Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies continue to make headlines, especially as the crypto market swings in tandem with stocks. But, even though many investors are turned off by crypto’s volatility, it’s important to remember that it has a practical use, too.
“Bitcoin is frequently seen as a speculative tool by retail investors, with the potential for future growth,” said Jonathan Merry, director at Bankless Times. “However, Bitcoin was created as … a decentralized payment method that allows users to manage their accounts and make purchases without having to rely on government fiat currencies.”
Thanks to its increased popularity, particularly over the past few years, crypto is now accepted by a large number of merchants as a payment method. It doesn’t boast the same degree of adoption as fiat money, but Merry said there is a surprising number of sites that accept Bitcoin and even some other cryptocurrencies. Here’s a look at some of the items you can buy using crypto.
Jeremy Wagner, a financial analyst at Trading Pedia, said it’s possible to book a plane ticket or rental car using crypto if you book through Expedia. The site accepts Bitcoin through its partner Coinbase for a small transaction fee. “This means that you can book your next vacation using Bitcoin,” he said.
Wagner added that several car dealerships also accept crypto. For example, you can purchase an Audi with Bitcoin by using the platform CryptoExchange. BMW also accepts crypto at some of its dealerships. And Tesla allows customers to buy cars with Dogecoin.
Several retailers also now accept Bitcoin as payment, according to Wagner. If you want to furnish your home using crypto, you can do so by shopping on Overstock.com. You also can go on a shopping spree at Nordstrom, which also allows customers to use Bitcoin as a form of payment. In the market for a new computer? Newegg has been accepting digital currencies since 2014 and currently takes multiple cryptocurrencies — including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin and many others.
You can now buy a house using mortgages that are backed by crypto, according to David Peterson, co-founder of Bankdash. “These types of mortgages work by consumers putting up their crypto assets as collateral and receiving a mortgage loan to buy a house in return,” he explained. “The benefit to the consumer is that they don’t need to sell their crypto — which implicitly they believe is going to increase in value over time — and they can still benefit from using it to purchase property.”
Sound risky? It is. Peterson warned that if the price of crypto falls, you may have to post more crypto as collateral. If you aren’t able to do that, you could default on your loan and trigger the foreclosure process.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
Frank Corva, senior analyst of crypto and blockchain for Finder, said that if you want to become a collector of NFTs (think cartoon character profile pictures like Bored Apes or CryptoPunks and other digital artwork), you’ll need crypto to buy it.
“In the virtual world, you can use digital assets like Ether or Solana to purchase NFTs,” he said.
Anything You Can Buy Via PayPal
Though many businesses accept crypto payments today, many more still do not. However, there’s a workaround in many cases: PayPal. The payment company launched its Checkout With Crypto service, which allows users to spend their cryptocurrencies with all of PayPal’s retailers.
“Given PayPal’s reach, you’ll be free to spend cryptocurrency on almost anything you choose,” Merry said. He explained that the platform will act as a middleman, exchanging your cryptocurrency for local money that’s paid directly to merchants. “But the final result will be the same on your end: You will spend your cryptocurrency and receive the goods or services you choose.”
Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash are among the supported cryptocurrencies, in addition to Bitcoin.
Is It a Good Idea to Shop With Crypto?
After the crypto market took a dive following its historic highs last year, you might be wondering if it’s time to unload your coins. Spending it is one way to do that, though there could be financial consequences for doing so.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to pay for items with crypto if you don’t have to,” Corva said.
If you did see any profits, spending your crypto is equivalent to selling it, which would result in capital gains taxes.
Corva said, “I personally abide by the philosophy that cash is for spending and crypto is for saving.”
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