I’m writing this Coinbase review because I had an experience using Coinbase.com that made me feel like my money wasn’t that securely handled, and I want to caution other consumers who may considering using the Coinbase app. Is Coinbase safe? I don’t really think so (by my standards) – and here are five things that make me feel that way.
Coinbase is supposed to be “the future of money”. Sure, it sounds good – lower fees to the consumer, quicker access to money, better user experience, etc. Sounds good. But in reality, I feel as if the technology has sacrificed prudence for speed and ease of use. That is a huge risk to the consumer that unfortunately many are not going to be aware of until it’s too late.
As decentralized finance, or DeFi, becomes more popular, I applaud the progress – but it has to be done with the consumer’s safety at the forefront. I don’t feel it was the case when I opened my account at Coinbase.
So here’s my Coinbase review. Just to be clear, I was not on Coinbase Pro. I used the standard version.
#1 Non-ideal ways of funding your account.
Coinbase offers Plaid if you want to make a direct transfer from your bank account. Or, you can send a wire transfer (that you pay $10 for), or hook up your PayPal or debit card, which I view as non-ideal. I’m just not one to feel comfortable entering my login information into a third party app. I feel it’s too invasive for me.
I really wish there was a way for me to link up my bank account without having to offer up my credentials. I really don’t like having to enter my bank login, debit cared, or even my Paypal into any app that isn’t my trusted ole bank. You can send money from your bank account to most major brokerages without having to give the brokerage firm your bank login. Why should we have to do that here? It’s not what I’m used to, and like I said, it’s a bit too much for me.
It’s just “ick.”
I’m not cybersecurity expert, and I can’t attest to whether it’s safe to give Coinbase your identity information or not. I did some research, and of course Coinbase says it is safe, but I did see some articles online that seemed to imply otherwise. Not sure if this is accurate or not, but this Reddit chat here says all sorts of scary things about Plaid. I also found out there is some sort of lawsuit against Plaid that apparently emerged in January 2022.
#2 Unclear transaction notifications
When you are moving money into or out of accounts, you want total clarity as to what is happening at all times. That wasn’t the case when I funded my account, and it resulted in a pretty significant error that wasn’t easy to resolve.
When I linked up my bank account, I authorized a deposit of X amount. I get an error message that it didn’t go through. Well, thinking the transaction was cancelled (as I was told it didn’t go through), I initiate the same deposit again, which does in fact go through.
But then I find out that the first one somehow became revived! And now I have TWO deposits when I only wanted ONE.
That’s right – I deposited DOUBLE the amount accidentally.
Before you tell me that I was the one tripping, I want to tell you don’t even go there. If a platform tells me that a transaction didn’t go through, I am going to assume it was voided. If a second attempt was going to be made, I should be notified about it in advance of them doing it, and I should have had to agree to understanding that information before initiating the same transaction again. There were a few steps missing, in my opinion.
I have been trading for decades and in all my years, I have never had anything like this happen, because the traditional brokerages communicate with absolutely clarity and there is no “gray area” where mistakes like this can be made.
Really freaked me out.
It just didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t feel Coinbase’s app was safe and I wanted my money out ASAP. But WAIT, the story gets worse from here.
#3 More unclear transaction notifications
Realizing that I now have double the amount I wanted, I go to withdraw the funds. I get this error message:
Where’d my money go?
What a jolting experience. The exclamation point is right in my face – too shocking a way to communicate bad news. It’s just brash.
Furthermore, why is the money not available? No explanation given, or way to find out. Why can’t they tell you what is going on? If the deposits were complete, why are they not available?
Rude, impersonal, imprecise communication that comes off as totally insensitive. So now my blood pressure is going up as I’m sitting there.
No. Uncertainty makes people feel unsafe. Is this how a trading app like Coinbase is supposed to make you feel? No. It’s the last feeling you’d want. Risk, uncertainty, confusion, insecure about the situation, questioning, worried. All of that was how I felt.
#4 No live person on support chat
After I accidentally deposited double the amount I wanted to, I tried to use the support chat to get information about what happened.
No such luck.
It was some AI bot feeding me canned information. I needed to talk to someone directly. The traditional brokerages and banks (Charles Schwab, Fidelity, etc) have a live support on chat. And if they don’t, you can call and get a live person during work hours. Why can’t Coinbase?
This is a major drawback given there are probably a lot of unsophisticated users on the site, requiring some handholding, not just to be fed cookie cutter responses that they probably already read online.
I had to open a support case which was a nuisance. As all this is happening I’m feeling more and more like Coinbase isn’t safe, and it isn’t a good feeling.
#5 Unspecified withdrawal timeframes
After I open a support case over email, I get this response:
When you use a linked bank account as a payment method to deposit funds to your Coinbase fiat wallet or to purchase cryptocurrency, these funds are immediately available for buying and selling on Coinbase. However, for security reasons, you will be unable to immediately withdraw these funds or send from Coinbase
You can see when deposited funds will be available for withdrawal prior to authorizing a purchase or deposit, as well as on the confirmation email for the transaction. To view your current withdrawal availability time frame, log in to your account. When you attempt a send to an external wallet from Coinbase, you will be presented with an option to see when funds will be available for this transaction.Source: Coinbase.com
For more information on how to use a bank account with Coinbase or when deposited funds are available for withdrawal, please read: https://support.coinbase.com/customer/portal/articles/2971033-using-a-bank-account-as-a-payment-method-for-us-customers
First of all, I don’t recall seeing my withdrawal availability time frame prior to authorizing my deposit. If I was displayed, it wasn’t long or prominent enough for me to notice it. Did they flash it for three seconds or something? How’s that work?
Second of all, there’s zero transparency about what the actual timeframes are. So I check the link – and still no exact dates! Why can’t they just show me a chart or something to provide guidance, so I know what to expect? The lack of transparency is alarming. It’s almost as if they are intentionally burying this information.
I eventually find out that it’ll be over a week from the date I opened the case, and almost a week and a half from when I originally deposited the funds.
Let me get this straight. I can deposit instantly and start trading instantly.
But if I want to get my money OUT, I have to wait nearly two weeks????
Coinbase, if you’re going to sound like money moves are a breeze, you should say, “They’re a breeze until you want to cash out – then we’ll make you wait forever, and not tell you clearly in advance how long that will be!”
This just smells bad, okay? I personally stay away from any app that operates this way.
So is Coinbase safe, or not?
To summarize, here is my personal take.
- Is Coinbase safe? No, not by my standards.
- In Coinbase good? No, not by my standards.
- Should you use Coinbase wallet (or any other aspects of the platform)? In my opinion, no.
I funded my Coinbase account but never got around to actually investing in cryptocurrency. My experience using the Coinbase app was a bad one, and it made me want to run screaming. Not sure if I’ll ever make another attempt to trade crypto on any other platforms.
I know there are these little glitches, and technology isn’t perfect. But this was too much, one thing after another like this. It left me feeling helpless, vulnerable, confused, and also like a ton of time was wasted having to sort all this out. After having this not-good experience with Coinbase, I’m freaked out and thinking it might be better to stick to traditional banking platforms until they get these little “quirks” ironed out.
I wrote this review of Coinbase because I know these crypto platforms get a lot of attention, and I want to protect people from having a bad experience that could potentially damage their financial wellbeing. If this is supposed to be the way money is handled in the future, I’m happy to play it safe and lag behind – because for me, I need to have total and completely clarity about what is happening with my money at every single moment I am on the platform. I didn’t feel the controls and communication on the Coinbaes platform were robust enough.
This is just my take and my experience. This review can’t be interpreted to represent all user experiences; I make no claims as the applicability of this review to anyone else. I’m sure there are positive Coinbase reviews as well, and that some people love using Coinbase, but not me – and that’s why I’m closing my Coinbase account ASAP which is unfortunately much longer than I would have liked to wait.
For those of you who are new to my blog/podcast, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and I used to be a financial advisor. I have a weekly newsletter in which I talk about financial advisor lead generation topics, investment management, and Wall Street. It is best described as “fun and irreverent.” So please subscribe!
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Grillo Investment Management, LLC does not guarantee any specific level of performance, the success of any strategy that Grillo Investment Management, LLC may use, or the success of any program. Grillo Investment Management, LLC makes no attestations as to the accuracy of the information contained in this review. This review is not an endorsement or a suggestion that any individual should participate or not participate in any of the products or services discussed herein.
Grillo Investment Management, LLC will strive to maintain current information however it may become out of date. Grillo Investment Management, LLC is under no obligation to advise users of subsequent changes to statements or information contained herein. This information is general in nature; for specific advice applicable to your current situation please conduct your own research, and contact a consultant or advisor.