The Beginner’s Guide to the Coinbase Exchange

Cryptocurrencies are enjoying greater investor interest than ever before. Before you can begin to participate in this growing market, you’ll need to create an account at a cryptocurrency exchange which will allow you to buy and sell tokens. Coinbase is among the most popular and widely used exchanges and makes an excellent place for a new cryptocurrency investor to begin. Below, we lay out a step-by-step guide to getting started utilizing the Coinbase exchange.

Overview for Fast Readers

  • Coinbase is known for its accessibility and ease of use, and for being one of the most popular and widely used cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
  • Coinbase offers two types of accounts: Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. The basic account is designed for retail investors making buys and sells with fiat currency, while the Pro account allows for more advanced trades.
  • Signing up for a Coinbase account requires inputting and verifying personal information and can be accomplished in just a few minutes.
  • The process for buying and selling cryptocurrencies through Coinbase takes place through a single pop-up order window.

What is Coinbase?

Coinbase is a popular fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange which was founded in 2012 in San Francisco and allows users to buy cryptocurrency tokens with fiat currency. The exchange caters to more than 43 million customers in more than 100 countries and has facilitated a total trading volume of more than $455 billion. Coinbase is known for its security and its ease of use.

What is Coinbase Pro?

While Coinbase is a straightforward fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange for retail investors, the company also offers a robust platform for advanced traders as well. This platform, Coinbase Pro, operates more like a traditional exchange, utilizing order books and liquidity. Coinbase Pro also offers a slightly different fee structure and an expanded list of cryptocurrency tokens available for exchange. Crypto investors looking to increase their options by using Coinbase Pro should look to Thebitcamp’s extensive guide to this platform for more info.

How to Create a Coinbase Account (Step-by-Step Tutorial)

One of the major benefits to Coinbase is how straightforward and quick it is for a new user to create an account. With the right information available on hand, you can go from starting to create your account to buying and selling crypto tokens in just minutes. Below, we’ll walk through the process in a step-by-step fashion, showing you all of the details along the way.

  1. Visit coinbase.com
    The first step to setting up a Coinbase account is to navigate to the exchange’s homepage at coinbase.com. There, you’ll be greeted by a homepage like this one:

    Screen Shot 2021 02 06 at 12.26.36 PM

    Before you create your account, you can learn more about how Coinbase and cryptocurrency trading works by clicking on the “Learn” and “Company” tabs at the menu at the top of the screen. Navigating to the “Pricing” tab or scrolling down on the homepage will show you more about the current prices of available cryptocurrencies, and clicking on “Products” at the top of the page will show you a selection of the products available to Coinbase users.

    When you’re ready to create your account, click on “Get Started” in the top right corner of the page or input your email in the center of the page to begin the account creation process.
  2. Input basic information
    You’ll next be prompted to input basic information for your account, including your first and last name, email address, a password for the account, and your location.

    Screen Shot 2021 02 06 at 12.26.58 PM
  3. Verify your email
    After submitting your basic info, Coinbase will go about verifying the email address you’ve included for security purposes. You’ll be prompted to verify the email with a page looking like this:

    Screen Shot 2021 02 06 at 12.27.52 PM

    Check your email for a message from Coinbase. When you open that email, you’ll see a link to click on which will open up a new window through the Coinbase site. Once you have done this successfully, your email will be verified and you’ll automatically be taken to the next step of the account creation process.
  4. Set up two-step verification

    Coinbase utilizes two-step verification to ensure that your account remains secure. What this means is that, after creating your account, you’ll need to both input your username and password and verify your identity through a confirmed device (like a phone) in order to log in to your account. To set up two-step verification, input your country and phone number on the page that looks like this:

    Screen Shot 2021 02 06 at 12.28.27 PM

    Once you’ve done so, click “Send code” and watch your phone for a message including the code you’ll need to input in order to proceed.
  5. Enter authentication code
    If you’ve received a text message with the code to set up two-step verification, input it on this page and then hit “Submit” to continue:

    Screen Shot 2021 02 06 at 4.22.49 PM

    If for some reason the code didn’t come through, click on “Resend text message” to resend the code, or try another phone number using the “Use another phone number” link instead.
  6. Verify your identity
    Next, Coinbase will ask you to verify your identity further. You’ll have 4 minutes to answer a series of multiple choice questions including the names and numbers of previous street addresses where you have lived, people you may know, and similar questions. Coinbase accesses this information using the details you’ve already provided in the sign-up process. Once again, this verification process is designed to provide you with security in the account creation procedure.

    Screen Shot 2021 02 06 at 4.24.18 PM
  7. Access your account main page
    If everything has gone smoothly so far, your account will then be created and you will be taken to your account main page, which will look something like this:

    Screen Shot 2021 02 06 at 4.24.45 PM

    Congratulations! You’ve officially set up your Coinbase account. Now you’re ready to get started funding the account and buying and selling cryptocurrencies.

How to Use Coinbase

Once you’ve created your account with Coinbase, you can get started buying and selling crypto tokens. Before you do that, though, you’ll need to set up one more thing: a payment method. You’ll need to fund your account by adding money from a payment source before you can buy and sell your first cryptocurrency tokens. Here is how to set up your payment method in Coinbase.

  1. Navigate to your account main page
    If you’ve just created your Coinbase account, you’ll already be at the main page of your account. Otherwise, log in to your account via coinbase.com and navigate to the main page, which should look something like this:

    Screen Shot 2021 02 06 at 4.24.45 PM

    From here, click on the green “Add payment method” button on the left side of the page.
  2. Select payment method
    Next, you’ll be prompted to select the type of payment method you’d like to add. Coinbase provides options to fund your account with a bank account, which allows buy orders to process instantly, a debit card for small investments, or a wire transfer recommended for very large investments.

    Reiff payment method screenshot
  3. Add and confirm payment method
    Depending upon which payment method you select, you’ll be prompted to add particular sets of information. If you add a bank account, which is Coinbase’s recommended payment method, you’ll first be asked to accept the end user privacy policy for Plaid, which provides technology allowing Coinbase to connect to your bank account:

    Reiff Plaid terms screenshot

    You’ll then be asked to select your bank from a list of commonly used banks, or to search for your bank by name:

    Reiff bank selection screenshot

    Depending on your bank, you’ll also be prompted to include login info for your bank account as well as other verifying information.
  4. Await verification
    The final step to setting up your payment method is to await verification. After you’ve successfully linked your payment method to your Coinbase account, you’ll be taken back to the account main page, where there will be a new message at the top of the screen indicating that Coinbase is awaiting verification of the payment method:

    Reiff Coinbase verification waiting screenshot

    Once your payment method has been verified, your account main page will change. The green button at the left side of the page will now be labeled “Buy crypto.” Once you see that button, you’re ready to begin investing.

    Reiff buy crypto screenshot

Step-by-Step Guide to Buying Cryptocurrencies

With your payment method set up, you are now ready to buy cryptocurrencies. Coinbase makes this process extremely simple. Here is our step-by-step guide:

  1. Specify your order
    Click on the green “Buy crypto” button on the left side of your account main page to initiate an order. You’ll see a window pop up that looks like this:

    Reiff Buy order screenshot

    This window allows you to specify several aspects of your order. First, at the top of the window, you can select whether to buy cryptos for fiat currency, to sell cryptos for fiat currency, or to convert between two cryptocurrencies. Below that, you can specify the amount of the order, up to $25,000. Note that the minimum purchase for a Coinbase buy order in the U.S. is $1.99; if you attempt a purchase of less than that amount, you’ll receive an error notification:

    Reiff small purchase notification screenshot

    The default setting for a buy order is for a one-time purchase. By clicking on the “One time purchase button,” you can change that to make the order a regular or recurring purchase, if you’d like:

    Reiff recurring purchase screenshot

    Farther down, you can select the specific cryptocurrency for your purchase as well. Clicking on the “Bitcoin” name in this window pulls up another window with a list of available cryptocurrencies:

    Reiff Crypto list screenshot

    If you have set up multiple payment methods, you also have the option of selecting from among those methods here. When you are ready to place your order, click on the “Preview Buy” button at the bottom of the buy window:

    Reiff Preview Buy screenshot
  2. Confirm your purchase
    Coinbase will present a new window at this time to show you the number of tokens you are set to purchase, the current purchase price for the cryptocurrency you are buying, the breakdown of your payment (including the portion which goes to Coinbase as a fee), and similar information. This is your last chance to back out of the purchase without Coinbase drawing money from your payment method. If you approve of the purchase, press the “Buy now” button at the bottom of the window to confirm:

    Reiff Buy now screenshot
  3. View your transaction
    Coinbase may allow you to trade some cryptocurrencies immediately upon your purchase. If this is the case, you’ll have seen a notification of this before confirming your transaction. After the transaction is confirmed, you’ll be prompted to view your transaction if you’d like. Clicking on the “View transaction” button will take you to a portfolio page where you can view the details of your recent transaction.

    Reiff View transaction screenshot

Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Cryptocurrencies

The process of selling cryptocurrency tokens on Coinbase is very similar to the process of buying them. Start this process by clicking on the “Buy/Sell” button at the top of the account main page. Here is a step-by-step guide for what comes next:

  1. Specify your order
    Just as when you initiate a buy order, you’ll first need to specify some of the details of your sell order. Start by clicking over to the “Sell” tab in the pop-up order window:

    Reiff Sell tab screenshot

    You’ll be asked to select the cryptocurrency you wish to sell. If you have multiple cryptocurrencies in your portfolio, double check here to make sure that you are selling the type of tokens you intend to sell. You’ll also be prompted to specify the amount of that cryptocurrency to sell, expressed in fiat currency. If you wish to sell your entire stake in that cryptocurrency, click the “Sell all” button. Finally, you’ll be asked to specify where the money from the sale should be deposited.
  2. Confirm your sale
    Coinbase will provide the chance to confirm your sale before finalizing. At this point, the exchange will also show you how many tokens you are selling based on the fiat currency amount you specified previously (or if you selected the “Sell all” button). If you approve of the terms of the sale, click on the “Sell now” button to finalize:

    Reiff Sell now screenshot
  3. View your transaction
    After the transaction is confirmed, Coinbase will provide a summary of the transaction for you. You can view the details of the transaction by clicking on the “View transaction” button on the next window:

    Reiff Sell view transaction

FAQs about Coinbase

Can Coinbase be Trusted?

Coinbase is among the most widely used cryptocurrency exchanges available at this time. The exchange provides ample security protection including cold storage, geographic distribution, AES-256 encryption, and other security measures. While no exchange is perfectly safe, Coinbase is widely recognized as among the very most secure cryptocurrency exchanges.

What is the Minimum Deposit for Coinbase?

Unlike some other cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase does not require that you transfer fiat currency to your account by depositing funds. Similarly, you do not need to initiate a withdrawal in order to complete your sale order. You also do not need to utilize a separate crypto wallet in order to make a purchase through Coinbase. At this time, the minimum order in the U.S. is $2. Keep in mind that orders will incur fees subject to Coinbase’s terms.

Summary

Coinbase is a very popular and trustworthy cryptocurrency exchange, known for its ease of use and straightforward, user-friendly interface. The exchange offers a Pro account which allows for increased trading options and which may appeal to advanced traders. While there are many compelling reasons to choose Coinbase for your cryptocurrency transactions, other exchanges such as DXOne may provide competitive fee structures, crypto token offerings, and other services. That is why it is crucial to consider your crypto trading priorities and shop around before committing to any particular exchange.

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