Whether it's for the holidays or a birthday, it's hard to come up with a thoughtful last-minute gift that hasn't been done before.
This holiday season, 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 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 can make a great gift for anyone, from beginners to experienced users. Know someone that has never used crypto before? 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 an overseas relative in the middle of the night on a weekend? You can. No waiting around for banks to open or funds to clear.
Cryptocurrency gifts could make the perfect present for friends and family, whether your budget is $5 or $500. But which one should you choose?
Which cryptocurrency could make a good gift?
Of course, while Bitcoin could make a great gift option, there are also many altcoins (cryptocurrencies other than BTC) in existence.
The most popular alternative is Ethereum, which has achieved widespread institutional adoption, in part thanks to its real world use cases. Consistently ranking second in market cap, there's an argument to be made that Ethereum stands in its own tier among altcoins, or even that it's already surpassed altcoin status for years now. If BTC is digital gold, then ETH is programmable money, used in DeFi (decentralized finance), NFTs, dApps, smart contracts, and more.
Some other popular altcoins include Binance Coin (BNB), Solana (SOL), Tron (TRX), and Polygon (MATIC). Like the leader Ethereum, these altcoin tokens also have their own fully-fledged ecosystems, complete with DeFi applications and NFT functionality. If you're gifting crypto to someone who may wish to explore this exciting, then an altcoin could make a nice alternative gift.
Stablecoins are another popular cryptocurrency asset class. Stablecoins like Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC) are cryptocurrencies whose prices are intended to remain constant because they are pegged to a constant real world asset like the US Dollar.
This digital currency class is often used for specific purposes in the crypto economy, like staking (generating revenue on holdings), or being used as liquidity for crypto trading pairs with other, more volatile coins.
The coin you choose to buy will depend on what you expect 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 could be more active with their coins, then it may make sense to simply gift them more of a token 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 favorite cryptocurrency is.
If you're worried about ruining the surprise, you can tell them you're buying for yourself. Imagine their delightful surprise when they check their wallet to find that they've just received a new deposit of their preferred coin.
How to gift cryptocurrency in 3 easy steps
Now that you know a bit more about the possible options to give cryptocurrency as a gift, you'll need to know how to gift crypto. Just follow these steps:
1) Acquire 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.
MoonPay makes it even easier to buy cryptocurrency with a credit or debit card and 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 for days while your funds to settle with a cryptocurrency 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 enter the recipient address when withdrawing the funds.
If you're buying cryptocurrency via MoonPay, you can enter the recipient's email address on the screen after entering the amount of crypto you wish to purchase.
Sending crypto to an existing wallet
If you're sending your gift to someone with an existing cryptocurrency 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 could be 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 any 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. There's a cliché in the world of cryptocurrency: “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 wallet 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 gift!
If you prefer, 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.
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, Dogecoin, Polkadot, and more cryptocurrencies. Some other chain-specific block explorers include Blockchain.com for Bitcoin, Etherscan for Ethereum, and Solscan for Solana.
What to watch out for when gifting cryptocurrency
While gifting crypto is a relatively straightforward process, there are a few things you should be aware of:
1. Be mindful of transaction fees
All cryptocurrency transactions include fees, to be paid in the form of the token 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 buying 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 and Blocknative Gas Estimator.
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.
2. 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 BTC, it's a good idea to check that you've entered a valid BTC address for a wallet that supports Bitcoin.
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 cryptocurrency could be sent to the wrong address and may be gone forever.
If you erroneously send crypto 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.
It's generally good practice to send a small amount of cryptocurrency first to confirm that you're sending it to the correct address.
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.
3. Crypto gift taxes
You may also be wondering, 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.
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 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 a centralized exchange (CEX), you can leave your coins on the platform. But you should be aware that CEX platforms are “custodial”, meaning they hold the keys to your coins. Storing cryptocurrency on a custodial platform may not be an issue for you, but remember: not your keys, not your coins.
The risk is that custodial exchanges are more susceptible to large-scale hacks. If the exchange where you're holding your cryptocurrency gets hacked, then your coins are also at risk. This is why many choose to hold crypto in a non-custodial wallet, where they control their funds at all times.
If you choose to hold your tokens in a non-custodial wallet instead, there are several different types to 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 gifted cryptocurrency, information that's easy to find on the wallet's official website.
MetaMask is one of the most popular crypto wallet options to store Ethereum and ERC tokens. Available on mobile and desktop as a browser plugin, MetaMask is also compatible with Ethereum NFTs and most NFT marketplaces.
Trust Wallet is available for both PC and mobile devices, and used by more than 70M users. Trust makes it easy to buy, swap, and store cryptocurrency assets from dozens of blockchains including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin, Litecoin, and more.
Other popular cryptocurrency wallets
There are many more wallets to choose from, depending on the cryptocurrency you choose to buy. More popular options include:
Paper wallets can be an easy temporary solution to gift crypto. To use one, you can simply 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 cryptocurrency wallet as soon as possible for better safekeeping.
Once the transfer is complete, it's absolutely critical to destroy physical paper wallets that contain private keys. Anyone with access to this information can recover all funds stored in the associated address, and you'll be unable to recover them.
Pro tip: Make sure the temporary wallet you use is accessible to the receiver. If you're using a desktop-only wallet, it's necessary for them to have a desktop device that can be used to recover the paper wallet address.
Hardware wallets are a form of cold storage to hold cryptocurrency offline and away from any network. Some users prefer hardware wallet devices for maximum security when storing crypto since exchanges and (hot) wallets connected to the internet are more susceptible to hacks.
Ledger is one of the most popular hardware wallet that lets you store cryptocurrencies offline for greater safekeeping. One advantage of Ledger is that you can still purchase coins via MoonPay using the Ledger Live app.
Other ways to gift cryptocurrency
Sending coins directly to a recipient's cryptocurrency wallet isn't the only way to gift crypto. If you plan on gifting cryptocurrency to someone, there are more methods you can explore.
Cryptocurrency can make for a great charitable donation, and may actually be easier for some international charities to accept donations 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 that charity's website or social media account to see if they accept cryptocurrency. Charities that accept crypto will usually display their wallet address on the official website.
Crypto gift cards
Giving a crypto gift card can be another convenient way to send cryptocurrency for the holidays. 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 that function similar to a debit card, deducting cryptocurrency you already own every time you make a purchase.
If you're looking to buy a crypto gift card today, you may consider using CoinGate, a popular platform to buy cryptocurrency gift cards using fiat and/or cryptocurrency.
Use MoonPay to gift crypto
You can buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency as a gift via MoonPay. Choose from dozens of crypto assets available for purchase with a card, bank transfer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and more payment methods.
Just enter the amount of crypto you wish to purchase and follow the steps to complete your order.
Still not sure where to start? View our beginner's guide on how to buy Bitcoin.