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Written by Sam Pennington on May 25, 2021
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How Does Coinbase Margin Work?

In the world of cryptocurrency, rules, regulations, and opportunities come and go as fast as the weather changes. Buying crypto on margin or receiving a loan using Bitcoin as collateral are just two examples of recent changes and new opportunities.

In this article, we will provide a full Coinbase margin review. How do you actually get started with Coinbase? What are the requirements for a loan? We will answer those questions and more below.

Coinbase Margin: Highlights

  • Coinbase members are no longer able to participate in margin trading
  • Users can receive a loan from Coinbase using Bitcoin as collateral
  • Loans with Coinbase require a 30% Loan to Value ratio
  • The platform charges 8% APR
  • The maximum loan is up to $100,000
  • Paying off loan balance is required within 12 months, though you may make interest payments only each month

coinbase phone

What is Coinbase?

Coinbase is often considered the leading cryptocurrency platform. This is largely due to its lengthy track record relative to crypto in general. Coinbase was created in 2012 as a way to buy, sell, and store your crypto. Since its launch, they have undergone a number of changes as it pertains to margin trading, loans, and various cryptocurrency offerings.

The platform appeals to many cryptocurrency traders with its recognizable brand name and track record. With the longest history of cryptocurrency management platforms, Coinbase is well-established and offers members a secure place to trade and hold their assets.

The platform caters well to beginners with its simple app but also to advanced crypto traders with its free platform Coinbase Pro. It is free in that users can sign up for free, though members will pay trading fees per transaction in both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro. The difference between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro is that they cater to different members. Coinbase is designed to be simple and easy to use, while Coinbase Pro is made for more advanced traders with its advanced charting and multiple order types.

Unlike competitors such as Robinhood or Webull, Coinbase offers a vast number of cryptos. They currently have 50 cryptos with varying capabilities, while Robinhood has 7 and Webull has 5.

In addition to storing, buying, and selling, members of Coinbase can also receive loans using Bitcoin as collateral. This is one way investors can leverage their Bitcoin. The platform also used to offer margin trading, though they removed that ability in November of 2020 due to changes in regulations.

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What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency, also known as crypto, is a digital currency that can be used for various transactions. Some companies, such as Microsoft and AT&T, currently allow individuals to make payments using Bitcoin.

Rather than being issued and secured by a central authority, cryptocurrency is secured by cryptography and is managed on a decentralized network which uses blockchain technology. This appeals to many as this technology makes crypto nearly impossible to counterfeit. Cryptocurrency is secured through an online ledger, which is managed across a host of computers.

Why Did Coinbase Stop Offering Margin Trading?

Coinbase announced on November 24, 2020 that it would no longer offer margin trading to investors. This came as a result due to a change in regulation from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

They stated the following:

We believe clear, common sense regulations for margin lending products are needed to protect and provide peace of mind to U.S customers. We look forward to working closely with regulators to achieve this goal.

As a result, investors cannot purchase any cryptocurrency using margin with Coinbase. However, members can still use their Bitcoin as collateral in order to receive a loan, which we will cover shortly.

coinbase crypto portfolio

What is Margin Trading?

Margin trading is a type of loan from a broker to an individual investor. It is a way for investors to purchase assets using funds from a broker.

Each brokerage will have varying rules regarding margin trading such as the initial margin requirement. Suppose for example that a brokerage offers margin trading with a 70% requirement. This means that the investor would have to  pay 70% of the desired purchase while the broker would supply the other 30%. (If the investor wanted to purchase $10,000 of a certain asset using margin, they would need to pay $7,000, and the broker would provide $3,000.)

How Does a Loan Work with Coinbase?

While investors can no longer trade on margin with Coinbase, they can still leverage their Bitcoin to receive a loan in USD.

This is appealing for a number of reasons. Typically, if an individual with Bitcoin needed cash for something such as a car repair, they would have to sell off their Bitcoin and use the funds to cover their needs. Selling the Bitcoin would be subject to Coinbase transaction fees as well as tax implications. Rather than selling your Bitcoin, Coinbase offers members the ability to receive a loan using the Bitcoin in the account as collateral.

What are the Terms and Conditions of a Coinbase Loan?

Before receiving a loan from Coinbase, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Coinbase uses Bitcoin as collateral for the loan: Investors can use Bitcoin only as collateral for a loan. No other cryptocurrency is currently allowed as collateral.
  • Coinbase requires a LTV of 30%: A loan from Coinbase will not exceed 30% of your Bitcoin's value in cash. (Suppose you have $10,000 worth of Bitcoin. You could receive a loan up to $3,000, or 30% of the value of your Bitcoin.)
  • The platform charges 8% APR in a 1 year term: Interest on the loan accrues daily and will be charged to the account on the 1st of each month. While repayment of the loan balance is due in full in 12 months, you may make interest payment only each month.
  • The maximum loan is $100,000: Coinbase supports loans up to $100,000.

When you receive a loan from Coinbase, the required Bitcoin collateral is moved from your BTC wallet to a collateral wallet.  The amount of Bitcoin used as collateral cannot be removed from the collateral wallet until the loan is paid in full.

You can opt to receive the funds from the loan in a linked bank account. You can expect the funds to appear in your account within 1-3 business days. Funds up to $10,000 can also be received in a PayPal account, which would be made available immediately.

How does Payment Work with the Loan?

Interest accrues daily and will be posted to the account on the 1st of each month. Coinbase recommends paying the balance due between the 1st and the 10th of each month. If payment is not received by the 15th, Coinbase will sell a portion of your Bitcoin collateral to cover the payment and a 2% transaction fee.

If a payment is made before the 1st of the month, it will be used towards the principal of the loan. There is no penalty for early payment.

Payments can be made within the app or on the desktop version using a linked bank account or cash held in the platform.

coinbase earn crypto

What Happens if the Value of the Collateral Falls?

If the value of your loan exceeds 30% of the collateral, Coinbase may sell a portion of the Bitcoin to bring the loan back to healthy levels. Coinbase uses the term "Loan Health."

Coinbase states the following regarding acceptable Loan Health values:

  • Excellent: 70% and above
  • Good: 60% – 70%
  • Warning: 40% – 60%
  • Danger below 40%

Loan Health is simply 100% minus the loan to value ratio. For example, if you have a loan of $3,000 with $10,000 of Bitcoin as collateral, you have a loan to value ratio of 30% ($3,000/$10,000). The loan health would be 70% (100% minus the LTV of 30%). If the loan health falls to 40% or below, Coinbase will send an email to the individual informing them of action needed.

Let's look at an example.

Suppose you receive a loan for $3,000. This means that $10,000 worth of Bitcoin will be moved into a collateral wallet. If the value of Bitcoin were to fall and your loan health were to fall to 40% or lower, you would need to add more Bitcoin into your collateral wallet within 72 hours to avoid Coinbase selling off a portion of your BTC to bring loan health back to 50%.

Adding more BTC to your collateral wallet can be done through visiting the Borrow Homepage and selecting "Add Collateral."

Coinbase Margin Review: Final Thoughts

Coinbase is a platform designed for investors looking to buy, sell, and store cryptocurrency. In addition to trading an impressive number of cryptocurrencies, members can also use their Bitcoin as leverage to obtain a loan.

Receiving a loan using your Bitcoin as collateral may be a desirable option for you. When receiving a loan, you can avoid tax implications of liquidating a Bitcoin position as well as transaction fees. Getting started with a Coinbase loan is simple and requires no credit check.

Coinbase featured image
Article written by Sam Pennington
Sam is a personal finance writer. While in college, he dedicated his spare time to learning about personal finance, investing, and real estate. Sam currently works as a business analyst for one of the top food manufacturers in the world.

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