I started Friday with one goal: to feed myself lunch with Bitcoin. If I lived in a larger metropolitan area this would not be that difficult. But I live in a Bitcoin dead zone according to Coinmap and the Bitcoin Map. I’m doing my best to change that, but it’s slow going. In the meantime, what is a hungry Bitcoiner to do? As I keep saying, technology always finds a way to get around a block. Lucky for us there is Gyft.
Gyft has a clean and intuitive website that’s easy to use. I was signed up and logged in in minutes. They make it very easy to find gift cards from over 200 retailers. I was amazed at the variety, actually. There are retailers for goods, services, entertainment, food, travel, apparel, all from stores I love and some stores I’ve never heard of. I began my search for sustenance. I selected the Restaurants & Beverages category.
I noticed that there were several gift cards for chains close to me. But, in the spirit of trying something new, instead of going for the nearest, Burger King, I decided to pick something I’ve not tried before, Red Robin. My first step was to figure out how much I’d need on a card. After perusing their menu online I settled on the basic Red Robin Gourmet Cheeseburger, no pickles, with steak fries, and a large Diet Coke. It’s a bit pricey for my typical lunch, but it’s “gourmet”, right? I figured $20 should be plenty. I opened Red Robin and selected $20. I chose to pay with Bitcoin and then selected to proceed.
It asked me if I wanted to pay with Bitpay or Coinbase, which may be confusing for newcomers. If you select Coinbase you need to sign in to your Coinbase account. If you select Bitpay you can pay by scanning a QR code or address. I selected Bitpay.
Side note: if you’re looking to eat the same day, don’t use low priority fees on a heavy transaction volume day. I wasn’t thinking when I put the transaction through. This was totally my fault. But, I didn’t want to try and spend the card before the transactions were confirmed, so I decided to postpone lunch.
Flash forward to Monday. I drove over to the nearest Red Robin and sat down at the counter. I ordered my food and they brought me a bill. I handed them my phone and they punched my gift card numbers into the register. I took the receipt, added a tip, and left with my food and without a hassle.
Lunch was delicious, by the way.
Update: Gyft no longer has a points program.
I also saw on the website that I’d earned 60 Gyft points, which translates to $0.60 for Gyft purchases. That’s 3% back, which isn’t bad at all. Considering that most cash back credit cards offer 1% to 1.5% on everything and sometimes up to 5% or 6% on rotating or specific categories, 3% on everything is actually quite stellar. There is a bit more hassle in buying cards for specific places, though. Credit cards win that point. The only difference there is that I didn’t receive the 3% reward. Of course, if I thought ahead and really wanted the 3% reward, I could stop shopping at Walmart in my hometown and start shopping at Target closer to where I work. I just use Walmart as an example because everyone lives near a Walmart and I constantly hear that people will start taking Bitcoin seriously when Walmart accepts it. Either way, it’s one step closer to living off Bitcoin if I were so inclined.
Although this isn’t as nice as being able to walk into a retailer, load up a cart full of things, go through a check-out line, and then pay with Bitcoin, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Consolidation usually takes time. For now I’m happy to send business through Gyft, especially when I’m not losing value. It’s not like I bought a $20 gift card for $23. I received exactly the amount I paid in. I’m not seeing a single downside here. So, if you’re like me and looking to convert a higher percentage into Bitcoin but don’t want to be stuck unable to spend it, Gyft is a great way to bridge that gap.