Coinbase Review for Canadians: What You Need to Know in 2023

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    Coinbase is one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, and although it’s based in the United States, many Canadians use the platform to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Besides having such a high trading volume, Coinbase also offers a large database of cryptocurrency assets and has a comprehensive mobile app that makes trading easy. However, their fee structure can be a bit confusing. So I opened an account to test out the platform and see exactly how much it costs to fund your account, trade, and withdraw back to my account. 

    Another thing to note about Coinbase is that they have two tiers: Coinbase and Coinbase Advanced. Coinbase is the more simplified platform but supports fewer crypto assets and has higher fees. Coinbase Advanced has more trading options but will likely be too complex for beginner traders. I’m not a pro trader, so I decided to try out a simple trade using the basic platform. Here’s my Coinbase review. 

    How to open an account on Coinbase

    Coinbase

    Opening an account with Coinbase is pretty straightforward. When I signed up, I was prompted to enter my personal information and confirm my email address. I also needed to link my phone number since Coinbase requires SMS verification. Have your phone in hand, your email app open, and be prepared to provide the following:

    • Name
    • Date of Birth
    • Employment information
    • Income information
    • SIN
    • Government-issued Photo ID
    • A selfie

    Verification is basically guaranteed, as long as you can provide an adequate form of identification. I uploaded an image of my driver’s license. Verification was fast, and the total sign-up process took about 6-7 minutes for me.

    Purchase Methods

    • eTransfer
    • Debit Card
    • PayPal
    • Crypto
    • Credit Card
    • Debit-Credit

    Anyone in Canada with access to a Canadian online bank account can deposit funds into Coinbase using Interac e-Transfer. Canadian users can deposit using their bank debit card if the card supports “3D Secure” (3DS). You can also fund your Coinbase account by PayPal or by transferring in crypto from an external wallet. At the time of writing, Interac e-Transfers are free and almost instant, so they are the best way to fund your account. Coinbase does not currently support prepaid credit cards or wire transfers which are popular methods common with most of the top crypto exchange platforms in Canada.

    Purchase Limits

    Depending on the method of payment you choose, there may be a limit on how much you can buy per day, week, or month. In my case, there was no limit on the amount of crypto purchases made via eTransfer. However, my Visa-Debit has a $7,500 per week limit on crypto purchases.

    To find your account limits, click on the profile icon on the top left of your dashboard, select Settings, and then select Account Limits.

    Coinbase review: purchase limits. No limits on eTransfer. Credit cards have a $7,500 weekly limit.

    Setting Up Payment Methods

    Before you can start trading, you need to set up your payment methods. To do this, click on the profile icon on the top right of your dashboard. Select Settings, click on Payment Methods, then click on Add a Payment Method. Choose your desired payment method and follow the prompts.

    Coinbase review of how to set up payment methods on your account.

    If you want to want to link a debit-credit or credit card, Coinbase may verify the card by performing two small debit transactions. To verify your card, you’ll have to enter the amounts of the two temporary debits. After that, you’ll be able to use it to buy cryptocurrency – assuming your card issuer allows crypto transactions.

    However, some credit cards treat crypto transactions as a cash advance, which means it is subject to interest charges immediately from the time of purchase and not covered by the 21-day interest-free grace period. That’s something to keep in mind before using a credit card to buy cryptocurrency.

    To deposit crypto from an external crypto wallet, first make sure that the coin is supported by Coinbase. On the top right of your dashboard, click on Send & Receive, select Receive, then follow the prompts.

    Funding Your Account by eTransfer

    In Canada, you cannot fund your account with Canadian dollars via credit card, but you can with an eTransfer. So I chose to deposit $50 CAD to my Coinbase account by eTransfer. It prompted me to sign into my bank account to authorize the transaction, which was quick and painless.

    While Interac eTransfers are known to take up to 30 minutes to process, the money was deposited into my Coinbase account in less than 60 seconds! I was impressed by the speed. Plus, there are no funding limits on eTransfers, which is another bonus.

    Trading Fees on Coinbase

    On the downside, Coinbase has higher fees compared to other Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges, especially in its standard version. When you trade on Coinbase, you will be charged two fees:

    1. Markup on buys/markdown on sells, roughly 1%

    2. Coinbase transaction fee

    • 1.5% on order size of > $200
    • $0.99 flat fee for order size < $10
    • $1.49 for < $25
    • $1.99 for < $50
    • $2.99 for < $200

    A markup means you’ll be charged a higher price than the true market price. A markdown means that when you sell, you’ll get a lower price than the true market price. This is normal, but on Coinbase, you will only see it when you review your order before confirming the transaction. At this point, the fees are disclosed and Coinbase claims the markup/markdown is 1%, but I was charged more when I bought BTC.

    In my case, I was charged 1.04% more than the live market price on Coinmarketcap plus another $1.49 to buy $20 CAD worth of Bitcoin. When you add the markup and the transaction fee together, it comes out to a total trading fee of about 8.54%. That’s insanely high, especially if you’re a previous Binance user who enjoyed dirt-cheap trading. Coinbase is notorious in my crypto community for being one of the most expensive platforms in Canada, and now I understand why. In order to avoid paying high transaction fees, make orders of more than $200.

    Coinbase vs Coinbase One

    If you want to get around the Coinbase transaction fees, you can upgrade your account to Coinbase One for $24.99 per month. This will give you access to no-fee trading, although the 1% markup/markdown will likely still apply. You’ll also get access to advanced crypto research and charting tools, higher yields on staking, and 24/7 priority support.

    How to Make a Trade on Coinbase

    Trading on Coinbase is pretty straightforward. I’m not a newbie, but the platform is so simple and intuitive you’ll have no problem. On the left side of your dashboard, click on Trade to see a list of all digital assets available for purchase. You can also use the search bar to find the specific asset you want to buy or browse through the list.

    Coinbase review of how to make a trade

    Click on the name of the coin you’re interested in if you want more data. From here you can see the current digital asset price along with its current price movement. Choose a timeframe of one hour, one day, one week, one month or one year to see how the coin has been tracking.

    I pre-funded my account with $50 CAD and decided to buy $20 worth of BTC. To make my trade quickly, I clicked on the blue Buy button to the right of the asset, entered $20 as the amount of BTC I wanted to buy, and selected Pay With CAD Wallet. From there I just followed the prompts.

    Before confirming the transaction, I was able to review the markup and additional Coinbase fee. In my case, Coinbase charged me a 1.04% markup PLUS a transaction fee of $1.49. I spent $20 CAD and received $18.51 worth of Bitcoin. In all, it cost me about 8.54% to make a trade. Ouch.

    How to Sell Cryptocurrency on Coinbase

    Thanks to free Interac eTransfers, once you’ve sold your crypto on Coinbase, you can withdraw directly to your bank account. This process takes up to 5 minutes or a little bit longer depending on network traffic. You also have two other options: either send your crypto to an external wallet or cash out to a PayPal account.

    To sell your crypto, click on Buy & Sell on the top right of your trading dashboard. At the top of the pop-up window, click on Sell, select your desired coin, enter the amount you’d like to sell, and then click on the blue button Preview Sell. Follow the prompts to execute your trade.

    I had a BTC balance worth $17.99 CAD and decided to sell all of it. In my case, I ended up getting a markdown of 0.92% lower than the live market price. When added together, the 0.92% markdown PLUS the $1.49 transaction fee cost me a total of 9.22% of the transaction value. ​Again, that’s incredibly high.

    These fees mean one thing: If you usually trade over $200 worth of crypto, you will pay the 1.5% fee, but if you prefer smaller trades, Coinbase will become more expensive.

    What Coins Are Available on Coinbase?

    Coinbase review of top coins available on the platform.

    Coinbase supports well over 190 different cryptocurrency assets, including popular assets like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Stellar Lumens (XLM), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Additionally, they have a considerable bank of altcoins, including but not limited to:

    • Polkadot (DOT)
    • Bonfida (FIDA)
    • EOS (EOS)
    • Goldfinch (GFI)
    • Solana (SOL)
    • Cosmos (ATOM)

    You can also trade metaverse tokens like Decentraland (MANA) and My Neighbour Alice (ALICE) on Coinbase.

    Other Trading Features

    Beyond basic trading, Coinbase offers additional features like free crypto rewards, passive income, and advanced trading tools for more experienced investors. Here’s how to make the most of your Coinbase account:

    Learning Rewards

    If you want to get smarter about crypto and get rewarded in the process, you can take advantage of Learning Rewards, which are accessible from your dashboard. This program offers educational resources on various different types of cryptocurrency. You can watch tutorials to learn about how each cryptocurrency works, and once you feel like you have a good understanding, you can take quizzes and exams that test your knowledge.

    When you pass a quiz, you’re rewarded with free crypto! There are only certain crypto assets available through Learning Rewards and offers are limited based on the token’s availability. However, they are constantly adding new ones, so keep checking back. It’s a great way to increase your knowledge of cryptocurrency while getting rewards simultaneously.

    Coinbase Learning Rewards: earn free crypto by taking courses and passing quizzes

    Staking

    Coinbase Earn allows you to stake crypto to earn passive income. You can earn up to 16% APY by staking coins like Cosmos, Polkadot, Solana, Tezos, Ethereum, Cardano, and Coinbase Wrapped Staked ETH. You can earn a higher APY (up to 18.57%) by subscribing to Coinbase One for $24.99 per month.

    Staking APY available on Coinbase, up to 10.34% on Cosmos.

    Advanced Trading Tools

    With your free Coinbase account, you can toggle between the basic interface and the advanced trading interface depending on your needs and comfort level. The Coinbase Advanced platform offers professional-level trading tools such as detailed charts and real-time order books that provide valuable insights into market trends and asset performance. Here, you can access comprehensive historical data and analyze patterns using various technical indicators, such as moving averages, Relative Strength Index (RSI), Bollinger Bands, and more. You can even modify the indicators to align with your trading strategy.

    Additionally, Coinbase integrates features like price alerts and watchlists. This helps you stay updated with market movements and track specific cryptocurrencies of interest. Personally, I appreciate how the intuitive interface ensures that even if you’re brand new to cryptocurrency trading, you can navigate and utilize these advanced tools effectively.

    To switch between the two platforms, click on the profile icon on the top right of your screen, then click on Advanced or Coinbase.

    Coinbase Wallet

    Another feature that Coinbase offers is the Coinbase Wallet, which allows you to store over 4000 different types of cryptocurrency, including a DeFi (decentralized finance) marketplace and NFT trading. To use it, you don’t need a Coinbase account, you simply need to download the app and create the wallet directly. With the Coinbase Wallet, you can manage private keys and protect assets on your device using Secure Enclave, cloud backups, biometric authentication and a 12-word recovery phrase.

    Is Coinbase safe?

    Although Coinbase has high fees and limited capabilities for Canadians, it is extremely safe. It’s a public company, meaning that it’s entirely regulated in the United States and therefore must be fully transparent with all who hold shares. Since they are such a huge global exchange, they can provide a high level of security. For additional peace of mind, 98% of all digital assets are stored offline in cold storage.

    Coinbase is also well-insured, so even the 2% of assets stored in the hot wallet system are very safe. If they did have a breach and your assets were lost, they would be able to reimburse you.

    You will automatically need to set up two-factor authentication when setting up your account. Coinbase will require you to use SMS 2FA, but that’s not always the safest option. For extra security, you can use a security key or link your Google Authenticator App.

    ProsCons
    ✅ Large database of digital currencies available❌ Extremely high trading fees on small order sizes ($200 or less)
    ✅ Can fund your account with CAD via eTransfer❌ No pricing transparency
    ✅ Can purchase crypto directly with debit-credit & credit card❌ Unable to purchase cryptocurrency via wire transfer
    ✅ Can withdraw directly to your bank account via eTransfer
    ✅ Learning Rewards enables you to learn more about cryptocurrency while earning free tokens
    ✅ Staking available
    ✅ Free advanced trading tools
    ✅ Interface is simple and easy to use for beginners
    ✅ High level of security

    Coinbase for Canadians

    Although Coinbase is widely popular around the world, it does have quite a few limitations for Canadian users. Whereas other platforms like Netcoins, Newton, and BitBuy allow you to buy and sell digital currencies with ease and at a much lower cost, Coinbase charges some of the highest trading fees of all the exchanges in Canada.

    That said, if having access to a huge amount of altcoins is essential to you, then you may still want to consider Coinbase. When you compare cryptocurrency platforms, many of the other Canada-based platforms have a limited database of tokens to choose from. Moral of the story: if you want access to more coins – you’re going to have to pay for it. Keep the costs as low as possible by making orders of more than $200.

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    Heidi Unrau is a senior finance journalist at Hardbacon. She studied Economics at the University of Winnipeg, where she fell in love with all-things-finance. At 25, she kicked-off her financial career in retail banking as a teller. She quickly progressed to become a Credit Analyst and then Private Lender. This hands-on industry experience uniquely positions her to provide expert insight on loans, credit scores, credit cards, debt, and banking services. She has been featured in publications such as WealthRocket, Scary Mommy, Credello, and Plooto. When she's not chasing after her two little boys, you'll find her hiding in the car listening to the Freakonomics podcast, or binge-watching financial crime documentaries with a bowl of ice cream. Fun Fact: Heidi has lived in five different provinces across Canada and her blood type is coffee.