Bitpay the Bitcoin debit card.
What is Bitpay?
Before we get started with the review, let’s cover exactly what the Bitpay card does. Some people are upset with the fact that the Bitpay card is not a “true” bitcoin debit card, and by that I mean it does not convert cryptocurrency on the fly, and it does not store any cryptocurrencies.
This is a prepaid card, and you are simply selling your cryptocurrencies to Bitpay. They will then load the card with US dollars for you to spend. You can load it using either Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.
Having a prepaid card is not a bad thing.
I honestly like that it is a prepaid card better, and I’ll tell you why. Cryptocurrency is extremely volatile, and while that’s lots of fund when you’re trying to make some nice gains, it’s not so fun when you’re trying to pay bills! My only means of income comes from cryptocurrency, and I use my Bitpay card to pay for utilities, insurance and groceries. Even crypto writers need to eat, and Bitpay makes that convenient for me.
When it comes time to pay the electric bill I want to actually know I have the same amount of money available for this task as I did this morning. That being said, I don’t actually keep a ton of money on my prepaid card. Most of what I make stays in cryptocurrency. I load just enough to pay my bills and have some leftover for things like gas or a little spending money. This works out well for me.
- Accepted anywhere Visa is accepted
- Makes it super easy to cash out your Bitcoin
- Allows easy access to cash
- Can be used as a checking account.
- Generous spending limits
- Easy approval process
Ease of acquiring a Bitpay card.
One of the best parts about the Bitpay card is that it’s extremely easy to get one and to use it. In order to get a Bitpay card they’ll ask you some simple information to attempt to verify your identity. The system tries to automatically match you up with a database of public information. In most cases, you can be instantly approved. You pay $10 in Bitcoin for your card, and they mail it out to you within 7-10 days.
Unfortunately, the system could not match me, and that meant a call to customer service. I don’t know why, but it could not seem to match my address, but the operator did it for me, and the whole approval process took no more than 10 minutes I believe. I got my card around 8 days later. If you’re still waiting for your card they have a feature that will allow you to track it, but this did not work for me. I guess because the customer service agent had to process my request manually instead of the automated service?
The process was straight forward and much easier than some other applications I’ve been through. I wasn’t required to upload any documents, and they only needed basic information to approve me.
The card itself is pretty bland, and you may notice it’s not nearly as nice looking as the other cards in your wallet. Since Bitpay users must buy their cards I’m sure this was needed to cut down on costs.
It also doesn’t have a chip, and this really confuses people at first. It’s kind of fun watching them turn it round and round looking for it. It has never been declined anywhere I’ve used it though. If debit services are down, ask them to run it as credit.
If the card does not work, then the store’s debit processing may be down. Ask them to run it as credit instead. These are often different systems.
The back of the card has the customer service phone number. I used this immediately to change the pin number for the card. I don’t like using ones that have been automatically generated.
Use the customer service number to change your PIN
The Bitpay phone number number is 855-884-7568. It’s also located on the back of your card.
Loading the Bitpay card.
This part of the Bitpay experience could really stand to improve honestly. Often times this is more frustrating then it needs to be, but in most cases it does work okay. I load my card using the desktop wallet client wallet, but only because they basically force me to.
Bitpay requires that all addresses used to load the card support BIP70, and this eliminates the majority of wallets, because nobody uses it! That means that in order to load my card I need to send funds from my Coinomi wallet to the Bitpay desktop wallet, which is honestly just not very good.
The wallet client itself is very basic, and in many cases it reports strange errors that prevent you from loading. Fortunately, these are often fixed by restarting the client, but I would still prefer to use a better wallet. While I understand that this is important for their security protocol, I would appreciate it if they’d make a nicer wallet if they want to force me to use it.
You can optionally use the website to load your card. I’ve not tried this method, because I would still need to send funds from a BIP70 address, and my normal wallet does not support this feature. So, while my review for the card is favorable, my Bitpay wallet review is not.
Reduce loading fees by sending $100 or more
Bitpay will allow you to load as little as $10 to your card, but this doesn’t really make economical sense for most people. I load at least $100 to make sure the miner and network fees are not eating too heavily into my card loads.
Using your Bitpay card.
I’ve been using the card for many months now, and I’ve had no issues anywhere. It functions just like a Visa branded debit card would. You can set a pin number, you can get cash back, you can make debit transactions, and it even has a routing number that allows for ACH deposits or virtual checks. This can be handy if you have to pay someone that somehow still does not accept credit cards yet, or charges a huge fee for “the convenience”. (I’m looking at you government offices!)
There is no fee to make debit/credit purchases with your card within the United States. (Outside of the US it will cost you 3% though.) They do charge some fees you should be aware of for the other features though. The most notable being a $5 charge for ACH debits. This is when you pay for something using the routing number that comes with your account. This includes anything that needs to “verify” by using the trial deposits method, so be careful.
Bitpay also provides a very nice spending dashboard across all devices. You can quickly check your balance or spending activity on your phone, the website or even by opening the client wallet.
If you have a day job then you can also use this routing number to enable the Bitpay direct deposit feature for your paychecks. Unlike ACH debit, direct deposits through your employer carries no fee. You should be able to use this for anything that needs to pay you through a checking account too, such as affiliate programs.
You can also get cash at ATMs or from POS terminals when making a purchase at a store. The fee for this is $2 per withdrawal in the United States and $3 if you are outside of the United States. Keep in mind that an ATM operator will likely charge you a fee somewhere near the same amount on top of Bitpay’s fee. This could bring your total fees per transaction to $5-6 at an ATM. If you get cash back instead the store usually does not charge a fee on their end.
In closing, my experience with the Bitpay debit card has mostly been positive. It’s fast, generally inexpensive and it offers a lot of options for paying my bills. The wallet client could stand to be improved, but in most cases loading is not an issue. However, sometimes it can take a while for your transfer to confirm. Don’t wait until the last minute to load your card or you might be in for a bad day.
Bitpay vs Coinbase
I actually never bothered to create a Coinbase account. Mostly because I dislike the pain in the ass process that they make you go through in order to verify. At the time I had considered creating one they actually were so backed up that I didn’t bother, and I’m kind of glad.
Bitpay allows me to sell my Bitcoin almost instantly directly to a prepaid Bitcoin debit card. That means I don’t need to wait around for bank transfers or hope that my bank isn’t going to do something stupid like block cryptocurrency transactions.
I already talked about how easy it was to get approved for the card above, and that puts them ahead of Coinbase in my book. At least as far as selling is concerned. I don’t actually buy cryptocurrencies with fiat money. Bitpay does have Glideria and Coinbase integrated into the wallet for their users to buy Bitcoin with, but I’ve never used either service.
Bitpay card FAQ and troubleshooting.
Bitpay card fees table.
Card Loading Fees
Card Spending Fees
Card Loading Fees
- Loading through the Bitpay wallet is free
- Loading through the Bitpay website is free
- Loading through direct deposit is free
- Loading cash through Greendot costs $4.95
- Loading cash through Western Union costs $4.95
- Every load incurs a miner fee just like any other Bitcoin transaction.
- Bitpay charges a small network fee as well based on the same principals.
The fees charged for the last two entries depend heavily upon the state of the Bitcoin network. You may incur less fees if you load using Bitcoin Cash, but since I’m already being paid in Bitcoin the additional transfers required make this not worth it. Every transaction will tell you the fees you need to pay first, and if they are too high you can wait until later to load.
Card Spending Fees
- Debit/credit POS transactions in the United States are free
- Debit/credit POS transactions in other countries carry a 3% fee
- ACH debits (paying when using the routing number) cost $5
- ATM Withdrawals within the United States are $2
- ATM withdrawals outside of the Unites States are $3
- You must use your card every 90 days or you’ll be charged a $5 dormancy fee.
- Bitpay’s price for a new card if you lose yours is $10.
- Mailed statements cost $3 (Why would you even do this when you can print them for free?)
- Expedited shipping of new cards is $25 (Standard shipping is free)
- If a customer service agent performs an account transfer for you it costs $5
- A declined ACH payment costs $15 (This is only for payments made using the routing number.)
How to reduce your bitpay debit card fees
Most fees can be avoided by not using pricier loading and spending options. In 99% of cases these fees will not apply to you. Utilize website loads and do your spending through debit transactions.
Does the Bitpay card have any limits?
The Bitpay card does come with some spending limitations, but they are pretty generous for the most part. If you need to purchase something really expensive then you might need a back up bank account. An online provider perhaps.
Bitpay card loading limits
Bitpay card ATM limits
Bitpay card spending limits
Bitpay card loading limits
- The daily loading limit for the Bitpay card is $10,000
- The card also has a maximum loading limit of $25,000
Bitpay card ATM limits
- You can withdraw $750 per transaction at an ATM using the card.
- You can withdraw a maximum of $3,000 in cash per day at an ATM.
Bitpay card spending limits
- You can spend up to $10,000 per day with your Bitpay card.
How to get your Bitpay routing number.
To get your routing number you’ll need to go to your Bitpay dashboard at their website. Click on “setup direct deposit” on the left, and you’ll be provided with what is essentially a checking account.
You can use this information to either receive deposits from your employer or anyone who can deposit directly to your account. You’ll also use this information to make any ACH debit payments. Otherwise known as virtual checks.
Help! My stupid Bitpay wallet doesn’t work.
If your Bitpay client wallet has decided to stop functioning for no good reason, then the first thing you should do it check for an update. No update? Then restart the wallet software. Most of the time I’ve had any problems with the stupid client wallet, a quick restart has fixed it.
If you’re still having issues then you may need to reinstall your wallet. Make sure that you create a backup of the wallet if there are any funds in there and then try doing a fresh install. Personally, I keep my Bitcoin on another wallet, and I don’t use the Bitpay wallet until it’s time to load it directly to the card.
What the hell does rate limited mean?!
If your wallet is having an attitude then you may have found yourself repeatedly clicking load. Unfortunately, this pisses off your wallet client more, and it will spit out “rate limited” at you. The wallet itself gives you no description of what this is, but it means that you’ve generated too many requests in too short of a time frame. Resist punching your screen, instead wait a while before submitting another load request.
Can I send money from Bitpay to my bank?
Yes. If you need to send money to a normal bank account for whatever reason you can set up an ACH debit from the dashboard of your other account. This will cost you $5 per transaction though, and this includes “trial deposits” for verifying accounts.
How to reduce Bitpay loading fees.
While normally the fees are pretty reasonable, at some point you’ll likely do a double take when you load your card and see how much you’re paying to do so. The Bitcoin network experiences times where it’s heavily congested, and that could cause some painful loading fees. This is the “Bitpay exchange rate” so to speak.
How to reduce Bitpay fees
Bitpay does not allow you to use any fee amount beneath “normal” when loading your card. That means you only have a few options here.
Option number 1: Use a different currency
If the funds you plan to use are currently on an exchange, you can swap them out for Bitcoin Cash to get a better deal. However, if they are in your wallet already then you’ll likely waste just as much money trying to swap with Changelly. There’s no network fee if you load your card using Bitcoin Cash though.
Option number 2: Wait it out.
You can use this tool to see the current state of the network. This represents the amount of unconfirmed transactions. When there’s a lot of these the fees required to confirm your transactions go up. When there’s not very many of these then those fees go down. Avoid loading your card at peak hours, try doing it at times where people appear to be less active.
I get paid in Bitcoin, because that’s what most people choose to pay me in. I’m tired of the rising fees though, and I think I may start swapping my Bitcoin immediately into Bitcoin cash to hold it in my wallets. Then I can load whenever I want without worrying about it. Using the Bitpay Bitcoin Cash combo is just as easy as loading with Bitcoin, just click on the BCH wallet instead of the Bitcoin one in the application to do so.