With more and more crypto debit cards hitting the market—often with attractive rewards for spending—you may be considering getting one yourself. In this blog, we’ll explain crypto debit cards, their pros and cons, and how they may impact your taxes.
What is a crypto debit card?
Crypto debit cards help bridge the gap between the crypto and traditional markets, letting holders use their cryptocurrency for everyday transactions and ATM withdrawals. Here’s how they work:
Using an app or website, an investor pre-loads a crypto debit card with a set amount of cryptocurrency.
When a cardholder uses the card for a purchase, the card provider automatically converts the proper amount of the preloaded funds into fiat currency and transfers that cash to the seller.
Most crypto debit cards are offered by CeFi exchanges or lenders in conjunction with major card providers like VISA or Mastercard, making them available for use at millions of vendors worldwide and online.
Why use a crypto debit card?
Crypto debit cards allow you to spend your crypto easily. Additionally, they also offer several other advantages:
No or low fees for membership or purchases made while traveling internationally
Protection from unfavorable currency exchange rates
No bank account requirement
Allow you to use multiple wallets and cryptocurrencies
Many offer rewards for spending in the form of crypto “cash back”
While cash back rewards for traditional debit card spending are typically relatively low (1–2%), crypto debit cards can offer significantly higher cash-back amounts, depending on the provider.
Tax implications of crypto debit cards
Every time a crypto debit card is used, a taxable event is triggered. The IRS considers every sale, trade, or disposal of cryptocurrency a taxable event. Thus, when the card provider converts crypto into fiat currency, the cardholder has realized a capital gain or loss. The user must report the transaction on their tax filing and may owe capital gains taxes on the transaction, in addition to any sales tax paid for the purchase of a good or service.
Example: Charlie wants a cup of coffee from a local bakery. His hot latte costs $3.00, and because he lives in California, is subject to a 7.25% sales tax. This makes his total $3.22.
Charlie pays for his drink with his BTC debit card. At the time of the purchase, BTC is trading at $35,000, so his card provider converts .000092 BTC into cash. Because the BTC Charlie preloaded on his card was originally acquired when BTC was trading at $30,000, Charlie has realized a capital gain:
(.000092 x $35,000 = $3.22) - (.000092 x $30,000 = $2.76) = $.46.
Charlie must report this 46 cent gain and pay corresponding capital gains taxes.
Even if transactions are for small amounts, the frequent use of crypto debit cards can result in a large number of taxable events that need to be reported. This can be difficult for those who file by hand or with tax software that isn’t designed for crypto investors. However, crypto tax software can significantly simplify this process.
6 Best Crypto Debit Cards
Similar to the Coinbase card, the Binance VISA debit card links directly to your Binance wallets, making it very easy to use. The Binance cashback rewards are very appealing: you can earn up to 8% back on transactions.
However, maximizing your cashback requires a user to hold BNB; there is a sliding scale ranging for .1% cashback for someone with 0 BNB to 8% for someone with 600+ BNB. Binance card fees are very reasonable—just a .9% commission fee on transactions.
Fees: .9% commission fee on transactions
Cryptocurrencies supported: BNB, BUSD, BTC , ETH and SXP
Rewards rate: .1% to 8%, depending on BNB holdings
The BlockCard VISA from Unbanked is an all-around good pick for US traders, who have fewer options than their European counterparts. It has cashback rewards on an unlimited volume of purchases, with rates capping out at 6%. To earn rewards, however, you need to stake TRN (Ternio); with the highest rates requiring a user to stake 145,000+ TRN. An additional perk of BlockCard is its ability to be used with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
Fees: $10 issuance fee, $5 monthly fee if used for less than $750 of transactions, $3 ATM withdrawal fee
Cryptocurrencies supported: BAT, BTC, BCH, DAI, ETH, LTC, PAX, XLM, TRN, USDT, TUSD, USDC, XRP
Rewards rate: 0% to 6%, based on TRN staking
The Coinbase VISA card links directly to your Coinbase wallets, which means you won’t have to preload crypto like you would on most crypto debit cards. Additionally, it allows you to earn back crypto rewards; 1% back on most transactions and 4% back on transactions made with Stellar Lumens. However, although it doesn’t charge an annual fee, the Coinbase card does charge a 2.49% cryptocurrency liquidation fee on every purchase, which could add up over time.
Fees: 2.49% liquidation fee, 3% fee on international transactions
Cryptocurrencies supported: BTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, BAT, REP, ZRX, XLM
Rewards rates: 1% on most transactions, 4% on XLM
Availability: USA, UK, and EU
If you’re used to the kind of perks you often receive from traditional debit or credit cards, the Crypto.com VISA card might be the right choice for you. Among the five tiers of cards, you get rewards like reimbursed Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon Prime subscriptions, discounted hotel and AirBnb rates, and free access to airport lounges. Crypto.com cards have very competitive fees, charging only for ATM withdrawal fees.
All tiers also offer crypto cashback rewards, but there’s a catch: rewards are only in CRO, Crypto.com’s native token. At the lowest tier, which you receive if you have 0 staked CRO, you get 1% back in CRO. Each card tier represents a 10-fold increase in staked CRO, with the highest level earning 8% cash back but also requiring $400,000 worth of staking.
Fees: 2% fee on ATM withdrawals over $200 (limit is higher with higher tiers)
Cryptocurrencies supported: BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, PAX, TUSD, EOS and XLM
Rewards rates: 1%–8%, depending on amount of staked CRO
Availability: US, EU, Singapore
Monolith, built on the ETH chain, is the only DeFi platform on this list. Notably, it supports ETH and any other ERC-20 token, giving altcoin holders a lot to be excited about.
Rewards work a little differently in the Monolith platform. If a user holds TKN, Monolith’s governance token, at any time they can claim and burn their share of “community contributions,” a 1% fee on transactions levied on non-TKN holders and collected in the Community Chest. However, Monolith does charge more fees than most providers on this list.
Fees: 1.75% transaction fee, 1% community contribution fee (0% with TKN), variable ATM withdrawal fees, €.50 balance inquiry fee, 1% card top up fee (0% for DAI or TKN), €7.50 paper statement fee
Cryptocurrencies supported: ETH, DAI, TKN, any ERC-20 token
Rewards rates: Proportional to TKN holdings
Availability: UK, EU
The Wirex VISA card is a solid option for international travelers, supporting over 150 fiat currencies and live customer support. Additionally, it has cashback rewards and some of the lowest fees out there: just a 1% fee to top up your account.
Fees: 1% account top up fee
Cryptocurrencies supported: BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, WAVES, DAI, XLM, NANO
Rewards rate: 1.5% cashback
Availability: UK, EU
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