Surprisingly, the first time the term “credit card” was used to describe a card for spending was back in 1887, mentioned several times in the utopian science fiction novel “Looking Backward” by Edward Bellamy.
Although, in the beginning, the concept was slightly different from today’s and did not include debt in terms of borrowing money from authorities, credit cards have been around for nearly 150 years and won't go away easily.
People use it for convenience but often go beyond their means, buying goods and services they could not afford without falling into debt. Over the long term, those who don't have good money management skills could get into financial trouble if they don’t repay their debts in time, as interest rates can be excessive.
Until a Bitcoin standard incentivizes credit card users to tear apart that piece of plastic forever and adopt a debt-free living, people will keep spending money they don’t have in their possession. Many bitcoiners would argue (sarcastically or otherwise) that a credit card's only meaningful utility is to buy more bitcoin.” Joke or not, you should be aware of the trade-offs involved in using a credit card to buy bitcoin, as the added costs to the transaction might not be worth it.
This article will shed some light on the advantages and disadvantages of using a credit card to buy bitcoin and whether an alternative option should be considered.
Pros & Cons of Using a Credit Card to Buy Bitcoin
- Convenience: You can buy bitcoin even if you don’t hold the cash.
- Speed: If the bitcoin exchange you’re using allows it, you can buy bitcoin with a credit card. While bank transfers may take up to two days to be processed, the purchase is instant with a credit card.
- Funds: Credit cards are an easy way to purchase bitcoin; however, you’re entering into debt with a financial institution and you should consider that the interest rates and fees involved for the transaction might be very high.
- Rewards: You can accrue credit card rewards such as cash back, travel points or miles if your provider allows it with cryptocurrency.
- Debt: When you purchase goods or services with a credit card, other than high transaction fees, you are also entering a debt with a bank or a financial institution and agreeing to pay interest rates that could be very high.
- Cash advance: Think of cash withdrawals from an ATM with a credit card: they are more costly than debit cards. Payment with a credit card to buy bitcoin can be regarded as a cash advance by the card issuer and you should consider the following fees applied to such a service:
- Fees could be as high as 3-5% of the transaction amount;
- APR on the interest can get very high if you don’t pay off your entire monthly credit card bill;
- loss of a grace period of usually 21 days before you are charged interest;
- loss of rewards, as your card issuer likely won’t apply rewards to crypto purchase as it’s considered cash equivalent;
- KYC: “Know your customer” procedures are heavily applied to buying bitcoin with a credit card, to the point that the card issuer might block your purchase, based on bitcoin volatility and fraud potential.
- Credit score: Depending on your jurisdiction and credit card provider, your credit score might be affected.
- High fees: The overall amount of fees you’d have to incur for buying bitcoin with a credit card could be considerable.
In the next section, you can find details on the types of fees to be considered for both the credit card provider and the exchange you use to buy bitcoin. Remember to consider these when buying bitcoin with a credit card because they can make a great difference in the final bill.
Types of Fees to be Expected
Credit Card Company Fees
Provided the financial institution or a bank allows customers to buy bitcoin with a credit card, they will charge a number of fees that are usually higher than other payment methods. This is because credit card issuers treat buying bitcoin as a cash advance rather than a regular purchase:
- Cash advance: fees could be as high as 3-5% of the transaction amount.
- Cash advance interest rate: APR on the interest can get very high, often over 25%, and starts accruing the day you purchase bitcoin until you pay the credit off. This is in contrast with regular card purchase interest rates that start getting charged after a period of three to four weeks, depending on the card provider.
Cryptocurrency Exchange Fees
While most cryptocurrency exchanges and brokers will let you buy bitcoin with a credit card, you should not take it for granted. Many Bitcoin services won’t allow credit card purchases because of their chargeback time limit, considering it may take up to six months for a credit card transaction to be finalized.
For those services that offer credit card purchases of bitcoin, here are the fees outlined below:
- Commission or service fee: Applied for using a credit card to buy bitcoin. For example, U.S. cardholders may have to pay the exchange a commission fee of around 3% for buying bitcoin with a credit card.
- Foreign exchange fee: If the exchange is based outside of your jurisdiction, you might have to pay a foreign exchange fee of typically 3%.
How to Buy Bitcoin With a Credit Card
Depending on the jurisdiction or the type of cryptocurrency exchange, you may have to go through a verification process before buying bitcoin with a credit card.
Before connecting your credit card to your exchange or broker account, you’ll have to open an account with the service provider and verify an identification method, usually a passport or driver’s license.
Find below the usual steps to follow to buy bitcoin with a credit card:
- Sign up: Most platforms will require you to go through KYC procedures and verify your identity. Only after that will you be able to buy bitcoin with a credit card or any other type of payment available.
- Link the credit card: After signing up and verifying your account, you can link the credit card from the payment setting page.
- Set the amount to buy instantly: Some platforms will require you to use your credit card to buy fiat currency and deposit it onto your exchange or broker account before executing any transaction. Others will allow you to deposit directly onto your private wallet with a credit card purchase. Check with the exchange which options you have available and make sure you have a wallet address available for the purchase.
- Choose the option “Buy with credit card.” and click “buy”.
Are There Better Options Than Using a Credit Card?
There are better ways to buy bitcoin, less expensively and more anonymously. Undoubtedly, buying with a credit card is the most convenient way. Still, if you can take your time, you should consider alternatives like bank transfers and even gift cards, prepaid cards and cash if you want to buy bitcoin anonymously.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a credit card bitcoin transaction take to complete?
Depending on your credit card issuer, it may take from 30 minutes to a couple of hours on average, but up to 12 hours in case the financial company needs to check additional ID and banking information.
Is it safe to buy bitcoin with credit cards?
Other than the typical issues related to the risks of using your bank details online, it is safe to use a credit card to buy bitcoin.
Can I fund my bitcoin wallet with a credit card?
Yes, non-custodial brokers like Coinmama, Coingate and Paybis allow you to buy bitcoin and send it directly to your wallet.
Which apps can I use to buy bitcoin instantly with a credit card?
Most apps require that you have a balance with their platform before buying bitcoin. However, that balance can be filled with a credit card instantly, giving you a chance to buy bitcoin immediately after.
Regular purchases of bitcoin should not be executed with a credit card. It should be a one-off purchase if you’re in a hurry to buy or it’s the first time you’re trying to buy bitcoin. It is a convenient way to execute a transaction and allows you to buy bitcoin even if you don’t have the cash available. Still, its disadvantages outweigh the positives, as you may have realized from this article.
Given the number of options available to buy bitcoin nowadays, we recommend exploring them and choosing the most suitable for you. You have plenty of advice with Bitcoin Magazine guides that will lead you to sound money using more privacy and security in the true spirit of Bitcoin.