How to Buy Cryptocurrency in Hawaii

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Ever since cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase terminated its operations in Hawaii in 2018, there have been many questions about where crypto trading in the state is heading. Some have even wondered whether Hawaii bitcoin law has even made cryptocurrency trading illegal. If you’ve been wondering how to buy cryptocurrency in Hawaii, read on.

Is Bitcoin now illegal in Hawaii?

Certainly not. Bitcoin Mining, owning, trading and doing business with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are still legal in Hawaii. The state gets a lot of revenue from tourists visiting from Asia, among who cryptocurrency use is fairly widespread, so it makes sense for Hawaii to not ban crypto use. There are even several bitcoin ATMs installed. So, no. It’s not illegal by any means.

So what happened with Coinbase?

Coinbase applied for a license to operate in Hawaii as early as 2014 and began operations in the state soon after. However, Hawaii cryptocurrency laws have changed since then. In late 2017 the Hawaii Division of Financial Institutions announced that new regulations were to be put in place. According to these regulations, any digital currency operator (including crypto exchanges) are required to hold enough reserves to cover all assets held by Hawaii residents. These reserves would have to be in liquid assets. Since Hawaii doesn’t consider cryptocurrencies as liquid assets, the operator’s reserves would have to be in cash.

As of now, this would mean that for every bitcoin held by a Hawaii resident, Coinbase would have to keep a reserve of 9500 dollars. If 150.000 residents (only 0.1% of the state’s population) hold 1 BTC each, that would mean Coinbase would be forced to keep a reserve of just over 1.4 billion dollars.

Coinbase stated that these regulations are way too harsh and are not practical for any type of currency operator anywhere in the world and they would not be able to comply, so they ceased operations in the state.

Hawaii cryptocurrency laws haven’t made crypto trading in the state illegal. They have just created very impractical conditions for exchanges.

If, after reading the information above, you’re thinking the answer to how to buy cryptocurrency in Hawaii is a solid “you can’t”, then you’re wrong. It’s actually pretty simple. But you won’t be able to use Coinbase. Instead, we’ll use a Coinbase alternative.

Which Coinbase alternatives are there for Hawaii?

There are several crypto exchanges, both US-based and international, that Hawaii residents can use to buy cryptocurrency. Kraken, Bitstamp, Gemini, and Coinmama are all available. Peer-to-peer crypto trading sites such as are also an option. Finally, some e-wallet providers, like Skrill and Uphold offer the option to buy several crypto tokens.

See Also: The best Cryptocurrency Under a Penny Worth Buying

How to buy Cryptocurrency in Hawaii

Let’s assume you want to purchase some Ripple (XRP) tokens. I’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to buy Ripple in Hawaii using Uphold.

1. Creating and funding your Uphold account:

Uphold is actually an e-wallet solution. In this regard, it is similar to PayPal. But unlike its better-known competitor, Uphold also supports cryptocurrency operations. It may not be the option with the lowest transaction fees, but its interface –albeit unusual for a crypto exchange– is very user-friendly and offers fast reliable transactions.

If you don’t have an Uphold account, you can create a free one clicking here. After creating the account you need to verify it to get the most out of your Uphold. Verification is easy and you only need to provide a photo of a government-issued ID and a selfie.

When you log in to your account you will see several “cards” on your dashboard. These cards are like the different wallet addresses you have on other exchanges, so you have a “Dollar card”, a “Bitcoin card”, a “Ripple card” and so on.

How to buy cryptocurrency in Hawaii

  1. Our first step will be to fund your USD card. Click on “Add funds”
  2. There are four options for adding funds to your USD card: from a US bank account, from a Euro bank account via SEPA, from a credit/debit card or with crypto. Click on “from U.S. Bank Account”.
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  3. Fill in the required information, accept the terms and conditions and click “Create”. Note that the “Name this account” field is so you can select a name that is easy for you to identify, in case you link multiple bank accounts to your uphold account. The name on the bank account itself must match the name on your uphold account. Once the account is linked, you can select it as an option when adding funds to your USD card. Transfers take about 5 business days to complete.
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2. Buying cryptocurrency with USD on Uphold

  1. Once the funds are in your card it’s time to purchase your Ripple tokens. Let’s suppose you want to purchase 20 dollars worth of XRP. First, you must also create the cards for the tokens you want to buy. To create your Ripple card click on “Add card/currency” from your dashboard. Give your card a name, select “XRP” from the drop-down list and then click “Create”.
    buy crypto with uphold
  2. Now head back to your dashboard, click on your USD card, like before, and you will be taken to the same screen where you linked your account from. But now, instead of clicking “Add funds”, click on “Send to Uphold Card”. The following screen will appear:

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  3. Select your Ripple card from the drop-down list. Then type in the amount you wish to purchase (in USD). You will be presented with the current rate, fee and final credited amount. If everything is satisfactory, click “Confirm” and the transaction will complete in seconds. Congrats! You have now bought your Ripple.

Going through crypto exchanges like Kraken or finding a peer on are also pretty straightforward procedures.

In conclusion…

Even if cryptocurrency laws have created conditions that some may find impractical or too restrictive, crypto trading is still totally legal in Hawaii. You may not be able to use Coinbase after they pulled out of the state, but there are several fine options available to you. E-wallet providers like Uphold are a good place to start.

Let us know if you have any questions about buying crypto in Hawaii!

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How do you sell uphold?


Great stuff but how would I get all the coins in HI. off Teeka’s list of 5coins to $5,000,000 ?
None of your suggestions won’t let me have all
these from one place or any. If you are me here bar leaving the State of HI. What do I’d do ? How can I get these coins, now.


help me please.hawaii resident as well?


For Hawaii residents, would your recommend Kraken or Uphold? If in a retirement account would buying GBTC be a viable option or still not recommended?


What other sites can I use to buy VET if I’m located in Hawaii

Melvin Takahashi

I am a señor citizen with no knowledge of cryptocurrency. I need a cryptocurrency tutor to help me set up an account and wallet with an exchange. Do you know anyone in Honolulu, HI who can help me?

Dr. Mel


Aloha Jesus,

Thank you for this wonderful article. I just downloaded uphold and got an account on local I have an account on kraken but it says you have to have experience? I’m a beginner. Can you please tell me how I buy Ripple (xrp) with local bitcoin. It looks like I can only buy and sell bitcoin?

Thank you kindly,


Thank you kindly for the informative and quick response! Best to you!

Travis Davis

Hi Jesus!

Months later I am still trying to figure this out. Idk what I was talking about in above comments. I re-read the article and now I am starting fresh with to transfer cash funds to buy XRP directly on the site. My cash transfer failed and now I am waiting to hear back from support? We will see how it all works out.
I also asked to join the FB group.


Travis Davis

Hi Jesus,

I was finally able to buy Bitcoin on Thanks! I went to Binance to buy XRP but Hawaii wasn’t on the list when I tried to Register. Just letting you know and also wondering if you have any other exchanges that might work in the state of Hawaii.



I tried to add funds to my Uphold platform as you directed but the transactions fail. I have tried from both a credit and debit card . Can you help me understand why?


Same thing happened to me. The problem may be your bank or card issuer declining the transaction due to Uphold not being a U.S. based company. Its a security precaution to protect you against potential fraud.

You will need to contact your bank and have them authorize the transaction then log back into Uphold and try again.

If the transaction is still failing then you will need to contact Uphold Support.

Last edited 7 months ago by Mike

Hi!, how can I buy Litecoins if I live in Hawaii?


Thank you!

Bradley E.

There is ATM at Ala Moana japan village walk for bitcoin. I purchased about 3.75 BTC there. Really convenient!:)

Last edited 7 months ago by Bradley E.

You bought $40,000 worth of bitcoin with USD in Japan ATM?

Kristy copp

Yes, I’ve been racking my brain for weeks and weeks, hours and hours…today from 8 am now it’s 1340… trying to make a simple bitcoin purchase…I live in hawaii

Jordon Gomez

How you doing sir??? Just had a quick question. If I purchased 100 xrp coins on Uphold, do I just leave it in there???

Uphold hidden fees rob you

Uphold is such a rip off with their bitcoin transfer charges now it’s like 20 bucks a transaction just because they greedy and charge a % of whatever bitcoin is at the time (57k currently)….. experts see bitcoin going to 400k-1m so once bitcoin gets to 100k area they gonna charge 50 bucks per transaction…. wake the hell up you greedy assholes…. and another thing lol don’t voice your concern to their “support group” because they will put your account on hold for how ever long they feel because really really that’s the only thing they can do other than that they have to ask their “specialist” on questions not of their minimum pay grade level


I am in Maui,HI. I tried to buy crypto on LocalBitcoins and this is what I got “×
Unfortunately we are not serving customers located in your current location.”
Any suggestion?
Thank you,

Matthew Spataro

Try using a VPN to switch your location to a different country (NordVPN works perfectly fine).


Thank you!