How Do Bitcoin Credit and Debit Cards Work?

Bitcoin is a type of currency that uses digital tokens that can be sent electronically from one person to another. Like dollars, Bitcoin can be used to complete everyday transactions, as long as the person or business accepts Bitcoin as a payment method.

If you have Bitcoin and want to use it for everyday transactions, you might consider a Bitcoin debit or credit card. This way you could swipe your card and complete the transaction with the bitcoin you have in your wallet. As Bitcoin value rises, traditional payment networks embrace the technology, and the list of Bitcoin credit and debit card options grows.

Bitcoin Credit Cards

Soon-to-be-released Bitcoin credit cards will function like familiar rewards credit cards, but instead of paying miles or cash back, these cards will offer bitcoin as rewards for credit-card purchases.

BlockFi

BlockFi is working on the first Bitcoin credit card, paying 1.5% cash back on purchases that BLockFi then converts to Bitcoin. The card will offer a signup bonus of $250 in bitcoin after cardholders spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months. There will be a $200 annual fee.

BlockFi clients can join the waitlist for the card, slated to be available to U.S. residents in certain states in 2021. You can become a BlockFi customer by signing up for a BlockFi Interest Account and completing your profile. Once you’re approved, make your first deposit, then signup for the Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card waitlist.1

Gemini

A second Bitcoin card, the Gemini Credit Card, has a waitlist for its 2021 release. Gemini cardholders will earn up to 3% back in crypto on every purchase, with no annual fee. Rewards can be sent to the digital wallet of your choice with no exchange fees.2

In January 2021, Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange, acquired fintech Blockrize, a company that was developing its own crypto credit card. The Gemini card will incorporate Gemini’s exchange along with Blockrize’s rewards program.

Bitcoin Debit Cards

While Bitcoin credit cards aren’t quite ready for consumer use, there are a handful of Bitcoin debit cards available.

Bitpay, one of the first Bitcoin debit cards, ended its program with Visa on December 31, 2020 and is now partnered with Mastercard. If you still have funds on the Visa-version of the Bitpay card, you can contact the program manager at 855-884-7568 to receive your remaining balance.

To use a Bitcoin debit card, you’ll need to open a Bitcoin wallet. Next, connect your Bitcoin debit card to your Bitcoin wallet. Then, you can use your debit card anywhere you’d use a bank debit card. Backed by a major processing network would give purchases the same zero fraud liability as regular credit card purchases when the card is used as credit.

There may be fees associated with Bitcoin debit cards similar to what you’d pay with a prepaid card. For example, you may pay withdrawal, transaction, or monthly account fees with a Bitcoin debit card. Keep in mind that since the price of Bitcoin fluctuates, the amount of Bitcoin needed to complete a transaction can fluctuate, even within a single day.

It’s important to keep track of the amount of currency you have in your Bitcoin wallet in Bitcoin and in U.S. dollars so you know whether you have enough to complete the transaction.

Carrying a backup payment method is a good idea in case the merchant doesn’t accept the Bitcoin debit card or you don’t have enough funds to complete your transaction.

Whenever you use Bitcoin, whether with a credit card or a debit card, use caution. Cryptocurrency is a volatile asset and there is still a lot to be done to regulate it and ensure it’s safe from scams and fraud.

A Quick Look at Bitcoin

The price of a single Bitcoin constantly fluctuates, based on market bidding (similar to stocks, gold, and foreign currencies). Bitcoin topped $40,000 in January 2021, surging past the previous high of $19,650 set in December 2017.4

What makes Bitcoin unique is that the Bitcoin network—where Bitcoin is transferred—isn’t controlled by any person or company, but rather by a decentralized network of computers. A record of all Bitcoin transactions is stored on the computers of every person who helps verify Bitcoin transactions.

Bitcoin are stored in a digital wallet that has a unique ID. To send Bitcoin to another user, that person must send you a unique address generated by the currency exchange platform. You’d then copy the address into your Bitcoin exchange platform, enter the amount, and press send.