Bitcoin Debit Cards

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Cryptocurrency is being more widely adopted on a weekly basis but it is still a long way off from replacing traditional payment methods. While many enthusiasts have used cryptocurrency to make payments online, it is difficult to use it for everyday payments at hospitality and retail stores.

In an attempt to improve upon this, many cryptocurrency companies have introduced Bitcoin Debit cards. Just like all normal bank cards, these cards can be used to make payments in stores or draw cash from ATM’s. However, instead of charging the amount to your bank account the balance will be deducted from your cryptocurrency holdings. Some cards can be connected directly to your Bitcoin wallet while others need to be topped up and converted to local currency.

Let’s have a look at five of the best Bitcoin debit card providers.

1. Wirex

Wirex offers a range of physical and virtual debit cards to countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), with plans to expand into the United States and Asia.

The company was previously known as E-coin and was rebranded into Wirex in February 2016, when it began offering physical chip and PIN debit cards. It supports digital wallets for Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP) and WAVES.

Wirex operates a customer reward service called Cryptoback which gives users a 0.5% BTC cashback on all in-store crypto payments made with its VISA cards.

Getting Started

The Wirex app can be downloaded for both iOS and Android. Once registered and logged in, users can select which currency they would like to use and connect their digital wallet to the app.

Physical VISA cards can be ordered and paid for via the app once you have set up your account. Customers can also use the Wirex app to instantly convert traditional currency into cryptocurrency with competitive exchange rates and no additional charge.

Pros

  • Fully functional Bitcoin debit card with an account number and sort code (UK)
  • 0.5% BTC cashback reward program

Cons

  • Higher monthly fees than most

Available Cards

Wirex has a fully functional VISA debit card available for UK customers that includes an account number and sort code. It can be easily linked to your digital wallet and then used to make instant crypto payments at any physical or online UK retailer that accepts VISA.

The company also offers pre-paid VISA payment cards that can be loaded with a cryptocurrency of your choice and used to make payments in both Euro (EUR) or U.S. dollars (USD). These cards can be used for retail payments but cannot be used to make bank transfers.

Pre-paid cards are also available in traditional fiat currencies which may be useful for people traveling between the U.S. and Europe. In addition to physical cards, Wirex also offers all its card options as virtual cards which can be used via a mobile phone to make online purchases or in-store payments via QR code.

Fees

Wirex is one of the cheapest Bitcoin card providers available, with no commission or fees charged for transactions made in the app.

However, there is a $1.50 monthly fee and cash withdrawals at an ATM attract a $2.50 fee.

2. CryptoPay

CryptoPay is one of the older and more widely used Bitcoin debit cards, with tens of thousands of cards issued since the company began in 2016. CryptoPay is one of the older and more widely used Bitcoin debit cards, with tens of thousands of cards issued since the company began in 2016. Due to a problem with a previous card supplier, physical CryptoPay debit cards are currently only available in Russia but the company is working to reinstate cards in Singapore and most of Europe, including the UK.

It supports digital cryptocurrency wallets for Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Ripple (XRP) as well as USD, GBP, and EUR wallets.

Pros:

  • Anonymous Bitcoin debit card

Cons:

  • Limited cryptocurrency support
  • Not available in the U.S.

Getting Started

Users can create an account online using the CryptoPay.me website or by downloading the CryptoPay mobile phone app, which is available for both Android and iOS.

All accounts automatically include free digital wallets for all the supported fiat and cryptocurrencies. Once you have a wallet you can use the app to buy crypto or top it up with crypto from your own external wallet.

Available Cards

Physical and virtual VISA prepaid cards should soon be available for users who wish to use their cryptocurrency to make purchases in British pounds (GBP), Euro (EUR), U.S. dollars (USD) or Rubles (RUB) for Russian users.

In addition, CryptoPay is one of the few providers that still offers anonymous Bitcoin debit cards, albeit with very limited usage. With an anonymous, unverified card, customers can only spend $1000 worth of crypto a monthly and can only draw $400 in cash.

Users who wish to spend or withdraw more than this will need to verify their accounts and complete the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedures. Verified customers get unlimited monthly spend and a $2000 cash withdrawal limit.

Fees

Although the monthly fees are lower than that of Wirex (only $1), CryptoPay charges $15 for the issuance of a physical card which can be delivered worldwide for free. If you don’t need a card to withdraw cash and mainly want to use it for online purchases then you can get a virtual card for $2.50.

For ATM withdrawals, users will be charged a flat rate of $2.50, or $3.50 from an international ATM.

All card, whether physical or virtual, attract a 3 percent currency conversion fee. There is also a 1% loading fee which is applied to any currency moved onto the card.

3. Uquid

The UK-based Bitcoin debit card provider Uquid features both a Bitcoin card and an altcoin card. While the Bitcoin card is exclusively for BTC, the altcoin card supports 90  cryptocurrencies including popular payment coins like Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC), DASH and Monero (XMR).

Pros:

  • Supports almost all major cryptocurrencies
  • No monthly expenditure limits

Cons:

  • Cards are expensive

Getting Started

As with most other Bitcoin debit card services, you first need to create an account online before ordering the card. Account creation is free but as with CryptoPay, there is a charge for card issuance.

Once your account is created you can link it to your digital wallet and use the mobile app to transfer crypto as you need.

Available Cards

Both the BTC and altcoin cards are VISA debit cards and are available as physical or virtual formats in Euro (EUR), British pound (GBP) or U.S. dollar (USD).

One big advantage of the Uquid card is that it poses no limits on spending, withdrawals or deposits – making it potentially more attractive to very wealthy cryptocurrency holders.

Cards cost $16.99 for the USD card, EUR 14.99 for the Euro card and £9.99 for the GBP card. Delivery is free to over 170 countries worldwide, although the service is not currently available to citizens in the United States.

Fees

Uquid also charges a comparatively low rate of $1 per month for its services. ATM withdrawals are $2.50 domestic and $3.00 international. There is a 3% commission fee charged on all currency conversions.

There is no charge for Point-of-Sale (POS) charges over $100 and only a minor fee for charges below.

4. Bitpay

Bitpay is a relatively new, U.S-based Bitcoin debit card company that has exploded in popularity recently. This is most likely attributed to its low fees and the fact that many other Bitcoin debit cards are not available in the U.S.

Bitpay’s pre-paid VISA card is available to U.S. citizens from all 50 states and can be used at retailers all around the world, just like any debit card.

Pros:

  • No monthly fee
  • Available in the U.S.

Cons:

  • $5 dormancy fee

Getting Started

The service is currently only available for Bitcoin users and can be preloaded using the website or mobile app, which automatically converts your BTC into U.S. dollars (USD). The mobile app also provides a wide range of features to help manage your money and make payments to other users.

Once registered, users can transfer currency onto their card from their digital wallet or via GreenDot or Western Union, which incurs a $4.95 fee.

Fees

There is no charge for BitPay card transactions within the U.S. but internationally, the usual 3 percent commission fee applies for currency conversion. ATM cash withdrawals will incur a 2 percent charge domestically and a 3 percent charge internationally.

BitPay is one of the very few Bitcoin debit card companies that doesn’t have a monthly fee. It does, however, feature a $5 monthly ‘dormancy’ fee, which means if you don’t use it at all for a month you get charged. I feel this feature is a bit unfair, as dormant accounts shouldn’t cost the company anything. However, if you use your card often it’s more attractive and affordable than the majority of cards which charge a $1 monthly fee.

5. Coinbase

The most recent company to add a Bitcoin debit card to its list of services is the popular U.S. cryptocurrency wallet provider Coinbase.

Coinbase Card is a VISA debit card that is associated with a users Coinbase account and can be managed via the iOS or Android mobile phone apps. Cards use chip and pin and contactless technology and can be used to make POS payments and ATM cash withdrawals.

The associated app provides detailed transaction information, receipts, and categories that sort a user’s spending patterns.

Initially, the card will only be available to customers in the United Kingdom but there are plans to expand into Europe.

Pros:

  • One of the most well known and trusted crypto wallet providers in the world
  • Low fees if used domestically

Cons

  • Currently only available in the UK with possible expansion to the EU

Getting Started

Users who don’t already have a Coinbase account can quickly and easily register for one on the website or mobile app. Following account verification, customers can begin purchasing or transferring the cryptocurrency of their choice.

Coinbase’s advanced exchange platform Coinbase Pro currently supports Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ripple (XRP), Stellar (XLM), EOS and a host of trading pairs with fiat currencies. This makes it easier than ever for anybody around the globe to acquire the currency of their choice.

Cards Available

Coinbase Card currently offers just one VISA debit card within the UK that can be used to make British pound (GBP) purchases and payments. The card will work at any VISA-supported retailer or cash machine around the world with additional fees.

The Coinbase Card has a separate app of its own that can be linked to a users Coinbase account and is used specifically for managing activities on the card itself. The app links your card with the Coinbase app and makes any crypto balances you have on Coinbase available for spending.

Fees

As an introductory offer, Coinbase is currently waving the £4.95 card issuance fee for the first 1,000 people to join the waitlist.

Users can withdraw up to £200 a month for free, after which a one percent domestic charge and two percent international charge applies.

Domestic POS transactions are free but POS transactions within the EEA attract a 0.2 percent commission. International POS transactions attract a 3 percent fee.

Conclusion

Bitcoin debit cards are still a relatively new product and developments change on a daily basis. At present, they usually end up costing more than a common bank card when used for normal day-to-day purchases but they are a great way to drive adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Until the technology becomes more widely adopted, using a Bitcoin debit card to make daily purchases is probably more a niche attraction that might appeal to hardcore crypto enthusiasts. However, they are also useful for people who are paid in Bitcoin or for those that travel often between countries and need a universal payment card.

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