If you don’t know what Bitcoin is by now, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock.
Bitcoin is like the U.S. Dollar or any other currency, but different. You can’t hold Bitcoin. You can’t counterfeit Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency is also decentralized, meaning it doesn’t change based on any one government’s actions or financial policies. (For more on the ins-and-outs of Bitcoin, read our all-encompassing guide.)
Like all other currencies, you can use your Bitcoins to buy real goods and services from vendors that accept it. At the same time, few retailers currently accept Bitcoin as payment. Though the currency is wildly popular, it’s a bit easier and common for retailers to accept good ol’ fashioned cash and credit.
Fortunately, there’s a new debit card that helps you, the Bitcoin-savvy consumer, spend your hard-earned ‘coins anywhere you shop. It’s called the Shift Card, and it could revolutionize Bitcoin as we know it.
The Shift Card lets you use your Bitcoins like a traditional debit card.
If you have a Coinbase account, you can connect your account to a Shift Card. By paying a $10 one-time fee, you can use the debit card to spend the existing Bitcoins in your wallet as you would the money in your checking account. You can even convert your Bitcoins to cash by using the card with any ATM.
You can only spend what you have in your account.
If you have $1,000 worth of Bitcoins in your account, you can only spend $1,000 with your Shift Card. If you spend $100 on your card, the remaining account value will be $900. Unlike most transactions when you buy and sell Bitcoin, there are no fees involved when you use the cryptocurrency with the Shift Card. There’s even a mobile app that helps you track your spending, transactions, and account balance.
Like Bitcoin, your account value will change by the second.
Unlike your checking account (which stays constant), the value of Bitcoin constantly fluctuates in price. If you have a $1,000 balance one moment, you might have a $1,005 account balance the next if the price of Bitcoin goes up. You could also have an account value of $995 if the currency goes down. It’s worth noting that Bitcoin is a volatile currency, so its price drops and increases might be a tad more drastic than this example.
You can buy more Bitcoins through Coinbase.
If you’re low in funds or want to increase your Shift Card balance, simply buy more Bitcoins on Coinbase. Your Shift Card is directly tied to the value of your Coinbase account, so any changes you make in buying or selling Bitcoin will affect your spending power with the card.
Shift Card is open to almost everyone.
It’s worth noting that you can’t apply for the card in every state. Only those residing in select states can apply for the card. Once you have it, however, the Shift Card can be used in all 50 states and in international territories, just like your debit card.
How do you sign up?
First, make sure you have a Coinbase account. Once you’ve signed up for Coinbase, make sure you fund your account by buying Bitcoins. After you have a positive balance in Coinbase, you can finally sign up for a Shift Card if you live in an eligible state.
That’s all there is to it. With the Shift Card in your possession, you simply need to swipe it or insert it like you would a debit card. Then you’ll be buying with Bitcoin!