Uphold Review (2021)
Ease of Use
Established in 2013, Uphold is a multi-asset crypto platform that allows UK residents to buy, sell, and store Bitcoin (BTC) and more than 50 other cryptocurrencies – without much fuss.
In the UK, you’ll typically be quoted Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) prices that are up to 1.2% above the real exchange rate. However, it’s not clear what the typical spread is for other supported cryptocurrencies.
Registering and getting verified doesn’t take long either.
Uphold is a crypto exchange that offers an easy-to-use interface and a seamless trading experience on dozens of assets. This includes 31 cryptocurrencies, plus precious metals, and environmental assets.
But how does Uphold work? What do you need to get started with the exchange?
In this Uphold review, we’ll take a closer look at the ins and outs of Uphold, the pros and cons of the platform, the fees it charges, and more.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Available in the UK and 180+ other countries.
- Supports 30+ cryptocurrencies in the UK.
- Registration and verification are quick.
- Intuitive, beginner-friendly web and mobile interface.
- UK residents can expect to pay 0.8% to 1.2% in fees when buying Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH). This fee is included in the exchange rate you’re quoted.
- Low minimum deposit (£10 for deposits made via UK bank transfer).
- Equities not currently available to UK or EU residents.
- Using a credit or debit card is expensive (an additional fee of 3.99%).
- Higher fees when buying or selling other cryptocurrencies, like Dogecoin (DOGE).
- Fees are included in the exchange rate, which might make it difficult to calculate whether you’re getting a good deal or not.
What is Uphold?
Some quick facts about Uphold:
- Have more than 1.7 million customers across the 180+ supported countries.
- Handled over US$4 billion in trades and transactions since 2015.
- Have around 250 employees, with a long list of open positions.
Although it shares many of the same features as other crypto platforms, Uphold prides itself on being an “anything to anything” trading platform. This means that you’re able to directly trade any supported asset, such as Bitcoin, for any other supported asset, like gold, in a single transaction.
Here are some important things to know:
- Temporarily registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
- Uphold is registered with the United States Treasury Department and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
- This company is also recognized by the Authorized Payments Institute in Europe. This agency reports to the U.S Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
The current CEO of Uphold is J.P Theriot, who was previously a Vice-Chairman at Uphold between 2013 and 2018.
Before joining Uphold, J.P was involved in the investment banking industry. According to his LinkedIn profile, he’s currently in charge of Strategy and Operations for Universal Protocol – a blockchain project attempting to create an ecosystem where all cryptocurrencies are convertible on a single network.
How Does Uphold Work?
The main thing that sets Uphold apart is that it facilitates conversions between ANY asset class.
This means you can do things like:
- Convert your GBP balance into any supported cryptocurrency.
- Buy Chainlink (LINK) using your Basic Attention Token (BAT) balance.
- Exchange your Dogecoin (DOGE) balance for Enjin (ENJ).
Cryptocurrency exchanges normally only support a small number of trading pairs so that their trading volume isn’t unnecessarily spread around too thin.
The platform itself is well laid out, so it all seems quite intuitive. Unlike some of its high-profile competitors, Uphold isn’t clunky or clustered. Navigating your way online shouldn’t be a problem – especially if you’re using the web platform.
You can also put your investments on autopilot by setting up regular purchases of cryptocurrencies or precious metals on Uphold (i.e., dollar cost average). These automated trades can be configured to execute every day, each week, or every month.
(You can find out more about dollar-cost averaging in this post).
Uphold Supported Countries
Uphold is available in more than 184 countries, which includes the UK, the US, and most of the EU.
The few countries that Uphold doesn’t operate in includes nations on the US’s financial sanctions list.
Residents in the following countries cannot use Uphold:
- Bouvet Island
- Central African Republic
- French Southern Territories
- Heard and McDonald Islands
- North Korea
- S. Minor Outlying Islands
Uphold Supported Assets
Uphold currently supports more than 30 cryptocurrencies in the UK. This includes Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Dogecoin (DOGE), and many other popular options.
As a UK or EU user, you can also access 3 fiat currencies (GBP, EUR, and USD).
Outside of the UK/EU, Uphold supports:
- 55+ cryptocurrencies.
- 2 environmental assets (the carbon credit token UPCO2, as well as Bitcoin Zero).
- 4 precious metals (gold, platinum, silver, and palladium).
- 27 fiat currencies (including GBP, EUR, USD, CAD).
- 37 US stocks (fractional shares starting at US$1).
The following cryptocurrencies are currently available to buy, sell, and store on Uphold in the UK:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Ripple (XRP)
- Aave (AAVE)
- Basic Attention Token (BAT)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Balancer (BAL)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Compound (COMP)
- DigiByte (DGB)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Polkadot (DOT)
- EOS (EOS)
- Enjin (ENJ)
- The Graph (GRT)
- Hedera Hashgraph (HBAR)
- Chainlink (LINK)
- Polygon (MATIC)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Maker (MKR)
- Synthetix (SNX)
- Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC)
- UMA (UMA)
- Uniswap (UNI)
- Stellar Lumens (XLM)
- 0x (ZRX)
The following stocks are currently available to buy, sell, and store on Uphold:
- Johnsons & Johnsons
- Proctor and Gamble
- SPY (ETF)
- iShares (ETF)
- GDAX (ETF)
- iShares Emerging Markets (ETF)
- iShares MSCI (ETF)
- iShares EFA (ETF)
- iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (ETF)
- SPDR ETF
- SPDR Gold Trust
- Unitedhealth Group
- Danaher corp.
- JPMorgan Chase
- iShares iBox (ETF)
- Exxon Mobil
- Home Depot
- Citi Bank
- Bristol-Meyes Squibb co.
Uphold Payment Methods
UK residents can deposit GBP using the following payment methods:
- UK bank transfer (via Faster Payments Service)
- Credit card
- Debit card
US residents can deposit USD via an ACH or wire transfer, and EU residents can send EUR to Uphold via a SEPA bank transfer. Alternatively, you can fund your account by depositing any supported cryptocurrency into Uphold.
Deposits and withdrawals made with a UK bank transfer are FREE. However, you will pay an additional fee of 3.99% to buy any supported asset using a credit or debit card.
You can find out a little more here.
Uphold’s fees are included in the exchange rate that you’re quoted when you buy or sell anything using its platform (i.e., a spread model).
In the US and Europe, this is what Uphold says you should expect to pay:
|Bitcoin (BTC) & Ethereum (ETH)||0.8% to 1.2%|
|USD, GBP, and EUR||0.2%|
For cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), it’s not clear how much spread will be included in the exchange rate. Uphold only state that it might be “significantly higher”.
I found reports that there were spreads of around 4% on Dogecoin (DOGE) trades. But when I checked, I was being quoted prices that were about 1.6% above the mid-market rate on exchanges like Coinbase Pro.
And although you can calculate the spread included in the exchange rate, it can be a little awkward if you’re going from crypto-to-crypto (e.g., from BAT to DOGE).
You’ll also be charged a fee of $2.99 to withdraw any cryptocurrency (excluding XRP and DASH), plus additional fixed or dynamic fees. Although it’s normal for platforms to pass along transaction fees, an additional fixed fee is a bit strange. See here for details.
Like other cryptocurrency brokers and exchanges, Uphold requires know-your-customer (KYC) verification before you can fully access everything that Uphold has to offer.
One thing I liked about Uphold is how easy it is to open an account and get started.
Unlike some alternatives, the sign-up process didn’t involve a multiple-day validation process. Unless you run into issues, you shouldn’t expect it to take longer than about 10 minutes to complete the whole process.
Uphold requires the following details for verification:
- Current residential address (provable with a utility bill).
- Government-issued ID (passport, national ID, driving license)
- A clear photo of yourself holding these documents.
Once you’ve submitted these documents and they’ve been verified by Uphold, it’ll send you an email with an activation link. You’ll just need to click on the link inside this email to activate your account.
Head over here for information about limits.
Is Uphold Safe?
Upload takes numerous steps to protect customer accounts, funds, and assets:
- Uses advanced security features, like enhanced encryption.
- Performs regular audits and third party due diligence checks (to find any weaknesses in its security system).
- Stores 90% of its customer’s crypto in offline cold storage, with a live update of its asset reserves on its website.
- Currencies on Uphold are insured against theft, up to the amount the company has in reserve.
- Has an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London for precious metals.
To date, there hasn’t been any serious security incident with Uphold. However, a service account was compromised in 2018 – but Uphold maintained that their platform wasn’t hacked.
Head over to this page to find out more.
Uphold Debit Card
The Uphold debit card is a multi-asset debit card that lets you pay for daily transactions using cryptocurrencies, gold, fiat currencies, and equities. This card will be accepted anywhere that Mastercard is normally accepted (50 million+ merchants and ATMs).
Here are some other things I picked out:
- Converts your specified assets in real-time to cover your purchases.
- 1% cashback when you spend fiat currency using the Uphold debit card
- 2% cashback when you spend cryptocurrencies using the Uphold debit card.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Head over to this page to find out more and join their waitlist.
Uphold Alternatives in the UK
One of Uphold’s closest competitors is Coinbase.
Founded in 2013, Coinbase has a similar focus on making it as easy as possible for more people to securely access the crypto-economy. In 2021, they have more than 68 million users across more than 100 countries.
Coinbase’s fee disclosure isn’t as transparent as it used to be. However, I’ve been quoted fees of about 2% (including the spread) when buying more than £200 worth of Bitcoin (BTC). For smaller purchases, fees can be much higher.
Summary: A Good Choice for Beginners
All things considered, Uphold is a solid place to buy Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
Here’s what I liked about it:
- Uphold has a streamlined, easy-to-use web interface (and a great mobile app too).
- The spread included in the Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) exchange rate is competitive (typically between 0.8% and 1.2%).
- You can setup automatic purchases of any supported asset (to dollar-cost average).
On top of this, the ability to convert between different assets (e.g., straight from Dogecoin into Enjin) is not a very common feature. It’s easily the platform’s greatest attribute.
I’m also looking forward to the release of the Uphold debit card in the UK. It seems like a balanced blend of what the Crypto.com Visa Card and Coinbase Card are offering (i.e., cashback, but also real-time conversions of assets to cover purchases).
But while Uphold supports a decent number of cryptocurrencies, its trading platform is quite basic. If you’re after more advanced trading features, then you’ll want to check out my list of the best cryptocurrency exchanges for UK residents instead.
But if you’re not bothered about that and you’re just looking for somewhere to easily buy Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies? Uphold is a cryptocurrency platform that’s well worth considering.Find Out More
Thanks for checking out this Uphold review!
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