As the big banks wrestle with bitcoin and its ilk, a handful of more adventurous fintech companies are busy integrating cryptocurrency with traditional financial products. One of the first of these hybrids, the BlockFi Rewards Visa® Signature Card, launched in 2021 with a novel offer: Forget about points and miles — earn your credit card rewards in bitcoin (and earn interest on them, too). Since then, it’s expanded its rewards options to other cryptocurrencies including ether and litecoin.
Though it has the sheen of a crypto-native creature, the BlockFi Rewards credit card actually is a pretty conventional rewards credit card — which isn’t to say that it’s not worth a look. It hasor , and can be used anywhere that accepts Visa. There’s a decent and a referral bonus when you get friends and family to sign up. In short, if you are eligible — you’ll probably need — and like the sound of earning cryptocurrency back on purchases, this could be the card for you.
Intro BonusEarn 3.5% crypto rewards on all purchases in the first 90 days of card ownership, up to $100 in crypto.
APR14.99% – 24.99% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good Credit
- Earn 1.5% back in crypto on every single purchase.
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Late Payment Fee Up to $25
Foreign Transaction Fees None
- Earn 1.5% back in crypto on every single purchase.
One caveat:remains a murky and evolving area, putting the BlockFi Rewards card into a slightly higher risk category than a run-of-the-mill rewards credit card. Credit card rewards are typically — but you should know that the government could eventually exact capital gains taxes on crypto rewards. Also worth noting is that BlockFi’s interest-yielding crypto account is under legal scrutiny in several states; in fact, New York residents are not eligible to apply for this card.
Rewards and welcome bonus
You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% in the crypto of your choice on every purchase you make with the BlockFi Rewards credit card, and there are ways to get even more. The welcome bonus offers a total of 3.5% back in crypto for purchases made within your first 90 days of account opening, for up to $100 worth of crypto, which is quite unique. Most credit card welcome bonuses offer a set amount of points, cash back or miles in exchange for meeting a minimum spending threshold within a similar timeframe.
If you’re a big spender, you’ll earn even more rewards. If you hit $50,000 in expenditure within the year, your earnings get boosted to 2% back in crypto for every dollar spent beyond that. But this resets to 1.5% on your card anniversary every year.
Choose your own crypto rewards
BlockFi started out as a cryptocurrency exchange, way back in 2017. As such, a BlockFi account gives you access to a variety of activities including earning interest on your cryptocurrency holdings, support for buying, selling and trading and even taking out a loan in US dollars against your crypto assets.
The company’s Rewards Flex program allows cardholders to choose to earn rewards inas well as ether (ETH), litecoin (LTC), chainlink (LINK), pax gold (PAXG), basic attention token (BAT) or uniswap (UNI). Stablecoins are also in the mix, including gemini dollar (GUSD), USD coin (USDC), paxos standard (PAX), multi-collateral dai (DAI) or binance USD (BUSD).
Rewards are paid out on the second Friday of every month, and you can change your crypto selection through your BlockFi account as many times as you want. Crypto rewards are distributed based on the price at the time of payout, not at the time purchases are made with the credit card.
BlockFi account benefits
You need to have a BlockFi account to get this credit card, which is where you’ll store, buy, sell and trade the cryptocurrencies hosted by BlockFi. This account is similar to a traditionalin that it earns interest. Unlike a bank account, however, BlockFi accounts are not FDIC protected, but there is a tradeoff for this extra risk: You can get more in interest than with most savings accounts, earning up to 9.5% APY per year. Interest accrues daily and is paid monthly, and your BlockFi Rewards Credit Card crypto rewards are deposited straight to this account, earning you interest automatically while your rewards are untouched.
Though the high rewards come with a gamble — BlockFi interest accounts are being challenged legally by several states — the company does offer some risk mitigation. Among the few crypto-rewards credit cards, only BlockFi gives you the option to move your crypto rewards into your own , a maneuver that requires some technical know-how but offers potential security benefits.
Though credit card referral bonuses are relatively rare, they’re more common among crypto exchanges, which are aggressively recruiting new users. As a new product, the BlockFi Rewards Credit Card offers two tiers of referral bonuses. Keep in mind, you’ll be required to report any referral bonuses on your income taxes.
The Refer-a-Friend program is available for all BlockFi account holders, even if they don’t have a credit card associated with the account. When a friend signs up using your referral code and funds $100 or more into their BlockFi Interest Account, you’ll both receive $10 in bitcoin, regardless of your BlockFi crypto preferences.
If you’re a BlockFi Rewards cardholder and you successfully refer a friend, they will receive $30 in bitcoin and you’ll receive $30 in your Rewards Flex crypto.
Tax and regulatory complications
Whenever you earn money through a credit card referral bonus, that money is considered taxable income. BlockFi will issue you a 1099 after the end of the year detailing any earned cryptocurrencies through referral programs.are typically taxable, unlike rewards on purchases made with the card. This is because rewards are earned by spending, while referral bonuses do not have a spending requirement. We recommend talking to a tax professional if you have any questions.
Capital gains taxes for cryptocurrencies are currently a gray area, with new legislation still being discussed. While we don’t know where the dust will settle, it’s important to keep up on the news throughout this transitional period.
Comparable credit and debit cards
The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card* is more conservative than the BlockFi Rewards card. While you receive the same rate of 1.5% bitcoin with this no-annual-fee card, you won’t earn them until you pay off your balance. We always recommend paying your balance in full, and in this case, if you miss a month or pay the minimum, you’ll be missing out on rewards. All rewards are received in bitcoin, with no option for other cryptocurrency. Additionally, there is no welcome bonus, referral program or way to move your crypto to a wallet like with the BlockFi Card.
Meanwhile, the upcoming Gemini Credit Card*, which has an open waitlist, is more competitive with BlockFi’s offering. Gemini advertises that you will be able to earn 3% back in crypto rewards on dining (on up to $6,000 in annual spend, then 1%), 2% on groceries and 1% on all other purchases, in the form of bitcoin or any of the 40-plus cryptocurrencies that will be offered. A unique feature of this credit card is that you collect rewards when making a purchase and don’t have to wait until the end of your statement period for a payout.
If you’re thinking about non-crypto relatives, the <strong>Chase Freedom Unlimited®</strong>
is a cash-back card that offers a 1.5% cash back flat rate, the same flat-rate for rewards as the BlockFi Rewards Credit Card. Both credit cards aim to maximize rewards, each with a handful of extra perks. However, the BlockFi’s boost to 2% rewards from 1.5% after you spend $50,000 in a year is a rare feature akin to that of the new *, a “smart” rewards card that boosts your points earned on purchases from 2x to 3x after spending $15,000 in a year. Both the X1 and BlockFi offer referral bonuses to earn the cardholder additional rewards.
What is a crypto-rewards credit card?
A crypto-rewards credit card is like a cash-back credit card — except instead of redeeming cash or a statement credit, you redeem a predetermined amount of crypto. Crypto rewards cards are relatively new, but we expect this product type to expand in 2022 and beyond. Right now only referral bonuses received through crypto credit cards are taxable, though crypto rewards cards may have different tax implications in the future. Keep current on legislative news to follow developments.
Can I move my rewards to my personal crypto wallet?
Yes, the BlockFi Rewards Credit Card is one of the few crypto financial products currently available that allows you to move your crypto off of its platform.
Many financial institutions only offer custodial accounts for crypto purchases and rewards earned. Some have advanced features, such as the ability to move your crypto off of a company’s platform, either to someone else or to your own crypto wallet for safekeeping. There is risk to holding your crypto in a custodial account, as there is no FDIC insurance to cover any losses incurred if a custodial account is hacked.
Which crypto should I receive rewards in?
While bitcoin and ether are the most mainstream, the cryptocurrency you wish to receive in rewards is ultimately your preference. You might consider factors such as potential appreciation or depreciation, applicable uses and your own personal risk tolerance.
*All information about the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card, Gemini Credit Card and the X1 Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
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