Touted as the currency of the future, Bitcoins really have taken the world by storm in the recent past. With their phenomenal rise to power and outrageous growth rate, the global populace was in a way, forced to sit up and take notice of the newest player in the currency business. Even today, the global dominion of Bitcoins seems to be far from over. Their popularity continues to rise, as an increasing number of people begin to actually buy and transact with them. And yet as with any new venture, a few hiccups down the road are bound to happen. Bitcoins too are destined to run into a good share of obstacles of their own. One of the most pressing matters for them right now is the non-availability of effective and convenient payment gateways with which to pay for services with Bitcoins. Although the number of vendors who are happy to accept Bitcoins as a form of payment continues to rise, there is an alarmingly short supply of channels through which a customer can actually make the payment.
Debit Cards for Bitcoins
But all of that is about to change, for there are people working day and night to make sure you get to harness Bitcoins to the fullest. And a few of these people came up with the brilliant concept of Bitcoin debit cards. Bitcoin debit cards are exactly what they sound like. Similar to debit cards, they allow the holder to make payments and purchase products or services for themselves, except the fact that the payments will be made in Bitcoins. These cards are designed to directly tap into your Bitcoin wallets and extract coins from them, which are further converted and transferred as real currency into your vendor’s financial account as soon as you make a purchase. The process is instantaneous and fairly easy to understand.
What to consider when choosing a Bitcoin debit card
What are some others pros of using BTC debit cards? For starters, they allow you to go completely cashless, for each and every purchase you make can be paid for with your Bitcoin debit card, irrespective of whether the merchant accepts Bitcoins or not. Bitcoin debit cards are accepted almost everywhere, that is, any shop or vendor who accepts debit card payments will gladly accept Bitcoin debit card payments as well.
Also, you don’t need to worry about conversions, for as soon as you supply Bitcoins to your debit card, it stores them as actual currency on your account. Now, whenever you need to make a purchase, all you need to do is swipe the card on the vendor’s machine, and the applicable amount converted into the desired currency is instantaneously credited into the vendors account after it has debited from your account.
As a result, international transactions cease to be a hassle. Whenever you choose to travel abroad, all you need to carry with yourself is your Bitcoin debit card, and you will find that making payments on international stores and outlets has never been easier.
But just as there are two sides to a coin, and a yin to every yang, there have to be a few downsides to this potentially game-changing scheme as well. And if we’re trying to educate you on the viability and usefulness of these cards, it automatically becomes a responsibility on our part to inform you of the disadvantages, as few as they are, as well.
One major flaw that looms over this entire strategy is that of centralization. To elaborate, in order to access your Bitcoins through your debit card, you will need to first deposit coins into your debit card company’s account. Therefore, you are basically giving away your coins to a third party company, which may or may not have adequate measures deployed to protect your Bitcoins in case of a security breach.
For the exact same reason, it is advisable to not load up your Bitcoin debit card with a lot of money, but rather deposit only as many coins as you’re perfectly sure that you’ll be required later on for your purchases. In fact, as soon as the purchase is completed and the services of the card are no longer required, for the time being, make sure the balance on the card reaches a negligible amount. This way, your coins remain secure in their vaults and even if a security issue does manage to crop up, you will lose only a small portion of your coins.
Additionally, for such a convenient service, you can’t expect the debit card companies do not charge you a little extra in the name of convenience or usage fee. You will most definitely have to shell out a few bucks if you need to sign up for this service, and also pay monthly rentals to continue using the same.
Although monthly rentals can be avoided if you choose to carry out a bit of research on the various companies which issue debit cards for Bitcoins, for not all of them levy such charges. And on the positive side of things, since there are multiple Bitcoin debit card companies around, you get to actually compare the fee and charges of different companies and then arrive on the best pick of the lot in terms of economical value and affordability.
Top 5 Best Bitcoin Debit Cards 2018
Now that we’re thoroughly familiarized with the ins and outs of Bitcoin debit cards and how they are supposed to make our lives easier, it makes perfect sense to actually take a look at some major players in the industry, that is, take a little tour of the various companies that are currently in the practice of issuing such cards. We will go through each one and try to gauge the viability of the services they offer, along with analyzing the pros-and-cons for each of them, so that you’re able to decide for yourself which one of the lots is the best Bitcoin debit card.
Bitpay happens to be a really well known and widely acclaimed company for Bitcoin transactions, and the cards they issue to their customers have the unique feature of being acceptable globally. No matter where you are in the world, you get to make payments and purchase services through the use of a Bitpay debit card.
On the downside of things though, these cards can only be issued to US citizens currently. However, plans of expanding the business to citizens of other nations are certainly underway. Additionally, security seems to be a bit of an issue for Bitpay, as their cards don’t have ‘chip and pin’ authentication, a feature which usually adds a double layer of security to most banking accounts. They offer you a generic prepaid Visa card, which you can load through your Bitpay account, and you’re all set. Operational in every single one of the 50 United States territories, all that you require getting a card of your own is a government ID, a home address and a valid Social Security number.
As far as the costs incurred are concerned, you just have pay the signing up fee of $9.95 and the card would promptly reach you within a week at most. This delivery happens free of cost and any additional costs incurred are included in the sign-up fee itself.
Another important piece of information you need to be aware of is that Bitpay charges you a 3% fee in case you’re planning to use the card outside of the US, in the name of currency conversion costs. ATM transactions cost anywhere between $2-3, which means you will have to pay an extra $2 whenever you withdraw some amount from an ATM in the US, and $3 for when you transact at an ATM outside the country. Any other transaction fees, however, is completely done away with.
Another major player in this business happens to be Crytopay, with a set of unique features that make it stand apart from its competition and attracts a whole lot of customers. This company offers both virtual as well as physical debit cards, that is, even if you wish to deal with Bitcoins online, through a virtual debit card, Crytopay will let you do that.
The one thing that really works for Cryptopay though, is that they issue debit cards to anyone in the world, irrespective of nationality or region. Also, as stated earlier, the virtual debit card option is a huge life-saver for all the online shopping enthusiasts, for it makes e-commerce payments as simple as giving away cash from your wallets. The physical card, on the other hand, comes with a ‘chip and pin’ security feature, making it safer to use than Bitpay.
Another bonus that you stand to gain from opting for Crytopay is that you don’t even need to flourish a full ID, for extensive verification takes place only if you choose to sign up for a card with extended limits meant for high-value transactions.
The card, in this case, costs $15 and comes with free shipping anywhere in the world. ATM transactions cost you $2.5 and currency conversion costs, as with Bitpay are $3. Although nothing in this world is perfect and similar is the case with Crytopay, for it has a few anomalies of its own. The card makes you incur additional maintenance costs of $1 per month, and each time you load up the card, you need to incur an additional 1% fee. Such maintenance costs hike up the net price of the service by a substantial amount, but in case you don’t feel much bothered about them, then Cryptopay might be a rather suitable option for you. Also, the upper limit as far as loading money into the card is concerned, happens to be $2500.
Xapo is best characterized by the good name the company has built for itself over the years. The reputation and acclaim the company has managed to garner is in itself a testimony to the usefulness of the services they dish out. Xapo was, in fact, one of the earliest companies to actually get into the business of Bitcoin debit cards, which means they have good experience in the field and are duly aware of the way these cards must be designed or implemented.
It offers a card that is quite similar to the one offered by Bitpay, mostly in the sense that they too, do not offer ‘chip and pin’ verification. If security is one of the most pressing concerns for you, or if you are looking forward to loading up your card with copious amounts of money, then it may do you well to look for other options.
With a 20$ issuing cost and a fee of $12 charged annually, this one is certainly among the more expensive ones available in the market. The annual fee though comes into effect only after the first year of usage. The website for Xapo claims to ship the card almost anywhere in the world and a slightly jarring fact is that they charge an additional fee in case a user wants to change the pin of the debit card. The upper limit for storing money, as in Cryptopay, is $2500, and the only downsides to their scheme are the absence of ‘chip and pin’ verification and a slightly redundant fee scheme.
Wirex has been around for quite a few years and is acclaimed globally as a financial services provider company. It provides cryptocurrency wallets and has recently even started giving out VISA debit cards for the same. It was actually earlier named E-coin, which was later changed to Wirex back in 2016.
The one thing that really lends support to this company’s campaign for cards is their own reputation and brand value. Since they are well established, they already have a dedicated legion of customers who are ready to vouch for the usefulness of their services. Wirex even provides support for an application, which can be installed and run on both your mobile as well as desktop devices. Once you get it up and running, this application can be used for carrying out certain functions such as loading up your debit card, making it one of the most convenient and user-friendly services around.
The debit card they use comes pre-packed with ‘chip and pin’ authentication, which means security won’t be much of an issue with Wirex. The fee structure is comparable to all the other card-dealing services mentioned before, that is, a 3% conversion fee in case you decide to use the card internationally, a $2.5 ATM fee for every transaction done at an ATM and finally a $17 fee for actually getting the card shipped to you.
Similar to Xapo, Wirex also offers a virtual debit card, in case you’re not interested in handling or receiving the physical plastic model of the card. Apart from the other costs mentioned above, Wirex also levies a maintenance or service fee, which is monthly in nature, on its customers. Similar to Cryptopay, Wirex makes you pay an additional $1 per month in the name of maintenance. All of these costs combined together make this company’s services slightly more difficult to bear and more suited for those customers who are okay with spending good amounts of money on their card.
Shift claims to be the very first United States based debit card company, and the cards they issue are intimately connected with your Coinbase accounts. For those who are not aware, Coinbase is actually a currency exchange service aimed at digital currencies and cryptocurrencies especially and is currently based out of San Francisco. They provide customers with a virtual but safe platform for buying, selling, transferring or transacting in digital currencies. By connecting through to such an account, Shift makes it highly easy and convenient to transact in Bitcoins and pay for services and products with your debit card.
However, for a debit card service that claims to be purely US-based and prides itself on its national business, Shift is actually operational only in 45 of the fifty states of the US. Expansions are certainly in the pipeline, and perhaps someday Shift may even expand to other countries, but currently, it serves only forty-five regions of the US. Also, you might face issues even when you try and carry out purchases internationally with your Shift debit card, not because Shift’s capacities are limited but because Coinbase, which works in tandem with Shift, is not available in a lot of countries.
While reach and availability might be a few issues with this card, the costs are certainly not. Shift happens to be one of the most economical cards around and the charges levied are much lesser in comparison to what other companies providing similar services charge. A Shift Bitcoin debit card only costs you $10 for delivery and manufacturing while there’s absolutely no redundant, annual or monthly, fees at all. However, not all of the costs are eliminated. The card does charge you an additional $3 for transactions done internationally in the name of currency conversion costs and a $2.5 fee whenever you choose to carry out a transaction at an ATM. But even if you choose to take up all of these costs into account, Shift still easily outranks all major Bitcoin debit card providers in terms of affordability and economical viability.
If a debit card for your Bitcoin purchases is what you seek, then you’re in luck, for there are as many as seven different companies, including the ones mentioned above, available currently which give out cards. In this Bitcoin debit card review, we went through five of those seven leading companies who deal in such cards and tried to educate you as best as possible on the advantages or disadvantages you might face with each of them.
While they are still currently in the initial phase, going by all market trends and judging by the kind of responses they’ve been getting, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that soon Bitcoins will emerge as the most highly-favored and most widely used currency all over the world. And if that happens, one must be ready. Simply opting for a good exchange service and learning about transactions with Bitcoins doesn’t, in any way suffice for reaching a stage of total compatibility and comfort with the cryptocurrency. To achieve that, you must also invest in a debit card. But choose wisely, for the options are diverse and your requirements quite specific.
Take into account all that you wish to accomplish with your card, and think of only those companies who actually cater to those needs. A few things you must look out for is that the card you’re opting for is localized for your region, and can be freely operated without any restrictions, especially for non-US citizens. Another thing to look out for is the set of costs associated with each card. Make sure you put in some time to understand what kind of charges are being levied on you, and whether or not they are really essential. Look out for any hidden charges, and make comparisons between different companies and the prices they offer, for only then you’ll be able to make an informed decision for the most affordable but efficient debit card.
You might also want to take a look at the two remaining debit card-issuing companies, and see if their services suit you more than those offered by the five mentioned above. The companies, namely ANXPRO and CoinsBank, are largely similar to the ones we’ve outlined in this article, and yet do carry some characteristic features that you won’t find anywhere else.
In conclusion, choosing a debit card for your cryptocurrency, or Bitcoins, isn’t all that complicated. Whatever time and energy it does require won’t really seem much significant when you compare them with the ease that these debit cards will bring into your life. So go ahead, weigh your options and pick one, for a much simpler life awaits you on the other side.