The Complete Guide
Cryptocurrency is changing traditional finance for good. Once perceived as a passing trend for a niche, in-the-know community, cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology have made it into the mainstream with a range of solutions like crypto lending, Stablecoins, and the introduction of decentralized finance.
Cryptocurrency’s popularity and capacity to disrupt traditional finance as we know it show no signs of slowing down. Of these disruptions, Crypto cards are among the newest and most exciting developments in the Blockchain and cryptocurrency world.
If you’re keen to find your way into the future of finance but don’t know where to begin, keep reading for everything you need to know about the history, rise, and future of crypto cards.
Understanding Crypto Cards
It’s no mystery that cryptocurrencies offer a lot of benefits for both consumers and businesses. Most businesses are now aware that they have a lot to gain from accepting cryptocurrency payments.
However, customers and businesses face some complications when it comes to receiving payments and submitting payments using digital assets.
Crypto cards present a straightforward solution to this problem. With the socioeconomic side-effects and public health awareness of COVID-19 promising to endure, digital payments have swiftly become the safer and smoother standard of payment.
In the past, you couldn’t use your crypto assets to fund your day-to-day expenditures, but this is all changing.
The Origin of Cryptocurrency Debit Cards and Credit Cards
Before crypto cards were thought into existence, there were crypto heads and hodlers (someone who prefers to hoard cryptocurrency rather than sell it) who dreamt of using their digital assets to pay for goods and services. While this was theoretically possible, they would have to convert them into fiat money (USD, Euros, Pounds, etc.) through third-party platforms.
The process was, to say the least, tedious and inconvenient for daily transactions. To offer a solution, cryptocurrency credit/debit card services became the shared brainchild of well-known crypto platforms like Revolut and Bitpay.
One of the earliest successes was Coinbase and the introduction of the Shift Card. The way it worked was simple: deducting the value of purchases made with your Shift Card from your current crypto balance.
However, there were restrictions: users had a maximum of $1000 for their daily spending and had a low maximum ATM withdrawal, capped at $200.
The original Shift Card also had high transaction fees that made many crypto enthusiasts feel the card wasn’t the smartest financial solution. In 2020, there are now a handful of easy-to-use crypto cards that have improved upon Shift Card’s failures, like Coinbase’s new card and the popular MCO Visa Card.
How Do Crypto Cards Work?
In a nutshell, crypto cards essentially serve the same functions as traditional debit or credit cards. The most significant difference is that they offer crypto investors the opportunity to pay for day-to-day goods and services with their crypto assets without needing to convert them to fiat money through a third party platform.
However, for those who require it, some service providers allow the cardholder to convert their crypto into fiat instantly whenever they use the card.
These plastic cards take advantage of the existing Visa/Mastercard infrastructure. As you already know, bank card terminals are a readily available (and now preferred) payment option in millions of shops around the world.
These cards don’t require the merchant or consumer to do much more than just insert or tap the card. In fact, the crypto card process is so seamlessly integrated, some cashiers might not even know that you’re paying with a cryptocurrency because the conversion into fiat by the card provider is so efficient and discreet.
Introducing the BlockFi Visa Card
Cashback rewards, easy spending, and the ability to accrue Bitcoin while making simple purchases – could it get any better?
Visa has announced an early 2021 launch of a new credit card that will offer cashback rewards to customers in the form of Bitcoin. If you have a travel or cash rewards card, you can expect the BlockFi Visa Card to work similarly but reward you in Bitcoin rather than airline miles or fiat currency.
The card comes with an annual fee of $200 and users will receive 1.5% of their purchases back in the form of the digital asset.
This new initiative provides an unrivaled opportunity for the crypto-curious to start collecting Bitcoin through everyday spending. Where crypto debit cards best serve those already crypto-committed, crypto credit cards allow the uninitiated to increase their exposure to Bitcoin without altering their existing financial habits.
Who Should Use Crypto Cards?
You might be thinking: if crypto cards are so easy to get and use, why aren’t they more popular?
Though newer to the scene, cryptocurrency debit cards and credit cards have been around long enough it may seem strange that you haven’t heard too much buzz about them. While, in theory, anyone could purchase and use a crypto card, the cryptocurrencies themselves are the main barrier to crypto cards becoming mainstream.
On average, Bitcoin transactions have a 10 minute confirmation period. The fees are also becoming higher as time goes on and are showing no sign of slowing down. Even with a plastic debit card, these two factors alone make Bitcoin payments unsuited for small, everyday purchases.
However, some other currencies, such as Ethereum, have faster confirmation times and lower fees.
This said, crypto cards are best suited for people already in the crypto world who hold most of their assets in crypto and could save time and money by taking out the middleman when converting crypto to fiat for purchases.
The Benefits of Crypto Credit Cards and Debit Cards
Crypto cards offer a smooth solution to the problems people run into when using standard debit or credit cards. These are our favorite benefits:
Access Different Currencies With One Card
Cryptocurrency cards give you the best of both worlds: access to your fiat AND crypto-assets. That means you wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of rummaging for different credit cards when making payments. Your crypto card can do it all.
Low to No Annual Fees
It’s no secret that some banks charge high annual fees for their credit or debit card services. Another benefit of crypto-backed cards is that fees are usually waived if you spend a specified amount within the financial annum.
Pay With Crypto Without The Hassle
If you own digital assets, you already know how lucrative they can be. However, even if you made a nice crypto profit, it wasn’t easy to use your digital currency to pay for services in the real world.
Now cryptocurrency cards allow you to spend your savings WITHOUT having to pay expensive fees to convert them into fiat!
Where Can I Get a Crypto Card?
Many big-time crypto platforms like MCO and Nexo provide cryptocurrency debit cards.
If you’re in the market for a card from a different provider, a quick online search will yield you the contact info of several providers of cryptocurrency debit cards. The ordering process is simple: just go to their websites, and you will be able to register for one.
Be aware that because Blockchain technology is on the verge of the digital and real-world, it is closely regulated by governments globally. Because of this, they almost always require you to undergo an identity verification process, submitting some sort of ID proof. Other than this small step and a humble upfront payment, getting your first crypto card is easy.
Crypto Card Cheat Sheet
Excited about the prospect of using a crypto card? Here are some crypto cards you can access right now!
MCO Visa Card
As the name suggests, the MCO Visa Card is a Visa card that is accepted almost everywhere in the world.
The MCO Visa Card currently supports these cryptocurrencies: BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, MCO, BAT, BNB, TUSD, and ENJ. It supports the fiat currencies: USD, GBP, HKD, EUR, JPY, SGD, and AUD.
With no issuance fee and no monthly fees, this crypto card is a competitive choice. You can read our full review here.
While the Coinbase Card makes spending your crypto assets speedy and stress-free, if you’re in the US or UK, it isn’t the cheapest way of spending your cryptocurrency with a debit card. In the UK, you’ll be charged an issuance fee of £4.95, a cryptocurrency exchange fee of 2.49%, and additional transaction fees when you spend outside of your home country.
However, that’s not to say it doesn’t have its merits. A more in-depth breakdown of Coinbase Card’s obstacles and advantages can be found here.
Wirex Card may be one of the best crypto cards available. Wirex offers itself as a crypto-friendly currency account. It allows you to store, transfer, and exchange between cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies with ease and minimal fees.
Wirex’s Visa Debit card gives you the option to effortlessly spend your crypto assets in-store and online.
Crypto Cards: The Future
By allowing crypto heads to directly spend their digital assets from their wallets and pockets, cryptocurrency debit cards are opening up new opportunities for the industry and further bridging the gap between traditional finance and the cryptocurrency world.
What was once just an idealist thought among the crypto world is now a reality. And with the industry developing rapidly, we have access to more crypto credit card solutions that provide an excellent service to consumers and businesses alike every year.
With cashback rewards and revolutionary opportunities to advantage the DeFi economy via the Ethereum Blockchain, crypto cards are empowering the industry and show no signs of slowing down.