Can you buy crypto with a credit card on coinbase

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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

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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.

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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.

Can I Buy Crypto With a Credit Card? [How-to, Pitfalls, Alternatives]

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Cryptocurrency has rapidly grown into one of the most popular investment options for young people today. In fact, CNBC reports that 83% of millennial millionaires own cryptocurrencies and 53% have at least half of their wealth in crypto.¹

While purchasing investments via credit card isn’t especially common, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to do so in order to earn rewards on those transactions.

It is certainly possible to purchase crypto with a credit card, but it’s more difficult than you may think, and there can be significant pitfalls to be aware of.

Let’s take a look at the process of buying crypto with a credit card and some of the downsides you’ll need to consider before doing so.

Are You Able To Buy Crypto with a Credit Card?

A quick disclaimer before we go any further: if you’re considering using a credit card to purchase crypto (or any other investment) because you don’t currently have the disposable income in your checking or savings account, we highly advise against you doing so. In fact, we strongly advise against using a credit card for any purchase if you don’t have the ability to pay off the card in full each month.

Now, to answer our original question: can you buy crypto with a credit card?

Technically you can — but you’ll likely find that it’s not very easy to do so.

For starters, some crypto exchanges, like Coinbase, do not allow credit card payments for U.S. customers. Further, even if you do find an exchange that does allow credit card purchases, your credit issuer may decline the transaction.

How To Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

If you’re interested in purchasing crypto with a credit card, here’s the process you should follow.

  • Step 1: Find out if your credit issuer will allow you to use your card to purchase crypto — without it being charged as a cash advance.
  • Step 2: Locate an exchange that will allow you to use a credit card for purchases. Most of the major U.S. exchanges, like Coinbase and Gemini, do not allow purchases via credit card. However, smaller exchanges like Coinmama (based in Dublin) allow purchases from a Visa or Mastercard.
  • Step 3: This is the easy part, assuming you’ve completed the first 2 steps. All you’ll need to do now is link your card to the exchange, select an amount that you would like to buy, and complete the transaction.
  • Step 4: Pay off your balance in full once the statement posts. Again, you should not be purchasing crypto with a credit card if you do not have the funds to cover the purchase when your bill is due.

Pitfalls and Fees

woman frustrated at her laptop

In addition to the difficulty you’re likely to encounter when purchasing crypto with a credit card, there are also a few pitfalls and fees you’ll want to look out for.

Exchange Fees

One item you’ll want to keep an eye out for is the fee the exchange may charge to process your credit card transaction. These fees can often be upwards of 4% of the transaction, which can really add up if you’re making a large transaction.

Further, when you compare this to the fee you might be charged for a debit card or ACH transaction (these could be 0.5%, 0.35%, or even free depending on the exchange you’re using), making the purchase with your credit card starts to feel like a losing proposition.

Cash Advance Fees

Even if your credit card transaction goes through on an exchange, you’ll need to be wary about how that purchase is coded on the issuer’s end.

Credit issuers could treat a purchase of crypto as a cash-like transaction, and thus charge you a cash advance fee, which is usually $10 or 3% to 5%, whichever is greater.

This cash advance fee is in addition to the fee you may be charged for using a credit card, meaning you could end up owing upwards of 9% of the total transaction in fees — hardly worth it by any measure.

Not Earning Rewards

To make matters worse, if your issuer categorizes crypto purchases as cash-like transactions, then you’re unlikely to earn any rewards for these purchases.

That’s right, not only will you be subject to higher fees, but you also won’t earn rewards for that purchase to help offset the fee you’ll pay.

Getting Your Card Frozen

Finally, if you try to purchase crypto with a credit card, and your issuer thinks it is a fraudulent or unusual charge, it may freeze your card until it’s verified that you are indeed the person trying to make the purchase.

An Alternative Option: Crypto Rewards Cards

Instead of trying to purchase crypto with a credit card, you could earn a bit of crypto each time you make a purchase by way of a credit card that offers crypto rewards instead of cash-back rewards. Here are a few of our favorite options:

BlockFi Rewards Visa® Signature Credit Card

The BlockFi Rewards card offers 1.5% in bitcoin on all purchases made with the card and, beginning July 1, 2022, earn 2% back in crypto on every purchase over $30,000 of annual spend. Rewards rate increases from 1.5% to 2% after $30,000 of spend has been achieved and resets on the card anniversary date every year.

Gemini Credit Card

Those with the Gemini card can earn crypto rewards in 1 of the platforms’ 40+ supported assets in real-time as soon as they swipe their card. The card gives you 3% back on dining purchases (on up to $6,000 in spend), 2% crypto-back on grocery purchases, and 1% crypto-back on all other purchases.

Like the BlockFi Rewards card, the Gemini card does not charge an annual fee or any foreign transaction fees.

Coinbase Card

For those looking for a way to spend their current crypto holdings, the Coinbase card allows you to do just that. It immediately converts your crypto to dollars to complete transactions and allows you to earn up to 4% back in crypto when doing so.

That said, you should keep in mind that Coinbase charges you a 2.49% fee to convert your crypto into cash in order to immediately spend the balance. However, if you choose USDC as your payment method (a stablecoin pegged to the price of the U.S. dollar), you will not be charged the 2.49% fee and will still earn crypto rewards.

As with other cards, there is no annual fee to use the Coinbase card, and it can be used to complete purchases anywhere in the world that Visa is accepted.

Voyager Debit Mastercard

The Voyager Debit card is another excellent option for those looking to earn crypto. Not only can you earn a 9% APY on USDC deposits with Voyager (with no lockup required to earn), but you can instantly spend your USDC anywhere Mastercard is accepted, and earn 1% to 3% back in crypto on purchases.

While the Voyager Debit card hasn’t fully rolled out to all customers yet, those with a Voyager account can pre-register for the card through the mobile app.

Hot Tip: Read all about our favorite credit cards that earn crypto rewards in our complete guide!

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, while you can technically use a credit card to purchase crypto, it can be difficult to get the transaction to go through, and it rarely makes sense for most people given the fees that can be associated with doing so.

Given that, you’ll most likely be better off purchasing crypto using your debit card or via an ACH transfer. That said, those who are looking to earn additional crypto passively might want to consider adding a crypto-rewards card to their wallet in lieu of a traditional cash-back card.

The information regarding the Gemini Credit Card, Coinbase Card, and Voyager Debit Mastercard was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

Written by Jane