2019 Best Coinbase Alternative for United States Residents

2019 coinbase alternatives

If you’re a cryptocurrency user or someone who is thinking of making a crypto purchase for the first time, you’ve likely heard of Coinbase. Launched in October of 2012, they have the distinction of being one of the first United States-based platforms to allow for the quick and easy purchase of Bitcoin via a bank transfer. At that time it was a huge step forward for the industry because many people were still wiring money to offshore exchanges when they wanted to buy Bitcoins. Having a simple purchasing platform in the United States was a game-changer for a geographic market that is now home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of crypto users.

This first mover advantage has proven to be influential in the success of Coinbase. As of December 2018, they are one of four crypto exchanges in the world with more than 100,000 active users (and the only one based in the United States). Officially, they claim “20M+ customers served” and “$150B+ in digital currency exchanged”. There’s no doubting the position they have as a powerhouse in the industry.

Of course, when you’re at the top, there’s a big target on your back. Coinbase dominates the U.S. market at the moment, but the wide-open competition of the crypto industry has allowed a number of competitors to build product offerings with comparable levels of service. At this point there isn’t a clear winner that can lay claim to being the Coinbase alternative, but there are some great options available.

How am I qualifying these options? My criteria is as follows:

  • Beginner friendly. This is a bit subjective, but it means that you should be able to get started and purchase crypto without any advanced trading knowledge.
  • Widely available. The service has to be available to a majority of the United States population (some States can be excluded).
  • No wire transfers required. Funding has to be available with a normal U.S. checking account or debit / credit cards.
  • Price markup needs to be reasonable. Many websites will offer direct crypto purchases to U.S. residents with a bank account or credit card, but will charge an obscene markup from the current spot price. Coinbase has a markup of roughly 4%, so that’s what we’re aiming for.
  • Android and iPhone apps. Coinbase is largely successful due to convenience, so any self-respecting Coinbase alternative will need the convenience of a mobile app.

Top Coinbase Alternatives for U.S. Customers

With all that in mind, here’s the list: If you’re looking for crypto platforms that offer United States residents a Coinbase alternative, these are your best options:

Check out my breakdowns below to see how each of these services stack up to the market leader. Please Note – I received no payment from the service providers listed to be featured in this blog. However, the links below do contain my own personal referral links for each platform:

ca

If all you care about is buying and using Bitcoin, Square’s Cash App is the most impressive challenger to Coinbase in the United States. Cash App is a great personal wallet app that is primarily aiming to be a competitor to Venmo and Paypal. They jumped into the crypto world by adding the option to buy and sell Bitcoin in January of 2018.

Set-up is easy and involves downloading the app, creating an account, then connecting either a bank account or credit card for funding. Here is the quick Cash App vs Coinbase comparison:

Features
Cash App
Coinbase

Buy Bitcoin
Yes
Yes

Withdraw Bitcoin
Yes
Yes

Deposit Bitcoin
No
Yes

Sell Bitcoin
No
Yes

Buy Altcoins
No
Yes

Withdraw Altcoins
No
Yes

Deposit Altcoins
No
Yes

Sell Altcoins
No
Yes

Approximate Purchase Fees*
~1.5%
~4%

Excluded U.S. States
None
Hawaii

As you can see, while Cash App is excellent if you’re interested in Bitcoin, it is severely lacking in regards to altcoin options. There are none available in contrast to the selection on Coinbase of BAT, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, ZCash, USDC, and 0x.

Even though there is a lack of altcoins, Cash App does stand out from Coinbase thanks to its generous fee structure. While Coinbase will charge a roughly 4% markup via fees, Cash App’s fee hovers around 1.5% based on my own personal use.

The official statement from Cash App is that: “Your exchange rate for buying and selling Bitcoin through the Cash App is calculated using the current market rate across the most popular U.S. exchanges, plus a spread determined by the size of your transaction and market volatility. The exchange rate may differ between transactions, and may also differ from exchange rates available to you from other buyers and sellers of Bitcoin.”

Cash App also performs the vital function of allowing you to withdraw the bitcoins you purchase via their platform. This means that if you actually want to use your purchased bitcoins (as opposed to simply buying as an investment), you will be able to move them to a personal wallet via the withdrawal function. Keep in mind that this does not flow both ways. Users are currently unable to deposit bitcoins to sell on the Cash App. So, if you take coins off the app, you will need to find a different service if you later decide to convert the bitcoins back to USD.

Cash App says they’re “working hard to bring support for bitcoin deposits from third party wallets to Cash App.” While this may be frustrating to some users, others may appreciate the elegant simplicity of the app. It has a function (buying BTC) and performs it well. Square CEO Jack Dorsey is also a public Bitcoin maximalist which has made his app a darling for supporters of crypto’s oldest currency. To try out Cash App, you can use my referral link below (you’ll receive a $5 credit and I will as well).

 

TRY CASH APP

 

abra crypto buying process

If you’re looking for a simple platform that more closely matches Coinbase’s selection of cryptocurrencies, Abra will likely be your provider of choice. They actually far exceed the selection of Coinbase with the ability to invest in 30 different cryptos via the same app.

Set-up is simple just like Cash App and Coinbase with a quick app download and bank account / credit card connection process. But there is one interesting quirk. You will need to ensure that you write down the seed phrase tied to your Abra account. This phrase is a string of words that will be generated when you first install the app. If you lose this phrase, you lose access to all funds in your account so it is vital that you save it in a secure location.

While the other services in this article take care of managing your balances for you, Abra is (for better or worse) closely aligned with the cryptocurrency ideals of independence and decentralization. They state “The Abra model is 100% peer-to-peer, with no middle man ever holding, managing or touching your funds at any point in any transaction. So you are in control of your money!” This is nice because you are guaranteed that Abra can’t run off with your crypto. Managing the safety of your money is entirely in your hands.

With that in mind, here is the quick Abra vs Coinbase comparison:

Features
Abra
Coinbase

Buy Bitcoin
Yes
Yes

Withdraw Bitcoin
Yes
Yes

Deposit Bitcoin
Yes
Yes

Sell Bitcoin
Yes
Yes

Buy Altcoins
Yes
Yes

Withdraw Altcoins
Some
Yes

Deposit Altcoins
Some
Yes

Sell Altcoins
Yes
Yes

Approximate Purchase Fees*
~0.5-1%
~4%

Excluded U.S. States
None
Hawaii

The highlight above is obviously the attractively low purchasing fees. Abra is proud to advertise that “you can buy cryptocurrencies with some of the most competitive rates in the market.”

The official statement from Abra is that: “We don’t currently charge fees on currency exchanges, but Abra does generate exchange rate income on the spread between different currencies, which goes to cover our costs and generate a small profit for Abra. For instance, if you convert US Dollars to Bitcoin, or Ethereum to Ripple, there will be a small spread built into the exchange rate that you see on the app.”

As well as providing reasonable rates on crypto purchases, Abra offers direct purchase of the following cryptos to app users:

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • XRP
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Litecoin
  • Dash
  • Ethereum Classic
  • ZCash
  • OmiseGo
  • Qtum
  • Dogecoin
  • Golem
  • Vertcoin
  • BitcoinGold
  • Stellar
  • DigitByte
  • Augur
  • Status
  • Stratis
  • 0x
  • Monero
  • NEM
  • NEO
  • Lisk
  • Verge
  • BAT
  • Cardano
  • Tron
  • EOS
  • Siacoin

While this selection is impressive, it does come with caveats. You are allowed to invest in these cryptocurrencies with Abra, but users cannot actually withdraw or deposit them via personal cryptocurrency wallets. Abra only supports deposits and withdrawals of so-called “native coins”. These are Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.

Abra seems obsessed with pushing the limits of what they can offer. There is also an indice product to purchase a basket of 10 cryptos and they recently rolled out stock and ETF investing backed by Bitcoin. With an impressive list of features and more being announced every day, Abra seems committed to continuing their progress as a worthy Coinbase alternative for U.S. users. You can get started using the referral link below.

 

TRY ABRA

 

robinhood crypto trading

If your motivation for exploring cryptocurrencies is strictly focused on quick-and-easy investing, Robinhood may be the choice for you. They added cryptocurrency trading to their massively popular stock trading app in February of 2018.

Setting up your account is done via their app, but they do request a little more information than the other providers in this article. For one, they require a Social Security Number. This is because of the stringent regulations they must comply with as a platform that sells traditional investment vehicles such as stocks. If you don’t mind providing this information, fill out the forms, connect your bank account, and you’re good to start investing in crypto.

Here is the quick Robinhood vs Coinbase comparison:

Features
RH
Coinbase

Buy Bitcoin
Yes
Yes

Withdraw Bitcoin
No
Yes

Deposit Bitcoin
No
Yes

Sell Bitcoin
Yes
Yes

Buy Altcoins
Yes
Yes

Withdraw Altcoins
No
Yes

Deposit Altcoins
No
Yes

Sell Altcoins
Yes
Yes

Approximate Purchase Fees*
0%
~4%

Excluded U.S. States
15 States
Hawaii

Excluded states are Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wyoming.

As you may be realizing now from the Social Security Number and Excluded U.S. States, Robinhood is a platform that takes compliance and regulation seriously. They minimize their risk. While this means that less people are able to use the platform, it does offer one excellent benefit to those who do get to enjoy the platform: low fees.

Robinhood has made their name in the world of stocks by offering commission-free investing, and this is no different when it comes to their crypto offering. The price you see on Robinhood for bitcoins and other cryptos is the price you get. This is because it is a true marketplace and you are buying / selling against other users directly.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of the breakdown, this is excellent if you only want to invest in cryptocurrencies. But if you want to actually use crypto outside of the Robinhood app? You’re out of luck. There is no ability for users to either deposit or withdraw bitcoin or altcoins from the app. Robinhood’s statement on the matter is that “At this time we don’t support coin withdrawals, though we plan to do so in the future.”

However, if you have no problems with safe and simple investing via Robinhood’s walled garden, it’s hard to turn down their 0-fee approach. They also have a respectable selection of altcoins investment options including:

  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Bitcoin SV
  • Dogecoin
  • Ethereum
  • Ethereum Classic
  • Litecoin

While their limited options may be frustrating to some, Robinhood is a welcome Coinbase alternative that is filling an interesting use case for traditional investors that want to dabble in cryptocurrencies. It will be exciting to see how they grow this portion of their platform through the coming years. Their slick marketing and track record of success make them a dark-horse contender to become the powerhouse onramp for U.S. consumers looking to move from fiat to crypto in the coming years.

As an incentive, Robinhood offers free stocks to new users that sign up up via an invitation from existing users. You can get this offer by using my referral link below.

 

TRY ROBINHOOD

 

And there they are, my picks for the best Coinbase alternatives for United States users. Think I missed something? Feel free to send your thought to [email protected] or to reach out on Twitter via @postersofcrypto.

*Purchase fees are approximates based on personal experience and exchange rates at the time of this articles writing. All fees are subject to change based on the policies of linked service providers and the exchange rates of the various cryptocurrencies they offer. Keep in mind there are other fees that users may be charged including but not limited to balance transfer fees, withdrawal fees and crypto network fees. Always consult the terms and conditions of exchanges before making a purchasing decision.

Hayden P.

A blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiast

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