Cryptocurrency might be a virtual platform but it has proven a real gold mine for a few traders. The only problem is: Where to spend that gold?
You hear a lot of talk in the popular press about how much Bitcoin is worth, how cryptocurrencies are changing the world, and how blockchain technology could underpin everything we do in the future.
But one thing you rarely hear about is what you can actually spend your cryptocurrency on in the marketplace.
And that would seem to be a little strange for a currency that is supposed to reshape how we do everything from paying bills to buying groceries.
This is probably because the process is not as easy as many would like – and probably not as common as some of us would hope.
Still, there are a bevy of online retailers and services that will let you buy goods, transfer your cryptocurrency to a fiat currency debit card, or even buy bullion. That’s not all, though, as some airlines and travel reservation websites are starting to accept cryptocurrency payments. Heck, you might even be able to get daily necessities from local stores that accept cryptocurrency payments once you find them using one of many online directories.
In this article we will share some of the best sites we have found on the Internet as well as some other avenues where you can spend your cryptocurrency – specifically, Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Before that, however, we will talk about how Bitcoin and Ethereum work as a medium of transfer. They’re basically the same in function, with a few small differences, but they’re wildly different in value and prevalence in the marketplace.
What Can I Buy with Bitcoin & Ethereum : How Bitcoin Works
Bitcoin initially began life as an open-source project by Satoshi Nakamoto and has since become the dominant cryptocurrency on most exchanges. Bitcoins are uncovered through a process of algorithmic crunching called mining and transactions are verified through public nodes. They are then recorded on a distributed ledger that is called the “blockchain.”
Buying Bitcoin is perhaps a much more simple process than it is for any other cryptocurrency currently out there. Popular exchanges like Coinbase offer users the opportunity to exchange fiat currency for Bitcoin, among others, while other exchanges even allow the conversion of one cryptocurrency into another like Bitcoin.
After buying Bitcoin, most users will need to keep their coins in a wallet in order to use them. This part of the process is intimidating for some users, though it shouldn’t be. Wallets are places that securely store your Bitcoins offline and away from hackers. Keeping them on an exchange leaves them vulnerable to the exchange being hacked and your coins stolen. Further, buying things in cryptocurrency marketplaces is more difficult if you don’t have your coins in a wallet first.
Think of it as walking into a store without having cash to pay for the items you want.
What Can I Buy with Bitcoin & Ethereum : How Ethereum Works
Ethereum, like Bitcoin, is an open-source, blockchain cryptocurrency with the added benefit of smart contract execution features. Hitting the market in 2015, Ethereum has more or less played a secondary role to the hyped up Bitcoin.
A 2016 exploit caused the crypto to be divided into two segments: Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, with the first being the preferred medium still today. Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is traded on most major exchanges and can be held in an eWallet. You can find Ethereum (and its fork, Ethereum Classic) on most major cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase or Binance.
In fact, to purchase goods and services with Ethereum or to transfer it to a medium that can do that, you will need to hold your Ethereum in an eWallet. One of the advantages of Ethereum over Bitcoin is that you can execute smart contracts and the coin has a lower price point (as of press).
As the second most common cryptocurrency out there, it is also not hard to find someone willing to take Ethereum. That said, more merchants will accept Bitcoin than Ethereum, at least for the foreseeable future. That might be something you want to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide between Ethereum and Bitcoin as your preferred means of transaction.
What Can I Buy with Bitcoin and Ethereum
Bitcoin and Ethereum are still mainly used as mediums of transaction on cryptocurrency exchanges and most people who buy and hold them do so in order to trade them later.
That doesn’t mean you can’t spend it on real world stuff, but the industry is still in its infancy which means your options are somewhat more limited. The easiest way to grow your set of options is to go to businesses that use Bitcoin and encourage others to start accepting it. A lot of services specialize in transferring the value of your Bitcoin or Ethereum to a prepaid debit card or other fiat currency-denominated account.
And, though these meet the requirement of the question “what can I buy with my Ethereum or Bitcoin?,” they don’t really get at the heart of the matter. Here are some places that accept Bitcoin or Ethereum as a means of transaction, without any go between.
What Can I Buy with Bitcoin & Ethereum : Buy Palladium, Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Copper Bars and Coins from JM Bullion, APMex, and UK-Based Sharps Pixley
One of the coolest things you can buy with Bitcoin is bullion.
Not only is this somewhat unexpected, but also it provides an easy way for Bitcoin holders to convert their cryptocurrency into a non-fiat holding that still has universal use.
Basically, you can go to JM Bullion and buy any range of palladium, platinum, gold, and silver products and pay with it all using your Bitcoin account.
What makes this unique is that you are literally exchanging one currency for another without using fiat currency. Because bullion has market values denominated in fiat currencies just like cryptocurrency does, buying bullion is like skipping the middleman so to speak.
You can convert your Bitcoin gains into tangible assets like gold and silver bars which you can then sell back to JM Bullion or at your local mercantile exchange.
What Can I Buy with Bitcoin & Ethereum : Pay for Flights with CheapAir.com
Maybe you’d like to pay for your next flight using Bitcoin? You can do that on CheapAir.com. Expedia used to offer this service, but they don’t do that anymore.
In fact, a lot of these reservation and booking websites are eschewing cryptocurrency payments because of the volatility in their value. This makes CheapAir.com a unique company indeed.
Meanwhile, Surf Air, a private airline in the United States, accepts both Ethereum and Bitcoin for flight reservations. That might not mean much if you aren’t based in the United States, but, for those US travelers looking to spend Bitcoin and Ethereum on their next journey, Surf Air is an intriguing option.
For those of us who are really crypto rich and want an especially far out journey, Virgin Galactic is reportedly accepting Bitcoin payments for its space flight reservations.
What Can I Buy with Bitcoin & Ethereum : Buying Video Games
There are probably more options for this than we can list here but we have one major name in home console gaming that does accept Bitcoin payments: Microsoft.
Though Valve’s Steam platform has long since dipped out of the cryptocurrency payments niche, Microsoft re-dedicated itself to offering customers any way possible to pay and now most Microsoft apps and games can be paid for with Bitcoin.
What Can I Buy with Bitcoin & Ethereum : Buying Stuff on Overstock.com
When it comes to enthusiastic adopters of cryptocurrency technology as a payments system, few can compete with Overstock.com.
At one point the company offered 40 different cryptocurrency payment methods, with Bitcoin and Ethereum, naturally, dominating the top of the list.
Overstock has a huge selection of goods from home items to electronics and clothing. If they don’t have it, you’re unlikely to find it. This makes Overstock one of the single largest ecommerce sites to support Bitcoin and Ethereum payments on the Internet. As of press, you can use cryptocurrency to pay for stuff on Overstock.com on a desktop or a laptop but you cannot yet do it through a mobile device.
What Can I Buy with Bitcoin & Ethereum : Other Services
Another way you can spend your Bitcoin and Ethereum on the Internet is through charitable giving. BitHope and BitGive are two companies that specialize in this and US financial firm Fidelity offers its Fidelity Charitable service as well.
Of course, if you want to spend your Bitcoin or Ethereum in the real world, there are some locations that will accept it as a form of payment. The first thing you have to do is find them.
One way to locate these businesses is through websites such as SpendBitcoins or CoinMap. These websites are updated regularly with the latest stores and service providers near you that accept cryptocurrency payments.
This is probably the most specialized way of spending Bitcoin and Ethereum but, if you find a local vendor, try to support them. Cryptocurrency as a form of payment won’t go anywhere if we don’t actually use it to pay for things after all.