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What it is and how to use it

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Coinbase was the first major crypto business to go public in the U.S. when it began trading at $381 Wednesday morning on the Nasdaq, giving the cryptocurrency exchange an initial market cap of $99.6 billion on a fully diluted basis.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Coinbase. Or maybe you’re confused about what it even is. Here’s a quick explanation:

Coinbase is an app that lets you buy and sell all sorts of cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and about 50 others. You can also use Coinbase to convert one cryptocurrency to another, or to send and receive cryptocurrency to and from other people. Like stock trading apps you may already be familiar with, Coinbase shows you the current price and trends for cryptocurrencies, a look at your portfolio of holdings, and news stories about the industry.

Here’s how to get started and how to buy and sell cryptocurrencies with Coinbase.

How to get started with Coinbase


Todd Haselton | CNBC

Coinbase is easy to set up but requires some information, including your legal name, home address, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security number and how you plan to use Coinbase. That’s to comply with federal regulations. Here’s how to begin.

  • Download the Coinbase app for iPhone or Android.
  • Open Coinbase and tap “Get Started.”
  • Create an account with your email address and tap “Start.”
  • Verify your email by tapping a link that was sent to your inbox.
  • Enter your phone number and verify it by entering a code that was texted to you.
  • Enter in your name, date of birth and last four digits of your Social Security number. Note: you need to be at least 18 years old to use it.
  • Enter your address.
  • Choose how you will use Coinbase, either for investing, online payments, online purchases or for investing in other exchanges.
  • Confirm your source of income.
  • Tap “Let’s Go.”
  • Now you’ll start to link your bank account. Search for your bank.
  • Log into your bank account with the username and password you normally use for banking.
  • Select the bank account you want to link to Coinbase for purchases and tap “Continue.”

That’s it. You’ll be dropped off on the main page of Coinbase now, where you can get started buying cryptocurrencies.

How to buy cryptocurrencies on Coinbase

How to buy bitcoin with Coinbase

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Now I’ll show you how to buy some cryptocurrency. Let’s purchase a fraction of a bitcoin since that’s the one you’ve probably heard of most. But this process is the same for all the currencies offered on the Coinbase platform.

  • Tap “Get started” on the top of the screen.
  • You’ll see a list of crypto assets you can buy. Select bitcoin at the top.
  • Choose how much you want to purchase. Reminder: You can buy fractions of cryptocurrency, so you can spend $5 on roughly .0006204 bitcoin (at its $64,635 price) or however much you want. The minimum order is $1.99.
  • Tap “Preview buy.”
  • Review the order: Note Coinbase takes a percentage of the purchase, so if you’re aiming to buy $5, it’ll take about a 99 cent cut of the transaction. If you’re buying $500 worth of bitcoin, it’ll charge about $7.34.
  • Choose “Buy now.”

That’s it! You can trade your bitcoin instantly after you buy it, but you’ll need to wait eight days before you send it to someone.

How to sell cryptocurrencies on Coinbase

How to sell bitcoin with Coinbase

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Now let’s say you’re ready to sell your crypto assets. Here’s what you do.

  • Tap the blue circle icon on the main page. It shows two arrows.
  • Choose Sell.
  • Select the asset you want to sell, in this case, we’ll pick bitcoin.
  • Choose how much you want to sell, or tap the “Max” button on the left of the page to sell it all.
  • Review the page, again note the Coinbase fee.
  • Tap “Sell now.”

How to withdraw your money from Coinbase

How to withdraw funds from Coinbase

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Maybe you’re ready to take some profits off the table. You’ve sold your crypto but now you want to move it back to your bank account.

Note that if you’ve just purchased or sold funds you may still have a withdrawal-based limit. Something I just purchased and sold this morning for the sake of this guide can’t be sold for eight days, for example. Once that time has passed, here’s what you do:

  • From the home page, tap your portfolio balance on the top of the screen.
  • Choose the U.S. dollar option. If you’ve sold some crypto, this should have a value other than $0.
  • Tap “Withdraw.”
  • Choose “Preview withdraw.”
  • Select your bank account. The transfer takes one to three business days. You can also opt to add a debit card for an instant transfer for a small fee.

That’s it. Now you’ve learned how to set up Coinbase and use it to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, and even withdraw to your bank when you want to.

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