Bitcoin debit cards

Compare bitcoin debit cards

How to compare and choose bitcoin debit cards so you can shop with your cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin debit cards help bridge the gap between cryptocurrency and the real world, making it possible to buy just about anything with your crypto assets.

This guide takes a closer look at how cryptocurrency debit cards work and how you can compare the available options to find a card that’s right for your needs.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade.

Important update

In January 2018, Visa sent shockwaves through the crypto world when it announced that it had severed ties with WaveCrest, a company which at the time issued some of the most popular cryptocurrency debit cards around the world. This forced several bitcoin debit card companies to look for alternative arrangements and reduced the range of debit card options available to crypto enthusiasts. If you’re considering applying for a crypto debit card, be aware that this is a market sector where regulatory changes and decisions from major payment networks can have a quick and significant impact.

Compare bitcoin debit and credit cards at a glance

Name Product Card Cost Supported Fiat Currencies Loading Methods
CoinJar Swipe Debit Card
AUD$29
AUD
Blueshyft
BPAY
CoinJar Swipe is designed for Australians to be able to cash out their bitcoin at local ATMs or spend their crypto at any EFTPOS terminal in the country.
Spectrocoin Prepaid Card
Plastic: US$50.00
Virtual: EUR€9.00
USD, EUR
Bank transfer (SEPA)
Debit card
Credit card
Spectrocoin's Prepaid Card supports USD and EUR and is linked to the SpectroCoin Blockchain Wallet, enabling users to easily access cryptos such as BTC, ETH and XEM.

Compare up to 4 providers

Looking to load your crypto card? Check out our guide to crypto exchanges.


How do I choose a bitcoin debit or credit card?

If you want to know how to choose the best bitcoin debit card for your needs, you’ll need to thoroughly research the cards available and compare the features they have to offer.

The full breakdown: Features to consider when choosing your bitcoin debit card

Things to consider
Type of cardDoes the provider offer a physical bitcoin debit card, a virtual bitcoin debit card or both? Not only will this affect where you can use the card, for example, you can’t use a virtual card at an ATM, but also the fees that apply. If a provider offers both physical and virtual cards, make sure you’re comparing fees and features for the type of card you want.
Prepaid vs non-prepaid cardsNext, check whether the card is prepaid or not. Prepaid cards allow you to load cryptocurrency onto your card and have it converted to fiat currency straight away, so you have a balance of AUD ready to go. Meanwhile, non-prepaid cards are connected to a bitcoin wallet, allowing your bitcoin to be converted to fiat currency on the spot when you make a purchase.
Supported currenciesCheck which fiat currencies the card supports. Only a quite limited range of cards allow you to convert your crypto to AUD, with USD and EUR much more widely accepted. In terms of cryptocurrencies, most cards accept bitcoin only, but some also allow you to top up your balance using other digital currencies.
Card issuance costMost bitcoin debit cards don’t come free, so you’ll need to check how much the provider charges for ordering, delivering and activating your card. Prices vary depending on whether you choose a plastic or virtual card, though plastic cards usually cost more upfront and can be $50 or more in some cases.
Loading feesMany providers will charge a fee when you load your card with crypto coins or tokens. This may be a flat fee or a percentage of your transaction amount, so check the fine print to find out how much it’ll cost you.
Additional feesNext, make sure you’re aware of any other fees that apply to the card. These may include:

  • Monthly service fee. Some card providers charge a monthly service fee for the use of the card. This fee is generally minimal (around $1–$2) but make sure you include it in your calculations.
  • Annual fee. Alternatively, your provider may charge an annual fee to all cardholders.
  • Currency conversion fee. Check the fine print to see whether you’re charged a fee for converting crypto into fiat currency, for converting one fiat currency to another or for converting one cryptocurrency to another. You could be charged a flat amount or a fee calculated as a percentage of each transaction.
  • ATM withdrawal fee. How much will it cost you to make an ATM withdrawal using your card? Does the fee vary between domestic and international ATMs?
  • International transaction fee. Check what fee the provider will charge you for international transactions on your card. Fees of 3% are not uncommon.
  • Inactivity fee. Some providers will charge a fee if your card is inactive for a specified period of time.
  • Third-party fees. Additional fees may also be charged at the point of sale, usually by whichever merchant is accepting the card. Depending on your country and the type of purchase, this will often be around 1.5–3% to cover the portion of profits taken by Visa, Mastercard or other providers.
Exchange rateWhat exchange rate will you get when the provider converts your crypto into fiat currency? Check to see how the provider calculates its exchange rates and how it compares to market rates. Please note that crypto debit card exchange rates will typically be noticeably lower than mid-market rates.
App available?Does the debit card also come with a linked smartphone app and wallet you can use to manage your funds? For example, you may be able to use the app to check your balance, top up your card and convert funds from one currency to another.Also check whether you need to use the wallet offered by the card provider or whether you have the option of linking your card to your own secure wallet.
Transaction limitsMost card providers impose limits on the amount you can spend on your card. Make sure you check for:

  • Loading limits
  • Daily and per-transaction spending limits
  • ATM withdrawal limits
Other loading methodsSome card providers will require you to already own cryptocurrency which you can then use to load your card. However, many providers allow you to purchase cryptocurrency directly through their app/wallet platform. If this is the case, check which payment methods you can use to exchange your fiat currency for digital coins, such as bank transfer, BPAY and credit or debit card payment.
Countries supported
    Some bitcoin debit cards are available almost globally, but others are only offered to customers in specific countries. Check the provider’s terms and conditions to make sure their card is available where you live.
Payment networkCheck which payment network the crypto debit card is issued on, such as Visa or Mastercard. This will help you work out exactly where the card is accepted all around the world.
Verification requirementsFind out what sort of personal details and ID you’ll need to provide when you sign up for a card. Will completing an ID verification process allow you to access higher transaction limits? Is it possible to register anonymously if you wish?
Company backgroundFinally, don’t forget to take some time to consider the background of the company behind the card. How long have they been in business? Where are they based? What sort of reputation do they have? Has their card been linked to any scams?

By comparing cards based on the above factors, you’ll be well placed to decide which cryptocurrency debit card is the right fit for you.

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How do bitcoin debit and credit cards work?

The 101 on bitcoin debit and credit cards

A bitcoin debit card is a debit card linked to your cryptocurrency balance. These cards aim to make it quick and easy to spend your crypto coins in the real world, allowing you to pay with digital currency anywhere that regular debit and credit cards are accepted and to use your crypto balance to withdraw cash at an ATM. There are several crypto-friendly stores, retailers and ATMs in Australia where you can use your bitcoin debit card.

How they work is actually quite simple:

  • Prepaid cards allow you to load your card with coins from your crypto wallet, which are automatically converted into your fiat currency of choice (ie Australian dollars) so that you have an AUD balance on your card ready to spend.
  • Non-prepaid cards are linked to your bitcoin wallet so that whenever you swipe them at a payment terminal or enter your card details to make an online payment, the card provider converts your digital coins into fiat currency at the current exchange rate to complete the transaction.

Crypto debit cards usually run on existing card networks like Visa, Mastercard or EFTPOS and can be used anywhere in the world where those cards are accepted. Bitcoin is far and away the most widely supported cryptocurrency across debit card providers, but some providers around the world also allow you to load your card using other currencies, such as Ethereum and Litecoin.

Finally, make sure you’re aware that cryptocurrency debit cards come in two forms:

  • Physical cards that you can carry around in your wallet, swipe at payment terminals and use at ATMs
  • Virtual cards that allow you to enter your card details for online purchases

How would I use a bitcoin debit card?

Buying a GoPro with cryptocurrency

Jim wants to buy a new GoPro camera from his local electronics store. But thanks to a spate of unexpected bills, Jim is a little short of cash at the moment and doesn’t have the $500 necessary to complete the purchase.

However, Jim does have a crypto wallet where he is storing 5.43 BTC, so he decides to buy the camera with some of his bitcoin balance. He decides the easiest way to do that is to use a bitcoin debit card. How does he go about doing this?

Jim signs up for a physical bitcoin debit card that allows him to convert his BTC into AUD and pay at any EFTPOS terminal around the country. Once his card arrives, Jim uses the card provider’s app to load 0.2 BTC onto his card. The provider converts his BTC into AUD, leaving Jim with a balance of just under $2,000 on his card.

Jim then uses the card to pay for his GoPro at the local electronics store. All he has to do is swipe the card at the EFTPOS payment terminal and enter his PIN.

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What are the benefits and risks?

If you’re considering getting a cryptocurrency debit card, make sure you consider the pros and cons first.

Benefits of bitcoin debit cards

  • Convenient access to your crypto coins
  • Allow you to spend your cryptocurrency in the real world
  • A quick and easy way to convert your crypto into fiat currency

Risks of bitcoin debit cards

  • Rates and fees vary between cards but can significantly increase costs when spending bitcoin
  • Limited card options available
  • Regulatory uncertainty as some banks and payment networks have imposed restrictions on these types of cards
  • Centralisation, you need to entrust control of your digital currency to a third party
If you’d like to sign up for a bitcoin debit card and spend your crypto on everyday purchases, compare the available cards in the comparison table above to get started.

Compare crypto debit cards

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FAQs

Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.
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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AnjasaMay 5, 2018

    I’d like to find out where I can purchase a prepaid bitcoin card. Can you help me, please?

    • finder Customer Care
      JeniMay 6, 2018Staff

      Hi Anjasa,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      You may want to know where you can buy bitcoin with a prepaid debit card by visiting this page. Please see the “How to buy crytocurrency with cash” part of the page to know which platforms to use.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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