Visa has partnered with cryptocurrency startup BlockFi to offer the first rewards credit card that pays out in Bitcoin rather than cash, but is it worth applying for? Unless you’re extremely bullish on cryptocurrency and don’t mind getting seriously dinged for an annual fee, it might be more of a novelty card with limited benefits.
The BlockFi card is not available just yet—there’s a waitlist for existing clients with funded accounts, and the waiting list will be available publicly in January. Cards are expected to ship next spring.
Benefits of the card
Debit cards that allow customers to spend cryptocurrency already exist in the marketplace, but this card is focused on saving. Cardholders earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases that will automatically be converted to Bitcoin and placed into a BlockFi account every month. Since you’re depositing into a BlockFi account, it’s regarded as standard crypto funding, and can be withdrawn, traded, earn interest (up to 8.6% APY, according to BlockFi’s website), or used as collateral for crypto-backed loans.
Additionally, as a welcome bonus for the first year, the company is offering $250 converted into Bitcoin if you spend $3,000 or more on the card within the first three months.
Downsides to the card
While there has been increasing appetite for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin among bigger U.S. investors, it’s extremely volatile and faces skepticism about the currency’s utility and transferability. Of course, a partnership with Visa pushes crypto more towards more mainstream adoption, but you have to be a true believer in Bitcoin if this card is going to work for you.
The card is also marred by a $200 annual fee, which undercuts the modest 1.5% cash back reward. There are better 1.5% cash back rewards out there, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Capital One Quicksilver, which both have a $200 welcome bonus that’s triggered once you spend $500 (compared to BlockFi’s $3,000) and, crucially, no annual fee. You’d really only be getting this card for the Bitcoin features, not any sort of generous rewards.
There are no details about the range for APR rates, either, so it remains to be seen how much monthly interest people will be charged for their balances.
If you’re interested in investing in cryptocurrency, you might be better off using a regular credit card with more easily achieved cash back rewards, and then use that money to buy Bitcoin separately.