Spending bitcoin can be a bit of a challenge. Despite ever increasing adoption, it is currently nowhere near being universally accepted.
Enter bitspend.net, a service that enables spending bitcoin to buy pretty much anything from pretty much anywhere. Basically, you tell them what you want to buy, they buy it for you using traditional means (like credit card etc), and you send them payment in bitcoin, including a fee of a few USD on top. (fee depends on order value)
On March 3 2013, bitspend announced their service on reddit. The thread quickly climbed to the top of the /r/Bitcoin sub and remained there for quite a while. The service was highly lauded, and was so overwhelmed with orders that orders had to be halted in order to get in place systems and procedures that could better cope with the massive unanticipated volume, but we managed to get an order through. We sent an order for a Nexus 7 tab off amazon. The product has a price tag above the initial bitspend 100 USD limit in place at the time, but we were hoping they would make an exception.
The reply was swift and friendly, initially informing us that the order was being processed, and then asking whether we wanted to add a 2-year warranty. After having sorted that out came the fun part: international shipping (address outside of the US) and payment. Turns out amazon, like many other vendors, do not like shipping to addresses in a different country from the one the credit card used for the payment was issued in. After some back and forth trying to figure out from where to get the product, eventually we realized that using ebay would allow bitspend to pay with paypal and then have the seller ship internationally. Despite the issues with amazon and some other vendors not having anything to do with bitspend, they offered to waive the bitspend fee as compensation for the trouble.
After confirming that the ebay option was possible, we received an invoice with a bitcoin address. After paying the bitcoin (again, no bitspend fee included) we received another confirmation email, and then it was just a matter of a few days to wait for the package to arrive.
We are very pleased and impressed with bitspend and their service, and we thoroughly recommend them. We made sure to send them a substantial tip which more than made up for them waiving their fee. Hopefully whatever problems they had with handling the overwhelming order volume is being sorted out so that more people can try them out.
In coming posts, we plan to review other means for spending bitcoin outside of the bitcoin nominated economy, such as e.g. btcinstant.com, bitcoinrunner.com and paybit.co so be sure to come back and check that out.
The authors of this review are not affiliated with bitspend or any of their competitors.
FYI for reddit users: bitspend also have a subreddit of their own at http://www.reddit.com/r/bitspend