Can i use my credit card to buy crypto on coinbase

The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. NerdWallet does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks, securities or other investments.

Key takeaways:

  • Buying crypto with a credit card is possible only if your credit card issuer and your crypto exchange allow it.

  • Using a credit card to buy crypto can be very expensive because the transaction is often considered a cash advance.

Using a credit card to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, stablecoins or other cryptocurrencies is possible but could be blocked by your own credit card company or by the exchange selling the cryptocurrency.

Most large U.S. credit card issuers don’t allow the purchase of cryptocurrency, while others penalize cardholders with fees.

Some big cryptocurrency exchanges, like Coinbase, don’t accept credit cards. Coinmama and CEX.io, for example, say they accept credit cards, but only Visa and Mastercard.

So, to even begin buying crypto with a credit card, you first need a credit card company and a crypto exchange that allow it.

Even then, you probably won’t want to because of the fees. Instead, pay for cryptocurrency purchases with cash — via a bank account or wire transfer, for example — or with other crypto you already own.

Here’s why:

Fees from the exchange

A cryptocurrency exchange is likely to charge you a percentage of the transaction amount to swap dollars for Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency. In addition to a fee the exchange charges for its service, it might charge an additional fee when you fund your account with a credit card.

For example, the exchange Coinmama charges a fee for every purchase, which is customary. But if you’re paying by credit card, it tacks on an additional 5% fee. A $1,000 purchase would incur a credit-card fee of $50. That means you’ll need decent returns on your investment just to get back to even value.

Cash advance penalties from the card issuer

Your credit card issuer is likely to consider the crypto purchase a cash advance, as if you used your credit card to take money out of an ATM.

That’s bad for you because it probably comes with these downsides:

  • Cash advance fee. This is a one-time fee charged when you take your advance, usually 3% to 5% of the amount. For example, if you take out a $200 cash advance, a fee of $6 to $10 will be tacked on to your account balance.

  • Higher interest rate. Many cards charge a higher annual percentage rate for cash advances than for regular purchases.

  • No grace period. If you pay your balance in full monthly, your credit card usually has a grace period of at least 21 days to pay off your purchase before you’re charged interest. Cash advances, though, start to accrue interest from day one.

  • Lower credit limit. Some credit cards have a separate cash advance credit limit, which is lower than the overall credit limit.

  • No credit card rewards. If your credit card issuer considers a crypto purchase a cash equivalent, your spending probably doesn’t qualify for rewards, such as cash back, travel points or miles. Similarly, it won’t count toward your required spending to earn a sign-up bonus.

Again, it depends on the issuer of the card whether a cryptocurrency purchase is considered a cash advance. Before making a purchase, it’s a good idea to call the number on the back of your card and ask.

Other considerations

  • Foreign exchange fee. If the exchange is based outside the U.S., you might incur a foreign exchange fee if your credit card charges one. A typical fee is 3%.

  • Scams. If you’re not careful about choosing a reputable currency exchange, you might have your personal information, including your credit card number, stolen.

  • Debt. If you’re using a credit card to go into debt to buy cryptocurrency, you’re taking on high risk. You’ll be paying exorbitant interest on a volatile investment.

  • Credit utilization. Making big crypto purchases uses up your available credit, a negative for your credit scores.

How else can I buy cryptocurrency?

Again, it’s possible to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card, but most large U.S. credit card issuers don’t allow it, nor do some major cryptocurrency exchanges.

A better and more common way to pay for cryptocurrency purchases with dollars is an electronic transfer from a bank — by linking a bank account to the exchange or setting up a wire transfer. Many exchanges also allow you to pay for crypto purchases with other crypto. You could sell Bitcoin to buy Ether, for example.

How to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card

  1. Research your credit card to determine if it allows crypto purchases and what fees it charges. (See cash-advance penalties above.)

  2. Find an exchange that allows crypto purchases with a credit card. Some major ones don’t.

  3. Fund your crypto account by inputting your credit card information and linking the card to your exchange account. It’s similar to the familiar process of filling out the checkout payment form at online merchants when buying a product or service.

Pros and cons of using a credit card to buy cryptocurrency

Pros:

  • You can buy crypto if you don’t have the cash.

  • If your credit card allows it — but many major ones don’t — the purchase could earn rewards or count toward a sign-up bonus.

Cons:

  • Cash-advance penalties, such as fees, higher APR and loss of a grace period. (See above.)

  • Extra fees from the cryptocurrency exchange.

  • Debt, if you don’t pay off your entire monthly credit card bill.

  • Impact on your credit score.

  • Potential for scams or a foreign-exchange fee.

Crypto as a credit card reward

If you want to use a credit card to accumulate some crypto, consider credit cards that offer crypto as a reward or a choice for rewards redemption. Card options are expanding rapidly, but some early entrants to the market include:

In a roundabout way, these products could be a method of using a credit card to earn Bitcoin.

Alternatively, you could just get a cash-back credit card and use that money to buy crypto on your own terms and timing.

What’s next?

Neither the author nor editor held positions in the aforementioned investments at the time of publication.

You can buy crypto with a credit card — but don't miss the true cost

You can buy crypto with a credit card — but don’t miss the true cost

These days it really does seem like everyone has some bitcoin or another cryptocurrency jingling around in their digital pockets.

Even though the true figure is more like one in 10 Americans, that’s still a big number — and the fear of missing out on the next major price surge is real.

If you don’t have the funds to make a sizable investment, it’s tempting to reach for your credit card. After all, you can just pay it off with your crypto earnings, right?

Well, maybe — but as it turns out, buying crypto with a credit card can be extremely expensive. Until you understand the true cost, keep your Visa or Mastercard in its holster.

Can you buy crypto with a credit card?

Hands holding credit card and using laptop. Online shopping

Ivan Kruk / Shutterstock

Though some investment brokers like Robinhood allow you to purchase cryptocurrencies directly through their platform, many people buy crypto via specialized exchanges.

Keep in mind, while it is possible to buy cryptocurrencies with credit cards, not all crypto exchanges accept them.

This includes Coinbase, the biggest exchange in the United States. On Coinbase, the only payment methods accepted in the U.S. are bank ACH (automated clearing house) transfers, debit cards, wire transfers and PayPal.

That said, plenty of exchanges do accept credit cards, including Coinmama, CEX.IO and eToro.

But just because you can buy crypto with a credit card doesn’t mean you should. Here’s why.

How does buying crypto with a credit card work?

Physical version of Bitcoin (new virtual money) and banknotes of one dollar. Exchange bitcoin for a dollar. Conceptual image for worldwide cryptocurrency and digital payment system.

Lukasz Stefanski / Shutterstock

When buying cryptocurrencies on an exchange, you have to choose a payment method to deposit cash into the exchange. From there, you trade that cash for crypto.

Funding your account using ACH (that is, connecting your bank account) is generally the cheapest route — sometimes it is even free. The same cannot be said for credit cards.

While they may be convenient, that convenience comes at a steep price.

Crypto exchange transaction fees

Cryptocurrency exchanges make money in different ways. Almost all of them take a cut whenever you trade. This is true no matter which payment method you use.

However, when you pay with a credit card, you’re hit with credit card fees on top of the normal exchange trading fees.

Credit card fees vary from exchange to exchange. Before purchasing with a credit card, google your exchange’s fees to understand what you’re getting into.

For example, to buy cryptocurrencies on Coinmama with a credit card, you have to pay:

  • Exchange rate spread: 2%

  • Commission fee: up to 3.9%

  • Credit card fee: 5%

All these fees are built into the trade price, so you may not even realize how much you are losing unless you compare it to the true exchange rate.

checkout screenshot

Screenshot

Let’s say you want to buy some bitcoin. If you wanted to invest $1,000 in bitcoin through Coinmama, you’d pay:

  • $20 on the exchange rate

  • $39 commission fee (for non-loyalty members)

  • $50 credit card fee

In other words, you’d need a 10.9% return on investment just to break even on these fees.

But exchange fees are only one part of the equation. It gets even worse.

Cash advance fees

Chase, Capital One, American Express, Citi and other major American credit card issuers treat cryptocurrency purchases like cash advances.

So on top of the exchange’s fees, you’re also hit with a cash advance fee from your bank.

Cash advance fees vary by institution, but Chase and Citi, for example, charge $5 or 10% of the cash advance, whichever is greater.

So, in our $1,000 bitcoin investment example, you’re looking at an additional $100 cash-advance fee on top of the $109 in exchange fees.

In other words, by using a credit card, you’re kissing goodbye more than a fifth of your investment to fees.

To make matters worse, cash advances do not have grace periods like regular credit card purchases, which means interest starts accruing from the moment you make your purchase.

The moral of the story: To avoid expensive surprises, call your credit card company and ask how they handle cryptocurrency purchases.

Other fees

When you use a credit card to buy cryptocurrencies from exchanges based outside the U.S., you can tack on an additional foreign transaction fee — typically 3%.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to check an exchange’s location before making a purchase.

If you use a card with no foreign transaction fees — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture — you can avoid them.

Daily limit

Some exchanges have daily limits on how much crypto you can buy with credit cards. For example, on the Bitpanda exchange, credit card deposits max out at about $3,050 per day.

In addition to the exchange’s daily limit, you also have to keep an eye on your card’s limits.

Pros and cons of buying crypto with a credit card

man holding two chalkboards with Pro and con

J.K2507 / Shutterstock

Pros

There aren’t really any pros to paying for crypto with a credit card.

Normally, credit cards offer rewards points and special protections. But since credit card companies treat crypto purchases as cash advances, you don’t accrue those benefits.

Cons

When you use a credit card, you’re slammed with multiple fees. These fees are not associated with other payment methods like ACH transfers. To see a positive return on investment after paying these fees, you must dig yourself out of a deep hole.

Other considerations

Mousetrap and bitcoin coin. Cryptocurrency scam or fraud concept.

Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Shutterstock

Before purchasing cryptocurrencies with a credit card, consider these other important factors.

Scams

Buying cryptocurrency online is still a foreign concept to millions of rookie investors. That makes them easy prey for fraudsters.

Before diving into the world of cryptocurrencies, it’s important to familiarize yourself with common scams.

One such scam involves fake crypto exchanges disguised as legitimate websites. If you fall victim to online credit card fraud, your card’s fraud protection should cover you, but it’s best to use caution and keep it from happening in the first place.

Debt

While it’s exciting to ride the crypto wave, it is still an extremely volatile investment. Avoid investing money you can’t afford to lose. If your only way to purchase crypto is by racking up credit card debt, odds are you can’t afford to lose.

Not only is going into debt to buy crypto risky, it also can pull down your credit score. Holding a higher credit card balance increases your credit utilization, which hurts your credit score.

If you plan on taking out a mortgage, auto loan or personal loan, the debt you built up with your crypto purchase can indirectly affect the rates you qualify for.

Restrictions

Some exchanges have special rules for credit cards. If you don’t read the fine print before purchasing, you may find yourself in a sticky situation.

Author’s note: I once used my card to purchase Bitcoin on eToro, planning to immediately transfer it to a secure hard wallet. After buying, I realized credit card purchases cannot be transferred off the exchange for 60 days. Oops!

Crypto as a credit card reward

Gift Card Voucher Coupon Graphic Concept

Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

Buying cryptocurrencies with a credit card is a bad idea, but you can use your card to get your hands on crypto in other ways.

One way is with a crypto rewards credit card. These cards are similar to traditional rewards cards, but instead of earning cash back or airline miles, you earn crypto (or you can redeem your rewards points for them).

You can also use a cash-back rewards card, then use your cash rewards to buy crypto.

Written by Jane