So you now own some bitcoin and you want to spend it on goods or services.
There are many advantages to using bitcoin for everyday or occasional transactions, but it can still be difficult to leverage the cryptocurrency in the same way as fiat currency.
The easiest way to spend bitcoin for many people is to visit an online retailer that accepts it. While the number of major online stores that accept bitcoin remains limited, prominent examples include Overstock.com and Newegg.com. Microsoft also accepts bitcoin for use in its online stores for purchasing movies, apps and games.
Several websites maintain lists of businesses that accept bitcoin. Examples include SpendBitcoins.com and Coinmap.org. Users can search these databases by location in order to find local businesses that accept bitcoin.
If you really want to pay for goods or services in bitcoin, but the business you’re patronizing doesn’t accept bitcoin, there is a solution: Paying with a debit card or gift card that is funded by a bitcoin wallet, but used like a traditional debit or gift card.
Some startups, such as BitPay, offer debit cards that are loaded with funds in fiat currency that you pay for using bitcoin. It’s also possible to purchase gift cards for major businesses in bitcoin from companies such as Gyft.
Once you’ve loaded funds onto a bitcoin debit card or purchased a gift card in bitcoin, you can use the card just as you would use a major debit card or gift card at any traditional business. The business likely won’t even know that you’re essentially paying with bitcoin.
There are some drawbacks to this approach. The first is that you have to pay fees to convert bitcoin into fiat currency in order to load it onto a debit card or purchase a gift card. The second is that once your bitcoin has been converted to fiat currency and loaded onto a debit card or used to purchase a gift card, you can’t turn it back into bitcoin. (You could use the fiat currency to buy new bitcoin, but then you would have to pay transaction fees all over again.)
Still, in a world where relatively few merchants accept bitcoin directly, a bitcoin-linked debit card or gift card is the most seamless way to spend bitcoin for many people.