Bitcoin – a term that was not known to many people for a long time. Since the enormous revaluation in winter 2017 and the spectacular crash at the beginning of 2018, crypto currencies are on everyone’s lips. Although the prices could stabilize again in the summer, the past few days have again seen a significant dampening. One major shortcoming: Payments with crypto currencies are still rare or complicated. Already popular as an investment object for quite some time, direct payment is only possible in very few places.
The solution is the Bitcoin credit card. It combines the advantages of a crypto currency with the high acceptance of credit cards. All providers rely on the two world market leaders Visa and Mastercard. We show you what you need to consider when choosing the right Bitcoin credit card.
What models of Bitcoin cards are available?
There are two models of Bitcoin credit cards that differ fundamentally. The rather simpler model is the prepaid credit card. Here the credit card can be topped up with Bitcoin and the amount is then available on the credit card in the desired currency. This is based on the exchange rate at exactly the time of the top-up.
This means that you cannot access your crypto currency flexibly with this form of credit card, but only via the selected, topped-up amount. On the other hand, you can freely determine the time of conversion of Bitcoin into the desired currency and thus also set the time at the most favorable exchange rate. It is therefore always clear how much crypto currency is loaded on the card. The modern alternative: A credit card that works like a wallet. The crypto currency is transferred directly to this credit card.
The conversion can be handled differently depending on the provider, whereby two possibilities have become established. With some providers, the conversion takes place at the exchange rate at the time of purchase. So if you buy online at Amazon and use your credit card, the Euro price of the product is converted at the current exchange rate. Other providers leave it up to the cardholder to decide when to exchange the Bitcoins. So you can also exchange a certain amount in advance and store it on the card. This can easily be done via app.
A decision about which variant is the most sensible one for you personally must be made individually and is certainly also based on the use. Both variants offer great advantages. If the exchange rate is converted immediately, you always know exactly how much equivalent value is on the card. Therefore this variant is much safer. The other variant is riskier, but more promising.
How do you load a Bitcoin card?
Almost all providers charge the Bitcoin credit card immediately. By registering with the respective provider you get access to the wallet. The Bitcoin credit can then be sent to these wallets. Now there are the two possibilities already mentioned above how the conversion works.
On the one hand, there are providers such as Wirex, where the Bitcoin credit is immediately converted into euros at the currently valid exchange rate and the credit card is ultimately topped up with euros. On the other hand, there are providers such as Tenx, who take a different approach. With these providers the credit card is immediately filled with the crypto credit and only at the moment of purchase is the Bitcoin credit converted into the currency to be paid.
Manage your Bitcoin credit card
All available cards are managed via apps. This all means that a smartphone with the corresponding app is required to use the Bitcoin credit card to its full extent. This enables you to use the Bitcoin credit card to the full extent and also to receive the corresponding protection, for example by being notified when the credit card is used. As with the use of all banking apps, you should be careful about the security of your mobile phone and avoid public hotspots.
With a few providers such as Wirex, for example, you also have the option of editing everything on your computer. But in the end, the handling is optimized for the app. Each of the apps contains a wallet to which you can send the crypto currencies and you can also see how much credit is on the card at any time.
The latter is especially interesting if you have chosen the variant where the currency exchange only takes place upon payment. Because with this option, one hardly knows one’s exact assets otherwise due to the current exchange rate fluctuations. Furthermore, the credit card offers the possibility to use it only in its basic function as wallet.
Various other settings can also be made in the app. For example, the card can be blocked temporarily or permanently via the app. In addition, the app immediately shows when the card is being used. This offers you a high level of protection or alarm before and in case of misuse. A few conventional credit cards also rely on this service via app or SMS. In countries like the USA this service is already standard for security reasons.
The acceptance of Bitcoin credit cards is high. Many Bitcoin credit cards are accepted wherever Visa or Mastercard are accepted. This compensates for one of the biggest shortcomings of crypto currencies. They can be used in retail via the credit card. This makes it possible to pay with Bitcoin in various shops, restaurants and public transport as if you were spending normal money.
Most Bitcoin credit cards are free. Some cost a small fixed amount per month, such as 1.20 euros. Many Bitcoin credit cards offer a cashback program. This means that you will be credited with a kind of bonus for use. This cashback ranges from 0.5 to two percent with the various providers. Another advantage is that some of the cash withdrawals are free of charge at classic ATMs.
The amounts available can range from 200 euros to 1,000 euros. Beyond that, fees are then due. However, these fees are often even lower than those of conventional credit cards and amount to around two euros.
The biggest disadvantages of a credit card for crypto-currencies are on the one hand the fact that partly only smaller amounts (partly only up to 250 Euro) per day can be picked up free of charge at the vending machines and on the other hand that the credit balance is immediately stored in Euro at some providers. The latter is both a curse and a blessing, depending on how the exchange rates develop.
However, the demand for Bitcoin credit cards remains high. Consumers want a way to spend their crypto currency. The credit card is the best way to do this. The fees are low and the handling is familiar and simple. For this reason, too, demand seems to continue to rise.
Development of Bitcoin credit cards
As the crypto-currency advanced into society, the desire to integrate the currency into everyday life became more and more important. An important step in this process is the development and establishment of a credit card. However, various hurdles must be overcome in the process.
On the one hand, one must join an existing credit card with many points of acceptance in order to integrate it into everyday life in the best possible way. On the other hand, different crypto-currencies have to be combined on one credit card so that if you own several digital currencies, you do not need a credit card for each one.
Initially, the focus was on the two largest crypto currencies Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, the will to integrate further crypto currencies into the credit card payment method is there and will be expanded.
What is the next step?
Despite the crash, the idea of a credit card for crypto-currencies is far from dead. On the contrary, interest continues to grow. Currencies like Bitcoin have stabilized after the rapid fall in prices at the beginning of the year. Nevertheless, there are still only a few providers on the market, but the list of interested parties is very long. Many companies are experimenting and planning to issue their own credit card.
The Swiss start-up Volinex once set out to offer a solution to the wave-crest problem via debit cards. At the beginning of this year, however, Volinex also had to stop its experiments and close down its business. The combination of pressure on fees and uncertain regulation is like a minefield.
Blockchain start-up Decoin, on the other hand, reported a new attempt to offer services such as Bitcoin credit cards and more just a few weeks ago. Decoin is actually developing an exchange platform where crypto investors are to share in the revenues.