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What’s the point of having magic Internet money, and nowhere to spend it? As it turns out, there are thousands of places you can spend Bitcoin, from the far reaches of Venezuela to your local coffee shop in New York.
Bitcoin, as most people know by now, is a form of electronic money. You can own it without needing to trust a bank or a government. Its proponents range from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who believes that the Internet will have a native currency, and it will likely be Bitcoin.
For now, though, Bitcoin’s price is volatile and changing daily. Still, you can pay anyone around the world in Bitcoin in around ten minutes, which is why so many people use it for transactions. You just need to know what you’re doing, which is where this primer comes in.
Here’s our guide to spending Bitcoin as well as a sprawling—and ever-growing—list of places where you can buy goods and service with it.
- Section one: How do I spend Bitcoin?
- Section two: Where can I spend Bitcoin in stores?
- Section three: Where can I spend Bitcoin online?
Section one: How do I spend Bitcoin?
First things first, you’ve got to have some Bitcoin in your wallet. If you don’t have any, click here:
Unlike fiat money, you must use a Bitcoin-compatible wallet to spend Bitcoin. Some wallets let you store, but not transfer Bitcoin, such as Square or Revolut. Those wallets, obviously, do us no good here. Instead, you need a wallet that lets you spend Bitcoin. We recommend, Coinbase, Jax or Electrum, though there are many others.
Now, let’s buy something… Here’s a sweatshirt featuring Donald Trump building a wall out of lego on BelovedShirts.
First, go through the checkout process, just as you would any other purchase. After entering your shipping information, select “BitPay” instead of PayPal or Credit Card. After the BitPay page opens, select either Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash—depending what you have in your wallet and want to spend. (Note: Make sure you don’t send Bitcoin to a Bitcoin Cash address or vice versa since you could lose your money.) You should also be aware of the “network cost,” which is listed here. That’s a transaction fee for using the Bitcoin network.
Up comes a QR code. This is a common method for making payments, particularly in China. Scan the QR code with your Bitcoin wallet on your phone, or copy the payment URL into your desktop wallet, and click Confirm.
Congratulations, you’ve just bought a ridiculous t-shirt with Bitcoin. Who says we’re living in a dystopia?
Though the exact payment process will vary across different websites, the essentials are still the same. Since Bitcoin addresses are long, complicated strings of numbers, the best way to make a payment is to cut and paste the address, or use a QR code.
You’ll get an email confirming your transaction once it has been detected on the blockchain. If the website waits for a full confirmation of the transaction, it could take from 10 minutes to an hour.
One of the most exciting things in the Bitcoin world is the emergence of the Lightning Network. That’s a new payment solution designed to make it faster to spend small amounts of Bitcoin in everyday life. Though it’s still in development, there are some wallets you can use, and places where you can spend Bitcoin using Lightning. (Here's a new Lightning Network wallet we recently reviewed.)
Now you know how to spend Bitcoin. In Section Two, we’re going to open your eyes to the myriad of places that accept it around the world and online. Get ready Alice: you’re about to go down a cryptographic rabbit hole.
Section two: Where can I spend Bitcoin in stores?
We’re not recommending you actually look up from your laptop or computer and talk to a real human being. But, if you’re feeling daring, it is possible to go out into the real world and use Bitcoin to buy things in brick and mortar stores. Here’s our guide to places to spend Bitcoin (and even some other cryptocurrencies) IRL.
A hot, steamy cup of coffee in Prague, Czech Republic
Crypto lovers hoping for mass adoption have been crying out for a cup of joe for ages. As it turns out, you just have to be in the right place. If you’re in Prague, go to Parallel Polis, where you can buy coffee—and some tasty cake—using ONLY crypto. They even have a crypto ATM on site for those looking to get involved.
For those hoping to spend their digital currency at Starbucks, you’ll have to wait a little longer. Though the chain confirmed that it will not be accepting Bitcoin payments, it will be involved in the trading and conversion of Bitcoin. This means customers can convert their coins into fiat, to then pay with fiat. Close, so close.
A new kitchen cabinet in Brooklyn, NY, U.S.
Founded in 1986, Beagle and Potts provides clients in New York City with custom woodworking. It was originally a small wood tile company using reclaimed ash to make custom wood tiles. It then expanded to custom cabinets and freestanding furniture. Now, it has been taken over by Robert Pettit who brought in Bitcoin payments in 2017. Maybe you need a new kitchen table, or a bespoke set of shelves. Either way, here is one place you can spend Bitcoin.
Waffles and toasted paninis in Oakland, CF, U.S.
Instagram-worthy Cafe el Patio is bringing some fresh ideas to the table. It’s getting ready to launch churros waffles—covered in cinnamon and sugar. Plus you can pay with Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum. They also serve coffee in beautiful earthenware mugs.
Some lean BBQ style beef in Tokyo, Japan
The restaurant’s name is a mix of “meat” and “appreciation” so it must be good. Nikugatou is a Japanese style BBQ restaurant which has a particular focus on lean beef. Savory condiments range from garlic butter soy or truffle salt seasoning to a Chamago egg dipping sauce. We know some Bitcoin maximalists who would be fans.
Nike Airs and streetwear in Sydney, Australia
Culture Kings has been accepting Bitcoin since October, 2017, via BitPay. It meets all your usual clothing needs with everything from shoes to hats. Its stores have been visited by celebrities from the hard-hitting Jon “Bones” Jones to Justin Bieber. The store offers exclusive music merch from rappers including Eminem and Led Zeppelin. While you’re there, you can even get a haircut.
Do you really need to have a different currency in every country? You can spend Bitcoin virtually everywhere in the world, without worrying about your bank charging sneaky fees.
Just remember that Bitcoin payments can take ten minutes to process, so for in-store adoption to really take off, it will need to scale, something the Lightning Network is working hard to solve. The stores mentioned above are just a few of our favorites in meat space. Read on for our online picks.
Section three: Where can I spend Bitcoin online?
Thousands of places accept Bitcoin. Here is a small selection of strange and wacky purchases you can make. Some can be bought with other cryptocurrencies, too.
Books, clothes and more on Amazon
Shocking but true! Though this is not officially supported by the web giant, there’s a hack to make it happen. The Moon browser extension connects your Coinbase Wallet to the online retailer. When you’re ready to check out, click “pay with moon” and a pop-up window lets you sign the transaction—similar to how MetaMask operates. It might not be the streamlined Amazon experience, but it works.
Some dank weed
Canada made headlines in October, 2018, when it announced it was legalizing marijuana. And while there are many weed-based cryptocurrencies, you can spend Bitcoin online at Canabro if you are in Canada, or state where it’s legalized in the U.S.. They have sativa, indica, and hybrid strains, from Gorilla Glue #4 to Pineapple Express. You can buy up to a pound of weed.
Home furniture—time for a new rug!
Overstock has more than one million deals on everyday items, from pillows to a new bed. It partnered with Coinbase to offer Bitcoin payments, which is listed as a payment option, next to PayPal. (Ethereum, Dash, and NEM are accepted, too.)
Xbox games, movies, and apps
Microsoft accepts Bitcoin? That’s pretty huge. It’s true though: If you go to your Microsoft account and click “redeem Bitcoin,” it lets you deposit it into your account. You can then use your funds to purchase games, movies, and apps in the Windows and Xbox stores. (But not the Microsoft online store, weirdly.)
What's the dumbest thing you've spent #bitcoin on?
— The Crypto Dog📈 (@TheCryptoDog) February 5, 2019
Useful mobile gift cards
Swych lets you create a digital gift card for over 100 top-name brands and retail stores. You can store it on your phone when you can check your balance, and spend it at any participating store. Best of all, you can buy a Swych card with Bitcoin. The only hurdle: convincing your distant relatives it’s so easy to do, they should gift you one.
Some kinky fun
If you enjoy a bit of armpit worship or have a thing for gym socks (like my co-worker, Ben Munster), this is the place for you. Adult performers such as Goddess Stephh sell X-rated clips via Bitcoin, among other currencies.
A quicker shitpost on 4chan
You know that feeling when you have something hilarious to say on an anonymous messaging board but you know someone’s going to say it first? And on top of that, you keep screwing up the captcha? Well, luckily for you 4Chan lets you avoid the captcha by paying $20 for a year’s subscription. And since October last year, you can now pay with BTC, ETH, LTC, and BCH. Public service message: 4chan is NOT safe for work.
Republican/Libertarian politician Austin Peterson
Strictly speaking, you can’t buy Austin Peterson, the pro-crypto pol Missourian who’s run for the U.S. Senate and President. But you can support his campaign, in Bitcoin. Just be careful: He’s already had to return a donation of $130,000 worth of Bitcoin, and two amounts of $250,000 in Bitcoin for exceeding campaign funding limits. He’s not the only Bitcoin believer running for office either!
Bitcoin branded t-shirts—why not?
Sometimes it’s hard to know if a person is a cryptophile. It’s much more obvious when they have a bright orange t-shirt with “Bitcoin” written on it. (It also makes it easier for you to avoid them too.) Bitgear’s casual clothes come in a range of colors with a variety of BTC logos and styles. Decrypt appreciates the nod to its early days with designs stating “Est. 2009.”
The t-shirts are made of fine jersey—for a “durable, vintage feel.” And there’s nothing more vintage than a futuristic digital currency that is only ten years old. But, according to the promo photos, the t-shirts makes your pecs bigger, so it’s a thumbs up from us. [Ed. Just go to the gym, stop whining.]
Shirts that are just even weirder
This might just be one of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin’s favorite online shops. The Russian developer is known for his wacky t-shirts, which would fit right at home on Beloved Shirts. From a baby orangutan men’s tee to a “sexy chest” one-piece swimsuit, this site has everything. You can pay with Bitcoin thanks to Shopify.
A steaming hot pizza
Spending Bitcoin on pizza has a history. Bitcoin Pizza Day is held on May 22 to remember when Laszlo Hanyecz offered to pay 10,000 BTC to buy two Papa John’s pizzas, back when it had been invented and wasn’t worth a penny. That Bitcoin would now be worth $24 million. Now you can head to PizzaForCoins where you can pay them Bitcoin to order from your local store. Or get some Lightning Pizza with the Lightning Network. Fiery.
Old fashioned leather straps
For those hipsters who are too modern for a pocket watch but refuse to sign up to the latest Apple watch, these straps are a nice middle ground. The Strapping Fellow straps are made of Horween brand leather and come in funky designs, some with button studs. While $75 might seem a bit pricey considering the actual watch isn’t included—if you pay with Bitcoin, you get a cheeky 10 percent off? How’s that for a better form of money?
A watch to go with your strap
If you impulse-bought a leather strap while reading this post and instantly started wondering, where am I going to get an actual watch from? Enclave sells watches (and eyewear) for Bitcoin. The straps are interchangeable so you can finally get those button studs out on show. Prices range from $22.50 to $62.50.
Smart suitcase-size backpacks
The Tortuga backpack is surprisingly discreet considering how much it claims to fit inside. One can hold 45 liters of water, with enough space to fit a 17-inch Macbook. Prices start at $179.
Cartoon mouse-like toys—really Toronto?
Talk about how to scare a child: These futuristic potato-head creatures are like something out of a creepy parallel universe imagined by Munster during one of his nightmares. Mindzai toys sell their own style of plastic characters which are definitely unique. You can even get a giant version of Bert from Sesame Street. Or, order a mystery box, full of “new and delightful” toys. The slogan: “Are you ready for a thrill?” You can use your digital currency to get them, thrillingly, here.
An action figure with your own face
Who among us doesn’t want this? Take a couple of mugshots and send them to this website and you will receive a four, six or twelve-inch action figure with your face molded in plastic. And if that wasn’t enough, you could get a full-size mask to really freak someone out. This strange practice has been going on since 2008. (Catch it quick, because it’s closing down.)
Creepy blockchain toys
CryptoKaiju has launched collectible vinyl toys which are “on the blockchain.” Each toy contains a little wireless chip that details its unique and matching token on the Ethereum blockchain. This means everyone can see who owns which toy. The toys look like dinosaurs eating physical representations of Bitcoins—with smiley faces of course. Stranger than truth, they are sold out. Maybe you can get on the waiting list.
The love of your life
Badoo an online dating site that claims to have more than 400 million users, added Bitcoin as a payment option in 23 countries. At the time a spokesperson said it wanted to remain on the cutting edge of technology—although wouldn’t that involve something a little more novel?
Get yourself a new condo
Propy lets you buy houses in major cities around the world from the comfort of your own sofa. You might think buying a house is really scary but the craziest part is, the title deed is stored forever on the blockchain. Goodbye title searching.
A plane ticket to anywhere in the world
Getting your tax returns done
Intuit counts some 50 million people among its users, and provides solutions for managing your tax returns or business accounts. They also accept Bitcoin for these services which means they probably have a few tax headaches of their own.
Go and see a live band
Death to scalpers! BlockParty sells event tickets, but ensures that the person who paid is the one going. The crypto-based service uses facial recognition or fingerprint scanning to authenticate you at the event when you check in. You can also earn rewards for promoting events.
Forget Lambos, time to buy a yacht
Not everyone who made it in crypto bought a Lamborghini. Craig Wright—who claimed he invented Bitcoin—got himself a yacht, supposedly. Although some are suspicious of this. In the meantime, if you made outrageous amounts of money and are unsure what to do with it, Yacht Base offers a variety of boats to rent for just €730 ($836). Per week. But, you might make some new friends.
After doing an extraordinary amount of research and many Bitcoin purchases, the Decrypt journalist is now sitting in the cramped Decrypt offices surrounded by four creepy toys, half a pizza, two leather straps, one watch, four t-shirts, three confused women, an action figure featuring his editor’s face, twenty four shitcoins, and one empty Bitcoin wallet.
If we’ve inadvertently left you off the list, please email: Tim@Decryptmedia.com. (And if you’re trying to pitch an ICO, don’t—this inbox uses the latest disruptive AI technology to automatically forward ICO pitches to the SEC.)