Andy Fleming writing on cryptocurrencies…

Recent financial studies – funded by big banks such as JPMorgan – claim that fewer merchants are accepting bitcoin.

That’s true.

A few companies that used to accept direct payment in bitcoin – including the hosting platform WordPress – are no longer doing so.

But that’s not because bitcoin is in decline.

Quite the opposite…people who have bitcoin simply don’t want to spend it when they think it’s going to rise in value.

Cryptocurrencies are getting hotter by the day. Bitcoin has hit the $4,400-per-coin mark, while runners-up ethereum and litecoin have experienced massive growth of 2,000% and 1,000%, respectively, over the past year.

I realized a return of around 800% on just a few small investments that I made before one of the big price booms…which isn’t too shabby.

But you can still use cryptocurrencies – bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin – to make purchases from hundreds of retail stores. In addition, lots of third-party sites facilitate bitcoin transactions and allow you to purchase items from hundreds of consumer outlets, including Home Depot, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Nordstrom.

Payment methods vary from location to location. Many online outlets interface with Coinbase, which works a lot like PayPal. You simply sign up for an account and plug in your info at checkout.

Paying at a brick-and-mortar store is almost always done through your cellphone. You’ll usually use bitcoin to purchase a digital “card,” which the cashier can scan straight from your phone screen at checkout.

Here’s a quick look at some of the ways you can use cryptocurrencies to make retail purchases, both online and in store.

Direct Payments with Bitcoin

Bitcoin has seen such a price surge this year that fewer people are spending it. They’re waiting for the price to peak. This has led some retailers to stop accepting the currency, but most of the big adopters are holding strong.

  • Currently, you can use bitcoin at checkout when you shop at Overstock.com, which is one of the biggest and cheapest online department stores.
  • Microsoft still accepts bitcoin in the Windows Store, where you can buy plenty of movies and apps.
  • Expedia allows you to use the currency to book vacations, although presently it can be used to pay for hotels only, not flights.
  • Newegg allows you to use bitcoin for all your electronic and hardware needs – the retailer sells everything from car parts to computers.
  • You can even pay your cable bill with bitcoin if you sign up for DISH. The satellite service has been accepting the currency since 2014 is the only subscription-based TV provider to do so.
  • Most of these retailers accept bitcoin through Coinbase, which is also one of the easiest ways to buy bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin.

Third-Party Options

The number of retailers accepting direct cryptocurrency payments pales in comparison to how many stores you can shop at using third-party bitcoin sites.

The best option here is to use eGifter to make transactions. This platform offers digital gift cards for hundreds of stores and restaurants, from Best Buy to Target, to Papa John’s. You can even buy your groceries with bitcoin this way.

All you have to do is sign up with the site and pay for your purchases with a digital gift card. You can even do this in store – using your smartphone – after you’ve figured out how much your purchase will be. The gift card can be scanned from your phone so there’s no need to wait for it to ship in the mail or to print it out at home.

There’s also Purse.io and iPayYou.io, which both focus specifically on trading Amazon gift cards for bitcoin and even offer incentives in the form of big discounts.

A Bitcoin Alternative

Litecoin is another player in the retail cryptocurrency scene. At the moment, eGifter accepts litecoin for digital gift cards. If you do some digging, you might find some small, very niche sites accepting litecoin for everyday goods. At the time of this writing, we were able to dig up a pet store called CryptoPet and a jewelry retailer call All Things Luxury, based in Nova Scotia.

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Image: ©iStock.com/thamerpic

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