One of the premises of cryptocurrencies is that they transcend borders. Unlike fiat currencies which are typically only honoured in their respective nations, cryptocurrency is global. One Bitcoin in the U.K. is the same as one Bitcoin in Greece. The problem, of course, is that not every place takes Bitcoin. In most shops in the U.K., you'll still need to spend Pounds to buy anything. Traditionally, people have converted their Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies) to cash and then spent with that cash. As we'll see in this Wirex review, there is another way!
Wirex Review: What Is a Crypto Card?
Wirex provides a crypto card. To any merchant, this card looks and acts like a regular VISA debit card. You'll be able to swipe it at any point of sale and use it at any ATM.
However, behind the scenes, these crypto debit cards work a little bit differently than you might expect. These cards support storing value as multiple fiat and cryptocurrencies. You can typically exchange between currencies instantly, enabling you to make purchases and withdrawals anywhere in the world in any currency.
There are two clear benefits for crypto traders. First, instantly converting and using crypto and fiat currencies makes withdrawing money much more effortless. You can transfer in your Bitcoin, for example, and then only convert £5 worth when you want to buy some treats at the grocery store. Or, you can withdraw $100 USD worth of Bitcoin at the ATM in New York when you're on vacation. You can see how such a system makes having cryptocurrencies much more helpful. Not only can you enjoy the benefits of trading Bitcoin, but now you can easily use that cryptocurrency!
Second, the ability to keep multiple fiat and cryptocurrencies all in the same account makes trading a breeze. Instead of most exchanges where you can typically only trade between a couple of currencies and multiple cryptocurrencies, these cards usually support many fiat and many cryptocurrencies. What this means is that you can execute more nuanced trading strategies like “save for a vacation in Singapore.” For example, you can fund your account in pounds, trade cryptocurrencies, and then cash out your profits to Singapore Dollars. Then when you get there, you can withdraw.
Ultimately, these cards are beneficial. They make trading easier since the backend needs to support multiple currencies, and they also make cryptocurrency more “useful.” You can use it anywhere, not just withdraw it at a Bitcoin ATM!
What Is Wirex's Crypto Card Offering?
Crypto cards are beneficial in general. As we'll see, Wirex has one of the better crypto offerings on the market!
Most of the reasons why a crypto card is beneficial are the number of currencies and cryptocurrencies it supports. Fortunately, Wirex has most people covered there.
For the European market, Wirex supports 11 fiat currencies:
- Australian Dollar (AUD)
- Canadian Dollar (CAD)
- Euro (EUR)
- Swiss Franc (CHF)
- Czech Koruna (CZK)
- British Pound (GBP)
- Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
- Japanese Yen (JPY)
- Mexican Peso (MXN)
- Singapore Dollar (SGD)
- United States Dollar (USD)
Wirex also supports a reasonably impressive ten cryptocurrencies, including:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Ripple (XRP)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Waves (WAVES)
- Wollo (WLO)
- Dai (DAI)
- Nano (NANO)
- Stellar (XLM)
- Wirex Token (WXT)
While this list of currencies is quite impressive, it is worth noting a couple of cons for those in the U.K.
First, looking at the top countries visited by U.K. residents, we see some places that you won't be able to store the currency natively in Wirex. For example, Poland and India, two relatively popular destinations for U.K. residents, do not have their currencies on Wirex.
Second, while ten cryptocurrencies are tradable on Wirex, only a handful are actually “useful” to the average trader. Unless you are really into trading, you're probably only going to own Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple, or Ethereum. Indeed, unless you're into trading, you may not have heard of the others!
Like Dai, some of them try to be as close to the U.S. dollar as possible. So, effectively, whether you cash out your Bitcoin to Dai or USD, it's mostly the same thing.
The list of currencies is good overall, but it's not the absolute best list of any platform ever.
Wirex Review: What Are Some of the Features of the Card?
Of course, a crypto card is not just about the backend and what currencies it supports. The main reason to have a crypto card is to, well, use the card! In this aspect, Wirex shines.
The most significant benefit of Wirex is the fact that the card provides rewards. Yes, just like your standard credit card might give 1% cashback or whatever the promotion is, Wirex gives you some cryptocurrency back, just for using the card! And the promotion isn't tiny either – you can earn up to 2% back in WXT (Wirex Token) just by using the card!
However, that's not all! You can get an annual savings bonus of up to 6% of the balance of your WXT account (so if you hold WXT, you can get a bonus). There are exclusive merchant offers, as well, so you can save money at your favourite coffee shops, airport lounges, and anywhere else you shop.
On the surface, it seems like Wirex is giving away a lot of free WXT just for using their card. That's most definitely a massive benefit to using this card!
Are There Downsides To Wirex?
Yes, unfortunately, as we'll see in this Wirex review, there are some downsides – mainly around the subscription plans.
Remember all those great benefits we described above? Yep, they require a subscription to obtain.
Even more problematic is that these subscriptions cost quite a bit. There are three tiers – Standard, Premium, and Elite. At the time of this writing, 1 WXT is 0.008443 GBP. The Premium tier costs 9,999 WXT annually, which is £84.42. The Elite level costs a whopping 29,999 WXT annually, which is £253.27.
That's quite a bit of money to access some of those benefits. So, let's take a closer look at what you get for each tier.
With the standard level, you get 0.5% crypto back for in-store purchases. You'll get nothing if you use your card online, and you won't get any savings bonus.
At the premium level, you'll get 1% crypto back both in-store and online. You'll also receive 2% annually on the balance of your WXT account.
Finally, at the elite level, you'll get 2% back both in-store and online and a 6% bonus on your WXT account. Plus, you'll receive exclusive merchant offers.
So, unless you have substantial account balances or spend a significant amount of money, upgrading your tiers won't make much sense. If you're spending 29,999 WXT to receive a 6% bonus on your account, that means your account size needs to be 500,000 WXT or more to break even (this doesn't include the 2% back). That works out to about £4,250 at the time of this writing. Since you only get 2% back for a premier account, you would need the same £4,250 to get at least the annual fee as your savings bonus.
For some traders, keeping a ~£5,000 balance is not that big of a deal. For most people interested in crypto, though, the idea of investing thousands isn't necessarily the plan. Even to make the annual fee back as part of your spending would require thousands!
Therefore, for the majority of people, the standard plan is the best. That means you'll only get 0.5% back, which isn't the most amazing out there, but at least it is something!
A Word on the Competition
We would be remiss without mentioning that Wirex already has some formidable competitors, and even more are in the works. Coinbase has already launched a VISA card of its own. Bitpanda has already established a card too, and it's available to residents in the European area. And Block Fi currently has a waitlist for its unique offering (it's worth noting that Block Fi's offering is a credit card – not a debit card – that gives crypto back).
That means Wirex isn't unique. Most companies from the most significant places like Coinbase to even the smaller exchanges are getting in on the debit/credit card action. It's an obvious next step to try and make crypto more accessible and easy for the masses.
So if you want to get a crypto card and have an account elsewhere, you may wish to see if they have a card offering already or have one in the works. There's a good chance they do!
Final Wirex Review Verdict: A Good Card with Flaws
Ultimately, as you can see from this Wirex review, Wirex presents a compelling, straightforward offering. You'll get an excellent app and card that you can use to spend and trade a total of 21 digital and fiat currencies. On the surface, that sounds pretty impressive. Their claims that you can earn a savings bonus of up to 6% and up to 2% crypto back is also very impressive on a superficial level.
However, when you dig into the details, the offer isn't quite as compelling. Unless you're willing to pay ~£100-£300 per year, you will earn 0.5% back and won't receive any savings bonus.
That makes it a decent value overall – nothing special, but nothing terrible either.
If you want a straightforward card or want to trade in the currencies this offering supports, Wirex is for you. However, if you're in the market for a crypto card and have an account elsewhere, you may wish to look into some other offerings before settling on this crypto card.