A new loyalty program enables travelers to earn Bitcoin instead of frequent flyer points.
The scheme is being launched today by Binance-backed online booking agency TravelbyBit and offers Bitcoin rewards on more than one million flight and accommodation options.
The company is also in discussions with major Australian airlines to adopt the program.
TravelbyBit teased the news on Friday in a Twitter reply to Draper VC founder Tim Draper who had asked: “Would you switch airlines to get rewarded in bitcoin rather than airline miles?”
(Spoiler alert: Crypto Twitter would indeed switch airlines for Bitcoin rewards.)
TravelbyBit replied: “Careful what you wish for, BIG announcement coming this Monday!”
Would you switch airlines to get rewarded in bitcoin rather than airline miles?
— Tim Draper (@TimDraper) June 28, 2019
TravelbyBit allows travelers to pay in Bitcoin
TravelbyBit is a booking agency and payments gateway that allows users to pay with Bitcoin, Binance Coin, Litecoin or credit cards.
The TravelbyBit Crypto Rewards Program is a tiered program, so the more you spend, the more you get back.
Users can get up to 10% back in Bitcoin on hotel bookings and up to 1% for flight bookings.
So users on the “Mega Whale” status level will receive $50 in Bitcoin for booking a $500 hotel room, or $25 in BTC for a $2500 flight.
TravelbyBit CEO, Caleb Yeoh – who has made it his life’s work to increase mainstream adoption – said the loyalty program would be rolling out to airlines too.
“We’re also looking to trial our rewards system directly with several innovative airlines to introduce Bitcoin rewards to a wider market in place of frequent flyer points,” he said.
“People are traveling more than ever before, and it’s important for airlines to be aware of new types of rewards that may present a more desirable alternative for their customers.” .”
However, if you book flights now via TravelbyBit rather than the airline, you’ll be able to earn Bitcoin AND frequent flyer points.
Frequent flyer programs ripe for blockchain
Frequent flyer programs are well suited to cryptocurrency and blockchain.
Discount carrier Air Asia announced last year it was considering developing its own cryptocurrency called BigCoin to reward users. (It didn’t happen).
Singapore Airlines has developed a blockchain based loyalty system while booking site Travala offers discounted flights to users who stake AVA tokens.
The BitMiles site allows peer to peer trading of loyalty points for Bitcoin.
However, TravelbyBit’s rewards program appears to be the first airline loyalty program that will directly reward travelers with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin has many advantages over frequent flyer points which are hard to spend on anything except flights and upgrades.
“Many of us collect these points without knowing their actual worth and have limited options when it comes to trading these points in,” said Yeoh.
“But Bitcoin doesn’t confine the customer to a limited set of choices like points do; it has a genuine market value and a growing number of places that accept it as payment.”
Like most loyalty programs, TravelbyBit’s rewards program is tier based and the more you travel, the more Bitcoin you’ll get in rewards.
TravelbyBit also has a network of more than 400 retailers who use its payments gateway to enable customers to pay with crypto. It is not yet known if the loyalty program will extend to the retail outlets.
They include significant numbers of shops at Brisbane airport and in the Queensland town of 1770 along with kebab and sushi chains and lots more.
Binance last year invested $3.5 million into the company in order to help spread mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies. CEO Changpeng Zhao is on the board of directors.