Ever since bitcoin become noticeably mainstream, bitcoin debit cards have been popping up on the market…but none quite like this. The gadget, a project from Coinbase and Shift Payments, is designed to merge bitcoins and more common types of card payment into a seamless experience with low fees.
The Shift card is actually a gadget that you can buy for around $10 and use with bitcoins as long as the merchant accepts Visa cards. Actually, that’s a simplification – this card is designed to work with all sorts of accounts. You can use Coinbase for your store of bitcoins, but you can also use a Dwolla account, a traditional bank account, and other options. Any loyalty points in various programs can also be spent using the card.
The smart credit card comes with the Shift app, which is a welcome but fairly standard finance app that lets you check account balances, review your recent transactions, and so on. You can also set it up to get immediate alerts whenever your Shift card is used, which can be handy in case of identity theft and other problems.
Despite juggling different types of currencies and accounts, the fees for this Shift card are surprisingly low…at least for now. There’s no annual fee, there is no fee for bitcoin transactions domestically, and the international fee starts at 3%. However, there is some indication that these low costs may be for a limited amount of time, so acting quickly may help you save more – at least for this year.
Keep in mind that you can only use bitcoins at a merchant that has allowed them, and that there are some location limitations: The Coinbase feature of the card is only available gadget. The account shifting is nice, but it is worth it if you can’t use bitcoin?