Welcome, Coin Bureau readers. Today we have another exciting article in our versus series where we compare the top crypto exchanges, DeFi and CeFi platforms, to help you figure out which platform is best to suit your crypto needs.
Today we will be covering two Titans in the crypto lending space, where crypto holders can lend, borrow, spend, buy, and more. We will be doing a high-level side-by-side comparison of Celsius and BlockFi.
**Important Notice Update**- On June 13, 2022, Celsius released a letter to the community stating that they will be suspending all customer withdrawals for an unknown amount of time. In a difficult decision by Celsius, customer funds are locked on the Celsius platform, swaps, transfers, and withdrawals are unavailable. The company states the reason is due to “extreme market conditions,” and that they are acting in the interest of putting Celsius in a better position to honour its withdrawal obligations over time.
Withdrawals are likely to remain unavailable until the company is able to stabilize liquidity and operations as they take steps to preserve and protect assets. We recommend not depositing funds with Celsius until this issue is resolved and remind our community about the importance of self-custody over their own assets.
⚠️Safety Notice⚠️- In light of the recent liquidity issues faced by the lending platform Celsius and 3AC, and the high risk of contagion that could result in further company failures during these difficult market conditions, we do not recommend users keep funds on any lending platforms or centralized exchanges until the markets recover. We suggest crypto holders self-custody during these uncertain times.
Disclaimer: I use both BlockFi and Celsius and hold the Celsius (CEL) token as part of my personal crypto investment strategy.
Page Contents 👉
- 1 Overview: Blockfi vs Celsius
- 2 BlockFi vs Celsius
- 3 BlockFi vs Celsius: Platform Features
- 4 Other Features
- 5 BlockFi vs Celsius: Crypto Purchase Methods
- 6 Institutions and Whales
- 7 Celsius vs BlockFi: Fees
- 8 Celsius vs BlockFi: Support
- 9 BlockFi vs Celsius: Web and App Layout
- 10 BlockFi vs Celsius: Security
- 11 Closing Thoughts and Verdict
Overview: Blockfi vs Celsius
|Headquarters||New Jersey, USA||Florida, USA|
|Lending APY (Earn)||Up to 11%||Up to 17%|
|Assets available to Earn||23||52|
|Borrowing Interest||As low as 4.5% (Plus 2% Origination Fee)||As low as 1%|
|Assets available to borrow||1 (USD or USD Stablecoin)||7|
|Crypto Card||Yes (US Only)||Coming Soon|
|Registrations and Regulations||Multiple state licenses, Bermuda Monetary Authority,||FinCen, SEC-compliant, California Finance Lending License|
|Security||Third-Party Custodial Cold Storage, ISO certified, Insurance via third-party||Cold Storage, Cyber defence, ISO certified, Audits, Partnership with Chainalysis, Insurance via third-party|
|Fees||Fees exist for purchases, withdrawals and spread of approx. 1%. 1 free crypto withdrawal per month. $20-$30 fiat wire withdrawal fee||None- 3rd party fees for purchasing crypto through the platform|
|Supported Countries||Global- Interest accounts are currently unavailable to new US residents as BlockFi works with US regulators||Global-Excluding Iran, North Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Cuba. Interest Accounts are no longer available for new USA or UK based non-accredited investors.|
BlockFi vs Celsius
BlockFi and Celsius are two of the top crypto lending platforms in the world. Both platforms are about as solid as any platform can be, and both teams behind the projects are highly respected by the crypto, FinTech, and investor communities. In addition, both platforms are trustworthy, adhere to the strictest security protocols and are trusted with the custody of billions of dollars worth of retail and institutional investment funds worldwide.
The teams behind each platform have extensive experience running traditional financial and FinTech firms, with the leadership team members holding senior positions with massively successful companies before founding these crypto platforms, so you don’t need to worry about either of these companies being run by kids with no experience from their parent’s basement nor by rug-pulling scammers.
BlockFi is especially trusted by high-net-worth clients and institutions, being truly unmatched in that regard by any crypto lending platform in the industry.
On the other hand, Celsius has become a retail investor favourite, thanks in part to its CEO Alex Mashinsky. Mashinsky is a fascinating and impressive individual, a real-life Iron Man with some remarkable inventions. He has become one of the most beloved tech leaders in crypto for his innovation, humour, and Captain America style of trying to save the world from the evil banks. I highly recommend checking out some of his interviews, speeches and AMAs; it’s impossible not to like the guy.
Celsius and BlockFi are both wildly successful in terms of adoption, profitability, valuation, and customer satisfaction, so if you are looking for a safe place to earn some passive APY on your hodl stash or looking into crypto loans, you have done well in narrowing your search to consider these companies as you can’t go wrong with either one.
Both platforms do their best to play by the rules and regulations set out by the authorities and regulators to ensure that they are on the friendly side of the law. Note that at the time of writing, BlockFi is not available to new signups in the US for their interest-earning accounts as they have recently been handed a fine of 100M dollars from the SEC, which has been paid. However, this will likely be short-lived as BlockFi is eagerly working with the SEC to bring their company within regulatory compliance as soon as possible.
New US-based residents can still access the loan and crypto credit card products if they are located in one of the supported jurisdictions.
As of April 15th 2022, Celsius has also stated that they would no longer be able to offer interest accounts to new users residing in the United States. Until United States regulation becomes more friendly towards crypto interest accounts, I would recommend US-based users consider Nexo as that is available…For now.
Both of these platforms face fewer restrictions outside of the US and enjoy users from all over the globe aside from sanctioned countries and those countries whose authorities deem these services unlawful. However, be aware that the rules and regulations behind crypto lending platforms and stablecoin APY offering products are rapidly changing, so it is a good idea to keep an eye on the evolving (or devolving, some would say) regulations behind these platforms to make sure you aren’t about to place your funds somewhere that is about to become restricted in your country.
With all that being said, these platforms both have their pros and cons, and they are actually quite different in their product features. As a result, the earnings potential varies dramatically between these two and some of the additional features that will be discussed further on.
Now that you know that both of these platforms are worth looking into, secure and trustworthy, let’s cover the differences between these platforms to help you figure out which one is best for you.
BlockFi vs Celsius: Platform Features
As for the core features, customers can lend, borrow, swap and buy on both platforms.
The first thing to consider, aside from whether the feature you are interested in is supported in your location, is what primary feature you are more interested in: lending/earning or borrowing?
If a high earning APY is your primary goal, then Celsius will likely be your choice as they are the clear winner in this regard, but if you are looking to borrow 10k+ against your crypto holdings, then BlockFi may be the better choice on that one. When it comes to borrowing, be sure to check closely and read the fine print for both platforms to ensure that the digital assets you hold are supported as collateral and that the asset you want to borrow is available.
One of the most significant differences between these platforms is the loyalty tier level offered by Celsius that BlockFi doesn’t have. These levels can provide Celsius customers with significantly higher APYs and lower loan rates depending on what percentage of their portfolio is held in the platform’s CEL token. The loyalty tiers are as follows:
Just an FYI, as you read through this article and are deciding on which one is best for you, Guy has been able to swing some deals from both platforms to provide the Coin Bureau community with some awesome perks.
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Celsius vs BlockFi: Crypto Lending/Earn
There is nothing sweeter than earning passive income, which is one of the reasons crypto lending platforms have become so popular. As Warren Buffett once famously said:
“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”
Harsh, but he has a good point, and fortunately, both these platforms allow customers to do just that.
Crypto lending on these platforms is incredibly easy, literally as easy as simply depositing funds and walking away. Funds can also be purchased directly on the platform and start earning interest right away. In addition, the company handles all the back end financial aspects of the lending process.
So, we know that both of these platforms pay user’s an attractive APY simply for hodling. So, here is how these two platforms stack up:
Both platforms have the option for users to earn in-kind, meaning that if you hold Bitcoin, you can earn Bitcoin; if you hold Ethereum, you can earn Ethereum etc. For users outside the USA, Celsius provides a fantastic boost capability on your earnings (up to 30% higher!) if you are happy to earn your interest in Celsius tokens.
Here is a look at how much you could earn for holding Ethereum for 5 years, earning in CEL tokens at the platinum level:
Image via Celsius
Earning $1,247 simply for hodling 3K of Eth… Not bad
BlockFi has a great feature called Interest Payment Flex which allows customers to receive interest payments in different assets as long as they are supported on the platform. This is great as it provides customers with the flexibility to earn in a different crypto asset that they may prefer.
The best use case I can think of to use this feature is for those who like to hold stablecoins for some dry powder on the side to buy the next dip, but who wants to earn APY in a fiat-backed stablecoin? No thanks, I’ll take my APY in sweet papa Bitcoin any day.
Here is a look at what $3,000 held in ETH would look like after holding for 5 years with BlockFi:
Earning $647 for holding 3K of ETH for 5 years is better than you will get in any bank’s savings account.
Now, giving my verdict for the lend/earn section without sounding biased is tricky as one platform significantly outperforms the other by a considerable margin. Just note that I do not have a favourite out of the two, I use them both, and I have nothing to gain or benefit by promoting one over the other. However, as you will see for yourself below, when it comes to getting the best bang for your buck in terms of the highest returns, Celsius outshines BlockFi by a large margin for the retail investor.
Here are some of the returns for crypto assets on Celsius:
Celsius has far better asset support for the earn section, supporting 37 crypto assets vs BlockFi’s 15. In addition, Celsius supports 12 stablecoins pegged to different national currencies vs. BlockFi’s 4, which are USD stablecoins only, and Celsius also supports 3 gold pegged stablecoins for investors wanting some diversification.
Here are some of the stablecoin returns on Celsius:
Celsius offers among the highest returns on stablecoin holdings in the industry. No wonder banks are losing so much market share when they are paying out interest rates in the neighbourhood of 0.02%
Now we will take a look at BlockFi’s APYs. Note that BlockFi has come under criticism for repeatedly reducing their interest rates, now offering interest rates so low it seems like they are competing with the likes of banks, not other crypto platforms.
I couldn’t find a specific reason for the rate cuts other than the rates needed to be changed due to “changing market conditions,” as stated by BlockFi. The article even highlights that many competing lending platforms were confused by this move, as it seems to place BlockFi at a significant disadvantage. Here is a look at the returns on some crypto holdings; note that the highest returns are only available on small crypto holdings under 0.1 BTC and below 0.15 ETH.
Returns on Stablecoins fare a bit better as you can see the rates here:
Summary of the Crypto Lending/Earn section
- Celsius has substantially higher returns on average for crypto. Most tokens earn 4%-12% on any amount vs BlockFi’s 0.1%-4% depending on the amount.
- Celsius has better asset support with 52 assets vs BlockFi’s 23.
- Celsius has better stablecoin support and gold-backed asset support, and higher stablecoin returns, averaging 9.32% vs BlockFi’s 6%-7.25%.
Celsius vs BlockFi: Crypto Borrowing
The ability to borrow against your assets as collateral has been a cornerstone for wealth management strategies in traditional finance. Thanks to platforms like Celsius, BlockFi and Nexo, loans can now be taken out collateralized against crypto assets.
There was a time when crypto holders would have to sell their crypto positions to access capital, but now those days are gone, and crypto-backed loans have become massively popular products.
Borrowing against your digital assets can be done to finance large purchases, pay down debt, reduce crypto tax obligations, diversify your portfolio, buy more crypto and more. BlockFi has put together a fantastic section in its resource centre that outlines some of the different ways borrowers can leverage loans to their advantage, and why people may want to consider crypto-backed loans.
Customers on Celsius can take out a loan with interest rates as low as 0% APR for residents of California and as low as 0.75% for other customers at the platinum level if they keep their loan to value ratio below 25% and pay back their loan in CEL tokens. The loan rates will vary greatly depending on the loyalty level, the LTV, and the assets put up as collateral, so it is a good idea to check Celsius’ Loan Calculator to find out your rate. Here is what it would look like if you wanted to borrow $1,000 in USDC, putting up your Bitcoin as collateral:
Celsius gives users the ability to take out a loan in USD stablecoins or USD fiat, which can be wired directly to your bank account. Celsius loans have the following benefits:
- No origination fees
- Lowest industry rates
- No credit checks, credit history or income verification needed
- Easy refinance options
- Same Day Funding
- Borrow as little as $100
Getting a Crypto loan through Celsius can be done in the following 4 steps, with approval decisions often coming back in as little as 30 seconds:
Celsius has better asset support in terms of what assets can be utilized as collateral, supporting an incredible 40 assets vs the 4 supported by BlockFi, which only supports BTC, ETH, LTC and PAXG as collateral. Here are some of the assets available to borrow and put up as collateral with Celsius:
On BlockFi, the lowest interest rate is 4.5% with a 2% origination fee; note that BlockFi does not offer loans for under $10,000. As BlockFi does not have its own token or loyalty levels, the interest rate is determined by the loan to value ratio as seen below:
BlockFi customers can borrow 6 different USD stablecoins and USD fiat, which can be wired directly to your bank account with same-day approval decisions on business days. BlockFi also has a handy loan calculator that shows that you would need to put up 0.43 BTC to take out a 10k loan.
Here are some of the benefits of a BlockFi loan:
- Same day funding
- Pay back early with no penalties
- Structured payback options
- Ability to refinance
- Borrow as low as $10,000
- No credit checks, credit history or income verification needed
To summarize the Crypto Loan section:
Borrowing is a little more competitive than the earn feature between these platforms without a clear winner. For borrowers looking to borrow under 10K, then Celsius is the winner as BlockFi doesn’t lend under 10k. If you have faith in the future of Celsius and are happy to hold a high percentage of your portfolio in the CEL token to reach gold or platinum status or pay back your loan in CEL token, then Celsius will also be the clear choice.
Even in the worst-case scenario, it seems Celsius still has the edge as their highest interest rate for borrowing that I could find was 8.95% vs BlockFi’s 9.75%, and that is not including BlockFi’s additional 2% origination fee.
Though I definitely would not count BlockFi out if you are running a business or need access to more borrowed funds. As stated earlier, BlockFi utilizes many resources catering to businesses and high net worth clients and the site mentions that rates for high-net-worth individuals are “negotiable,” so I would definitely check with them first if you are after better rates and have deep pockets.
Now that we have covered the primary lending and borrowing features let’s see what else these two platforms have under the hood.
Crypto cards have become really popular as hodlers look for ways to spend their gains and earn some cash back for their purchases. The BlockFi Visa crypto credit card is arguably the best on the market, currently only available to US residents. Still, international customers can join the waitlist for when they start shipping internationally.
While many crypto platforms now offer crypto cards, BlockFi was the first company to ever issue a crypto credit card. While other crypto cards are debit cards that are either pre-loaded or convert crypto to cash, the BlockFi card is an actual credit card that gives users unlimited 1.5% cashback in Bitcoin.
The BlockFi card has no annual fees, and there are no foreign transaction fees which makes this the ideal credit card to use while travelling. Users can also earn 3.5% crypto back during their first 3 months.
Here is a summary of the BlockFi crypto card benefits:
- Unlimited 1.5% crypto back rewards, 3.5% for the first 3 months.
- No fees.
- No foreign transaction penalties.
- Real-time transaction monitoring.
- Accepted anywhere that accepts Visa.
- Cardholders can select the crypto they want cashback earned in..
Celsius has decided that they aren’t going to be outdone in the crypto debit card department and have also announced that they will be releasing their own card soon.
We don’t know everything about this crypto card yet, but I am looking forward to it as my guess is that it will be pretty awesome. Celsius has a knack for taking subpar products that already exist and then making them way better, so it will be interesting to see what they roll out.
What we do know about the card is that staying true to the Celsius ethos, there will be no annual fees, no late payment fees, and no foreign transaction or ATM fees.
BlockFi allows users to perform swaps directly on the platform. There are over 15 assets available and cover the blue-chip cryptos such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, Solana, MATIC, and of course, the token meme coin Doge.
One great feature of BlockFi is setting up automated buys to take advantage of dollar-cost averaging. Customers can set up repeat buys daily, weekly, or monthly.
Swapping on Celsius is currently not supported, though there is a plan to roll out this feature soon. I expect it will be coming out sooner rather than later as the Beta is already being used and can be seen on the platform.
BlockFi has definitely beaten Celsius to the punch by getting a crypto card and exchange feature to market way before Celsius. It will be interesting to see how these products compare once they go live on Celsius. However, Celsius does have one feature that I feel is pretty revolutionary that is worth mentioning, and that is called CelsiusX.
CelsiusX is part of Celsius’ mission to bridge the gap between DeFi and CeFi and might be enough to bring DeFi to the masses as it allows users to benefit from the power of DeFi, but with the convenient and easy interface provided by the Celsius platform. Moreover, being able to leverage DeFi capabilities without understanding the complexities and intricacies of the DeFi ecosystem or taking on the responsibility of self-custody could be a real game-changer. You can find more about CelsiusX in our detailed Celsius review.
BlockFi vs Celsius: Crypto Purchase Methods
Both platforms require customers to undergo KYC and ID verification to purchase crypto. On Celsius, customers can purchase over 23 different crypto assets directly on the app via debit/credit card, bank transfer, or send funds from another crypto platform. Celsius also provides OTC purchase options for accredited investors.
Customers on Celsius can purchase as little as $1 depending on the payment method; bank transfers have a minimum purchase of $50
BlockFi customers can fund their account with USD via wire transfer/ACH and then access the exchange platform to pick up their crypto once the funds reach their account, which can take 1-3 business days. Unfortunately, there is no option to purchase crypto directly with a card.
Customers on BlockFi can get started for as low as $10
Institutions and Whales
Both Celsius and BlockFi have a branch of the business that is dedicated to business and investors with a high net worth. BlockFi offers special benefits and perks to institutions, companies, and clients with over 3M in investible assets. BlockFi has become one of the “go-to” crypto lending platforms for crypto investment firms, OTC market makers, and businesses needing crypto to provide liquidity. BlockFi also offers BlockFi Prime, which provides wealth services for pensions, endowments, foundations, insurance funds, and crypto mining and ATM businesses. You can learn more about these services in the full BlockFi review.
Celsius also offers crypto solutions for businesses ranging from family offices to institutional firms. Celsius is happy to work with high-net-worth individuals and institutions to provide a suite of crypto wealth services.
Celsius vs BlockFi: Fees
Both platforms are a hodler’s paradise as there are no fees for depositing crypto or simply holding it while earning APY. The only fees encountered will be from crypto purchases, withdrawals, and if you choose to take out a crypto loan.
For Celsius fees, users can expect between 2%-3.5% or $10 depending on user location when purchasing crypto via card and a 0.1% ACH fee or 0.5% fee for bank transfers. Note that these fees are charged on behalf of Celsius’ third-party payment partners and not Celsius itself. Celsius also deserves kudos for having no withdrawal fees. They have mentioned that all swaps on the platform will be fee-free, which is pretty incredible.
Take a look at this Celsius fees article from the Celsius knowledge base where they sum their fees up better than I can:
On BlockFi, customers get one free crypto withdrawal per month, and then after that, BlockFi fees are dependent on the asset. You can see the details below:
For fiat withdrawals, wire withdrawals for domestic wires will have a $20 fee, while international wires will set you back $30. There are no fees for ACH transfers which is pretty nice, and note that BlockFi states that these fees are charged on behalf of their partner, not BlockFi itself.
Here is a summary of the main BlockFi fees you can expect:
- $20-$30 fiat wire withdrawals
- Fees after 1 crypto withdrawal per month
- Visa late payment fee up to $25
- Visa return payment up to $37
- Late fees on missed loan repayments
Celsius vs BlockFi: Support
Celsus has a well-built knowledge base self-help section which should be able to address the majority of customers’ questions. The support team at Celsius has overall positive reviews for good response times, and the quality of support received. I appreciate that Celsius offers live phone support, which we don’t seem to see much of nowadays.
Celsius also has a chatbot named Dana that tries its best to help out, or there are options to receive email support. Additionally, a form can be filled out on the Celsius site for help.
BlockFi also has a well-built resource centre with FAQs and knowledge articles. The BlockFi support team can be reached via email and ticket support. They also offer live phone support, which is great; any crypto companies reading this should be taking note! There are many different departments that users can reach out to depending on their query; all that info can be found on their Contact Us page.
BlockFi vs Celsius: Web and App Layout
Both Celsius and BlockFi have web platforms and mobile apps available on IOS and Android. Both teams have done a great job in building out a user interface that is beginner-friendly, well laid out and free of clutter. Here is a look at the BlockFi web platform:
Celsius has clearly put a lot of thought and effort into its layout, as it is designed quite beautifully. As a result, both the mobile and the web platforms are easy on the eyes and simple to click through. Here is a look at what customers experience when they open up their Celsius accounts:
BlockFi vs Celsius: Security
A company could offer a million percent APY. It would mean nothing if 100% of your funds got swiped in a hack, so security should always be one of the first things considered. A million percent return on $0 is still $0. In my opinion, a company with poor security protocols isn’t worth writing a review on, nor worth trusting your assets with. Fortunately, both Celsius and BlockFi practice the highest security procedures and strongly emphasise the safety of customer funds.
BlockFi utilises Gemini as their primary custodian, which is a massive sign of confidence as Gemini is one of the world’s leading custodial providers, highly trusted and respected in the industry. In addition, Gemini is regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) and entrusted with billions of dollars worth of digital assets by some of the biggest names in the industry.
BlockFi spreads risk out by also utilising Coinbase as a secondary custodian and carries insurance. Here is a breakdown of BlockFi’s security features:
- SOC 2 Type 2 certified secure solutions
- 95% of assets are kept in air-gapped cold storage
- Behind the scenes analytics to monitor risk on the platform
- PII withdrawal verification
- Insurance fund
On the user’s end, customers can enable the following security features:
- 2FA via an authenticator app
- Whitelisting/Allowlisting withdrawal addresses
- Biometric authentication
Celsius follows strict security protocols and leverages cyber defence strategies to protect customer and company funds. Celsius relies on the expertise of cyber intelligence experts and uses unique technologies such as multi-party computation to provide top-tier security. Celsius deploys the following protocols and features:
- Security ISO Certified
- 24/7 security operations monitoring via cybersecurity experts
- The majority of assets are kept in cold storage
- Insurance fund
On the user side, customers can enable the following security features to keep their accounts safe:
- 2FA via an authenticator app
- Activate HODL mode
- Whitelist addresses
At the time of writing, there have been no known successful hacks resulting in loss of user funds on either platform, which is always a good sign. Though I should state that both companies have had third-party vendors that house customer information get hacked, exposing private customer information for these platforms. These attacks led to some email phishing attempts for customers of both platforms.
Closing Thoughts and Verdict
Both these platforms provide incredible services utilized and enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. A company does not reach the level of success that these two have by delivering anything less than stellar services and fantastic products. Trusting either one of these platforms with your hard-earned assets or taking advantage of their loan features isn’t a bad call; you can’t go wrong with either choice. If you are interested in exploring other crypto lending and CeFi platforms, feel free to check out our article on the Top 5 CeFi Platforms.
As we reviewed, there are strengths and weaknesses for both platforms. Just because Celsius may be the best choice for person A, that doesn’t mean that person B wouldn’t benefit more from BlockFi. BlockFi is the more robust platform as they have the crypto card and exchange options, which Celsius is now working on rolling out. So, if you are based in the US and want a crypto card now and want a place to earn, borrow and swap assets, you’ll likely opt for BlockFi if you don’t want to wait for Celsius.
But if swaps aren’t that important to you, and maybe you already have a crypto card and are only looking for a place to earn the best APY on your crypto stash. I think it is quite clear that Celsius is the obvious winner because they offer significantly higher returns on crypto holdings. I would also have to give the edge to Celsius for borrowing, as the interest charged on loans are lower than what BlockFi can offer for retail clients, but it would be worth reaching out to each platform individually if you have substantial capital to invest or are looking for crypto wealth services for your business to receive some quotes.
In the battle for lending platform supremacy among the top three: Celsius, Nexo, and BlockFi, I feel that BlockFi has fallen out of the race a bit due to its lowered interest rates and often higher loan rates vs competitors. Though in light of Celsius’ recent insolvency issues, it appears that BlockFi may have been lowering these rates strategically for a more sustainable business model. It is better to offer low rates than risk going bankrupt and losing all customer funds. At this time, we cannot recommend Celsius until we see how and if they can recover. While BlockFi may not be the most competitive, safety of funds is always more important than interest, making BlockFi the better choice.
I hope to see BlockFi go back to offering the great rates that they used to, though at the moment, the fact that they have dodged the bullet that clipped Celsius speaks volumes. Also, feel free to check out our Nexo Review article on your quest to find the perfect lending platform.