Uphold vs. Coinbase

Head to Uphold to buy precious metals and crypto, but beware of the spread

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Cryptocurrency exchanges like Uphold and Coinbase make it easy for people to buy or sell Bitcoin and altcoins. Both trading networks let investors purchase coins with a bank account or credit card and offer a crypto debit card. Coinbase was founded in 2012 and went public via a direct listing in 2021. Uphold was founded in 2013 and launched its platform in 2015.

For people wanting to buy precious metals or make crypto-to-crypto trades, Uphold is a great option. But it can feel overwhelming at first to those new to investing in cryptocurrencies. On the other hand, Coinbase hands out crypto for learning about crypto trading, making it a good choice for beginners. 

We reviewed Uphold and Coinbase based on each platform’s ease of use, unique features, the overall cost, and the number of currencies. Additionally, we checked out the mobile apps, security, and how experiences could differ for U.S. versus international users.

Uphold


Uphold

Uphold

  • Fees: Variable spread up to 1.25%
  • Currencies: 52
  • Security: 2FA, bug bounty program, platform insurance against theft, and cold storage
  • Wallet: Private key encryption and 2FA
  • Transactions Supported: Buy, sell, trade, hold, and limit 
  • Max. Trading Amount: Vary based on account activity
  • Mobile App: iOS and Android
Pros
  • Offers metals, equities, and cryptocurrency trading

  • No convenience fee to buy stock using a bank account

  • Free to send money to a friend or family member

Cons
  • European users can’t trade equities

  • Fewer educational resources than Coinbase

Coinbase


Coinbase

Coinbase

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  • Fees: 0.50% spread plus a flat or variable fee depending on the transaction amount and payment method
  • Currencies: 66
  • Security: 2FA, bug bounty program, FDIC-insured USD balances up to $250,000, platform insurance against theft, and cold storage 
  • Wallet: Private key encryption and 2FA
  • Transactions Supported: Buy, sell, trade, and hold 
  • Max. Trading Amount: Vary based on account age, location, payment method, transaction history, and verification steps completed
  • Mobile App: iOS and Android
Pros
  • Offers crypto rewards for learning about crypto

  • Has a lower spread than Uphold

  • An advanced platform is available

Cons
  • High convenience fees for transactions

  • Fewer crypto trading pairs than Uphold

  • Charges 1.49% to buy using a bank account

At a Glance

  Uphold Coinbase 
Fees Variable spread up to 1.25% 0.50% spread plus a flat or variable fee depending on the transaction amount and payment method
Currencies 52  66 
Security  2FA, bug bounty program, platform insurance against theft, and cold storage  2FA, bug bounty program, FDIC-insured USD balances up to $250,000, platform insurance against theft, and cold storage 
Wallet  Private key encryption and 2FA  Private key encryption and 2FA 
Transactions Supported  Buy, sell, trade, hold, and limit  Buy, sell, trade, and hold 
Max. Trading Amount  Vary based on account activity  Vary based on account age, location, payment method, transaction history, and verification steps completed 
Mobile App  iOS and Android  iOS and Android 

Uphold vs. Coinbase: Features

Both cryptocurrency exchanges offer unique features for platform users. Coinbase is geared toward beginners with rewards for learning. Meanwhile, Uphold rewards Brave browser users and has an open application programming interface (API) for custom integrations. 

With Uphold, users can take advantage of:

  • Trade non-crypto assets: Uphold users can trade about 50 U.S. stocks, four precious metals, and 27 national currencies. 
  • AutoPilot: Automate your trades by creating a recurring buy or sell order on Uphold.
  • Multi-asset debit card: Unlike the Coinbase Visa debit card, Uphold’s Mastercard debit card supports payments via crypto, gold, equities, or national currencies.
  • Brave Rewards: People who use the Brave browser can earn Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) based on their browsing habits.

While Coinbase doesn’t have an open API or support trades of precious metals, the exchange appeals to users because of the following features:

  • Coinbase Earn: Coinbase users can watch videos or read tutorials about various cryptocurrencies and earn rewards.
  • Crypto debit card: A Visa debit card that lets you spend your crypto online and in stores globally. 
  • Interest-bearing accounts: Put your USD Coin (USDC) into a Coinbase savings account to earn up to 4% annual percentage yield (APY).
  • Coinbase Pro: Intermediate and advanced users can move up to the Coinbase Pro platform for lower fees and more transaction types. 

Uphold vs. Coinbase: Currencies

Uphold and Coinbase offer a nice selection of cryptocurrencies. They support fewer coins than popular sites like Binance but more than exchanges such as Bitstamp. Coinbase features 66 cryptocurrencies and stablecoins, whereas Uphold has 50. Both exchanges support 28 of the same coins, including Bitcoin (BTC), Bithereum (BTH), Aave (AAVE), Polygon (MATIC), Dogecoin (DOGE), Cardano (ADA), and Dash (DASH). 

There are 36 altcoins found on Coinbase but not on Uphold. But users wanting to trade multi-assets appreciate Uphold’s unique offerings. Uphold supports four precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, and palladium) and two carbon credit tokens, Universal Carbon (UPCO2) and Bitcoin Zero (BTC0). Furthermore, some Uphold users can purchase fractional equities in about 40 companies, like Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and Apple. 

Both cryptocurrency exchanges accept fiat funds, and users can purchase coin fractions. But Coinbase only offers 77 crypto-to-crypto trading pairs, whereas Uphold supports “anything to anything,” meaning users can access over 1,000 trading pairs.

Uphold vs. Coinbase: Security

Coinbase and Uphold meet or exceed strict U.S. and international laws regarding know your client (KYC) and account verification. In addition, both companies fully disclose information about their security measures on their websites. USD funds on Coinbase are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and they hold 98% of crypto funds in cold storage. Additionally, they offer a bug bounty program and maintain an insurance policy against theft or fraud for funds Coinbase holds. 

In comparison, Uphold notes specific security features for European users, including holding roughly 90% of funds in cold storage and an insurance policy against security breaches for currencies held on the exchange. It offers a “Transparency” page with live statuses of their reserves. 

Uphold vs. Coinbase: Fees

The two cryptocurrency exchanges take a different approach to fees, yet trades may cost about the same. Coinbase charges a spread of about 0.50% per transaction plus a fixed or variable fee depending on the transaction amount and payment method. The convenience fees range from $0.99 to $2.99 for $50 when funding your trade via automated clearing house (ACH).

However, purchases from a bank account incur the higher of either the flat fee or 1.49%, while credit card and PayPal purchases are 3.99%. The Coinbase platform has higher prices than many other platforms, but users can switch to the Coinbase Pro platform for lower fees using the maker-taker model, ranging from 0% to 0.50%. 

In contrast, Uphold users can purchase multiple assets using an ACH withdrawal or bank account fee-free. Like Coinbase, Uphold users pay 3.99% to use a credit card. However, the spread is much higher on Uphold and varies widely. According to Uphold:

  • BTC and ETH: For U.S. and European users, the spread runs 0.8 to 1.2%, while it’s about 1.8% in other places.
  • Altcoins: Uphold says, “Spreads can be significantly higher for low-liquidity cryptos and tokens including Ripple (XRP), Zilliqa (ZIL), Orchid (OXT), Universal Protocol Token (UPT), and DOGE.”
  • Metals: Uphold charges “3% on top of the bid-ask prices at our supplier.”
  • Fiat: Users usually pay “0.2% between major national currencies such as EUR, USD, and GBP.”
  • U.S. equities: The spread is about 1.0% but varies for after-market-hours trading.
Fees  Uphold Coinbase 
Bank Account  Free 1.49%
Withdraw Crypto to a Wallet  Free  Free 
Debit/Credit Cards  3.99%  3.99% 
ACH Transfer  Free  Free 
Wire Transfer  $30 to deposit under $5,000 or free for over $5,000.  $10 deposit, $25 withdrawal 
Crypto Conversion  Free  Up to 2% spread 
Trades  Variable spread that may be as high as 4% in some cases  Up to 0.50% spread, plus a variable or fixed fee of $0.99 to $2.99 based on the amount or a variable fee based on payment method 

Uphold vs. Coinbase: Ease of Use

Coinbase continues to stand out from the competition for its ease of use. The signup process is straightforward, and it’s easy to find details about the platform, cryptocurrencies, and even learn how to get started trading. 

Likewise, Uphold’s process is user-friendly, and the website is easy to navigate. The advanced transaction types require some investing experience and the addition of stocks and metals adds to the complexity. However, Uphold offers a “one-step trading capability,” where users can trade any crypto asset for another. 

Both exchanges offer customer service through email or Twitter. Although the Coinbase knowledge base and help articles are expansive, Uphold provides plenty of information about the platform and some helpful articles for beginner traders. 

Uphold vs. Coinbase: Mobile App

Coinbase and Uphold both offer a mobile app for Android and iOS phones. The apps offer nearly full functionality compared to the websites. That said, you won’t find advanced charting options on either of them. However, the Coinbase app appears to be a bit more mature with fewer bugs and navigation issues, earning it higher user ratings. Coinbase provides two other applications, including a standalone hot wallet called the Coinbase Wallet and the Coinbase Pro app with advanced features and transactions. 

Uphold vs. Coinbase: Access

Uphold and Coinbase are available to U.S.-based and international users. However, residents of Hawaii are excluded from both platforms. In addition, equities on Uphold aren’t available to U.S. or European investors. But, if you’re in the United States and want to buy Ripple (XRP), Uphold supports it while Coinbase doesn’t. U.S.-based investors also can’t buy Amp (AMP), Gitcoin (GTC), Golem (GNT), Loom Network (LOOM), Enzyme Finance (MLN), or Shiba Inu (SHIB) on Coinbase. 

Final Verdict

Uphold and Coinbase are secure exchanges offering a good selection of cryptocurrencies and features useful to traders, such as Uphold’s AutoPilot and the Coinbase Earn program. But, people wanting a multi-asset trading platform should head to Uphold to buy precious metals, national currencies, and environmental tokens. Meanwhile, those wanting potentially lower fees and more chances to earn free crypto will appreciate the Coinbase or Coinbase Pro platforms. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Uphold and Coinbase?

Uphold is a multi-asset exchange, meaning users can buy and sell cryptocurrencies, national currencies, equities, and precious metals. In contrast, Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange that supports various cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. Investors can buy, sell, deposit, or withdraw using Uphold or Coinbase. Also, both platforms offer a debit card. The Uphold card is a multi-asset Mastercard, whereas the Coinbase card is a crypto Visa. 

How Do Uphold and Coinbase Work?

Uphold and Coinbase users may access the cryptocurrency exchange from a web browser or through the associated mobile apps. Once the verification process is completed, which may take extra time, investors can add funds to buy assets depending on their location. Both support ACH, bank transfers, credit and debit cards. Coinbase also allows users to purchase or withdraw using PayPal. Coinbase also gives crypto rewards when users watch videos or read guides about blockchain and cryptocurrencies. On the other hand, Uphold offers AutoPilot for recurring trades. 

Do Uphold and Coinbase Report to the IRS?

Yes, Uphold and Coinbase file an annual report with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in accordance with tax laws and regulations. In addition, Coinbase issues IRS Form 1099-MISC to Coinbase users who are U.S. persons and earned $600 or more in rewards or fees from Coinbase Earn, USDC Rewards, and/or staking.

Who Should Use Uphold vs. Coinbase?

While Coinbase and Uphold are reasonably easy to use, Coinbase offers more resources for beginners than Uphold does. Since Coinbase only supports cryptocurrencies, new investors may feel more comfortable starting with Coinbase. However, Uphold is a multi-asset exchange, so users wanting to buy and sell precious metals, U.S. equities, or cryptocurrencies should begin there. Moreover, Uphold offers unique environmental currencies called carbon credit tokens, which aren’t provided on Coinbase. 

Methodology

We reviewed Uphold and Coinbase by considering the features that made each platform stand out, such as the ability to earn crypto on Coinbase or trade precious metals on Uphold. We also looked at the overall cost of investing, including the spread and various fees. Then we compared both platforms on supported currencies, ease of use, and accessibility for living in the U.S. and internationally. Lastly, we considered the usability of the mobile apps and thought about several use cases to determine what type of investors would feel most comfortable on each platform.

Article Sources

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  1. CNBC.com. "Coinbase Closes at $328.28 per Share in Nasdaq Debut, Valuing Crypto Exchange at $85.8 Billion." Accessed July 5, 2021.

  2. Coinbase.com. "2020 Tax Guide: Crypto and Bitcoin in the U.S." Accessed July 14, 2021.