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Bitcoin debit cards—say it with me. Bitcoin. Debit. Cards. It almost sounds traitorous compared to the criminal-ish, anti-establishment roots of cryptocurrency, doesn't it? Well, yeah, considering what Bitcoin was once used for, it does.
Though Bitcoin flies in the face of traditional banking, it's becoming clear that bankers are interested in carrying it. The new rise of digital currencies means that people are beginning to see them on nearly-equal levels to fiat currency.
Being able to buy Bitcoins and sell them for cash has never been the issue. For ages, being able to spend the Bitcoin you own was the biggest obstacle that people had. Companies are now rolling out with cryptocurrency-based credit and debit cards to make it easier than ever.
Wondering what these cards have to offer? Here's what you need to know about this upcoming trend.
Bitcoin debit cards look just like any other card you'd find.
For all intents and purposes, debit cards that dabble in crypto look and feel just like any other debit card you'd find on the market. You can put them in your wallet and use them anywhere a standard debit card can go.
Currently, most debit cards that carry cryptocurrencies can be used both online and offline. They make it easier to pay with cryptocurrencies by instantly exchanging the amount you need in fiat currency with Bitcoins during the transaction.
Some also come with a virtual debit card version.
If you're already sick and tired of hauling around so much plastic, then there's more good news. Most debit card companies offer both tangible and virtual debit cards.
Virtual cards work just like regular credit cards or debit cards online, but just can't be used at a point of sale terminal or an ATM. They're mostly for online shopping.
They are usually issued by companies that act as banks for cryptocurrencies—or even as Bitcoin wallets.
Most major banks are still not looking into cryptocurrency, so these are not cards that come with banking insurance. This can make a lot of people skittish about using them, and to a point, you can't blame them.
However, these cards are seen as safe by most experts. So, assuming you just use them as a backup for fiat money, you should be good. An exception would be Spectrocoin, which is made by the European bank company known as Bankera.
Around 23,000 people have Spectrocoin cards. Spectrocoin offers a lot in terms of commerce use, though, so it's not shocking they'd be one of the biggest names in the debit card game.
To use them, you have to load up cryptocurrency onto your debit card.
The majority of cryptocurrency debit cards work a lot like a prepaid card. You load up what you want to spend, and then you are allowed to spend that set amount—not a slice more.
Cards can be loaded up to a maximum balance that's determined by the company providing the card. So, it's more like one of those prepaid debit cards like GreenDot than anything else.
Contrary to what the name suggests, these cards don't exclusively work with Bitcoin.
Some cryptocurrency debit cards, like Uquid, will let you load up other cryptocurrencies on them as well. Uquid works with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, as well as over 70 other cryptocurrencies, including the 10 easiest coins to mine out there.
If you have a wide crypto portfolio, you might want to look them up. Otherwise, you could just stick to standard crypto wallets instead.
They can have withdrawals in a number of different ways.
I was shocked to find out that there are many Bitcoin debit cards that link up to PayPal and other institutions. This means you get to enjoy faster transfers and cash-outs if you need to have them. Online shopping, I'd wager, is a lot easier with a cryptowallet.
While we're on the topic, it's worth pointing out that most crypto debit cards also will work with standard ATMs, so long as they are plastic and not virtual.
What kills most people on them are the fees.
The transaction fees that come with Bitcoin debit cards vary greatly, but they are typically not that cheap. While you can find some that offer $0 fees on certain things, it's not unheard of to have currency exchange fees that exceed three percent.
If you're using your debit card quite a bit, that can turn into a hefty chunk taken out of your wallet!
You do have to sign up for the card company's wallet and exchange in most cases.
Though I'm sure that there are exceptions, you usually do have to sign up for debit card companies' cryptocurrency wallets in order to get a debit card with them; though, this shouldn't be a surprise since a wallet is one of the key cryptocurrency resources and products you need for investing anyway. So, if you were hoping to take your current wallet to the debit card world, you might be disappointed.
Honestly though, it streamlines things to be able to buy your coins and use them like cash. It's a small adjustment that pays off massive dividends.
The cards are available globally.
Unlike fiat money, cryptocurrency is a global cash thing. There's a reason why travel companies want to see these currencies go global; it makes international travel easier.
It makes sense, then, that most Bitcoin card companies operate on a global level. They are a good travel card to have.
Overall, it's looking like we're getting closer to crypto being fiat every day.
These Bitcoin debit card companies are really, really changing the way we see digital currency—not to mention how we use them. If you ever had doubt about the signs Bitcoin is going mainstream, the Bitcoin debit cards being offered up will be what changes your mind.