It’s decentralized, it’s peer-to-peer, only 21 million will ever exist. By now, you’ve probably heard the Bitcoin low-down enough times to pitch the idea to friends, family, and everyone else you know.
While some say it’s digital gold, it’s no secret that Bitcoin’s volatility and slow, expensive transactions have held the coin back from wide adoption as a payment method. The release of the Lightning Network is certainly a step towards fixing these problems, but whether it will see your local dive bar taking BTC for a round of late-night shooters is another question entirely.
Rumors of merchants accepting Bitcoin have been circulating for years. After all, everyone knows at least one foot soldier who spreads the good word of Satoshi wherever they can find a listening ear.
So then, what can you actually buy with Bitcoin, right here, right now in 2018? If you’re not counting on HODLing for that lambo anytime soon, let’s see what you can get for a few satoshis.
(Information accurate as of March 31, 2018.)
Put on your bikini and hit the beach on Bitcoin’s dime, because travel is one of your best bets for spending your precious bitcoins right now.
If you’re thinking flights, hotels, or car rentals, Expedia is now taking BTC as a method of payment for all bookings via Coinbase. They aren’t the only contenders (or the first to do it), with BTCtrip, CheapAir, SurfAir, and a whole host of travel merchants converting satoshis into skymiles.
The first Bitcoin transaction ever recorded was for pizza, and apparently the novelty never wore off. Accepting bitcoin for pizza since 2013, Pizzaforcoins is a third-party intermediary that will happily take your BTC and convert that into doughy, cheesy goodness made by your vendor of choice.
If you’ve got a hankering for something less greasy, there’s a chance your local Subway will convert your crypto-assets into a foot-long classic. One punter traded 0.04 BTC for a Chicken Bacon Ranch 4 years ago- that said, BTC payments don’t seem to be a franchise-wide policy (being left to the discretion of individual store owners).
While Amazon still isn’t bullish enough to take Bitcoin, its rival Overstock sure is. In fact, Overstock will even take its little brother Bitcoin Cash amongst a number of other top cryptocurrencies. You’ll be trading BTC for all the department store classics: furniture, kitchen appliances, clothes etc. Overstock is good as gold if you’re feeling like using your BTC for a spot of DIY or decor for your home.
If only Amazon will cut it, you’re in luck. eGifter and Gyft are a roundabout route to trade your BTC for that “Buy The Dip” shirt you can’t stop ogling. Their mobile apps let users pay with BTC for a gift card redeemable at Amazon, JCPenney, Home Depot, and a growing number of big-box retail stores.
If you’re looking to swap your Bitcoins for something a little more authentic, Etsy is your one-stop shop for anything and everything vintage. Retail meets Indie at the online giant, featuring all that hip, used gear that’s just so ironically drab that it’s cool again.
Thanks to our buddy BitPay, with just a click any old retailer can integrate BTC payments into their stores. Shopify has taken up the gauntlet, giving more than 75,000 online retailers the ability to take Bitcoin. All in all, it seems that ecommerce is bullish on Bitcoin!
You’d think that tech companies would be the first to adopt cryptos, but right now the big boys aren’t all that ready to welcome Satoshi into the family.
Microsoft dipped its toes in the waters back in 2014, when it started accepting Bitcoin for online game and app purchases on its Windows and Xbox online stores. After a lover’s quarrel over volatility last year, the tech powerhouse stalled payments but has since rekindled the flame and picked up where it left off. While the tech giant is yet to accept BTC across the board, their support carries some serious weight.
While you won’t be getting the latest Windows from Microsoft, there’s always a back door – Newegg will proudly sell PCs, hardware, software, and an arsenal of miscellaneous equipment for bitcoins. Whether you’re in the market for a mining motherboard or a fly-fishing rod, Newegg seems to have it.
While retailers “um” and “ah” about meeting their overheads and paying their suppliers with Bitcoin, some organizations have everything to gain when there’s some BTC up for grabs.
Whether you’re looking to bolster transparency with WikiLeaks, build clean water solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa with The Water Project, or Save The Children, the number of charities and nonprofits accepting Bitcoin is growing every day. Take your pick from art, entertainment, NGOs, open-source projects, activism, and even religion- you can find a full, up-to-date list on Bitcoin Wiki.
In case you hadn’t gathered as much, the list of merchants accepting BTC is a real mixed bag. Your classic offline businesses are usually the last to jump on the bandwagon, while traditionally web-based businesses are quicker to catch on to tech trends.
Web services seem to be leading the pack, and you can just about create an entire website using Bitcoin. First grab yourself a domain name on Namecheap, and if you won’t settle for their hosting package, try HostWinds, GlowHost or HawkHost.
Once you’ve laid out the bones for your new site you’ll want a fresh installation of WordPress, where you can lock down a sexy theme and plugins galore – all purchased using Bitcoin, naturally. If all of this sounds a bit too much, you can jump the queue over on Reddit and launch your project as a premium feature.
Bitcoins also jangle around the darker corners of the world wide web, where romance comes at a price. There’s SuicideGirls, an eerily named “adult” community, or if you’d rather do things the old-fashioned way jump on OKCupid for some online dating action – both accept Bitcoin as payment for membership.
Where Can I Find Offline Outlets That Accept Bitcoin?
Spending big using bitcoins on the world wide web is all very well, but what about at your local brick & mortar establishment?
Here are a list of resources to help you spend BTC away from keyboard:
Where to Spend Bitcoins UK – An all-encompassing directory of shops, pubs, websites and places that accept Bitcoin as payment, complete with a map function.
Use Bitcoins – A directory platform listing 5,000 registered businesses that accept BTC.
CoinMap – An interactive map of worldwide businesses accepting Bitcoin.
Spendabit – A search engine to help you find a retailer for a specific good (that accepts BTC).
Interesting Ways to Spend Your BTC
If none of these are tickling your fancy, why not just opt for novelty factor when cashing out your BTC?
If you’re HODLing down in Dallas, show some local pride at a Mavericks game- the team’s owner Mark Cuban has drastically changed his tune on Bitcoin, and will be lapping up BTC for tickets in the 2018-19 season.
Win or lose, why not fire off a few rounds at the local shooting range after the game to blow off some steam? Just a hop and a skip over in Austin, you’ll have no trouble trading Bitcoins for bullets at Central Texas Gun Works, staunchly accepting BTC for online and in-store sales since 2014.
If you’re looking for something a little more, ahem, indulgent, Sin City is your first port of call. Throw down some Bitcoins on Blackjack down at The D Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, and while you’re playing VIP bigshot, why not nurse a whiskey from the confines of a rich leather armchair at the Legends Room Gentlemen’s Club?
They say the house always wins, but if you’ve hit the jackpot then it may be time to take profit and put your money into something “safe as houses”. As far as a store of value goes, property is playing it safe- browse condos, beachside villas, penthouses and family homes on Bitcoin Real Estate and pick yourself up a regular crypto castle.
Slowly but surely, merchants are warming to the idea of our old friend Bitcoin and slapping up their “Bitcoin Accepted Here” stickers with glee. That said, the process will certainly take some time, with the full force of FUD, regulation, and tech challenges all holding back your average Joe from seeing Bitcoin as a credible payment method.
As an early adopter, sometimes you have to count the wins. While we are a long way off from BTC being as good as cash, there are some heavy hitters on this list that are bound to put the scent of FOMO in the air, jump-starting a mad scramble for competitors to join the crypto revolution.
Until that glorious day, your best bet is a Bitcoin debit card, which you can use just about anywhere that accepts regular old Visa. Try SpectroCoin, Uquid or Cryptopay, and you’ll be swiping and spending your satoshis like nobody’s business.
Related: Beginner’s Guide: How to Buy Bitcoin