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Using a credit card to buy crypto assets: Pros and cons

While it’s possible to buy crypto with a credit card, you may want to think twice

Summary

Read on to learn more about how to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card, as well as the risks and rewards of doing it.

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Many Americans are intrigued by the idea of investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but doing it with a credit card is risky. Not only do investors run into transaction fees when buying crypto with a credit card, we all know that crypto is volatile in nature on its own.

Still, crypto is definitely gaining steam as an asset class, and even as a speculative investment. In fact, a 2021 Bankrate.com survey showed that millennials, in particular, feel comfortable owning crypto – 15% said they feel very comfortable and 34% reported feeling somewhat comfortable.

With crypto sparking so much interest – and some exchanges offering the convenience of buying cryptocurrencies with a credit card – it helps to know what you can and cannot do, as well as the potential pros and cons. Read on to learn how to buy crypto with a credit card and factors to consider before you make this decision.

What to know about investing in crypto

Cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies you can use to pay for goods and services, just as you might use dollars, euros or pesos. They fluctuate in value, so buying crypto one day doesn’t mean you’ll have the same amount the next day, week or month.

For example, in the first half of 2021, one Bitcoin – the most well-known cryptocurrency – was worth more than $64,000. Today, the price hovers around the $38,000 range. When you buy cryptocurrencies, they’re typically stored and tracked in a digital wallet until you’re ready to sell them. A “blockchain” is a record of all cryptocurrency transactions that are made.

Unlike other currencies, cryptocurrencies aren’t backed by any governments – nor are they regulated by financial institutions. Cryptocurrencies also lack the protection of FDIC insurance, which protects cash you keep on deposit with traditional banks. Some governments have warned their citizens about the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies for that very reason.

Some disagree, however, pointing out that the speculative nature of cryptocurrencies makes them an appealing component of a long-term investment strategy.

“Cryptocurrencies are very volatile; however, this also means they have a good chance to appreciate,” said Kirill Bensonoff, a crypto advocate and entrepreneur who has been an active member of Boston’s blockchain community, in a previous interview. “If you have an appetite for risk, crypto should be in your portfolio.”

If you decide to buy cryptocurrencies, you’ll need to find an exchange, many of which let consumers pay with a credit card. If you’re thinking of going that route, here’s what you should know.

Can you buy crypto with a credit card?

If the question “Can I buy crypto with a credit card?” has crossed your mind, you should know that the answer is yes. In fact, many of the most popular crypto exchanges, including Coinmama and CEX.io, let consumers buy crypto with a credit card issued by Visa or American Express.

That said, several of the biggest card issuers, including Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup, TD Bank and Capital One, have all banned the purchase of cryptocurrencies via their credit cards.

You may have better luck with some smaller banks or credit unions that haven’t officially banned buying cryptocurrencies with a credit card.

How to buy crypto with a credit card

If you’re ready to buy crypto with a credit card, you’ll need to find a platform that allows it and making sure you have the right credit card to facilitate the transaction.

For example, you may be able to purchase it with the Alliant Visa Signature Card* or USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card*. There are other credit cards from smaller issuers that could work for crypto purchases, although you may have to make a small test purchase to find out.

You may also be able to purchase crypto with your favorite American Express credit card, although you’ll likely have to take extra steps to do it. For example, a platform called Paxful lets you buy up to $200 in cryptocurrency per day with an Amex gift card (which you can buy with an Amex credit card).

Pros and cons of buying crypto with a credit card

If you’re thinking about investing in crypto with a credit card, it’s important to go in with your eyes wide open, experts say. After all, there are potential pitfalls to be aware of any time you use a credit card for a purchase – and especially one as volatile as cryptocurrency.

The pros of buying cryptocurrencies with a credit card include being able to invest regardless of how much cash you have on hand and being able to take advantage of rewards you earn through your spending.

However, there are many downsides to buying crypto with a credit card. For one, the interest you’ll owe if you don’t pay off the balance at once could eat into your investment returns. If your credit card issuer charges a transaction fee – which many do – that, too, could take away from your profits. Then there’s the possibility of doing damage to your credit score if you find yourself unable to pay off the balance or make payments on time.

Some may think they can avoid credit card interest by using a zero-interest introductory offer, but that can also be problematic, said Melinda Opperman, president at Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management, Inc., in a previous interview.

“You would need the investment to pay off quickly before introductory rates expire and you’re hit with those high rates,” Opperman said.

Another drawback is that a lot of crypto exchanges charge hefty service fees. For example, CEX.IO charges an extra 2.99% to make crypto purchases using a credit card, while Bitstamp charges 5% on top of whatever your card issuer might charge. Meanwhile, Coinmama charges several fees to facilitate crypto transactions, plus it tacks on an additional 5% “momentum fee” just for paying with plastic.

There are also scams surrounding cryptocurrencies. For example, crypto scammers have been known to pressure their victims into buying crypto with a credit card before wiping their accounts clean and getting their account details in the process.

Bottom line

Buying crypto with a credit card may be a real possibility, but that doesn’t mean it’s a smart move. The fact is, cryptocurrency can go up or down in value over time, yet you’ll owe whatever you charge to your credit card – including credit card interest and transaction fees – no matter what.

If your goal is building wealth through crypto, you’re probably better off saving up the cash to invest upfront. While paying for crypto with plastic may be convenient, the added costs make this move overly costly and way too risky for the average consumer.

*All information about the Alliant Visa Signature Card and USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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