USDC (USD Coin) is the fifth largest cryptocurrency in terms of market cap at the time of writing. The attribute that makes it so popular is its status as a stablecoin where the price of 1 USDC will always equal 1 USD in fiat.
This makes it a fantastic option for transactions since you don’t have to worry about unexpected drops in its fiat value. We’ve also seen many traders & investors also use it as a stable storage medium during times of high market volatility.
If you are going to use USDC, keep in mind that transferring it to a different address will incur a transaction fee. Let’s take a closer look at what these fees are and how you can minimize them during your USDC transactions.
Factors that affect the cost of sending USDC
The cost of sending USDC can vary noticeably between transactions. In our experience, the two key factors behind this variation are:
In order to understand what network fees are, you have to first learn about how crypto transactions work.
To summarize, the legitimacy of each crypto transfer needs to be verified before it is recorded on the blockchain and the transaction is considered complete. This verification is provided by validator/miner nodes. In exchange for their service, they’re given a small amount of the underlying crypto asset as payment.
This payment is the network fee and can vary depending on which blockchain network you’re using.
Take CEX.io crypto exchange, for example. When transferring USDC from this exchange you’ll have to pay a 10 USDC network fee for using the ERC20 Ethereum blockchain. But, this fee will be just 2 USDC when using the TRC20 network.
Crypto exchanges — the platforms that let you buy, sell, and transfer USDC — often have a fee of their own on top of the network fee. These exchange fees are like a payment for using the exchange’s service.
Similar to network fees, exchange fees can also vary between different platforms. Most exchanges also have a percentage-based system where the fee depends on the total amount of USDC assets you’re trading.
Average costs of sending USDC
From what we’ve seen, the average cost of sending USDC is around 4.2 USDC. Unfortunately, due to the vast variety of USDC transaction fees, listing the fees for all platforms is far beyond the scope of this article. That said, we can compare how the most popular exchanges stack up against each other.
Comparison of fees across popular exchanges:
Here are some of the most important USDC transfer fees that you should know about:
The cheapest option on Binance is with the BNB Smart Chain at just 0.145 USDC. Fees for other popular chains include:
- BNB Beacon Chain (BEP20): 0.8 USDC;
- POLYGON: 1 USDC;
- SOLANA: 1 USDC;
- Tron (TRC20): 1 USDC;
- Ethereum (ERC20): 7 USDC.
Fees on Kraken are relatively low compared to Binance. Here’s how much you have to pay for different blockchains:
- SPL: 0.2 USDC;
- Arbitrum One network: 0.3 USDC;
- Polygon network: 0.4 USDC;
- Tron (TRC20): 2.5 USDC;
- Ethereum (ERC20): 3.55 USDC.
Coinbase charges a flat 1% fee on every UDSC transaction. So, if you’re transferring 1,000 USD Coins, you will have to pay a 10 USDC fee.
Different methods of sending USDC:
While exchanges are indeed a convenient option, there are a few alternative methods of sending USDC as well. Here’s how much it costs to send USDC using these methods:
Direct transfer is usually the cheapest option for any blockchain network. This is because you’ll only have to pay a predetermined network fee, without the addition of any exchange fees.
Through a wallet
The cost of sending USDC through a wallet depends on the exact wallet you’re using. Most popular wallets don’t charge any additional fees on top of the network fees but some do. So, make sure to confirm this before choosing a wallet to store your USDC assets.
How to minimize costs when sending USDC
While these fees might look like small expenses at first, they can quickly add up and eat into your profits over time. Here are the most effective strategies we use to minimize USDC transaction fees and reduce their impact on our portfolio:
Choosing the right exchange
As we’ve discussed above, different crypto exchange platforms add different fees on top of the existing network fees.
A clear example of this is between Binance and Kraken with the ERC20 Ethereum chain. The fee of sending USDC through Binance is 7 USDC while the same transaction will cost 3.55 USDC on Kraken — a little over half.
So, make sure to compare different exchanges for their USDC fees before making the final choice.
Selecting the correct blockchain
Similar to exchanges, different blockchain networks have different fees as well. While there might be exceptions, ERC20 is usually the most expensive chain in most cases. On the other hand, blockchain networks like BEP20 and SOL have relatively low fees that hover around 0.1 USDC.
That said, make sure to consider factors like transfer speed, security, and future support when choosing a network for your USDC investment.
Using a wallet
We highly recommend the use of a hardware wallet to store the bulk of your USDC assets. For starters, the lack of exchange fees will allow you to send USDC to any address at the cheapest possible rates.
What’s more, is that you also get the impeccable security of an air-gapped system that protects your assets from hacking attempts.
Typically, exchanges charge USDC transaction fees for each transfer request, irrespective of the actual amount. Of course, there are a few exceptions like Coinbase’s percentage-based fee, but this is the system that most crypto platforms use.
This allows you to minimize your costs by batching together different transactions into one.
For example, let's say you want to send 400 USDC to an exchange from your wallet and the transaction fee is 10 USDC. If you send these 400 USDC in four batches of 100 USDC, you’ll have to pay 40 USDC in transaction fees. But, you can reduce this fee to just 10 USDC by sending it all at once.
We understand how the vast amount of variation in USDC transaction fees can be a bit overwhelming at first. However, it becomes a lot easier to account for once you know the basics of how it works. That’s why you should do research before diving into the world of USDC. For example, choosing the right exchange and blockchain from the get-go can save you a lot of money in the future.