By Eric Brandt
Whether you think cryptocurrency is just a fad or the future of finance, it’s a fascinating technology. You probably made your last car purchase with boring old dollars, but maybe the next one will be with a digital currency.
If you’re wondering if you can buy a car with cryptocurrency, you’re in the right place. Let’s take a look at how it works and whether it’s a good idea. As with all money matters, it’s best to consult your financial adviser before making any investments.
What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a decentralized digital asset. Created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Bitcoin /zigman2/quotes/31322028/realtime BTCUSD +2.22% is the original cryptocurrency. It is still the biggest by market cap and has inspired thousands of “altcoins.” Popular alternatives are Ethereum /zigman2/quotes/108573964/realtime ETHUSD +1.24% , Litecoin /zigman2/quotes/108573968/realtime LTCUSD +1.28% , Ripple, Solana /zigman2/quotes/229898318/realtime SOLUSD +2.29% , and more. The purpose of some cryptocurrencies is to be a store of value like “digital gold.” Others intend to be a medium of exchange like cash for buying and selling goods and services.
Another type of cryptocurrency is stablecoins. Stablecoins like USD Coin /zigman2/quotes/226472410/realtime USDCUSD -0.0100% and Tether /zigman2/quotes/226258617/realtime USDTUSD -0.0100% are tied to government-issued currencies like the U.S. dollar and the euro. For example, one USDC is worth $1. Stablecoins serve as digital placeholders for real-world global currencies.
America’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is a website called Coinbase /zigman2/quotes/225893452/composite COIN +6.18% . You can buy, sell, and manage hundreds of different cryptocurrencies on Coinbase. Merchants can use it as a payment processor for crypto, similar to PayPal /zigman2/quotes/208054269/composite PYPL -0.47% .
How to buy a car with cryptocurrency
There are a few ways you can buy a car with cryptocurrency. Some online car marketplaces such as Car for Coin and BitCars allow you to exchange crypto — primarily Bitcoin — for a vehicle.
There is an easy way to use cryptocurrency as payment anywhere that accepts debit cards. Crypto debit cards like the BitPay Mastercard /zigman2/quotes/207581792/composite MA +0.55% and Coinbase Visa /zigman2/quotes/203660239/composite V +0.92% card work just like regular debit cards, but they draw funds from your crypto wallet rather than a bank account.
Some of BitPay’s trusted partners include RM Sotheby’s, Vegas Auto Gallery, and Mecum Auctions, but you can use a BitPay card anywhere Mastercard is accepted. You could use a crypto debit card for a down payment, monthly payments, and insurance payments, but you might have difficulty finding a dealer that lets you buy a car outright with a debit card.
BitPay supports many major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, stablecoins like USD Coin and Binance USD, and even some memecoins like Dogecoin /zigman2/quotes/226077044/realtime DOGEUSD +0.70% and Shiba Inu /zigman2/quotes/231473891/realtime SHIBUSD +1.26% .
A couple of other options in crypto debit cards include the CryptoWallet Mastercard and Crypto.com Visa card.
A list of dealers where you can buy with crypto
Some car dealerships across the country accept cryptocurrency as payment, but there are no manufacturers that accept crypto across their whole dealer network.
Here are a few dealerships that accept crypto via payment processors such as BitPay and Coinbase:
Jeff Wyler Automotive Family in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana
Carriage Auto Group in Georgia and Alabama
Bob Moore Auto Group in Oklahoma
Edmark Toyota in Nampa, Idaho
Lamborghini Newport Beach in Irvine, California.
Reed Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram in Merriam, Kansas
Porsche Towson in Towson, Maryland
BMW of Rockville in Rockville, Maryland
Motor Cars of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has gone back and forth on accepting Bitcoin as payment at Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +0.91% stores, but as of this writing, that system isn’t in place. However, if you’d like to buy a Tesla or another electric car with cryptocurrency, you might find some for sale on the crypto exchanges or at car dealerships mentioned above.
Should I buy a car with crypto?
Anyone who’s spent time with digital currency knows a great deal of risk is involved with all things crypto. Cryptocurrency values are extremely volatile.
For example, Bitcoin hit an all-time high of nearly $68,000 in November 2021. You could have bought a new Porsche 718 Cayman with one Bitcoin. However, as of this writing, Bitcoin’s value is hovering around $20,000. That same Bitcoin that could’ve bought a Porsche less than a year ago will now get you a base Subaru Impreza.
Since car values don’t fluctuate nearly as much as cryptocurrency values, stablecoins would be a good vehicle for paying for a car with digital currency. For example, putting USDC in a BitPay wallet and using that to make car payments is a safer way to pay for your car without worrying about the value of your crypto tanking.
If you’re a true believer in cryptocurrency, buying a car directly with crypto like Bitcoin could be a great way to put this innovative technology to use. Also, it might be fun to tell your friends you bought your car with Bitcoin.