April 25

KuCoin vs Coinbase – Which is better in 2021

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KuCoin and Coinbase differ quite a bit. They have different business strategies and aim to offer different services. In this article, I will tell you what I like about each and then you can choose which is the best fit for your needs. First, a little background on each.

Coinbase was founded in 2012 in San Francisco and has since grown steadily to be one of the biggest exchanges/brokers in the US. Coinbase started off as a platform to make it easy for US users to purchase Bitcoin but has since grown to include Coinbase Pro, a crypto trading platform for serious traders. Coinbase predominantly targets the US market and charges higher than normal fees.

KuCoin was founded in 2017 in Hong Kong and now operates out of Singapore; it is known as 'the peoples' exchange' and 1 in 4 of all crypto traders in the world use KuCoin. KuCoin is an international exchange and has some of the lowest fees available.

Coinbase vs KuCoin overview:

Feature

KuCoin

Coinbase

Supported Cryptocurrencies

BTC, XMR, DAG, ETH & 200+ more

BTC, BCH, BSV, ADA, DAI, EOS, ETC, FIL, XLM, XRP & 35+ more

Supported fiat

USD, EUR, GBP, RUB, CNY, AUD & 40+ more

USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, MXN, HRK, CZK, DKK, CLP, BGN & 10+ more

Mobile app available

Yes

Yes

Deposit Methods

Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card

Bank transfer (ACH), Credit/Debit card, Bank transfer (SEPA), Wire transfer

Main location

Singapore

USA

Supported Cryptos

221

50

Trading fees

Maker/taker: 0.1%/0.1%

Maker/taker: 0.5%/0.5%

Native currency

KCS

-

Web Address

1. Safety/Security - Which one is safer?

Coinbase operates in the US, which has much stricter regulation standards than most places in the world. KuCoin strategically domiciled its business in Singapore, which has relaxed regulations and tax laws. From a compliance standpoint, Coinbase operates at a higher standard.

As far as anyone knows, Coinbase has never suffered any serious breach or hack, which is a reassuring sign. In September 2020, KuCoin was hacked and roughly $150 million was stolen. KuCoin was fully insured, and no customer was affected by the theft. Although KuCoin was the victim of a hack, the fact they had insurance to cover losses is a really positive sign for any potential future hacks. In addition, what the site learned from the experience is invaluable.

Vertict -  And the winner is Coinbase, they operate by US regulation standards and have never suffered a hack. Having said that, I wouldn't be too concerned about KuCoin's security, they have already shown a commitment to securing user funds in the past.

2. Fees - Who charges more?

KuCoin Trading fees:

Let's start with KuCoin. They use a tiered level maker/taker fee structure, which is very typical in this industry. What is not typical is how low their fees are. They start at an extremely competitive 0.1% for both maker & taker fees and offer a 20% reduction if you pay using their native cryptocurrency called KCS. What is also good about the structure is that the tiers are not very hard to jump up; unlike when we examined Binance vs KuCoin, when could see it was far higher to move up the Binance fee structure. All in all, I am a huge fan of the KuCoin fee structure.

VIP level

Maker/Taker

Maker/Taker with KCS

Last 30-Day Trade Volume (BTC)

0

0.1%/0.1%

0.08%/0.08%

<50

1

0.09%/0.1%

0.072%/0.08%

≥50

2

0.07%/0.09%

0.056%/0.072%

≥200

3

0.05%/0.08%

0.04%/0.064%

≥500

4

0.03%/0.07%

0.024%/0.056%

≥1000

Coinbase trading fees:

Here we need to cover both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro fees, so let’s start with Coinbase:

Coinbase charges a 0.5% fee built into the spread, they then charge an additional 'Coinbase fee', which is the larger of the flat fee or the variable fee. Below is the table that shows how the flat fee is charged:

Coinbase Flat fee

Transaction value

Fee

$10 or less

$0.99

$10 to $25

$1.49

$25 to $50

$1.99

$50 to $200

$2.99

The variable fee depends on where you are located and whether you are placing a standard or instant order and what payment method you are using. Below are the variable fees for the US.

Coinbase variable fee

Payment Method/Payout Method

Effective Rate of Conversion Fee

US Bank Account

1.49%

Coinbase USD Wallet

1.49%

Debit Card or PayPal

3.99%

Instant Card Withdrawal

up to 1.5% of any transaction and a minimum fee of $0.55

For other locations around the world, your variable fee will range somewhere between 1.49% - 3.99%.

The above fees are based on a fiat to crypto transaction. If you want to convert crypto to crypto, you are only charged a spread fee of 2%, which can vary slightly depending on fluctuation between the time you click buy and the time they can fill the order. If you are a US customer, any transaction ending or starting with USDC is considered a fiat to crypto transaction and you will be charged the full flat/variable fee.

Coinbase pro fees:

Coinbase Pro is a lot simpler. They operate with the typical tiered based maker/taker fee model:

Pricing tier

Maker

Taker

<$10K

0.50%

0.50%

$10 - 50K

0.35%

0.35%

$50 - 100K

0.25%

0.15%

$100K - 1M

0.20%

0.10%

$1- 10M

0.18%

0.08%

Thankfully, it is less complex than the Coinbase fee structure, but still far higher than the industry average.

Vertict -  And the clear winner is KuCoin, as their fees are low and straightforward. Coinbase fees are extremely complex and vary a lot. I cannot help but feel that they try to hide fees from their customers. For example, the 0.5% fee built into the spread is far from obvious and crypto beginners would not even be aware that is possible. On Coinbase Pro, their fee structure starts 5x higher than KuCoin's at 0.5%. Overall, this is a very poor performance by Coinbase in this category and an easy win for KuCoin.

3. Range of Coins - Who offers more cryptos?

Exchange

Cryptocurrencies

Coinbase

50

KuCoin

221

Vertict - Another easy win for KuCoin here. If access to a wide range of cryptocurrencies is a deal-breaker for you, KuCoin is an easy choice.

4. Range of services - Who offers more?

Due to regulations in the US, Coinbase had to stop offering margin trading, so now they offer a broker service (instant buy). This is available on Coinbase, and also Coinbase Pro, which is a trading platform for serious traders.

KuCoin, on the other hand, offers every service imaginable, including instant buy, advanced trading, margin trading, futures market, p2p marketplace, crypto lending, free crypto bot, and more. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

Verdict – Again, KuCoin comes out on top by offering a huge range of services. I particularly like their free trading bot and crypto lending service. These don't come with any other exchange.

Vertict - Again KuCoin comes out on top by offering a huge range of services, I particularly like their free trading bot and crypto lending service. These don't come inbuilt in any other exchange.

5. Look and feel - Where will you be most comfortable?

Personally, I like the amount of data available on the KuCoin platform, but Coinbase has streamlined the ease of purchase interface. Here are screenshots of both trading platforms, so you can get a feel for them.

Above is a screenshot of the KuCoin trading platform

Above is a screenshot of the Coinbase Pro trading view

Vertict - The winner here is a personal choice, as it really depends which you prefer. Personally, I like the amount of info and real-time data that KuCoin provides, but if you like a more simplistic view, then Coinbase Pro might be for you.

6. Support - Who offers the best customer support?

I have had dealings with both and neither performed very well. Coinbase took weeks to get back to me and then closed my ticket before it was resolved. KuCoin has live chat and email-based support, most of their operators seem to have less than perfect English and a hurried approach to helping customers, but overall, it’s easy to resolve an issue with them.

Vertict - My personal experience with Coinbase support with horrific but it was during an incredibly high traffic time, so my hope is they have better systems in place now. KuCoin isn't perfect but it is pretty good.

Another win for KuCoin

The overall winner of KuCoin vs Coinbase

For me, it’s an easy win for KuCoin. When looking at the fee structure, I really didn't like the way Coinbase used a combination of built-in spread fees and additional fees on top; if you start doing lots of transactions, it will quickly add up and eat into any profits you have made. KuCoin had a low, easy-to-understand fee model.

In terms of services and coins, KuCoin offers a much better service with far more choices, which are all backed up with better support.

Having said that, Coinbase has built an extremely secure and compliant platform that is easy to use. If it wasn't for their terrible fee structure, I would be tempted to recommend US traders use it due to security and ease of depositing. But this battle is won by KuCoin.


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