My experience using the Coinbase Shift Card with my Litecoin wallet

Nick Rodriguez By Nick Rodriguez - Updated: September 17th, 2018
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The Coinbase shift card is great for Bitcoin users, but sadly is not well supported for other coins such as Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.

This is my experience using the shift card for every day purchases, but in a slightly different way than intended by connecting it to my Litecoin wallet on Coinbase.

For those not familiar with the shift card, this is a visa debit card that is usually tied to your Coinbase Bitcoin wallet. It's also different from most Bitcoin debit cards in that you don't have to preload funds onto the card before using it. Instead, the Bitcoin is sold at the point of sale and automatically converted into the correct amount of currency to complete the purchase. This allows the card to work seamlessly with your Coinbase account.

While intended to be used with the Bitcoin wallet, I decided to try and use it with my Litecoin wallet just to see how it works. So this review will be focused on using the card specifically with Litecoin, and the differences I've noticed. And while not tested, I assume any issues with Litecoin will also apply to other coins such as Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash.

I have been using it for several months already, and it works great. This allows me to use my Coinbase wallet as a sort of checking account with a debit card attached to it.

So while the card works well with my Litecoin wallet, there are a few things that I didn't like.

It's not meant to be used with other coins

Being marketed as the world's first Bitcoin debit card, it's just not meant to be used with other coins. While you can use it with different coins like Litecoin and Ethereum, it's not officially supported and means you'll always be treated like a 2nd class customer.

Charge backs and deposits are settled in Bitcoin

Anytime you use the card as a credit card, i.e. non-debit purchase, it will take out a small deposit that will later be charged back once the payment clears. So for example, if you use the card to pay for gasoline, it will automatically take out a deposit from the card. The problem is that this deposit is done with Bitcoin, so you will now have these funds deposited back into your Bitcoin wallet on Coinbase. This can get a little annoying after awhile and lead to a large amount of funds piling up in an unused wallet. The same is also true for refunds, the funds will be deposited back into your Bitcoin wallet.

There doesn't appear to be a rush to fully support other currencies.

The shift pay card has been around for a couple years now, and Coinbase has supported currencies besides Bitcoin for almost the same amount of time. So you'd think there would be ample time to add full support for alternative currencies. It's possible that because of regulations and record keeping, they have to use Bitcoin as a sort of base currency, or maybe they just don't want to support multiple coins due to lack of resources. Whatever the reason, it's definitely going to limit the longevity of the card as Coinbase adds support for even more coins going into 2018, and the growing number of unbanked look for ways to bridge the gap.

Conclusion

I love using my shift card for daily purchases, but it's unfortunate that Coinbase doesn't appear to care much about fully supporting other coins besides Bitcoin. And so are perfectly fine officially limiting the shift card to Bitcoin purchases even if you can hack your way around it. But this could come at a cost as more companies rush to provide crypto services to the unbanked and growing number of millenials ready for a modern banking system.