What Can You Buy With Bitcoin?
Table of Contents
- Bitcoin can be used to purchase a variety of goods from vendors who accept bitcoin.
- Some Bitcoin companies allow you to use bitcoin to purchase from vendors who do not directly accept bitcoin. You can pay the company in bitcoin, and the company will pay the vendor in their prefered fiat currency.
- Bitcoin allows vendors and customers to avoid traditional payment processors, including their fees, chargebacks, and censorship.
Although Bitcoin is often thought of as an investment asset, its original intended use was as a permissionless payment system and currency. In Bitcoin’s whitepaper, Satoshi Nakamoto calls Bitcoin"a peer-to-peer electronic cash system." While Bitcoin’s use cases have expanded beyond its first-advertised use case, its market penetration as a method for everyday spending has grown rapidly in recent years. Now, major online and in-store retailers and payment platforms are accepting bitcoin, and it can be used to purchase goods and services ranging from groceries to luxury vehicles.
Spending Bitcoin Requires a Tradeoff
Before spending bitcoin on goods and services, it’s important to recognize that a trade-off is being made between the current value of the bitcoin spent and the good or service received, and the potential future value of your bitcoin if you continue to hold it. For individuals wanting to spend their bitcoin, a host of Bitcoin businesses allow you to pay in bitcoin. Popular tech companies, travel companies, online payment platforms, and other businesses accept bitcoin for their services.
Here are a few thing you can spend your bitcoin on:
Travel payments, including flights and hotels, were one of the first large sources of expenditures in Bitcoin’s circular economy. CheapAir, Expedia, and Surf Air allow their users to pay for hotels and flights with bitcoin. Alternative Airlines also lets you pay for any airline ticket from a major US airline in bitcoin.
Many online and physical merchants accept bitcoin for a variety of services. E-commerce plugins like Shopify and others even come with Bitcoin point-of-sale integrations with popular providers like OpenNode or BTCPayServer. PayPal, an online payment gateway accepted by over 28 million merchants globally, now allows users to buy, sell, hold, and spend bitcoin with any of their merchants. HomeDepot accepts bitcoin online and in-store. Overstock.com also accepts bitcoin, as does Microsoft for certain online content.
One of the earliest adopters of bitcoin as a payment method was the video game market. Bitrefill allows you to buy credit for Steam, PSN, Xbox Live and other video game marketplaces. Playstation Network and XBox directly accept bitcoin payments as well.
This legacy is being continued today by companies like Zebedee, which recently launched a plugin enabling Lightning payments for a wide variety of pre-existing games. By using Zebedee’s plugin or by playing one of their several games directly, players can earn satoshis for winning, pay satoshis for in-game items, and donate satoshis to other players.
A growing number of luxury items are also available for purchase using bitcoin. You can buy gold for bitcoin at bullion dealers like GoldenEagle, APMEX and JM Bullion. Karma Automotive allows cars at their main dealership to be purchased with bitcoin, and online car retailers BitCars and AutoCoinCars accept bitcoin. Private planes can be purchased with bitcoin using Aviatrade, and in 2017 a Texas house was purchased with bitcoin through a private agreement between the buyer and seller.
There are many online services that accept bitcoin.
Within the VPN industry, Mullvad VPN, NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and PrivateVPN ,among others, all accept bitcoin for their services. In the realm of privacy tech, you can also pay for encrypted email services such as ProtonMail with bitcoin.
There are also services that let you pay in bitcoin for access to gift cards for a variety of services. For example, Bitrefill and Fold give their users options to purchase anything from Uber or Amazon credit to drug store gift cards and other types of brand-specific credit.
Recently, the cell phone provider AT&T began accepting bitcoin.
Several exchanges offer bitcoin debit and credit cards, which can be used to purchase virtually anything a standard debit or credit card could purchase. However, bitcoin debit and credit cards require having an account with the exchange or provider, and carry tax and accounting implications outside of your traditional bank account. More traditional credit cards and debit cards, including Visa, allow users to pay in fiat currency but receive cash back rewards in bitcoin.
Lightning Network Potential
Some of the services mentioned above, including Bitrefill and Fold, come with Lightning Network support, while others have been slower to adapt.
The Lightning Network faster, cheaper payments for Bitcoin—. If the Lightning Network does scale and become more usable for Bitcoiners, then we may finally see mainstream acceptance for bitcoin as a medium of exchange.
With enough thought and effort, almost anything can be purchased with bitcoin. Using bitcoin allows consumers to avoid problems associated with traditional payment and banking methods, including chargebacks and fees. However, direct payment from a user’s wallet to a merchant or service provider is a still limited option. Most merchants and service providers require users to engage third-party applications to handle transactions, defeating the purpose and benefits of a peer-to-peer network. Peer-to-peer capabilities are growing rapidly, but most merchants and service providers have not yet adopted direct methods of payment with bitcoin.
Before purchasing goods and services with bitcoin, it is important to consider the benefits relative to holding bitcoin for a long period of time. The ease and variety of purchasing goods and services with bitcoin will increase overtime, but so might the price of bitcoin.