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Hackernoon logoThe Best Bitcoin Visa Debit Card by@purplesuede22

The Best Bitcoin Visa Debit Card

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@purplesuede22Jon Creasy

Applying Buffett investment philosophy to cryptocurrency.

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are referral links. The author may be compensated should you use these links. None of the following is financial advice. Please do your own research before allocating money towards cryptocurrency.

So, you’ve heard the hype about Bitcoin. Maybe you’ve gotten your hands on some recently. Good for you! You’re a part of a movement. So what’s next?

Saving and accumulating Bitcoin is one of my favorite pastimes, but what’s the point of growing wealth if you have no way to spend it? There are currently plenty of ways to “spend” your Sats (short for Satoshi, or 100 millionth of 1 Bitcoin), but most people want to spend with plastic. It’s fast, it’s convenient, and cards are accepted pretty much anywhere.

I personally have both the MCO Ruby Steel Visa Card, and the CashApp Cash Card, which I will be reviewing and comparing below.

MCO’s Ruby Steel Visa Card

Launching with a $26.7 million ICO in 2017, MCO has just begun shipping out their Visa cards to the US. They are much more than just a Visa Debit card, but there are some features (and lack of features) you should know about before diving in.

How Can I Get One?

Simple! You can get a MCO Visa Card through this link (my referral code is “y6zewknlt8” — we’ll both get $50 of MCO when you use it), but don’t get too excited just yet, as the card requires both KYC and a 6 month MCO stake to get most of the card benefits (my card required a 50 MCO 6 month stake, which cost about $100 at the time of staking, and is worth about $220 at time of writing). However…I’d say it’s worth the wait and investment. Here’s why:

MCO Standout Features

5 different cards of varying material and benefit, depending on levels of MCO stake. More info here.Cash back — each card comes with varying percentages of cash back on all purchases (the Ruby pictured above comes with 2% cash back)Monthly credit towards Spotify, Netflix, Expedia, AirBnB, and airport lounge access, depending on the card you choose (the Ruby comes with $9.99 USD monthly Spotify credit)

All of these perks are absolutely mind blowing for a cryptocurrency-based Visa card, and arguably these perks are what make MCO’s Visa card worth the investment. There are a few more features the app offers that are worth mentioning too:

MCO’s Crypto.com App Features

Credit — while MCO isn’t the first crypto company to experiment with loans, the idea remains interesting. Using this service, you can put up Bitcoin as collateral and receive a USD loan. To me, this doesn’t make much sense, as there are easier ways of getting USD for your BTC (without interest).Earn — a more attractive concept in my mind is MCO’s “Earn” program that allows you to lock up a cryptocurrency for a set amount of time and earn interest in that particular crypto (percentages vary based on length of term and amount of MCO staked). So, if I were to lock up some Bitcoin for 3 months with my current Ruby card MCO stake, I’d make about 8% (in BTC) per annum, paid out monthly. This option may be good for someone who doesn’t feel confident in accumulating Bitcoin through trading.Pay — Crypto.com is working on making cryptocurrency payments mainstream. They want to make it simpler for shops to accept crypto (more info in the previous link), and they make it easy to top up gift cards with cryptocurrency to your favorite retail shop. On the home screen of the Crypto.com app, click “Pay” and then “Shop Now” to see all of the available stores.

Things You Should Know

There are a ton of amazing features that I love about my new Ruby Steel Card, but one major complaint I have is that I can’t actually spend my Bitcoin — I have to convert to USD first.

To use the Visa card, you have to regularly top it up, which you can do by either converting Bitcoin to USD, or through an in-app Fiat Wallet (which is essentially a way to electronically deposit from your bank to your wallet. This method can take 3–5 business days to clear, from what I have read).

In addition, MCO/Crypto.com is a custodial wallet, meaning that you don’t have access to your private keys. In crypto speak, this means that you are trusting MCO with your money instead of a traditional bank. Knowing this, it is important to consider how much money you hold on their app. Only keep crypto in such a wallet that you’re willing to lose completely.

Finally, I would say that the MCO card/app system is currently too complicated for those who are new to the cryptocurrency space. There are many different types of cryptocurrency available for use with the app (which is great for someone who knows what they’re doing), concepts such as “staking” aren’t easily understood, and honestly no one needs to “top up” their bank account (unless they’re unemployed).

My Verdict

All this being said, I’d give the MCO Ruby Steel Visa Debit Card a 3/5 rating, and I’d highly recommend that you try it out. There really aren’t that many companies shipping out crypto Visa debit cards at the moment, and MCO has the potential to dramatically improve.

If MCO introduced a non-custodial crypto wallet option, allowed for the spend of Bitcoin directly, and provided Bitcoin back rewards instead of MCO or cash, I’d give a much higher rating.

CashApp’s Cash Card

In March of 2015, Square, Inc. released “Square Cash” which later became known as “CashApp.” Initially meant for businesses, the app quickly became a competitor for apps like PayPal and Venmo, and rocketed to prominence shortly after the introduction of their “Cash Card.”

CashApp made waves in January of 2018 when they integrated Bitcoin trading, and hit the headlines again this summer when the allowed for Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals, making it a popular app in the crypto space. 

Note: CashApp does not currently claim that their Cash Card is a “crypto debit card,” but in the end it functions about the same way that the MCO card does.

How Can I Get One?

Again, simple! You can download the CashApp here (again, a referral link — we’ll both get $5 when you sign up), and then you’ll have to complete the KYC process to get your Visa Cash Card. The process is easy — I received my card in 7 business days.

CashApp Cash Card Standout Features

Free — the CashApp doesn’t require any sort of stake, and they don’t charge a fee to ship you your Cash Card. It’s plain plastic, but you can customize it with a small library of symbols, pictures, and lettersSimplicity — anytime anyone new asks me about Bitcoin, I direct them to CashApp. Not only do they make sending, receiving, and spending money easy, they also make sure your Bitcoin experience is seamless, providing plenty of confirmation, security, and explanation along the wayBoosts — your Cash Card comes with rotating cash back benefits — right now I have mine set to $3 off any AMC purchase, but you could use the 15% back from Door Dash, $1 off any coffee shop purchase, and several others.

Things You Should Know

Just like MCO’s card, you can’t actually spend Bitcoin. Rather, you have to sell off whatever Bitcoin you’d like to “fund” your Cash Card (all payments from either Bitcoin sells or cash transfers stay in your app until you cash out to your bank. Cash Card uses this balance to fund your card).

In addition, the CashApp Bitcoin wallet is custodial, just like MCO’s, meaning you don’t control the keys and should be aware that you’re trusting CashApp instead of your bank . Remember, you should never put more money into any cryptocurrency or crypto app than you can afford to lose.

My Verdict

Because of the ease of use, simple and clear Bitcoin messaging, and easy access to the Cash Card, I give CashApp’s Cash Card a 2.8/5. In my mind, this isn’t necessarily a negative rating as they could (and probably will, at their current rate) outpace MCO with a few upgrades. Should you get one? Absolutely!

CashApp could improve in all the same ways MCO could — by allowing customers to spend either Bitcoin or USD from the Cash Card, giving the option to earn Bitcoin back instead of cash back (something my friends over at Lolli have been crushing recently), and they could integrate a non-custodial wallet in which you could store your Bitcoin savings, thereby creating a sort of savings/checking system.

Finally, CashApp could take a page from MCO’s perk book. Customers love benefits! The Cash Card boost system is cool, but could be much better, as MCO illustrates.

Final Thoughts

While MCO and CashApp certainly aren’t the only two crypto debit card options in the works, they are two of the few that you can currently use. The Spedn App, created by the Winklevoss twins, is pioneering the “spend crypto directly” problem, but they don’t have a physical card yet. Blockrize is working on the “Bitcoin back” problem, but also has yet to release a physical card (I’m on the waiting list for this one).

It’s important to remember that the crypto/plastic payment space is barely out of its infantile stages, and is slowly learning to crawl. Keep this in mind, and give both the MCO card and the Cash Card a try. Let me know what works and what doesn’t work for you in the comments!

If you’re new to cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, and sound money, I’d highly recommend researching ways you can get “skin in the game.” My article “3 Ways You Can Get Into Crypto Without Investing Your Money” will help you do just that, and if you have any questions feel free to hit me up on Twitter @PurpleSuede22.

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