If you want to buy bitcoin with a credit or debit card, here’s a simple example with step-by-step instructions. The quickest and most convenient option for most people is to use a cryptocurrency broker, so let’s take a look at how to purchase bitcoin using your credit or debit card on Coinbase.
Visit the Coinbase website and click “Sign up”. You’ll need to provide your name and email address and create a password to register.
A verification email will be sent to the address you provide. Click on the link in this email and provide your phone number to enable 2-factor authentication on your account.
You’ll now be asked to upload proof of ID, for example a photo of your driver’s licence or passport.
Please note that at the time of writing in September 2018, Coinbase was not supporting the linking of new credit cards in Canada, but linking of debit cards was still available.
Under the “Buy/Sell” tab, click on “Add a payment method”.
Select credit/debit card and then enter the following details:
The name on your card
Once you’ve entered your card details, Coinbase will make two temporary authorizations on the nominated card. You’ll need to verify the amount of these authorizations before you will receive confirmation that your card has been added.
Click on the “Buy/Sell” tab and navigate to the “Buy” page to enter the details of your transaction. You’ll need to provide the following details:
The cryptocurrency you want to buy
The amount you want to purchase
The card you’ll be using to fund the purchase
Where you would like the crypto you purchase to be deposited
Take a moment to review the exchange rate, fee and total cost of the transaction. If you’re happy with everything, click on the “Buy” button to complete your purchase.
What platforms can I use to buy crypto with a credit card?
There are three different types of services that allow credit card crypto purchases. Each option involves a slightly different approach and has its own pros and cons.
Cryptocurrency brokers offer a quick and easy way to buy bitcoin and other digital currencies. They buy cryptocurrency at wholesale rates and then sell it on to you for a profit, allowing you to buy crypto using fiat currency (eg, Canadian dollars).
Brokers offer a simple and convenient entry point for crypto buyers, and many providers support purchases with either credit or debit card. Most brokers only allow you to buy cryptocurrency, but some also offer sell-side services.
The main downside of buying from a broker is that they tend to charge higher fees than other crypto-buying platforms, so the speed and convenience they offer come at a cost.
These trading platforms allow you to buy and sell cryptocurrency with other users, and take a cut of all transactions by imposing trading fees. Many of these websites only allow crypto-to-crypto trading, but some also allow you to exchange fiat currency for digital currency and accept credit/debit card payments. You can trade using a limit or market order, while some platforms also offer advanced tools like stop-loss orders.
Compared to brokers, crypto exchanges tend to offer better exchange rates, lower trading fees and access to a wider range of digital currencies. However, their main drawback is that they’re usually a lot more complicated than buying through a broker, so anyone new to cryptocurrencies or online trading may find the process overwhelming.
There’s only a limited range of crypto exchanges that accept credit card deposits, but some platforms worth considering include CEX.IO, Changelly, Bitstamp, and Indacoin.
These exchanges allow peer-to-peer trading between users all around the world. Sellers have the freedom to set their price and their chosen payment method, with the exchange acting as the middleman to help connect them with buyers.
Peer-to-peer exchanges generally offer fast and flexible trades, allowing you to buy crypto with a certain level of anonymity.
On the downside, using this type of platform usually means accepting a price above the market rate, as well as taking on a certain level of risk. However, some websites offer built-in escrow features and reputation systems to help legitimate buyers and sellers find one another.
Some crypto brokers and exchanges will immediately deposit the crypto you purchase into a wallet linked to their platform. Others will automatically transfer your crypto into a wallet address of your choice, so you’ll need to have a secure, private wallet set up in advance.
Whichever option your platform uses, keep in mind that storing your coins on an exchange is not recommended for security reasons, so transfer them into your own wallet as soon as possible if you don’t plan on making regular trades.
While buying crypto with a credit or debit card is generally quick and easy, it can also be quite expensive. This is because there are several fees that can contribute to the cost of your transaction, not only from the crypto broker but also from your card issuer. These charges can include:
Cash advance fee. Many card issuers treat a cryptocurrency purchase as a cash advance. This means your purchase will usually incur a cash advance fee and will also attract higher interest rates than normal purchases.
Exchange/broker fee. The platform you use to buy bitcoin or another crypto will impose its own transaction fee. These tend to range from 4-6%, but are higher in some cases.
Credit card surcharge. You may also be asked to pay a credit card surcharge on top of any other fees and commissions being charged, which on some platforms can lead to a total commission of 9 or even 10%.
Most platforms that allow credit card purchases are very user-friendly
Fast way to buy bitcoin and other currencies
Buy crypto directly with CAD
Ideal for beginners
High fees make buying with credit card an expensive option
Transaction limits may restrict the amount of crypto you can buy
Credit card purchases only usually available for the most popular cryptos
Not a good option if you want to trade anonymously
How to choose the right platform
Want to buy crypto with your credit card or debit card but don’t know which broker or exchange to use? Remember to take the following factors into account when comparing the available options:
Safety and security. Above all else, you want to be sure you’re dealing with a trusted and secure provider. Try to find out who’s behind the exchange, how it’s regulated and what security features it offers. For more info, check out the section titled: “Is it safe to buy crypto with a credit card?” that’s further down the page.
Cost. The convenience of buying crypto with a credit/debit card comes at a price, so take some time to compare the fees charged by different platforms before picking one. Keep in mind that some platforms have tiered fee structures, so fee percentages may drop if you make a larger purchase.
Supported currencies. Which cryptocurrencies does the platform allow you to buy using your credit card? Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two digital currencies that are most widely available, but some platforms will also allow you to buy a number of other coins. Don’t forget to also check whether the service accepts CAD, or whether it only welcomes payment in foreign currency.
Supported cards. Does the platform accept all major cards or will your American Express be rejected? Do you also have the option of paying with a debit card if you wish, or does it only accept credit cards?
Supported countries. Does the service accept Canadian customers?
Ease of use. How easy is the platform to use? Does the purchasing process appear to be simple and straightforward from start to finish, or does the platform feature confusing instructions or a complicated user interface?
Community trust. What sort of reputation does the broker have? You can usually gain a fairly accurate idea of just how reputable a platform is by checking out online forums and independent user reviews.
Verification and signup process. What sort of personal details and ID will you need to provide before you can make a purchase? How long will the verification process take? Can you make purchases below a specified limit without having to verify your ID?
Transaction limits. What are the minimum and maximum amounts you can spend in any one transaction? Are there any other restrictions imposed, such as daily or monthly purchase limits?
Processing times. How long will it take for the crypto you purchase to arrive in your wallet? Will the funds be sent directly to your private crypto wallet, or will they be stored in a wallet on the exchange until you manually transfer them to private storage?
Sell-side services. Does the exchange also allow you to sell your cryptocurrency, or is it a buy-only service? If you can sell your crypto, it’s worth checking what fiat withdrawal methods are supported and whether any fees apply.
Customer support. Finally, find out when the provider’s customer support team is available and how you can get in contact with them. Do they have a good reputation for providing prompt and helpful support?
Is it safe to buy crypto with a credit card or debit card?
Generally speaking, it’s perfectly safe to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card – provided you buy from a trusted and reputable exchange or broker.
Make sure you thoroughly research the credentials of any platform before trusting it with your card information, because if you don’t feel comfortable giving a provider your credit card details, you shouldn’t feel comfortable buying cryptocurrency from them either.
So, how can you find a suitable exchange and minimize the risks involved in paying for crypto with plastic? The tips below will not only help you stay safe, but also avoid getting ripped off.
Check whether it’s secure. Make sure the platform’s web address starts with “https://” which means that all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. It’s also a good idea to double-check that the URL is correct and that you haven’t inadvertently visited a scam site designed to look like the real thing.
Check what security features it offers. What other features does the platform offer to protect your funds? For example, does it support 2-factor authentication? Are client funds stored offline? Will the provider store your credit card details anywhere on its website or servers?
Check where the exchange is based. Finding out where an exchange platform is based can give you a better idea of how it is regulated and whether there are any measures in place to protect you against fraud.
Read reviews. Check out independent user reviews and browse online forums to find out what sort of experiences other users have had with the platform. Did it deliver the service promised? Would they recommend it to friends and family?
Check the exchange rate. Take a look at how the exchange rate you’re getting compares to the current BTC/CAD market rate. This will help you calculate just how much your transaction will cost.
Check your interest rate. Most card issuers will classify a crypto purchase as a cash advance, which means higher-than-normal interest rates apply. To avoid getting in over your head, make sure you’re aware of how much interest you’ll accrue if you don’t pay your purchase off quickly.
Know the risks of buying crypto. You’ve probably heard and read plenty about the volatility of bitcoin and other cryptos, but don’t assume that the coins you’ll buy will increase in value enough to cover your purchase costs. In fact, never assume that your coins will increase in value at all – digital currencies are complicated and speculative assets, and there’s every chance you could lose your money.
If you want to buy bitcoin or any other crypto with a credit card or debit card, start comparing the fees and features of the brokers and exchanges that offer this service. Once you’ve found the platform that’s right for you, visit its website and follow the prompts to get started.
There are a few reasons why more providers don’t accept credit cards, with the main issue the problem of chargebacks. While bitcoin transactions are irreversible, credit card charges might be cancelled or reversed.
If buyers asks their card providers to reverse charges after receiving their bitcoin, it’s theoretically possible that they would be able to get their coins, while cheating the sellers out of their cash.
Several major banks around the world, including TD and BMO, have banned their customers from buying crypto with credit cards due to the lack of regulation of the crypto industry and the high volatility of digital currencies.
Not really, for a couple of reasons:
The vast majority of exchanges will ask for your personal details and proof of ID before allowing you to purchase, so it’s very difficult to buy bitcoin with a credit card and no ID verification. With that said, it may be possible to buy crypto without having to provide ID on a peer-to-peer exchange like LocalBitcoins.
Even if you find a platform where you can make an anonymous purchase, for example using a peer-to-peer exchange, the credit card you use is still linked to your ID and therefore the purchase could theoretically be traced back to you
Yes, but you’ll need to complete the ID verification process first. Verification times vary between platforms, but it’s still possible to complete the signup and purchasing process within a matter of minutes.
Yes, you can usually find an exchange that allows you to buy cryptocurrency with a prepaid debit card or voucher.
Although you can hold your crypto on an exchange, this is generally not recommended for a number of reasons. Not only are crypto exchanges regularly targeted by hackers, but storing your funds on an exchange also means that you’ll need to surrender control of your wallet’s private keys to the exchange provider.
Yes, it is legal to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card in Canada. However, banks have been known to ban their customers from using credit cards for cryptocurrency purchases, so check with your financial institution if you’re unsure.
Compare the exchange rates and fees across a number of platforms to find out which provider offers the best deal. However, remember that buying crypto with a credit card is usually quite an expensive option, and depositing funds via bank transfer or cryptocurrency transfer will generally work out to be much cheaper.
Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly
volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of
future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information.
You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory
requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may
have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.
Andrew Munro is the cryptocurrency editor at Finder. He was initially writing about insurance, when he accidentally fell in love with digital currency and distributed ledger technology (aka “the blockchain”). Andrew has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales, and has written guides about everything from industrial pigments to cosmetic surgery.
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