While a few retailers accept direct payments of cryptocurrency, the overwhelming majority do not. There’s a way around that, however: crypto debit cards—which let you spend your crypto just like they were fiat currencies, such as the US dollar, the British pound or the Euro.
A crypto debit card, upon the point of sale, converts the crypto you have stored in your debit card account to the fiat currency that everyone accepts. You can use crypto debit cards at ATMs, in shops, and on online merchants.
But each crypto debit card is different: these cards differ in which cryptocurrencies they support, the fees they charge, and the incentives they offer to users. Some of them are only available to people from certain countries, too. Here’s our whistle-stop tour.
Bitpay is a Bitcoin payments processor. In 2016, it started to offer a US-only debit card. The card supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Gemini Dollar, USD Coin, Paxos and Bitcoin Cash, as well as eight different fiat currencies.
Bitpay doesn’t offer a cashback scheme. It has a daily spending limit of $10k as well as a larger maximum account balance at $25k.
The card has an upfront cost of $9.95. Within the US, there are no transaction fees—but if you leave the country, these rise to 3%. ATM withdrawals, similar to the European cards, have a flat fee in the home region. In this case, it’s $2, rising to $3 outside of the USA.
Paxful, the peer-to-peer crypto marketplace, is also coming out with a US-only card. It’s a Visa debit card produced together with a fintech startup called Ternio. It’s the same premise: Convert your crypto to dollars upon point of sale, use ATMs and open a checking account.
— Paxful (@paxful) November 2, 2020
It’ll work on Ternio’s platform, Blockcard. Signups are open, as of November 2020, but no word on when it’ll come out yet. Paxful hopes for a global expansion, too.
BlockFi Visa card
Breaking our own rule for this article, the upcoming BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card is, as the name suggests, not a debit card, but a credit card launched in partnership with Visa. It is, according to BlockFi founder and CEO Zac Prince, “the first credit card in the crypto ecosystem.” Unlike other crypto cards, BlockFi’s offering doesn’t draw on your crypto holdings; instead you receive 1.5% cashback for every transaction you make on the card, which is then converted to Bitcoin and placed in your BlockFi account.
The card will initially be made available to BlockFi account holders in the US from Spring 2021, with an annual fee of $200. Early adopters can snaffle a signup bonus of $250 in Bitcoin, if they spend $3,000 or more on the card within the first three months.
Wirex is a London-based crypto debit card company. It launched its crypto debit card in 2015. The Wirex card is available in Europe, as well as several African and Asian countries, and plans to expand services into the USA by the end of 2020.
The card supports 18 cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP, as well as the British pound and the US dollar. You can convert currencies on the Wirex app. It also comes with its own loyalty token, the WXT.
Wirex’s cashback program, Cryptoback, gives cashback based on how much WXT you have in your account. The catch is that this only applies to in-store payments; the program doesn’t support ATMs withdrawals or online purchases.
If you hold 50,000 WXT (approximately $450), you get 0.75% back every time you use the card in shops. This reward comes in the form of BTC. At 500,000 ($4,500), this rises to 1.5%.
The account has a monthly maintenance fee of €1.20 per month. As for cash withdrawals, these are €2.25 within Europe. Outside of Europe, the fee is still €2.25 but there’s an additional 3% fee. The card balance is limited to $20,000 and has a spending limit of $10,000 per day.
Binance is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, and launched its own debit card, the Binance Visa Card, in July 2020. The card has zero fees, and offers up to 8% cashback on payments. Cashback is determined by the amount of Binance’s cryptocurrency, BNB, you have in your account.
— Binance (@binance) October 31, 2020
But to get that 8% cashback, you’ll need an average of 6,000 BNB (around $192,000) in your account for the past 30 days. After a trial period, Binance rolled the card out to European customers in September 2020.
Nexo’s crypto-powered debit card is somewhat unusual compared to the competition. Instead of directly converting crypto held on the exchange into fiat for each transaction, Nexo instead issues an instantaneous loan based on the value of your cryptocurrency holdings whenever you use the card, settling the transaction in fiat currency. The upshot is that you can spend the value of your crypto assets without actually selling them.
You can then repay the loan in either cryptocurrency or fiat; indeed, because the credit line is dynamic, if your crypto holdings go up in value, your minimum payments are eliminated. However, if your crypto collateral depreciates (or if you fall behind on your payments), you’ll need to either deposit more crypto, pay off part of your loan or sell some of your crypto deposit off to make up the shortfall.
The Nexo Card's key benefits:
– Ready to use at 40M+ merchants
– Instant cashback on all purchases
– Flexible repayment options
– Free additional virtual cards
– Payments in local currencies
– No monthly/annual fees, no FX fees
– State of the art securityhttps://t.co/GI6mUHji1X pic.twitter.com/qQJ6HmzTci
— Nexo (@NexoFinance) August 7, 2019
There are no monthly or annual exchange fees, and interest rates are set at 5.9%; you also get 2% cashback in either Nexo Tokens or BTC. It’s backed by MasterCard, and, helpfully, you can make payments in local currency, so no need to worry about foreign exchange fees. The Nexo card is currently available in Europe in early access; the company is “hard at work” on providing access in other regions.
Paycent has three different cards: Ruby, Sapphire and Solitaire. Each card costs $49, and Sapphire and Solitaire charge monthly fees of $2.
Each card has different uses. Ruby has a spending limit of $5,000 and a withdrawal limit of $5,000. Sapphire has a higher spending limit of $5,600, but a much lower withdrawal limit of $1,650. Solitaire is Paycent’s premium card. It has a daily spending limit of $13,000, as well as a withdrawal limit of $10,000.
Paycent’s cashback program offers discounts on foreign exchange as well as cash out fees. Again, it’s a token system based around loyalty tokens. For Paycent, these are called PYN-C37. The more tokens you have, the better. At the top end (over 500,000 PYN-C37, equivalent to around $1,250), there are no foreign exchange or withdrawal fees. To start getting rewards, you need at least 20,000 PYN-C37. This gives zero Forex fees on amounts up to $1,000 per month.
Coinbase, which is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, also has its own card—called, imaginatively, Coinbase Card. It’s available in Europe, the UK and soon the US. The card doesn’t charge any fees for converting Coinbase’s US dollar-pegged stablecoin, USDC, which it runs along with Circle, to US dollars, but for all other cryptocurrencies, the card charges a 2.49% transaction fee on every purchase.
A fast, secure way to pay using your crypto is here: you can now add your Coinbase Card to Google Pay. pic.twitter.com/TdqUlb5IXC
— Coinbase Card (@CoinbaseCard) March 17, 2020
When the card launches in the US, Coinbase will offer a cashback scheme for customers; European users are out of luck, though, with no such option available.