Wirex Debit Card Review
- Cards offered in USD, GBP and EUR, offering not only an easy offramp for bitcoin earners, but an excellent solution for travelers.
- Cards must be preloaded with bitcoin prior to usage, which can be done in seconds through the wirex app.
- There is an arguably hidden loading fee cost which comes to 2.5-3%
Wirex offers cards in three different currencies, GBP, USD and EUR, which not only allows their expansion in a number of non-USD markets, it provides an extremely convenient service for international travelers, who may purchase cards denominated in the currency of their destination country, load it up, and use the card with the same charges as a resident.
A product of Wirex Limited, a London UK based-company, e-coin raised $186,596 in a Bnktothefuture crowdfunding campaign November 2015. The proceeds of which will be used for development and expansion of a product that, according to e-coin, is already the market leader for bitcoin debit cards.
Each customer account is associated with its own bitgo multisig wallet, with two of three keys required to authorize a transaction - one held by bitgo, another by wirex, and one held as a reserve key, all on separate servers. A number of risk checks are automatically done on any withdrawal attempts, and should something not feel right withdrawals will not be processed until manual approval is received.
Just as importantly, funds are insured by XL Group, an insurance company with an A+ rating operating in 160 countries. In the unlikely event of a hack or some other catastrophic event, your funds are fully insured.
Moreover, the co-founders have pretty impressive resumes, are transparent about their roles with the company, and have plenty to lose.
How to get a card
After registering, which consists of entering an email and password, you'll be taken to an overview screen, which shows your current balance, which will be zero.
Click on the "request new card" button, which will offer you the choice of a USD, EUR or GBP debit card, as well as the card type - physical or virtual.
Choosing physical will offer two different delivery options, standard or expedite, the former which costs $17, the latter $50. You'll then need the personal data that will be used on the card face as well as for the physical shipment of your card. Select your payment method - bitcoin, paypal, debit/credit card or bank transfer, and proceed to checkout. Assuming you are paying in bitcoin, which would be the most obvious choice, ensure that you have the appropriate amount of bitcoin in your e-coin wallet - the address to which may be found in the account Overview page. Please allow x to x number of days for delivery of your new bitcoin card.
The exact same process must be completed for a virtual card, the only difference being the charge is limited to $3, your account may be used instantly and of course you don't get a physical debit card to use in brick and mortar stores.
How the card works
Wirex, the owners are proud of saying, connects the bitcoin market seamlessly to the mainstream finance market. No longer must bitcoin users search out bitcoin-accepting businesses. With Wirex, bitcoin can instantly be exchanged into domestic currencies, and used at any ATM or mastercard-accepting business.
Customers have the choice of usd, gbp or eur cards, all of which can be loaded with the relevant currency from the user's bitcoin wallet, at the exchange rates shown after login. Please note - the conversion rate shown prior to login is about $10-12 higher than post login - meaning there is a fee, arguably hidden, of 2.5-3% charged when loading bitcoin debit cards. However, in our view this is quite a small price to pay - particularly for international travelers looking for a simpler way of converting currencies.
For a traveler to France from the United States for instance, purchasing a eur card allows for domestic transactions, meaning the lowest ATM fees and no international transaction costs. The 2-3% fee up front allows for the utilization of your debit card as if you were just another Parisian!
And of course, should the card run out of money just a few clicks will instantly reload from your associated bitcoin wallet - a simple and fast enough process to do while standing at the cash register.
|Point of Sale Charge||Free||Free||Free|
|Issuance Fee - Plastic||$15||$15||$15|
|Issuance Fee - Virtual||$3||$3||$3|
*only charged if there has been at least one transaction in the month.
|Number of Online Purchases (day)||No Limit||No Limit|
|Value of Purchases (day)||No Limit||No Limit|
|ATM Transactions (day)||2||2|
|Limit per ATM Transaction||$€200, £160||$€2,000, £1,600|
|Max ATM Withdrawal - Lifetime||$€1,000, £800||No Limit|
|Max Load (day)||$€2,500, £2,000||$€20,000, £16,000|
|Max Load - Lifetime||$€2,500, £2,000||No Limit|
*Proof of address and copy of ID required for verification
Wirex really excels in their mobile application, which is excellent. Fully functional apps are available for both iOS and Android.
Our email on a Thursday morning UK time was still unanswered as of Saturday afternoon. From the public interactions we have seen, on forums for instance, the team is exceptionally professional, polite and knowledgeable. However, there have been a few complaints as to response times. They have improved as of late.
Finally, a simple way to spend your hard-mined bitcoin as if it were cash! Even better, Wirex allows for the simple conversion of bitcoin into multiple currencies on domestic debit cards which has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the foreign travel markets. Some might prefer having a card which does the conversion instantly at point of sale or ATM, avoiding the necessity of pre-loading cards. However, the process is simple enough to do on the fly, particularly when the mobile apps launch.
- Founded: 2015
- Offices: London
- Insured: XL Group
- US accepted: Yes
- Currencies: USD,GBP,EUR
- Card Type: Mastercard
- How to load: Preload