Bitcoin Debit Card Review: How to spend that cash
The Bitcoin debit card looks set to inject some serious convenience into transacting with digital currency.
One of the hottest tools to mainstream Bitcoin adoption is slowly being rolled out across the international consumer market: the Bitcoin debit card looks set to inject some serious convenience into transacting with digital currency. As promised, and fresh off of the release of the ANX debit card, Cointelegraph is here to bring you a review of all the major BTC debit cards available on the market right now.
Making international payments with fiat debit cards has never been cheap. Banks have been routinely slammed for their unscrupulous fees, which include high rates of commission, poor exchange rates and other hidden charges.
In recent years, private firms have sought to corner the market by offering prepaid debit cards which can be loaded with fiat currency and spent like a bank-issued debit card. Aside from offering protection against serious unauthorized use, these prepaid cards often attract considerably lower charges, but remain somewhat costly to use on a daily basis.
Now, the introduction of Bitcoin functionality to the market unleashes the potential for international transactions to become infinitely more flexible and affordable.
The Bitcoin debit card market is only just setting off, but already several providers are on the cusp of releasing them, with one already shipping its first shipment. Competition is fierce, and Cointelegraph would like to present a review of the current offerings to help readers thinking of trying the technology make an informed decision.
At the time of writing, there are three providers of debit cards which are available internationally without geographical limits on residency or spending. As such, these will form the main offerings under review, with several other providers listed separately in another comparison. Cards will be given marks to facilitate easy understanding of our findings; see below for more information.
Wallet and cold storage provider Xapo is currently taking pre-orders for its international Bitcoin debit card, which is expected to be initially released this month.
- The debit card will be available to anyone, regardless whether they have an account with the company (a Xapo wallet is required, however, as this is the means by which funds are linked to the card).
- Xapo states that the card can be used in any POS terminal in any country and online, and has confirmed that ATM withdrawals will also be implemented immediately.
Cost and fees
- There is a one-off charge for ordering a card of US$15, which covers manufacture, shipping and Xapo’s other expenses.
- There are no other fees associated with using or funding the card.
- Businesses are paid in the local currency, the conversion into which is done at the point of sale using the live Bitcoin exchange rate. There is no marking to suggest that the card is linked to Bitcoin funds.
Security and support
- Xapo is based in San Francisco.
More information can be found here.
- The cards are available to any ANX customer (except those in China) and can be used to purchase items through conventional credit card payment system such as online retailers or physical retail stores.
- Perform cash withdrawals via an extensive ATM network spanning over 200 countries.
- Automatically link your ANX bitcoin exchange account and bitcoin wallet to your ANX debit card.
- Funds can be loaded from the ANX account in any of the exchange’s 10 supported fiat currencies, but are stored on the card in USD only. Note that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency available for loading the card; Litecoin, Namecoin, Peercoin and Dogecoin are not currently supported.
- At present, funds must be loaded manually by sending a support request to ANX, but customer loading is shortly to be added. Replenishing the card funds takes approximately 1 day.
Cost and fees
- The card itself does not attract a charge, but shipping costs vary depending on country and shipping speed, with a minimum of 0.04BTC (approximately US$25).
- There are various charges associated with using the card, as follows:
|Card loading:||US$5 plus 2.5% of total amount loaded|
|ATM withdrawal declined:||US$1.25|
|POS sale declined:||US$0.20|
Security and support
- ANX is registered and based in Hong Kong.
- The card is bank-issued and has PIN functionality. The PIN number is sent with the ANX debit card in a sealed, tamper proof envelope.
- The card can be loaded with between US$100 and US$3,300. Note that US$3,300 is the maximum which can be loaded per year onto the card, and the lifetime maximum is US$9,900 (each card is valid for 3 years). Customers may simply order another once these limits are reached, however, and up to 5 cards may be ordered.
- In the event of a lost or stolen card, funds are partly protected by the PIN, but not from unauthorized online use (note that despite being a visa debit card, it is not supported by the Verified by Visa program).
- A new card will then need to be ordered and a request for a balance transfer submitted to ANX.
More information can be found in the FAQ section of ANX’s website.
- The BitPlastic Visa debit card can be used in any country at Visa-accepting outlets: POS terminals, ATMs and online. BitPlastic also offers a ‘virtual Visa’ for online-only transactions.
- Funds are loaded onto the card in BTC using the BitPlastic wallet balance. Fund replenishment takes an average of 24 hours.
- The maximum ATM withdrawal amount is US$160 per day, but multiple cards may be used concurrently. The maximum online and POS spend is US$1,000 per day.
- BitPlastic offers an online banking feature for cards, allowing users to view statements and obtain information.
Cost and fees
- The card incurs a deposit of 0.25BTC (approximately US$156), which is refunded if the card is loaded with US$3,500. Note however that cards can only be loaded with this amount before expiring; see below.
- BitPlastic is vag