Can I Earn Points For Booking Travel On Sites Like Orbitz While Also Earning Airline Miles?

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Update:  As of July 20, 2014, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card no longer offers the 7% annual points dividend. View the current sign up offer here.

TPG follower Asia Boca Raton asks:

@thepointsguy can I earn points for booking on Orbitz, Travelocity, etc through their programs while also earning airline mileage?”

The quick answer is yes, absolutely. I think what confuses a lot of folks is that many hotel loyalty programs only let you earn points and elite stay credit when you book your stays directly through them or one of their hotels but not through online travel agencies (OTA’s) like Orbitz or Travelocity. That’s not the case with airlines, though. For example, if you were to book an American Airlines flight through either of them, or Expedia, etc., you’d still earn frequent flyer miles – award miles and elite-qualifying miles – on paid flights just as you would if you had booked directly through American.

That fact presents a tremendous opportunity to triple dip and earn a lot more miles than you would just flying. If you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus cards from Chase you can earn multiple Ultimate Rewards points per $1 when you first log into the Ultimate Rewards travel portal and click through to the OTA of your choice. Currently, the portal is offering the following bonuses on these five OTA’s when purchasing flights specifically:

The Ultimate Rewards shopping portal regularly offers bonuses at online travel agencies.
The Ultimate Rewards shopping portal regularly offers bonuses at online travel agencies.

However, bonuses have gone up to 3 extra points per $1 recently so you can sometimes earn even more points. But then remember that both Expedia and Orbitz have their own loyalty programs and Travelocity’s Rewards program is actually linked to the co-branded Travelocity American Express from US Bank so in order to participate in it, you’ve got to have the credit card.

But to keep things simple – let’s say you are a member of Orbitz’s new rewards program, and that you have the Sapphire Preferred card from Chase, so you can use the Ultimate Rewards portal. What you could do to maximize your earnings would be to log into Ultimate Rewards, click through to Orbitz from there and then purchase airfare on your carrier of choice.

You’d be earning 3.21X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar thanks to the Sapphire Preferred’s normal 2X points per $1 on travel plus an extra 1X point per dollar through Ultimate Rewards, and the card’s annual 7% points dividend.

Then by booking through Orbitz (remember to log into your Orbitz Rewards account) you earn up to 1% back on the cost of your flight, excluding taxes and fees up to $5,000 ($50 in Orbucks) annually per member and then you can redeem those Orbucks for hotel stays.

But we’re not done yet. You’ll still be earning miles on the flights you fly – and voila, you’re triple dipping: Ultimate Rewards points, Orbucks and airline miles, all with a single purchase.

For more information on OTA loyalty programs, triple dipping and maximizing your airfare purchases, check out these posts:

Getting The Most Points out of Double and Triple Dipping When Booking Travel

Maximizing Online Travel Agency Loyalty Programs

Maximizing Airfare Purchases: Choosing the Right Credit Card and Site

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