Disclaimer: This page is not financial advice or an endorsement of digital assets, providers or services. Digital assets are volatile and risky, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Potential regulations or policies can affect their availability and services provided. Talk with a financial professional before making a decision. Finder or the author may own cryptocurrency discussed on this page.
Compare crypto debit cards
Compare crypto debit cards and accounts by interest rate, minimum opening deposit, and ATMs to find one that meets your spending habits.
Crypto debit cards are similar to traditional debit cards in that you can swipe or dip your card for purchases in person and online. But instead of deducting fiat currency like US dollars from a bank account, your card deducts the charge from a crypto wallet that automatically converts your purchase into US dollars or other fiat currency.
How do crypto debit cards work?
A crypto debit card is a crypto prepaid card that’s linked to a crypto wallet — the place where cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are stored. To use your crypto prepaid card, you need to connect it to your crypto wallet (if you already have one), or open a wallet through an exchange or crypto-focused platform.
Crypto debit cards can be virtual or plastic – or both – and are typically backed by Mastercard and Visa, allowing you to use them at any place that accepts card payments. Funds are deducted from your crypto wallet balance automatically, just like fiat would be, each time you use your crypto debit card for purchases.
How virtual crypto debit cards work
Virtual cards work like physical debit cards except that they’re digital and can only be used for online purchases. To use a virtual card online, enter the card number at checkout just like a regular card. Some platforms let you create a new virtual card with a new number for every purchase, which can help bolster security.
How to get a crypto debit card
You can get a crypto prepaid debit card through a currency exchange like Crypto.com or BitPay or a crypto-based platform that specializes in virtual crypto cards like Pay With Moon.
Here are the typical steps for getting a crypto prepaid card:
- Go to the website of the platform you want a card from.
- Set up an account and undergo a know your customer (KYC) check, which requires your personal information and a government-issued ID.
- Fund the account with fiat or cryptocurrency by transferring USD from your bank or crypto assets from your cryptocurrency wallet.
- Apply for a virtual and/or plastic debit card and link the card to your account.
- Start spending on the card.
To use a crypto debit card, you don’t need to open a crypto checking account. You just need an account or wallet on a crypto exchange or a payment app that supports crypto wallets for funding your card.
How crypto debit cards differ from traditional debit cards
Unlike traditional debit cards, crypto cards go through an extra process of converting your crypto assets into fiat currency. Some crypto cards will convert your crypto as soon as you fund — or, as some cards call it, “top off” — your crypto wallet. While others convert it when you make a purchase.
When your crypto card converts your cryptocurrency into USD is important, as you may be locked into a potentially weaker or stronger exchange rate.
And how it converts can complicate your tax returns — if it happens in chunks, that’s only one taxable event to report on your return, versus needing to report each transaction for cards that convert with each swipe or dip.
1. Converts as soon as you fund your crypto wallet.
Cards like the Crypto.com Visa Card convert your cryptocurrency into fiat currency like US dollars when you fund it. Purchases are deducted from a USD balance, requiring no further conversion for transactions.
Automatic conversions are easier to manage, but cryptocurrencies are volatile: If the conversion takes place during a dip in value, you’re stuck with that low rate until you spend down your account.
2. Converts at the point of transaction.
Cards like the NetCents Visa Prepaid Card convert your cryptocurrencies to fiat at the time of purchase.
This model can lead to the freshest rates, allowing your crypto assets to grow with the market until you’re ready to spend it. But it can also lead to more complicated taxes, each transaction triggering a taxable event reportable on your tax returns.
3. Manually converts at the time of your choosing.
Cards like the Nexo Crypto Debit Card require you to manually convert your cryptocurrency into fiat before you can make a purchase. If you haven’t yet converted your crypto and you attempt to make a purchase from your wallet, your transaction is declined.
This method provides control and flexibility to convert at the strongest exchange rates, though you must stay on top of your wallet to avoid your card being declined when you least expect it.
|Type of conversion||How it works||Pro||Con|
|Converts as soon as you fund your crypto wallet||Most crypto debit cards, like the Crypto.com Visa Card, convert your cryptocurrency into fiat currency like US dollars when you fund it. Purchases are deducted from a USD balance, requiring no further conversion for transactions.||Easier to manage, with only the initial fiat-to-crypto transfer considered a reportable tax event||Cryptocurrency is volatile, and bulk conversion could lead to weak rates if transactions occur while crypto values are down|
|Converts at the point of transaction||Other crypto debit cards, like the NetCents Visa Prepaid Card, delay converting your digital assets until the time of purchase. Each transaction triggers a conversion of your wallet’s cryptocurrency into fiat currency like US dollars to cover your purchase.||Can lead to the freshest rates, allowing your crypto to grow with the market until the moment you’re ready to spend it||Can lead to complicated tax reporting, with individual fiat-to-crypto transfers triggering separate taxable events|
|Manually converts at the time of your choosing||Some crypto debit cards, like the Nexo Crypto Debit Card, require you to manually convert your cryptocurrency into fiat before you’re able to make a purchase. If you don’t have any fiat converted in your wallet and you attempt to make a purchase, your transaction will be declined.||Provides control and flexibility to convert at the strongest rates||Can lead to declined transactions if you fail to convert enough crypto to cover your spending habits|
How the IRS treats cryptocurrency
For now, the IRS treats cryptocurrencies as property, similar to the way it considers real estate or stocks. Each sale of your crypto assets is considered a taxable event subject to capital gains.
And it doesn’t matter how small the transaction: A swipe of your debit card to buy a coffee carries the same tax-reporting responsibilities as selling a home, meaning you must report it on your quarterly or annual returns.
Other transactions that may be considered taxable events by the IRS include:
- Exchanging fiat currency for crypto
- Exchanging crypto for fiat currency
- Receiving cash back, bonuses and other perks in crypto
While you can estimate taxes on your crypto profits, it’s best to talk with a tax professional about your specific crypto card to learn how your spending habits can affect how much you might owe to the government.
5 factors to consider when comparing crypto debit cards
When searching and comparing different crypto debit cards, look out for these features:
- Account type. Although most crypto debit cards are attached to crypto wallets, they aren’t your only crypto debit card options. Checking accounts like Quontic Bank Bitcoin Rewards Checking come with a debit card that rewards you in Bitcoin instead of fiat currency.
- Currency conversion. If you want your crypto to instantly convert into USD upon funding your account, you may want to go with a card like the Crypto.com Visa card. If you want your crypto to convert to USD while completing a purchase, go with a card like Netcents. But if you want more manual control over when it’s converted, go with a card like Nexo.
- Supporting cryptocurrencies. Not all crypto debit cards support every cryptocurrency. Some may only allow deposits of popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, while others only allow you to deposit stablecoins like USDC or USDT.
- Crypto debit card fees. While there are normally no fees associated with depositing cryptocurrency, withdrawing funds is often a different case. If you plan on moving funds off your wallet, check if withdrawal fees apply.
- Rewards. Cashback is the most common incentive offered by crypto debit cards. Cashback incentives vary between different service providers with some even offering the opportunity to send rewards straight into a crypto savings account. Some platforms also offer loyalty tiers that reward you in their native coin.
How safe are crypto debit cards?
Crypto debit cards are as safe to use as traditional debit cards. You’re required to submit “know your customer” (KYC) documentation to meet governing regulations when you apply for a crypto debit card.
The majority also implement strict security measures to prevent unauthorized access. For example, you’ll be asked to establish strong passwords and set up two-factor authentication.
3 benefits of crypto debit cards
Some of the key benefits for using a crypto debit card include:
- Utilize cryptocurrency assets. Crypto debit cards are ideal for those looking to spend cryptocurrencies on real-world goods and services. Using a crypto debit card greatly improves the usability of otherwise restricted digital assets.
- Reduced foreign fees. Because cryptocurrency prices aren’t based on any single fiat, the same price is available worldwide. You can use crypto debit cards to convert to a range of different fiat currencies, which can reduce foreign exchange fees compared to traditional debit cards.
- Crypto debit cards with rewards. Most crypto debit card providers offer rewards like cashback incentives, often paid in cryptocurrencies. Several all-in-one crypto banks pay stronger loyalty rewards the more you use their services.
3 drawbacks of crypto debit cards
While crypto debit cards are ideal for those looking to spend cryptocurrencies, that accessibility does sometimes come at a cost. Some of the key drawbacks for using a crypto debit card include:
- Spending limits. Some crypto debit cards set daily or weekly caps on how much you can spend, regardless of the balance in your account.
- Price volatility. Cryptocurrencies are volatile, so prices can change quickly. That can also affect the value of your card rewards. For example, a $200 reward in BTC could be worth only $100 at the time you cash out if the value of BTC drops. You may need to stay on top of cryptocurrency prices to maximize your card’s value.
- Potential tax liability. Though US regulations are currently in flux, each crypto-to-fiat conversion triggers a taxable event reportable to the IRS.
Are crypto debit cards worth it?
Whether or not a crypto debit card is worth it to you depends on how you use cryptocurrency. Here are some scenarios that may make having a crypto prepaid card useful:
- You own cryptocurrency and want a way to spend it without having to withdraw it off a platform and incur fees.
- You want crypto rewards for using the card. Some cards don’t require you to spend cryptocurrency to get cashback, which means you can fund the card in fiat and still earn crypto rewards.
- You want to earn returns on your deposits before you spend them. Most crypto platforms pay higher yields than you could get at a bank.
- You like to stake in native coins in order to earn extra rewards and perks when using a crypto-backed debit card.
Similar to traditional banking, KYC documentation and verification is required when you apply for a debit card. Most crypto debit cards — but not all –—require you to download an app before completing the KYC verification process. Once you’re verified, you can fund your crypto wallet and start spending.
As cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, crypto banking platforms are offering debit cards that allow investors a way to manage and spend their cryptocurrencies on everyday goods and services — sometimes with cashback and rewards.
More guides on Finder
Uphold crypto debit card review
Get the scoop on the new Uphold crypto debit Mastercard.
Ask an Expert