Ever since Bitcoin surged (circa 2017), there’s been plenty of intrigue, investment, and confusion about the cryptocurrency. Although the asset has mellowed out some since those record days, it’s still well known for its volatility. What’s more, although some apps and tools have worked to demystify Bitcoin, there are still plenty who are a bit lost about the whole thing.
With that in mind, what if you could easily earn Bitcoin as a reward for shopping instead of needing to buy the asset for yourself? That’s the basic idea behind the app Fold, which allows users to buy gift cards for various brands and score pieces of Bitcoin at the same time.
Let’s take a closer look at what Fold has to offer, including some notable pros and cons.
What is Fold and How Does it Work?
Opening a Fold account
Signing-up for Fold is remarkably easy. In fact, you may not even need to enter any information if you don’t want to. That’s because the app offers an anonymous account, allowing you to jump right into earning without so much as an email address. There are downsides to this approach, however, as — if you get logged out — you’ll need to restore your account by using recovery code. If you don’t have that, then you’re probably out of luck. Meanwhile, if you choose to attach an e-mail to your account, you’ll be able to set up a password and use the combination of the two to log in. For that reason, I opted to join using an email address.
Currently, you can also earn 20,000 free Sats when you join Fold using a referral link like this one. Note that, to take advantage of this offer, you’ll need to create a regular account and not an anonymous one.
Adding a form of payment
In order to make purchases on Fold, you’ll need to add a way to pay (duh). There are a couple of options for this: 1) connect to Fold’s Lightning Node or 2) enter a debit or credit card. Admittedly, I’m not well versed in Lightning enough to know how that works, so I stuck to my cards when testing out Fold. However, if you want the advantages of using Lightning — which I’ll cover shortly — you can check out Fold’s FAQ for more info on this option.
When it comes to adding a debit or credit card for use in Fold, it’s a fairly straightforward process — although it is somewhat unique. One extra step you’ll need to complete when adding a new card is the verification of your account. After you enter your card and billing info, Fold will add a temporary charge to the card (under $5). Then, you’ll just enter the amount of the charge in the Fold app to verify that it worked. This temporary hold will then be removed from your account within a few days.
This method of verification is similar to micro-deposits that may be utilized when linking two bank accounts. However, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced such a thing when it comes to making debit/credit card purchases. In any case, while I didn’t find it to be terribly inconvenient, it is something to be aware of before using the app.
What are “Sats?”
As I mentioned in my intro, Fold rewards users in Bitcoin. But, as you look on the site, you’ll see your earnings and potential earnings referred to as “Sats” instead. So why the discrepancy? Sats — short for Satoshi, the moniker of Bitcoin’s founder — are fractional pieces of Bitcoin. You can think of them as cents compared to dollars… except that a Sat is actually 0.00000001 BTC. Thus, it’s easier to speak in terms of Sats than employ decimals and oh so many zeros.
When you earn Sats, you’ll see your balance update in the upper right corner of the app. Tapping this figure will give you a closer look at the current estimated value of your rewards. This is also where you can request your withdrawal when you’re ready.
Buying and using gift cards
Now that you understand what Sats are, how do you earn them in Fold? The main way is to purchase gift cards using the app. Currently, there are more than 50 options to choose from, with brands ranging from Amazon to Uber Eats. For each offer, you’ll earn a percentage of your purchase back in the form of Sats. These reward amounts range from 1% to 20%, with 3–4% seeming like the average max. That said, this figure can also be impacted by your method of payment, with Lightning transactions yielding the higher rates. Meanwhile, using a credit or debit card will result in lower earnings that will be stated before you complete your purchase. As an example, while using Lightning to purchase an Amazon gift card would net your 4% back, using credit/debit would earn you 2%.
Something else to note is that different retailers may offer different gift card amounts. For example, Amazon cards come in denominations of $25, $50, $100, or $200 while Delta cards are currently only offered at the $250 price point. Looking through some of the options, the lowest amount I’ve seen is $10 (available for brands such as Burger King and Starbucks).
After you buy a gift card, the info will display under the “My Cards” tab. Then, once you’ve redeemed a card, you can choose to archieve it so that you know that you’ve used it. Thankfully, if you accidentally archive a card or need to refer back to it for some reason, you can still find the information under “Archived Cards” in the Account tab.
Daily prize wheel
Even if you don’t need any gift cards at the moment, there’s still a benefit in visiting the Fold app each day. That’s because you can score free Sats and more using the daily prize wheel. Located in the upper left corner of the app, users get one free spin per day. Prizes include bonus Sats (100 to 1 million) or boosts that will enhance your gift card rewards offers for a limited time. For example, if you land on the .50% boost, your Doordash earning potential could rise from 4% back to 4.5% back for the day.
On top of the daily rewards, Fold has also introduced a weekly streak challenge. Users who spin the prize wheel once a day for seven days in a row will earn 1,000 free Sats. Unfortunately, if you miss a day, your streak will reset. Therefore, if you really want to score these bonus Sats, you may want to set a daily reminder for yourself to check-in.
Requesting a cashout
Once you’ve accrued at least 50,000 Sats, you’ll be eligible to request a withdrawal. These payout transactions are made each Tuesday evening (Eastern time) and are delivered to your Bitcoin wallet. This means that you will need to have a personal Bitcoin wallet and will add your wallet address to Fold when initiating a withdrawal.
While you’re waiting for your cash out, you can view pending transactions by visiting the Account tab and then “Withdraw funds.” You can also cancel a transaction if it hasn’t already reached the final preparations stage. If you do cancel it, your Sats will be reapplied to your balance and you’ll be able to request another withdrawal when you’re ready.
Lastly, Fold is currently in the process of rolling out its own debit card. According to the landing page for the Fold Card, users will be able to earn Bitcoin back on every purchase they make, with those rewards being deposited into their Fold account. It also states that cardholders will earn bonus daily spins among other perks.
While it sounds interesting, at the time, there aren’t a ton of details available about the Fold Card. What’s more, there’s a waitlist for the product (which I’m apparently number 7,304th in line for). That said, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the Fold Card and hopefully getting one for myself, so be sure to check back for more info.
The Pros and Cons of Fold
Several gift card options
Starting with what I think is the biggest advantage to Fold, the line-up of gift cards it offers is quite strong. Between Amazon, Chili’s, Delta, Starbucks, Nintendo, and many others, there are plenty of brands I frequent featured here. As a result, I reckon it’d be pretty easy to find an option you’ll actually use as well — and earn rewards as a result.
Speaking of actually using your gift cards, in my experience, the certificates I’ve purchased using Fold have been easy to claim from the respective brand. Specifically, I’ve used the app to purchase Amazon gift cards. In each case, the code for my card popped up immediately after I completed the purchase and I was able to apply it to my Amazon account without issue. I presume the process is similar for other sites, although it could vary from retailer to retailer.
Best rates come from using Lightning
Turning to the downsides, when Fold displays the “up to X%” as you scroll through offers, this is typically the rate you’ll earn if you complete your transaction using Lightning. Meanwhile, if you want to use a credit or debit card instead, you may get half of this amount or less. Although this is understandable, it’s still disappointing to someone like me who isn’t quite crypto savvy enough to navigate the Lightning option. Instead, I’ve only used my debit card and earned a lower rewards rate as a result.
Must have Bitcoin wallet for payout (and payouts are weekly)
Lastly, when it comes time to claim your rewards, you won’t be able to immediately turn your Sats into fiat cash. Instead, payouts are made in Bitcoin. Of course, as I mentioned, this also means that you’ll need to have your own external Bitcoin wallet in order to request a payout. Luckily for me, I remembered that Square’s Cash App now allows users to send and receive Bitcoin (although you’ll need to activate this option by submitting a photo of your ID and a selfie). That way, once my transfer reached my Cash app, I was able to easily sell my Bitcoin and spend it in U.S. dollars if I so choose.
On that note, a related drawback is that Fold only sends out funds on a weekly basis. Because of this, I was worried that my transfer wouldn’t be completed before I posted this. Coincidentally, I got the alert from Square that my deposit was on the way just before hitting “publish.” Still, I do wish that transfers could be a bit faster.
Final Thoughts on Fold
Overall, I like what Fold has to offer: free Bitcoin rewards for buying gift cards from major brands. With an impressive selection to choose from, it’s not hard to find something worth buying. What’s more, I find Fold easier to make use of than some other rewards apps because it offers gift cards instead of only rewarding you when you complete a specific purchase.
At the same time, it’s clear that only those who have at least some crypto knowledge/interest will benefit from Fold. Not only does the app reward those who pay in Lightning at a better rate than credit/debit users but you’ll also need to cash out your earnings in Bitcoin via a separate wallet. Therefore, if those aspects intimidate you, it’s probably best to stay away. Then again, if you are willing to learn, this could offer a good, low-risk entry point.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a relatively easy way to join the world of cryptocurrencies or are already a fan who prefers Bitcoin to fiat, then Fold has something for you.
Originally published at Dyer News.