applied, that rate will fall to as low as 0.015% / 0.030%. Compare this rate with Coinbase Pro’s 0.50%/0.50% upper limit and 0.04% (taker). However, if you are trading anything over $300 million on Coinbase Pro as a market maker, your fees will fall to zero, which is a better rate than Binance.
Binance is considered a safe trading platform, but it is worth noting that it has suffered a few publicly-reported security incidents. However, the exchange has insured its users’ assets through a local program dubbed #SAFU through which they have fully refunded affected customers in previous breaches.
The exchange has also provided security tools to its users to beef up the safety of their accounts. These tools include:
- 2-factor authentication (2FA) using SMS, email, and authentication apps;
- Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) authentication through physical keys such as YubiKey;
- Withdrawal address whitelisting;
- Email anti-phishing codes; and
- Device management.
Binance Pros and Cons
- Binance is one of the cheapest platforms to trade crypto.
- The exchange is accessible globally except in highly regulated jurisdictions such as the USA, Singapore, and a few other countries.
- Has the widest selection of crypto assets, products, and services that appeal to crypto enthusiasts.
- It can be accessed through mobile, web, and desktop for added convenience of trading.
- Supports multiple payment methods for depositing and withdrawing fiat currencies.
- Binance’s user interface is not as easy to use as Coinbase. The mobile app offers a Lite mode that cleans the interface a little bit to make it less overwhelming, but still, Coinbase comes out much more beginner-friendly.
- Since its launch, Binance has been changing headquarters with the aim of achieving regulatory arbitrage, something that has been frowned upon by some regulators leading to its restrictions in certain jurisdictions. Currently, it operates without a physical office.
Coinbase Vs. KuCoin
KuCoin is a closer competitor to Binance owing to the product list and jurisdictional coverage, but it is a worthy Coinbase alternative, especially in regions outside the United States. Like Binance, KuCoin is also not properly regulated, limiting its accessibility in highly restrictive countries.
Besides the few negatives mentioned above, KuCoin has a lot to offer, from the services and number of digital assets supported to the lower costs of transacting on the platform.
- Trading – there are four trading functionalities enabled on KuCoin: spot, margin P2P (peer to peer), and derivatives trading for futures and leveraged tokens.
- Mining pool – a mining pool enables users to come together, pool their computing power towards confirming transactions and creating new blocks on blockchain networks that use a proof of work consensus mechanism. KuCoin offers this service.
- Crypto loans and lending – similar to banking services, KuCoin users can offer their savings to other users for interest, and KuCoin earns as the service facilitator.
- Staking-as-a-service – with KuCoin, you can stake your assets to participate in network development and transaction verification in your favorite PoS network. There are fifteen staking assets supported so far, including Cardano (ADA), Polygon (MATIC), Zilliqa (ZIL), and Polkadot (DOT).
- KuCoin Shares (KCS) – like Binance, KuCoin also has a native platform token dubbed KCS, which is used to claim discounts on trading fees and dividends for company profits.
- KuCoin indexes – a crypto index is an aggregate value of the price of a cryptocurrency across several markets, and KuCoin maintains multiple indices for various assets. The feature helps provide more accurate pricing for the highly volatile crypto markets.
- Trading bot – Bots are automated programs that can buy, sell, withdraw, deposit, and trade various assets across the internet. Typically, bots are created by independent companies allowing users to trade multiple markets from a single interface. With Kucoin, however, the exchange offers a trading bot to its users, enabling them to trade automatically without using third-party bot services.
KuCoin Fees and Pricing
KuCoin’s trading fees are some of the lowest in the industry, competing against Binance rates. The platform also uses a maker/taker pricing model whereby liquidity providers are incentivized with lower charges than what the takers get.
Spot trading fees start from as low as 0.1%/0.1% (maker/taker) and fall to a low of 0.005%/0.025%. These charges could fall further with the 20% KCS discount to reach 0.005%/0.02%.
Based in Singapore, KuCoin is a regulatory-compliant crypto trading platform. Users on the service have to verify their identity to enhance account security.
Additionally, the exchange uses several techniques to increase the safety and security of its systems and user accounts. These include:
- Multi-level data encryption;
- 2FA authentication;
- Withdrawal address whitelisting; and…
- Offline cold storage solutions for a bulk of the assets under its management.
Despite a robust security policy in place, KuCoin did report a security incident that saw the exchange lose more than $280 million in assets to a hacker.
KuCoin Pros and Cons
- It offers a wide variety of services and products.
- KuCoin trading fees are some of the lowest in the market.
- The exchange supports trading for more than 300 cryptocurrencies.
- It is available worldwide except in a few highly restrictive and regulated regions such as the USA.
- Impressive customer support compared to several other crypto exchanges.
- Multiple interfaces, including on mobile and web for convenience.
- It is not available in the United States.
- Has a history of being hacked or suffering a security breach.
- Some of its services are not class-leading or as enticing. A good example is staking, which does not support highly desired assets like Ethereum 2.0.
There are several cryptocurrency exchanges in the market, and some of these can be considered good Coinbase alternatives. However, the four that we have highlighted above are some of the best crypto trading platforms currently, and they can easily be used instead of Coinbase.
All four Coinbase alternatives, Uphold, Binance, Kraken, and KuCoin, offer varying products and services within the blockchain niche, but they each do it differently. Binance has opted for an “all-under-one-roof” approach, while Uphold has opted to provide an all-inclusive asset class that comprises fiat currencies, precious metals, stocks, and crypto.
In highly regulated regions such as the US and the Eurozone, a compliant trading platform like Kraken can be a great alternative to Coinbase. KuCoin is also a somewhat partially compliant exchange that enjoys better favor from regulators compared to Binance and, given its extensive support of digital assets, can easily be used instead of Coinbase in less restrictive regions.
Whichever exchange you choose from the available options, we believe that it will serve you adequately. However, it is worth paying attention to each of the platform’s drawbacks. You need to consider whether they are available in your region, their fees, security record, customer support reviews, and the ease of using them.
Check out our comprehensive guides to each of these exchanges for further detailed analysis.
Frequently Asked Questions on Coinbase Alternatives
What is Coinbase?
Coinbase is a publicly-traded US-based cryptocurrency exchange where users can buy, sell and exchange digital assets. It is considered one of the most intuitive platforms to use, making it ideal for beginners and experts alike.
Which is the best Coinbase alternative?
There are several Coinbase alternatives in the market, but the fours that we highly recommend are Uphold, Kraken, Binance, and KuCoin. They are not similar, but they each offer something unique and sell some of their services better than Coinbase does.
Why are Coinbase fees so high, and which alternatives exist?
Coinbase has split its platform into two separate entities: Coinbase consumer and Coinbase Pro. The former is a brokerage service, while the latter is used by professional traders and investors. Coinbase consumer is more expensive to use since its customers interact directly with the platform, which takes the other side of every trade. On Coinbase Pro, the users interact with one another, and the exchange acts as a mediator and charges facilitation fees. A good alternative to Coinbase that is cheaper is Binance, and its US-based subsidiary, Binance.US.
Which crypto exchange is right for me?
Whichever exchange may be right for you will depend on your needs. To choose the best fit, you will consider each platform’s transaction fees, availability, cryptocurrency and regional support, security measures taken to protect users, and ease of use. All these are subjective considerations; only you can choose which factor to prioritize. Once you pick your most important factors, you can then begin hunting for a good exchange to use.