It was much simpler to write a best bitcoin debit card article at the end of 2017, when it was simply an issue of comparing fees, conversion rate costs, and service offered.  However, in the beginning of 2018 Wave Crest Holdings, the issuer of cards for all the different debit card services, received notice from Visa to immediately end servicing. While US bitcoin debit cards are still issued without interruption from Metropolitan Commercial Bank, it has become more difficult for non-US residents to get their hands on a bitcoin debit card.

In any event, we assume that a solution will eventually be reached for non-US residents, and we already see progress to that end, with Wirex recently relaunching services to UK residents.  This article will compare bitcoin debit cards for both US and non-US residents – additionally, we will keep it up to date with the most current status on the different debit cards as well – so watch this space.

Bitcoin Debit Card Comparison

Fees

 WirexCryptoPayUquidBitPayShiftcard
Target MarketUK, EUTBDTBDUSAUSA
BTC-Fiat Conversion 2.5%2.5%1.5%<1%<1%
Domestic Withdrawal£1.75€2.25$2.50$2$2.50
International Withdrawal£2.25€2.75$3$3$3.50
Point of Sale.5% cashback!Free$0.23FreeFree
Currency Conversion3%3%3%3%3%
Monthly Fee£1 inactivity charge€1$1$5 after 3 months inactivity0
Issuance - Plastic$15€15$16.99$9.95$10
Issuance - Virtual$3€2.50N/AN/AN/A
DeliveryFreeFreeFreeFreeFree

Limits on Verified Accounts

 WirexCryptoPayUquidBitpayShiftCard
Online PurchasesNo Limit No LimitNo Limit$10,000$1,000
Value of Purchases (day)No LimitNo LimitNo Limit$10,000$1,000
ATM Transactions222No Limit2
Limit per ATM Transaction£1,600€1,000$2,000$3,000 (daily)$200
Max Load (day)£16,000€20,000$20,000$10,000Connected to Coinbase account

The Best Bitcoin Debit Cards for US Residents

Shift Card

Shift Card is a very unique product – you attach it to your coinbase account and it exchanges bitcoin into USD at the point of sale, at the time of purchase or withdrawal.  This is the only card where you needn’t preload which not only saves time, you never have to worry about the timing – every purchase converts the bitcoin at the current price.  There are two issues with the card – first, you must be a US resident with a Coinbase account to use it, and the purchase value and withdrawal limits are quite low comparatively.  If you already have got a coinbase account set up, then you won’t need to submit any additional KYC documents.

Bitpay

Bitpay is a preload card available to US residents.  The conversion rate from bitcoin to USD is based on a blended average between a few reputable exchanges.  The higher withdrawal and spending limit on Bitpay is it’s advantage, as well as it’s exchange/wallet agnosticism – you needn’t have a coinbase account to use Bitpay.  The disadvantage is that bitcoin must be transferred to the bitpay wallet, and loaded onto the card ahead of purchases or withdrawals.

The Best Bitcoin Debit Cards for Non-US residents

Bitcoin debit cards were a fantastic way for hodlers in markets without friendly exchange environments to easily use their bitcoin.  And then card issuer Wave Crest Holdings shut off the spigot from one day to the next, and tons of non-US card holders – users of uquid, wirex, cryptopay and xapo to name four cards – were left without a solution.  That was a bad day.

Five months on no real replacement solution has been found, though Wirex seems to be setting the bar for the non-US card market. UK and European Economic Area residents may now order virtual or plastic cards, with the added benefit of receiving .5% cash back on POS purchases.  

Somehow, Wirex seems to be the only brand that has successfully sourced an alternative.  At the moment, there is a massive waiting list to receive a plastic or virtual card – best to get your name on the list now just to be on the safe side.

Assuming that all products resurface, some might prefer uquid which has a lower loading fee of 1.5% opposed to the approximate 2.5% for wirex, slightly higher for cryptopay.  However, uquid is the only product that does not actually have a bitcoin wallet integrated, meaning that conversion to fiat happens at the time of transfer. This limits flexibility, particularly because it means debit card management cannot really be done on the fly.  With Wirex and Cryptopay, you can hold bitcoin in the associate wallet, and quickly exchange into fiat as required. Wirex has really optimized this process with their native apps in iOS and Android, something that Cryptopay should really look into (after sorting out a credit card issuer, of course).

Bottom Line

A bit depressing for aspiring bitcoin debit card users outside of the US we’re afraid.  Wirex is your best current shot, the jury is out on their UK/EU rollouts. None of the other products seem close to relaunching.  US customers, rejoice as your are spoilt for choice. Your two options really boil down to shift card and bitpay, the former a perfect solution for coinbase users, the latter for everyone else.