In the next few years, you might have to pay for your next cup of coffee using Bitcoin
Debit and Credit cards were invented to bring convenience and safety to financial transactions. Instead of withdrawing and carrying cash around, you can now carry your entire bank balance with you in a thin, rectangular card made of plastic and a metal chip.
Cryptocurrencies were created mostly to store and exchange value in a decentralised manner that isn’t possible with regular currencies. Naturally, this would involve payments and transactions which support frequent exchange.
As cryptocurrencies gain more popularity, there is a need to simplify the process of crypto transactions. This need led to the creation of crypto cards.
What are crypto cards?
A crypto card is an electronic card that lets you spend cryptocurrencies directly from your crypto wallet. Most crypto cards let you earn crypto rewards as you transact with them or instantly convert your crypto to fiat currency to pay for goods and services.
Crypto cards work just like your regular debit card. You can make purchases with it as far as the vendor accepts crypto.
Visa and Mastercard offer crypto debit cards and also power other third party platforms to accept payment in these cards.
How does a crypto card work?
Contrary to popular belief, a crypto card doesn’t pay the vendor in cryptocurrency but it converts the cryptocurrency in your wallet to regular currency and then pays in that.
Let’s take an example. You’re in a coffee shop that accepts payment in Ethereum (ETH) and you get a bill of $200. You pick up your crypto card and slot it into their point-of-sale (POS) device. Once you accept the bill of $200 on your card, your card provider then proceeds to sell $200 dollar worth of your ETH in a matter of seconds and loads it into the card. The card pays the vendor in direct cash. All of this within a few seconds.
That’s the same way crypto cards work for ATM withdrawals. The card converts your crypto to cash and the ATM dispenses notes to you.
Types of crypto cards
Crypto cards come in two types just like regular bank account cards.
Crypto Debit Cards
Crypto debit cards look like the usual debit cards which your commercial bank provides. The card either draws crypto directly from your wallet or it has a special account which you can preload the crypto.
As it is a debit card, it works prepaid, that means you need to have money in it to use it. Crypto debit cards are readily available and easily accessible from different cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance.
Crypto Credit Cards
Just like the name implies, you can spend money on your card without loading any money in it. The card works postpaid, that is, you can borrow money from the issuer and pay back at a later date.
Brex and BlockFi are two crypto companies which offer crypto credit cards. BlockFi cards give users a signup bonus of $250 in Bitcoin if they spend $3,000 within the first three months. You can also earn extra rewards of up to 3.5% in 4 to 6 months of card ownership.
Advantages of crypto cards
Using your crypto card will cost you less than when you use your normal card in terms of transaction fees. You get to avoid extra fees like yearly membership and card maintenance fees.
With a crypto card, you can travel confidently knowing you won’t have to pay the heavy conversion fees which accompany international transactions.
Perks and Rewards
Most crypto cards give you special perks and crypto rewards as they use it. This is to incentivise you to continue using the card more frequently. Some of the benefits include airport lounge access or cashback on transactions,
Disadvantages of crypto cards
Most vendors haven’t yet accepted cryptocurrencies so you might find it hard to use your card anywhere in the world.
Crypto is known to be a volatile asset and the prices of cryptocurrencies change by the minute. Let’s say you spend 1 ETH to buy a cup of coffee by 10AM, that coffee can cost anywhere from 0.5 to 3 ETH by 12PM on that same day.
Crypto cards might end up being the future of payments. For now, they’re just being used by a select few who are brave enough to lead the way. With more big time financial players wading into the crypto game, we can only expect massive jumps in mainstream adoption and usage.