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How to gift cryptocurrency

We break down how you can gift cryptocurrency in 3 easy steps.

22 Sep 2022by Corey Barchat

It’s hard to come up with a thoughtful last-minute gift that hasn’t been done before.

For the next special occasion, why not give one of the most exciting digital assets: cryptocurrency.

Whether you choose to gift Bitcoin, Ethereum, or even a meme token like Dogecoin or Shiba Inu, it’s never been easier to send someone crypto as a present.

Best of all, if you’re a late gift-giver you can be sure your crypto can be purchased and received by your loved one within minutes. A true procrastinator’s delight!

Who can you gift cryptocurrency to?

Crypto is a great gift for anyone, from experienced users to newbies. You can help the uninitiated get started on their crypto journey by buying their first cryptocurrency for them.

The beauty of crypto—a decentralized, borderless, permissionless asset—is that you can send it to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. 

Want to send Bitcoin to your bankless overseas relative in the middle of the night on a weekend? You can. No waiting around for banks to open or funds to clear. 

Crypto could make the perfect gift for friends and family, whether your budget is $5 or $500.

An image of Bitcoin with a Santa hat.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make a great present (Image source)

Which cryptocurrency would make a good gift?

With over 8,000 cryptocurrencies to choose from, it’s hard to know which one to give. Your first instinct may be to send Bitcoin—the leader of all cryptocurrencies in market capitalization.

Of course, while Bitcoin could make a great gift, there are also thousands of altcoins (cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin).

Some, like Ethereum, have achieved widespread institutional adoption. Consistently ranking second in market cap, Ethereum is viewed by some to stand in its own tier, with some arguing it’s surpassed altcoin status for years now. If BTC is digital gold, then ETH is programmable money, used for smart contracts, DeFi (decentralized finance) applications, NFTs, and more.

Some other popular altcoins include Solana, Binance Coin, Algorand, and WAXP. Many such tokens have their own fully-fledged ecosystem, complete with DeFi applications and NFT functionality. If you’re giving cryptocurrency to someone who may wish to participate in these protocols, then altcoins are the right gift for them.

Another crypto asset class is stablecoins. A stablecoin such as Tether (USDT) or USD Coin (USDC) is a cryptocurrency whose price will remain constant because it is pegged to a constant asset like the US Dollar. This digital currency has a specific purpose in the crypto economy, like staking (earning interest rewards), or being used as liquidity or crypto trading pairs with other, more volatile coins.

A table showing the differences between USDC vs USDT.
USDT and USDC are the two leading US Dollar stablecoins (Image source)

The coin you choose to buy will depend on what the recipient will do with it. If you believe they’ll just “hodl” long term, then it may be easier to buy one of the more well-known tokens like Bitcoin or Ethereum. 

If you plan to gift crypto to someone more familiar with the space and who’ll be more active with their coins, then you may just wish to give them more of a coin that they already own.

At the end of the day, how do you know which crypto they’ll like? Ask them! You can send them a message asking what their favourite cryptocurrency is. 

If you’re worried about ruining the surprise, you can tell them you’re buying for yourself. Imagine their surprise when they check their wallet and find out they’ve received a new deposit of their preferred coin.

How to gift cryptocurrency in 3 easy steps

1) Get your cryptocurrency of choice

The first step to gifting cryptocurrency is to acquire the crypto yourself (assuming you don’t yet have any). Although it may sound intimidating, it’s actually quite easy to begin. 

You can start by signing up with a crypto exchange or another provider where you can swap fiat currency for cryptocurrency.

MoonPay is the fastest, most effective way to buy cryptocurrency with a credit or debit card. Once you choose a cryptocurrency, MoonPay allows you to send it directly to a specific wallet address.

Pro tip: MoonPay allows you to skip the extra steps by enabling instant crypto purchases that take minutes to complete, rather than having you wait a week or longer for your funds to settle with an exchange.

2) Identify the recipient’s wallet address

You can send cryptocurrency to anyone so long as you have their public wallet address. Also known as public keys, this is a unique digital address that allows anyone to receive cryptocurrency.

Within most wallet applications you can find the receiving address by clicking on “receive” or “deposit”. You’ll see a long string of numbers and upper- and lower-case letters, usually between 32-44 characters long.

If you purchased on a cryptocurrency exchange, you can then withdraw the funds and send them to your desired address.

A screenshot of a MetaMask wallet.
Wallets like MetaMask allow you to copy the recipient address with just one click (Image source)

Sending crypto to an existing wallet

If you’re sending your present to someone with an existing wallet, you can ask them for their address. This is the most direct way to send crypto, assuming you don’t mind spoiling the surprise.

Sending crypto to a new wallet address

While there are a few options to send crypto if you’re gifting it to someone who doesn’t yet have a wallet, your best bet is to send it to your own wallet for safekeeping until the recipient creates a wallet of their own.

This is because the long-term owner of a wallet should always be the one to create their account, since they’ll be the ones who will have access to the private key and secret recovery phrase. In crypto there’s a saying: “not your keys, not your coins.” So if you’re creating a new crypto wallet for your friend, you should do so with the intention of keeping it only temporarily. You can later help them create their own wallet for permanent storage.

Pro tip: Don’t worry about having to memorize the entire address. You’ll be able to copy and paste—or scan the QR code—when you’re ready to send.

3) Send your crypto gift!

Once you confirm the correct recipient address, you are ready to send your crypto present!

If you want, you can also enable multi-factor authentication on most exchanges or wallets. This is a personal preference for some users who want additional security layers when sending or withdrawing crypto.

Pro tip: Once you send your crypto, you can verify that it was received by checking the block explorer for that specific coin. Blockchair is a multi-chain explorer for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, Doge, Polkadot, and a dozen other cryptocurrencies. Some other chain-specific block explorers include Etherscan (for Ethereum) and Solscan (for Solana).

A screenshot of Etherscan’s homepage.
Etherscan is a block explorer that lets you search for an Ethereum address, transaction hash, block, and more (Image source)

What to watch out for when gifting cryptocurrency

Be mindful of fees

All crypto transactions include fees, usually paid in the cryptocurrency being transacted. While the range can vary, how high the fees are will depend on the cryptocurrency you choose to send.

Ethereum, for example, has occasionally high transaction fees called gas fees that can reach higher levels when the network becomes more congested. It’s always important to be mindful of the associated fees before purchasing or sending cryptocurrency. Luckily, there are quite a few resources that can help you plan the optimal time to send Ethereum, such as ETH Gas Station and Etherscan Gas Tracker.

No matter which cryptocurrency you choose to send, you’ll need to leave a bit extra in your wallet to cover the network fees. Otherwise, your transaction will not go through.

Pro tip: Most crypto exchanges and wallets will show you a preview of a transaction’s fees before you send. To ensure that you have enough crypto to cover the cost, you may need to send slightly less.

A screenshot of MoonPay’s transaction fees preview to buy and send Bitcoin.
MoonPay allows you to preview transaction fees (Image source)

Be aware of wallet compatibility issues

You’ll want to make sure that the recipient's wallet is compatible with the chosen cryptocurrency. If you’re sending Bitcoin, it’s a good idea to check that you’ve entered a valid Bitcoin address.

In some cases, you may need to enable the chosen token before you can discover the address to receive, which can be done by searching for the asset and switching it on.

Most exchanges and providers will provide a confirmation message on the send screen that the entered address is valid for that cryptocurrency.

You’ll also want to double check the address, because if you enter even one character incorrectly then the crypto could be sent to the wrong address and may be gone forever.

In crypto, if you send anything to a wallet that you do not have control over—or if you lose access—then you will not be able to recover it—and neither will any customer support.

Pro tip: It’s generally good practice to send a small amount of cryptocurrency first to confirm that you’re sending it to the correct address.

A screenshot of a Phantom wallet.
Send small amounts of crypto first to ensure you’re sending to the right wallet (Image source)

How are crypto gifts taxed?

Cryptocurrency gifts—and crypto in general—will be taxed differently depending on the country of residence. If the person receiving the cryptocurrency lives in the United States, then they are subject to IRS virtual currencies taxation, which is determined by the length of time the cryptocurrency is held before selling. 

In general, the short-term capital gains tax will be higher than the long-term rate (if the cryptocurrency is held for one year or longer). 

If you live outside the US, you’ll want to check with your own country’s revenue service for specific details.

Storing cryptocurrencies

In the event that you’re sending to someone who is an experienced user with an existing wallet, they’ll likely have their own established preference for where they store their crypto.

But if you plan on holding onto your cryptocurrency gift before sending, then there are several options you can explore for temporary storage.

If you purchased on an exchange, you can leave your coins on that platform. But be aware that some platforms are “custodial”, meaning they hold the keys to your coins. Storing your crypto on a custodial platform may not be an issue for you, but remember: not your keys, not your coins.

Custodial exchanges are more susceptible to large-scale hacks. If the exchange where you’re holding your cryptocurrency gets hacked, then your coins are at risk. This is why many choose to hold their crypto in a non-custodial wallet. There are several wallet types you can choose from.

Software crypto wallets

For those that prefer to hold cryptocurrency on a mobile device or PC, then a software crypto wallet may be the best choice. You should check that the one you download is compatible with the specific cryptocurrency you are giving, information that’s easy to find on the wallet’s website.

MetaMask

MetaMask is one of the most popular crypto wallets to store Ethereum and ERC tokens. Available on mobile and desktop as a browser plugin, MetaMask is also compatible with Ethereum NFTs and most marketplaces.

Phantom

Phantom is a desktop-only plugin wallet for Solana and SPL tokens. With 1M + users, Phantom is the most popular wallet to buy, send, and store SOL and Solana NFTs.

Trust Wallet

Trust Wallet is available for both PC and mobile devices, and trusted by more than 10M users. Trust makes it easy to buy, swap, and store cryptocurrency assets from 53 blockchains including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin, Litecoin, and more.

There are many more wallets to select from, depending on the cryptocurrency you choose to buy.

Paper crypto wallets

Paper wallets can be an easy temporary solution to gift crypto. You can write down the necessary details for the recipient to claim their cryptocurrency gift on a piece of paper, including the private and public key. 

Make sure that you do not store this information anywhere online that may be subject to external hacks. As soon as you transfer the paper wallet information as part of your present, the recipient should transfer the funds to their own wallet as soon as possible for better safekeeping. 

It’s important to destroy physical paper wallets that contain private keys. Anyone with access to this information can recover all funds stored in the associated address.

Pro tip: Make sure the temporary wallet you use is accessible to the receiver. If you’re using a desktop-only wallet, it’s important that they have a desktop device that can be used to recover the paper wallet address.

Hardware crypto wallets

Hardware wallets are a form of cold storage to hold cryptocurrency offline and away from any network. Some users prefer hardware devices for maximum security when storing crypto since exchanges and wallets connected to the internet are more susceptible to hacks.

Ledger

Ledger is a cold wallet that lets you store cryptocurrencies offline for greater safekeeping. The best part about Ledger is that you can still purchase the coins online via MoonPay with the Ledger Live app.

A picture of a Ledger hardware wallet.
Ledger is a hardware wallet that allows you to store cryptocurrency offline (Image source)

Creative gift presentation ideas

Since cryptocurrency is a digital gift with no physical coins or other components, you have room to get creative and have some fun with your presentation.

If you’re sending a memecoin like Doge or Shib, you can send the recipient a photo of the coin’s mascot. The logo for both tokens is a Shiba Inu, a Japanese dog breed that gained internet fame as a viral meme. If you're giving one of these coins, you can try sending a picture of the logo as a hint to your gift.

Use a meme associated with the cryptocurrency

If you’ve been on crypto Twitter, then you know how memes can be a very popular form of expression within the “CT” community. For every cryptocurrency in existence there are memes that apply to all aspects of pop culture. 

If you’re seeking inspiration for which crypto meme to send, there’s a Reddit community dedicated solely to this purpose. Once you’ve found the right meme for your crypto, you can personalize the image text with a custom message.

An image of a Simpsons-themed Bitcoin meme.
Sharing a meme can be a fun way to reveal your crypto present (Image source)

Pro tip: Never send a wallet’s private key over the internet, as anyone that obtains this information will gain complete control of the associated wallet and its contents. However, it is okay to send the public address, as this information is safe to share.

Other ways to gift cryptocurrency

Sending coins directly to a recipient’s wallet isn’t the only way to gift crypto. If you plan on gifting cryptocurrency to someone, there are more methods you can explore.

Crypto donations

Cryptocurrency can make for a great charitable donation, and is actually easier for some international charities to accept from donors around the world.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are accepted by an increasing number of charities. If there’s a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, it’s worth checking a charity’s website or social media account to see if they accept cryptocurrency. Charities that accept crypto will usually display their wallet address on their site.

A screenshot of The Giving Block’s donation page
Consider donating to a charity that accepts crypto like The Giving Block (Image source)

Crypto gift cards

Giving a crypto gift card can be another convenient way to send cryptocurrency.

If you’re unsure or uncomfortable purchasing and sending crypto directly, this may be an easier option. 

A cryptocurrency gift card can come in the form of a prepaid card that may be spent with any participating merchant. There are also crypto gift cards that can be linked to your crypto exchange account and that function as a debit card, deducting cryptocurrency you already own every time you make a purchase.

Use MoonPay to gift crypto

MoonPay makes it fast and easy to buy crypto. Choose from over 40 cryptocurrency assets to purchase instantly with your preferred payment method and send directly to an external wallet.

Want to send digital assets other than cryptocurrencies? Check out or guide on how to gift NFTs in 3 easy steps.