Among retail investors, Bitcoin (BTC) is often regarded as a speculative instrument that may be poised for growth in the future.
But Bitcoin was originally designed as a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system”—in other words, a decentralized payment method, enabling holders to manage their own finances and make purchases without relying on government-issued fiat currencies.
Although Bitcoin doesn’t have the same level of penetration as fiat currencies when it comes to everyday spending, there are already a surprising number of places where you can pay for your purchases with Bitcoin. So with that in mind, here are some of the best ways you can use your Bitcoin the way Satoshi Nakamoto intended—by spending it!
Pizza (in Venezuela)
The Bitcoin-to-pizza exchange rate has changed dramatically from the year 2010, when Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 BTC for someone to deliver two pizzas to him. It is recognized as the first commercial transaction for Bitcoin… but of course, had he held onto that BTC instead of splurging on pizza, it would be worth nearly $190 million today. Hindsight, right?
Pizza Hut is keeping the spirit of that transaction alive today, at least in Venezuela: the company announced in November 2020 that it has partnered with Cryptobuyer to accept Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies. It’s not the first restaurant chain or ordering service to accept Bitcoin, either: German takeaway giant Lieferando takes Bitcoin, too, while Lightning Network will take your Bitcoin and route Domino’s pizzas to you.
Here’s the good news: a pizza should only cost a tiny fraction of a Bitcoin now, so hopefully you won’t feel any severe buyers’ remorse a decade later.
Luxury cars and private jets
“When Lambo?” is the semi-ironic refrain of the dedicated Bitcoin holder, with hopefuls wondering when their cryptocurrency stash will be enough to bag them a Lamborghini supercar.
If you have the funds, you can buy a Lambo (or, indeed, any other supercar) with Bitcoin right now. Bitcoin-friendly car dealerships like BitCars and AutoCoinCars stock practically every luxury brand, including Lamborghini, Porsche, McLaren, Bugatti, and Koenigsegg, and take payment in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
You can even buy a range of other vehicles with Bitcoin too, such as off-road UTVs, motorhomes and classic cars, should your tastes run to something less flashy.
Our company-owned Karma Newport Beach retailer now accepts Bitcoin as payment. “We are opening our platform to serve as a test bed to help convert theoretical blockchain applications to practical use,” said CEO @DrLanceKarma. Read more https://t.co/J8LrYCrKms #KarmaAuto pic.twitter.com/VxJLuHGSwb
— Karma Automotive (@KarmaAutomotive) October 15, 2019
Of course, you’re limited to second-hand vehicles when buying from the above dealerships; most car manufacturers won’t let you buy a brand new motor in Bitcoin. However, electric car manufacturer Karma Automotive has gone a step further, accepting Bitcoin payments at its main dealership in Newport Beach.
If cars are slightly too tame for you, you can even buy a private jet if you have $40 million in Bitcoin lying around. Aviatrade, a firm that sells a wide variety of aircraft, recently added Bitcoin as a payment method for all business jet purchases, allowing customers to purchase jets like the $40 million Gulfstream G650ER using BTC.
Given that they’re all about protecting your online identity, it’s not surprising that virtual private networks (VPNs) were one of the first services to start taking payments in Bitcoin. There are plenty to choose from if you’re looking to pay for your VPN with Bitcoin.
NordVPN, Surfshark, ExpressVPN, Cyberghost and ProtonVPN are among the reputable VPN providers that accept Bitcoin payments. It’s worth noting, of course, that buying your VPN with Bitcoin won’t be completely anonymous; crypto forensics firms and governments can track payments with varying degrees of effectiveness, and most exchanges operate KYC policies.
It makes sense that websites and web-based services would accept purely digital currency. In addition to the aforementioned VPN services, there are some other notable web destinations that will happily take your Bitcoin.
— BitPay (@BitPay) January 29, 2019
If you feel like spending some Bitcoin on a worthy cause, you could consider donating to one of the organizations that keep the engines of the Internet ticking over. The Internet Archive—well known for its Wayback Machine that stores past versions of websites—accepts donations in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and plenty more. Meanwhile, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia, has teamed up with BitPay to accept donations in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and XRP.
Your next vacation
Though the coronavirus pandemic has put a dampener on most people’s vacation plans, holiday destinations around the world are now beginning to cautiously open up. That means it’s now the perfect time to book your next vacation, while flight tickets and hotel rooms are still selling for cheap.
Travala is a platform that makes it possible to do just that. Through Travala, you can book hotels in over 2 million destinations worldwide, and flights from over 600 different airlines, using Bitcoin and a variety of other cryptocurrencies as a payment method.
Booking flights and hotels with cryptocurrencies tends to be slightly more expensive than paying with a credit card on most platforms, but Travala does provide a best-price guarantee, meaning it will match or beat any competitor’s price for the same offer.
The world’s “first” Bitcoin watch
If you’re tired of your old Casio and you’ve got some Bitcoin laying around, then you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s now possible to purchase a new timepiece using BTC.
Among the available options, the Franck Muller Steampunk Limited Edition Encrypto Watch stands out as one of the most exorbitant. For a cool $17,380, you can get your hands on one of a limited run of 250 timepieces, featuring a steel case and rose gold dial.
The watch is engraved with a QR code address from the genesis block, and a unique public address etched on the dial with a sealed USB containing the private key to this address.
If like us, you find the Encrypto to be “slightly” out of budget, then luxury online watch retailer BitDials may have something more in your price range—offering a range of Tag Heuer, Cartier and Breitling watches for under $3,000.
Bitcoin’s sometimes called “digital gold,” but you can also buy the real stuff with it.
Bitgild and the European Mint will both happily let you spend your Bitcoin on physical gold (or, indeed, silver or platinum) in the form of bars or coins. The European Mint accepts payments through BitPay, with a 1% handling fee, while Bitgild lets you pay from your Bitcoin wallet, or directly from an exchange.
Back in 2017, Steam, the largest digital game marketplace, dropped support for BTC, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer possible to buy video games with Bitcoin.
Our USD-paying customers can now use Bitcoin! Check out our FAQ with all the details http://t.co/xwHSVgzQi5
— Green Man Gaming Re:Turn Out October 14 (@GreenManGaming) December 4, 2014
Through Green Man Gaming, you can buy Steam keys with Bitcoin and can purchase digital versions of practically any game—including those for Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo consoles using cryptocurrencies. These are often cheaper than retail prices too.
Alternatively, both Xbox and Playstation Network directly accept Bitcoin as payment for games, subscriptions, and other services, while the popular digital storefront and charity-focused game bundle provider Humble Bundle also accepts BTC as payment for all packages and products listed in US dollars (USD).
If your wall’s looking a bit bare, you could do worse than buying a work of art with Bitcoin. One option is Singulart, an online art store that offers free worldwide shipping and returns on all orders, and accepts payment in Bitcoin. Through Singulart, acclaimed and emerging artists are able to offer their paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other works of art for sale through the online gallery.
Huge thanks to @WeSingulart These 4 pieces are sold, finding homes in Germany, Taiwan and Hong kong. #thankful #art #artist #artwork #painting thank you for supporting my little business. I feel very fortunate that I can still work. #staysafe #BeKind pic.twitter.com/QvAVIzqkQ8
— @ArtandArtyThing (@ArtandArtyThing) March 24, 2020
Most of the art sold on the platform inclines towards the pricier end of the spectrum, but we were able to find several impressive works for under £250 (~$310)—and the platform features an eBay-style “make an offer” feature, which lets you throw down an offer that may or may not be accepted.
If you’re looking to purchase art as an investment, Maecenas might be closer to what you are looking for. Maecenas is a platform that tokenizes and sells fractions of great works of art. These tokens represent fractional ownership of the work of art and can be traded at any time. As Decrypt previously reported, the platform recently tokenized a piece by Pablo Picasso, which was then sold for cryptocurrency.
Planned to develop a website, but haven’t got a domain yet? Well now, you can finally buy your next domain using Bitcoin, at registrars including Namecheap, Monovm, and Domains 4 Bitcoins. These platforms sell most popular top-level domains (TLDs) for Bitcoin, while some even allow you to purchase premium domains directly through the website using your BTC.
If traditional domains aren’t bleeding-edge enough for you, Unstoppable Domains sells a variety of blockchain-domains like .crypto for a one-time fee. After purchasing this domain will be yours forever and never needs to be renewed. However, unlike a normal domain, viewers need specialized plugins or browsers to interact with blockchain websites, since each domain is actually a unique ERC-721 token stored on the blockchain, rather than a true domain registered with ICANN.
Practically anything else
One of the most common gripes among cryptocurrency holders is that they can’t shop with their favorite brands or retailers using digital assets.
While it’s true that you can’t spend your Bitcoin at Amazon just yet, there are some online retailers who accept Bitcoin as payment. Overstock.com is one of the biggest retailers who’ll let you pay with Bitcoin, with a vast selection of products taking in home decor, pet supplies, kitchen appliances and make-up on sale.
Tech retailer Newegg.com also accepts Bitcoin; while it started out selling computer parts and electronics, it’s branched out and now sells a wide range of products, including clothing, health and wellness, and home appliances.
Of course, there’s another way to shop with Bitcoin, even at retailers who don’t accept payment in crypto, by purchasing gift cards using cryptocurrencies. A wide variety of reputable platforms now exist for this very purpose, including Bitrefill and Gyft—both of which allow you to purchase gift cards for eBay, Uber, Starbucks, Amazon, Walmart, and thousands of other retailers using cryptocurrencies.
— JD Millwood (@cryptoMoJoe) April 12, 2019
Alternatively, you can sign up for an account with one of the many providers that now offer crypto debit or credit cards, such as Coinbase, BitPay and (eventually) Binance. These can be loaded up with crypto, which can then be used in-store and online just like a regular payment card.
It might be an imperfect solution, but for now, there are relatively few alternatives.
Anything you can buy with PayPal
That may be about to change, however.
PayPal recently rolled out the ability for US account holders to buy Bitcoin and a handful of other cryptocurrencies and hold them within the site, and starting in 2021, those users will also be able to spend crypto to purchase things from the 28 million global merchants that currently accept PayPal as of this writing.
Today, we are announcing the launch of a new service that will enable customers to buy, hold and sell #Cryptocurrency directly from their PayPal account. https://t.co/QS6JRmG9hs pic.twitter.com/uHBatfZkbF
— PayPal (@PayPal) October 21, 2020
That’s huge. While it hasn’t rolled out yet, it won’t be long before you’re able to spend crypto on nearly anything, given the truly immense number of retailers and businesses that accept PayPal. The platform will use fiat currency as an intermediary, exchanging your crypto for local currency that is paid to the merchant, but the end result is the same on your end: you spend your crypto and get the goods or services you want.
However, there are one or two limitations. For one thing, you won’t be able to send Bitcoin to your PayPal wallet from another wallet; you can only spend Bitcoin that you’ve bought through PayPal itself. You also can’t send your Bitcoin from PayPal to another wallet, something that has Bitcoin purists up in arms.
However, what PayPal does offer is a quick and easy way of spending Bitcoin at conventional retailers, the importance of which can’t be overstated.
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