Exchange Review: GDAX/Coinbase

  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4.1 stars
  • 80%

  • GDAX/Coinbase
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: December 7, 2017
  • Trading
    Editor: 60%
  • Funding
    Editor: 92%
  • Platform
    Editor: 76%
  • Help & Support
    Editor: 58%
  • Legitimacy
    Editor: 93%

Coinbase was launched in 2012 as a cryptocurrency exchange based in the United States, it currently has its headquarter in San Francisco, California. It launched Coinbase Exchange in January 2015, which was later rebranded to Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX).


Coinbase used to be well known for not supporting any cryptocurrency besides Bitcoin, despite the fact that even Litecoin creator Charlie Lee works at the exchange. This has changed in recent years with the addition of both Ethereum and Litecoin. Even with these additional currencies, traders still leave limited trading possibilities. Fiat markets are equally limited.

The good news is that the liquidity for the offered pairs is good. On a trade worth $1,000 users will rarely incur more than $3 in costs, even after correcting for bid/ask spreads and impact. Without these low fees, GDAX would not be very attractive at all. Besides limited cryptocurrencies to trade in, margin trading/short selling is not available either and the available order types are disappointing as well. The platform supports limit orders, but does not include market orders and advanced order types such as stop-loss orders.

GDAX Trading Summary

# Cryptocurrencies3 (BTC / ETH / LTC)
# Fiat currencies3 (USD / EUR / GBP)
Trade fees (trade size $1,000)0.20%
BTC/USD half bid-ask + impact (trade size $1,000)0.03%
Minimum trade sizeNo
Margin tradingNot supported
DerivativesNot supported
Market ordersNot supported
Advanced ordersNot supported


In terms of funding an account with fiat currencies there are several good options options available. Users can choose to do an ACH transfer which is cheap but slow. Additional funding options might become available when the overall availability of the exchange increases.

GDAX Funding Summary

Cheapest funding method available inUnited States
Cheapest funding methodACH
Deposit fees (local)Free of charge
Withdrawal fees (local)Free of charge
Instant deposits possible?Yes (limited)
Bitcoin Deposit feesFree of charge
Bitcoin Withdrawal feesFree of charge


Coinbase has managed to deliver a very simple and clean platform, which can be easily accessed from multiple platforms through the responsive website. Assisted by the exchange’s limited functionalities, GDAX provides a neatly organised and complete trading screen. For now, GDAX is setting an example with regard to design.

Help & Support

The documentation available at the exchange does a good job of covering any relevant aspect of the platform. The documentation also covers Bitcoin, which is what leads to one point of criticism. The advantages of Bitcoin are mentioned, but the disadvantages such as the (price) risk inherent to holding the digital currency are harder to find.

Furthermore, even though Coinbase offers very extensive documentation, the available options to contact the exchange are limited. Coinbase cannot be reached via telephone or chat, leaving an email or posting a public question as the only contact option, even though live support is crucial to properly address the most imminent concerns.


The company’s legitimacy has been evaluated  with the help of a Fraud Risk Assessment. A summary is provided below, and the full assessment can be found by following this link.

Red flags0

A weighting factor of 40% is applied to legitimacy in calculating the final rating. A weighting factor of 25% is applied to both trading and funding, while a weighting factor of only 15% is applied to both platform and support. If the legitimacy score is 0% then the total rating is automatically set to the lowest possible result.


• Regulated exchange (BitLicense)
• ACH deposits (free of charge) and Instant buy via Visa or MasterCard


• Overly simplistic trading platform (missing many common functionalities)

Comments (3)

  1. Ronald Ng October 12, 2017
  2. patrick December 14, 2017
    • Digiconomist January 8, 2018

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