When it comes to America’s top cryptocurrency trading brokers, Coinbase and GDAX, both ran and owned by the same operators, are the crème de la crème, both in reputability and in offering fiat-to-crypto on-ramps.
And with Coinbase alone generating over $1 billion USD in revenues in 2017, there’s no question that Coinbase and GDAX are both here to stay. Perhaps even for decades to come.
To give you a better idea for what each exchange brings to the table, we’ll walk you through GDAX and Coinbase point by point, noting major points of interest and important contrasts.
The Difference Between The Two Exchanges
Think of Coinbase as the basic, streamlined exchange that caters to newcomers to the cryptocurrency space. The platform is simple and familiar, making it easy for newcomers to the ecosystem to make their first purchases of bitcoin and ether straight from their bank accounts. No major learning curve required. We go into more detail in our complete Coinbase review.
GDAX, on the other hand, is aimed at pleasing advanced traders. It’s an exchange that’s much more complex in its capabilities, and thus is purely suited for cryptocurrency veterans.
It’s worth noting that, as a result of the exchanges being owned by the same operators, transferring fiat funds between Coinbase and GDAX is generally a breeze.
If you have a Coinbase account, you automatically have a GDAX account, so we’ll focus mainly on the former here.
And there’s nothing much to say, as again the Coinbase platform is extremely familiar. Sign up is straightforward, taking about as much effort as it takes to sign up for a gmail.com email address, for example.
As such, you provide your 1) full name, 2) email address, 3) a password for your account, 4) your state of residence, and 5) a successful answer to a reCAPTCHA test. After that, voila. Send your date in, confirm, and then you’ve got yourself a Coinbase and a GDAX account.
The user interfaces (UIs) of both exchanges reflect their respective goals.
Accordingly, the Coinbase UI is extremely simple and streamlined, being navigable by even the most uninitiated of crypto amateurs. Indeed, such simplicity is Coinbase’s great strength and why it’s attracted so many new users over the past several months.
The GDAX UI offers many more functionalities thanks to the more advanced capabilities of the exchange. Consequently, using GDAX will be difficult and foreign to anyone who’s not at least a novice when it comes to cryptoeconomics.
Deposit and Withdrawals
To make fiat deposits on Coinbase or GDAX, you can initiate bank transfers.
Alternatively, if you want to buy cryptocurrencies directly with fiat, first you’ll need to link your bank account on Coinbase, which will simply require you to verify two micro-transactions that the exchange will send to your account. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to buy the offered digital assets whenever you please right from your bank account.
As for withdrawals, you’ve got several options on both exchanges. On either, you can withdraw crypto to a cryptocurrency wallet at any time for a small transfer fee. You can also cash out crypto to fiat, whether that’s into your native Coinbase or GDAX fiat wallet or to your personal bank account. Coinbase even allows withdrawals to PayPal.
Want to make purchases with a credit card, too? That’s fine on Coinbase.
There are no order types on Coinbase, per se. You simply buy the selected crypto at the given price; there’s no further purchasing customization.
As for GDAX, though, the order types that are possible are more complex. For instance, you can facilitate margin orders, limit orders, stop orders, and market orders on GDAX, making the trading experience on that exchange considerably more versatile. So, if it’s trading flexibility you’re looking for, GDAX will be up your alley.
Coinbase vs GDAX Fees
GDAX is one of the more popular cryptocurrency exchanges in the ecosystem when it comes to fees, as it’s extremely cheap to trade on GDAX. And, while fees can vary on the platform, they never rise to more than 0.25 percent at any given time. That’s better or competitive with the rates offered by a lot of other exchanges.
Coinbase, on the other hand, is more renowned for its hefty fees — convenience comes at a price, right? Credit card purchases on the exchange will cost you 4 percent while bank transfer transactions will set you back 1.5 percent each time.
Simple Trick to Save on Fees
You can actually use the two sites together to save on fees, by creating an account on Coinbase you automatically have an account on GDAX. To save on the hefty fees that Coinbase charge, you can fund your account on Coinbase using a bank deposit to your USD wallet.
Then head over to GDAX and create an account and visit the deposit screen and you will see the option to fund your account using Coinbase. Move your funds from your Coinbase wallet over to GDAX and you can then purchase your required currency and only pay the 0.25% GDAX fees.
The state of security on Coinbase and GDAX is strong. In fact, Coinbase itself is a pioneer in the cryptocurrency custodial services space, as Coinbase has been one of the first institutions to offer such services through “Coinbase Custody.”
Accordingly, Coinbase offers ultra-secure “vaults” to everyday users while offering custodial services to enterprise and business clients. As far as we know, GDAX doesn’t have vaults, but it’s simple and easy to send your crypto over to a Coinbase vault.
Customer support is one of the things that’s still lacking from most cryptocurrency exchanges, but Coinbase and GDAX have made inroads in recent weeks by hiring dozens of new support employees.
To this end, the exchanges have a 24/7 customer support line that can be reached any time at +1 (888) 908-7930. Call this number for general inquiries or particularly if you believe your account has been compromised by a malicious agent. A service rep will help you in short order.
Both Coinbase and GDAX are similar here, too, in that they both offer the same cryptocurrencies. On both exchanges, you’ll find trading possibilities for:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
And these won’t be the last additions either, as the operators of both exchanges have consistently and repeatedly express their wishes to list new digital assets in 2018 and beyond. The exchanges recently published a new framework for future listings, which emphasized that only projects that were truly decentralized and extremely reputable would be considered for listings in the weeks ahead.
The grand takeaway? Expect more projects to come to Coinbase and GDAX soon.
Similar Growing Pains
A consistent complaint level against both of the exchanges in question in 2017 were that they both seemed to crash any time the crypto markets reached a fever pitch. Any time bitcoin or ether hit an acute bull or bear run, Coinbase and GDAX seemed to crash.
The problem? And explosion of new users in the cryptoverse have overloaded the exchanges’ technical capabilities routinely.
Will they get their acts together in 2018? Most likely. But it’s undeniable that many users have grown frustrated and have started to turn their attention to competitor exchanges.
If you live in the United States or Europe and you’re wanting to make your first foray into cryptocurrencies, we do highly recommend Coinbase.
And if you’re a more advanced cryptocurrency trader, we similarly recommend GDAX. Both exchanges have a lot of work to do, and improvements that are needed are manifold. But as both projects have proven to be extraordinarily promising so far, they look like they’ll keep delivering going forward.
There are always smaller exchanges to choose form, to be sure. But the larger exchanges are at least more of a known factor. And Coinbase and GDAX are arguably some of the most reputable projects in the entire crypto arena.