I've been a loyal Coinbase user since 2013, when I bought my first Bitcoin. As one of the most well-backed cryptocurrency companies with over $200 million in funding, Coinbase has made a name for itself as a reputable token exchange.
But as I've gotten deeper into cryptocurrency, I've started to care more about the fees that companies take when exchanging. Coinbase's dirty little secret is that it also provides a service called GDAX. GDAX is a fully-fledged cryptocurrency exchange (supporting Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin) targeted at professional investors. Importantly, with GDAX, there are much lower fees. Let's do a quick comparison of what you might pay to buy a Bitcoin on Coinbase vs. GDAX.
Here's a purchase on Coinbase for 1 Bitcoin.
If you look at the market for Bitcoin on GDAX at the same time, however, you'll notice that you could buy a Bitcoin for a mere 4410.94. That's $88 in savings!
This is because Coinbase takes a 1.49% fee on purchases made through a bank account. With a Credit or Debit Card, this fee is 3.99%! That can amount to a hefty amount of cash if you're making substantial investments in cryptocurrency.
With GDAX, if you're "taking" an order (meaning filling an existing order in the order book), the fee is only 0.25% for Bitcoin and 0.30% for Ethereum. Maker fees (meaning placing a limit order on the order book that may or may not be filled) are 0. Pretty awesome if you ask me.
One can argue that Coinbase's fee is for the convenience of using an interface that doesn't require understanding order books. But how hard is it really to navigate GDAX? Buying a token is as simple as A) depositing dollars in GDAX and B) placing a market order for Bitcoin.
Personally I don't think you need to be a professional trader to be able to use GDAX and save a few (hundred) bucks.