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How to buy crypto in California

How to buy crypto in California

California was among the first states to allow residents to use cryptocurrency. With lenient regulations and a crypto-friendly business environment, Californians are poised to take advantage of this burgeoning industry.

How to buy cryptocurrency in California?

While California is home to a large number of Bitcoin ATMs — with more than 1,000 in the city of Los Angeles alone — the most convenient way to buy cryptocurrency is likely from the comfort of your own home.

Step 1. Sign up with a crypto exchange

Before signing up for a particular exchange, consider which coins are available and the trading fees charged.

You will need to verify your identity through the platform’s know-your-customer (KYC) process. Depending on the exchange, this can include uploading pictures of your government-issued identification, entering your Social Security number or even taking a selfie.

Our top pick: SoFi Invest Crypto

Minimum Deposit
Fiat Currency
  • Fees are transparent
  • Well-suited for beginners
  • 30 coins listed
  • Lots of educational materials
  • 1.25% crypto fee
  • Limited in altcoins
  • Limited customer support
  • $10 minimum crypto investment
SoFi — founded in 2011 — isn't a traditional cryptocurrency exchange, but instead functions as a brokerage. It utilizes Coinbase to make its crypto transactions on users' behalf. SoFi requires a $10 minimum deposit for crypto, many educational materials, a 1.25% crypto trading fee, and lists 30 cryptocurrencies including BTC and ETH. SoFi's investors can help users when investing, and if you get a membership, there are extra perks.
Deposit Methods Bank transfer (ACH)
Debit card
Wire transfer
Rollover or personal check
Deposit Fees N/A
Withdrawal Fees N/A
Trading Fees 1.25%

Step 2. Download a cryptocurrency wallet

Most exchanges have a custodial wallet for your coins and tokens, which means they retain control of the private keys associated with your assets. If you want to take full ownership of your crypto, you need to purchase or download a non-custodial wallet.

Non-custodial wallets come in hardware and software varieties. Hardware wallets, like the ones offered by Ledger, are generally considered the safest. These wallets keep your coins on a physical device that stays disconnected from the internet.

Software wallets, on the other hand, can be downloaded onto your computer or mobile device and allow for internet connectivity. Popular software wallets include the Coinbase Wallet and Trust Wallet.

Step 3. Choose a coin or token.

Once you’ve signed up for a crypto exchange and purchased or downloaded a digital wallet, you need to choose which cryptocurrencies you’re most interested in. As of February 2022, the most popular coins in California are Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

Step 4. Purchase your crypto.

Now that you’ve chosen the coins you want to buy, connect your bank account to the platform. Alternatively, you may be able to purchase crypto with your credit card.

Crypto coins in California

From Aave (AAVE) to Zilliqa (ZIL), all your favorite crypto protocols are available in the Golden State. If you see the coins you’re interested in on your chosen exchange, you can legally purchase them. The following list includes some of the most popular cryptocurrencies available to California residents.

Where do I buy crypto in California

The following list of exchanges consists of three of the most popular options used by Californians:

eToro USA LLC Cryptocurrency Trading

Finder Rating: 4 / 5 ★★★★★

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% App 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 in 2018. Its native token, Coin (CRO), can be used to lower fees on the exchange. 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.

Bitstamp Cryptocurrency Exchange

Bitstamp was founded in 2011 and was the first fully licensed Bitcoin exchange in the world. The exchange aims to bring secure crypto access to all corners of the globe. As of February 2022, Bitstamp carries over 40 cryptocurrencies, including Stellar (XLM) Dai (DAI) and Aave (AAVE).

Fees vary for transactions on the platform and are based on the user's 30-day trading volume. Generally, fees range between 0% and .5% for trades.

Coinbase Digital Currency Exchange

Finder Rating: 4 / 5 ★★★★★

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.

Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange

Finder Rating: 4 / 5 ★★★★★

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.

California laws and regulations around crypto

With Silicon Valley located in the heart of the state, California is home to a number of technological industries. As such, the population is usually ahead of the curve with the latest technological trends. Cryptocurrency is no exception.

California’s legislature has passed the largest number of bills concerning cryptocurrency in the country. Due to the number of lenient regulations, Californians can use cryptocurrency as freely as almost any other state. Businesses, similarly, are free to accept crypto as payment.

Consumer protection laws have further bolstered confidence in transacting with digital assets. Recently, the state enacted a bill giving the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation increased power to supervise the industry.

Is Bitcoin legal in California?

Yes, you can buy and sell Bitcoin in California. You can also buy BTC from Bitcoin ATMs in California. Before you head out and buy any BTC, make sure you’re using an exchange that’s licensed in the US and in your state.

Can I use Binance in California?

You can use in California.

The cryptocurrency exchange Binance is not legal in the United States, but the branch is accessible in most states, including California.

California cryptocurrency taxes

In California, the sale of cryptocurrency is treated as property. Therefore, money earned from the sale of crypto is subject to capital gains tax. For this reason, it’s important that Californians keep records of their cryptocurrency trades for tax purposes.

Capital gains in California are treated much like the federal system for taxation — with a couple of caveats. First, California makes no distinction between short- or long-term holdings. Also, capital gains are taxed at the same rate as your income.

Know before you buy crypto in California

Cryptocurrency consumers should be aware of the risks associated with their investment. As a volatile asset class, cryptocurrencies are subject to large price swings. There is also a risk of scams occurring in the market.

The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation keeps a current publicly available list of consumer alerts for the crypto industry. The list includes companies that may be engaging in fraudulent activity.

The department recommends exercising caution before engaging with any cryptocurrency solicitation.

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