Like cranberries in the juice aisle, cryptocurrency is making its way into everything. We have crypto banks, crypto ATMs, even crypto art in the form of NFTs.
The newest “crypto-flavored” product is the cryptocurrency credit card. These highly unique cards let you spend directly from your crypto wallet even in places where crypto isn’t accepted – in a way, fulfilling Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision for Bitcoin as a universal currency. Plus, some crypto credit cards even let you earn free crypto while you spend, just like a cash back rewards card.
But crypto cards are so new, so untested, that the half dozen featured on this list share surprisingly little in common.
So what defines a “crypto credit card”? How do they work? Why are the first crypto cards so different from one another? And finally (and perhaps most pertinently), how much free crypto can you earn by using one?
Let’s investigate crypto credit cards.
Overview of the best crypto credit cards
Before I dive into the nitty-gritty, here’s an overview of the top six crypto credit cards and who they’re best for:
Card Best for Crypto rewards
Brex Card Entrepreneurs and startups BTC, ETH
Nexo Card Crypto loans BTC, NEXO
Crypto.com Rewards Visa Large stake investors CRO
Coinbase Card Security and convenience BTC, XLM
Wirex Visa Variety of currencies WRX
BlockFi Credit Card Simplicity BTC
The Brex Card is the first of two crypto cards on this list that are linked to your bank account, not your crypto wallet. What qualifies the Brex Card as a “crypto card,” at least in spirit, is the novel ability to exchange rewards points for cryptocurrency.
On its own, the Brex Card is a compelling choice for startups and entrepreneurs since it offers free ACH transfers and wires worldwide, complimentary expense tracking, no fees, and high credit limits out the door. Plus, its generous rewards structure will load you up with points. On top of 50,000 bonus points for spending $9,000 within 30 days (or 30,000 for spending $3,500), you’ll get:
- 7x on rideshare.
- 4x on Brex travel.
- 3x on restaurants and on eligible Apple products.
- 2x on recurring software.
- 1x on everything else.
What can you do with those points? Swap ‘em for crypto, of course! Brex is one of the first cards ever to add crypto to its redemption menu, and the company currently supports BTC and ETH.
Unfortunately, the current exchange rate is 100 points for $1.00 cash back or $0.70 worth of crypto, so it always makes more sense to just take the cash and buy crypto separately. Even still, I think the Brex Card deserved a space on this list for at least offering the option. Hopefully, competitors will follow suit, and perhaps by the time you read this, the exchange rate will become 1:1 (or higher).
Learn more about the Brex Card or read our full review.
Founded in 2018, Nexo exploded onto the crypto scene by offering low-interest, crypto-backed loans. To date, Nexo has lent over $5 billion to over 1.5 million users of the platform.
For a successful lender such as Nexo, offering a credit card was a natural next step. The Nexo Card offers 2% cash back on all purchases, redeemable as either NEXO tokens or bitcoins, and provides all the other security and conveniences you’d expect from a big bank card like instant freezing and an intuitive companion app.
But perhaps the biggest draw of the card is that it lets you borrow crypto instead of immediately spending from your wallet. Just like a bank card, each purchase extends a line of credit that you have to pay back within 30 days. This may be a defining feature for crypto investors who need to make a big purchase, but don’t want to sell their crypto during a dip.
As for drawbacks, the Nexo Card is only available as a Mastercard, so it may not be accepted in as many places as a Visa. Plus, you can only redeem your cash back for NEXO tokens or BTC, so it’s bad news for ETH holders.
But overall, the Nexo Card provides a well-rounded package as the only true crypto credit card.
The Crypto.com Visa
The Crypto.com Visa’s defining feature is that it pays out its cash back rewards in CRO, the platform’s proprietary cryptocurrency.
Now, getting your cash back in CRO isn’t necessarily a bad thing. CRO is the 50th largest cryptocurrency in market cap ($2.23 billion), and since launching in January of 2019, the value of CRO has exploded from $0.012 to a peak of $0.26 in April 2021 – an ROI of over 2,000%. Plus, like the rest of the crypto market, CRO is currently in a dip, valued at just $0.11 – so depending on your outlook, this might be the right time to get a Crypto.com Visa and start earning free CRO.
As for other perks, the Crypto.com Visa comes in five forms, depending on how much CRO you purchase and stake. The Royal Indigo & Jade Green cards, right in the middle, seem to be Goldilocks’ choice, requiring a CRO stake of $4,000 but offering free Spotify, Netflix, and airport lounge access.
Provided you’re a believer in the upside potential of CRO, the Crypto.com Visa is a solid choice of crypto card.
Learn about the Crypto.com Visa.
The Coinbase Card offers Coinbase users a convenient way to spend from their Coinbase wallet and earn a trickle of rewards for doing so.
Drawbacks first; the rewards are weak. You’ll earn 1% back in BTC or 4% back in Stellar Lumens (XLM), which sounds decent until you factor in the Coinbase Card’s transaction fee of 2.49%. All things considered, you’re either paying 1.49% BTC or earning 3% XLM.
However, the convenience and security provided by this card more than make up for the tepid rewards. Despite having a massive target painted on its back as the world’s first major crypto exchange to go public, Coinbase has never been successfully hacked, and only 0.004% of its users have filed complaints regarding account security.
Plus, if you’re an existing Coinbase user, you won’t have to suffer the inconvenience and fees of transferring your wallet to another platform to apply for their crypto card; you can continue trading, earning, and spending on Coinbase.
All in all, if your top priorities are security and convenience, the Coinbase Card is a prime choice.
Learn about the Coinbase Card.
The upcoming Wirex Visa card’s chief perk is that it lets you store and convert into a wide range of crypto and fiat currencies.
Currently, the platform supports 19 cryptos (BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, XLM, WXT, DAI, NANO, LINK, MKR, AAVE, YFI, UNI, UMA, OMG, BAT, ZRX, SNX, FTT) and converts to 12 fiat currencies without fees (USD, SGD, AUD, NZD, JPY, HKD, EUR, GBP, CZK, MXN, CAD, CHF). In total, the card supports 150 currencies, but the ones not listed above are subject to interbank exchange rates.
Naturally, the Wirex Visa’s broad selection of crypto and fiat currencies makes it a solid travel companion. Fly from the U.S. to Australia, for example, and you can skip right past the currency exchange counter and their hungry fees. Then, while in line at Australian Starbucks, you can simply open the Wirex App to convert some ETH into AUD and pay at the counter, all for free.
Drawbacks include a comparatively low rewards rate (0.5% on the Standard tier) and a 2% ATM fee past $400 per month, but overall, once the Wirex Visa launches in the USA in 2021, it’ll deserve a space next to your passport.
Learn about the Wirex Visa card.
Finally, the BlockFi Rewards Visa® Signature Credit Card (or BlockFi Card, for short) offers simplicity above all else. You’ll get 1.5% cash back in bitcoins. Period. No tiered structure, no toggling between currencies in an app, nada. Just a trickle of bitcoin after every swipe.
There’s merit to BlockFi’s spartan approach. The card clearly aims to seamlessly replace your existing 1.5% rewards card, with no learning curve or disruption in how you use your credit card on a daily basis. Case in point, it’s a Visa (so it’s accepted everywhere), and there are no hidden fees to worry about.
Plus, just like a traditional 1.5% rewards card, there’s a signup bonus. Once you get off the (admittedly long) waitlist, you’ll get 3.5% cash back as bitcoins for the first three months of spending. So if you have a big purchase on the horizon, hold off until your BlockFi card arrives to get a free Bitcoin investment with your purchase.
Oh, and the card is metal and pretty slick looking if I do say so myself.
Overall, the BlockFi credit card wins points for simplicity and its straightforward rewards structure. If all you want is 1.5% back in bitcoins instead of cash, it’s a solid choice.
Learn more about the BlockFi Card.BlockFi Bankruptcy Notice -On November 10, 2022, BlockFi announced that it had to suspend withdrawals from its platform due to the FTX liquidity crisis. As a result, consumers should not be using the BlockFi platform. As of November 28, 2022, BlockFi officially declared bankruptcy.
Summary of the best crypto credit cards
Card Best for Linked to? Crypto Rewards Account minimum Transaction Fees
Brex Card Entrepreneurs and startups Bank account BTC or ETH $0 None
Nexo Card True credit Crypto wallet BTC, NEXO $2,000 BTC or ETH None
Crypto.com Rewards Visa Large stake investors Crypto wallet CRO $0 to $400,000 None
Coinbase Card Convenience Crypto wallet BTC, XLM $0 2.49%
Wirex Visa Variety of currencies Crypto wallet WRX $0 2.50%
BlockFi Credit Card Simplicity Bank account BTC $0 None
How we came up with our list of the best crypto credit cards
Crypto credit cards are just starting to hit the market in 2021, so we didn’t want to restrict this list to the handful that were already available. Therefore, this list is made up of the cards with the most to offer now and the most potential to disrupt the market soon.
To qualify for this list, the crypto card needed to offer the average crypto investor a compelling value proposition. The basic ability to spend from your crypto wallet at Target wasn’t enough. What perks, points, and bonuses could it offer? Was it secure? Did we personally trust it?
All this being said, you may still find a card not present on this list that fits your unique needs – for help in quickly assessing the merits of the various cards out there, check out the section below on “Most important features of crypto credit cards.”
What is a crypto credit card?
A crypto credit card is an umbrella term for any card that lets you earn or spend cryptocurrency. Earning and spending cards are apples and oranges, however, so I’ll distinguish the two here to help you determine which is right for you:
1. Crypto “rewards” cards
Crypto cards that let you earn crypto are pretty straightforward; they’re basically rewards cards, just like the ones already in your wallet, that let you earn crypto instead of cash back. That’s why they’re often referred to as crypto rewards cards.
The BlockFi card is the perfect example – it’s a Visa that you can use to make everyday purchases, and you’ll automatically earn up to 3.5% cash back as bitcoins. Pretty neat.
2. Crypto “debit” cards
Now, crypto cards that let you spend crypto are a bit less traditional. These cards let you tap into the purchasing power of your crypto wallet, essentially functioning as a crypto debit card.
The idea of spending your crypto like cash sounds great and helps to fulfill Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision for Bitcoin. But what if the merchant doesn’t accept Bitcoin?
Not a problem. See, when you pay at Trader Joe’s with your crypto debit card, your card company instantly converts some of your crypto into fiat currency (in this case, USD) that the merchant does accept.
Not only do crypto debit cards erase the costly, tedious process of having to sell your bitcoins before you go shopping, they also tend to offer rewards of their own. For example, if you stake $4,000 in CRO to qualify for a Crypto.com Jade Green card, you’ll get free Spotify and Netflix for as long as you hold the card.
In summary, you have two different types of crypto credit cards – rewards and debit cards. Crypto rewards cards help you earn crypto, while debit cards help you spend it.
Benefits of using a crypto credit card
Instantly spend crypto
The chief benefit of using a crypto credit card is that it enables you to conveniently spend your crypto anywhere Visas or Mastercards are accepted. The merchant doesn’t even have to accept or even believe in crypto for your card to work, since they’ll be receiving fiat.
Convert crypto into cash
Most crypto debit cards will also let you withdraw from ATMs. Plus, crypto debit cards tend to have fewer withdrawal limits and fees, especially overseas. Presumably, this is because it’s cheaper to convert from crypto > local fiat than from USD > local fiat.
Earn crypto commission-free
With a crypto rewards card, earning crypto instead of cash back isn’t just exciting and convenient – it’s a money-saver. Unlike purchasing or mining, you won’t have to pay commissions or transaction fees on earned crypto, so it’s all yours.
It’s worth noting, however, that crypto debit cards often only reward you in the provider’s proprietary cryptocurrency. Needless to say, CRO doesn’t have the same upside potential as BTC or ETH, so keep that in mind.
Potentially high rewards
Some crypto rewards cards offer much higher returns than your vanilla rewards card. For example, if you stake enough CRO, the Crypto.com rewards cards will cover your Spotify, Netflix, and even Amazon Prime subscriptions – plus give you up to 8% cash back on every purchase.
Drawbacks of using a crypto credit card
As of June 2021, the main drawback of crypto cards is that most of them currently have a waitlist. For example, the waitlist for a BlockFi card is roughly 400,000 long. Over time, however, and especially as the competition heats up, these providers will hopefully accelerate their client adoption rates.
Lack of bonuses
Generally speaking, crypto cards don’t offer much in the way of bonuses. Not yet, at least. Presumably, that’s because most crypto cards have a waitlist (and thus don’t need a signup incentive) or because the crypto rewards speak for themselves.
Either way, if you’re looking for a crypto card company to match the ~$300 to $750 your bank offers, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Credit card companies love to list out the fees they don’t charge to distract you from the fees they do charge. The deceptive trend continues with crypto cards, many of which have unique fees that you wouldn’t even know to look for.
Spending your crypto at the wrong time
Having a crypto card in your purse enables you to spend your crypto much more easily. While this may align with Nakamoto’s original 2009 vision, it may not be the right move for long-term HODLers. After all, imagine spending $20,000 of Ethereum on a car, only for the value of that ETH to double next month!
Who should use a crypto credit card?
If you fit into one of the following categories of crypto holders, you might find that a crypto credit card deserves a spot in your wallet:
If you bought into crypto before Bitcoin hit $1,000 or even $100, then you’re probably sitting on some fat stacks and could benefit from a simple way to spend it.
A crypto credit card gives you that option, and it’s much cheaper and more convenient than having to sell off your holdings before you head to the Porsche dealership.
On the other side of the spectrum, you might not be a crypto zillionaire yet, but you like the idea of automatically earning a trickle of crypto in the background (without having to mine).
Earning crypto through a rewards card is perhaps the least stressful way to invest in crypto. Not only is it convenient and newbie-friendly, but it’s also essentially free crypto so you won’t stress over losing the money you invested.
Who shouldn’t use a crypto credit card?
Crypto cards are still a niche product, however, and they’re not right for everyone. Who’s a good fit (and who isn’t)?
Long-term crypto investors (HODLers)
If you’re HODLing the line, so to speak, you probably don’t want a convenient way to spend your crypto. The hassle, fees, and taxes associated with an early withdrawal might actually be helping motivate you to keep your investment right where it is to mature in the long run.
This may go without saying, but if you aren’t already a firm believer in crypto, a crypto credit card won’t win you over. There’s very little a crypto card can do that a vanilla rewards card can’t do aside from letting you spend the crypto you already have.
Most important features of crypto credit cards
Shopping around for a crypto credit card? Here are the key features to look out for:
Linkage to a bank account or crypto wallet
When browsing for a crypto rewards card, the first thing you’ll want to determine is: does this card spend cash from a line of credit? Or crypto from my crypto wallet?
Frustratingly, the term “crypto credit card” tends to apply to both cases. Sometimes you’ll be looking at a traditional rewards card that simply offers crypto as an alternative to cash back (aka a crypto rewards card), and other times it’ll be a debit card for your crypto wallet that also offers rewards (aka a crypto debit card).
In the case of crypto debit cards, you’ll often find that the card company will require you to stake some crypto to qualify for the best rewards. The Crypto.com Visa Card, for example, offers rewards tiers based upon how much of their proprietary CRO you hold in your account for at least six months.
Naturally, you’ll want to keep a close eye on what types of rewards each card offers and in what type of currency. Sometimes a crypto debit card will only offer rewards in the form of their own proprietary crypto. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since these altcoins often hold their value like a stablecoin, but they may not have the upside potential of BTC or ETH.
Since the main function of a crypto debit card is to instantly sell-off and convert some of your crypto into fiat, they tend to charge small transaction fees in the realm of 0 to 2.5%. If you think you’ll be using your crypto card for big purchases, you’ll save big money by using a card with no such fees.
With over 4,000 cryptocurrencies in existence, not every crypto credit card will let you convert and spend every crypto. It’s typical for a crypto card to support Bitcoin, Ethereum, and maybe a dozen more. In rare cases, a card may even support over 100.
But if you’re looking to conveniently spend your obscure altcoins, you’ll want to first confirm that your card supports it.
Lastly, if you’re getting a crypto credit card for the purposes of traveling abroad, you’ll want to confirm that your card supports conversion to the fiat currencies of your destination countries. There are over 180 currencies globally, and most crypto cards will only convert to a few dozen.
Crypto credit cards can be pretty confusing, so hopefully, this guide shed light on:
- The difference between crypto rewards and debit cards.
- The benefits and drawbacks of using one.
- Which upcoming cards are the best for which investors.
And so on. Now, if none of the cards on this list sang out to you, there’s nothing wrong with waiting (especially since most cards have a waitlist, anyhow). As crypto becomes mainstream and these companies work out the kinks, there will be more and better crypto cards as time goes on. I imagine the competitive landscape in 2022 and 2023 will be tremendous, and we’ll see perks like 5%, even 10% cash back in altcoins.
Until then, like cryptocurrency as a whole, crypto cards will be fascinating to watch.