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How to buy cryptocurrency in the USA

Steps to buy cryptocurrency in the states, plus laws and regulations.

Disclaimer: This page is not financial advice or an endorsement of digital assets, providers or services. Digital assets are volatile and risky, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Potential regulations or policies can affect their availability and services provided. Talk with a financial professional before making a decision. Finder or the author may own cryptocurrency discussed on this page.

The biggest hurdle with crypto in the US is that all states can vary in their regulations surrounding digital currencies. Generally, states require you to use a licensed exchange, some restrict specific coins and many allow for Bitcoin ATMs. The good news is that when you learn about your home state’s regulations and how to navigate them, you can more easily navigate the crypto investment space.

Cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency exchanges are legal in the USA. However, there are state-specific regulations that may apply to you.

For example, New York state has some of the strictest crypto regulations, while Texas has very few restrictions. How you go about buying crypto and what exchange(s) you use depends on where you live.

Although, know your customer (KYC) requirements are universal across the country. When purchasing cryptocurrency in the states, exchanges are required to make customers complete KYC forms — which means you’re required to verify your identity with date of birth, full name, address, social security number and more. These regulations are in place to prevent money laundering and other money-related crimes.

How to buy cryptocurrency in USA

Buying cryptocurrency in the US boils down to three basic steps.

Step 1: Choose a cryptocurrency exchange

The first step in buying cryptocurrency is choosing a licensed cryptocurrency exchange in your state.

A crypto exchange is a site or platform that allows you to buy and trade cryptocurrencies, or coins. The large majority of exchanges allow you to trade one coin for another, such as Bitcoin for Litecoin. Exchanges can support a variety of deposit methods, such as bank deposits, credit or debit card deposits and sometimes even Apple Pay.

Not every exchange does business in every state. And there are a handful of crypto exchanges — such as Gemini — that are available in multiple states and countries. Gemini is available in more than 60 countries, 49 US states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.

Some exchanges aren’t legal in the USA at all, such as KuCoin and Binance. For Binance, you must use their US site (Binance.us). While looking for an exchange, first make sure it’s legal in the United States and licensed in your state.

Step 2: Get a crypto wallet

After you’ve found an exchange you can use in your home state, choose a compatible crypto wallet to store your digital assets.

A crypto wallet — sometimes called a digital wallet or a Web3 wallet — is where you store your cryptocurrency and tokens. Your wallet also serves as proof of ownership, with your wallet’s public address tied to your owned digital assets. Having your assets in your personal crypto wallet proves that it’s yours.

Choosing a digital wallet starts with your preferences. For many, a software wallet with a browser extension is the easiest way to manage and store assets. MetaMask and WalletConnect are popular software crypto wallets that are supported on various crypto exchanges, NFT marketplaces and blockchain applications.

There are also hardware wallets, like Ledger, that plug into your computer and are only online when they’re on, making them a little more secure than software options.

The wallet you choose depends on your answer to three main questions:

  • Do you plan on using blockchain applications? Software wallets (hot storage) like MetaMask and Trustwallet are solid options, and are widely accepted on marketplaces and crypto games.
  • Are you going to hold your cryptocurrency long-term? If you plan on holding onto your cryptocurrency for the long haul as an investment, then a hardware — cold storage — wallet might be the route to go since they’re generally the safer option.
  • Are you new to crypto? A software wallet is a solid choice if you’re new to crypto, since software options are almost always free to use and download, and are simple to use in your browser.

Step 3: Research crypto coins

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies in the world — currently an estimated 19,000 in circulation with more in development.

Of course, there are big-name coins that you may have already heard of, such as the original Bitcoin (BTC), the widely accepted and popular ether (ETH), and the lord of memecoins Dogecoin (DOGE). But just because these are the most well-known coins doesn’t mean you have to invest in them.

Some other top market cap coins include:

  • Tether (USDT)
  • USD Coin (USDC)
  • BNB (BNB)
  • XRP (XRP)
  • Solana (SOL)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Shiba Inu (SHIB)
  • Cardano (ADA)
  • Polygon (MATIC)
  • Binance USD (BUSD)

Here are four things to keep in mind while researching coins:

  1. Profit is never guaranteed. Even if you choose to invest in Bitcoin — known as the original cryptocurrency — there’s still no guarantee that you’ll come out on top. All crypto coins are a speculative investment and can appreciate and depreciate at any moment.
  2. Consider use cases. Some coins, such as Cardano, are invented for specific purposes like identity management, traceability and simplifying data collection. Coins and their blockchains that have a specific purpose and actual uses may be more worth the investment — but remember tip number one.
  3. Read the coin’s whitepaper. A whitepaper is an informational document either the coin or blockchain developers issue. It mainly advocates for why the coin is valuable, outlines its use-cases and how the coin works. A whitepaper can help you make an informed decision.
  4. Education. Crypto is still a new(ish) space, and many of the educational materials out there are catered toward crypto enthusiasts. However, reading up on reliable crypto news sources, browsing whitepapers or watching informative videos can help you better understand cryptocurrency before you invest.

To learn more about cryptocurrency, check out our guide on cryptocurrency and what it can be used for.

Where do I buy crypto in the USA?

Cryptocurrency can be bought at cryptocurrency exchanges, brokerages or Bitcoin ATMs in the US.

  • Cryptocurrency exchanges. Buy and own crypto assets. Tend to offer the most variety in terms of coin listings, and more flexibility with your owned assets. Examples include Coinbase, Gemini.
  • Crypto brokers. A broker is a middleman who can help you arrange cryptocurrency investments, such as eToro and Robinhood. These brokerages buy crypto on your behalf.
  • Bitcoin ATMs. Typically incurs more fees, but may be a good option for those new to buying cryptocurrency or for those only interested in buying Bitcoin with physical cash. Many states have these ATMs available where you can insert cash into the machine and have the Bitcoin transferred to the wallet address or account of your choice.

Cryptocurrency exchanges and brokerages are plentiful and can vary in fees, coin listings, deposit methods and supported wallets.

Finder Award Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange

5
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Based in the United States and founded in 2011, Kraken is a popular choice for many crypto enthusiasts Lists 87 cryptocurrencies, including BTC, ETH, DOGE and ADA. You can expect these fees:

  1. 0.9% fee for buying stablecoins with another stablecoin or USD
  2. Processing fee of $0.25+3.75% fee for card purchases and digital wallet payments
  3. 0.5% online banking processing fee.

Using the Buy Crypto Widget incurs a 1.5% fee per transaction. Using Kraken Pro can result in lower fees.

Finder Award eToro USA LLC Cryptocurrency Trading

4
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eToro is a multi-asset investment platform. Started in 2007, the platform is built on social collaboration and lets customers copy the trades of popular investors. The exchange offers a range of cryptocurrencies, including Polkadot (DOT) and Filecoin (FIL). Users can also trade with a demo account, allowing them to learn the platform and practice crypto-trading strategies without risking real money.

The eToro exchange charges 'round-trip' spreads when buying crypto assets. The spread covers the buy-and-sell side of the transaction and varies based on the asset being purchased. Current spreads vary between .75% and 2.90%

Crypto.com App

Crypto.com bills itself as the world's fastest-growing app and includes a large selection of cryptocurrencies. The exchange launched under the name Monaco in 2016 and changed to crypto.com in 2018. Its native token, Crypto.com Coin (CRO), can be used to lower fees on the exchange.

Crypto.com charges maker and taker fees for cryptocurrency trades. The fees vary depending on customer tier levels. Tiers are adjusted daily and are based on a customer's individual trading volumes incurred over the past 30 days.

Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange

4
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Gemini was founded in 2015 and operates as a global digital asset exchange and New York trust company. The platform is available in all 50 states and boasts a number of security features, including insurance against exchange hacks. Gemini carries over 90 cryptocurrencies. Some altcoins available are Cosmos (ATOM), Maker (MKR) and Dogecoin (DOGE).

Gemini's fees are somewhat higher than those charged on other exchanges. The platform charges as much as 1.49% on transactions over $200.

Okcoin Cryptocurrency Exchange

Based out of China and launched in 2013, OKcoin is known as one of the largest crypto exchanges — it's available in over 190 countries to date. Its claim to fame is its low fee structure, charging less in trading fees than many other exchanges. OKcoin lists over 50 cryptocurrencies, has a convenient mobile app and bank transfer deposits are free. It's a good choice for beginners and experts. However, it's not available in all U.S. states.

Paybis Cryptocurrency Exchange

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Paybis is a global cryptocurrency broker based out of the UK, founded in 2014. It's supported in over 180 countries, supports 42 fiat currencies and lists over 30 cryptocurrencies. While you have hundreds of buying options, you can only sell BTC on the platform. For payment, the fees vary, and there are high fees for fiat transactions. Paybis is known for its responsive customer service and supports nine different languages. It may be best suited for beginner traders looking to buy crypto with fiat currency, but it's not supported in all U.S. states.

Uphold - Digital Asset Platform

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Based in Silicon Valley and founded in 2013, boasts 7M+ users and serves 150+ countries. Trade between cryptocurrencies, precious metals, US equities and national currencies. Offers 76 currencies that include BTC, BCH, ADA, ETH and DOGE. Supports account funding from banks, cards and other crypto wallets. Deposit fee only on bank transfer wires — $20 for deposits of up to $5,000.

Paxful

Paxful is a peer-to-peer crypto marketplace, founded in 2015 and based out of New York. Paxful is a smaller exchange, only listing three cryptocurrencies: BTC, ETH and USDT. However, it supports well over 140 fiat currencies and a huge variety of payment methods, including gift cards, debit and credit cards, crypto wallets and even Apple Pay. Paxful is available in over 100 countries, including the U.S., but excludes a few states.

CEX.IO Cryptocurrency Exchange

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Marketplace founded in 2013, extending from London to the US in 2019. Cex.io allows you to fund an account with ACH, credit cards, wire deposits. It lists 18 cryptocurrencies that include BTC, BCH, ETH and DOGE.

Robinhood Crypto

4
★★★★★

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Founded in 2013 as a traditional investment app, you can now buy up to seven cryptocurrencies through Robinhood, including BTC, ETH, LTC and DOGE. No fees to buy and sell crypto and no account minimum. But you can't withdraw crypto funds from your Robinhood account.

Finder Award Coinbase Digital Currency Exchange

4
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Started in 2012, Coinbase aims to build the crypto-economy with its beginner friendly platform. Over 70 million users from over 100 countries use Coinbase.

Coinbase has over 80 cryptocurrencies available, including Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu (SHIB). Transaction fees are calculated using a combination of factors, including your payment method, the order size and varying market conditions, like volatility.

Selling your cryptocurrency in the USA

Sell your cryptocurrency in the US in two ways: through peer-to-peer transactions, or more commonly, at licensed cryptocurrency exchanges.

Crypto exchanges can also allow you to trade your owned crypto for another, called pairs. On an exchange, trading pairs look like this: USDT/ETH or BNB/WBNB.

Coins in the USA

There are many coins available to US residents, each carrying different uses and availability. The coins available to you depend on your home state and what exchanges are licensed.

For example, New York has hefty restrictions on what exchanges you can use, therefore restricting the coins available to you.

Where can I buy Bitcoin (BTC) in the USA?

You can buy Bitcoin (BTC) in the US on multiple exchanges. BTC is often called the original cryptocurrency. It’s one of the most widely available coins and is listed on nearly every cryptocurrency exchange. Popular exchanges include Crypto.com, Binance.US, Gemini and Coinbase. However, Binance.US is not available in a few states like California and Hawaii.

How to buy Bitcoin

Where can I buy Dogecoin (DOGE) in the USA?

You can buy the open-source memecoin Dogecoin (DOGE) in the US on multiple exchanges, such as Binance.us, Coinbase and Gemini. DOGE originally started as a joke and is based on the popular meme featuring a Shiba Inu dog — and the coin has an unlimited supply.

How to buy Dogecoin

Where can I buy Ethereum (ETH) in the USA?

Ether (ETH), Etheruem’s native asset, is available on most exchanges licensed in the US. Ethereum is one of the most popular blockchains currently with multiple blockchain applications being built on it, including NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible and dozens of blockchain games. You can buy ETH on most exchanges and brokerages including eToro, Gemini, Crypto.com and Kraken. Know that the exchange Kraken isn’t licensed in New York state.

How to buy Ethereum

Where can I buy Ripple (XRP) in the USA?

You can buy Ripple (XRP) on a handful of US-licensed exchanges. XRP is the native currency of the Ripple network. You can buy XRP on Bitstamp and Crypto.com. XRP is a little harder to find on popular exchanges (compared to ETH and BTC), and even Gemini doesn’t list XRP at the time of writing. Additionally, Crypto.com is not licensed in the state of New York.

How to buy XRP

Where can I buy Uniswap (UNI) in the USA?

Uniswap (UNI) can be bought in the US. Uniswap is a cryptocurrency exchange, and UNI is the platform’s native governance token. US residents can buy it from exchanges such as Uniswap, Kraken and Gemini.

How to buy Uniswap

Laws and regulations around crypto

US residents are required to verify their identity through KYC requirements, and cryptocurrency exchanges must get their state-level money transmitter licensing, also known as MTL.

For an exchange to get its MTL, it must have a minimum net worth and surety bond — a contract that ensures the exchange can meet its obligations. Essentially, crypto exchanges must prove they have enough net worth and be able to meet client obligations before they can get their MTL and allow customers to buy and sell crypto in the state.

Other states or territories, such as New York and Puerto Rico, have additional requirements for crypto businesses. For example, New York requires cryptocurrency exchanges and some crypto businesses to get a BitLicense, instated in 2015.

The good news is as a consumer, if you visit a cryptocurrency exchange that’s not licensed in the USA or your state, the platform is likely to notify you of that based on your IP address, usually in the form of a pop-up window. For example, if you were to visit Binance on its main site, the platform would offer to redirect you to the US-licensed platform.

USA cryptocurrency taxes

Cryptocurrency is considered property and is taxed as such. The IRS issued Notice 2014-21, 2014-16 I.R.B. 938 which states that cryptocurrency (referred to as virtual currency) is treated as property.

When you sell your crypto, you must “recognize any capital gain or loss on the sale, subject to any limitations on the deductibility of capital losses,” according to the IRS.

When you file your taxes, you have to report your crypto with Form 1099-NEC.

What to know before you buy crypto in the USA

If you’re unsure that a cryptocurrency exchange is legal in your home state, or if you’re feeling iffy around crypto in general, here are some quick tips:

  • KYC is a must. A legitimate cryptocurrency exchange should require you to complete KYC requirements. If an exchange allows you to buy and sell crypto without completing any KYC steps, the exchange may not be authorized in the country or state you live in.
  • Crypto is a speculative investment. Any exchange or crypto business that reports “guaranteed” earnings or something similar may be a scam. Any given coin’s value can fluctuate by the second; even the most quote-unquote stable ones, like ETH or BTC.
  • Never give out your crypto wallet’s info. Phishing scams are rampant in the crypto space, and scammers may try to get your crypto wallet’s private keys to take your held digital assets. Never give out your wallet’s private key or passphrase to anyone.

Whether products shown are available to you is subject to individual provider sole approval and discretion in accordance with the eligibility criteria and T&Cs on the provider website.

Name Product Deposit methods Fiat currencies Cryptocurrencies Offer Disclaimer Link
eToro Cryptocurrency Trading
eToro Cryptocurrency Trading
Bank transfer, Credit card, Debit card, Neteller, Skrill

18

78

Disclaimer: Cryptoasset investing is highly volatile and unregulated in the UK and some EU countries. No consumer protection. Tax on profits may apply.
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Binance Cryptocurrency Exchange (Not available to US users)
Bank transfer, Cryptocurrency

1

369

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KuCoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
KuCoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card, PayPal, P2P

50

743

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Capital at risk

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Bybit Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bybit Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card, P2P

73

279

Disclaimer: Highly volatile investment product. Your capital is at risk.
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Gate.io Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card

8

1607

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Capital at risk

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Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, SWIFT

8

222

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Capital at risk

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OKX Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Cryptocurrency, iDEAL, PayPal, POLi, SEPA, Faster Payments (FPS)

35

338

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Capital at risk

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Uphold
Uphold
Bank transfer (ACH), Credit card, Debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay

27

237

Capital at risk

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Paybis Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Debit card, Neteller

42

373

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US residents: Restricted in the following states - NY, CT, NM, WA, HI, AL, VT, FL, AK, NV.
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Bitstamp Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card, SEPA, Faster Payments (FPS)

3

90

Capital at risk

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Coinmama Cryptocurrency Marketplace
Credit card, Fedwire, SEPA, Google Pay, SWIFT, Bank card

6

15

Capital at risk

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OFFER
Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer (ACH), Cryptocurrency, Debit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, SWIFT

7

152

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Crypto.com App
Bank transfer, Credit card, Cryptocurrency, Debit card, PayPal, Wire transfer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, SWIFT

31

384

Capital at risk

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Bybit Cryptocurrency Exchange

Bybit Cryptocurrency Exchange logo
  • Offers leverage and derivative trading
  • Supports EUR, GBP and CHF
  • Licensed to operate in all European countries
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Disclaimer: Highly volatile investment product. Your capital is at risk.

Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange

Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange logo
  • Large selection of cryptocurrencies
  • Low fees for active traders
  • Pleasant UI for new traders
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KuCoin Cryptocurrency Exchange

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  • Buy, sell and trade over 700 crypto assets
  • Supports 10 Asian fiat currencies
  • Offers crypto futures trading
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Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange

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  • Buy, sell and trade over 200 crypto assets
  • Licensed to operate in 17 jurisdictions in Oceania
  • Supports AUD
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Binance Cryptocurrency Exchange (Not available to US users)

Binance Cryptocurrency Exchange (Not available to US users) logo
  • Supports over 300 crypto assets
  • Binance Pay enables users spend their crypto
  • Binance P2P supports multiple African fiat currencies
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Binance Cryptocurrency Exchange (Not available to US users)

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  • Supports over 300 crypto assets
  • Binance Pay works with Credencial Payments to support crypto payments
  • Binance P2P supports five Latin American fiat currencies
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Bybit Cryptocurrency Exchange

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Written by

Bethany Hickey

Bethany Hickey is the banking editor and personal finance expert at Finder, specializing in banking, lending, insurance, and crypto. Bethany’s expertise in personal finance has garnered recognition from esteemed media outlets, such as Nasdaq, MSN, Yahoo Finance, GOBankingRates, SuperMoney, AOL and Newsweek. Her articles offer practical financial strategies to Americans, empowering them to make decisions that meet their financial goals. Her past work includes articles on generational spending and saving habits, lending, budgeting and managing debt. Before joining Finder, she was a content manager where she wrote hundreds of articles and news pieces on auto financing and credit repair for CarsDirect, Auto Credit Express and The Car Connection, among others. Bethany holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan-Flint, and was poetry editor for the university’s Qua Literary and Fine Arts Magazine. See full profile

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