Since a single account gives users access to both Coinbase and GDAX, it is common to wonder what exactly separates these two cryptocurrency exchanges from each other. The exchanges are run and owned by the very same operators and cryptocurrency brokers.
They both have a strong reputation, as well, but there are a few key differences that set them apart. In addition, they each target a specific type of cryptocurrency trader.
While both GDAX and Coinbase are relatively simple to use and have all the features cryptocurrency traders need, they are dramatically different in terms of their user interfaces. Coinbase aims to be simple and appeal to those just getting into cryptocurrency, while GDAX has a bit more complexity and extra features, appealing to experienced traders.
If you are a newcomer, you will want to stick to Coinbase with its sleek and simple platform. It even has specific features designed to help you get into cryptocurrency, such as the ability to buy cryptocurrency using funds from your bank account.
Essentially, you will not need a learning curve or even more than a few minutes (or seconds) to figure out how to use Coinbase.
By contrast, GDAX targets advanced traders and has many more complex features. Even the homepage gives off the feeling of being focused on experienced traders. While the Coinbase homepage keeps things simple with an open space, the GDAX page includes an example chart and graphs right from the start.
Use of Charts and Graphs
Both Coinbase and GDAX offer basic charts to help users make decisions before trading and choose the best time to conduct their trades. Coinbase only has a single type of chart, but you can adjust the trading pair and date/time range.
This chart clearly shows the price of your chosen cryptocurrency along with its change in the time interval you select, both as a figure and a percent.
Because GDAX is geared toward experienced traders, it offers more detailed charts than just the single format that Coinbase has. GDAX includes a candlestick chart and a depth chart, as well as the order book.
For those who need additional help making the most of these charts, GDAX does have explanation videos in its FAQ section that describe how the charts show historical trading prices and additional data related to the order book.
You can access either the Coinbase or GDAX websites via your browser on a mobile device, but only Coinbase currently has a mobile application. This is likely due to the fact that experienced and advanced traders, such as those who use GDAX, will typically use a desktop or laptop for trades.
They want to be able to clearly view various charts and graphs as well as possibly have additional tabs open in their browser to consult cryptocurrency news before placing orders.
By contrast, those who use Coinbase are more casual traders and do not require the same level of information. The simple nature of the Coinbase web platform lends itself easily to mobile devices, without worrying about trying to view detailed charts and graphs on a tiny screen.
You Can Use Both
Despite their differences, the commonalities between Coinbase and GDAX are a huge advantage for users. As soon as you create and verify an account on Coinbase, you are ready to use GDAX as well, and vice versa.
You can also typically transfer fiat funds between the two exchanges with ease since they are both owned by the same group.
Transfers from the GDAX account to the Coinbase wallet are free and instantaneous. You simply go to the trade page on your GDAX account and choose either “Withdraw” or “Deposit,” depending on your needs.
Select your Coinbase account from the tab, then select the wallet as your fund source. Enter the amount to transfer and select the button to withdraw/deposit the funds.
Differences in Deposit and Withdrawal Methods
Whether you choose to use Coinbase or GDAX, you will have multiple choices for depositing and withdrawing currency. Both offer support for wire transfers for either withdrawals or deposits.
To enable this option, you simply add your bank account to your Coinbase or GDAX account. Both exchanges also have support for ACH bank transfers in supported states.
Coinbase stands out with the option of buying cryptocurrency using a debit card, a feature that helps it appeal to newcomers in the world of crypto. Coinbase even has the choice of withdrawing your funds via PayPal if you prefer.
While GDAX does not offer this option, it does let you deposit and withdraw cryptocurrencies. This feature helps explain GDAX’s appeal to experienced traders.
After all, most who choose to trade on GDAX are already familiar with cryptocurrency and will, therefore, already own some of it.
Types of Orders
Because Coinbase is a more basic cryptocurrency exchange geared toward beginners, there is not a choice of order type. Instead, you just use the exchange to buy and sell digital currency based on the price Coinbase offers. There is no additional customization available since this keeps it easy for newcomers.
By contrast, GDAX offers a range of order types as a way to appeal to advanced traders. Most users will stick to market, limit and stop orders.
Market orders execute right away using the marketplace, which is similar to what Coinbase does. These cannot be stopped since they fill immediately. Limit orders let you choose the price you want to sell at, plus other advanced order execution choices.
Finally, Stop orders give you the option to choose the price that the order executes at with a stop loss. Stop orders execute as market orders once the market reaches your chosen price, which means slippage may occur.
As mentioned earlier, GDAX even has advanced trading options for limit orders. Good ‘Til Canceled orders stay on the order book unless you choose to cancel them.
Immediate or Cancel orders are placed and then automatically canceled if they do not get filled right away. Finally, Fill or Kill orders only complete in cases where GDAX can match the full amount. A partial match will not execute.
Whether you look at Coinbase or GDAX, you will notice that the operators of the exchange have regularly said that they hope to expand the cryptocurrency offerings in the future. At the moment, both exchanges offer support for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.
Keep an eye on each platform as they grow to see which cryptocurrencies come next and which exchange supports it first.
Remember that if one of the two exchanges supports a particular cryptocurrency before the other, you can always transfer your funds between the exchanges so you can purchase the crypto in question. You just will not be able to transfer that particular crypto back to your original account until the exchange you typically use adds support.
In addition to dramatically different interfaces and trading options, Coinbase and GDAX differ in terms of fees. In fact, while Coinbase sometimes has high fees for its convenience, GDAX is known for exceptionally low fees.
Coinbase’s fees vary based on the method of deposit or withdrawal, along with the country of origin. Generally speaking, credit and debit card purchases have a 3.99 percent fee.
While this is certainly high, it is actually about average for exchanges that have support for purchases with credit cards and is mostly a convenience fee.
Buying and selling on Coinbase typically includes a 1.49 percent fee. Bank transfers are typically either free or negligible, although wire transfers in the United States come with a fee.
By contrast, the GDAX fees are incredibly low, although wire and bank transfer fees are identical for both exchanges. GDAX follows the maker-taker method for assigning fees, and makers do not have any fees as a way to thank them for adding liquidity to the market. Remember that takers place orders at market prices and see their orders filled right away.
Makers are those who place orders that do not fill right away by matching to an order that already exists. Instead, makers end up with their order in an order book.
It is also possible for an order to be partially matched right away, with the rest going on the order books. In this case, the first portion would have a taker fee applied, while the second part would have the maker fee applied.
Taker fees range from 0.25 percent to 0.1 percent depending on a user’s 30-day volume. There are six separate tiers of fees, at 0, 1, 2.5, 5, 10 and 20 percent of the user’s 30-day volume.
If you qualify for a higher tier, and therefore a lower fee, keep in mind that the initial fee is always charged at the 0 percent tier’s 0.25-percent fee. Every day, however, traders receive rebates for the past 24 hours of trading fees, which will account for the difference.
As an interesting note, some users have found a way to save a bit on Coinbase’s fees by using both exchanges in combination and taking advantage of easily linked accounts. You can somewhat avoid Coinbase fees by funding your Coinbase account via a bank deposit (which is free).
Then, you can go to the GDAX exchange and fund your GDAX account with your Coinbase balance. From there, you can purchase your cryptocurrency and just pay 0.25 percent instead of Coinbase’s 1.49 percent fee. This does, however, require extra effort for users, as well as navigating the more complicated exchange on GDAX.
Both GDAX and Coinbase offer extensive FAQ sections that will more than likely answer most user questions. For those who need additional help, there is 24/7 customer support available for both exchanges. Coinbase and GDAX both get reasonable reviews from users who have contacted support in the past and received helpful and timely replies.
It is important to note, however, that both Coinbase and GDAX have had a few growing pains as they adapt to the increasing number of people interested in cryptocurrency. In 2017, any time there was a spike in interest in the cryptocurrency markets, both GDAX and Coinbase experienced crashes.
he number of users was simply more than the platforms’ technical capabilities could handle. Most likely, this will be a problem left in the past since the exchanges have made updates to accommodate more users and plan to make more adjustments in the future.
Because they have the same underlying ownership, it should come as no surprise that GDAX and Coinbase have similar reputations for security. Both have strong reputations in this area.
Because they are based out of the United States, they have to follow some additional regulations that exchanges located abroad do not have to.
Coinbase also advertises its use of ultra-secure vaults for storing funds, along with custodial services for business and enterprise clients. While GDAX does not advertise these storage options, users can always move their funds to their Coinbase account for storage.
Coinbase’s history provides further peace of mind for users of either exchange. Consider that Coinbase began operations in 2012 and received more than $200 million of venture capital funding.
Coinbase has facilitated the trading of the equivalent of more than $50 billion and has more than 10 million users. With such a strong history, users can count on Coinbase or GDAX with minimal concerns.
Both Coinbase and GDAX are excellent choices for those interested in trading cryptocurrency thanks to their reliability and good user interfaces.
Coinbase will be the ideal choice for those who are new to cryptocurrency trading or anyone who does not want to deal with advanced features and options. Experienced cryptocurrency traders who want to make more than just market orders and take advantage of low fees should turn to GDAX.
Because the two exchanges have the same operators, it is straightforward to move funds between accounts on each, facilitating the move from a beginner to an experienced trader with a transition from Coinbase to GDAX.