The best way to use Bitcoin for purchases in offline stores, as well as turn smaller amounts of Bitcoin into cash, is through Bitcoin debit cards.
Bitcoin cards are prepaid plastic VISA or MasterCard cards that are tied to your Bitcoin wallet hosted by the card providing company.
They are often called “wallet cards” – you load the respective Bitcoin wallet with BTC and you conveniently spend it wherever you need. Many card providers let you withdraw other cryptocurrencies to cash as well, having Ethereum, Litecoin, DASH and other crypto wallets tied to cards they issue.
The Bitcoin ATM cards are debit cards, meaning there is no credit line tied to them. They are also prepaid, which means you can spend only whatever you’ve loaded to the card previously. You are loading Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrency) into a special wallet that is connected to the plastic card. As you pay or withdraw cash, your BTC is instantly converted to a fiat currency (USD, EUR etc.) and the payment is made.
Naturally there are fees you should be aware of – this page compares all crypto ATM cards so you can get the best one for you.
Crypto card selection FAQ:
Should I go for Bitcoin Visa or Mastercard card?
Both Visa and Mastercard are used for prepaid cryptocurrency cards. As you browse the comparison below you will see similarities between all Visa cards (limits for unverified customers, fees etc.) and between all Mastercard cards. Most often Mastercard debit cards allow higher POS spending and withdrawal limits.
Are there free crypto ATM cards?
Yes there are cards you can order without an initial payment. We’ve reviewed options that let you get a free Bitcoin debit card, see the pricing comparison below. Please note that free cards are compensated with higher fees for most operations.
Can you get an anonymous Bitcoin debit card?
Around half of the prepaid card providers used to let you have an “unverified”, i.e. an anonymous card. However, due to strict AML and KYC regulations the limits for such card were reall low. All of the anonymous cryptocurrency cards will have a lifetime limit, which means that after loading and withdrawing a certain amount to them the cards will stop working (unless you verify your ID). Still, anonymous cards are convenient for gifts, off-the grid payments and card reviews – whenever you find one that is.
See the Bitcoin debit card comparison list for further details. Sort the table by the parameter you need and make sure to apply for the card you like today, since it takes time to issue and deliver your card.
Crypto cards ban and launch timeline
JAN 5 2018 UPDATE: On January 5th Visa suddenly banned all cards issued by WaveCrest, which makes about half of the VISA cards on the list below. We are waiting for the news from companies and will update the article but for now we recommend getting a Spectrocoin card (shipping new cards soon), since AdvCashhas been hit with the WaveCrest ban too.
JAN 29 2018 UPDATE: Most cards on this list are disabled due to VISA issues; AdvCash that we recommended got his as well. Currently the Mistertango (see table below) card works, and Spectrocoin is almost ready with replacement cards. Sign up for Spectrocoin to get in line for yours!
FEB 23 2018 UPDATE: A lot is brewing, but no cards are 100% functional yet. These are the candidates for the fastest solutions, so register if you haven’t yet: 1) Bankera/Spectrocoin (supposedly have cards already), TenX (end of Q1 2018), Denaro (ICO now, cards in May), Bitwala (bank, cards, tether alternative), check other cards’ status here.
MAR 4 2018 UPDATE: We’ve put together a clear and robust Google Drive table with minimal data for quick status checkups: Cryptocurrency debit cards list. It’s updated as soon as there are changes, and you can leave comments there if you think something has to be edited.
NOV 24 2018 UPDATE:Wirex for EU (and soon US & Canada), Paycent for worldwide residents, Shift or Bitpay for US customers, MCO VISA Card for Singapore. The landscape has not changed much, but there are contenders actively developing their products.
If you want more info, check the card list in the table below:
Bitcoin debit card comparison:
The table is updated – leave a comment if you have another company that should be on the list!