Your step-by-step guide to buying bitcoin and other cryptos with a credit or debit card.
Buying bitcoin with a credit card is not only a simple and convenient way to purchase cryptocurrency, it’s also easier than ever before.
But how and where do you buy crypto with a credit or debit card, and are there any traps you should avoid? Keep reading to find out.
Where to buy cryptocurrency with credit/debit card in Australia
Banks ban credit card crypto purchases
If you’re thinking of buying cryptocurrency with your credit card, be aware that several banks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other countries have banned their customers from using credit cards to buy cryptocurrency.
Here in Australia, CommBank introduced its own ban in February 2018, but CommBank customers can still use their debit cards to buy digital currency.
The three other banks that make up Australia's "Big Four" – Westpac, ANZ and NAB – haven't introduced similar bans as yet, but it may be worth checking with your financial institution or card issuer to find out whether or not you're allowed to buy cryptocurrency with your credit card.
How to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card
- Register for an account with an exchange like Coinbase.
- Enable 2-factor authentication and verify your account.
- Click the “Buy/Sell” tab.
- Click “Add a payment method”.
- Select “Credit/Debit Card”
- Enter your credit/debit card information.
- Receive confirmation that your card has been successfully added.
- Click the “Buy/Sell” tab.
- Enter the details of your transaction.
- Review transaction details and buy cryptocurrency.
This is our quick guide to just one way to buy cryptocurrency with credit card. Compare some other options in the table above.
How to buy crypto with a credit/debit card
If you want to buy bitcoin with a credit or debit card, here’s a simple example with step-by-step instructions. The quickest and most convenient option for most people is to use a cryptocurrency broker, so let’s take a look at how to purchase bitcoin using your credit or debit card on Coinbase.
What platforms can I use to buy crypto with a credit card?
There are three different types of services that allow credit card crypto purchases. Each option involves a slightly different approach and has its own pros and cons.
Storing your crypto
Some crypto brokers and exchanges will immediately deposit the crypto you purchase into a wallet linked to their platform. Others will automatically transfer your crypto into a wallet address of your choice, so you’ll need to have a secure, private wallet set up in advance.
Whichever option your platform uses, keep in mind that storing your coins on an exchange is not recommended for security reasons, so transfer them into your own wallet as soon as possible if you don’t plan on making regular trades.
How much does it cost?
While buying crypto with a credit or debit card is generally quick and easy, it can also be quite expensive. This is because there are several fees that can contribute to the cost of your transaction, not only from the crypto broker but also from your card issuer. These charges can include:
- Cash advance fee. Many card issuers treat a cryptocurrency purchase as a cash advance. This means your purchase will usually incur a cash advance fee and will also attract higher interest rates than normal purchases.
- Exchange/broker fee. The platform you use to buy bitcoin or another crypto will impose its own transaction fee. These tend to range from 4-6%, but are higher in some cases.
- Credit card surcharge. You may also be asked to pay a credit card surcharge on top of any other fees and commissions being charged, which on some platforms can lead to a total commission of 9 or even 10%. Australian law prohibits excessive credit card surcharges, but you won’t necessarily be buying under Australian law and some overseas services might charge significantly more.
- Currency exchange fee. If you’re using an Australian credit card on an overseas exchange, you might be paying credit card currency conversion rates. A 0% foreign fee credit card might be useful for cutting costs.
Pros and cons
- Quick and easy
- Most platforms that allow credit card purchases are very user-friendly
- Fast way to buy bitcoin and other currencies
- Buy crypto directly with AUD
- Ideal for beginners
- High fees make buying with credit card an expensive option
- Transaction limits may restrict the amount of crypto you can buy
- Credit card purchases only usually available for the most popular cryptos
- Not a good option if you want to trade anonymously
How to choose the right platform
Want to buy crypto with your credit card or debit card but don’t know which broker or exchange to use? Remember to take the following factors into account when comparing the available options:
- Safety and security. Above all else, you want to be sure you’re dealing with a trusted and secure provider. Try to find out who’s behind the exchange, how it’s regulated and what security features it offers. For more info, check out the section titled: “Is it safe to buy crypto with a credit card?” that’s further down the page.
- Cost. The convenience of buying crypto with a credit/debit card comes at a price, so take some time to compare the fees charged by different platforms before picking one. Keep in mind that some platforms have tiered fee structures, so fee percentages may drop if you make a larger purchase.
- Supported currencies. Which cryptocurrencies does the platform allow you to buy using your credit card? Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two digital currencies that are most widely available, but some platforms will also allow you to buy a number of other coins. Don’t forget to also check whether the service accepts AUD, or whether it only welcomes payment in foreign currency.
- Supported cards. Does the platform accept all major cards or will your Amex be rejected? Do you also have the option of paying with a debit card if you wish, or does it only accept credit cards?
- Supported countries. Does the service accept Australian customers?
- Ease of use. How easy is the platform to use? Does the purchasing process appear to be simple and straightforward from start to finish, or does the platform feature confusing instructions or a complicated user interface?
- Community trust. What sort of reputation does the broker have? You can usually gain a fairly accurate idea of just how reputable a platform is by checking out online forums and independent user reviews.
- Verification and signup process. What sort of personal details and ID will you need to provide before you can make a purchase? How long will the verification process take? Can you make purchases below a specified limit without having to verify your ID?
- Transaction limits. What are the minimum and maximum amounts you can spend in any one transaction? Are there any other restrictions imposed, such as daily or monthly purchase limits?
- Processing times. How long will it take for the crypto you purchase to arrive in your wallet? Will the funds be sent directly to your private crypto wallet, or will they be stored in a wallet on the exchange until you manually transfer them to private storage?
- Sell-side services. Does the exchange also allow you to sell your cryptocurrency, or is it a buy-only service? If you can sell your crypto, it’s worth checking what fiat withdrawal methods are supported and whether any fees apply.
- Customer support. Finally, find out when the provider’s customer support team is available and how you can get in contact with them. Do they have a good reputation for providing prompt and helpful support?
Is it safe to buy crypto with a credit card or debit card?
Generally speaking, it’s perfectly safe to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card – provided you buy from a trusted and reputable exchange or broker.
Make sure you thoroughly research the credentials of any platform before trusting it with your card information, because if you don’t feel comfortable giving a provider your credit card details, you shouldn’t feel comfortable buying cryptocurrency from them either.
So how can you find a suitable exchange and minimise the risks involved in paying for crypto with plastic? The tips below will not only help you stay safe but also avoid getting ripped off.
- Check whether it’s secure. Make sure the platform’s web address starts with “https://” which means that all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. It’s also a good idea to double-check that the URL is correct and that you haven’t inadvertently visited a scam site designed to look like the real thing.
- Check what security features it offers. What other features does the platform offer to protect your funds? For example, does it support 2-factor authentication? Are client funds stored offline? Will the provider store your credit card details anywhere on its website or servers?
- Check where the exchange is based. Finding out where an exchange platform is based can give you a better idea of how it is regulated and whether there are any measures in place to protect you against fraud. For example, Australian digital currency exchanges must be registered and enrolled with AUSTRAC, identify customers in line with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regulations, and report suspicious transactions or those above a certain threshold to AUSTRAC.
- Read reviews. Check out independent user reviews and browse online forums to find out what sort of experiences other users have had with the platform. Did it deliver the service promised? Would they recommend it to friends and family?
- Check the exchange rate. Take a look at how the exchange rate you’re getting compares to the current BTC/AUD market rate. This will help you calculate just how much your transaction will cost.
- Check your interest rate. Most card issuers will classify a crypto purchase as a cash advance, which means higher-than-normal interest rates apply. To avoid getting in over your head, make sure you’re aware of how much interest you’ll accrue if you don’t pay your purchase off quickly.
- Know the risks of buying crypto. You’ve probably heard and read plenty about the volatility of bitcoin and other cryptos, but don’t assume that the coins you’ll buy will increase in value enough to cover your purchase costs. In fact, never assume that your coins will increase in value at all – digital currencies are complicated and speculative assets, and there’s every chance you could lose your money.
If you want to buy bitcoin or any other crypto with a credit card or debit card, start comparing the fees and features of the brokers and exchanges that offer this service. Once you’ve found the platform that’s right for you, visit its website and follow the prompts to get started.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ADA, ICX, IOTA and XLM.