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BlockFi and Coinbase are U.S.-based companies offering crypto exchange services. While BlockFi is privately owned, Coinbase is publicly traded under the ticker symbol “COIN.” Although both allow investors to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, BlockFi also functions as a crypto bank. It offers loan services and interest-bearing accounts. In comparison, Coinbase focuses on crypto exchange and brokerage services.
The companies differ significantly in the cost of investing, the number of supported cryptocurrencies, and the products offered. Yet, both emphasize security and are suitable for beginners. Although we appreciate the less expensive BlockFi exchange, investors are limited to eight currencies versus the 141 that Coinbase supports. For new investors wanting to diversify their investments, Coinbase edges out BlockFi.
We evaluated both exchanges based on the overall cost of investing, supported currencies, and security. Plus, we considered unique features, products, and more to uncover how the platforms differ, making it easier for you to select the right exchange for your needs.
Investing in cryptocurrencies, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and other Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is highly risky and speculative, and the markets can be extremely volatile. Consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. This article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or timeliness of the information be guaranteed.
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- Fees: Up to 1% spread per trade
- Currencies: 8
- Security: Two-factor authentication (2FA), cold storage, insurance on hot storage, and a bug bounty program
- Wallet: AES-256 encryption and allowlisting
- Transactions Supported: Buy, sell, exchange, send, withdraw, and receive
- Max. Trading Amount: Based on the user’s account size and historical activity, and varies by customer
- Mobile App: Android and iOS
No fees for trading stablecoin or crypto
Responsive customer service
No minimum balance required to earn interest
Only eight coins available for trade
Withdrawals may take longer than with other platforms
There are withdrawal fees and limits
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- Fees: Up to 0.50% spread per trade, and 1.49% for Coinbase wallet or bank account purchases
- Currencies: 141
- Security: Two-step verification, FDIC-insured USD balances up to $250,000, bug bounty program, platform insurance against theft, and cold storage
- Wallet: AES-256 encryption, whitelisting, and multi-signature wallets
- Transactions Supported: Buy, sell, exchange, send, withdraw, and receive
- Max. Trading Amount: Limits vary based on your payment method and region
- Mobile App: Android and iOS
Beginner-friendly with one-click trading
Can earn crypto by learning about it
Offers a Pro version for advanced users
Higher and more complex fee structure
It’s difficult to reach customer service
No interest-bearing crypto accounts
BlockFI Interest Accounts (BIAs) are no longer offered to new clients who are U.S. persons or persons located in the United States. Existing clients that are U.S. persons or located in the United States will be unable to transfer new assets to their BIAs. The BIAs have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933 and may not be offered or sold in the United States, to U.S. persons, for the account or benefit of a U.S. person or in any jurisdiction in which such offer would be prohibited.
At a Glance
|Fees||Up to 1% spread per trade||Up to 0.50% spread per trade and 1.49% for Coinbase wallet or bank account purchases|
|Security||Two-factor authentication (2FA), cold storage, insurance on hot storage, and a bug bounty program||Two-step verification, FDIC-insured USD balances up to $250,000, bug bounty program, platform insurance against theft, and cold storage|
|Wallet||AES-256 encryption and allowlisting||AES-256 encryption, whitelisting, and multi-signature wallets|
|Transactions Supported||Buy, sell, exchange, send, withdraw, and receive||Buy, sell, exchange, send, withdraw, and receive|
|Max. Trading Amount||Based on the user’s account size and historical activity, and varies by customer||Limits vary based on your payment method and region|
|Mobile App||Android and iOS||Android and iOS|
BlockFi vs. Coinbase: Features
While both Coinbase and BlockFi offer exchange services, they take a different approach. On Coinbase, investors can use Automated Clearing House Network (ACH), wire transfer, or PayPal to purchase crypto. These trades exchange fiat funds for altcoins. BlockFi users send funds via wire transfer or ACH. BlockFi converts fiat currency into Gemini Dollars (GUSD) and deposits it into the BlockFi Interest Account (BIA), where it earns 9.5% annual percentage yield (APY) until investors use the currency to purchase cryptocurrencies.
The interest-earning accounts are the top reason why investors select BlockFi. Other BlockFi products include consumer and business loans. The borrowing amount depends on the amount of posted collateral and the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. All loans incur a 2% origination fee, and interest rates range from 4.5% to 9.75%. BlockFi is also rolling out a BlockFi Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card, offering 1.5% back in Bitcoin on every purchase and no yearly fees.
On the other hand, Coinbase concentrates on educating investors and letting them earn crypto by watching videos and taking short courses about various currencies. Like BlockFi, Coinbase is rolling out a Visa Coinbase debit card. There’s no annual fee, users earn up to 4% in rewards on every purchase, and "can spend crypto everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted," according to Coinbase.
Coinbase also offers a native coin, USD Coin (USDC), and users can earn rewards of 0.15% APY for holding it. Furthermore, both BlockFi and Coinbase support institutional or business users.
BlockFi vs. Coinbase: Currencies
When it comes to selection, Coinbase is the clear winner. Coinbase supports 150 cryptocurrencies, most of those for purchase by U.S.-based investors. The coins include many popular options, such as DOGE, BAND, and BCH.
In contrast, BlockFi only supports eight: BTC, ETH, LTC, PAXG, USDC, USDT, GUSD, and PAX. Of these coins, you can’t purchase PAX, PAXG, or GUSD on Coinbase. BlockFi also doesn’t support fiat currencies. Instead, it turns your wire or bank transfer into the stablecoin, GUSD. Coinbase accepts cash deposits and over 20 fiat currencies, including USD, EUR, and GBP. However, on both platforms, users can purchase coin fractions.
BlockFi vs. Coinbase: Security
These U.S.-based exchanges operate under strict regulatory standards and meet or exceed industry guidelines. Both follow know your client (KYC) and account verification methods. They use bug bounty programs to find security weaknesses. BlockFi uses Gemini as a primary custodian, meaning Gemini handles and oversees the funds. As part of their partnership, Gemini keeps an overwhelming majority of the crypto holdings in cold storage and insures their hot wallets through Aron.
In comparison, Coinbase stores 98% of account funds offline in cold storage and holds an insurance policy that protects funds in hot storage against theft or fraud. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures Coinbase cash balances.
Both crypto platforms offer a hot wallet. Coinbase and BlockFi use 2FA, a password, and device confirmation. Users can opt for whitelisting, also known as allowlisting, to further protect their funds. But, investors don’t have control over their private keys on either platform. Coinbase manages your keys, whereas BlockFi’s custodian, Gemini, handles your keys.
BlockFi vs. Coinbase: Fees
There’s a stark difference in pricing between the platforms. Coinbase charges a spread of about 0.50% plus a fee based on factors such as your location or payment method. But, they also charge the higher of a flat “convenience” fee or a variable payment-related fee. For instance, if you buy $199 of bitcoin using deposited funds, you’ll pay a flat fee of $2.99, whereas if you pay by debit card, you’ll pay the variable fee of 2%.
The Coinbase convenience fees consist of:
- $10 or less: $0.99
- Over $10, but $25 or less: $1.49
- Over $25, but $50 or less: $1.99
- Over $50, but $200 or less: $2.99
However, the Coinbase Pro platform charges a spread of about 0.50% and a maker-taker fee ranging from 0% to 0.50% (maker) and 0.04% to 0.50% (taker).
In contrast, BlockFi markets itself as a “fee-free” platform. There aren’t any convenience fees added to trading costs. It’s free to send money via ACH or wire transfer, or investors can connect their bank account. However, BlockFi says, the prices at the time of trade “On average, this is around + / - 1% relative to an asset's spot index price.” This means investors pay up to 1% more than the current market price. In many cases, it’s still lower than Coinbase fees but more expensive than Coinbase Pro. Some users prefer to purchase crypto on another exchange, such as Binance, then transfer the funds to BlockFi to take advantage of the interest-bearing accounts.
Both companies charge withdrawal fees when converting cryptocurrency to USD. Coinbase users pay 1.49% to send money to a bank account or the Coinbase USD Wallet. BlockFi offers one free stablecoin and one free crypto coin withdrawal per calendar month. After that, the fees are based on the currency:
- BTC: 0.00075 BTC
- ETH: 0.015 ETH
- LINK: 2 LINK
- LTC: 0.001 LTC
- PAXG: 0.035 PAXG
BlockFi vs. Coinbase: Ease of Use
Coinbase is well known for being great for first-time users. This is due, in part, to its large knowledge base, including tips and tutorials. The mobile apps receive high ratings for usability. Most people will find the platform intuitive and easy to use.
BlockFi is also a beginner-friendly platform. First-time investors will find the mobile apps and the website easy to navigate. Instead of offering resources geared toward crypto learning, BlockFi offers advice about buying a car, paying crypto taxes, or understanding loan terms.
However, if you’re looking for customer support, BlockFi is the better option. It offers live chat, email, and phone customer support, and many emails are answered within 24 hours. In contrast, Coinbase customer support is notoriously slow, and its phone service is listed as being almost unusable.
BlockFi vs. Coinbase: Mobile App
Both exchanges provide mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. The mobile apps let users access their accounts and trade crypto. Since the companies focus on beginners, you won’t find advanced charting or profit and loss information. Instead, the apps are straightforward and allow users to buy or sell from their cell phones.
Additionally, BlockFi users can view their BIA account or apply for a loan using the mobile application.
BlockFi vs. Coinbase: Access
Coinbase supports investors in 49 states, excluding Hawaii. It’s also available in Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore, and 39 European countries. New York residents may be prohibited from buying certain coins.
BlockFi is available to users in all 50 states and international locations, except those sanctioned by the U.S. However the trading of popular cryptocurrencies is only available in 45 states. The BlockFi Interest Account isn’t available for New York residents, however, and USDT is only available to non-U.S. residents as a stablecoin trading pair. Furthermore, access to BlockFi products varies by state. For instance, in states where wire transfer or ACH isn’t available, BlockFi suggests depositing crypto into your BlockFi account or sending “USD to Gemini or Coinbase, and then fund your BlockFi Account with GUSD (Gemini's stablecoin) or USDC (Coinbase's stablecoin).”
|BlockFi Product or Trading Pairs||Not Available in These States or Territories|
|BTC/ETH/LTC/PAXG Trading Pairs||Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, and West Virginia|
|Stablecoin Trading Pairs||Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, and West Virginia|
|Fiat Wire or ACH Transfers||Delaware, Guam, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia|
|Business Loans||Gaum, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont|
|Consumer Loans||Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, and Vermont|
BlockFi and Coinbase are well-known, trusted cryptocurrency exchanges. Each platform is suitable for beginners, and both will soon offer a credit or debit card with crypto rewards. However, Coinbase supports more cryptocurrencies, allows various payment methods, and features a Pro platform for advanced users. For investors wanting to trade regularly and diversify their altcoins, Coinbase is the better exchange.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Are BlockFi and Coinbase?
BlockFi and Coinbase are crypto exchange platforms, meaning investors can buy and sell cryptocurrencies. However, both offer other products and services. Coinbase users have more chances to earn crypto, join a waitlist for a Bitcoin rewards Visa card, and use business services. BlockFi products include savings accounts that earn interest and a waitlist for a Visa debit card. People tend to use BlockFi to store crypto and earn interest, whereas they use Coinbase to buy crypto.
How Do BlockFi and Coinbase Work?
Since the U.S. regulates both exchanges, the signup processes are similar. Each platform is easy to navigate and use. But, Coinbase lets users buy crypto or deposit fiat funds through various avenues, such as PayPal, or ACH. In some cases, investors can earn rewards for holding onto crypto, like 2% APY for DAI.
BlockFi only supports ACH or wire transfers, and these methods aren’t available to users in all 50 states. Instead, they recommend transferring crypto to your BlockFi account. Once users deposit crypto, it automatically starts earning interest.
Does BlockFi Work With Coinbase?
Yes, users can transfer coins from a Coinbase account to their BlockFi account. Doing so requires investors to enter their unique BlockFi wallet address into the destination box after initiating a transfer. Likewise, users can also send funds from BlockFi to their Coinbase wallet. Typically, investors transfer coins to BlockFi to take advantage of interest-bearing accounts.
Who Should Use BlockFi vs. Coinbase?
Although BlockFi and Coinbase are good options for beginners, there are distinct use cases. BlockFi provides a complete, all-in-one financial services platform, offering loans and financial advice. Many BlockFi users transfer crypto from other platforms to their BlockFi accounts to take advantage of interest-bearing accounts. Therefore, BlockFi is better for users wanting to hold onto their crypto instead of regularly buying or selling.
On the other hand, Coinbase supports a higher number of coins so that users can diversify their holdings. Investors prefer Coinbase or Coinbase Pro to buy, earn, and learn about crypto. But, users often open a BlockFi account to benefit from the features of both platforms.
We compared BlockFi and Coinbase by looking at the usability of the web and mobile applications, unique features, and security. We also considered the overall cost for trading and withdrawing funds, accessibility for the U.S. and international clients, and supported currencies. When making our final decision, we explored various use cases, such as investors who want to trade regularly versus those wanting to hold onto their crypto for a longer length of time.