The travel sector is leading the way for cryptocurrency—a study by Traders of Crypto found that 11.5% of crypto-accepting companies are travel-related, more than any other sector. But just because you can use bitcoin, ether and other crypto to pay for travel doesn’t mean that you should.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Paying in crypto could save you money when traveling abroad. International travelers face fees and unfavorable rates when they exchange dollars for foreign currencies or use credit cards outside the US. Paying in crypto avoids this, because the assets are never converted into a foreign currency.
Pro: It eliminates the risk that the value of an unstable foreign currency will fall after a traveler exchanges dollars for it. Cryptocurrencies are prone to valuation swings, too, but if you already own crypto as an investment, using a portion of these assets to pay travel costs won’t increase your exposure to that volatility.
Con: You miss out on credit cards’ consumer protections and travel perks. Example: If you use a credit card to pay a tour company in advance but the company doesn’t provide the tour and refuses to issue a refund, you could dispute the charge with the card issuer and possibly get your money back. If you pay in crypto, there is no dispute process.
Con: Glitches and delays are more common because this payment method is new and unfamiliar.
Who Accepts Crypto?
Consumers can spend crypto by using debit cards linked to their crypto accounts, but these debit cards impose significant fees. To pay in crypto without fees, seek out one of the few companies that accept crypto directly. Examples…
Online travel agencies Travala.com and CheapAir.com both accept a range of cryptocurrencies for flights, hotel reservations and other travel costs. Travala is especially crypto-focused, and consumer feedback suggests it is reliable.
Hotel chains that accept crypto include The Kessler Collection, a US luxury chain with 12 locations, many of them in the Southeast (Kessler
Collection.com)…and The Pavilions Hotel and Resorts, a luxury chain in Europe and Asia (PavilionsHotels.com).
Airline airBaltic (AirBaltic.com) accepts crypto…useful mainly if you’re traveling to or through Riga, Latvia.
Many travel-sector businesses in El Salvador. The nation has adopted bitcoin as a form of legal tender.
Is Crypto Travel for You?
If you already own crypto, consider using it to pay foreign travel costs, where accepted. But if you’re not a crypto investor, don’t set up a crypto account just to pay travel costs—acceptance of crypto remains spotty, and crypto valuations remain unstable, though that could change in the future. Exception: It might be worth setting up a crypto account to pay travel costs if you’re planning an extended trip to El Salvador, where bitcoin is legal tender.