How many incentive program accounts sit around, abandoned, because the account owners forgot they exist or never saw the point of having such an account in the first place? They may prefer to trade those points for real value, something that they can actually use. Programs like Bitcoin For Miles think they have the answer. Basically, you trade your unused airline miles for Bitcoin. It’s easy, it’s quick, and you can exchange that Bitcoin for cash or gift cards when you need to. Some people even use Bitcoin to book flights anyway and using Bitcoin could be easier than redeeming the original miles since you never have to jump through multiple hoops to redeem your rewards.
While selling your miles is legal in most states (Utah being the exception), you may want to check the fine print on the airline mile policy before you sell to Bitcoin For Miles. However, when you’re not going to use those miles anyway, it helps to know that the worst the airline will usually do is cancel your account. If you don’t fly all that often or just never get around to using the points, you might as well get the Bitcoin.
Considering that eBay members already do a brisk business in incentive points that haven’t been redeemed yet and Kenya’s MPesa (mobile phone minutes that can be used like currency) is a huge hit with the unbanked in that nation, it’s not unprecedented for people to use something that wouldn’t normally be considered cash as a medium of exchange. Redeeming your miles for Bitcoin could be seen as a kind of Foreign Exchange in which one placeholder for value is simply exchanged for another at prices that both the buyer and the seller can agree on.
You might not ever use those Disney points that came with a movie you bought for your niece, but someone else might have been trying to save up those points and getting a little frustrated that they’ve got nearly the entire Disney collection and haven’t managed to get that reward they want yet. You might as well get something for it since you spent the money on the movie. Think of it as a kind of rebate that doesn’t come directly from Disney if you like.
Could there be a business model there? Possibly. Incentive points might easily be seen as a marketing ploy or PR stunt meant to increase sales. How many people are going to buy a bottle of Coke instead of Pepsi because they need just three more points to get that reward they’ve been watching on Mycokerewards? The companies behind those incentive programs know that the majority of points are never going to be redeemed because they get thrown in the trash or abandoned by account owners who have given up on ever getting a significant reward. In this case, Bitcoin For Miles has the right idea even if they limit their business to airline miles for now. If somebody could come up with an easy way to redeem those unused points for cash or Bitcoin, that could be worth billions of dollars every year.