For today’s article were going to take a look at the 5 most popular bitcoin debit cards out on the market. I will also be taking about what a bitcoin debit card is and exactly how it works. Some operate just a little different than others and that’s important to notice so you’ll know about all that fun stuff.
As of right now, bitcoin is definitely in some sort of adoption phase still, waiting for the world to fully embrace bitcoin as a form of payment. But right now in order to buy your local cup of coffee at the gas station, it’s only cash or card with your fiat currency. Luckily bitcoin debit cards were created for people who want to spend their coins like cash, by loading them onto a “pre-paid” type debit card for your personal purchases.
How do these bitcoin debit cards work? You simply create an “invoice” every time you want to load your card with funds coming from your bitcoin wallet corresponding to the current exchange rate. You will then send the exact amount of bitcoins as requested and wait for blockchain confirmations, depending on the company you go with. I personally have the Bitpay card and have to wait for one block confirmation before the funds are available to use. The Shift card listed below actually eliminates this process by linking your wallet to the card and taking out the bitcoins when you use your card. That’s really the only difference between these cards in terms of functionality.
When choosing a bitcoin debit card, the competition lies in reputation and the card’s limits. All of these cards I’ve listed on my top 5 list(not in order) have a great reputation, so you can use this guide to compare the limits and go from there. Sadly, no companies allow you to customize the appearance of your card yet. One of these companies should totally come out with an option to do so that would be awesome. So without further ado, let’s dig in and compare them!
This is the card I have and chose it because of the enormous limits they give you straight off the bat which I’ll list below. I don’t even come close the limits Bitpay gives you, so this isn’t an issue in mind which is also settling to know. It does not have the metallic square chip, but it still has 100% functionality and operates like any other debit card when spending bitcoins. By the way just like debit and credit cards, you will be a given a pin number with all cards you choose in the mail. It costs $9.95 and will take up to 10 business days to arrive. Another thing I should mention is you can withdrawal cash from any ATM with all the cards I listed. In this case, withdrawing cash with the Bitpay card only is a $2 fee. When you receive the card in the mail you will create an account and activate your card on Bitpay’s site. After that your ready to start spending! Here are the fees and limits below.
- No annual fee
- ATM and over the counter withdrawals $2
- ACH Debit $5
- Cash Load Through GreenDot or Western
Union Reload Locations or Using the
GreenDot MoneyPak® up to $4.95 per load
- Daily spending limits $10,000
- Daily Cash withdrawal limits $3,000
- Daily Load limit $10,000
- Maximum card balance $25,000
- Daily Card to card transfer limit $500
This card is really neat because of the process they’ve eliminated for you when using the Shift card. Instead of always loading your card with funds, the Shift card is directly linked to your Coinbase or Dwolla wallet and takes out bitcoins whenever you use your card according to the current exchange rate at the time. Out of all the cards out there, this is for sure one of the more practical cards making it as close to a real debit card as possible, rather than feeling like you have a pre-paid debit card in your hands. It costs $10 and also can take up to 10 business days to arrive at your door. The Shift site even has an API for people to generate their version of their bitcoin debit cards. Once you get the Shift card, you just log on to Coinbase or Dwolla and authorize your card by using the link provided on the Shift site.
- No annual fee
- 0% fee for domestic transactions
- ATM and over the counter withdrawals $2.50
- 3% for international transactions
- International ATM Withdrawals $3.50
- Daily spending limit $1,000 per day
- Daily ATM withdrawal limit for Dwolla $500
- Daily ATM withdrawal limit for Coinbase $250
This card is available just about everywhere(see supported countries here). As you can see, it has a chip for any POS system using chip readers so that’s a plus for anybody who might find that helpful, however, I don’t mind. My Bitpay card does just fine. To get a Cryptopay card, just click Order Cryptopay card in the accounts page and follow through with the instructions provided for you. There is also two account types. One is verified and the other is not. The only difference is the increased limits when creating a verified account. It costs $15 for the card and can take up to 5 weeks(10 days for the US) depending on where you live so expect some time before you get the card in your hands. Honestly, there are better cards as this one has fees everywhere from loading your card to maintenance, but it’s listed on my top 5 for those outside the US. The limits listed below are for the authorized user accounts.
- 3% foreign transaction fee
- Monthly card maintenance fee $1
- 1% loading fee(ouch!)
- Domestic ATM fee $ 2.25
- International ATM transaction fee $3.50
- 1% card unloading fee
- Daily load amount $20000
- Daily ATM withdrawal amount $2000
- Loads per day 5
The SpectroCoin also offers a bitcoin debit card, which can be used just like any of the other cards I listed above and below. The card is funded instantly, so there’s no need for loading your card in advance when using their wallet service. You just load your bitcoins and are ready to start spending. The SpectroCoin card is also available in several currencies including, USD, EUR, and GBP. This card apparently can be linked to PayPal for those out there who would like to use that as a form of funding. It costs $9 and free delivery will take 3-4 weeks. There is no verification required immediately to acquire this card, however, I suggest you do provide additional information to get increased spending and loading limits. Out of the other cards, I personally think it’s visually appealing, but that shouldn’t determine which card you choose. The SpectroCoin card like most of the other ones in the list allows for unlimited lifetime deposits and withdrawals for verified cardholders. The limits are listed below.
- Monthly service charge fee $1
- No inactivity fee!
- Card to bitcoin wallet (buying bitcoin) 0.5% + $1.00
- Domestic ATM withdrawl fee $2.50
- 3% Currency exchange fee
- Max top-up amount $10,000
- Max single ATM withdrawl amount $1,000
- Daily ATM withdrawl amount $2,000
- Daily maximum POS amount unlimited
- Max unload to bitcoin wallet $2,250
Lastly on the list, is the Xapo bitcoin debit card. It is available to most European countries, but not in the United States. It is also the most expensive card to order costing a hefty $20. This card can be linked to PayPal if that’s your preference, but listen closely. The Xapo debit card is dispatched from Gibraltar, and PayPal will automatically set your card’s currency as GIP. If you want to change the currency type you have to contact PayPal’s customer service and they will update your account. Being in the US myself and not having this card, I cannot say much but Xapo has a great reputation and this company was one of the first ones to release a pre-paid bitcoin debit card. For my readers who reside outside the US, this is a card you can rely on in terms of reliability.
- Annual fee $12.00 (first year free)
- ATM withdrawal fee $2.50
- Pine change fee $1.00
- Card replacement fee $12.00
- Daily number of ATM transactions 2
- Amount per ATM withdrawal $200
- Daily ATM withdrawal amount $400
- Lifetime ATM withdrawal amount $1000(that’s not too much!)