One Big Drawback of BlockFi’s Upcoming Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card
Over the past few years, my relationship with Bitcoin has been a bit complicated. While I’ve been interested in the technology and want to believe the price predictions that suggest a skyrocketing effect will happen at any moment, I’m also not the type to place too much stock (or cash) in such outlooks. As a result, I have less than $100 held across multiple cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin making up the bulk of that very modest tally. However, with BTC currently enjoying a bullish performance that’s brought it back to near-record highs, is it time to start getting serious about the asset?
Nearly on cue with that thought, this week BlockFi announced it has opened the waitlist for a new credit card (launching in early 2021) that will reward cardholders in Bitcoin. More accurately, they’ll accrue cashback that will then be converted to Bitcoin and deposited into their BlockFi account at the end of each billing cycle. Admittedly, this actually sounds like a pretty smart way to get started with Bitcoin as you can do so selectively and start growing your position with “found money.” Unfortunately, this card does have a sizeable downside that I think ends up sinking its prospects — at least for now.
Before we get there, let me first walk through some of the other details of the BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card. First, the card is a Visa, meaning it will be accepted pretty much anywhere credit cards are. Second, it will offer cardholders 1.5% cashback (which, as I mentioned, will then be converted to Bitcoin) on each purchase made. Plus, at launch, BlockFi will offer a sign-up bonus where users can unlock an extra $250 back when they spend at least $3,000 in their first three months.
So far it all sounds pretty good. Although a flat 1.5% back isn’t the best out there, it’s not bad either — and the sign-up bonus is equally middle of the road. The problem is that the BlockFi card will carry an annual fee of $200. What’s more, unlike some cards, this fee will not be waived during the first year. In other words, suddenly that $250 sign-up bonus is really a $50 bonus. Meanwhile, you’d need to spend more than $13,333 each year just to break even (not accounting for the sign-up bonus).
Of course, one could argue that the real break-even point is lower since, hopefully, the Bitcoin what you earn will appreciate in value. That may or may not be true but, even if it is, couldn’t you just pick a no annual fee cashback card to use and then earmark your rewards for Bitcoin purchases and deposits? Such a system might not be as nice and streamlined but it certainly seems a lot cheaper.
To be clear, there are definitely credit cards that command high annual fees and are worth it. Sadly, though, it doesn’t seem like the BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card will be among them. I should note that the company says it will introduce new benefits to the card once it’s released, so this assessment could change… but it’s not a very good first impression. With that, while BlockFi’s credit card is an exciting step forward for cryptocurrencies as they continue to infiltrate the mainstream, I don’t see it being a good value for cardholders at this time — but, hey, it’s ultimately your call.