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HomeFinanceCoinbase vs. Gemini: which is best for beginners?

Coinbase vs. Gemini: which is best for beginners?


Coinbase and Gemini™ are both designed to help beginners dip their toes into the world of crypto, with simple-to-use mobile apps, a quick setup experience, and educational tools to help you learn about cryptocurrency trading and investing.

Both also offer advanced trading platforms with lower fees for active traders. But while Coinbase offers a wide selection of cryptocurrency and an in-app crypto news feed, Gemini™ has a focus on security with its custodial services and digital wallet insurance for users.

Both platforms help users make their first crypto purchase and protect their assets, but each offers a slightly different approach to crypto investing. We’ve compared the crypto selection, fees, security, and features of both Coinbase and Gemini™ to help you find the best exchange for your needs.

Here’s everything you need to know to decide if either Coinbase or Gemini™ is for you.

About Coinbase

Best Crypto Credit Cards: Which Cards Earn You Crypto While You Shop? - Coinbase Coinbase is a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange that is available in 49 states (except Hawaii). It was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam as a way for crypto investors to trade Bitcoin. Over time, it has added over 100 cryptocurrencies and is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world (by trading volume).

Coinbase has over 70 million customers across the globe, and hosts some of the largest institutions as well, including Tesla and Microstrategy (Michael Saylor’s company). With a focus on simplicity, the Coinbase platform and mobile is one of the easiest to use and is designed for beginners to purchase their first cryptocurrency.

Coinbase does offer an advanced trading platform as well, giving active traders access to more trading tools and charts. And while the fees for standard users are fairly high, the advanced trading platform offers competitive fees for high-volume traders.

Overall, Coinbase is a top-notch crypto exchange with a lot of offers for both new and experienced crypto investors. Get started with Coinbase or read our full review.

About Gemini™

eToro Review: The Crypto Exchange With A Genius Feature - Gemini Gemini™ was founded by the famous Winklevoss twins after receiving a settlement from Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss invested heavily into Bitcoin and, with their newfound wealth, eventually launched Gemini™ in 2015. With a focus on security, Gemini™ was one of the first regulated crypto exchanges in the U.S., making it a safe place for U.S. investors to trade cryptocurrency.

Gemini™ offers a decent selection of cryptocurrencies and is supported around the globe in over 100 countries. It also caters to large institutions, with a full-service trading desk and 24/7 support teams for corporate and institutional investors. Gemini™ is also one of the only platforms to offer insurance against theft for users who hold crypto in the Gemini™ digital wallet.

While Gemini™ is aimed at beginners and institutions, it does offer an advanced trading platform with low fees. Get started with Gemini™ or read our full review.

Coinbase vs. Gemini™ overview

  Coinbase Gemini™
Fees (maker/taker) $0.99–$2.99, for orders below $200.

1.49%–3.99% for trades over $200.

Advanced: Up to 0.60%/0.60%, depending on 30-day trade volume.

$0.99–$2.99, for orders below $200.

1.49%–3.49% for trades over $200.

Trading options Buy/sell, staking. Buy/sell, earn interest.
Funding options Wire transfer, ACH, debit card, PayPal, crypto deposit. Wire transfer, ACH, debit card, crypto deposit.
Currency selection 160+ crypto, 5 fiat. 90+ crypto, 7 fiat.
Verification process 2–3 minutes. 2–3 minutes.

Coinbase vs. Gemini™ fees

Coinbase and Gemini™ offer very similar fee structures, and the fees are on the higher end of most crypto exchanges. Both also offer an advanced trading platform with lower fees for high-volume traders.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the fees on both Coinbase and Gemini™:

Funding fees (USD deposits)

Transaction type Coinbase fee Gemini™ fee
Wire deposit $10 $0
ACH deposit $0 $0
Credit/debit card 3.49% 3.49%
Deposit crypto $0 $0

There may be additional fees charged by banking institutions when depositing or withdrawing from each platform.

Withdrawal fees (USD withdrawals)

Transaction type Coinbase Gemini™
ACH $0 $0.50
Wire withdrawal $25 One free transfer per week.

$25 per additional transfer (under $5,000).

$5,000 and above transfers are free.

Withdraw crypto Varies by coin. $0 for non-ERC20 and OMNI.

ERC20 and OMNI coin fees vary by currency.

Coinbase vs. Gemini™ trading fees

Both Coinbase and Gemini™ offer multiple ways to trade, with differing fee structures for each. Below is a comparison of regular trades for each platform, as well as trading fees for the “Pro” level trading platforms.

For standard trades, both Coinbase and Gemini™ require a minimum trade fee of $0.99, with fees reducing as orders get larger. Here’s how fees are assessed on cryptocurrency orders:

  • Orders of less than $10: $0.99.
  • Orders of $10.00 – $24.99: $1.49.
  • Orders of $25.00 – $49.99: $1.99.
  • Orders of $50.00 – $199.99: $2.99.

For orders over $200, Gemini™ charges a flat 1.49% fee, while Coinbase is less transparent. Fees can vary per transaction and include a transaction fee and “spread” fee, which are calculated individually per transaction. Based on a few tests, this fee hovers around 1.5%, but can vary a bit.

There are also additional fees for purchases with a debit card, with both companies charging a 3.49% surcharge for debit card transactions.

Overall, these fees are higher than most other exchanges.

Coinbase Advanced vs. Gemini™ ActiveTrader fees

To save on fees, both Coinbase and Gemini™ offer an advanced trading platform with reduced fees. Fees are based on trading volume and use a maker-taker fee model.

Maker fees are charged when your trade order is not matched immediately, but is instead placed in the order book, adding liquidity to the market. Taker fees are charged when your order is matched against an order already on the order book, which takes liquidity​ from the market.

Coinbase charges the lowest-volume traders up to 0.6% per transaction, while market makers enjoy paying nothing (0.00%) when transacting over $500 million per month. Of note, trading between one stablecoin to another offers a low 0.01% taker fee, and 0.00% maker fee.

Here’s a breakdown of the Coinbase Advanced trader fees:

30-day trading volume Taker fee Maker fee
0.60% 0.40%
$10k – $50k 0.40% 0.25%
$50k – $100k 0.25% 0.15%
$100k – $1m 0.20% 0.10%
$1m – $20m 0.18% 0.08%
$20m – $100m 0.15% 0.05%
$100m – $300m 0.10% 0.02%
$300m – $500m 0.08% 0.00%
$500m+ 0.05% 0.00%

Gemini™ offers a similar maker-taker fee schedule on the ActiveTrader platform, with discounts available to higher-volume traders. The fees are lower than Coinbase, with the highest fee at 0.4%, all the way down to 0.00% for high-volume market makers. Here’s a breakdown of the Gemini™ ActiveTrader fee schedule:

30-day trading volume Taker fee Maker fee
0 0.40% 0.20%
≥ $10,000 0.30% 0.10%
≥ $50,000 0.25% 0.10%
≥ $100,000 0.20% 0.08%
≥ $1,000,000 0.15% 0.05%
≥ $5,000,000 0.10% 0.03%
≥ $10,000,000 0.08% 0.02%
≥ $50,000,000 0.05% 0.00%
≥ $100,000,000 0.04% 0.00%
≥ $500,000,000 0.03% 0.00%

All the fees for the Gemini™ platform can be on their website.

Read more: How to invest in cryptocurrency: a beginner’s guide

Coinbase vs. Gemini™ security

Both Coinbase and Gemini™ offer some of the most robust security features of any cryptocurrency exchange. With a focus on secure custody and bank-grade data security, both platforms are some of the safest around. Here are a few of the security features shared by Coinbase and Gemini™.

  • Two-factor authentication: Both platforms require setting up two-factor authentication with a third-party app (like Google Authenticator) to secure your account.
  • FDIC insurance: Both platforms offer up to $250k in FDIC insurance for cash deposits.
  • Cold storage: Both platforms keep a majority of your crypto assets in offline cold storage, preventing online cyber-attacks.

There are also a few unique features that each company offers in terms of security, further separating these companies from the competition:

  • Gemini hot wallet insurance: Gemini™ is one of the only exchanges to provide insurance against theft in the Gemini™ hot wallet. User funds stored in the Gemini™ wallet are insured against a security breach or hack, a fraudulent transfer, or employee theft.
  • Gemini custody services: Gemini™ offers secure custody services for many companies, providing offline storage for crypto assets with $200 million in insurance.
  • Coinbase vaults: Coinbase offers a cold-storage vault service that protects user funds with multi-signature wallets, time-delayed withdrawals, and offline storage.
  • Coinbase background checks: All employees of Coinbase must pass a criminal background check as part of the hiring process.

Overall, both Gemini™ and Coinbase are two of the most trusted crypto exchanges in the world, and for good reason.

Coinbase vs. Gemini™ features

While Gemini™ and Coinbase both offer similar features, fees, and platforms, there are a few distinct differences between the two platforms.

Coinbase features

  • Coinbase crypto selection: Coinbase offers over 160 cryptocurrencies for trading, with more being added on a regular basis. While this isn’t the largest selection of any crypto exchange, it far exceeds Gemini™’s 90+ crypto selection.
  • Coinbase Learn: Coinbase offers a unique learning program, built into the website and mobile app. Users can learn about cryptocurrencies through short-form videos, and even earn crypto rewards by taking a quiz after each video series.
  • Coinbase Card: Coinbase allows you to spend your crypto balance using the Coinbase Visa debit card. You can also earn crypto rewards cash back on purchases.

Gemini™ features

  • Gemini™ Pay: Gemini™ allows users to pay with certain cryptocurrencies using their mobile app (similar to Apple Pay).
  • Gemini™ Institutional: Gemini™ offers an over-the-counter trade desk, advanced trading tools, and 24/7 support to corporate and institutional clients.
  • Gemini™ Earn: Gemini™ allows you to earn interest on deposited cryptocurrency into a Gemini™ Earn account. Interest is paid out in the native cryptocurrency that is deposited (i.e., deposit Bitcoin, earn Bitcoin).

My experience with Coinbase and Gemini™

Coinbase is my go-to cryptocurrency trading platform, and I have used Gemini™ on a few occasions for trading crypto I could not find elsewhere. Both platforms offer a similar sign-up experience and a slick mobile app for trading and other features.

Coinbase was my first crypto experience, using the standard platform to purchase crypto. I was able to quickly sign up and verify my identity within the app and connect my bank account to deposit funds. Buying crypto was a straightforward experience, with the fees clearly listed before making a purchase.

I have also used the Coinbase Pro platform to make more active trades, which helped me save on fees. Now that Coinbase has launched the “Advanced Trade” feature within the standard app, I no longer need to use the Coinbase Pro account to buy or sell crypto. I have also taken a few quizzes and earned crypto using the Coinbase Learn platform, which is very intuitive and actually taught me a few things.

Overall, Coinbase is a solid platform, and the ease of use for beginners is what makes it one of the best crypto exchanges available today.

Gemini™ offers a similar experience to Coinbase, with a simple sign-up process and identity verification experience. The trading platform is simple, with an easy-to-use order form and a simplified chart for tracking price movements.

The Gemini™ Earn feature is a great option for those looking to earn interest on their cryptocurrency. It shows me a quick example of the projected interest earned over one year and I can also make recurring purchases that deposit directly into the Earn platform, which makes the process of investing in crypto and earning interest on the balance seamless.

Overall, Gemini™ offers a very simple user experience and is ideal for beginner investors.

Who is Coinbase best for?

New crypto investors

Coinbase is designed to be one of the easiest ways for new investors to purchase their first cryptocurrency. With a simple onboarding experience, easy-to-use mobile app, and wide selection of crypto to choose from, Coinbase is a great place to start.

Users that spend their crypto

The Coinbase Card allows users to spend their crypto holdings with a simple Visa debit card, making it ideal for users who want to actually use their crypto, not just hold it.

Read more: What are crypto credit cards and are they worth it?

Who is Gemini™ best for?

Institutional investors

The Gemini™ Institutional platform offers everything from a fully staffed support team to custody service to custom-built trading tools. This is ideal for asset managers, corporations, and liquidity providers that want white-glove service with world-class security.

Security-conscious investors

Gemini™ is one of the leading crypto exchanges in terms of security and regulatory compliance. With a vast array of customizable security features, insurance on all crypto assets, and bank-grade data protection, users can rest assured their crypto assets are safe on the Gemini™ platform.

Read more: Is Bitcoin safe? What investors need to know

Coinbase pros & cons

Pros:

  • Simple to use. From an easy sign-up process to a user-friendly mobile app, Coinbase is one of the best crypto platforms for first timers.
  • Large crypto selection. While not the biggest exchange by crypto selection, Coinbase does boast over 160+ cryptocurrencies to choose from, while still adding more each month.
  • Educational tools. Coinbase offers the most intuitive and simple learning platform of any crypto exchange. With built-in video training and a crypto rewards program to boot, Coinbase helps new users quickly get up to speed on all things cryptocurrency.

Cons:

  • High fees. For beginners making a smaller investment ($200 or less), Coinbase charges astronomical fees. For transactions above $200, the fees are still higher than most competitors. The only saving grace is the Advanced Trade platform to cut down on the fee costs.
  • No margin or derivatives trading. Coinbase is designed for beginners, and users who want access to more complex trading features such as margin and futures trading will need to look elsewhere.

Get started with Coinbase or read our full review.

Gemini™ pros & cons

Pros:

  • Pay with crypto. The Gemini™ Pay platform is as simple to use as Apple Pay, and works with thousands of merchants. This makes paying with crypto pretty simple on Gemini™.
  • Security features. Gemini™ offers some of the best security in the industry, period. With custom user account controls to institutional-grade custody services, Gemini™ is king of crypto security.
  • Earn interest on crypto. Gemini™ lets you earn a decent interest rate on your crypto, making it simple to put your assets to work. The recurring purchase feature also makes it easy to buy and earn without lifting a finger.

Cons:

  • High fees. With a similar fee structure to Coinbase, Gemini™ charges more than most other exchanges. The ActiveTrader platform offers a reprieve from the high fees, but may be too complicated for new investors.
  • Smaller crypto selection. While 90+ cryptocurrencies to trade is nothing to sneeze at, Gemini™ offers far less than Coinbase and other competitors.

Get started with Gemini™ or read our full review.

So, which one is the best?

Both Coinbase and Gemini™ offer a fantastic user experience for beginners. And while they both charge high fees, the focus on security helps new users feel at ease when dipping their toes into crypto investing. That being said, there is a clear winner here.

Coinbase offers far more crypto to trade, as well as a unique learning experience, making it our favorite crypto exchange for beginners. With the inclusion of the advanced trade platform, as well as its crypto debit card partnership with Visa, Coinbase offers more features and a simpler experience overall.

That being said, institutional clients and those that place high importance on security may prefer Gemini™ over Coinbase.

Honestly, you can’t really go wrong with either platform – just stay aware of how much you’re paying in fees.

Featured image: Creativan/Shutterstock.com

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