After explaining to people what Bitcoin is and how to get it I always get asked the same question: Where can you spend it? Of course, the next logical step is what to do with it once you have it. My typical answer is to buy it and hold it. But if it’s burning a hole in your hardware wallet, here are some ideas.
Since Bitcoin is money, you can spend it the same as you spend money. You just have to find places that accept it. Most people I come across use it peer to peer, as intended. Like sitting around a restaurant table. One person will pay the bill with cash or a debit card and everyone will pay him or her with Bitcoin. Or lending someone a few bits for something they want to buy online.
And, speaking of, just as you would expect from a currency born on the Internet, there are lots of places on the Internet that accept Bitcoin. For instance, stop by Starbucks and grab a cup of coffee using the Fold App website and enjoy 20% off. Then sit down at your computer and go shopping.
Overstock has a been a big supporter of Bitcoin for a while now and was the first major online retailer to accept it. Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock, is a big fan of Bitcoin and said, “You want money to be based on something that no government mandarin can wish into existence with the stroke of a pen.”
Another giant is Amazon. Unfortunately they don’t accept Bitcoin directly yet. But just to show that there’s always a technological way around a block, there is a service that has carved a niche being a middleman called Purse. With this service you can create a wishlist on Amazon and then copy it to Purse. You then set a discount rate and pay Bitcoin into escrow. Someone else then comes along and pays full price for your wishlist with some other form of payment like a credit card. Your items are then shipped to you. Once you receive them and are satisfied with your order you release that Bitcoin from escrow and they are sent to the person that paid for your wish list. Everyone wins!
If you want to shop at a local store that doesn’t accept Bitcoin directly it can often times still be accomplished. Again, at this point, you’ll need a middleman. Fortunately there are a couple that fill this space. One of those services is Gyft. You can buy gift cards to many places you wish to shop from the Gyft website. They come in various levels of denomination and you can purchase them with Bitcoin. They even have a rewards program where you get 3% points for buying cards and you can spend those points on future purchases. You can use these cards right through the app in the store at which you wish to shop.
Another service for gift cards is called CardCash. The neat thing about this service is that you can both buy and sell gift cards. So if you have just a little bit left on a card you can sell what’s left, but you’ll probably have to take a hit on the price. But that means, on the other side, if you like shopping at a particular place and don’t mind a bit of a hassle, you can pick up a lot of smaller gift cards for a fairly steep discount and save a lot of money. For instance, at the time of writing, there were 3 available $100 Aeropostale printable e-gift cards for $79.50 each. That’s a discount of 20.5%. If you bought all three of those to fill your child’s closet full of school clothes you would save $61.50. Similarly, American Eagle cards were 18.8% discount.
But don’t count out the smaller local shops. There are over 100,000 retailers that accept Bitcoin now. Many of them are small businesses and there may be some in your area. Check out Bitcoin Map or Coinmap, but these are nowhere near complete lists. You can always just ask a retailer if they accept Bitcoin. Who knows? You may start a conversation that leads to a new place to spend your Bitcoin.
Or maybe what you’re looking for is specifically computer equipment. What if you wanted to build a small computer to run a full Bitcoin node support network by hosting a copy of the Blockchain. You could buy computer equipment from one of my personal favorites, NewEgg. Or you could buy a 21 brand Bitcoin Computer directly from a company founded by one of the big names in Bitcoin: Roger Ver. He founded a company called MemoryDealers just to prove to other retailers that a company could mainly accept Bitcoin for payment and succeed. He was right.
Maybe you’re not looking to shop for physical items. Maybe you’re looking to travel. There are several places that now accept Bitcoin. You can sometimes buy gift cards above to hotels and airlines, of course. Or you could book a whole trip with two very popular services: Expedia or CheapAir. Or you could even go with a travel site built with Bitcoin in mind: BTCTrip.
Or, if you’re more into trying to invest your Bitcoin instead, there are several opportunities. You could go for slow growth by investing in the liquidity of an exchange and receive a variable interest rate at Magnr. You could invest in loans with a higher risk and reward ratio at either BitBond or BTCJam.
Another form of investment is Cloud Mining. The mining scene has gotten very competitive. Solo miners are a thing of the past. Pool mining has even gotten tough. Large scale mining operations are now the big players. Some of these operations allow you to invest and receive a portion of the returns. A couple examples are Eobot and Minergate, but there are many others out there.
And then there’s always gambling, which is really no different than high risk investing. But it’s investing in something where the house has an edge. One of the more popular ways to gamble Bitcoin is virtual dice rolling. There are lots of examples out there of this, but two I regularly visit are Rollin and Primedice. If you’re looking for something with a bit more of a casino feel, you can check out Bitcasino.
And, finally, but certainly not least important if you win big, or if you’re feeling altruistic, remember to do some good with your money. There is a homeless outreach group in Florida called Sean’s Outpost. This is a program that is nearly solely run on cryptocurrency. There’s also The Water Project, a program to bring clean water to people without. And a third group is World Aid, another outreach program specifically for homeless children, currently focusing on the Philippines.
As you can see, there are lots of options here and there are more every day. As I said above, you could help grow this list every day. When you purchase something at a store simply ask if the store takes Bitcoin. You may spark a conversation that leads someone else to make the shift.