Using bitcoin as a currency to pay for travel has taken a few steps forward.
CheapAir last week announced that its users may now use bitcoin to pay for Amtrak tickets besides airline tickets and hotel rooms. And a new hotel booking engine called GuestLeader that accepts bitcoin an payment could mean more hotels signing on too.
At CheapAir, you can use bitcoin to buy Amtrak tickets for several routes, including Los Angeles-San Diego, Portland-Seattle, New York-Washington and New York-Boston. (You can use more conventional money too.)
“We think it’s pretty cool when travelers can search Amtrak fares with their voice — from an airplane selected specifically for its WiFi — pay for train seats with bitcoin from that airplane — and then get $100 back if their fares drop!” CheapAir Chief Executive Jeff Klee, who started the company from his college dorm room in 1989, said in a statement.
Klee’s statement refers to the new bitcoin option as well as his company’s policy of giving customers refunds if the airfare they bought drops in price.
Meanwhile, Miami Beach-based Revpar Guru partnered with BitPay to create what it says is the world’s first bitcoin hotel booking engine. The selling point of GuestLeader, the company says, is that it allows international travelers to deal exclusively in one currency -- no need to change money.
Some hotels have hopped on the bandwagon. The D Casino Hotel and Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, both in Las Vegas, this year began accepting the currency at the front desk and at some of their restaurants.
But can you really travel with bitcoin alone? Journalist Kahmir Hill at Forbes did just that -- twice in two years -- and details her travels in California’s wine country. (This year was easier than last.)
One of the biggest setbacks for the currency came back in February when a key Japanese bitcoin exchange failed and wiped out the accounts of its customers. Still, bitcoin has been bouncing back a bit. Recently the Federal Election Commission ruled that political committees could accept bitcoin donations.