Money

Here's how you can—and can't—spend bitcoin

Amazon's European headquarters, in the Clausen Valley in Luxembourg.
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images
Amazon's European headquarters, in the Clausen Valley in Luxembourg.

It's been a tumultuous week for bitcoin. After dropping 20 percent in value last week, the digital currency topped $12,000 on Tuesday, reached $15,000 by early on Wednesday and, on Thursday, rocketed above $19,000 before falling and settling around $16,000 in the early afternoon.

Financial experts seem to agree: It's volatile. CNBC's Jim Cramer and self-made millionaire Tony Robbins both compared investing in it to gambling in Vegas. Billionaire Mark Cuban said buying the currency would be like "throwing a Hail Mary."

But if you decide to take that risk and put some money into it, where can you even spend bitcoin?

A lot of places, but not everywhere.

Over 100,000 merchants worldwide accept bitcoin. Notable ones include Microsoft and Expedia, as well as the online electronics retailer Newegg.

Considering that bitcoin is a digital currency, it's more rare for actual stores to accept it as a payment method. But, as CoinDesk points out, some business are beginning to, such as REEDS Jewelers, which has over 60 retail locations in eastern U.S.

Speaking of Vegas, the Golden Gates Hotel & Casino there accepts bitcoin payments at their hotels and restaurants but not yet for bets on the casino floor.

Many major retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have yet to sign off on bitcoin as an accepted method of payment, but the mobile gift card app Gyft offers one way around that. You can use bitcoin to buy a gift card and then shop at those retailers or another one of the 200-some that they work with, including giants like Nike, Target and Starbucks.

Alternatively, you can also use a service like Shakepay to convert cryptocurrencies into USD or Euros for a fee. Last year, Mason Borda, the CEO of a cryptocurrency security firm called TokenSoft, outlined in a post on Medium how he used the service to pre-order a Tesla Model 3 with bitcoin.

So, although many retailers don't yet accept the cryptocurrency as a payment method, there are ways to make it work. Plus, it is rumored that Amazon might actually be preparing to change their policy and begin accepting bitcoin, which could, experts speculate, surge its value even higher.

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