Those traders who are interested in many different asset classes know cash is often the only way to go from one asset to another.
Once you fund a brokerage account with cash, you can buy gold, silver, and stocks. But if you also want to trade cryptocurrencies, you have to fund a crypto exchange account. And if you want to trade national currencies, you may need to open an account with a third provider. It’s a bit of a disparate system.
Uphold has a simple solution to trading multiple assets — open one account and trade multiple assets without making a trip back to cash. This means trading directly across assets. In this article, we’ll see what Uphold offers and the costs that are involved.
- Trade directly from one asset class to another
- Spend using gold, crypto, or stocks using your Uphold Card
- Withdraw funds to a bank, crypto exchange, or private wallet
Fiat Currencies: 27
Precious Metals: 4
U.S. Stocks: 50
Fiat Currencies: 0.20%
Cryptocurrencies: 0.65% to 3.95%
Precious Metals: 3%
U.S. Stocks: 1%
Who Is Uphold?
Uphold (formerly Bitreserve) is a trading platform that allows cross-asset trading. It was founded in 2014 (i.e., name changed) and is based in San Francisco, CA. Its founder is Halsey Minor, who is no longer with the company. The CEO is J.P Thieriot. Uphold has raised $15.5 million through a Series B.
Uphold is a global platform that allows users to convert between fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, and a handful of commodities and (mostly tech-related) stocks. "Think about it. If you’re a Venezuelan, you’ve probably never had access to those securities in the past" Thieriot said in an interview with The Politic. "Now, you’ll be able to access them from your mobile device, pretty much anywhere but the OFAC countries."
At the time of the interview, Thieriot said that Uphold had 1.5 million clients in 182 countries and was growing at a rate of about two thousand users per day.
What Do They Offer?
Uphold provides a trading platform that lets users go directly from one asset class to another. For example, users can trade from gold to Bitcoin or DASH to XRP. And fractional shares of stock can be purchased using cash, gold, or cryptocurrencies
Automated trading is another feature of Uphold. This just means that you can invest on a schedule, buying pre-selected assets. Automated trading results in a dollar-cost averaging approach.
Uphold also allows limit orders for trading. This allows you to buy or sell an asset at a defined target price. You can also set how long you want to keep the limit order open for, or cancel it at any time.
One of Uphold's biggest selling points is the variety of assets that it's able to support. As of writing, Uphold clients are able to trade the the following:
The Uphold Debit Card allows you to spend using any asset that you hold in your account. You will also earn 1% CashBack and 2% CryptoBack. There are no foreign transaction fees and the card is accepted anywhere that MasterCard is accepted.
You’ll get both a chipped physical card and a virtual card. Even though Uphold converts an asset into cash behind the scenes, the transaction is instant. You won't have to wait when swiping your cart at the checkout. Note that ACH deposits take up to three business days to settle.
Uphold also provides a few services that often are unavailable with traditional banks. These include:
Uphold also says that the rates it charges on Forex are some of the most affordable that you'll find anywhere (starting at 0.2%).
Are There Any Fees?
The spread is how Uphold makes money on transactions. It's the difference between the bid x ask. Uphold says its spread is typically 0.8% to 1.2% on BTC and ETH and 1.8% in the U.S. and Europe.
For other digital currencies, Uphold warns that "Spreads can be significantly higher for low-liquidity cryptos and tokens...Check rates at Preview before you trade." Currently, spreads for these other currencies and commodities range from 0.65% to 3.95%.
It does offer a "typical" spread for its other supported assets. These are:
- Precious metals: 3% (on top of the bid-ask spread of Uphold's supplier)
- Fiat currencies: 0.2% (between major currencies such as USD, EUR, and GBP
- U.S. equities: 1% (the spread is a bit higher during after-market hours)
Uphold doesn't charge any fees for bank deposits or withdrawals. However, a 3.99% fee is charged whenever funds are added using a credit card or debit card.
The Uphold debit card has a one-time fee of $9.95. Withdrawals are $2.50. The daily cash withdrawal is $1,500 and $500 per transaction.
0.20% to 3.95%
Up to 1.49%
Supported Fiat Currencies
Supported Precious Metals
What Others Are Saying About Uphold
In the first half of this video from a frustrated Uphold client, he says that he's been unable to withdraw funds for almost 70 days and there’s also a $3.99 withdrawal fee. I’ve read similar complaints about funds being held.
Uphold doesn’t have anything about this in their FAQ. The video also references withdrawal fees but Uphold shows there are no withdrawal fees. I’m not sure how some people are running into holds on their funds or withdrawal fees.
However, the video also says there is no way to contact Uphold. Actually, there are multiple ways to contact Uphold. Just go to Resources > Contact from the top menu. It can’t be any clearer. You can also contact them through any FAQ entry.
In our testing, we found it difficult to get our account approved by passing the KYC and AML screenings - which is something they don't make you do until after you sign up. So, you could theory end up depositing money and then having it trapped due to how they setup their system to make it "easy to open an account".
For whatever reason, we've found Uphold to have the most cumbersome and unreliable process for KYC and AML versus other popular cryptocurrency exchanges.
How Do I Open An Account?
You can visit the Uphold website to open an account. For individuals, the sign-up process is simple and should only take a few minutes to complete. You'll have the option to open a business account as well. However, business account creation can take longer as you may need to provide additional verification documents.
Is My Money Safe?
Funds deposited with Uphold are not FDIC or SIPC insured. If you run into problems trying to get your money out of Uphold, it isn’t clear who else you should contact for help.
Uphold does use encryption on its website. Bank accounts are connected to Uphold through Plaid, which is a financial services industry standard.
While the company shows it is based in San Francisco, the website footer shows it's registered in London. Uphold is licensed in a number of states, which means U.S. laws apply rather than the U.K.
Is It Worth It?
As we alluded to earlier, there are several Youtube videos claiming that Uphold is a scam. We won't go that far. But what we will say is that the Uphold experience may not be as hassle-free as promised -- especially when it comes time to withdraw your funds. As we mentioned, in our testing, we found some frustrating things as well.
Some people, however, have had good experiences with Uphold. Like all cryptocurrency exchanges, customer service is mostly absent. But for those who can look past these issues and want direct cross-asset trading, Uphold is the platform to use.
If minimizing fees is a priority, you may be better off dealing with the hassle of using a different trading account for each asset type. Paying a 1% spread on stocks is a pretty terrible deal when there are so many free stock trading apps available today. And several popular cryptocurrency exchanges offer lower (and clearer) crypto trading fees.
Individual or Business
Typical Trading Fees
Automated Trading Tools
Uphold Card Issuance Fee
Uphold Card Usage Fees
Uphold Card Limits
Customer Service Options
Email or support ticket
Mobile App Availability
iOS and Android
On the Uphold platform, customers can trade between between cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, precious metals, and even some U.S. stocks.
- Easily convert between asset classes
- Spend your funds with the Uphold Card
- Schedule recurring buy or sell orders
- Transaction fees are on the high side
- Some customers have complained about withdrawal delays
- Limited customer service
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.