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What's the story?
It was recently announced that Expedia has acquired Orbitz Worldwide for a whopping $1.34B, giving them more control over the online travel world. Expedia's acquisition of the Orbitz namesake brand as well as CheapTickets, eBookers and HotelClub is rumored to now give them a 75% market share of the US OTA market.
What will this mean for Orbitz Rewards? We take a look at the current Orbitz Rewards and compare them with Expedia+ Rewards before the acquisition forces possible future changes to either program.
Orbitz Rewards is a free-to-join loyalty program where you earn Orbucks – up to 5% on hotel bookings and 1% on flights and vacation packages. If you use their Cheapoair to earn the hotel rewards, you earn 5%, or you earn 3% via desktop bookings.
One Orbuck is worth a $1 saving on qualifying hotels, so whether you earn Orbucks by booking hotels or flights or holiday packages, you can only redeem them for hotels.
Orbitz Rewards also gives you more ways to earn, including friend referral, which gives your friend a $25 promo code for their first hotel stay and you then earn $25 in Orbucks once they complete their first hotel stay of $50 or more. You can also get up to 10% back with the Orbitz Rewards Visa card and 5% back with Orbitz Rewards Dining. Plus you can double dip and earn Orbucks on top of your airline miles.
Orbitz Reward has three membership levels. You start as Silver and can progress to Gold or Platinum status. To reach Gold, you need to stay at least four room nights in 12 months or apply for the Orbitz Reward Visa, which gives you complimentary Gold status. Platinum is reached after staying at least twelve room nights in 12 months.
Gold and Platinum members are rewarded more – when you stay at a participating Orbitz Rewards Hotel, benefits can vary, but usually include room upgrades when available, free breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Plus Platinum members who check two bags and $25 is refunded back to you in Orbucks.
Expedia+ Rewards is also a complimentary loyalty program where you can earn points. You get 2 points per $1 spent on hotels, hotel packages, activities and cruises, 1 point per $5 spent on flights and 1 point per $1 spent on packages that include both a flight and a car rental.
You can redeem Expedia+ points for hotel discounts, airfare credit or even donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Expedia has three membership levels. You start as Blue and can progress to Silver or Gold status. To reach Silver, you need to spend $5,000 on eligible bookings or stay 7 qualifying hotel room nights. Gold is reached after spending $10,000 on eligible bookings or staying 15 qualifying hotel room nights.
Silver members get an additional 10% in bonus points on all eligible bookings, while Gold members get 30%. Both Silver and Gold status gets you 250 bonus points for +VIP Access hotel bookings and exclusive travel offers as well as free amenities including spa discounts and free drinks at selected +VIP Access hotels.
Gold members also get dedicated customer service agents and more hotel benefits like room upgrades where available.
Orbitz Rewards and Expedia+ Rewards are such different loyalty programs that it doesn't seem fair to compare them to each other. However, the fact that you can only redeem Orbitz Rewards for hotels means that Expedia is a clear travel rewards winner, but that's not to say that Orbitz Rewards isn't worthwhile. There's no reason why you can't earn with both programs.