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Orbitz Launches New Credit Card – Is It Worth It?

by on April 22, 2014 · 12 comments

in Orbitz

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Last fall, Orbitz launched a loyalty program called Orbitz Rewards to compete with incumbents like Hotels.com’s Welcome Rewards and Expedia Rewards, and it has about 2 million members to date, so it was only a matter of time before the site launched its own co-branded credit card.

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Available starting today, Orbitz has partnered with Alliance Data Retail Services (ADS) to offer the Orbitz Rewards Visa. The gist of the card’s value is that it offers an additional return of 5% on your Orbitz Rewards earning. So in terms of the kinds of bookings you make, here’s what you earn back on your spending if using the card:

  • 10% on Orbitz Rewards hotel bookings using Orbitz.com apps for iPhone, iPad and Android (5 percent Visa reward plus 5 percent mobile booking reward) – you normally earn 5% on app bookings and 3% on computer bookings
  • 8%  on Orbitz Rewards hotel bookings using Orbitz.com desktop (5 percent Visa reward plus 3 percent desktop booking reward)
  • 7% on air bookings using Orbitz.com apps for iPhone, iPad and Android (5 percent Visa reward plus 2 percent mobile booking reward) – without the card you earn up to 1% per $1 up to $5,000 per year ($50 Orbucks)
  • 6% on air and package bookings using Orbitz.com desktop (5 percent Visa reward plus 1 percent desktop booking reward)
  • 2% on all other purchases (in the form of Orbucks)

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You also earn a $50 Orbucks statement credit when you spend $200 in 90 days and automatic Orbitz Rewards Star Status (their low-level elite status that you normally earn by booking four hotel room nights). Benefits include a special VIP line to handle travel needs, concierge service, help booking events and entertainment while traveling, and upgrades in some cases. There is no annual fee on the card, and no foreign transaction fees.

Orbucks earned through the credit card do not expire as long as travelers use the card at least once annually, and are available when your statement closes. Like the general Orbitz Rewards program, cardholders earn Orbucks, which are equal to $1 USD each and can be redeemed for hotel bookings made through Orbitz but not flights. You can use them to pay for all or part of your booking if you have more Orbucks than your stay costs. Orbucks are deducted from your Orbitz Rewards balance immediately. You will earn Orbucks on the portion of your booking not paid for with Orbucks.

My Thoughts

First off, I would have liked to see a decent sign-up bonus, since most top travel credit cards offer bonuses in the $400-$600 range. The $50 Orbucks credit is pretty weak, but for a no annual fee card, I think this card can provide a lot of value as long as you redeem for hotels since Orbucks cannot be redeemed for flights. If they changed that, this card’s value would jump exponentially.  The potential 10% return on your hotel spending is pretty good and in line with Hotels.com’s programs where for every 10 nights you get 1 night free at the average cost of those 10 paid nights and the rebate can be stacked on top of Orbitz’ new loyalty program, which could give some major value back if you book a lot of hotels. I’m not usually a fan of booking via mobile apps, but I could become quite familiar for that extra bonus.

Where the Orbitz card pulls ahead of Hotels.com is that you can earn points on flight bookings as well as package bookings, plus 2% on all other purchases, so that gives you a lot more earning potential, especially considering you can book flights through Orbitz, pay with your Orbitz card and still earn airline miles and elite-qualifying miles on flights while earning Orbucks to redeem for hotel bookings.

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However, if you’re loyal to a particular hotel brand, you would probably still want to book directly through them since they generally do not count stays booked through OTA’s like Orbitz towards earning points or elite credit. However, as hotel chains continue to devalue their points, it may make sense to think about loyalty to an OTA like Orbitz and crunching the numbers to see if foregoing traditional hotel points and instead going through Orbitz might make sense.

In terms of straight-up travel booking, I would probably also still use a card like the Sapphire Preferred, which earns 2.14x points per $1 on all travel purchases including flight and hotels (as well as things like train tickets and taxis) since the transferable points it earns can be used with 10 transfer partners including 5 airlines (like Southwest, British Airways and United), 4 hotels (including Hyatt and Marriott) and Amtrak. The other card I’d consider a great alternative is the Barclaycard Arrival since you earn 2x miles per $1 on all purchases and can redeem those at 1 cent per mile on travel purchases (not just hotels and airlines) and get a 10% mileage refund on travel redemptions for a 2.2% return on spending without having to book through a certain app or site.

Still, if you’re a frequent Orbitz booker who wants fixed-value rewards to redeem specifically for hotel bookings, this is a decent card for you, and the 2% return on all purchases is on par with other cards like the Arrival, but you can redeem Arrival miles for much, much more than you can with the Orbitz Card.

It’s also a good option if you already have several Amex, Barclaycard and Chase cards, since this is issued by ADS, giving you another option to leverage your credit score for new rewards cards. Overall, the value proposition is decent as long as you’re a big-time Orbitz hotel booker. If not, you’re probably better off with more traditional credit cards with higher sign-up bonuses and more redemption options.

For more information, see these posts:

Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees
Best Credit Cards With No Annual Fee
Orbitz Launches New Loyalty Program – Orbitz Rewards

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Ben Price

    You know, the idea behind this card isn’t half bad.

    The problem is…you can get 10% back on your non-chain spend from hotels.com…..which has a great 10% back program (which TPG rightfully pointed out).

    It’s a step in the right direction, I just don’t see this card drawing much attention from the TPG/BoardingArea/FT crowd.

  • Ed

    The 2% on everything else is pretty good. I mean, what other cards without an annual fee give 2% on everything? None!

  • Robert

    Fidelity AMEX

  • RK

    While I agree that the sign up bonus is not great, I have a hard time following the logic recommending the Chase SP or Barclays Arrival cards over this: you get 10% on hotels, 7% on flights and 2% on everything else! versus 2.x% with other cards. Even if you can transfer to Hyatt or UA at 2-3cts per point – it’s hard to get a better return than 7-10% on travel purchases!
    So, this seems like a great card for the average traveler!

  • shay peleg

    The cashback only goes toward hotels though

  • Ben Price

    The 2% back is in the form of “Orbucks”…..so it’s not like you have the option of cash back or anything.

  • Ben Price

    For the average traveler who only uses orbitz.com, I agree.

    For the typical TPG/FT/BoardingArea reader, not so much.

  • Ed

    Only if you stay 10 night per year. Otherwise you forfeit your accrued nights.

  • Ed

    The number in this post are misleading.
    You get 5% from using the card and a certain percentage by booking with the Orbitz app or via the website.
    For instance, using CSP to book a hotel on orbitz.com, you get 2 UR plus 3 Orbucks per dollar spend. Using the Orbitz cc you would get 5 Orbucks plus 3 Orbucks per dollar spend.

    Now you tell me if 2 UR are worth less than 5 Orbucks.

  • RK

    That comparison is not quite correct: if you don’t go through CSP, you can use the Orbitz app, netting you 10Or$ vs 2UR + 3 Or$, so it’s 2UR vs 7Or$ and you have to get more than 3.5ct per UR – that redemption might work for some, not for others…

  • RK

    Care to explain why? I’m a TPG/FT/… Reader…i have the CSP as well as a number of other cards. And I have status in several hotel and airline programs….
    I think that after all the devaluations, a lot of the miles and points cards and programs are overrated.
    You can get hotel status through credit cards or memberships for many programs – IHG, Club Carlson, Hilton, Marriott,…And you still earn miles for airline programs…
    And the hotels.com or orbitz programs give you the freedom to stay at the best hotel in the best location for the best price, regardless of chain – while still getting some nice rewards!

  • Ben Price

    I agree with you Re: hotels.com…it’s hard to beat 10% back on an easy to understand program. The only problem I see with hotels.com is your inability to earn elite status or get credits towards stays/nights…which is a HUGE deal towards most frequent travelers. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s a major chain, I use my cobranded CC and loyalty number. If it’s not a chain hotel (i.e., if I’m staying in a Charleston SC type city, or if there is a better non-chain option in the place I’m staying), then I’ll go to hotels.com for the 10% Welcome Rewards.

    The problem with this card (that most savvy FTers will see) is:

    1) The cash back only goes towards hotels on bookings made through Orbitz.
    2) Your currency is fixed in the form of Orbucks (no transferability here).
    3) The sign up bonus is pathetic.
    4) This’ll tie up spending that should be going towards: (a) elite spending on a cobranded cc, (b) hotels.com.

    I agree this card may work for SOME people, but your typical FT fanatic is going to have their hotel spending tied up on a half dozen other cards w/ better reward potential (CSP, Hyatt, IHG, HH, etc).

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