best cryptocurrency debit cards

With a cryptocurrency debit card, you can now walk into a store, cafe or restaurant and pay with bitcoin. It’s yet another step towards wider crypto adoption, but where should you start? Alan Wass looks at the five best crypto cards in 2018.

The rise in cryptocurrency debit cards is a true reflection of how far the crypto industry has traveled in a very short space of time. It seems like only yesterday when we had to jump through hoops just to buy bitcoin. Times have changed!

What’s a Crypto Card?

A cryptocurrency debit card allows you to spend bitcoin (or other digital currencies) as easily as you’d pay with fiat currency.

A bitcoin debit card makes the exchange from crypto to fiat for you. So you can use it at shops, ATMs and online, even if the vendor doesn’t directly accept bitcoin.

Bitcoin debit cards will help attract more mainstream consumers to crypto and bolster confidence in day-to-day blockchain technologies. If we’re to expand crypto adoption, it’s important the industry offers similar features you would find in traditional financial markets.

But before you choose the best cryptocurrency debit cards, you need to figure out which type of card suits your needs and lifestyle in the crypto-sphere.

paying at a store with bitcoin debit card app

Which Type of Cryptocurrency Debit Cards Suits You?

For example, do you want a physical crypto debit card or a virtual card? Or both? You can also opt for a pre-paid or non-pre-paid card.

Physical crypto debit card – A plastic card you keep in your wallet, just like your normal credit card (may come with an up-front fee).

Virtual debit card – Usually cheaper than a physical card and ideal for use online. A virtual card can’t be used to withdraw cash from an ATM, but may utilize an app, so you can still make payments at stores and restaurants.

Pre-paid cards – Allows you to load your cryptocurrency onto it, which will then automatically convert your crypto into fiat currencies and vice versa. Just make sure you fully understand the choices of fiat currencies available on your chosen pre-paid card because they can vary from card to card.

Non-pre-paid debit cards – These are usually linked to your online crypto wallet, which converts your bitcoin into fiat instantaneously when you make a purchase.

Cryptocurrency debit cards don’t come for free as there are usually some startup fees involved when obtaining a physical card. Prices can vary but don’t be surprised if you have to pay $50 (USD) upfront or more in some cases to initially buy the card. There may also be loading fees when you send your crypto to the card. This could be in the form of a percentage or a flat fee, so be sure to check out the type of loading fees for your chosen cryptocurrency debit cards.

Caution: always do your own due diligence when trusting a credit or debit card company. Read reviews, check which wallets are compatible, read the company’s internal policies and check out the team behind the card. The following should not be considered a recommendation, but an introduction to the most popular cards on the market.

Top Five Cryptocurrency Debit Cards

Here is our list of the top cryptocurrency debit cards in 2018 so you can compare the features, costs and loading fees.

Coinbase Shift Card

Physical card cost: $20
Loading fee: zero
Supported countries: Card available in 43 US states, spend anywhere Visa is accepted globally.

a hand holding coinbase shift bitcoin card

As Coinbase has already cemented itself as an industry-leading crypto exchange, it only makes sense that a debit card from the company would be a very trusted and reliable option.

It’s also the only card on this list available to those living in the US, due to financial regulations.

If you’re an existing Coinbase user, it’s easy. You just connect your Coinbase wallet with the Shift card.

The Coinbase ‘Shift Card’ is one of the world’s most backed cryptocurrency debit cards available across 43 states in America. With regulatory approval, this card is extremely trustworthy, allowing you to spend your bitcoin at any establishment that accepts Visa.

Although there are no monthly costs using the Coinbase Shift Card, there is an initial issuance fee of $20. There is also a flat fee of $2.50 when withdrawing at the ATM.

The best part about using this option is that payments made via the card are taken from the crypto wallet that is tethered to the Shift Card, which means you receive no fees when converting from bitcoin to fiat.

SpectroCoin Pre-Paid Card

Physical card cost: $50
Loading fee: 1%
Supported countries: Click to see if virtual and physical cards are available in your country (US not available)

Spectrocoin bitcoin debit card and app

This high quality pre-paid physical credit card is ideal if you are looking to convert your crypto into either USD or euros. If you want the plastic USD card from SpectroCoin, it will cost in the region of $50, although the virtual card for the euro costs only €9.

The card offers affordable loading fees of 1% and further charges on any purchase you make with the card. And although there are some cheaper card options out there, you can use the SpectroCoin card at any ATM around the world, which is a massive positive for the modern crypto user of today.

Wirex Visa Payment Card

Physical card cost: free
Loading fee: none
Supported countries: Not yet available in US. Physical Card available in 31 (mostly European) countries

 

green wirex bitcoin debit card, registered to Satoshi Nakamoto

If you are looking for a company that offers both physical and virtual cryptocurrency debit cards, Wirex is an inspired choice. One plus-factor is that the card is currently available for free delivery for a limited time.

The Wirex Visa Payment Card allows you to spend your crypto just like traditional money. You can instantly convert your crypto such as bitcoin, ripple, ethereum, and litecoin and use it anywhere that Visa is accepted such as in shops, restaurants, online and at ATMs. Wirex also offers a cashback feature called Cryptoback™, which gives you back 0.5% in bitcoin on every purchase you make.

Uquid Crypto Card

Physical card cost: free
Loading fee: none
Supported countries: 130 countries eligible for physical card (excludes US).

uquid bitcoin and altcoin debit card

As most cryptocurrency debit cards only convert bitcoin or just a small handful of other digital currencies, if you are looking for more altcoin conversion options, the Uquid crypto card is a dream come true. Uquid has debit card options for 90 cryptocurrencies, which really is unique and a way to simplify the spending of your altcoin portfolio.

Another massive positive is that Uquid has no loading fees with your crypto. One of the major drawbacks of this card is that you are limited to only four ATM withdrawals and six crypto purchases per day (unless you upgrade by providing more personal information).

CryptoPay Bitcoin Debit Card

Physical card cost: $15 / £15 / €15
Loading fee: 1%
Supported countries: 119 countries eligible for account (excludes US)

cryptopay bitcoin debit card on blue background

CryptoPay is a pre-paid bitcoin debit card that offers low commission fees, free worldwide delivery, and can be used where major credit cards are accepted. Both physical and virtual prepaid cards are available, although you will have to give your full identification to take advantage of all the card’s main features. Failure to provide ID will only give you limited access of the card features.

The card is available to buy at this moment in time for 15 USD/EUR/GBP respectively. There are affordable monthly fees of $1, and a 1% charge when you convert your bitcoin.

Conclusion:

Ultimately we want to spend our digital currencies as easily as we spend our traditional cash. Cryptocurrency debit cards are the first step towards wider adoption, and it’s an exciting time to be part of this monetary revolution.

This article was updated on October 11th to include information about eligible countries.

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Many years ago when I first stumbled across bitcoin, I’ll admit, I didn’t understand it. I remember reading explanations that looked like this: “Bitcoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer, cryptographic currency, built on an immutable digital ledger called a blockchain…” I zoned out. It took me another year before I put in the time to learn how the technology worked.

And then it clicked.

This thing is revolutionary. Not just bitcoin the cryptocurrency, but the whole ecosystem that makes it work. It could change everything.

The only problem is finding simple, clear information about it. There’s so much misinformation out there. Some of it is biased. Most of it is too technical or confusing to get your head around.

So we created an ebook that tears away the jargon and technical terms: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know About Bitcoin (In Simple Language). And then we made it completely free. You may download the pdf, the epub, or the mobi ebook now (free of charge, no e-mail address required).

This book will answer all your burning questions about bitcoin:

  • Who created it?
  • How does it work?
  • What is ‘blockchain’, the revolutionary system that makes it all function?
  • How do you buy bitcoin?
  • Where should you store it safely?
  • How to avoid hacks and scams.
  • Where will bitcoin be in the future?

It is Absolutely Everything You Need To Know About Bitcoin (In Simple Language). Most importantly, it’s the foundation for all other cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects.

To Be Clear, This eBook Isn’t About Getting Rich Quick

We believe bitcoin and blockchain technology is a long-term force, not a quick investment.

This guide is designed to give you deep, accurate, impartial knowledge, so you can buy bitcoin with complete confidence.

Who is Block Explorer?

We are home to the longest running bitcoin block explorer, a tool for tracking bitcoin transactions.

We are cryptocurrency pioneers.

We are also the world’s most trusted cryptocurrency education website.

Block Explorer aims to bring bitcoin to the mainstream with simple, easy-to-understand guides. Absolutely Everything You Need To Know About Bitcoin is our flagship ebook, and starting point for all our crypto resources.

Download Links

city skyline banks goldman sachs crypto trading

This week was dominated by rumors that Goldman Sachs has ditched plans for a crypto trading desk, sending crypto prices into a panic. But this is actually good news. Goldman Sachs is instead focusing on a safe, long-term crypto strategy rather than volatile trading.

Bitcoin traders threw themselves into a panic on Wednesday as the market collapsed beneath them.

Bitcoin fell 13% in a day. Altcoins fell as much as 20%. Ethereum hit its lowest price in 12 months.

While other factors were at play for the selloff, many blamed Goldman Sachs, which reportedly sidelined plans for a crypto trading desk.

The Long-Rumored Goldman Sachs Crypto Trading Desk

Goldman Sachs began eying up bitcoin in October 2017. Rumors of a trading desk emerged after they hired Justin Schmidt, a veteran crypto trader. An official from the bank said they were looking into bitcoin possibilities after receiving interest from clients.

This news was among the flurry of optimism that sent bitcoin to $20,000 last winter.

However, nothing was confirmed. In fact, Goldman Sachs distanced itself from crypto trading in January when CEO Lloyd Blankfein said day-to-day trading was not the bank’s priority for crypto. Instead, they would consider buying bitcoin futures contracts for some of its clients.

So Wednesday’s news shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Clearing up the Rumors

To be clear, Goldman Sachs has not ruled out the possibility of a crypto trading desk. The bank’s CFO even called the recent rumors “fake news.”

“I never thought I would hear myself use this term but I really have to describe that news as fake news.” Martin Chavez, CFO.

The bank is not ditching its plans. A crypto trading desk has simply moved down the priority list while they look at better ways to work with bitcoin.

So What Exactly is Goldman Sachs Doing in Crypto?

Right now, the bank is helping its clients get into crypto by executing bitcoin futures contracts. Bitcoin futures are a way of betting on the future price movements. Goldman Sachs is using the bank’s money (“providing liquidity”) to do this.

At the same time, they are working on some form of derivative for bitcoin. A derivative is like an exchange-traded fund (ETF); an easy investing product that would track the price of bitcoin.

A Safe Way to Store Crypto

Most importantly, Goldman Sachs is working on a custody solution that would allow institutional investors to store millions of dollars in crypto safely.

“Physical bitcoin is something tremendously interesting, and tremendously challenging… From the perspective of custody, we don’t yet see an institutional-grade custodial solution for bitcoin, we’re interested in having that exist and it’s a long road.” Martin Chavez, CFO

Good News for Bitcoin

Don’t believe the panic. Goldman Sachs’ strategy is a sound and sensible way to approach bitcoin.

Goldman first needs to prove it can store bitcoin safely. Can you imagine if Goldman Sachs’ bitcoin accounts were hacked? A custody solution is a necessary first step before traditional investors trust their money to a relatively new phenomenon.

Secondly, the bank’s focus on bitcoin futures and derivatives reveals a long-term approach to trading. They are taking cryptocurrencies seriously. They’re looking to build products their investors understand.

It’s no wonder a crypto trading desk is low on the priority list. They simply don’t yet have the infrastructure to store and handle millions in daily, physical bitcoin trades.

Not only that, but high-volume, daily trading at a Goldman Sachs trading desk would introduce yet more volatility to a volatile market.

Wall Street Isn’t Ready for Crypto Yet

Although Wall Street is dabbling in bitcoin, it’s not yet ready to fully embrace it. As we have seen with bitcoin ETF rejections, Wall Street adoption will take time. But, rest assured, the foundations are being laid.

“When we talked about exploring digital assets that it was going to be exploration that would be evolving over time… Maybe someone who was thinking about our activities here got very excited that we would be making markets as principal and physical bitcoin, and as they got into it they realized part of the evolution but it’s not here yet.” Martin Chavez, CFO.

Wall Street is getting on board, but this will not happen overnight. Patience is key.

a large crowd at cryptocurrency conference

Block Explorer scours the globe for the best crypto conferences and events every month. In September, it’s all about London with at least five events taking place in the British capital. You’ll find a complete list of events at our Conference Schedule, but for now, let’s look at some of the best conferences this September.

Blockchain Live
London, September 26th

blockchain live conference logo

Blockchain Live has the most star-studded lineup of the month. Speakers include Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin (now founder of ConsenSys), Nick Szabo (who created smart contracts), representatives from Ripple and EOS, and a member of the European Parliament.

There are nine different “stages” to explore, including blockchain, C-suite, fintech, government, development, product, crypto, energy and creative. Your experience at the conference is entirely tailored to your profession, whether you’re a developer, investor, industry expert or public sector work.

Key speakers: Joseph Lubin (ConsenSys), Nick Szabo (smart contracts inventor) Brendan Blumer (Block.one), Michael Alexander (EOS), Eva Kaili (European Parliament)

View Blockchain Live in calendar schedule.

Token Fest
Boston, September 13-14th

token fest conference logo

Token Fest is a huge networking event for anyone in the blockchain space. Entrepreneurs, developers, and CEOs are all welcome. Talking points include how to apply crypto economics to the world around us, how to crowdfund new tokens and the commercial use of blockchain.

Attendees include representatives from Ripple, Steemit, Ledger as well as Nike, Google and Facebook.

Key speakers: Jeremy Allaire (Circle), Jon Najarian (trader and member of NYSE, CBOE).

View Token Fest in calendar schedule.

Digital Identity Summit
LA, September 12-14

digital summit identity conference logo

The Digital Identity Summit is all about privacy, fraud and security. It takes a broader view across the financial industry, but expect plenty of discussion on blockchain technology. Ideal for business leaders and managers.

Key speakers: Rees Atlas (Coinbase), Kara Swisher (Recode).

View Digital Identity Summit in calendar schedule.

CryptoBlockCon
London, September 25th

Cryptoblockcon conference logo

CryptoBlockCon is a one-day event aimed at bringing the best minds in blockchain together. The agenda focuses heavily on ICOs (from kickstarting a campaign to successful case studies). There are also some more technical demonstrations, such as building smarter smart contracts.

Don’t worry if you miss the September event. CryptoBlockCon is a global affair, with conferences coming up in Las Vegas in December and Los Angeles in April 2019. Finally, check out our interview with CryptoBlockCon co-founder CJ Smith.

Key speakers: Hartej Sawhney (Hosho), Jeremy Gardner (Blockchain Capital)

View CryptoBlockCon in calendar schedule.

DevChain
London, 28th September

Devchain conference logo

This conference is for developers only. So if you want to get your geek on, talk coding and smart contracts, this is where you need to be. The conference is built around active workshops and insightful talks. It’s a relatively small event compared to some of the others on this list, but this is where the future of blockchain development is happening.

View DevChain in calendar schedule.

Handshake logo

The entire landscape of how we authenticate domain names likely will see a complete overhaul, all powered by blockchain technologies. Just released, Handshake brings with it the much needed security and reliability on which we rely. Backed by venture capitalists and industry-established blockchain developers, Handshake has raised $10.2 million to replace the current digital entities maintaining our current internet infrastructure.

The project and protocol has been led by Joseph Poon (creator of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network), Andrew Lee (CEO of Purse), Andrew Lee (founder of Private Internet Access or PIA) and Christopher Jeffrey (CTO of Purse). The effort also is backed by 67 individuals with funding coming from A16z, Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, Polychain Capital and Draper Associates.

The Handshake project pledges to donate its initial funding of $10.2 million to FOSS projects, university research departments and more. The list of recipients includes projects and foundations such as the Apache Software Foundation, FreeBSD, Reproducible Builds, GNOME, FSF, SFC, Outreachy, ArchLinux, systemd and many more.

What Is Handshake?
Handshake aims to be a wholly democratic and decentralized certificate authority and naming system. Handshake does not replace the Domain Name System (DNS). It is, however, an alternative to today’s certificate authorities—that is, it uses a decentralized trust anchor to prove domain ownership. Although the primary goal of the project is to simplify and secure top-level domain registration while also making the root zone uncensorable, permissionless and free of gatekeepers.

A traditional root DNS supports the current infrastructure of the internet and, therefore, facilitates online access. The root servers hosting the internet publish root zone file contents, which are responsible for the internet’s DNS functionality. DNS associates information with domain names and maps them to public-facing IP addresses.

The way Handshake differs from this is that it’s all peer to peer. Every peer is responsible for validating and managing the root zone (via the use of “light clients”). All existing entries in the root zone file will form the genesis block of the blockchain supporting it. The same root zone will be distributed across the nodes forming the chain. The implementation allows for any participant to help host this distributed root zone and add to it.

How Does It Work?
Handshake makes use of a coin system for name registration (that is, the Handshake coin or HNS). It is the mechanism by which participants are able to transfer, register and update internet domain names. Currently, Handshake has opened a faucet to distribute HNS coins to qualified FOSS contributors. If you are one such contributor and you meet the project’s criteria, you can sign up here.

Once HNS coins have been distributed, the Handshake mainnet launches. A “mainnet” forms the central part of a blockchain. In fact, it is the blockchain in that it carries out the functionality of transferring digital currency from senders to recipients. This is the point where coin-holders can start auctioning, registering and transferring top-level domains.

With enough support and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) cooperation, Handshake eventually will migrate to a more global distribution. Project governance and maintainability are and will continue to be community-driven.

To Learn More
You can find additional information on the official Handshake website: https://handshake.org. In addition, you can access all source code from the project’s GitHub page: https://github.com/handshake-org.