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How Do You Pay with Bitcoin? Beginner's Guide to Crypto Payments
Author: changehero
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Do you own some Bitcoin and would like to put your peer-to-peer digital cash to use? Or do you hate to see an altcoin sitting idly in your portfolio and want to get something nice? With this guide by the ChangeHero team, learn what to expect from purchases with BTC and other crypto assets and what you must know before getting to it.

Key Takeaways

Before You Start: Acquiring Crypto and Setting Up a Wallet

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It takes no genius to know that before being able to make a Bitcoin payment, you would need to get your hands on BTC. You can do it on a cryptocurrency exchange, although this is not the only option.

Another thing to iron out before concerning yourself with crypto payments is a wallet. Depending on how you choose to top up your balance, it might be the first step even before you buy cryptocurrency. A crypto wallet is a prerequisite for alternatives to exchanges, such as peer-to-peer markets or fiat-to-crypto purchase points.

If you are choosing a cryptocurrency wallet app specifically to make purchases, a few features that can become handy are QR code scanning, replace-by-fee (RBF), and customization of transaction fees. Ideally, it should support most major blockchain networks and conversion between them.

If you need help setting up a crypto wallet app, check out our guide to crypto wallets! For a step-by-step guide on buying Bitcoin on ChangeHero, see the article about our fiat-to-crypto partner FinchPay. And while you’re at it, you can read up on how BTC transactions work because you might need this knowledge to understand Bitcoin payments.

How to Pay with Cryptocurrency

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There are two principal ways how to use crypto as a payment method. A direct payment requires the recipient to set up a blockchain address or a crypto payment gateway. You can pay with Bitcoin anywhere with a crypto debit card but it comes with a set of its own perks and pitfalls.

Direct Payment

  1. First, make sure the merchant can accept crypto as a payment method. If you don’t have a specific store in mind, you can find one in online repositories such as Cryptwerk.
  2. At the checkout, when you choose to pay with Bitcoin or crypto, you will be provided with a recipient address as a string of characters or a QR code. Make sure this address is on the same network as the cryptocurrency you intend to use — otherwise, your transfer will be lost.
  3. Open your wallet app and proceed to send the necessary amount of digital currency. You will need an Internet connection to broadcast the transaction to the blockchain. Copy the recipient’s address from the checkout or scan the QR code with a smartphone.
  4. Most crypto wallets add the optimal transaction fees to the amount of transfer. If your app supports it, you can increase the fee so your transaction gets processed faster on the blockchain. It can be necessary if the merchant puts a timer on a transfer, to prevent price slippage.
  5. Some blockchain networks process transfers slower than others. Sending an ERC-20 token on the base Ethereum layer can take a few minutes while Bitcoin transactions take up to an hour to be considered completed. L2s and alternative networks speed things up but not all of them are widely supported on the merchants’ side.

Alternatives: Crypto Debit Cards and Apps

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Risks and Benefits of Paying with Bitcoin

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Pros of Crypto Purchases

Even these days, paying with digital currencies is more often a choice than a necessity. So why do people go out of their way to make purchases with cryptocurrency over more traditional payment methods?

One considerable argument in favor of it is privacy. It is far from being as anonymous as cold hard cash but leaves less of a digital footprint than bank account records. And before you even think it means crypto enables financing crime, the transparent nature of most blockchains makes it even less fitting for criminals than the same cash.

Sometimes users choose to send cryptocurrency because other payment methods are not available to them. APMs can seem ubiquitous until you know that most of them operate in just a few countries.

And speaking of international shopping or cross-border transfers, digital currency often has fewer fees and hurdles. Crypto transactions require a minimal amount of information and are jurisdiction-agnostic. A service provider can ask for additional identifying information for compliance purposes. Still, it won’t give them as extensive a profile as the information attached to your card and bank account.

Last but not least, it can simply be a conscious choice based on one’s view of crypto and blockchain. If we want more points of purchase to accept crypto, why not be the change we want to see in the world?

Cons of Bitcoin Transactions

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The reasons that accepting Bitcoin is not universal yet are still plenty. Ironically, most of them are the other side of the coin that makes users embark on a crypto journey.

Because the transaction details are pseudonymous, unless advanced blockchain analysis is used, it is hard to tell if the funds have previously been involved in illegal activity or come from a sanctioned entity. For merchants, this presents a risk of becoming complicit in crime, so they have to filter the transfers and identify clients.

Sometimes, sending crypto directly is more economical than using other payment methods but not always. If you compare it to a remittance, sure, it’s quicker and more economical to just send Bitcoin.

But in an imaginary situation when you try to use it in brick-and-mortar stores, if a quicker payment option is available, waiting for ten minutes just to see the payment confirmation is not the most convenient method. There are quicker and cheaper networks but they are even less widespread and more prone to price volatility (unless you use stablecoins).

And speaking of volatility, cryptocurrency prices and rates can change dramatically: both the short and long-term change is a problem. Due to short-term volatility, merchants and gateways often need to impose a time limit, and it is not always enough to send payment.

As for the change in the long term, a lot of crypto assets strive to have low inflation, which discourages spending. Seeing the dollar amount on the purchases made months ago can be eye-watering if the asset’s price has risen since then. So why transfer Bitcoin if you can just hold it and see the value grow?


At the end of the day, having the option to send crypto as a payment method is nice! After all, it is their intended purpose, and although priorities shifted as crypto assets found a new niche, remembering where the “-currency” part comes from is not a bad thing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I pay for something with crypto?

To pay for something with cryptocurrency, you can use a digital wallet to send the required amount to the recipient’s wallet address. Input the recipient’s wallet address, specify the amount to send, and complete the transaction. Ensure that you have sufficient funds in your wallet and double-check the recipient’s address before confirming the payment.

How do I use crypto for purchases?

To use cryptocurrency for purchases, find a merchant or platform that accepts crypto payments, select the items you want to buy, and choose the option to pay with cryptocurrency at checkout. You will receive a wallet address or QR code to send the payment from your crypto wallet. Once the transaction is confirmed on the blockchain, your purchase will be complete.

Can you pay with crypto on PayPal?

When using PayPal at the checkout, if you have a sufficient balance in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, or Litecoin, you will get prompted to Checkout with Crypto (available in the US). Choose one of the currencies to cover the eligible purchase and confirm. There is no explicit conversion fee for Checkout with Crypto but the conversion spread is covered in the exchange rate in the app.

Can I pay my credit card with cryptocurrency?

Yes, some platforms like BitPay allow you to pay your credit card bill using cryptocurrency. These platforms act as intermediaries, converting your cryptocurrency into fiat currency to settle your credit card debt. It’s important to research and choose a reputable platform for this service.

How do you use crypto to pay for things?

To use cryptocurrency to pay for things, find a merchant or platform that accepts the cryptocurrency you have. Initiate the payment using your crypto wallet by sending the required amount to the merchant’s wallet address.

How do I pay with crypto anywhere?

To pay with cryptocurrency anywhere, use a cryptocurrency debit card that converts your crypto into fiat at the point of sale. Alternatively, some merchants directly accept cryptocurrency payments through digital wallets or payment processors that support various cryptocurrencies.

What app can I use to pay with crypto?

You can use apps like BitPay, Coinbase Card, or to pay with cryptocurrency at merchants that accept digital payments. These apps allow you to convert your crypto into fiat for transactions.

How can I get paid through Bitcoin?

To get paid through Bitcoin, you can provide your Bitcoin wallet address to the person or company that wants to send you payment. They can then send the desired amount of Bitcoin to your wallet address. Make sure to use a secure and reputable wallet to receive payments.

How do I pay with Bitcoin without a wallet?

To pay with Bitcoin without a wallet, you typically need a payment processor or service that allows you to make Bitcoin payments directly from your account on their platform. Some platforms or services may also offer the option to pay with Bitcoin using a credit or debit card. However, it’s generally recommended to have a Bitcoin wallet for better security and control over your funds.

Can I use Bitcoin to get cash?

You can sell your Bitcoin on a cryptocurrency exchange that supports fiat currency withdrawals and then withdraw the cash to your bank account. Alternatively, use a Bitcoin ATM to sell your Bitcoin for cash by sending your Bitcoin to the ATM’s specified address and collecting the cash dispensed by the machine.

Can I use Bitcoin to send money?

Yes, you can use Bitcoin to send money to anyone with a Bitcoin wallet. Transactions are typically faster and cheaper compared to cross-border remittances or traditional banking methods.

How can I pay with cryptocurrency?

Choose a digital wallet that supports the specific cryptocurrency you want to use. Acquire the cryptocurrency you want to use, then find a merchant that accepts cryptocurrency and send the payment using their unique address.

Can you be paid in cryptocurrency?

Yes, it is possible to be paid in cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency payments provide a digital and decentralized method for receiving funds. Many individuals and notable businesses now accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment.

Who accepts cryptocurrency as payment?

Many online retailers, such as Overstock and Shopify, accept cryptocurrency as payment. Some major companies, like Microsoft and Expedia, also allow customers to pay with cryptocurrency. Additionally, certain restaurants, bars, and even some universities now accept cryptocurrency for goods and services.