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BlockFi Review: A Beginner-Friendly Platform With Diverse Crypto Services

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BlockFi offers a crypto exchange where you can buy Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital currencies. It also has a crypto credit card and crypto-backed loans available, so there are a variety of services on this platform. Unfortunately, one of its best products, its interest-bearing crypto accounts, is no longer available to U.S. investors. Read our BlockFi review for a complete overview of what it has to offer.

Ratings Methodology

Bottom Line

BlockFi is good for trading the major coins and borrowing against your cryptocurrency. However, its selection and trading features are lacking compared to other exchanges.

Fees:

$0 trading fees (charges variable margin)

Account Minimum:

$0

This cryptocurrency platform is a good fit for: Investors who want to add a few top cryptos to their portfolio or use their crypto as collateral for a loan.

Pros

  • User-friendly crypto trading
  • Rewards credit card
  • Crypto-backed loans
  • U.S.-based and regulated

Cons

  • Withdrawal fees
  • Limited selection of cryptocurrencies
  • No withdrawals on some cryptocurrencies

Top perks

User-friendly crypto trading

BlockFi has a straightforward interface that makes it easy to buy and sell crypto. If you want to automate your investments, you can set up recurring trades on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This is helpful if you're dollar-cost averaging, which is a good way to manage risk when investing in crypto.

Rewards credit card

If you want to earn crypto rewards on every purchase, BlockFi was one of the first platforms to launch its own crypto credit card. The BlockFi Rewards Visa® Signature Credit Card earns up to 2% back in the cryptocurrency of your choice and doesn't charge an annual fee. Applications for this card are open to BlockFi clients.

RELATED: Best Crypto Credit Cards

Crypto-backed loans

BlockFi lets you borrow funds in U.S. dollars against your crypto assets with interest rates as low as 4.5%. You can receive funds the same business day and pay off the loan as early as you want with no prepayment penalties. The following types of cryptocurrency can be used as loan collateral:

A crypto-backed loan has advantages over selling your holdings. Borrowing instead of selling means you don't have to report capital gains, which could save you money in taxes. You also get to keep your crypto.

Keep in mind that there are risks to borrowing against your crypto. If crypto prices drop to the point that your collateral is no longer enough to support your loan, you'll need to deposit more crypto. Otherwise, BlockFi could sell your crypto collateral.

LEARN MORE: Crypto Loans

Earn interest on your crypto (not available in the United States)

One of the most popular perks of this crypto platform is its BlockFi Interest Accounts. Account holders can earn compounding interest on any of the cryptocurrencies BlockFi offers automatically, with no minimum balance requirement.

Unfortunately, BlockFi Interest Accounts are no longer available to U.S. investors due to an order by the SEC. They're still an option for users outside the United States.

What could be improved

Withdrawal fees

The most frustrating drawback of BlockFi is that it charges crypto withdrawal fees. Fee amounts vary depending on the cryptocurrency, and some can be on the high side. For example, withdrawals of U.S. dollar stablecoins have a $25 fee. On smaller withdrawals, fees would eat up a large portion of your crypto.

Some crypto exchanges tack on withdrawal fees, so BlockFi isn't alone here. But there are also quality exchanges that don't charge this and only require that you pay the network fees.

SEE OTHER OPTIONS: Best Cryptocurrency Apps and Exchanges

Limited selection of cryptocurrencies

BlockFi has over a dozen cryptocurrencies available for trading. Although this isn't bad, there are crypto exchanges that offer quite a bit more. It's also worth mentioning that several of the cryptocurrencies on BlockFi are U.S. dollar stablecoins. Since these are designed to maintain a value of $1, they all serve basically the same purpose.

If you just want to buy a couple of the biggest cryptocurrencies, you can do that on BlockFi. But if you want access to a variety of digital assets, you're better off with a different platform.

No withdrawals on some cryptocurrencies

BlockFi doesn't allow withdrawals on three of the cryptocurrencies it offers:

Not being able to withdraw your crypto is problematic. Some investors prefer to store crypto in their own crypto wallets for added security instead of leaving it on a platform like BlockFi. Even if you don't plan on doing that, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to withdraw your own crypot.

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Alternatives to consider

If you want to earn interest on crypto: Gemini pays interest on dozens of cryptocurrencies through its Gemini Earn program. That's just one of many useful features on this highly rated crypto exchange, which also offers an advanced training platform and some of the best educational content we've come across.

If you want to invest in crypto and stocks on one platform: Robinhood is a popular investment app that lets you keep all your holdings in one place. It offers cryptocurrency and stock trading with zero commission fees.

How BlockFi works

BlockFi is a web platform and mobile app where you can buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. You can fund your BlockFi account with an ACH transfer from a bank account, a wire transfer, or a cryptocurrency deposit.

In addition to cryptocurrency trading, BlockFi offers:

  • Crypto storage through a wallet service
  • Crypto-backed loans
  • A crypto rewards credit card

BlockFi also has interest-earning accounts for all the cryptocurrencies it offers. This interest program is currently only available to clients outside the United States. BlockFi can't offer it to U.S. investors at this time because of legal restrictions.

Fees overview

BlockFi doesn't charge commissions on crypto trading. Instead, it charges a margin relative to the asset's price. The margin is around 1% on average, but may be higher if liquidity is low on that cryptocurrency.

Withdrawal fees

BlockFi charges fees on withdrawals made in cryptocurrency or by wire transfer. It doesn't charge fees on withdrawals made by ACH transfer to your bank account.

Here are BlockFi's withdrawal fees:

CRYPTOCURRENCY WITHDRAWAL FEE
Bitcoin (BTC) 0.00025 BTC
Ethereum (ETH) 0.0135 ETH
Chainlink (LINK) 2 LINK
Litecoin (LTC) 0.001 LTC
U.S. dollar stablecoins (GUSD, USDC, BUSD, PAX, DAI, USDT) $25
PAX Gold (PAXG) 0.035 PAXG
Uniswap (UNI) 2.5 UNI
Basic Attention Token (BAT) 60 BAT
Wire transfer $20 (domestic), $30 (international)
Source: BlockFi.

Loan rates and fees

BlockFi charges a 2% loan origination fee on all crypto-backed loans. The interest rate ranges from 4.50% to 9.75%. It's based on the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, which is the value of the loan divided by the amount of collateral provided. Borrowers who provide more collateral pay lower interest rates.

Here are BlockFi's interest rates and the corresponding LTV ratio:

LTV RATIO INTEREST RATE
20% 4.50%
35% 7.90%
50% 9.75%
Source: BlockFi.

Cryptocurrency selection

BlockFi has a small selection of cryptocurrencies compared to the competition. It includes a few of the market leaders, including the top two, Bitcoin and Ethereum. It also has several stablecoins including one pegged to gold, PAX Gold.

Because BlockFi doesn't have that many cryptocurrencies, there are some noteworthy gaps in its lineup. Some of the larger cryptocurrencies you won't find on BlockFi include:

Is your cryptocurrency safe with BlockFi?

BlockFi has high security standards, but the fact that it offers crypto-backed loans is a risk during periods of market volatility. To evaluate how safe BlockFi is, we'll look first at its security features, and then the potential risks of its lending program.

In terms of security, BlockFi's protections are similar to other top exchanges. It offers two-factor authentication (2FA), which requires two forms of authentication to access an account. It also offers a feature it calls allowlisting (also often referred to as whitelisting), where you can restrict withdrawals to known addresses you've put on your allowlist.

BlockFi doesn't store crypto funds. It partners with custodians for this, with Gemini being its primary custodian. Gemini keeps most crypto in cold storage, meaning it's stored offline, and has insurance to cover crypto it stores online.

One of the main dangers for BlockFi is that it accepts cryptocurrency as collateral for cash loans. These normally have an LTV ratio of 50% or less, meaning the collateral is worth at least twice as much as the loan. And if the value of the collateral drops, the borrower is required to add more, or BlockFi can liquidate their position.

Despite these safeguards, BlockFi lost approximately $80 million in 2022 when one of its large clients, Three Arrows Capital (3AC), failed to increase its loan collateral. Due to that and a bear market, BlockFi faced financial instability and had to sign a deal with the FTX exchange. FTX agreed to extend BlockFi a $400 million line of credit and also has the option to buy BlockFi as part of the agreement.

BlockFi is right for you if:

  • You want to invest in some of the bigger cryptocurrencies.
  • You need a loan and want to borrow against your cryptocurrency.
  • You're a non-U.S. investor and you're interested in earning interest on your crypto holdings.

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