What is an Ethereum prepaid card?
An Ethereum prepaid card is simply a card which you top up with ether and use to make payments in places that support card payments. You can use an Ethereum prepaid card anywhere you’d use a regular debit or prepaid card, so you can spend your ether on the go. We’ll take you through exactly how they work and which cards are the best right here.
There is a fundamental difference between an Ethereum ‘debit’ card and an Ethereum ‘prepaid’ card. With an Ethereum debit card you have an account with all the functions of a ‘normal’ bank account, and your card is connected to this account. With an Ethereum prepaid card you have a card onto which you can load money which you can then spend.
How do Ethereum prepaid cards work?
You top up the card with ether and spend the coins to purchase goods and services in shops like a regular cash card. Instead of having an account to which the funds of the card are connected to, the funds are held directly on your card. However, transactions are still carried out with fiat currency, which is why you can use Ethereum prepaid cards in places that don’t accept ether. These are two ways that transactions with an ethereum prepaid card work:
- Exchange at the point of sale. When you make a payment, ether is deducted from your card’s balance to be converted into an amount of fiat currency that allows you to complete the payment based on the current market rate.
- Exchange at the point of loading. The ether you load onto the card is immediately transferred into fiat currency at the point of loading, which you can then subsequently spend. This means that the card only holds fiat currency, but is loaded with cryptocurrency.
How regularly do I have to load funds onto my card?
That depends on how much you spend using the card. there might be limits on how much you can load into your card at one time, and these are imposed by your card provider. These limits are usually dependent on whether you have supplied verification of your identity to the card provider.
What verification steps are there?
When ordering for your Ethereum prepaid card, you can usually provide as little information as just your full name, date of birth, and email address. However, you will have limits (explained further down the page) placed on your card, which can only be reduced by providing further information to change your account status. Often, you will be required to upload documents showing your proof of address (a bank statement or utility bill within the last 6 months) and proof of identity (a government issued ID, a passport photo, or driver’s license).
Are prepaid Ethereum cards accepted everywhere?
Yes and no. You can shop anywhere that accepts regular card payments, but you can’t use the card to complete rolling payments (repeating bills) like a debit card can. For that, you’ll need an Ethereum debit card. We have a guide for those, so make sure to check it out as well.
What if I lose my card?
Firstly, you can get a virtual card, which stops you from physically losing it. However, if you are using a physical, plastic card and lose it, you will not be able to retrieve your funds. You can contact the card provider and request them to deactivate your card and ask for a replacement.
What’s all this about virtual cards?
As mentioned above, you have the option to get either a virtual or physical card. Here’s what these two entail:
- Virtual. This is a card that doesn’t exist physically. It carries all the same details as a regular card, including your name, card number, CVV code, and expiry date. All you have to do is activate it through your email and you can start using it to carry out online payments.
- Chip + pin (plastic). This is similar to a regular, physical prepaid card. It comes with a chip + pin and is delivered to your address. Unlike its virtual counterpart, the plastic card can be used at an ATM, and to conduct both offline and online payments.
Are there fees for using an Ethereum prepaid card?
Yes. However, the types of fees you are charged depend on what service provider you choose, as they often operate using different fees. We have compiled a list of all such possible fees:
- Card fee. Usually a flat fee of around £5 – £30, this is a charge for card production, which is sometimes conjoined with the delivery fee.
- Monthly fee. Providers usually charge a monthly service fee for the management of your account. The fees range between £1 and £5 per month. If you are looking for a discount, you may find providers offering an annual service fee as an alternative, which ranges between £10 and £50.
- Loading fee. You can be charged for loading ether onto your card, and the fee will usually be dependent on how much you have loaded. It is usually a 1% fee, but it can be higher.
- Online purchases. Typically, providers allow users to make online purchases without any fees, but you may find a few that charge roughly £1 for every transaction.
- Retail/store purchases. This operates in the same way as online purchases, but for offline shop purchases.
- Administration/support. Administration/support fee is more common among Ethereum debit cards, but you may still find prepaid card providers charging a flat fee of around £20 to £30 for support such as tracing a payment.
- Currency exchange rates. If your prepaid card holds funds in ether, exchanging at the point of sale will come with an additional conversion charge between 0.7% and 5%. This is the same case if the funds are converted at the point of loading.
- Delivery fee. As mentioned, the delivery fee is usually charged in conjunction with the card fee. If not, delivery can be charged as a flat fee between £5 and £20, depending on where the card is being delivered to. Overseas deliveries will obviously cost more.
- Foreign transaction fee. If you want to use your prepaid card in foreign countries, the charges typically range from 2% to 5% of the total amount you spend, depending on the provider.
- ATM fees (domestic/international). Withdrawing money from a local/domestic ATM usually incurs fees between £2 and £3. However, if you use the same card to withdraw money from a foreign ATM, you will be charged more: usually between £3 and £5.
Are there card limits?
Yes, depending on the service you choose, you will be subjected to a number of limits, most of which are dependent on whether you have verified your identity. Here’s a breakdown of the limits:
- Maximum/minimum balances. The minimum balance you are expected to maintain by most providers is around £1 – £10, either in fiat currency or in an equivalent amount of ether. Some providers, however, will allow you to spend up to the last cent in your account. On the other hand, the maximum balance is typically around £150 and £1,000 for unverified cards, and around £10,000 to unlimited for verified cards.
- Spend amount limits (per transaction). If you are verified, you’ll be allowed to transact as much as you want. But if you are not, you will likely have a limit ranging from £150 and £1,000 for every transaction, depending on the service provider.
- Load amount limits. Once again, this is dependent on your verifications status. You will usually be allowed to load any amount you wish if you are fully verified, but if you are not, then the load limit is usually around £1,000.
- ATM withdrawal limits. If you’re verified you can withdraw around £1,000 per transaction, and £200 if not.
Should I get an Ethereum prepaid card?
The decision is yours. An ethereum prepaid card can be a great way to spend your ether on an offline and online basis. You might want to make payments with more anonymity, which will be the case if you have an unverified account. On the other hand, you may also want to carry out higher value transactions with a fully verified account.
How can I get a prepaid Ethereum card?
This is the simple part. We have narrowed down the best Ethereum prepaid card providers for you, so use the comparison table to find the right card for you. You can then order a physical card or start using a virtual card instantly.