The BlockCard is a crypto-backed Visa debit card offered by Unbanked, a US-based blockchain tech company. It offers a streamlined way to spend your crypto on purchases anywhere that Visa is accepted.
But is the BlockCard the best Bitcoin debit card? What are its fees like? And what’s the deal with its cash back rewards?
In this BlockCard review, I’m going to give you an honest look at what this crypto debit card has to offer. I’ll talk you through how the card works, its fee structure, and what you need to do to get the BlockCard’s lucrative cash back rewards rates.
Let’s get started.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Automatically converts your crypto to fiat to cover the cost of your transaction.
- Supports 15+ cryptocurrencies and works wherever Visa is accepted.
- Opportunity to earn up to 6% cash back on purchases.
- Available as a physical and digital card (Apple, Samsung, and Google Pay supported).
- Not currently available in the UK.
- Requires you to stake a huge amount of Unbanked (UNBNK) token for cash back rewards.
- Flat-rate fee structure isn’t great for smaller transactions.
- Charges a monthly fee of $5 unless you spend more than $750 on your card each month.
- Need to pay to complete KYC checks and to get a physical card.
What is BlockCard?
Here’s a quick video overview (< 1 min) of what the BlockCard is all about:
With the BlockCard, crypto enthusiasts can pay for regular goods and services using their crypto holdings. Whenever you swipe or tap your BlockCard, Unbanked will automatically convert crypto in your account to fiat to cover the cost of your transaction.
In addition to giving you a convenient way to spend your crypto in your day-to-day life, the BlockCard offers a cash back rewards program. With this program, you can earn up to 6% back in Unbanked (UNBNK) tokens on every transaction.
But there’s a huge catch.
To unlock the cash back rewards on the BlockCard, you need to stake a lot of UNBNK tokens on the platform. And I mean a lot of UNBNK tokens.
Just how much UNBNK do you need to stake? To get 1% cash back, you need to stake 30,000 UNBNK tokens. For the full 6% rewards rate, you need to stake 145,000 UNBNK.
Here’s the problem: At the time of writing, 30,000 UNBNK equalled around US$100,000. And that’s just to get access to the BlockCard’s lowest rewards tier!
At least with other cards like the Crypto.com Visa Card, you can get access to the lowest cash back rate without staking anything—much less six figure’s worth of a little-known cryptocurrency.
As is, it’s hard to see much utility for the BlockCard if cash back rewards are your main goal. If you just want a convenient way to spend your crypto in real life, it might be a nice choice, but for rewards, most people will be better off with a different Bitcoin debit card.
Since its rebranding to ‘Unbanked,’ the BlockCard platform seems to be in a transition away from using the Ternio token (TERN) as its main rewards token in favour of UNBNK.
Some of the platform’s documentation states that you need to stake TERN to unlock the BlockCard’s rewards rates while others say you need to stake UNBNK. (You used to be able to stake TERN to get cash back, but that’s not the case anymore. I think Unbanked just needs to update a lot of its online information to reflect this change.)
If you needed to stake 30,000 TERN (about US$200) to get a 1% cash back rate, that wouldn’t be too unreasonable. But 30,000 UNBNK is a heck of a lot of money to stake to get a fairly small amount of cash back on a crypto debit card.
Either way, the Unbanked website is a bit of a mess as far as documentation about its rewards program and debit card. It also seems like Unbanked is in the process of rebranding its crypto debit card as the “Unbanked Card”, so we may also see more changes in its rewards structure in the coming months.
Key Features of the BlockCard Visa Debit Card
The BlockCard Visa Debit Card is a convenient way to pay for goods and services with your crypto. Some of the key features of the card include:
- Ability to earn up to 6% cash back (if you stake a lot of UNBNK tokens).
- Both digital and physical cards are available.
- Automatically converts your crypto to fiat at the point of purchase.
- Lets you spend 15+ cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC).
- Can use the Unbanked app to manage your card.
To get the BlockCard Visa Debit Card, you first have to go to the Unbanked website and create an account. Creating an account involves passing KYC (know your customer) checks, so you’ll have to provide basic personal information, like your name, physical address, and a copy of your government-issued photo ID.
Once you pass KYC checks, you’ll need to fund your BlockCard. At a minimum, you need to deposit at least $10 worth of crypto or fiat in order to activate it.
You can deposit any of Unbanked’s supported cryptocurrencies directly into your account from an external wallet. To fund your account using fiat, you can use either ACH bank transfers (US only) or wire transfers.
Unbanked recommends depositing at least $30 to $50 worth of the fiat or crypto of your choice because you’ll have to pay a $10 fee right off the bat to cover a “KYC charge”. If you want a physical BlockCard, you’ll have to pay an additional $10, bringing your total to $20 just to activate your card.
As soon as your card is activated, you can start using it for digital payments. If you ordered a physical card, it will be sent to you in the mail via the address you provided when you signed up.
The BlockCard is currently only available in the US.
But Unbanked says they will roll out the BlockCard internationally in the near future.
Both the BlockCard and the Unbanked platform support the following 15 cryptocurrencies:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Basic Attention Token (BAT)
- Dai (DAI)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Pax Dollar (USDP)
- Stellar Lumens (XLM)
- Tether (USDT)
- True USD (TUSD)
- Unbanked (UNBNK)
- Ternio (TERN)
- Uniswap (UNI)
- Cronos (CRO)
- USD Coin (USDC)
I’ve noticed that Unbanked’s exchange rates for many cryptocurrencies are a bit higher than the market rate at any given moment. Check out the Unbanked website to see the platform’s most up-to-date price quotes for its supported coins and tokens.
Unbanked charges a number of fees for the BlockCard.
First and foremost, there’s a $5 monthly fee for the BlockCard. This fee is waived if you spend more than $750 in crypto using the card each month.
Additionally, you’ll pay $1 per domestic transaction and $2 per international transaction when you use your card to pay for goods and services.
Technically this fee only applies when you use the chip on your card and not for transactions that you sign for. However, the world is moving away from signature transactions altogether, so you’ll likely end up paying the fee most of the time anyway.
For bigger purchases, this is a low flat-rate fee and it’s arguably better than the percentage-based fee that you see with many other cards. But this flat-rate fee structure makes using the BlockCard unnecessarily expensive for smaller purchases.
Here are some other fees that you’ll see when you use the BlockCard:
- Domestic ATM Fee: $3.00
- International ATM Fee: $3.50
- International ATM Decline Fee: $0.50
- ATM Balance Inquiry Fee: $0.50
- Replace Card Fee: $10.000
Unbanked has a few account and spending limits in place for the BlockCard.
One of the most important limits is the $10 minimum balance that you have to maintain on the BlockCard to keep your account active. If your account balance falls below $10 at any time, your card will be frozen until you add more funds. But, there’s no maximum balance for the BlockCard so you can add as much crypto to your account as you’d like.
As far as transaction limits go, Unbanked keeps things pretty simple. The only notable limits include:
- Daily ATM Withdrawal & Cash Advance Limit: $500
- Daily Spending Limit: $5,000
- Total Daily Spending & Cash Withdrawal Limit: $5,000
In other words, you can spend up to $5,000 a day on the BlockCard, including both point-of-sale transactions and cash withdrawals (via ATM or cash advance). Only $500 of your daily spending limit can be used toward withdrawals at an ATM or a cash advance.
My favourite BlockCard alternative is the CoinJar Card.
The CoinJar Card is a crypto-backed Mastercard that lets you spend any of 50+ different cryptocurrencies in your CoinJar account. It has a simple fee structure (1% on domestic purchases) and it offers rewards for every pound you spend. Plus it’s available in the UK and you don’t have to stake anything to use the card or get rewards.
You can find out more in my CoinJar Card review.
If cash back rewards are what you’re after, consider the Crypto.com Visa Card.
With the Crypto.com Visa Card, you can spend your pre-loaded crypto on goods and services around the world. At the same time, you can earn up to 8% cash back on your purchases, which is better than what you get with the BlockCard.
To be fair, you have to stake a lot of Cronos (CRO) to unlock the Crypto.com Visa Card’s highest rewards level, which is the same issue I have with the BlockCard. But with Crypto.com, you can get 1% back without staking anything, which isn’t half bad.
Check out my full Crypto.com review for all the details.
The Bottom Line: The Best Bitcoin Debit Card?
Unbanked has some interesting features and products for crypto enthusiasts, but I’m not that impressed by the BlockCard – especially when you compare it to the other crypto-backed debit cards on the market.
There are a few issues I have with the BlockCard, including:
- Cash Back Staking Requirement: The BlockCard isn’t the only crypto-backed debit card to have a staking requirement to get cash back rewards. But it does have an outrageously high minimum staking requirement just to get 1% cash back. A 1% cash back rewards rate isn’t even all that competitive these days, especially since you can get that same cash back rate with other cards without the need to stake anything.
- Fee Structure: All things considered, the BlockCard’s fees aren’t that high. But the card’s monthly account maintenance fee is annoying and its flat-rate fee structure makes smaller transactions cost-prohibitive. Also, paying to complete KYC checks and to get a plastic card seems like a bit much since you get those for free at most other platforms.
- Lack of Global Availability: Unbanked has been saying that it’s going to release the BlockCard internationally for quite some time now, but it hasn’t happened yet. At the moment, you can only get it in the US, so it’s not an option for many crypto investors.
If you don’t really care about the cashback rewards and you just want a way to easily spend your cryptocurrencies, then you might like this crypto debit card.
But when you can find cheaper alternatives out there that support more cryptocurrencies and that offer solid cash back rewards without any staking requirement, it’s hard to imagine why you’d opt for the BlockCard over the top alternatives that are out there.
Thanks for checking out this BlockCard review.
What are your thoughts on the BlockCard? Would you use it for your daily spending?
Or have a question about this crypto debit card for me?
Let me know in the comments below!