Crazy Bitcoin values are why I used Purse
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Need cheaper gear? Got Bitcoin to spend?

About six weeks from now, I’ll arrive in Fredericksburg, Texas for my first tent camping trip in decades. The last time I camped, my oldest was in diapers. She’s now the parent of a middle schooler, if that tells you anything 😯

Suffice it to say, I was lacking in the gear department when I planned this adventure. But camping puts me onsite at the guaranteed-to-be-awesome event I’ll be attending, instead of 20 minutes away in a cheap motel that still would’ve cost me close to $600.

When I decided camping was an option a few months ago, I bought a tent and a kick-ass sleeping pad. I still have the pretty awesome sleeping bag I bought for my oldest boy when he did a couple of SCA (Student Conservation Association) trips in high school. Brian bought me a great battery-powered lantern. I’ll nab a few items from the RV to help round out my kit.

Yes, I’ll have the obvious (and kinda large) expenses for gas and food. But beyond that (unless I’m missing something – a definite possibility), I need only a couple more pieces of gear for the trip. I’m headed for a Jellystone resort – not the Appalachian Trail.

Last week I took a somewhat unconventional route to get two items that’ve been on my list for months, and that I can’t seem to find a deal on anywhere. I tried PurseIO. I’ll share the how and the why of it. You can decide for yourself whether the move was crazy or smart.

What is Purse?

Purse is a marketplace that connects Bitcoin-holding Amazon shoppers with buyers who have Amazon gift cards but want Bitcoin.

That seems like a pretty quirky niche market. But if you have an Amazon gift card and you need spendable funds, it’s hard to find a safe place to trade the gift cards without getting ripped off. That’s one reason why Amazon gift card holders are willing to trade them for Bitcoin at a discount.

Purse acts as an intermediary in the transaction, taking a small cut (e.g., $1.92 on my $72.73 order) for providing the platform and escrow service.

Except for the items I wanted to buy, the transaction was private. To let a potential Earner (that’s what Purse calls the people who buy from Amazon on behalf of others) know what I wanted, I had to create a publicly-viewable Amazon Wish List with the items I wanted.

I would not do this for anything I didn’t want to be public knowledge, discount be damned.

After I named my discount, I sent Bitcoin to the address Purse gave me. That Bitcoin is held in escrow for the Earner who picked up my order. They walk you through the process, so it’s pretty easy even if it’s your first time.

The Earner bought my Wish List items with his/her Amazon gift card. They were shipped directly to me from Amazon. Neither Purse nor the Earner knows my shipping address. Once I verify I’ve received the order, Purse will release the Bitcoin to the Earner.

Although I set up a Purse account when the platform launched a couple of years ago, this was my first time using it. For that reason, I wasn’t sure how quickly my order would be picked up if I asked for a bigger discount. I tried only 15%, and my order was fulfilled right away.

Why I used Purse

I decided to give Purse a go for two reasons.

The first has to do with the fact that even though it was camping gear I was after, the expense is related to the RV Entrepreneur Summit I’ll attend next month. That Summit is, in a way I can’t 100% articulate, directly connected to A Fearless Venture. Inspiration. Motivation. My kind of people.

Anyway, A Fearless Venture is juuuuuust beginning to make money. The budget for expenses is zero dollars, y’all. If you read the last Wandering Porcupine post, you know that debt is not an option. Well, unless a dog is involved 🙄

I had to get creative.

The second reason has to do with the absolutely insane exchange rate between BTC and USD. No, I am not a Bitcoin millionaire (I wish). But I watched the contents of my Bitcoin wallet – what was essentially pocket change not long ago – soar to over a couple hundred bucks USD. Wheeeeee!

Trouble is, because of the current craziness in the Bitcoin world, it’s actually not a great form of payment to use at the moment.

When you do business with PayPal or a credit card processor, built into the price is anywhere between a 1-3% markup to cover payment processing fees. Bitcoin, lately, requires a ridiculous amount of fees if you want to get a transaction through the network.

So, my less than $80 order required more than $16 in fees to process. That would negate the benefit to me of using Purse – IF I was the one paying the fees. But I didn’t have to 🙂 Plus, it’s pretty sweet that I got $80+ worth of gear for what was originally an investment of less than $5.

I maybe could have saved more…

Will I use Purse again?

Well, as I write this post I’m thinking about buying some easy freeze-dried camping meals, but the healthy/good ones are damn expensive. Wondering if any Purse Earner wants Bitcoin bad enough to go for a 33% discount…

Is it worth it?

The hassle involved in Purse might not be worth it to you unless one or more of the following factors are in play:

  • You have Bitcoin you want to spend
  • You don’t have Bitcoin but are willing to sign up for a Coinbase account and buy Bitcoin with your bank account
  • You are making a large purchase and want to save a chunk of change
  • You are not buying anything you’d be embarrassed about were it public knowledge (because it will be)

When I researched Purse, I found negative comments here and there about it being used with stolen credit cards, or Earner’s Purse accounts being shut down. As a buyer, this won’t impact you. As an ethical buyer, it won’t impact you either.

That’s because if a shady Earner buys on Amazon with a stolen card it’ll take about five seconds for his/her account to be terminated. I wouldn’t want a legitimate Earner account shut down by Purse, but from what I can tell it’s only been violations of what seem to be reasonable Terms of Service that will get an Earner kicked off.

Why am I telling you all this?

Outside of a couple of online libertarian acquaintances, I don’t know anyone else who’s tried Purse. I can’t guarantee you’ll get great deals with zero hassle. But in case you are new to Wandering Porcupine and don’t know me, I will tell you I’m not always one to get in line or play it safe. I think there’s generally too much of that going around and if I can encourage you to buck the status quo that’s what I’m here for 😉

So, if you want to try Purse, you don’t have to go into it completely blind. If you have questions about my experience, ask in the Comments section below. If you have questions about Purse itself, they’ve got a pretty good FAQ on their site.

They gave me a referral link to share. It’s not a huge incentive, really, but it’ll pay you the BTC equivalent of $5 after you transact $100 or more via Purse: https://purse.io/?_r=ZUJef5

The odds of that $5 doing for you what it did for me are slim to none, but hey – it’s free money.

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