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Everything started when a pair of Papa John’s pizzas were sold for 10,000 Bitcoins back in 2010. Bitcoin was just a year old at the time. Since then Bitcoin, while going strong, has always been a thing mostly for enthusiasts and those who believed in blockchain technology. (Those people were very few in number.)
Things, however, started changing in recent years as crypto started gaining pace, especially in the emerging markets. According to data from Chainalysis, crypto adoption has grown over 880% in just the last year.
While Bitcoin was originally intended to be peer-to-peer electronic cash, rather than being used as cash, it is often regarded as a speculative investment. People buy and HODL it in hopes of its dollar value going up.
That being said, today there are an increasing number of places where you can use Bitcoins the way Satoshi Nakamoto intended, by spending them. One such way of spending Bitcoins is using them to buy plane tickets.
Sounds interesting? Let us take a deeper look at it in this article.
Pay for flights with Bitcoin – where & how can you do it?
Until now whenever you needed to buy your plane tickets, you had to grab your wallet and credit card, didn’t you? Let’s talk about changing that.
Bitcoin can be used just like your traditional fiat to pay for things. The only difference is you’ll have to reach for your Bitcoin wallet instead. When paying with Bitcoin, you’ll either be directed to places like Crypto.com where you will complete your payment, or you’ll have to send payment to an address given on the payment page.
Now let’s go through some of the places that you should keep in mind when going to shop for your next trip.
Alternative Airlines is a flight search platform that allows customers to search and book flight tickets from 600 different airlines and pay in over 160 different currencies. But you are here for crypto, aren’t you? Alternative Airlines also accepts payments in Bitcoins and a few other cryptocurrencies including Ethereum, Litecoin, XRP, USDT etc.
Alternative Airlines allows you to buy tickets through many airlines that don’t directly accept crypto as payment methods, opening up a wide range of options to spend those digital coins. Payment is processed via Utrust and Crypto.com. No login is required, simply select Utrust or Crypto.com at the checkout, access your digital wallet and select the cryptocurrency you want to pay in.
CheapAir is a travel and tourism company founded by Jeff, a university student, in 1989. In 2013, it became one of the very first companies in the world to begin accepting payments in Bitcoins.
On CheapAir, you can buy plane tickets for anywhere around the world and book hotels using Bitcoins. You can also rent cars and get travel insurance on the site. There are dedicated pages for flights, hotels and vehicles to make the search easier.
In the beginning, CheapAir only offered Bitcoin as a payment option if paying with crypto, however, since 2018, some other cryptos have also been added to the list. Now you can pay using Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Gemini, Litecoin, USD Coin, Paxos Standard, BUSD, Dai, and Wrapped BTC.
Based in Queensland, Australia, TravelbyBit is another flight and tourism platform that is built for the blockchain generation. It lets you spend digital currencies to avail services at a growing number of retail, dining, and activity service providers.
On TravelbyBit, customers can pay using either credit cards or cryptocurrencies like BTC, BNB, USDT, or LTC. TravelbyBit also shares a portion of its profits with travelers in Bitcoin travel reward. TravelbyBit customers can earn rewards in Bitcoin when booking eligible flights or hotels on travelbybit.com. The more you travel, the more Bitcoin you will earn! Paying with crypto is simply a matter of scanning the QR code or copying the address.
Founded in 2017, Travala is a platform that allows searching through more than 600 airlines for tickets and more than 2,200,200 hotels and accommodations worldwide. When it comes to crypto payment, Travala accepts more than 60 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin.
Travala focuses heavily on crypto; they have their own token AVA. AVA is a utility token that is the heart of Travala. It is a BEP-2 token based on the Binance Chain. AVA allows users to book various travel products and provides several incentives in the form of discounts, loyalty rewards and more.
The Smart membership allows customers to receive a discount of up to 5% on selected travel products and up to 5% loyalty rewards in AVA depending on their Smart level. There are 6 Smart levels based on the number of AVA tokens locked in the wallet. Moreover, if payment is done entirely in AVA, users can get up to an additional 3% discount for their booking. Furthermore, the Smart program also gives access to the NFT program, and platform voting rights.
This is another crypto first travel agency; in fact, it only accepts payments in crypto. They started accepting payments in Bitcoin and expanded from there. Today they have a large list of cryptocurrencies that you can pay with. Customers can search for flights, hotels and cars on this simple and intuitive site.
Bitcoin.travel is covered extensively by the press including the likes of Forbes, The New York Times, Travel+Leisure among several others and the platform boasts this right on the homepage. According to Forbes, “Bitcoin.Travel has one of the most comprehensive lists of businesses that use bitcoin.”
tripgift.com via CryptoRefills gift cards
Crypto has been around for a long time now, but still only a very few places accept Bitcoins. Travel sites are the same story. However, there is a way around that — gift cards, particularly those bought using crypto. There are sites like CryptoRefills that allow users to buy gift cards and vouchers using Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. Those gift cards can then be redeemed at the travel sites.
There are many platforms where gift cards can be redeemed. One such platform is TripGift, a digital self-serve travel experience and eLearning e-Commerce platform. It allows redeeming in 34 different currencies against a unique choice of 450 Airlines, 750,000 Hotels, Villas & Apartments, 20,000 Tours and Packages, 500 Car Rental Partner providers and 30,000 Airport Transfer locations.
hotels.com via CryptoRefills
Headquartered in Texas, USA, Hotels.com is one of the leading providers of hotel accommodations worldwide. They offer a wide selection of hotels including both independent and major chain hotels as well as self-catering in over hundreds of thousands of properties worldwide.
CryptoRefills offers gift cards that can be redeemed while booking the hotels on hotel.com. Apart from that, the gift cards can also be used in conjunction with member-only deals and promotions.
hotelgift.com via CryptoRefills
HotelGift is another hotel search and booking platform. They have a single gift card for over 270,000 hotels worldwide with over 140 hotel brands in over 170 countries. This can be a great gift for anyone, as they can have the freedom to decide when to travel and where to explore. Or… you can gift it to yourself!
When it comes to redeeming the gift cards, they are valid for 2 years, giving you plenty of time to plan your trip.
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Airline companies that accept Bitcoin
Apart from the travel agencies, there are also a few airlines you can buy tickets from and pay in Bitcoins.
Latvian airline airBaltic, in the year 2014, became one of the very first commercial airlines to accept Bitcoin as the payment method. Customers can travel to over 60 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS and pay with Bitcoins if they purchase the Green and Green plus tickets and the flight is booked at least five days ahead of the scheduled departure.
The prices are displayed in Euros on the website and the transactions are processed by BitPay, which converts Bitcoins into Euros to finalize the payment. Apart from Bitcoins, the airline also accepts other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Dogecoin and a few stable coins.
A nice feature on airBaltic is “Freeze my Price” which allows booking a flight and postponing payment for up to 48 hours — great when you need a bit more time to finalize other things.
LOT Polish Airlines
“Many of our customers are shopping online, including flights. It is only a matter of time before virtual currency payments will become as popular as credit card use nowadays. We saw this potential.” These were the words of Jiri Marek, executive director of sales and distribution for LOT when the company first began accepting Bitcoins as payment.
Lot is also one of the first airlines to start accepting Bitcoins, they have been doing so since 2015.
As with most other platforms, the price is calculated in the standard currency, and at the time of payment, the price is converted into Bitcoins before the customer is redirected to the Bitcoin wallet.
Why pay for flights with Bitcoin – pros & cons
As Bitcoin gains the attention of the mainstream and gets used more and more as digital cash for availing services, it is necessary to know the pros and cons of paying with this internet currency.
So, let us look at the pros and cons of paying for flights with Bitcoin.
- Easy currency conversion: If you have ever converted your currency to the local currency of any other place, you know the deal — Going through the trouble of finding an exchange, looking for exchanges with the best rates and low fees… you get the point. Bitcoin can help here. It is a digital currency that can be easily carried on a smartphone and can be exchanged for cash at thousands of marketplaces.
- No blocked payments: You may have already experienced this, you go to make some payment, and your transaction gets declined by your bank or your credit card company. With Bitcoin, you are your own bank, and because it is peer-to-peer, no centralized body can block your payment.
- Anonymity: Although every transaction is traceable on the blockchain network, the technology is such that those transactions can never be associated with personal identity.
- Mobile transactions: Bitcoin can be used anywhere, you just need an internet connection. No need to carry a physical card. This can be great if you are not in your home country.
- Doesn’t affect your credit score: You can make large payments without having to worry about the negative impacts on your credit score.
- No refund, no customer service and no going back: Unlike with credit cards which allow you to dispute your charges when you feel like something is wrong, there is no such thing in crypto. Moreover, Bitcoin transactions cannot be reversed, so if you accidentally send your precious digital coins to the wrong address, those coins are gone.
- Still highly volatile: Bigger cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, have become less volatile today, but I think everyone can agree that today crypto is synonymous with high volatility. One day your crypto can be worth enough to buy the entire airplane, while the next day it might be barely enough to afford a used car.
- It’s easy but still can be mind-numbing for non tech-savvy people.
- Not as widely accepted: The number of places accepting Bitcoins is growing, but still you’ll have to put in a fair bit of time in researching the places that do accept them.
- You’ll have to spend time figuring out the taxes: In most places, crypto is treated as an investment and spending these digital coins is a taxable event. You will need to calculate profit or loss according to the cost basis, which can be a hassle if you do a lot of transactions.
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Here are answers to the frequently asked questions.
Which travel websites accept Cryptocurrency?
There are many travel websites where you can avail services with Bitcoins. Some of those websites include Travala, CheapAir, Alternative Airlines, Distinia among many others.
Keep in mind that the crypto market is very new and there are a lot of bad actors trying to make some quick money by scamming people. So make sure to do your own research before sending a potentially large sum of money to some crypto address. Especially because once you send, there’s no way back.
Where can I use cryptocurrency to pay for flights?
Several travel agencies and flight search platforms have cryptocurrencies as a payment option. There are also a few airlines that accept crypto. Moreover, using sites like CryptoRefills you can purchase gift cards and vouchers using crypto, and use those to pay at many places that do not currently accept these modern digital coins.
Can I buy flight tickets with cryptocurrency?
Yes, you can. There are a growing number of places where you buy flight tickets with cryptocurrencies, and depending on the situation, cryptocurrencies can prove to be a better option when compared to fiat.
Does Expedia take bitcoin?
Expedia started accepting payments in Bitcoins in 2014 and became one of the first major companies to do that, but unfortunately, since 2018 they are no longer accepting Bitcoins.
Can you buy real things with Bitcoin?
Bitcoin began its life when a man used it to buy pizzas. So yes, you can buy real things with Bitcoins. As Bitcoin matures and becomes more and more mainstream, it is becoming increasingly common to see Bitcoin listed as a payment option for goods and services.
As of right now here are some of the exciting things you can buy with Bitcoins:
- Cars: many marketplaces sell used or even brand new cars for Bitcoins. Ever heard the phrase “When Lambo?”
- Socks: Yup! There is an entire website dedicated to selling Bitcoin socks that are out of this world!
- Electronic equipment: Newegg, a large place that sells electronic gadgets allows Bitcoin payments.
- Private jet: Bitcoins burning holes in your digital wallet? Not anymore! Spend them on a private jet.
- Yacht: still have some coins left after your private jet purchase? You can spend them too.
- Real Estate: You will be tired after all the travelling, and you’ll need a place to rest.
- VPN: You already know the benefits of a VPN if you are into crypto, don’t you? You can buy a VPN service with Bitcoins. VPNs being privacy-focused services, caught the Bitcoin train early on.
Travel sites that accept Bitcoin
Many travel websites that offer flight tickets, hotels, cars, dining and other services accept Bitcoin. Bitcoin. Travel, CheapAir, Alternative Airlines and Travala are some among many other such sites.
CaptainAltcoin's writers and guest post authors may or may not have a vested interest in any of the mentioned projects and businesses. None of the content on CaptainAltcoin is investment advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified financial planner. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CaptainAltcoin.com