May 9, 2021

Celsius Crypto Review

Read more about Celsius Network
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Celsius is a cryptocurrency lending platform where investors can earn interest on their crypto and use it as collateral. But is it safe? Read on to find out.

Overall Score

3.9

Cryptocurrency Trading

4.0

Interest Accounts

4.5

Crypto Loans

4.5

Mobile App

4.0

Commissions and Fees

4.5

Ease of Use

4.0

Research

1.0

Safety

4.5
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • High rates on interest accounts
  • Low fees
  • Limited features on exchange
  • App slightly difficult to use

Bottom Line

Low fee exchange with competitive rates on crypto-backed loans and interest accounts

There's more to crypto than just buying and selling.

Celsius Network, for example, wants to give you full financial freedom through crypto.

How?

By offering unheard-of features like zero fees, 17% APYs and easy crypto lending. But is Celsius really the best crypto platform out there? And what's the catch? Read our detailed review to decide.

What Is Celsius?

Celsius is a London-based cryptocurrency lending platform founded in 2017 by Alex Mashinsky, Nuke Goldstein, and S. Daniel Leon. Their goal was to make financial services like credit and interest income available in cryptocurrency.

Their main offerings are their interest account, their lending service, and CelPay, which allows you to send and receive crypto.

They also stand out for issuing their own proprietary crypto coin, CEL Token, in 2018, which users get major bonuses for using.

The catch? CEL Token is currently not available for purchase to unaccredited U.S. investors. Only accredited investors and international users can buy it. See how this affects your returns later in the review.

Supported Cryptocurrencies
Celsius currently offers 14 cryptocurrencies, including: Bitcoin, Ethereum, USDC, Gemini Dollar, Paxos Standard, LINK, BAT, COMP, UMA, SNX, AAVE, Bitcoin SV, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.

A complete list of the supported fiat currencies can be found here.

Supported Countries
Celsius is available in over 100 countries worldwide. They are currently not available in Iran, North Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Cuba, or any other country against which the United States, the United Kingdom, or the European Union imposes financial sanctions or embargoes.

Ready to do more with your crypto?With BlockFi, you can earn interest and get crypto-backed loans.

Pros and Cons

Before signing up for a Celsius account, review the pros and cons to find out if it's a safe place for your crypto.

Pros

  • High potential APY at 17.78%
  • No fees for buying, withdrawing cryptocurrencies
  • No origination fees for crypto-loan product
  • No minimum deposits or balance
  • CELPay platform good for quick, zero-fee payments

Cons

  • Many features, including highest APY, limited to CEL holders
  • Only accredited investors in the U.S. and international users can buy CEL
  • Must be used via mobile app (no web app)
  • APYs are volatile

Celsius is currently only accessible via their mobile app (download: App Store, Google Play).

Is Celsius Legit?

Yes, Celsius is a legit crypto lending and borrowing platform.

They are advised by several global law firms and have a team of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS).

Celsius uses Gem to purchase cryptocurrency to ensure secure, private, and protected transactions.

Sign Up Bonus: $40 BTC

Sign up for a new account using promo code BTC40. Get $40 in BTC when you transfer $200 or more in your account and hold it for at least 30 days. $400 must be transferred to the account in one transaction.

Features

Celsius offers a few main products. Let's take a look at them in more detail.

Rewards
For many cryptocurrency investors, Celsius's Rewards service (called interest accounts by competitors like BlockFi) may be their most attractive offering.

It functions like a traditional savings account, but with more risk and significantly higher rates of return on investment than have been offered in recent years.

Investors deposit their cryptocurrency on the Celsius platform via the app, and for as long as they leave it there, they can earn interest rates ranging from 2.02% to as much as 17.78%, a rate that is significantly higher than offered by many competitors.

However, the highest interest rates are reserved for those at the Platinum tier level, which we explain below.

Celsius Token (CEL)
CEL Token, created by Celsius, is a token operating on the Ethereum platform. And the larger percent it makes up of your Celsius holdings, the more perks you get from Celsius.

This is their tiered loyalty program, and how it affects your Rewards earnings:

  • Bronze: 5-10% CEL - Earnings Bonus: 5%
  • Silver: 10-15% CEL - Earnings Bonus: 10%
  • Gold: 15-25% CEL - Earnings Bonus: 15%
  • Platinum: >25% CEL - Earnings Bonus: 25%

In other words, as Celsius puts it, "to earn the highest rates, you need platinum level." If your Celsius portfolio is 100% Bitcoin, for example, you will only earn the base interest rate.

Users will also receive bonuses for earning in CEL, as opposed to in the currency they deposited. However, this feature is currently only available to international customers and accredited investors in the U.S. American users are currently unable to purchase CEL through the app.

Still, with rates as high as 13.99% for basic customers on some currencies, and returns of 4% - 6% on major currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, Celsius is worth considering even if you don't plan on holding CEL.

If you want an alternative to spread the risk, check out BlockFi. It offers higher interest rates on some coins, so you could maximize your earnings by using both platforms.

Borrowing
Celsius also offers crypto-backed loans, which may appeal to users for several reasons.

If you're treating cryptocurrency like an investment, you probably want to avoid paying taxes. And if you need money, you'd have to sell off your holdings (which would be taxed by the IRS). Plus, given the speed at which the prices of cryptocurrencies move, there's a chance that selling would incur a loss.

With their crypto-backed loans, no selling is required. Your crypto is used as collateral and it stays yours.

There are no credit checks required, and the loans can be fulfilled in either cash or coin. There are no origination fees to get started.

Interest rates range from as low as 0.75% (for platinum level users who also pay in CEL, rather than cash) to as high as 8.95%. Loan terms come in periods of 6, 12, 24, and 36 months.

Your interest rate (APR) depends on your LTV ratio (loan to value) - essentially, the percent of the value of your holdings you would like to borrow. A higher LTV will be more expensive in terms of interest, but requires less collateral:

  • 25% LTV: 1.0% APR
  • 33% LTV: 6.95% APR
  • 50% LTV: 8.95% APR

And as you may have guessed, holding CEL also affects your APR. Higher tiers on Celsius' loyalty level mean discounts on loan interest:

  • Bronze: 5-10% CEL - Loan Interest Discount: 5%
  • Silver: 10-15% CEL - Loan Interest Discount: 10%
  • Gold: 15-25% CEL - Loan Interest Discount: 15%
  • Platinum: >25% CEL - Loan Interest Discount: 25%

Celsius currently accepts over 25 coins, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dash, as collateral for their crypto-backed loans.

CelPay
Cryptocurrency was conceived, in large part, to democratize and decentralize spending. But various challenges have made it so that it's seen much more proliferation as an investment vehicle than a currency.

With CelPay, Celsius hopes to enable users to spend their coins, rather than just collect them.

Send and receive, pay and get paid in crypto, fee free through the Celsius app. Users can send money via a secure link or text, or from user to user among other "Celsians."

There are, of course, benefits to holding CEL with CelPay as well:

  • Users get 2% cash back on all CEL transactions when using CelPay
  • If the availability of dollar loans becomes limited, the system will prioritize users holding the highest CEL balance.

Are There Any Fees?

Unlike many popular exchanges, Celsius does not charge any fees for the purchase of crypto coins.

There are also no origination fees on loans, termination fees, or withdrawal fees.

Some of their partners do charge fees for crypto purchases:

  • Simplex (Credit Card): 3.5% or $10 minimum fee; or 2.99 for EEA and UK residents
  • Wyre (ACH Bank Transfers): 0.1% fee
  • Coinify: 0.5% fee

Partner fees are included in listed prices.

How to Open an Account

It is easy to sign up for an account with Celsius through their mobile app:

  1. Visit their site or download the mobile app and you can sign up from scratch, or get started with a number of common accounts like Google.

  2. You'll need to enter personal information like name, birthdate, address, Social Security number, and contact info.

  3. If you sign up with an existing email account, there will be no need to verify your email address.

  4. After that, they'll need photos of a picture ID for account security and KYC (Know Your Customer) purposes. You can use your driver's license, state ID, or passport.

  5. You'll be required to set up a 6-digit pin for security. (Don't use your birthday).

  6. Verification is quick and should only take a couple of minutes. Then you'll be ready to start using the app.

Is Celsius Safe?

Celsius employs several security measures to protect users' accounts.

2FA: Two-factor authentication helps to prevent unwanted access to your account.

Pin & facial recognition: To set up a Celsius account, users are required to set up a 6-digit pin, which they'll need to enter upon login or after timeout. This can be bypassed with facial recognition.

Collateral: User coins that Celsius lends out to borrowers cannot be insured. However, they require 150% collateral from borrowers, or ensure their ability to repay via due diligence reviews.

Insurance: Coins are not always out on loan. When they aren't, they're custodied by Fireblocks and PrimeTrust, which both provide insurance on digital assets.

Multiparty computation: Helps provide security and asset protection.

Cyber intelligence and incident response experts: Provide risk assessment and governance, 24/7 asset monitoring, threat monitoring, and advanced data protection and crypto protocols.

HODL Mode: Can be set by users to restrict withdrawals from their account by disabling outgoing transactions until it's deactivated. There is a 24-hour period after deactivation of HODL Mode before outgoing transfers can be made. You can reactivate HODL mode once your trades are complete.

Audits: Celsius is audited by accounting firm NLP (Nyman Libson Paul).

Has Celsius ever been hacked?
No. To date, Celsius has never been hacked.

Does Celsius Report to the IRS?

Effectively, yes. Celsius will provide users with a 1099-Misc Report if they earn more than $600 in a given year.

There is a matching mechanism embedded in the IRS Information Reporting Program (IRP), so you can be sure that if a crypto exchange generates a tax form for you, the IRS will know you have reportable cryptocurrency transactions.

How It Compares

Celsius is but one of many businesses operating in the crypto space. Let's see how it stacks up to its competitors.

BlockFi

 BlockFi
 Learn MoreVisit Site
 

Celsius Network

BlockFi

SPECIAL OFFER
Sign Up Bonus: $40 BTC - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
Get Up to $250 in Bonus BTC - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Cryptocurrencies SupportedBitcoin, Ethereum, USDC, Gemini Dollar, Paxos Standard, LINK, BAT, COMP, UMA, SNX, AAVE, Bitcoin SV, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Mana, Uniswap, Polygon, Livepeer, Kyber Network, Binance USD, Ethereum Classic, EOS, TrueCAD, TrueHKD, TrueAUD, TrueGBP, TrueUSD, USDT, 0x, DAI, PAX Gold, OMG Network, Stellar, Ripple, DashBitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Chainlink, PAX Gold, USDC, Binance USD, PAX, GUSD, BAT, DAI, UNI
Countries Supported
Over 100
Worldwide, except for countries that are sanctioned or watch-listed
Fiat Currencies SupportedUSD, AUD, GPB, EUR, CAD, CHF, DKK, NZD, NOK, SEK, RUB, BRL, CZK, RON, HUF, HKD, BGN, TRY, INR, IDR, HRK, PHP, MYR, ZAR, JPY, PLN, VND, ISK, CLP, COP, ARS, PEN, KES, TWD
USD
Digital Wallet
Yes
Yes
Transaction Fee
No
No
Copy Trading
No
No
Limit Orders
No
No
Margin Trading
No
No
Spread
1%
0.7% - 1.5%
Interest Accounts
Up to 17.78%
Up to 8%
Crypto Loans
Yes
Yes
Bitcoin (BTC) Interest Rates
3.51 - 6.20%
0.1% - 4.5%
Ethereum (ETH) Interest Rates
5.05 - 6.35%
0.25% - 5%
Bank Account Purchase Fee
No
No
Litecoin (LTC) Interest Rates
4.08 - 5.33%
0.1% - 4.75%
Debit Card Purchase Fee
No
No
Tether (USDT) Interest Rates
13.19%
5% - 8%
USD Coin (USDC) Interest Rates
10 - 13.19%
5% - 8%
Mobile App
Yes
Yes
ACH Transfer Fee
0.1%
No
Wire Transfer Fee
0.5%
No
Crypto Conversion Fee
No
No
Other FeesCredit Card Fee: 3.5% or $10 minimum fee; or 2.99 for EEA and UK residents2% Origination Fee on crypto-backed loans
Withdrawal Fee varying based on cryptocurrency: 0.00075 BTC, 0.02 ETH, 0.0025 LTC
Address Allowlisting
Yes
Yes
Anonymity
No
No
Biometric Login
Yes
Yes
Cold Storage
Yes
Yes
Maximum Trading Amount
No
Single-trade limit of $1.2m USD or equivalent
Two-Factor Authentication
Yes
Yes
Withdrawal Limit$1 USD minimum; $600,000 USD limit per 24 hours7-day Withdrawal Limit varies by cryptocurrency: 100 BTC, 5,000 ETH, 10,000 LTC.
Up to $5,000 USD via direct bank withdrawal
 Learn MoreVisit Site

Celsius Network: Pricing information from published website as of 05/04/2021.

BlockFi: Pricing information from published website as of 06/30/2021.

BlockFi is another well-known crypto platform, and, in truth, operates very similarly to Celsius.

When it comes to returns on major currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, the rates for base users and U.S. investors are roughly equal, with small differences from coin to coin. However, BlockFi offers more generous rewards overall.

The caveat to this is that Celsius members who are able to buy and hold CEL will almost certainly find better returns there. This will be frustrating for average U.S. users, because CEL rewards are currently limited to international users and accredited investors in the U.S.

On the other hand, Celsius offers much more lenient interest rates on their crypto-backed loans, as low as 1.0% for loans with an LTV of 25%, whereas BlockFi charges 4.5% for loans up to 20k backed with Bitcoin with an LTV of 20%.

The bottom line is that for U.S. users, Celsius makes more sense for loans, and BlockFi is the better choice for earning rewards. For international and accredited investors, Celsius is the winner overall.

Coinbase

 Coinbase
 Learn MoreVisit Site
 

Celsius Network

Coinbase

SPECIAL OFFER
Sign Up Bonus: $40 BTC - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
Get $5 in Free Bitcoin for Signing Up - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Stock Trading 
No
Options Trading 
No
Cryptocurrencies SupportedBitcoin, Ethereum, USDC, Gemini Dollar, Paxos Standard, LINK, BAT, COMP, UMA, SNX, AAVE, Bitcoin SV, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Mana, Uniswap, Polygon, Livepeer, Kyber Network, Binance USD, Ethereum Classic, EOS, TrueCAD, TrueHKD, TrueAUD, TrueGBP, TrueUSD, USDT, 0x, DAI, PAX Gold, OMG Network, Stellar, Ripple, Dash
50
Countries Supported
Over 100
Over 100
Fiat Currencies SupportedUSD, AUD, GPB, EUR, CAD, CHF, DKK, NZD, NOK, SEK, RUB, BRL, CZK, RON, HUF, HKD, BGN, TRY, INR, IDR, HRK, PHP, MYR, ZAR, JPY, PLN, VND, ISK, CLP, COP, ARS, PEN, KES, TWD
USD, GBP, EUR
Digital Wallet
Yes
Yes
Transaction Fee
No
Greater of Minimum Flat Fees or Variable Fees (1.49%+) by Location and Payment Method
Minimum Flat Fees:
< $10: $0.99
$10.01 - $25: $1.49
$25.01 - $50: $1.99
$50.01 - $200: $2.99
Copy Trading
No
No
Limit Orders
No
No
Margin Trading
No
No
Spread
1%
0.50%
Interest Accounts
Up to 17.78%
USDC only, 1.25% APY
Crypto Loans
Yes
Invitation only
Ethereum (ETH) Interest Rates
5.05 - 6.35%
6.0%
Bank Account Purchase Fee
No
1.49%
Debit Card Purchase Fee
No
3.99%
USD Coin (USDC) Interest Rates
10 - 13.19%
0.15%
Mobile App
Yes
Yes
ACH Transfer Fee
0.1%
Free
Wire Transfer Fee
0.5%
$10 ($25 outgoing)
Crypto Conversion Fee
No
up to 2%
Other FeesCredit Card Fee: 3.5% or $10 minimum fee; or 2.99 for EEA and UK residentsInstant Card Withdrawal: up to 1.5% + minimum fee of $0.55
Address Allowlisting
Yes
Yes
Anonymity
No
No
Biometric Login
Yes
Yes
Cold Storage
Yes
Yes
Maximum Trading Amount
No
Unlimited
Two-Factor Authentication
Yes
SMS or Google Authenticator
Withdrawal Limit$1 USD minimum; $600,000 USD limit per 24 hours
$50,000 / day
 Learn MoreVisit Site

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

Celsius Network: Pricing information from published website as of 05/04/2021.

Coinbase: Pricing information from published website as of 04/13/2021.

Coinbase is one of the most popular mainstream cryptocurrency exchanges. Available around the world and offering over 50 cryptocurrencies for trade, it's often the first exchange people hear of when they decide to start trading crypto.

For purposes of trading, Coinbase may outperform Celsius in every category except for fees, which can be rather high relative to other exchanges, and are free on Celsius.

However, when it comes to borrowing and lending crypto, Coinbase hasn't got much to offer yet. Users can earn 0.15% (at time of writing) on their USDC holdings with Coinbase, compared to a base rate of 10.51% on Celsius.

Coinbase currently has a waitlist for Ethereum staking at 7.5%, but the feature has yet to be launched. That's all they've got so far.

If pure trading is your goal, Coinbase's popularity may make it an attractive option, but when it comes to crypto interest, Celsius is the clear winner.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, Celsius is a promising option in the world of crypto interest accounts. Their low rates for crypto-backed loans and extremely high rates of return on crypto rewards are stand-out features.

However, U.S. users will no doubt be unhappy with their inability to take advantage of the rewards that come from holding and earning CEL, which is currently only for accredited investors and international users.

But even so, they have competitive rates of return, especially compared to the limited ones offered by major players like Coinbase.

Hopefully, in time, the restrictions are removed, and everyone will be able to participate fully in the benefits offered by Celsius crypto. Until then, U.S. users may consider other options like BlockFi for their interest accounts and use Celsius exclusively for borrowing.

BlockFi

Get Up to $250 in Bonus BTC

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$20,000 - $39,999$40
$40,000 - $74,999$75
$75,000 - $99,999$100
$100,000+$250

Crypto.com

USD $10 Sign Up Bonus

You will need to stake in $1000 CRO to earn USD $10 worth of CRO. Only the first amount of CRO you stake is used to calculate the sign-up bonus.

eToro

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eToro USA LLC; Investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Jeremy Harshman is a protector of art and writing at CreditDonkey, a crypto comparison and reviews website. Write to Jeremy Harshman at jeremy.harshman@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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