Is it worth it? Is it all a scam? How does it work?
If you have not heard of the Crypto.com card, let me try to explain it in the best possible way. If you have heard of it and want to understand if it is for you, you can skip this paragraph.
I first heard of the card through my friend Facundo from MundoFacundo who was (and still is) super enthusiast about it. However he explained it to me quickly and I did not understand the mechanism fully: Do I pay in crypto? Which crypto? Is the card even accepted in stores here in Luxembourg? Will my card balance on the card fluctuate according to the roller coaster crypto markets? It did not make sense to me, I abandoned the idea and got on with my life. Then I met him in the city and he showed me how it worked and I was like okay, I can maybe give it a try with the lower-tier card level, the Ruby Steel card. Now before I share my experience, let’s go through a quick introduction of the card, their Cronos token, and the Crypto.com company.
And before I forget, I am not a financial advisor, nor a cryptocurrency expert. The article is for sharing my experience and for entertainment, informational, and educational purposes. Please conduct your own due diligence (DYOR), or consult a professional before making any financial decision. Any investment choice is at your own risk.
The Crypto.com Visa Debit card
The Crypto.com card is a visa debit card issued by the company of the same name. This is a prepaid card, not a credit card, so you can only spend what you transfer to it which makes it easy for anyone to acquire them (no complicated process, salary slips to issue, etc). You can view all your transactions and money transfers in the Crypto.com app.
The process to get a card is to download the app, complete the KYC process, and then to choose the card you want by staking the respective amount of CRO (to be paid by credit card). CRO is the utility token for the Crypto.com ecosystem. Once this is done you will get a virtual card in the app (so you can already start to use it online) and the physical metal card will be on its way to you. When I ordered my Ruby Steel in July 2021, it took approximately 1 month to receive it and when I upgraded to Royal Indigo in November 2021 it took 2 weeks to arrive.
Staking in the crypto world means in simple terms to lock up your money in order to get rewards. The mechanism behind this is Proof of Stake, where the higher the stake (amount) you have, the more chances you have to be chosen by the protocol to validate network transactions in the particular blockchain. For more details on staking, read here.
As you can see in the image above, for the Ruby Steel card you will need to stake the equivalent of €350, for the Royal Indigo €3 500, and so on.
You can use the card in-store and online just as your regular bank card. You transfer the money to a bank account in your name (this is done and created once KYC is approved), it will show up in the Fiat Wallet in the app and then you can redirect (“Top up”) the money to your debit card. You can also choose to Top up your debit card directly by credit card (there are no extra fees). If you use a Revolut card in Europe it works the same way, you send money to a Lithuanian bank account, and you can use your card everywhere. So far so good and nothing special.
Now, what makes the card special are the different perks you get with it.
The first one is cashback in the form of crypto (from 1% to 8%). Say you buy a pair of shoes for 100 EUR with your card, you will get the equivalent of 1 EUR to 8 EUR cashback in cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency you get is Cronos ($CRO).
Below you will see the whole list of perks according to each level.
Spotify “for free”
If you have the Ruby Steel card you get Spotify for free. How does it actually work?
You need to link your Crypto.com card for the monthly payment and you get the equivalent of the subscription price in CRO. I am a long-time subscriber to Spotify and pay 9,99 EUR per month, so when I now pay my monthly subscription do I get 9,99 euro reimbursed? Yes and no: I get the equivalent of 9,99 EUR every month in the form of CRO. This happens instantly, as soon as you pay you get the CRO in your crypto wallet in the app. You can reconvert that CRO into EUR if you wish, keep it in CRO or convert it to another cryptocurrency. Since Cronos is a cryptocurrency and as you know cryptocurrencies fluctuate all the time, you will get a different amount of Cronos every month when you pay for your Spotify subscription.
From the Green Jade/Royal Indigo:
- You also get Netflix which works in the same way. You pay your monthly subscription and you get the equivalent in Cronos.
- You receive a percentage (it will go from 10% to 4%, more on this below) of your staked amount weekly which is an awesome feature.
- If you have say 17 500 CRO staked (you staked 3 500 EUR at 0,2 EUR/$CRO), you will receive 1750 CRO or roughly 35 CRO on a weekly basis (With 4% staking rewards this becomes 14 CRO/week).
- The number will change depending on your purchase price, in my case I have 7 825 CRO staked, which means I receive 15 CRO on a weekly basis. (7825/520)
- One other cool feature you get from the Green Jade/Royal Indigo level is the access to airport lounges. Well, I have registered for it, it is cool but I have not used it so far 😅.
With the higher levels, the stake rewards get higher and you also get additional perks: Amazon prime reimbursed, you can take a guest at the airport lounge, and so on.
- To benefit from these perks, your money will need to be locked for a minimum period of 6 months, if after 6 months you wish to get your CRO stake back (or unstake) you will lose most of the perks associated with it and your rewards will be cut. You will however still be able to use the card.
- Secondly, the staking and cashback rewards will be revised from the 1st of June 2022. More on this below.
These were some basics on the Visa card, now what about the token and the company behind it?
The Cronos token
The Cronos token, previously known as the Crypto.org token, is the “in-house” utility token of Crypto.com.
It grew significantly in 2021 (more than 900% from $0,059 on the 1st of Jan 2021 to $0,5575 on the 31st of Dec 2021!) but is now valued at $0,18 following the market downturn. It still sits in the top 20 cryptocurrencies.
A utility token, what’s that?
A utility token offers its owner the right to use a product or a service. It can also offer early access or special voting rights within a blockchain. In the case of Crypto.com, that means that the users typically can use it for payment on the platform or in the Crypto.com ecosystem as a whole.
Utility tokens are hence more than a “simple coin” that is used to transfer value.
To make a more down-to-earth example: If Walt Disney created a Walt Disney token (a modern version of their Disney Dollars), these Disney tokens could be used in the park, at their resorts, or could even grant discounts to the users on the online Disney store. But just like the paper Disney Dollars “of old”, you could not use them to pay for your groceries or your tasteless hipster IPA beer.
Crypto.com, who are they? Is it a legit company?
Crypto.com was founded in 2016 in Hong Kong and they are headquartered in Singapore.
They offer a cryptocurrency exchange platform (like Coinbase) and their products to over 50 million customers worldwide. There are 4 000 employees worldwide. They have certainly been marketing in prime spots lately: You may have seen the recent spots online with Matt Damon and the announcement that they took over the naming rights for the Staples Center in L.A for a whopping $700 million (yes, the home of the LA Lakers and Clippers). In addition, they have also been very active in Formula 1, the UFC, Paris-Saint-Germain, and will also be the official sponsor of the World Cup 2022.
It is a fully regulated company and the services are accessible in most countries. It is also a highly secure crypto platform that obtained numerous compliance and cyber security certificates from trusted authorities (see here). Security of its users’ data and funds is taken extremely seriously making it a safe platform to use.
Their expansion plans are detailed in their whitepaper. Their financials are not public as it is a private company, nevertheless, in this interview, the CEO Kris Marszalek has stated that the revenues of the company had 20x´d in 2021! From the whitepaper, their strategy is very clear: Our strategy is to leverage payment solutions as the primary tool for driving adoption and user acquisition while building trading and financial services solutions as the major sources of revenue. I understand it as, let’s acquire customers through our visa debit cards, get them used to cryptocurrency and our services and once they are in our ecosystem we can offer them more profitable services.
My experience with the cards
It works! But a few things to consider,…
I was not entirely sold at first but I like to try stuff and so I ordered the Ruby card, risked 350 EUR worth of $CRO staking and I started to experiment with it. If it did not work, I would have lost 350 EUR, which is not the end of the world. One of the first things I did is to transfer 100 EUR to the debit card to use it at the local supermarket. To my great surprise (relief?) it worked! (I had my regular bank card with me in case it did not work)
I tried it in several shops and numerous times and yes it worked (almost) every time and I got my cashback promptly after swiping the card! It has now become my daily expense card in Luxembourg and for testing purposes, I have also used it in Portugal, the UK, and Belgium. In 10 months out of all the transactions online and offline, I have had one issue in a cafe in Luxembourg where my card was declined. I did not try with the chip so I´ll try it again next time, this could have been a temporary issue or a machine that prefers to read the chip. I am telling this for the most accurate possible review.
Every time you make a purchase you get an email and you can see the Cronos cashback in the app (go to Accounts -> Tap Crypto Wallet -> Tap Cronos -> scroll down).
You can see the details for every transaction in the app: I have spent 78,79 EUR at the Delhaize supermarket and got the equivalent of 3% in CRO. 78,79 EUR*3% is 2,37 EUR, the CRO price was 0,182 EUR/CRO, so I received 12,99 CRO (2,37 EUR/(0,182 EUR/CRO)).
For the Spotify app, I had to switch my Spotify account to a UK one, which I did not like. To keep my regular account, I linked the Crypto.com card to my PayPal account and added the PayPal payment to my Spotify account.
One thing I did not think about is that the money I used to top up my visa card could not be transferred back to the Fiat wallet in the app. Once the money is sent to your card, you need to spend it, no big drama but this is something to be aware of.
My way of thinking is this when using the card: I spend money on stuff I would spend anyway, and so if I get some cryptocurrency for it, why not? If it goes up or down it does not matter too much, it is a relatively risk-free way to acquire cryptocurrency. I say relatively because your initial stake for the card is your main risk, its value will fluctuate daily.
After a while, you get used to the app, but in the beginning, it can get confusing as there is a whole ecosystem and features: The Earn program, buying crypto inside the app, linking your app to their non-custodial DeFi wallet, the NFT section, the Supercharger feature, and so on. Although there is a lot of info on their website, a nice add-on could have been to add a little user manual with the card (this could also be a link to an online page) to help the new user.
All in all, very pleasant experience once you know how the basics work.
Cryptos and volatility
When I bought my Ruby Steel card, $CRO was worth somewhere around 9 cents, so I bought 3 750 CRO. After several months of use, I was pretty satisfied and at the same time, the crypto markets were in a bullish trend up until early December 2021. As a consequence, in November I decided to upgrade to the next level, my initial stake had grown from 350 EUR to around 1500 EUR, so I had to purchase about 2000 EUR worth of CRO to make it 3500 EUR in total. I thought okay, let’s do it but I will not invest more in this $CRO, I reached my personal risk-tolerance barrier 😁 (This is my risk-tolerance level, it will be different for you).
In a way I made a pretty good deal back then: I paid approximately 2 350 EUR for something that normally costs 3 500 EUR.
Now, my 6-month staking period just ended and I have 7 825 CRO that are worth 1 300 EUR at the time of writing (I am looking at my app right now). On paper, I have now lost 1000 EUR. Knowing the nature of the markets as such this is not keeping me awake at night, if I keep the CRO staked, the value could increase again during a bull run. And while my CRO is staked I still benefit from all the perks.
More importantly, I believe in the Crypto.com project and their target to become the number 1 cryptocurrency exchange platform in the world. The fact that there is an actual fully regulated company behind it with 4 000 people makes me want to stick for a bit longer. This does not exclude bankruptcy, regulatory issues, fraud, or a CRO going to 0,… but this is a totally different perspective than betting on more speculative dog-themed assets such as Doge or Shiba Inu,…
Volatility can be brutal, so be prepared if you are making your first steps in the cryptocurrency world. And for experienced crypto bros and HODLers, let’s not be too overconfident either 😉.
How I use the card and rewards
If you look for info on Youtube you will find many ways to use and optimize the card and it can be confusing. By buying the card I did not want to be hooked on the app to optimize every single cashback and so on.
I might not make use of the best optimization strategy but here is what I do:
- Every month an automatic transfer sends a portion of my paycheck to the Fiat Wallet of the app (you know that account in my name in a Lithuanian bank), I just go to the app and top up my Visa debit card.
- I do my purchases as usual and get my rewards (3% on every purchase).
- My weekly staking rewards (the 15 CRO) are added to my CRO balance in the app. (I do not need to do anything)
- The payment for Netflix and Spotify are processed automatically and I get the reimbursement in the form of CRO.
- I could reconvert all those CRO to EUR or to another cryptocurrency but what I am doing is sending everything to the DeFi wallet every week and stake the CRO there. The rates are variable but at the time you get up to 12,36% on it, so not too shabby*.
- To set up that DeFi wallet check this very useful video.
- To transfer your CROs to the DeFi wallet, check this video.
- To stake your CROs in the wallet, follow these instructions.
- To sum up I mainly do 2 things:
- Top up my visa debit card monthly with one tap in the app.
- Stake the received CRO in the DeFi Wallet weekly.
*Should you wish to unstake the CRO that are in your DeFi wallet, there is a 28 days “unbonding” period where they will be inaccessible.
How the card helps you build additional income
What I really like with the card is that it helps you build additional income albeit relatively small.
- You get cashback on purchases.
- You receive the staking rewards from the Royal Indigo/Green Jade level.
- By sharing the app with your friends you both get a $25 bonus in $CRO if they choose to go for at least the Ruby Steel card, my code for instance is https://crypto.com/app/aavardmmcj.
- You can lock up some other cryptocurrencies in the app and use the Earn function to earn interest on for instance Solana and Ethereum. For $CRO the rates are better in the DeFI wallet.
- The card is a visa debit card, meaning the card does not offer insurance (damaged or stolen goods, the right to reimbursements,…) like a credit card does. For larger purchases, I would still use an actual credit card for protection.
- I mentioned in-store and online purchases but can you pay your utilities with it and even better your mortgage/rent?
- Unfortunately not, here is the list of the excluded items. (Some guys on Reddit figured out ways to pay rent and get their cash backs though)
- There are no monthly fees for the card, no fees for exchange rates neither up to 10 000 EUR, and the monthly zero-fee ATM withdrawal limit is 800 EUR.
- You can easily convert your CRO to EUR in the app, it is convenient but you pay for that convenience. Crypto.com charges the spread between the sell and buy price which can lead to hidden fees of 3-4%. The use of spread is not uncommon for exchanges but it is not visible in the app and is a frustration to many. Here is a Reddit thread on the subject.
- Customer support: I had a few cases and missed my Spotify cashback once, so I engaged with customer support. 100% of the issues were solved which was good but it can sometimes take a day or 2 before your issue is solved. From the first message you send there might be some time until someone replies (15 minutes to 1 hour), this could be due to the fast growth of the company. So while the timing can be more than what you expect, every issue is dealt with professionally and has been solved.
- Technical issues: There are obviously some technical issues remaining and constant updates running in the background, it is all very dynamic and what I have seen is an equally dynamic response in general.
Is it all “sustainable”?
How long can Crypto.com keep all those rewards and perks? Definitely not forever as their user base is growing and as they want to remain profitable. The harsh truth actually came unexpectedly on the 1st of May 2022 when they announced they would reduce their card rewards drastically from the 1st of June 2022. The community reacted in shock and there were a plethora of reactions to be seen on Youtube and on social media, the main reactions were anger, disappointment, and dissatisfaction. Many people lost trust in the company and said they would stop using the card and go for an alternative crypto card provider.
Crypto.com sent two updates during that first week of May with slightly better perks and staking rewards than initially announced. Still, the whole experience was confusing and felt unprofessional and disorganized towards their millions of customers. While we can not as customers expect all these perks to last forever, this was definitely not a smooth move from Crypto.com.
The new applicable reward rates from the 1st of June 2022 are as follows:
- Reduced CRO Visa card cashback rewards
- They have introduced a maximum monthly cap on the CRO Cashback rewards for the Ruby Steel card ($25) and the Royal Indigo ($50). In short, if you spend more than $ 2 500/month with the card, you will stay below the threshold and will get cashback as per the new cashback rates.
- Jade Green/Royal Indigo and higher tier users will continue to earn the staking rewards at the current rates until their 180-day stake expires (if the stake is still active on the 31st of May). Thereafter, the rates will be reduced:
- 8% per year for Private Members with an Obsidian, Icy White, or Frosted Rose Gold Card.
- 4% per year for Jade Green or Royal Indigo cardholders.
- For existing users who upgrade to the next tier, the $50 card re-issuance fee will be waived.
- You still get Spotify, Netflix, the airport lounge access, etc.
All the details are here.
Here is what comes to mind when it comes to this event:
- The Midnight Blue card has become worthless, there are absolutely 0 benefits to keeping it (previously it was a nice entry point).
- For existing users, this reduction in reward rates can feel like a punch in the face, especially now in a bear market but for anyone who wants to dip their feet, the card offer still has some appeal (especially the Ruby steel card). For the higher tier card, the offer becomes less interesting/profitable in my view.
- Taking a longer-term perspective, this also means that we can expect further reductions in perks. While I have been a happy user, I know the “fairy tale” will not last forever and that it may be better to keep my CRO to stake in the DeFi wallet.
- Now looking at the company strategy, the move to reduce rewards is still contradictory because the card is the main payment solution and helps to drive the adoption that is supposed to attract new customers. Do they foresee another way to “leverage payment solutions and drive adoption” to attract customers?
To sum up: Pros and cons plus Joney score
User-Friendliness – 4/5
There is a learning curve and you might make some mistakes in the beginning, but again it is a user-friendly way to gain experience with cryptocurrency.
Available information – 3,5/5
There is plenty of help online on the Crypto.com website, but I found it sometimes more useful to watch a Youtube video to really understand how to get the most out of the card.
Customer Support – 3,5/5
100% of cases solved but with sometimes a long delay, sloppy communication with regards to the rewards updates.
Fees – 4/5
No fees for the card but a high spread for in-app CRO to EUR conversion.
Relatively smooth, no salary slips or proof of income to be issued, delivery time for the physical card is variable.
Card Benefits – 4,5/5
If it was not for the recent decrease in rewards, it would have gotten a 5. But the card still offers a great return on the staked amount.
Overall Joney Score – 4/5
All in all, I am pretty satisfied and happy to give the Crypto.com card a “Joney score” of 4/5.
Bringing it all together
Is a Crypto.com card the right thing for you?
One friend told me he was pretty happy to have acquired a card since it helped him to overcome the step to enter the crypto world (which aligns perfectly with Crypto.com´s strategy). And it is true, using a visa debit card and receiving crypto cashback in an app is less of a hurdle than transferring your money directly to a new platform like Binance and trying to figure out limit orders and whatnot in order to buy your first crypto! Here I feel the Visa debit card really makes the bridge easier between the traditional financial system and the crypto-financial world. So if you are interested to take your first steps in the crypto space but think it all looks too complicated and too risky, getting a Crypto.com card can be a great way to experience how it all works for yourself and gain some practical knowledge.
While I do not consider myself a “Crypto Bro” 😉, I am always happy when something that can be seen as complex is made easier so you can test it and see if it is something for you.
The thing I really enjoy, and I am going to repeat myself, is to get crypto (almost) risk-free by buying things I would buy anyway, and that is simply brilliant!
If you still feel this is all too complex, too risky and you prefer to stay away from it, then the card is not the right thing for you. I would however still encourage you to learn some basics about blockchain technology to keep up with important current trends. Here is an interview I have had with Ivan from Ivan On Tech to help you get started.
If interested which card is the best for you?
This is a difficult one to answer, you will need to define that for yourself depending on your risk appetite. The Ruby Steel card is a low-risk (350 EUR) entry point that will let you experiment with the Crypto.com ecosystem and enjoy some cashback rewards. The return on the staked amount is pretty solid, if the CRO value goes down it will not be dramatic and if it goes up over time then your return will be even higher. In the table below I took a 500 EUR monthly spend and a CRO at 0,2 EUR, and even with the reduced reward rates, I come to a return of 62% on the initial stake.
To help you decide which card would be the most interesting for you, I created this calculation sheet. Feel free to download it and share it around.
And by the way, as you will see, even with the reduced rewards, the cards are still providing great returns on the staked amounts.
My plan moving forward
If there was no reduction on the benefits, it would be a no-brainer: I would simply keep on with the current setup (Royal Indigo card) and leave my initial amount of CRO staked. Now with the reduction of the perks, I wanted to know for sure what would be the most optimal solution for me and so I considered 3 options:
- Unstaking and restaking 3 500 EUR worth of CRO before 31st of May: In the long-term, this is the most profitable option as it would make me purchase an additional 10 000 CRO at 0,2 EUR each. This would bring my average CRO price to around 0,25 EUR/CRO and my stake would be consisting of around 18 000 CRO. With the current low price of CRO, this would be an excellent move.
- Keep going with reduced rewards: From my calculations, as long as the CRO value stays below 0,5 EUR I am better off to continue with my current stake of 7 825 CRO. However, as soon as the value of CRO will stabilize above it, it would be better for me to unstake and send the 7 825 CRO to my DeFi wallet so I can stake them there at a rate of 12%.
- Unstaking my 7 825 CRO, convert to another cryptocurrency or to EUR, and stop using the card altogether.
Taking a long-term perspective and still being excited to see what’s in store for the coming 3 to 5 years for Crypto.com, option 1 is the best one in my view. However at present, I do not have 2 000 EUR set aside for alternative investments, so I will pass.
Should I go for option 3: Unstake my CRO, and leave the ecosystem? That would be the worst choice because I would actually lose money and lose all the card benefits.
This leaves me with one option: To go for option 2 and keep my CRO staked. It is my way of saying like Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street: “You know what,…I am not leaving!”
For this review, I have done my best to balance my experience with some explanation of crypto concepts, tips, and tricks while trying not to make it too overwhelming. I know there are many aspects I did not cover (like how does the card compare to other crypto cards like the Plutus or Binance card,…), so please do not hesitate to ask your questions in the comment section below, I will try my best to give the best possible answer and honest opinion. If you found this review and calculation sheet helpful, I would appreciate you shared it with your friends, that is the best Thank You I can get! And if you decide to get the card, why not both get that $25 bonus by using my referral link? https://crypto.com/app/aavardmmcj.
- Here is a cool video in French by Investilligent: Crypto.com : l’Essentiel + Astuces
- My friend Facundo´s Youtube channel (en español para los amigos y los jefes): MundoFacundo
- Another review from Luxembourg by fellow crypto enthusiast Sorin (english and french): La carte de débit Crypto.com: découvrir la crypto de façon “douce”
- I found this guy´s videos useful as well: Eddie Moon
- Here is my friend Fight to FIRE´s review on the card: Crypto.com Visa Ruby 6 Month Review: Interesting Or No Good?
- The Reddit dedicated to the Crypto.com community: Reddit r/Crypto.com
- The Crypto.com Help Center: Help Center
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