Here is a quick guide to storing, transporting, and spending your Bitcoin:

Keep It Safe

There are many ways to lose your Bitcoin, but the most common one is failing to properly backup your recovery seed.   Use a wallet which allows you to write down your recovery words on a piece of paper, and keep that paper safe — in a safe.  

If your Bitcoin is worth a lot, get a hardware wallet like Trezor or Ledger Nano.  For smaller amounts, I Blockchain.info is good, and it’s available as both a website and mobile app.

Take It With You

While large sums of Bitcoin are best kept in cold storage on your Trezor or paper wallet, you can carry a small amount in a “hot wallet” on your phone.   For your hot wallet, you can use Blockchain.info or BRD Wallet.  JAXX works well if you prefer to keep a variety of currencies and easily switch between them, and also has a desktop version.

Spend It

OK, so you have a fortune in Bitcoin.  How do you spend it on real-world goods?

While many merchants to take payments in Bitcoin, today, fiat currencies like the dollar are much easier to spend.   This is why I recommend converting Bitcoin to dollars for most purchases if you’re in a country with a reliable payment system.  

You have two ways to do this:

1: Sell for Bitcoin for dollars, then buy things as you normally would:

To do this, you need to find a safe and reputable service to sell Bitcoin.  If you prefer to do this online, my personal favorite for low fees and ease of use is Uphold.   If you prefer to meet someone in person, LocalBitcoins.com works well.

2: Get a Bitcoin debit card

A Bitcoin debit card works just like any other debit card and is accepted anywhere that accepts a Visa card.  The card works by selling your BTC for USD either in amounts you choose or at the time you make purchases.  The two cards I recommend for this are the Bitpay Debit Card or the Coinbase Shift Card

Watch out for Scammers

Bitcoin thieves are always working on new tricks, so it’s impossible to summarize every kind of fraud and scam out there. However, there are a few principles you should follow:

  • Never reveal your seed words, or input them into any software you don’t fully trust.
  • Always access wallet software and websites using the official URL.  Don’t rely on Google, because there many fake versions of websites and especially support help desks.
  • Try not to keep Bitcoins in a “hot” wallet on your computer, in case someone installs spyware on it.
  • If you do keep Bitcoin on your computer, make sure your wallet is encrypted with a strong password.
  • Double check the address for any transactions you make.  If you use a hardware wallet, preview the address on your device.
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