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Hot on the heels of the launch of its newly revamped Expedia+ Rewards program this summer, the online travel agency has unveiled two new credit cards in conjunction with Citi, and Team TPG got all the details at a launch event last night. Here are the details on each card and the benefits they include.
- Earn 15,000 Expedia+ bonus points after $1,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening*
- Points redeemable for $200 towards your stay at a +VIP Access™ hotel*
- 3 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on eligible Expedia purchases including flights, hotels, activities and travel packages*
- 1 Expedia+ bonus point per $1 spent on other purchases*
- Enjoy Expedia+ silver status each year of cardmembership
- Earn one Elite Qualifying Hotel Night towards Expedia+ gold status for each increment of $2,500 in purchases made on the card between your January and December billing statements*
+Silver status is normally earned after booking 7 qualifying nights or spending $5,000 annually. It includes benefits such as a 10% bonus on Expedia+ base points, +VIP Access hotel bonuses and amenities at +VIP hotels.
- Earn 25,000 Expedia+ bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening*
- Points redeemable for $350 towards your stay at a +VIP Access™ hotel
- 4 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on eligible Expedia purchases including flights, hotels, activities and travel packages*
- 2 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment*
- 1 Expedia+ bonus point per $1 spent on other purchases*
- Enjoy Expedia+ gold status each year of cardmembership*
- $100 Annual Air Travel Fee Statement Credit can be used toward airline incidentals or for either the Global Entry or the TSA Pre √® application fees*
+Gold status is usually earned after booking 15 qualifying nights or spending $10,000 annually. It includes a 30% bonus on Expedia+ base points, +VIP Access hotel bonuses and upgrades, and exclusive amenities.
These look like two solid products from Citi. The premium Voyager version of the card, however, gives an annual $100 statement credit that can easily offset the $95 annual fee, so I would probably apply for that one.
The 25,000-point sign-up bonus for spending $2,000 is the equivalent of getting between 8.75%-17.5% back on your spend, which is pretty decent, depending on the hotels where you choose to redeem those points. The category spending bonuses on dining and entertainment are also a good way to rack up multiple points per dollar.
In terms of the Expedia purchase bonuses, you do have to be a little careful since the terms of the card state: “Expedia Purchases include flights, Expedia® Rate Hotels, Vacation Packages, and activities booked on Expedia.com. An “activity” is anything booked on the “Things to Do” tab on Expedia.com. Expedia Rate Hotels are designated as such in your hotel search. To earn 4 Expedia+ rewards bonus points per dollar spent on Expedia Rate Hotels, your credit card must be charged for the full payment upon reservation. Expedia Rate Hotels reserved through Expedia but paid for at the time of stay, non-Expedia Rate Hotels, car reservations that are not booked as part of a vacation package (via the “Vacation Package” tab on Expedia.com), and cruise bookings do not qualify for the 4 Expedia+ reward points.”
The upshot is that you have to book and purchase prepaid hotel stays in order to earn those bonus points, which might not be a great fit for travelers who value or require flexibility.
What I do find valuable is that you can now earn 4x points per $1 on flight bookings. With Expedia+ Rewards you normally earn 2 points for every $1 spent when booking hotels, activities and packages, and 1 point for every $5 spent on flights. If you can now earn 4 points per $1 on flights, you have just upped your earning by 2,000%.
The other major OTA that recently launched a points program and a co-branded credit card is Orbitz.
With that card, you earn a $50 cash statement credit when you spend $200 in 90 days, and you can earn up to 10% back on hotel bookings, 7% on air bookings, 6% on air/package bookings and 2% back on all other purchases. It has no annual fee and no forex fees.
In terms of return on spending – Expedia points are worth about 0.7 cents apiece towards hotel bookings, so on your everyday spend, the Orbitz card gives you a higher rate of return at 2%. It also beats the no-fee Expedia card by not charging foreign transaction fees. However, the added perks of the Voyager card including elite status, the $100 annual statement, and 5,000-point anniversary bonus when you spend $10,000 might all make it a better value for folks who can really max out its benefits.
If you have one of the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards – the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus – you might also want to log into the Ultimate Rewards portal and check the earning bonuses currently being offered on travel partners including Expedia. Right now, you can earn 1 extra point per $1 with the Sapphire Preferred, for instance, when you click through to Expedia from the UR portal. That would bring your per-dollar earning to 3x points since Expedia is a travel category merchant.
I currently value Ultimate Rewards points at about 2.1 cents each because of their flexibility with the program’s 11 great transfer partners, including United, Southwest and Hyatt, as well as features like “Pay Yourself Back.” That would make an Expedia booking worth about 6.3% back on spending. In pretty much every case, I would take that over 4 Expedia points (worth only about 2.8% back on spending).
Still, if you’re a frequent Expedia user and want to try out the perks of elite status, and will really max out those extra benefits – like the annual $100 statement credit and bonus points categories – you might want to take one of these new cards for a spin.
Do you plan on applying? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!