In the U.S. people generally use Bitcoin as an alternative investment, helping diversify a portfolio apart from stocks and bonds. You can also use Bitcoin to make purchases, but the number of vendors that accept the cryptocurrency is still limited.
Big companies that accept Bitcoin include Microsoft, PayPal and Whole Foods, to name only a few. You may also find that some small local retailers or certain websites take Bitcoin, but you’ll have to do some digging.
You can also use a service that allows you to connect a debit card to your crypto account, meaning you can use Bitcoin the same way you’d use a credit card. This also generally involves a financial provider instantly converting your Bitcoin into dollars. “Crypto.com and CoinZoom are two services that have regulation in the U.S.,” Montgomery says.
In other countries—particularly those with less stable currencies—people sometimes use cryptocurrency instead of their own currency.
“Bitcoin provides an opportunity for people to store value without relying on a currency that is backed by a government,” Montgomery says. “It gives people an option to hedge for a worst-case scenario. You’re already seeing people in countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Zimbabwe—in countries heavily in debt, Bitcoin is getting tremendous traction.”
That said, when you use Bitcoin as a currency, not an investment, in the U.S., you do have to be aware of certain tax implications.