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.
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.
Physical card cost: $20
Loading fee: zero
Supported countries: Card available in 43 US states, spend anywhere Visa is accepted globally.
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.
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)
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.
Physical card cost: free
Loading fee: none
Supported countries: Not yet available in US. Physical Card available in 31 (mostly European) countries
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.
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).
Physical card cost: $15 / £15 / €15
Loading fee: 1%
Supported countries: 119 countries eligible for account (excludes US)
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.
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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