One of the most important requirements for a currency is the ability to spend it, and Bitcoin is no different in this regard. There are plenty of ways you can acquire Bitcoin, from buying it to mining it, but spending it can be a little more challenging.
By: Billy Garrison | Mar 13, 2020 | Modified Jun 22, 2020
This article aims to provide you with a better understanding of how and where you can spend Bitcoin. We will provide an overview of some of the major companies that accept Bitcoin as a payment option; we will also discuss the limitations and fees involved so that you don’t end up caught off guard.
Don’t worry if you’re not interested in using your Bitcoin to purchase items from these major companies, we also cover different use cases ranging from trading Bitcoin for other assets or donating it to charities.
There are many companies that accept Bitcoin for online purchases, including some of the world’s largest companies. Most of these large companies don’t accept Bitcoin directly but accept the payment through a processor such as BitPay or Coinbase. Payment processors charge a small fee, usually around 1%, and convert the Bitcoin to the merchant’s preferred currency. Some merchants may pass these fees on to the customer, although it would likely go unnoticed since the fees are less than they would be with traditional payment methods such as credit cards.
With over a billion dollars in annual revenue, Overstock is one of the world’s largest online retailers. In 2014, Overstock became the first major retailer to accept Bitcoin as a payment option, using Coinbase as their payment processor. Much of what Overstock offers is home furniture and décor, but they also sell everything from electronics to clothing to outdoor sporting goods. Bitcoin payments are currently available on the Overstock.com desktop website but are not accepted on the mobile website or Overstock.ca at the time this article was written.
Another of the world’s largest online retailers, Newegg, has accepted Bitcoin via BitPay on their online store since 2014. Newegg sells a wide range of items but are mostly known for their selection of computers and computer components. Whether you are looking for a computer for work or gaming, or if you want to build your own from scratch, Newegg offers a wide array of options that can be purchased with Bitcoin. However, items available for sale on Newegg’s marketplace cannot be purchased using Bitcoin – this option is only available for items sold directly by Newegg.
AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company, started using the payment processor BitPay in May 2019 to accept Bitcoin payments for online bills. This allows AT&T customers to pay their cellphone, internet, and TV bills using Bitcoin.
Although unconfirmed, Forbes reported in May 2019 that a payments startup called Flexa was beta-testing an app that would allow many partner companies to accept Bitcoin as a payment option. Some of these companies include Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Whole Foods. Spedn, Flexa’s first app, generates a QR code on the customer’s phone, which is then scanned by the merchant to debit the customer’s Spedn account. As with other Bitcoin payment processors, merchants using Spedn don’t receive actual Bitcoin – the Bitcoin is converted to the local currency for a small fee and given to the merchant.
Following the massive attention Bitcoin received at the beginning of 2018, Microsoft started allowing users to deposit funds into their Microsoft accounts using Bitcoin. Since then, it seems that Microsoft removed this option, possibly due to the drop in mainstream attention as well as Bitcoin’s high price volatility.
Another major company that previously accepted Bitcoin was Expedia, the online travel shopping giant. Expedia stopped accepting Bitcoin in mid-2018, possibly for the same reasons suggested above for Microsoft.
These examples show that some of the biggest companies in the world have the knowledge and capacity to accept Bitcoin when the consumer demand is there, meaning they could start accepting it again in the future.
Microsoft and Expedia dropping their Bitcoin payments shows us that other companies that currently accept Bitcoin may not always accept it. Keep this in mind when shopping at the businesses described in this article, as they could stop accepting Bitcoin at any time.
It’s great that major companies are starting to accept Bitcoin payments, but what other ways can we spend Bitcoin? As Bitcoin significantly reduces the barriers to entry for e-commerce and online payments, there are many small businesses and charities that accept Bitcoin.
There are services all around the world that offer local gift cards in exchange for Bitcoin. These gift cards include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and much more. You can even use your Bitcoin to buy Amazon gift cards, where you can purchase almost anything! CoinCards.com and BitRefill.com are two of the most popular options for buying gift cards with Bitcoin. Both companies also sell top-ups for prepaid mobile phone plans.
Arguably, the most common use case for spending Bitcoin is trading it for other cryptocurrencies. There are thousands of cryptocurrencies listed on online cryptocurrency exchanges, and most of them can be bought or sold for Bitcoin. Two of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges are Coinbase and Binance. Remember, when you store your Bitcoin on an exchange you no longer have possession of the coins and are at risk if the exchange were to be hacked. Most crypto experts recommend a personal digital wallet.
Gold and silver are also commonly purchased with Bitcoin. An example of a company that accepts Bitcoin for gold and silver is goldsilver.com, which sells precious metals as bars and coins. Goldsilver.com even offers a 3% discount for users that purchase with Bitcoin, since it is one of the most affordable payment options.
Bitcoin is a digital money native to the internet, so it makes sense that it would be used to pay for internet-native services such as domain name registration. Namecheap.com is a company that accepts Bitcoin as payment for registering domain names. Namecheap was one of the earliest online service providers to accept Bitcoin, accepting it as far back as 2013.
TravelByBit.com is an online service that allows users to book hotels and flights using Bitcoin. Similar to travel shopping sites like Expedia, TravelByBit provides a search engine for finding hotels and flights and lets you book through their website.
Many charities accept Bitcoin because it is easy to post a Bitcoin address to a website and have donations sent to it without further costs or work done by the charity. Pseudonymous donations can be easily made, meaning the recipient wouldn’t know who you are, and they would see the donation coming from a Bitcoin address rather than your identity.
The Wikimedia Foundation (the organization that hosts Wikipedia) and the Internet Archive (who maintain an archive of digitized materials including hundreds of billions of webpages) are two examples of very well-known non-profit organizations that accept Bitcoin donations.