With its open source, public, bank-free way to handle monetary transactions,Bitcoin has all the inherent characteristics required to become one of the most widely available currencies in the world. But, while its popularity is on the rise, some retailers are hesitant to implement a Bitcoin point-of-sale system. So if you're one of the millions currently using Bitcoins for daily transactions, but your favorite vendor doesn't, don't despair - the new Bitcoin Debit Card is here!

Just like debit cards from your parents’ financial institution, you can now use Bitcoin debit cards for purchases on- and offline.

There are justtwo main differences - onebeing thatyou'll need to load your new debit card with Bitcoins that will switch to dollars for use almost anywhere in the world, and the other beingreal-time market fluctuations. You may start out in the morning with your debit card showing a one hundred dollar balance, but shifting exchange rates mean that could be ninety-seven dollars at the end of the day - even if you haven't made a single purchase. On the other hand, If you're lucky, you might have gained a few bucks! Be sure to stay up to date on your balance with a quick check of your Bitcoin app.

Shift & Xapo

Two of the most popular choices for Bitcoin debit cards, according to Bitcoin News, are Shift and Xapo.

Shift connects directly to your Coinbase account; Xapo does not, utilizing a "wallet" system for keeping track of your money instead.

Shift has partnered with VISA, allowing you to spend worldwide via the Shift-Visa debit card system. Xapo's debit card is stand-alone and doesn't carry the same brand recognition. And while that may not be an issue if you're using your Xapo debit card in New York City, it could be a challenge in more rural parts of the country.

One realdownside to Xapo, however, is that while you can technically connect their debit card to your Paypal account making a withdrawal from it will mean you are purchasing Bitcoins - and, according to Xapo's website, that means "commissions will be applied."

Otherwise both cards come with many of the familiar characteristics we’re all accustomed to enduring, including daily limits and fees for certain services. So if you're in the market for a Bitcoin debit card be sure to read the fine print for each card to determine which one is right for you.

image credit: Zach Copley, Flickr