Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are confusing for the average American, to say the least. These currencies--which aren’t really currencies--can be interesting to invest in. But they’re also very difficult to spend.
However, it’s getting a bit easier to spend. It can still take several days to complete any transactions with Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies. Buying them can be difficult. You’ll have to register at an exchange, deposit money, verify your information, wait, and then buy and withdraw your currency.
With that said, things are getting a bit better from the spending end of things. Here, we’ll summarize how and where to spend your cryptocurrencies, as well as how to transfer the currencies to a MasterCard that lets you spend more like a credit card.
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How to Store Cryptocurrency
Before we dive into how to spend your cryptocurrency, let’s talk briefly about how to store it. You have a few different options, just like you do with the good old American USD. With your regular money, you can store it in a bank and spend it digitally through a bank transfer or PayPal. Or you can use a card like a debit or credit card to spend money. And, of course, you can also store cash in your wallet and spend it from there.
This is similar with cryptocurrency. You can get a wallet for your cryptocurrency. You can use a software-based wallet on your desktop or online wallets that you can access from anywhere. Mobile wallets let you transfer and spend cryptocurrency from your phone. Another option is a hardware wallet, which is a USB device that stores your cryptocurrency keys electronically.
Finally, some outlets offer paper wallet services, which are similar to cash. With this, you’ll have a piece of paper with two QR codes on it. One is how you receive cryptocurrency and the other is how you spend it.
Cryptocurrency Debit Cards
One way to spend your cryptocurrency is to connect it to a debit card. This lets you spend it much like cash. The cards are issued by major credit card companies, including Visa and MasterCard. So wherever a Visa is accepted, you can spend your cryptocurrency.
Different types of cryptocurrency have different cards available. And many of them are connected to specific cryptocurrency storage and marketplace options. So this is something to consider when deciding how to spend your cryptocurrency.
More of these cards are available for Bitcoin, as it’s still the most popular form of cryptocurrency. But other currencies are starting to catch up, as well.
Related: Best Bitcoin Debit Cards
Debit Cards and Prepaid Cards for Bitcoin
Here’s a quick list of debit cards you can use with cryptocurrency:
- CoinsBank: This cryptocurrency exchange offers four different cards, each with different features and fees. The cards automatically convert Bitcoin into several different currencies, including U.S. dollars and Great Britain pounds.
- Xapo: This card connects your Xapo account to a card, which lets you pay in stores or online or get cash. It also comes with an app to help you keep track of your spending and current Bitcoin value.
- Uquid: This card is for eligible users of a Uquid account. It works with GBP, EUR, and USD.
- Cryptopay.me: This is a prepaid card with low commission fees. It comes with both a plastic and a virtual version, so you can choose whichever works best for your current needs. Again, this card works with GBP, USD, and EUR.
- SpectroCoin: This prepaid card lets you cash in Bitcoins at any ATM worldwide. You can also use it as a debit card. Cards can be used in USD, EUR, or GBP.
- Bitpay: This Visa-branded card lets you load your bitcoins from your virtual wallet. You can then withdraw cash or use the card at retailer stores.
- Wirex: This card has a robust online banking app specifically for bitcoin. It lets you store your bitcoin in a digital wallet and then use the card to spend it as dollars.
- Bitstamp: This is another virtual wallet option that also offers a plastic prepaid debit card that you can fund with bitcoin.
- SatoshiTango: This card lets you buy bitcoins and then transfer them onto a debit card.
Altcoin Debit Cards and Prepaid Cards
The above-listed cards are typically only for bitcoin, though some, which we’ll also highlight here, also work with other cryptocurrencies. If you want to use other altcoin options, you can check out the list of prepaid and debit cards below:
- Uquid: This card, which also supports bitcoin, also works with 89 other cryptocurrencies, including ethereum, ETC, augur, emercoin, and more.
- Polybius: This is an up-and-coming project that will take bitcoin, as well as a variety of other cryptocurrencies.
Places to Spend Cryptocurrency Directly
In all, the easiest option for using bitcoin is likely to choose one of the wallet/debit card combinations above. However, these do involve fees. So if you’d like to spend your cryptocurrencies directly, several online retailers actually accept it as a form of payment.
According to this article, many of the retailers that accept cryptocurrencies use third-party processors, such as Bitpay and Cryptopay. As always, it’s wise to understand how the payment system works and what fees may be involved before you jump in.
- Streitwise: Investing in real estate with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) has never been easier. Streitwise’s escrow agent, Primetrust, will facilitate the payment from you to the seller. Also, there’s an iOS app for accessing account statements, depositing funds, and viewing your investments.
- Overstock: This online retail giant was one of the early adopters of Bitcoin-based payments. It processes payments through Coinbase, and you can spend from your virtual Bitcoin wallet at checkout.
- Microsoft: You can actually stock your Microsoft account with Bitcoin. You can only use these funds in the Windows and Xbox online stores. They cannot be used to purchase items from the Microsoft online store.
- Virgin Galactic: This company aims to make everyday space tourism a reality. Since it’s futuristic by nature, it’s no surprise that you can also buy its products with Bitcoin.
- Save the Children: If you’re feeling idealistic, you can use Bitpay to directly donate Bitcoin to Save the Children, an organization that aims to meet the basic needs for at-risk kids around the world.
- eGifter: This website lets you buy all sorts of gift cards online, and you can buy the majority of them with Bitcoin.
- NameCheap: If you’re interested in launching a new brand or website, getting a domain name is essential. Now you can pay for one in Bitcoin with NameCheap.
- Wikimedia: You can donate to the company behind Wikipedia with Bitcoin.
- Fancy.com: This site is like social media for shopping. It displays items for sale in a Pinterest-meets-Facebook-like feed. And you can buy directly from the feed, with Fancy acting as the intermediary between you and the seller. It accepts Bitcoin as payment.
- Expedia: This popular travel booking company allows you to pay for hotels with Bitcoin.
- NewEgg: This is a great place to check out new tech gadgets and more, and it accepts Bitcoin through your digital wallet.
Payment Processors that Accept Cryptocurrency
The list above is larger companies (and some newer startups) known for accepting cryptocurrency. But we may see this trend of cryptocurrency as a form of payment grow. That’s because several payment processing systems popular with nonprofits, small businesses, and even larger retailers are now accepting Bitcoin.
Shopify, a processing system used by many small, local businesses, allows businesses to accept Bitcoin payments. And the popular payment app Square is rolling out Bitcoin marketplace options that may allow customers to purchase products and services with cryptocurrency. Finally, the payment processor Stripe allows companies to integrate a Bitcoin payment form right into their websites.
With these popular payment processing systems jumping on board, you may find that you’re able to spend your Bitcoin in many local and online shops.