Buying and selling cryptocurrencies have become easy using online exchanges and investing platforms. But spending those cryptos on day-to-day or larger purchases has been a challenge until recently when companies started offering crypto debit cards.
What Are Crypto Debit Cards?
Crypto debit cards are similar to other debit cards, but they let individuals spend their crypto holdings. Retailers have been slow to accept cryptocurrencies because the exchange rates and technology are complicated, and they don’t want to take the risk of price volatility.
How Do Crypto Debit Cards Work?
Crypto debit cards convert all types of crypto into US dollars and other fiat currencies so that card owners can use their cards anywhere.
Crypto debit cards allow consumers to pre-load crypto onto the card using a mobile app or website. The card issuer converts the currency into dollars, either at the point of transaction or when the cardholder adds to the balance.
As with traditional debit cards, crypto debit card owners can get cash out of ATMs, and make online or in-person purchases. It doesn’t matter whether the retailer accepts crypto, because the transaction on their end takes place in dollars. Many popular crypto debit cards have partnerships with Visa or Mastercard, so the cards work at any retailer who accepts their cards.
Each crypto debit card has different features, including fees and transaction limits, and support for different types of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and others.
Some countries, including Thailand, Singapore, and the Czech Republic, have crypto ATMs, which you can use to convert local money into crypto, such as Bitcoin.
Pros and Cons of Cryptocurrency Debit Cards
There are several benefits to having a crypto debit card, but there are some drawbacks as well.
Crypto Debit Card Pros
• Crypto holders can conveniently move funds to a crypto wallet for their debit card and spend them whenever they are doing their normal shopping or withdraw cash from ATMs, allowing them to avoid the hassle of dealing with a crypto exchange for everyday transactions.
• International travelers who use a crypto debit may avoid high exchange rates between currencies. By using their debit card, the crypto converts automatically into local currency.
• While crypto debit cards have fees, they tend to be lower than traditional debit card fees. That’s especially true now, while the industry is new and card companies want to incentivize people to sign up for their cards.
• Many Bitcoin debit cards support Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay for added convenience.
• Some crypto debit cards offer additional perks such as cashback on transactions or access to airport lounges.
• Individuals without bank accounts may use crypto debit cards, expanding debit card accessibility.
• In addition to physical crypto debit cards, some companies offer virtual cards that users can rely on for online purchases.
Cons of Crypto Debit Cards
• The value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can fluctuate dramatically. This can make it a challenge for consumers to decide whether and when to use cryptos for buying things like a cup of coffee or even a vacation. They constantly have to weigh whether they think they would rather hold onto the cryptocurrencies as a long-term investment or sell them to purchase something.
Recommended: Why is Bitcoin So Volatile?
• Not every crypto debit card supports every cryptocurrency, so you may have fewer options, depending on your preferred coin.
• In some cases, crypto debit card companies require card owners to stake a particular cryptocurrency in order to get a card or take advantage of perks. That happens more often with smaller crypto tokens issued by the card company, rather than with larger currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
How to Choose a Crypto Debit Card
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best cryptocurrency debit card for you. These factors include:
Some crypto debit cards only support Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other major cryptos while others work with multiple cryptocurrencies including altcoins like Litecoin.
When Conversion Takes Place
Some cards convert crypto to fiat when the user loads crypto onto the card, whereas others convert it when the purchase occurs. The option that you prefer will depend on how you expect the value of your crypto to change.
If you think it will enter a crypto bear market and will go down in the future, having it converted immediately may be a better financial move. However, if you expect the value to rise, you may want to hold onto the crypto until the transaction occurs when the crypto will be worth more.
Crypto staking is the act of locking up crypto holdings with a provider in exchange for rewards or interest. Many crypto debit cards require that you stake currency with them to get a card.
These include transaction or annual fees.
You’ll also want to consider any perks, spending limits, and regulations that come with the card.
6 Crypto Debit Cards to Choose From
There are several popular crypto debit cards to choose from. Here are a few options to look into.
BitPay launched its prepaid crypto debit Mastercard in 2016. The card is simple to use and has no conversion or monthly fees.
It supports eight fiat currencies and the following crypto:
• Gemini Dollar
• USD Coin
• Bitcoin Cash
There are daily spending limits of $10,000 and the cardholder can hold a maximum of $25,000 in their account.
The card has a 3% foreign transaction fee, a $2.50 fee for ATM withdrawals, and a $5 monthly inactivity fee if a cardholder doesn’t use their card for 90 days. The BitPay card has a one-time activation fee of $9.95, and individuals must verify their identity. Cardholders can add cryptos into their BitPay wallet and from there convert them into fiat currency and add that to their card.
One of the first crypto debit cards on the market, the Crypto.com card uses its own token, Crypto.com Coin (CRO), which cardholders must stake to receive the card and benefits. There are five different levels of cards to choose from depending on how much CRO one wants to stake.
Card perks for the higher-level cards include:
• 100% cash back on Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Prime subscriptions
• 10% cash back on Expedia and AirBnB
• Airport lounge access
The card supports more than 100 cryptocurrencies, and offers up to 4% cash back rewards. Cardholders deposit crypto into their wallet, convert it to a stablecoin which gets added to the card. Each card has a different fee structure, and staking levels range from $0 to $400,000.
Rather than converting crypto into fiat when the user adds them to the card, Nexo settles the payment in fiat currency and issues a loan based on the crypto price and amount held by the consumer. The cardholder can then pay off the loan with crypto or fiat. They can choose to pay it off using interest earned by staking cryptocurrencies in their account.
The card supports 45 fiat cryptocurrencies. The amount of loan a cardholder can get depends on how much they hold in their wallet. This is beneficial for people who want to continue to hold their cryptos until they purchase something with them.
The interest rate for the card is 5.9% and there are no exchange fees. When cardholders make a purchase they get 2% instant cash back in either BTC or Nexo tokens. Nexo has partnered with MasterCard so cardholders can use the Nexo card anywhere MasterCard is accepted.
Popular crypto exchange Coinbase offers a Visa debit card that supports nine cryptocurrencies and is available to Coinbase account holders. Cardholders can use the Coinbase card for:
• International purchases
• Contactless purchases
• ATM withdrawals
• Purchases made with Apple and Google Pay
There are also options to get cashback on purchases. There is a daily limit of $2,500 for purchases and $1,000 for ATM withdrawals for US cardholders. Coinbase doesn’t set up fees for US account holders, but it does have a 2.49% transaction fee on all purchases including ATM withdrawals.
BlockCard is a Visa card issued by the blockchain platform Ternio that has some of the lowest fees available for crypto debit cards. Its fees are as follows:
• No deposit or exchange fees
• $10 activation fee
• $3 fee for ATM withdrawals
• $5 monthly fee, waived for cardholders who spend $750 per month.
BlockCard supports several cryptos and it works with Google Pay and Apple Pay. Staking is required for all cardholders.
CoinZoom offers a Visa card that supports more than four dozen cryptocurrencies. There are a few different cards to choose from, all of which require staking the ZOOM token to get rewards and cashback. Cardholders can easily switch between spending different coins in their CoinZoom wallet.
Conversions do not occur until the cardholder makes a purchase. There is a $10 activation fee and then $0.30 per transaction after that.Cardholders also get access to ZoomMe, CoinZoom’s peer-to-peer payments platform.
Getting a crypto debit card is a great way to start using cryptocurrencies for everyday and special purchases. However, there are many options available, and it is important to consider the associated fees, staking requirements, and other factors in order to choose the card that’s best for you.
If you’re looking for an easy way to start buying crypto and building a portfolio, one great option is SoFi Invest®. Using the investing platform, you can research, track, trade cryptocurrencies, stocks, and ETFs from your phone.
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