Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that operates through a decentralized network known as a blockchain network. The blockchain is a database that stores information in code within groups, or blocks. You can use cryptocurrency for everyday goods and services, as well as for investments. Despite the ease with which crypto-users can hide money for the purpose of illegal activities such as tax evasion and money laundering, cryptocurrency is becoming a popular form of payment, as it allows for quick transfers of funds between parties and security without the need for a bank.
What Is A Crypto Card?
Although cryptocurrency is becoming increasingly popular, it’s still not considered legal tender. However, crypto cards are bringing cryptocurrency closer to the real world, and making it easier to purchase goods and services with crypto.
Functioning like a debit card, a crypto card allows you to use your cryptocurrency at a point of sale system to make a purchase. Using the card allows you to convert your crypto into a government-regulated currency, like the Canadian dollar. It’s important to note that the card isn’t a credit card – you aren’t borrowing money to use for purchases. It’s more like a debit card, though the source of funds does not come from a traditional bank account – the funds come from the cardholder’s crypto wallet.
How Do Crypto Cards Work?
There are two types of crypto cards that you can use to make purchases:
Prepaid Crypto Cards
Most crypto cards are prepaid cards. You will need to load your crypto card with funds in advance by linking it to your digital crypto wallet, or via Interac e-transfer. Even if your card is directly linked to your digital wallet, you’ll still need to sell your crypto for Canadian dollars before loading the funds and making purchases. The point-of-sale system does not do that automatically for you.
It might seem like a crypto card would let you pay directly in cryptocurrencies; however, it’s not that simple. You still need to convert, or sell, your cryptocurrency into Canadian dollars using the Crypto.com app before using the card.
Non-Prepaid Crypto Cards
Non-prepaid crypto cards function more like credit, but they aren’t as popular yet. These cards allow you to leverage your crypto investments to borrow money. To use these cards, you’re essentially using the value of your cryptocurrency as collateral for the money you’re borrowing.
This means that you don’t need to sell or convert your cryptocurrency into Canadian currency to make purchases.
Do You Need to Buy An Investment Stake To Get A Crypto Card?
It’s possible that you’ll need to put up a large lump sum investment into the card’s cryptocurrency to obtain the best crypto card. This isn’t a fee – it’s an investment that can fluctuate depending on the crypto market, which poses some risk. Some cards require you to hold that stake for a minimum of 6 months.
Crypto Cards In Canada
Nexo offers a crypto Mastercard, although only early access is available at this time. As one of the non-prepaid options, this card allows you to leverage the value of your cryptocurrency to borrow funds. Nexo’s card has no fees and no requirement for an investment stake. It also offers a 2% cashback incentive in either Bitcoin or Nexo tokens (NEXO) on all purchases.
Offered by Spend.com, the Spend Visa is also a non-prepaid card option that offers high reward rates (6%) and $100 bonuses for referrals. Card users must purchase an investment stake of approximately $20,000, which comes to 2.500.000 Spend tokens (SPND).
Crypto.com offers a variety of crypto cards with different cashback incentives and investment stake requirements. The most affordable card is their Midnight Blue card, which has only a $200 balance limit, but doesn’t require any investment stake. It offers a 1% cashback incentive.
Features To Consider Before Getting A Crypto Card
Make sure you study all of the following characteristics of a crypto card before deciding on one:
Prepaid Or Non-Prepaid
Prepaid cards require you to convert your cryptocurrency into dollars, or other international currencies, before making a purchase. Non-prepaid cards allow you to borrow against the value of your cryptocurrency, and function more like a credit card.
Physical Or Virtual
If your card is a physical card, you can use it at more establishments, including ATMs. You should always compare fees between physical and virtual cards.
Some debit cards have daily transaction limits – so do crypto cards. Before picking a card, make sure you’re aware of the limits for loading, daily transactions, and ATM withdrawals.
Learn how your card allows you to load funds. For example, some cards require you to already own cryptocurrency before using the card. Others allow you to buy cryptocurrency through their platform.
Country And Currency Supported
Some cards might not allow you to convert to USD, but they might allow you to convert to CAD. Make sure you examine the conversion capabilities of cards before you purchase. Additionally, make sure the card is compatible with the cryptocurrency you own. For example, some cards might not work with Ethereum, but they work with Bitcoin.
Most crypto cards have associated fees for:
- Monthly or annual service: averages around $1-2 per month.
- Conversion: either a flat amount or percentage of the transaction.
- ATM withdrawals: can vary between domestic and international ATMs.
- International transactions: usually about 3%.
- Inactivity: fees from not using your card for an extended period of time.
- Third-party charge: charged at some point-of-sale terminals from certain merchants, often 1.5-3%.
- Card issuance: fees for ordering, delivering and activating your card, around 50$ or more.
Benefits Of A Crypto Card
There are many benefits to using a crypto card for your purchases, including:
No Foreign Exchange Fees
Most crypto cards don’t charge foreign exchange fees on your purchases. These fees can add up, especially if you’re travelling for work and making frequent purchases. Many crypto cards also don’t charge additional ATM fees.
You might be familiar with the cashback offers of certain credit cards. Crypto cards offer rewards as well, on every purchase as well as for referrals. These rewards can be quite generous, considering that most cryptocurrencies are worth significantly more than the Canadian dollar. 2% cashback on crypto gives you a much larger return than 2% on Canadian dollars.
Once you learn how to convert/sell your crypto to dollars, using a crypto card becomes just as convenient and quick as using a debit or credit card.
With multiple cryptocurrencies and multiple conversion options, crypto card users have lots of flexibility in the kinds of purchases they can make, whether in Canadian dollars or another currency, or in Etherium or Bitcoin.
Crypto Card FAQs
Are crypto cards safe?
Do crypto cards affect your credit score?
Cryptocurrency is changing the way we think about money and transactions. Using a crypto card allows you to tap into those crypto benefits and bring the decentralized currency closer to the real world. However, crypto cards do pose some risks, so it’s important that you do your own research before deciding on a card.