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FTX vs. Coinbase: Which Crypto Exchange Is Right for You?

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FTX and Coinbase are two of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. They each have plenty of features and trading options, so experienced investors often narrow it down to these two exchanges.

Before we break down FTX vs. Coinbase, it's important to clarify that FTX has a separate platform for U.S. customers. FTX.US doesn't have quite as many features as the main international platform. In this guide, we'll be comparing FTX.US to Coinbase.

FTX.US vs. Coinbase: At a glance

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Commissions
0.00% - 0.20% maker/taker fees
Variable fees (Coinbase), 0%-0.60% (Coinbase Advanced Trade)
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FTX vs. Coinbase: Fees

Low fees are one of the biggest perks of FTX.US, as it charges less in trading fees than Coinbase and most of the top cryptocurrency exchanges. Coinbase has reasonable trading fees if you use its advanced trading option, but charges quite a bit if you use simple trading.

Both FTX.US and Coinbase's advanced trade tool use tiered fee structures. The fee you pay depends on your 30-day trading volume. They also use maker-taker models. You pay the taker fee on trades that are filled immediately by an order already in the exchange's order book, and you pay the maker fee on trades that aren't.

Here's the fee structure on FTX.US:

Tier 30-day trading volume in U.S. dollars Maker fee Taker fee
1 $0 to $100,000 0.10% 0.20%
2 Over $100,000 to $500,000 0.08% 0.18%
3 Over $500,000 to $1,000,000 0.06% 0.18%
4 Over $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 0.05% 0.15%
5 Over $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 0.04% 0.10%
6 Over $10,000,000 to $15,000,000 0.03% 0.08%
7 Over $15,000,000 to $30,000,000 0.02% 0.07%
8 Over $30,000,000 to $50,000,000 0.01% 0.06%
9 Over $50,000,000 0.00% 0.05%
Data source: FTX.US.

Here's the fee structure for advanced trades on Coinbase:

30-DAY TRADING VOLUME IN U.S. DOLLARS MAKER FEE TAKER FEE
Up to $10,000 0.40% 0.60%
$10,000 to $50,000 0.25% 0.40%
$50,000 to $100,000 0.15% 0.25%
$100,000 to $1,000,000 0.10% 0.20%
$1,000,000 to $20,000,000 0.08% 0.18%
$20,000,000 to $100,000,000 0.05% 0.15%
$100,000,000 to $300,000,000 0.02% 0.10%
$300,000,000 to $500,000,000 0.00% 0.08%
Over $500,000,000 0.00% 0.05%
Data source: Coinbase.

If you use Coinbase's simple trading tool, fees are much higher. Coinbase hasn't published an exact fee structure for simple trades, but it charges nearly 1.5% for trades of $205 or more. Smaller trades have a flat fee. Here are the smaller trade ranges and their corresponding fees:

  • Up to $10: $0.99
  • Up to $25: $1.49
  • Up to $50: $1.99
  • Up to $205: $2.99

To show how much you'd pay with FTX.US and both trading options on Coinbase, here's an example of trade fees when purchasing $1,000 of Bitcoin (BTC):

CRYPTO EXCHANGE FEE ON $1,000 BITCOIN PURCHASE
FTX.US* $2.00
Coinbase Simple Trade $14.68
Coinbase Advanced Trade $6.00
Data sources: FTX.US and Coinbase *FTX.US and Coinbase Advanced Trade fee amounts are based on the taker fees from their lowest pricing tiers.

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FTX.US vs. Coinbase: Cryptos available

Coinbase has one of the largest crypto lineups of any exchange, and it's far ahead of FTX.US in this area. There are well over 150 cryptocurrencies available on Coinbase, compared to upwards of 20 on FTX.US.

Both exchanges have a mix of major cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH), and smaller tokens. However, there are several bigger cryptocurrencies that you can find on Coinbase, but not FTX.US, including:

FTX.US offers TRON (TRX), which isn't available to trade on Coinbase. Other than that, there aren't many top cryptocurrencies that are available on FTX.US but missing on Coinbase.

FTX.US vs. Coinbase: Wallets

FTX.US and Coinbase provide custodial wallets where you can store crypto you buy and transfer crypto to and from external wallets. The drawback with custodial wallets is that the exchange has the private keys, which means it has control of your crypto. If you want your crypto to be entirely in your possession, then you need to transfer it to your own external wallet.

Coinbase also offers Coinbase Wallet, a non-custodial, digital wallet. It's available for download as an app free of charge, and you don't need to be a Coinbase customer to use it. You can use it to store cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

FTX.US vs. Coinbase: Security

Both FTX.US and Coinbase prioritize security and have excellent track records to date. Of the two, Coinbase has been around much longer, but they're both safe places to buy and sell cryptocurrency. To get an idea of how they keep your crypto safe, we'll cover their most important security features.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is available on FTX.US and Coinbase. When you set up 2FA, the exchange requires two forms of authentication before you can log in to your account. For example, you would need to enter your password, and then enter a code sent to your mobile device. This makes it much more difficult for anyone to hack into your account.

In addition, FTX.US offers the following security features:

  • It has a custom-built hot and cold wallet storage system that splits up funds among digital and offline storage, with a full external backup of all hot wallet funds.
  • It may lock withdrawals for 24 hours after a password change or the removal of 2FA.
  • You can activate a dual security layer by requiring 2FA and a separate password to make withdrawals.
  • You can whitelist IP addresses so that only trusted IPs can access your account.
  • You can whitelist wallet addresses so that withdrawals can only be sent to trusted external wallets.

Here are the notable security features offered by Coinbase:

  • Coinbase keeps over 98% of customer crypto funds in cold storage. Since cold storage is offline, it's much harder to steal.
  • Coinbase has insurance on the remaining customer crypto funds that are kept online in hot wallets.
  • Like FTX.US, Coinbase lets you whitelist wallet addresses for withdrawals.
  • It also offers vaults, which are more secure storage options. Vault withdrawals require a 48-hour waiting period and approval by one or more designated parties.

Coinbase had a security incident in 2021 where hackers exploited an issue with its SMS account recovery tool. They accessed and removed funds from over 6,000 accounts this way. It's worth noting that they also needed to know the email addresses, phone numbers, and passwords to those accounts, and there's no evidence they obtained those from Coinbase.

To its credit, Coinbase reimbursed everyone who had funds stolen. It also updated its SMS account recovery protocols to fix the vulnerability.

Final take

Since FTX.US and Coinbase are quite different, it's simple enough to choose between them based on your level of experience and what you want in an exchange.

If you're new to cryptocurrency investing, you should probably go with Coinbase. It's much more beginner-friendly with helpful educational content and even quizzes where you can earn free crypto. It's also a good choice for investors who want a large cryptocurrency selection to choose from, and it has tools for advanced traders as well.

FTX.US is better if you want to keep trading fees to a minimum, especially if you're a high-volume trader, because it offers some of the lowest rates on the market. It isn't as easy to use as Coinbase's main platform, but it does have a nice selection of advanced features. Overall, it's great for fee-conscious investors who don't mind a bit of a learning curve.

The Ascent's best cryptocurrency apps

There are hundreds of platforms around the world that are waiting to give you access to thousands of cryptocurrencies. And to find the one that's right for you, you'll need to decide the features that matter most to you.

To help you get started, our independent experts have sifted through the options to bring you some of our best cryptocurrency exchanges for 2022. Check out the list and get started on your crypto journey, today.

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