Currently, the best card is Crypterium.
How do bitcoin debit cards work?
The easiest way to spend bitcoin at the moment is to simply get a bitcoin debit card. Bitcoin debit / prepaid credit cards are offered by some bitcoin exchanges. They usually work just like regular prepaid cards, and can be used online, at the ATM, or at the store.
The cards are topped up by depositing bitcoin to your card provider’s wallet – just like in a regular bitcoin exchange. The only difference is that you can exchange your bitcoins to physical cash instantly!
Reasons to get a bitcoin card
- Spending your bitcoins in the real world can be a little bit difficult, at least in the current point in history – who knows what things will be like in 10 years. A bitcoin ATM/debit card will make it possible to purchase anything in places that don’t accept bitcoin.
- Anonymity: Even though most people have been completely brainwashed and will trade their privacy and anonymity for an iPhone, for those of you that wish to remain anonymous, bitcoin debit cards make it possible. See the next chapter for more.
- Low transaction fees for travellers: If you travel a lot, and are tired of paying seven dollars extra to withdraw some money at the destination, bitcoin cards offer a cheap alternative. This is where the low transaction costs of bitcoin really benefit the user!
Most bitcoin cards that I’ve come cross are also anonymous, meaning that there’s no name printed on the card. In these cases, the card / exchange acts as the owner of the bank account that is used to provide you with the FIAT-money. There are positives and negatives to this. The obvious positive is the anonymity. The downside is that if your card gets stolen, it can easily be used without your knowledge, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
However, every anonymous bitcoin debit card comes with relatively low daily transaction limits. The reason for this, apart from security, is that the only way to get an anonymous bank account, which is tied to your card, is to partner up with certain Eastern European banks. These banks will allow anonymous accounts up to certain spending limits, usually about $2000-3000 per year. Cash withdrawals are usually limited to 100-200 per day, and in-store/online purchases are limited to $500-1000.
But don’t despair! There’s a solution to this : as the cards are anonymous, you can get as many as you like. If you need to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars, simply withdraw money from the ATM with multiple cards, and then pay in cash.
Protip #1: Some stores, particularly when you’re buying something pricey, do not accept anonymous cards. But cash is almost always accepted without a blink. So if you need to buy something expensive, either get multiple cards and withdraw cash, or using 1 card, just withdraw close to the daily limit each day until you have enough.
Protip #2: Don’t keep your card funded with more than you’re willing to risk losing. And never withdraw the exact amount of the daily withdrawal limit. Avoid using the card in multiple cities in a close timeframe. The card is provided by a bank, and if you trigger any of their automatic “suspicion filters”, your card may get locked. And considering the cards are anonymous, it may be difficult to get your card unlocked. This is why it’s also smart to get multiple cards and diversify your funds
Here are some recommendations – some of these we have tested, some not, so be sure to do your own research!
We would advise you to avoid Wirex at the moment due to some rumors. Please visit coinsspent.com for an updated list.
At the moment, I can’t say I can recommend any other card. There are choices such as Xapo and Coinkite cards, but the problem with these is the fact that they will just act like a real bank, requesting you to confirm your identity, and reporting your usage to the IRS and everything else. Which kind of negates the point of having a bitcoin card.
The only people who could still use such services are people who travel (lower fees), but even then, make sure you have paid all taxes of any bitcoins that you have possibly earned – otherwise you risk beiing “@?%!ed” by your local government. And I don’t know many bitcoin users who would enjoy giving governments any more control.
Previously we used to suggest Bitplastic, but it seems that users have had some problems with them, so we decided to drop them off the list.
I have also seen private persons offering anonymous bitcoin debit cards on forums, but trusting some random guy with my bitcoins seems a little too risky for my taste.
The good news is that bitcoin is still relatively new. And as it gains in popularity, there will undoubtedly be more good card services available. If you know of one, please give us a tip and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.