Coinbase VS. Circle – Tried Both with $500 Here’s What I Found

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IMPORTANT: As of December 7th 2016 Circle no longer allows the option of buying or selling Bitcoins through their services. They are now referring all of their customers to Coinbase.

Probably the biggest competition in the Bitcoin marketplace today lies within Bitcoin exchanges, the most dominant being Coinbase and Circle.
Today I’ve decide to test out these 2 exchanges head to head and see how much value for money I can get using $500. But I didn’t test only the fees and exchange rate, I also tried to figure which website makes the process easier.

  • Contries supported
  • Instant buy via Credit card
  • Transaction fees
  • Credit card fees
  • ACH fees
  • Time for ACH transaction
  • Coinbase

  • coinbase
  • Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States19
  • $1000/weekyes
  • 1%
  • None
  • $0.15
  • 2-4 days

Coinbase charges fees, Circle Doesn’t – Is that so….

The most noticeable difference between Coinbase and Circle are the transaction fees. Circle states:

 “You shouldn’t have to pay fees to use your own money. We don’t charge fees when you convert funds to or from bitcoin with a linked bank account, when you store your bitcoin, or for bitcoin transactions”

Indeed when you buy Bitcoins with Circle you won’t pay a fee but it seems that circle $500 don’t come up as $500 worth of Bitcoins. This is due to several reasons:

  • There is a credit card processing fee that is applied when buying your Bitcoins with a credit card through Circle. From what I’ve seen this adds up to 2.9% which is not exactly negligible.
  •  It seems that Circle doesn’t guarantee the exchange rate at the time of placing the order (unlike Coinbase). This can cause a difference in how much you pay (initially found this issue on Reddit).

Coinbase on the other hand charges a fixed 1% transaction fee no matter what payment method you use and a $ 0.15 fee for ACH deposits. These fees are pretty low compared to other alternatives out there that allow you to buy Bitcoins.

Circle has the easiest buying process I’ve seen to date

Until today I’ve bought Bitcoins through almost 10 different exchanges. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a website that’s so intuitive as Circle’s. The simple design and sleek animation make it appealing and easy to use for even non tech savvy users.

But the real “magic moment” comes from the ability to purchase Bitcoin with a credit card within 2 minutes of setting up an account. Most websites require some sort of initial verification and until today the process of buying Bitcoins with a credit card was pretty complex.  It takes about 2 minutes to complete the process with Circle and I’m willing to pay extra for that.

Coinbase has also done a great job on their website but the process is a bit lengthy and can wear you out. The main issue being the fact that you need to verify your back account and sometimes this can take a day or two.

Coinbase has something fishy going on..

Since 99Bitcoins deals with a lot of people who buy their first Bitcoin I’ve noticed something strange going on lately. On several occasions I’ve gotten emails from people claiming they placed an order on Coinbase and it got canceled claiming that their account is in “high risk”. Oddly enough all of these cancelation happened when the price of Bitcoin went up drastically.

Here’s an example of such a case which caused a delay of purchase for the user. One user was so angry that he went out and made a website called Coinbase Fraud, this websites shows real live examples of Coinbase cancelling orders when it benefits them due to changes in the price of Bitcoin.

I can’t say I’ve experienced such issues with Coinbase myself but it seems to me that I’ve heard about these kinds of stories so many times that there’s probably some truth in it.

Both mobile apps work great, support is also fine

Both Circle’s and Coinbase’s mobile app are pretty intuitive and easy to use. Having said that Circle does a much better job at creating an enjoyable experience (just like their website). At times when I needed support from Coinbase and Circle they both seemed to have responded in a timely manner and got my questions answered.

If you buy $500 worth of Bitcoin here’s what you’ll get

If you spend $500 with Coinbase at today’s exchange rate you’d get 1.3103BTC (all fees included). If you go with Circle you’d receive 1.2782BTC. This may seem that Circle is much more expensive than Coinbase, but it important to note that I’ve measured Coinbase’s ACH payment method with Circle’s credit card method (since I don’t have an American credit card which Coinbase accepts).

This mean that with Coinbase you’ll get the coin 2-4 days after you’ve made the purchase and with Circle you’ll get it instantly – so I guess you should figure out if 0.0321BTC is worth waiting 2 days (~roughly $11 at today’s exchange rate).

Circle is the winner by a nose in my book

After all is said and done, I prefer Circle to Coinbase. Their sleek design, ease of use and lightning fast transaction delivery creates a real “magic moment” for me. I also don’t mind paying more fees for this outstanding experience. If you’re all about saving as much as possible than Coinbase is probably the way to go, but if you want to avoid the hassle choose Circle.

Ofir Beigel

Owner at 99 Coins ltd.
Blogger and owner of 99Bitcoins. I've been dealing with Bitcoin since the beginning of 2013 and it taught me a lesson in finance that I couldn't get anywhere else on the planet. I'm not a techie, I don't understand "Hashes" and "Protocols", I designed this website with people like myself in mind. My expertise is online marketing and I've dedicated a large portion of 99Bitcoins to Bitcoin marketing.

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37 Comments on "Coinbase VS. Circle – Tried Both with $500 Here’s What I Found"

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starlight
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starlight

I have real problems with identification on exchanges. If you live in a country other than where your bank is based, it can be really difficult to use coinbase and other exchanges that require identification. If the countries of your bank and mobile provider don’t match then they will deny you. What can you do?

no nonsense
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no nonsense

Let’s face it: Circle raised millions last year then all the sudden drops it’s bitcoin customers—> In a 12/7/2016 email that was about promo offers before getting to the serious announcement of this unexpected decision? I can’t seem to cash out and a snarky support staff member is giving me all kinds of ridiculous excuses because the money is already gone. Guessing we BTC Circle users contributed to their million dollar fundraising.

Kansas
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Kansas
My experience with Circle was horrible. They say you don’t get charged for debit card transfer however I got charged $11 for $400 transfer. Come to find out it was because it is a business card. They don’t specify business debit card is different. To me not being in the financial sector a debit card is a debit card. They are horrible at follow-up. You make request or submit things on their website and it seems to just disappear with no follow-up on their side. Customer server has a very condescending tone my experience with 3 different individuals about 2… Read more »
gabe
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gabe
Circle did me right. It seemed too good to be true. This is always a red flag. So just in case, I created a separate checking account from my main one with only $100 in it. I signed up and immediately put $80 into my circle account. The money transferred right away. I then tried to send bitcoin to my blockchain wallet and twice it failed pretty quickly. Against my better judgement I sent a pic of my license and a selfie. Then I tried sending bitcoin again and this time it seemed to be working. Two hours later and… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous

By the way, circle now supports purchasing using a debit card with no fees and allows you to have your wallet be totally in USD (so when I issued the ACH transfer to my other bank, it was exactly the amount I paid).

Sebastian
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Member
Sebastian
Be aware of Circle.com Scam Artist. They are the first Bitcoin Dictatorship. This is my experience: I am very new to bitcoin and still learning but I already had several experiences good and bad I would like to share. One of my first experience and with no idea how to purchase or where, I found this website called Circle.com. I saw how easy it was to acquire Bitcoins there so I decided to purchase $100 usd. The purchase experience was ok, a little long but I guess since I was a first time user. I finally received my bitcoins on… Read more »
Barnstorm
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Barnstorm

Circle is free but charges about $10 above BitStamp – sometimes more! Coinbase charges $2 or $ 3 above BitStamp and about $6 or $7 less than Circle, so it is about the same after you add the Coinbase 1%.

bitcoinghana
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bitcoinghana

Tried signing up with Circle some hours ago. Their software is unable to cope with MS Lifecam (at any setting) for a verification ‘selfie’ – and there is no response form ‘support’!!! So much for an allegedly quick and easy sign up process.

jimmie77
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Member
jimmie77
I have had a similar negative experience with Circle. I tried to see what all the hype was about them, and did everything I was supposed to do on their site to get setup to make a CB purchase, and not only did they CANCEL my transaction w/o any notice, I have yet to get any response from them about why they would advertise as being able to do instant buys and yet cancel the transaction. I do not like the fact that I provided them with my banking information and debit card number only to get turned down. I… Read more »
cort
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cort

Circle also has a weekly spending limit

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Your fine so long as you don’t go over it.

Jack Davis
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Member
Jack Davis

Like John Doe, I’ve quit Circle I liked them at first, but do send more they now want a ID and a selfie. I don’t want to bother with that and am taking my business elsewhere.

John Doe
Guest
Member
John Doe

This blog is total bullsh*t. I signed up for Circle, 3 days ago, and am still awaiting account verification.

They required a copy of my driver’s license and a “selfie” photo taken with a webcam.

Circle is not any better than any other exchange in terms of all the work you have to do in order to get account verification. Bad blog post caused me to waste a bunch of my time trying to sign up with Circle.

JP
Guest
Member
JP

Coinbase allows instant transactions from a checking account if you have a credit card linked. They will not charge the card, but having it on file will ensure them that the funds are backed.

GW Haydook
Guest
Member
GW Haydook
STAY AWAY FROM COINBASE! NOTHING BUT TROUBLE! All you have to do is google “coinbase purchase cancelled” and you will see. Sooner or later, more often than not, Coinbase will cancel your purchase when you buy low and bitcoin price rises significantly during the 3-4 day ACH transfer clearing period and then THEY WILL AUTOMATICALLY CANCEL YOUR PURCHASE TRANSACTION AND NOTIFY YOU VIA CANNED EMAIL ON THE DAY IT WAS SUPPOSED TO CLEAR THAT YOUR MONEY IS BEING REFUNDED! Don’t believe me? Google it. It happened to me and it’s happened to thousands of others – often two or 3… Read more »
guy43ref4
Guest
Member
guy43ref4
I tried using Circle. MOST FRUSTRATING EXPERIENCE EVER! Someone want to explain this to me. It took me very long to verify my phone because when I put in the verification in Circle, it said there was some problem with my browser. Really? Circle needs the exact most up to date version of Firefox to work properly. I downloaded a slightly outdated version of chrome and verification worked fine. Then what is this? I need to link a bank account and provide ID? What happened to a few minutes? I cannot even find where you can link a credit card.… Read more »
GW Haydook
Guest
Member
GW Haydook

Funny, I had absolutely no problem with Circle.

Coinbase on the other hand……=(

flamingids
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Member
flamingids

Very good post Mr. Omir, you’re a great help, i see that you are based in Israel. Correct me if i am wrong, did you link a US bank account to Coinbase? How come? I’m from an unsupported country.

Steven Schwartz
Guest
Member
Steven Schwartz

I am now going with circle for quicker purchases, but Coinbase does have another service that you hafe not mentioned and that is that you can use your account as a merchant account, which I do. I like being able to use coinbase as a way for my patients to pay for services. Circle does not offer this service yet.

Elmo
Guest
Member
Elmo

It took me just over two minutes to make an account on Circle, verify it and discover that Circle does not support my country, Norway, at the moment. So much for the worldwide support for linking. No bank account linking, no credit card payments from Norway.

Ofir Beigel
Guest
Member
Ofir Beigel

I know there were issues in the past with my country as well (some people still have some issues) but Circle states that they support countries worldwide. I guess that’s not entirely accurate

Ofir Beigel
Guest
Member
Ofir Beigel

My guess is that it’s either a marketing tactics or bureaucracy that’s holding them back.

John
Guest
Member
John

Just an FYI…Coinbase doesn’t develop their own mobile app. It’s controlled by a third-party which is crazy. Circle handles all mobie app dev in-house. The article should have definitely noted this.

Ofir Beigel
Guest
Member
Ofir Beigel

I didn’t know that thanks for the information – any reference to this ?

Charles
Guest
Member
Charles

Another informative article! Thanks, Ofir!

Avery Jackson
Guest
Member
Avery Jackson

I’m new to Bitcoins and while I’ve heard about Coinbase and Circle, I didn’t know about the problems some people had with the first. It’s quite interesting to read what Coinbase Fraud has to say. I will be choosing Circle to begin with and maybe later on, I will also try Coinbase.

Thomas
Guest
Member
Thomas

I am a newbie, so bear with me: if I buy Bitcoins through
Coinbase and I should receive 1.3103BTC today, will I receive less than this in
2-3 days if the price goes down? You said it takes 2-4 days to get the coin
from Coinbase and I was wondering how this would affect how much I get. Thanks!

Ofir Beigel
Guest
Member
Ofir Beigel

The idea is that Coinbase “locks” the Bitcoin price one you make the purchase – this means they will need to give you more later on – that’s why some people assume that they cancel transactions because they come out at a loss in the end. If all goes according to plan you should receive 1.3101BTC to matter matter happens to the Bitcoin price.

Oliver Sanders
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Member
Oliver Sanders

Thank you for doing this “experiment” for us and sharing your findings! Very helpful!

Ofir Beigel
Guest
Member
Ofir Beigel

You’re welcome :)

Xavier Price
Guest
Member
Xavier Price

I agree with you that if you want to get in the Bitcoin game quickly, Circle is the absolute best way to do it because it takes 2-3 minutes. But, I like Coinbase better overall because they seem more transparent. So what if I have to wait 2-3 days so they confirm my account? I can wait. They do it once and that’s it, right? So there’s no problem there.

And I’ve never experienced anything fishy with them.

GW Haydook
Guest
Member
GW Haydook

Transparent! That’s a sick joke. You need to do some research on CB!

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