Expedia, the online travel agency that has been one of the largest merchants to accept bitcoin since 2014, has quietly stopped accepting the cryptocurrency, forcing users to seek alternative travel services.
Marketexclusive.com reported on July 2 that an Expedia spokesperson confirmed the company would not accept bitcoin for hotel or flight bookings and that it was evaluating alternative payment options. The spokesperson said the company apologized for inconveniences because there had been no advance notice of the change.
Expedia Experienced Problems
The report noted that Expedia faced frequent problems with bitcoin payments, including customer dissatisfaction about the payment process timing out, a hectic refund process, and some customers finding they needed to pay with their credit card even after they paid in bitcoin.
Coinbase Change A Factor?
Numerous posts have speculated that Expedia stopped accepting bitcoin because Coinbase, Expedia’s bitcoin payment processor, introduced a new merchant tool that changed its custodial merchant service.
In late March, Reddit announced it would no longer accept bitcoin payments for its premium membership program, Reddit Gold, mainly on account of Coinbase’s new merchant platform. A Reddit administrator was quoted as saying that Coinbase’s change, in addition to some issues with the bitcoin payment option, caused the service to discontinue bitcoin acceptance.
Cheapair.com Switches To BitPay
While Cheapair.com, another online travel agency, also used Coinbase, that travel website has since switched to BitPay.
Jeff Klee, CEO of Cheapair.com, noted in a statement published on Bitcoin.com in late April that Coinbase had informed the travel service that it will no longer support custodial solutions for merchants, and that on April 30 merchants would no longer be able to create new orders using the Coinbase merchant tools. Klee further noted Cheapair.com’s plan to use BitPay as a processor.
Cheapair.com, in addition to accepting bitcoin since 2013, also accepts litecoin, bitcoin cash, and dash for both flight and hotel bookings, the company announced this past May.
Klee also stated in May that the company has experienced a “huge uptick” in customers requesting alternative currencies.
Alternative Travel Sites Available
Aside from Cheapair.com, there are a variety of lesser-known travel services and airlines that accept cryptocurrency.
Travel websites that accept bitcoin include Destina.com, Abitsky.com, Btctrip.com, Fluege.com, Nurflug.de and Agencciadeviajesvirtual.com.
Airlines that accept bitcoin include Airbaltic.com of Latvia, Flypeach.com of Japan, Fat.com.tw of Thailand, and Cebupacificair.com of The Philippines.
Gift cards that can be used to pay for some airlines include Gyft, eGiftergiftoff, FlightGiftCard, Bitrefill.com.
Expedia itself had been on that list since June 2014, when it announced that it would accept bitcoin for hotel bookings. Michael Gulmann, company vice president, said at the time that the bitcoin acceptance was only a test.
One Reddit poster noted that Expedia’s recent decision was especially unfortunate for IT industry users, since many of them receive a portion of their salaries in cryptocurrency.