Public.com vs. Coinbase: Which is Right for You?

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Public vs. Coinbase

Investors have many options today. There are many online brokerages and investment apps that make investments like stocks and cryptocurrency accessible to anyone. However, each platform is different. In this Public.com vs. Coinbase comparison, we’ll look at two options for buying and selling crypto.

Join Public to get up to $300 of free stock when you make a deposit.*

Public.com vs. Coinbase Summary

The main difference between Public.com and Coinbase is that Public supports the trading of stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and about 30 of the most popular cryptocurrencies while Coinbase focuses exclusively on crypto. Coinbase supports the trading of well over 100 cryptocurrencies and also allows users to store their crypto in their own digital wallets.

Investors who are interested in trading stocks, funds, and crypto on the same platform will be well-served by Public.com. However, the most active crypto traders who want extensive access to a wide range of cryptocurrencies are likely to prefer Coinbase. We’ll cover all the relevant details below.

Related reading: How to Get Free Stock

The Public.com Basics

Public

Public.com has been around since 2018, but it originally operated under the name Matador. Public.com is a mobile-first platform offering commission-free trades of stocks and funds with a beautiful and user-friendly interface that’s ideal for newbies or more experienced investors.

This platform also social features so you can work with other investors, look at what your contacts are currently buying or selling, and learn from more experienced users.

This makes Public.com very unique, and the supportive community is loved by many investors. You can log into your account at any time to check your investment progress, review and share strategies, or simply chat with other investors. This can be a massive draw for those with little investing experience, as they can learn and build confidence as they start trading.

Public.com also has no minimum investment required to open an account and support for fractional shares.

Learn more in our Public.com review.

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Features:
  • Commission-free trades of stocks and ETFs
  • Buy and sell 27 different cryptocurrencies
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The Coinbase Basics 

Coinbase

Coinbase is a leading crypto exchange and has been around since 2012. For the first five years, the platform only supported Bitcoin. Since 2017 Coinbase has been adding more cryptocurrencies including Ethereum and many others, so it now supports over 100 coins, tokens, and stablecoins.

Coinbase has been designed to allow you to easily convert between cryptos with simple transfers to and from your Coinbase account. You can also improve your crypto trading skills with a variety of learning tools and set up recurring buys on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. Many people consider Coinbase to be one of the best crypto exchanges.

Investment Options

Public.com offers access to over 5,000 stocks and funds with full or fractional shares and no trading commissions. You can search for companies using categories if you don’t have specific companies in mind. This makes it easy to build portfolios around your interests.

Each company has a detailed history with trends and comments from the community of users. Public.com also has investment Themes that are essentially lists of stocks or funds of a particular type.

For example, you’ll find themes for dividend stocks, companies with female CEOs, companies that produce green power, companies in the cannabis industry, and much more. With more than 40 Themes, there’s something for everyone. These Themes can be extremely helpful for finding investment options that appeal to you.

Public.com also offers cryptocurrency trading with 30 different coins.

Coinbase facilitates cryptocurrency trading and investment exclusively. The platform provides access to over 100 different coins. Coinbase also has a digital wallet facility that makes it easier to transfer your holdings off the platform.

How the Platform Works  

The Public.com platform has been designed to be user-friendly, making it accessible to new investors and more experienced traders alike. The platform is intuitive with easy-to-understand functions. It’s easy to search for stocks, ETFs, and Themes. You can browse by categories, and when you click on a specific company, you can immediately see its details.

Public.com also has a news feed on the home page, which allows you to send messages, build a chat group, join discussions and follow your fellow investors.

Coinbase has its original platform, but there’s also the Coinbase Pro interface. With Coinbase you can trade in crypto using USD, while Coinbase Pro allows you to perform crypto to crypto exchanges with a greater selection of currencies and a variety of features including charts, stop, limit, and market orders.

The platform is beginner-friendly and you can access it online or via your mobile device using the Android or iOS app. The main dashboard shows your Coinbase portfolio with screens to buy and sell cryptocurrencies within easy reach.

Since the cryptocurrency markets operate 24/7, you can log in to make a trade day or night (the same thing is true with trading crypto on Public.com). You can purchase digital assets using the funds in your account or by directly connecting a bank account or card. However, additional fees may apply to your transaction depending on your preferred payment method.

Pricing and Fees

Public.com does not charge any commissions on stock and ETF trades. The platform has no account minimums or account maintenance fees. Crypto transactions are subject to a 1-2% markup (crypto transactions at Public.com are processed by Apex Crypto). This means if you’re buying $100 of crypto, you’ll pay $101 – $102.

Coinbase has a more complicated pricing structure that can be a little tricky to understand, particularly if you’re new to trading. The charges are calculated at the transaction amount:

  • Under $10: $0.99
  • $10 to $25: $1.49
  • $25 to $50: $1.99
  • $50 to $205: $2.99

However, how you fund your transaction can also impact your account charges. If you use a credit or debit card, you’ll pay a 3.99% fee, while bank account or USD wallet funding attracts a 1.49% fee.

Additionally, Coinbase Pro has its own pricing structure. Your fees will depend on the pricing tier according to your 30-day trading volume. For very active traders, Coinbase Pro offers potentially lower fees, but those occasional traders may be put off by the confusing nature of the fee structure.

Platform Features

Since the Public.com platform has been designed to meet the needs of new retail investors, there are minimal data and research options. While there’s sufficient data to help you make your investment decisions, if you’re looking to perform in-depth research, you may need to use a third-party site or tool, like StockRover.

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However, where Public.com stands apart from other trading platforms is the community aspect. You can interact with other investors and take part in larger trends. You can ask questions and follow other investors to watch their trading activity.

You don’t need your own digital wallet to store the crypto you purchase through Public.com. Cryptocurrency transactions at Public.com are processed by Apex Crypto, and Apex Crypto will securely store it for you (there is currently no option to use your own digital wallet). This could be appreciated by casual crypto traders who don’t want to deal with security issues related to a crypto wallet, or it could be seen as a negative by those who prefer to use their own digital wallet.

As you might expect from a leading crypto exchange, Coinbase has more cryptocurrency coins compared to Public. Currently, Coinbase offers active trading in 100 coins, compared to Public.com’s 30. Coinbase also has custodial and non-custodial wallets that allow you to send and receive crypto from an external wallet. However, the custodial wallet is Coinbase exchange controlled. If you intend to purchase coins and keep them on Coinbase, you’ll need to have a custodial wallet. The non-custodial wallet is controlled by you and it is free to download via the Coinbase Wallet app.

Coinbase also has a superb content library to help you to improve your crypto trading knowledge. The Coinbase Earn specialized program incentivizes you to learn and earn as you go. There is a comprehensive series of video tutorials and exams you can take to learn more about crypto trading.

With Coinbase Pro, there are also advanced charting features that you may feel are worth the additional cost.

Security

Both Public.com and Coinbase use industry-standard security measures. Public.com is also an SIPC member, so you can have account protection for up to $500,000. Plus Apex, Public’s clearing firm, has additional insurance to supplement the SIPC protection. The SIPC protection applies only to securities. Cryptocurrency is not covered by SIPC or FDIC.

In recent years, Public.com does not appear to have suffered any major outages or data breaches.

Coinbase has 98% of customer assets stored offline in a network of safe deposit boxes supported by paper and digital backups.

However, there are thousands of Coinbase users who have had experience with hackers and scams that have cost them. These problems aren’t necessarily Coinbase’s fault, but security needs to be taken seriously by any crypto trader.

Pros and Cons

As with any platform, neither Public.com or Coinbase is perfect and there are both positive and negative things to consider before deciding which is best for you.

Public.com Pros

  • Intuitive Platform: The Public platform is simple to use with all activity taking place on the easy-to-navigate app.
  • Social Features: Public.com has a built-in social element that can help newer investors leverage community-driven power, trading ideas, and input on strategies.
  • Fractional Shares: Public.com offers “slices” or fractional shares. This is a fantastic feature, as price can often be a barrier to investing. Fractional shares allow you to purchase a part of a share, which means that you don’t need to tie up your entire investment fund trying to buy just one share of a high-profile brand.
  • Low or No Commission: Public has a clear fee structure that is easy to understand. Additionally, Public.com does not rely on payment for order flow (PFOF) for income. Instead, there is an optional tipping feature.

Public Cons

  • Limited Account Types: Since Public.com is geared towards newer investors, the more experienced investor may find the selection of account types a little limited. Public.com does not currently have IRAs or joint accounts, as you can only open an individual taxable brokerage account.
  • Limited Platform Features: Public.com does not have advanced analysis capabilities and there’s limited data.

Coinbase Pros

  • Easy for Crypto Beginners: The standard Coinbase platform is easy to use, so you can quickly buy, sell and exchange cryptocurrencies.
  • Large Number of Cryptocurrencies: As a leading cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase supports over 100 cryptocurrencies and the number continues to grow.
  • Possibility to Upgrade to Coinbase Pro: While the original Coinbase platform has an easy-to-use interface, if it is a little basic for you, you can upgrade to Coinbase Pro. This adds advanced charting and other features to the platform.
  • Coinbase Earn: This is a great feature where you can earn as you learn via a series of video classes with exams. By taking part in the program, you can earn certain cryptocurrencies.

Coinbase Cons

  • Complicated Trading Fee Structure: Unlike Public.com, the Coinbase fee structure can be a little complex to understand. Your trading fees are based on your transaction amount and how you fund the transaction. This means you’ll need to do a bit of calculating to assess whether a trade is profitable.
  • Exclusively Crypto: As the name suggests, Coinbase is a coin trading platform, so you won’t find stocks, ETFs, or other investment options.
  • Customer Service Issues: Coinbase has had a number of customer service complaints including some related to account security.

Public vs. Coinbase Conclusion

Both Public.com and Coinbase are solid platforms that offer some great benefits. However, they are likely to appeal to different types of investors. If you’re a new investor interested in creating a diverse portfolio with stocks, funds, and crypto, Public.com is the better option since Coinbase doesn’t support stock trading. Public has a number of resources to help you to learn more about investing, including connecting with other investors for tips and opinions on your investment strategies.

However, if you want to have a greater focus on cryptocurrencies and want access to a massive choice of coins, Coinbase is a great option. Although the fee structure is a little complicated, it’s a great option for very active crypto traders, with some excellent tools that can help new crypto investors polish their skill sets.

So, the Public.com vs Coinbase comparison comes down to what you’re looking for in a trading platform. Just be aware that you will need to check the Coinbase fee structure including the funding options before you make a trade.

Join Public to get up to $300 of free stock when you make a deposit.*



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