Money at 30: Fold Bitcoin Rewards Debit Card Review
Not long after I reviewed the Bitcoin rewards app Fold, I got an email informing me that I’d made it off the waitlist and would now have the opportunity to try out their new debit card. What’s more, as an early adopter, I had the chance to see the product evolve, improve, and eventually become what it is today. On that note, with Fold now opening the product to the general public, it’s finally time for me to share a look at the debit card options as well as my experience with them.
Since I did get to participate in the beta version of the card, I will pepper in a couple of anecdotes showing how the card has changed from its original reform. However, in the interest of fairness, I’ll mostly be focusing on the finished product. With that, let’s dive into what you should know about Fold’s Spin and Spin+ debit cards and their Bitcoin rewards.
What is the Fold Debit Card and How Does it Work?
Before we jump into the Fold debit card, let me give you a quick refresher on the main app. Fold allows users to purchase gift cards for various brands and earn a percentage of their purchases back in the form of Bitcoin (more accurately, Sats, which are a small fraction of a Bitcoin). While the app does support debit and credit cards, it encourages customers to pay via Lightning by often offering better Bitcoin back rates on such transactions.
For more on the Fold app, I’d humbly recommend checking out my full review. But, with that primer, let’s jump into the Fold Spin and Spin+ debit card options.
Fold Bitcoin Reward Debit Card Options and Features
- Annual fee: $0
- Activation fee: $21
- Bitcoin rewards on purchases: Up to 25% back
The first Fold debit card option you have is what’s now known as the Spin card. While this lower-tier version doesn’t have a recurring annual fee, it does have a one-time fee of $21. This sum is deducted from your Fold balance at the time you order your card. If you select this option, you’ll be issued a yellow, plastic debit card that should arrive within a few business days (you can also use the card digitally in the meantime).
As for the “Spin” moniker, this comes from the way the Fold debit card earns rewards. Whenever you make a purchase, you’ll unlock one spin on the prize wheel. According to Fold, the regular Spin card allows users to earn up to 25% of their purchase back in Bitcoin rewards — although this will obviously depend on your luck. By the way, as a Spin cardholder, your prize wheel will be available to spin for one hour after you make your purchase. That said, if you miss your window, the Spin card earns one “extra spin” per week, which can be utilized for missed spins or in the event that you’re unsatisfied with your prize.
Looking closer at the fee schedule, it is worth noting that there’s an inactivity fee of $5 for the Spin card, which kicks in after 12 months of non-use.
- Annual fee: $150
- Activation fee: $0
- Bitcoin rewards on purchases: Up to $100 back
If you want to take your Fold debit card to the literal next level, there’s also a Spin+ option. For an annual fee of $150, cardholders will receive a limited edition gold foil debit card, be able to earn up to 100% of their transaction totals back in Bitcoin (again, though, this will be based on luck), and more. Plus, the activation fee that the regular Spin card charges is waived here, so the only thing you’ll pay upfront is the $150.
In terms of other differences, the Spin+ card gives users up to 24 hours to spin their purchase prize wheel. On top of that, the card earns three extra spins per week, giving you more chances to claim a prize you like. Meanwhile, Fold also notes that Spin+ will be able to upgrade to the eventual Fold Credit Card at no additional cost — presumably pending credit approval.
One other benefit that both card options feature is the ability to earn 5% Bitcoin back on purchases of Amazon gift cards. Compare this to the current 1% back you’d earn by paying via other methods and it easy to see how this could be a nice perk. Of course, since it is potentially lucrative, there are some limits. For Spin cardholders, you can purchase up to $250 in gift cards while earning this 5% back — this climbs to $500 per month for Spin+ customers. After that, cardholders can continue to buy Amazon gift cards with a rewards earning rate of 1.5% back.
In addition to this significant Amazon perk, Spin and Spin+ cardholders also enjoy boosted offers from other merchants. For example, an Uber Eats gift card purchase would typically yield 1% for those paying with a credit/debit card or 2% for those paying with lightning. Instead, Fold debit card users earn 3% back on this particular purchase. Similar enhanced rates remain true for all of the gift card options in Fold, making this a potentially significant bonus.
Using the Fold Debit Card: My Experience
Which card I chose
After some consideration, I opted to stick with what’s now known as the regular Spin card (I believe it was called the “Intro” card at the time). As I mentioned, this card did have a $21 processing fee associated with it, and this fee was deducted from my linked bank account when I signed up. A few days later, my card arrived in the mail and was ready to use after that. However, while I waited, I was still able to use the card via Apple Wallet or use it to purchase gift cards at the enhanced cardholder rates.
Adding money to your account
Back when I first got access to the Fold card, the only way to add money to your account was manually — as is entering your account and routing number, getting test deposits, and confirming them. I’m very happy to say that this is no longer the case as there is now in-app ACH support that makes it much easier. Additionally, you can arrange direct deposit for your Fold card or follow directions in order to add funds from Venmo or Apple Cash to your Fold balance.
Earning rewards on purchases
I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite prepared for how the Fold debit card worked when I first used it to make a purchase. For one, I was surprised to see that I only had five minutes to spin the wheel and claim my prize. Thankfully, this has since been adjusted to not only give regular Spin customers an hour to spin (24 house for Spin+ members) but they’ve also added Extra Spins in case you miss your window.
In any case, even after being awarded a prize, it wasn’t obvious to me just how much I had actually won. That’s because, in most cases, math is involved to first figure out how many Sats you won and then determine what those Sats are worth in U.S. dollars. Of course, this second figure will also fluctuate often.
Speaking of fluctuations, one of the interesting things about the Fold debit card is that, even with the beta now over, its prize structure continues to evolve. That’s because the prize wheel that makes up the main rewards mechanism is regularly updated. For example, in celebration of the recent Bitcoin conference in Miami, the app introduced the Miami wheel. Similarly, other prize wheels may be themed to holidays or whatever else — and Fold has been known to try out some different prize ideas along the way. This even includes some very generous reward wheels that are only available for a super limited time.
One of the common complaints that early adopters had of the Fold card was that it didn’t reward larger purchases well. In a bid to correct that, many of the recent Fold wheels have included prizes that are tied to your current or past transaction amounts. So, since I haven’t made any large purchases with my card, I also haven’t won a whole lot from the reward wheel.
For as fun an idea as the rewards wheels are, I think I’d personally prefer a standard earning rate. That’s something Fold has been working to find a balance on, so I’m curious to see what other tweaks they make along the way. In the meantime though, it really has been fascinating to see what they’ve come up with and it does seems as though the program is benefiting those who use the card more than I do.
Knowing this review was coming and seeing as it had been a while since I had used my Fold debit card, I decided to try it out again this past weekend. This also gave me a chance to check out the relatively recent addition of Extra Spins. After making my $6 purchase, I hit up the app to take my first spin. This resulted in my earning 5x Sats on my purchase amount (with a minimum earning of 25 Sats).
Thinking I could do better, I decided to tap one of my Extra Spins and give it another shot. Funny enough, this time my prize was… another spin. One more spin later, I landed on 15x Sats on my purchases. In other words, I tripled my winnings! Then again, since the transaction was pretty small, this didn’t amount to much. Still, having improved upon my initial winnings, I called it a day.
Obviously this “press your luck” element could go either way. Nevertheless, I think that Extra Spins were a crucial addition to the debit card offering and I’m glad they’re there.
Earning rewards on gift cards
Now for what I think is the secret star feature of the Fold debit cards. If you’ll recall from my initial review of the app, one of my biggest disappointments was that the largest Bitcoin back amounts were reserved for those paying with Lightning. Seeing as I’m not a very blockchain literate person, that option alluded me. However, thanks to my Fold debit card, I can now unlock even better reward amounts without even having to figure out Lightning.
Fold highlights the 5% back on Amazon gift cards most of all — and for good reason — but I feel like the fact that you can get enhanced rates on all the other gift card options is an undersold perk. To me, this is where the app finds that “guaranteed rewards” and “element of chance” balance they’ve spoken about. In that aspect, I could almost see the $21 processing fee I paid to get my Fold card as an investment in future gift card savings.
Finally, as Fold continues to evolve, there are some features I’m looking forward to. At the top of the list is Instant Debit Card Funding. This has actually been in the works for some time but, unfortunately, keeps getting pushed back. Personally, I’d love the ability to quickly fund my Fold account to purchase gift cards or make other purchases. But, hey, at least they have ACH support now!
Elsewhere, since the offering does change things up regularly, I look forward to seeing what else the company has up its sleeve. Having just raised a ton of money, I’m expecting to see some big things from them in the near future – including that credit card they’re teasing. If nothing else, I’m at least interested to see what’s ahead.
Final Thoughts on the Fold Debit Card
Overall, I think that Fold’s Spin and Spin+ debit cards have some really fun ideas and could certainly be attractive to Bitcoin fans and those who enjoy the small thrill of winning rewards. As for me personally, I’m a bit more torn on the offering. For one, the required fee of at least $21 to get started is a definite turn off considering that so many debit cards these days are totally free. Second, since Sats are a complicated to calculate, it’s not always easy to know whether you’re getting a good return on your spending (until it’s too late). I could see this aspect being annoying to those who want to feel as though they’re always coming out ahead or at least know what to expect when they choose to use this card for a purchase over other options.
On the other hand, I feel that the Fold card product is redeemed by the enhanced rewards it offers on gift card purchases. With this feature, it pretty much erases one of my largest concerns about the app itself. Then again, there is still the $21 (or $150) buy-in to consider and the fact that the average person probably isn’t buying that much in gift cards with any regularity.
At the end of the day, I suspect that the Fold debit card will be very attractive to some and not at all interesting to others — and I think that’s okay. Furthermore, given my experience going through the beta program, I foresee more tweaks and updates coming to the program overtime. To their credit, the team at Fold has also been very receptive to feedback and executing on ideas that customers want. Thus, if you are one of those people who wants to earn Bitcoin, enjoys gamification, and embraces change, then I think the Fold debit cards will definitely appeal to you.
Also published on Medium.