Crypto debit and crypto credit cards are one of the surprise offshoots of the burgeoning cryptocurrency sector. As exchanges attempt to provide greater utility to their customers, the competition has grown to provide real-world solutions to spending crypto in the same way you would spend fiat currencies such as USD, GBP, EUR, CNY or any other viable denomination.
Where crypto debit cards in particular stand out is the generous incentives they offer users in the form of crypto cashbacks and other loyalty features. Some exchanges, such as Nexo, even allow certain tiers of users to borrow against their crypto holdings at extremely low rates without triggering a sale and therefore a tax event.
It’s a new space, one that’s garnering attention from consumers looking for bank-beating deals, and regulators keen to ensure that consumer rights are protected and that crypto debit and credit cards don’t pose an existential threat to traditional banking and the wider financial system. But with finance behemoths including Visa and Mastercard readily partnering with crypto exchanges and creating new crypto debit cards at an increasing pace, it looks as though crypto debit cards are here to stay.
We love anything that helps cryptocurrency gain wider adoption and provides opportunities for individuals to be in full control of their own finances. Having access to decentralised finance applications and tools that help convert crypto into fiat and vice versa is a step closer to the sort of financial freedom a growing number of connected and tech-savvy people crave. This article cherry-picks the best debit and credit cards that exist today, analyses their strengths and weaknesses and provides reasons why you could consider one (or all) of them.
To say that Crypto.com has made a splash is an understatement. In the space of a year, the exchange aped into sports sponsorship clinching naming rights, in a $700million, 20-year deal, to the Lakers Stadium and also securing official sponsorship of the FIFA 2022 World Cup, among other things. Prior to this promotional drive, in 2018 Crypto.com was one of the first crypto exchanges to release a series of crypto VISA cards.
The series is linked to a tiered incentive system where the more CRO (Crypto.com’s native cryptocurrency) is held and staked by users, the greater the rewards. At the lower end, there is Midnight Blue requiring no deposit and receiving no rewards and at the higher end, there is Obsidian where users staking $400,000 or more receive a 5% CRO cashback on their spending.
In between, sit Frosted Rose Gold & Icy White delivering 3% cashback rewards on a $40,000 account; Royal Indigo & Jade Green with 2% cashback on a $4,000 deposit; and Ruby Steel with 1% CRO rewards on a $400 deposit. Crypto.com debit card holders in any of the top three tiers also get free Spotify and Netflix accounts bundled in, with a suite of additional perks and discounts for the top two tiers.
We chose the Crypto.com debit card not just because of the perks but also because it has a great mobile app which makes viewing the debit card usage super-easy. On the app, users can see their account balance along with all transactions. And whenever a transaction is completed on the card, users are notified instantly by SMS or email—or both depending on how notifications are set up.
Gemini has an excellent credit card available to its users. By using the card, holders earn rewards either in Bitcoin (BTC), which they can either convert to fiat currency or keep in the belief that Bitcoin will appreciate in value in the coming months and years, or in more than 60 other cryptocurrencies currently traded on the Gemini platform.
One of the Gemini credit card’s best features is that any crypto earned through spending is immediately credited to the account the moment you tap or swipe. Up to a $6000 annual spending limit, Gemini credit card owners receive a generous 3% crypto cashback on dining, 2% back on grocery shopping and 1% back on all other purchases. Once the $6000 annual spending limit is hit, all rewards revert to a flat crypto cashback reward of 1% on everything.
In addition to these perks, there are no annual fees, no foreign transaction fees and no exchange fees that affect users' crypto rewards. Cards come in a sleek metal and there are three designs to choose from—black, silver and rose. For security reasons the long card number is omitted and is accessible via the Gemini credit card mobile app.
We chose the Gemini credit card because of the speed of its rewards system. Users spending on the card are instantly credited in the cryptocurrency of their choice, up to 3% on transactions, or 0.5% in Bitcoin. We also liked the look and feel of the metal cards and the fact that they are made mostly from recycled materials.
Nexo brings real innovation to the crypto debit card space. The team have recognised that selling crypto in certain jurisdictions is a taxable event, which poses problems for people who want to spend their crypto on the high street. To get around this, the Nexo debit card allows users to spend without going through this conversion process. This means that money spent is effectively a loan backed by held crypto. These instant credit lines use the crypto held on account as collateral to secure the loan.
The other advantage of this is that holders retain ownership of their crypto assets. Hodlers of BTC, for example, might not want to sell their digital assets to buy a cup of coffee, groceries or even a car because they believe that the underlying cryptocurrency will appreciate in value. Nexo’s debit card innovation means that users don’t have to spend their holding leaving their portfolios undisturbed.
Debit card holders can spend up to 90% of the value of cryptos held in their portfolios. The 10% buffer is kept in place by Nexo to account for any market volatility. Another advantage of Nexo is that no credit checks are required so anyone can apply for the card. If that wasn’t enough, not only are Nexo debit card holders able to HODL their crypto while spending fiat, they also get 2% in crypto rewards for doing so, paid to them in Nexo’s native cryptocurrency—NEXO. For those who don’t want NEXO tokens, rewards can be paid in BTC but at a reduced rate of 0.5%. Nexo’s borrowing rates are also highly competitive, ranging from 0% to 13.9%, much lower than traditional credit cards.
We chose the Nexo credit card because of its innovative features. Nexo was included in our top picks because there is no other card that provides collateral backed loans to the tune of 90% of the value of held crypto. Being able to borrow and avoid triggering a taxable event makes life easier for users and therefore made Nexo an easy choice for us.
Wirex is another debit card making cryptocurrencies more accessible to mainstream users. Opening an account is free and takes just a few minutes. Once open, users have an intuitive and responsive mobile app with which to manage their new account. Wirex also offers slightly more generous ATM withdrawals than competitors with a $400 monthly limit.
Where Wirex truly shines, however, is in its exchange fees. Whereas many platforms nibble away at their customers’ capital through such fees, Wirex weighs in with an attractive, and unbeatable, 0%. This means that Wirex users benefit from live interbank rates when they switch between crypto and fiat currencies.
Wirex also provides customers with a cross-chain wallet in which to store cryptos and NFTs. Being a non-custodial wallet, similar to Metamask, unlike many other exchange-linked wallets, the Wirex wallet sits squarely in the realm of decentralised finance. The big plus here is that the wallet is keyless, protecting users’ digital assets without the risk of accidental loss. This next-gen security is thanks to the biometric backup Wirex provides.
All of this tied to the Wirex debit card making it a powerful solution for anyone ready to bridge the worlds of traditional and decentralised finance with ease. In addition, users can earn up to 25% APY through crypto staking, then use their yield to spend on the high street through their debit card, earning WTX, Wirex’s native cryptocurrency, with every transaction.
The Wirex debit card leapt into our top picks because it has effectively pulled together the best parts of traditional banking and decentralised finance (DeFi). Out of all of the cards and apps we tested, Wirex felt as though it was the closest to fulfilling the dream of DeFi in a meaningful way that consumers will understand. It also stood out for its keyless access and state of the art biometric facial recognition system.
A crypto debit or credit card is a card linked to a crypto application such as those mentioned in this article. What sets them apart from traditional debit and credit cards is that cryptocurrencies stored in the wallet of the app can be spent in a similar way to traditional currencies such as USD, GBP or EUR. Another benefit is that users don’t need to open a bank account to get a crypto debit or credit card. Credit checks are rarely if ever required, and spending on the cards attracts better rewards in most cases.
As all cryptocurrencies have fiscal value they can be converted into fiat currencies to be spent online or on the high street via the app to which the card is linked. While only a few places currently accept crypto payments directly, both VISA and MasterCard are widely recognised. These payment processing systems have developed integrations with crypto exchanges to facilitate the swapping out of crypto to fiat and vice versa. When somebody used their crypto debit or credit card the payment processing system can look at the amount of crypto available, assess its current market value then swaps it for an equivalent fiat amount
Most crypto credit and debit cards perform a similar function. They allow cryptocurrency holders to spend their crypto by taking advantage of crypto to fiat conversions that take place in the app. This rapid computation allows users to spend their crypto. Without this mechanism, it would be difficult to spend cryptocurrency for the simple reason that most merchants don’t have the means of accepting crypto payments directly. Beyond this, crypto credit and debit cards differ mainly in what they offer their customers. Most provide some sort of crypto cashback, while others provide additional perks and unique selling points to attract new business.
The main question to ask when choosing a crypto credit or debit card is: ‘can I gain access to the card in my country.’ Because crypto is still very much in its infancy and is seen as a potential threat to legacy finance, regulations are constantly changing. Many of the rules that apply to TradFi are being applied to DeFi as a quick fix, which doesn’t always work. For these reasons and more, you may find that it’s impossible to get the card you want in the jurisdiction where you reside. Gemini’s credit card, for example, is only available in the US and many crypto debit cards are only available in Europe.
The next thing you need to do is examine what’s on offer, what the fees are if any, and whether or not you'll actually make use of the perks each card promises.
It's also worth considering things like security as some platforms which your card could be linked to are more vulnerable to hacks than others.
We signed up for and tried many crypto debit and credit cards and assessed them, including those listed. As part of this process, we took into account everything from how easy the cards were to get to what the experience was once we started to use them. For example, we discovered that the crypto.com card, while easy to use with near-instant transaction reporting via text and email, gave more prompts at the point of checkout in retail stores to ‘insert the card’.
This posed a problem, as we were using the contactless facility on the card. The prompt to insert meant we needed to retrieve the PIN number from the app, which required Face ID on the Apple iPhone we were using. This happened around 30% of the time which we thought was too much of an interruption. That said, the Crypto.com card made it onto the list because of the swift addition of the crypto cashback to our account, and of course the perks mentioned above.
The world of finance is changing fast and there has been nothing more disruptive in the financial sector than cryptocurrency. It has taken the world by storm and captured everyone from politicians to banking institutions by surprise. Crypto is arguably one of the most disruptive entrants to the financial system since the invention of paper money in China more than 3000 years ago.
Despite its ups and downs, however, it looks as though it is here to stay. Crypto debit and credit cards are a new addition to this system and provide more options for people looking for greater control over their financial lives.
To slide a crypto debit or credit card into your purse or wallet is to be part of the new future of finance. The caveat to this, of course, is that not all cryptos will survive and their volatility means that tens of thousands of dollars could potentially become worthless in a market crash. Having a sense of what the markets are doing can take some of the drama out of speculation, but it's a good idea to always keep some fiat in your crypto wallet and a traditional bank account in case of emergencies.
Provided the company behind the card is legit, and has a proven track record, your crypto debit or credit card should be safe to use. To be certain you're with a reputable company, start out with a little crypto on your card in the app and try using it to make small purchases online and in stores.
A crypto credit card works like a normal credit card except that you also have the added benefit of being able to spend your crypto or, in some cases, use it as collateral to borrow against.
You should get the crypto card that is supported by the most outlets in the country where you live. Both Mastercard and VISA are comparable at entry-level and there isn't much to choose between the two. With this in mind, choose the card that has the most perks and benefits and the best crypto cashback options.
The first thing you need to do is sign up and join the exchange. To do this, you will need to go through what's known as KYC. It's similar to opening a bank account. Once you've done this, navigate to the tab that says 'debit card' or 'credit card' or just 'card', click it and follow the signing up instructions.
Depending on which provider you use, your physical card could take days or weeks to arrive. Much depends on the speeds at the exchange's card processing department. If speed is of the essence, it's worth choosing a provider that offers virtual crypto cards. These can be added straight into your Android or iOS wallet for immediate use.