The NerdWallet Guide to Expedia and Expedia Rewards
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Expedia is one of the biggest online travel websites out there. It can be used to search for and book all sorts of travel, including hotels, airfare, rental cars, cruises, activities, attractions and vacation packages.
Accessible through Expedia.com or its mobile app, Expedia allows you to search and compare prices and rates, read reviews from previous guests and save your searches for future planning. You can even earn Expedia Rewards on the travel you book.
How does Expedia work?
Use Expedia to search for available hotels, airfares and more. When you’ve found the travel reservation you want to make, simply book online — no need to speak to a human travel agent. After you’ve booked, you’ll receive a confirmation email with your trip details.
You don’t actually need an Expedia account to book travel, but making an Expedia account is typically a wise move (and doesn’t cost any money). Creating an account requires handing over minimal personal information (name, email and password) but unlocks many benefits including:
Instant access to member pricing, which can often include savings of 10% or more on thousands of hotels.
Ability to earn Expedia Rewards.
Additional savings for booking more than one product (like a flight and hotel, or hotel and tour ticket). Expedia refers to this practice as bundling, and the company says U.S. travelers on average can save up to 10% by bundling their flight and hotel together in one transaction.
If you make an account, you’ll also be able to access your past and upcoming trip information. You’ll typically also be able to message the hotel, chat with a virtual agent or make changes to your bookings.
» Learn more: Pros and cons of Expedia
How to earn and redeem Expedia Rewards
When you have an account, you’ll be able to earn Expedia Rewards for travel booked through Expedia. Earned points can then be converted into dollars to use toward future trips.
Additionally, for each booking, you can earn what’s called a Trip Element.
Rack up enough Trip Elements, and you’ll earn Expedia elite status, which means more savings and better earnings rates. You earn a Trip Element every time you book either a flight ticket, hotel room (per night), vacation rental night, car reservation, cruise cabin night or activity that costs $25 or more.
Expedia Rewards elite status
The Expedia Rewards elite status program has three tiers: Blue, Silver and Gold.
How to earn: Free to join.
Earnings rate: You’ll earn double points when you book on the app and triple points at VIP Access properties.
Other perks: Unlock instant access to savings of an extra 10% or more on select hotels.
How to earn: Collect 10 Trip Elements in a year.
Earnings rate: All Blue benefits, plus 1 bonus point for every $1 you spend on eligible bookings.
Other perks: Benefits vary by booking, but typically include free breakfast or spa credits where available at VIP Access properties.
How to earn: Collect 25 Trip Elements in a year.
Earnings rate: All Silver benefits, plus 2 bonus points for every $1 you spend on eligible bookings.
Other perks: Benefits vary by booking, but typically include the same benefits as Silver Status on top of guaranteed late checkout and free room upgrades when available at VIP Access properties.
Expedia Rewards have no minimum redemption threshold, so whether you have $5 or $500 in points, you can redeem them anytime on your travels.
Do Expedia points expire?
Notably, Expedia Rewards points do expire if you don't earn or use any for 18 months, so be sure to have a plan for regularly earning and redeeming your Expedia points.
The best credit cards to use for Expedia
You can earn bonus points and perks when booking with certain travel credit cards that pair well with online travel agencies, like Expedia, Hotels.com or Priceline. Here are the best cards specifically for Expedia users.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
This card is excellent not just for spending on Expedia, but all sorts of travel purchases.
It earns 5 points per dollar on travel booked through Chase; 3 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, streaming services and online grocery purchases; 2 points per dollar on other travel spending (including online travel websites like Expedia) and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.
The card, which has an annual fee of $95, also entails an introductory offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
» Learn more: Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Expedia® Rewards Voyager Card from Citi
While not the absolute best credit card for most Expedia bookers, the Expedia® Rewards Voyager Card from Citi is worth calling out given that it earns 4 points per dollar spent on eligible Expedia purchases, 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment, and 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases, which can be redeemed for travel through Expedia.
In addition to earning points, this card also has a $100 annual air travel fee credit. That credit can cover airline incidental charges like checked bag fees, priority boarding or in-flight meals. Cardholders also get automatic Expedia Gold status, which can be another enticing reason to go for it.
Note that this card is not currently welcoming new applicants.
Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi
There’s also the $0 annual fee little sibling version of the card, called the Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi.
But given that the air travel credit can easily offset what you’ll get from the fee-free version of Expedia’s credit card offerings, you’re better off with the former.
Note that this card is not currently welcoming new applicants.
Canceling travel booked on Expedia
How to cancel Expedia travel
If you need to change or cancel a reservation made through Expedia, the easiest way is to log into your account or open the app and head to the “Trips” section, where you can find your itinerary. In some cases, a link will appear that allows you to change or cancel your booking.
That said, airlines, hotels and other travel services set their own individual policies on Expedia, so expect variations in terms of when you can cancel and what percent of money you’ll get back. It can be tricky to parse the policies for each individual property.
One way this process is slightly less of a headache: Use Expedia’s “fully refundable” search filter to limit where you ultimately book. Especially given the ongoing uncertainty of travel, it might be wise to opt for refundable options.
If you are eligible for a refund, it likely won’t be instant. Expedia says it can take up to 24 hours to process your refund. From there, it can take up to seven days for the refund to post to your account and up to two billing cycles to show the credit on your statement.
How to contact Expedia
Use the Expedia service page for help with situations like changing and canceling your trip, getting a refund or filing a complaint. If you’re unable to get help through Expedia’s self-service tools, there are a few other ways to get in touch with support:
Chat with the virtual agent (also found on the Service page).
Send a message to @expediahelp on Twitter.
Call and speak to a human. Expedia customer service numbers are:
Local (toll-free): 866-316-0357.
From abroad (charges apply): 404-728-8787.
Other ways to save money by booking through Expedia
Expedia Rewards is certainly one way to save money on bookings (and earn points toward future travel with them too), but it’s not the only way. Whether it’s credit cards, coupons, exclusive deals or search hacks, here are the best ways to save money with Expedia.
Watch out for Expedia sales
If you’re fine booking on the fly, head to Expedia’s Last Minute Deals page. There, you’ll find a random assortment of deals for travel within the next two weeks. We’ve spotted everything from generic, budget hotels in small towns to luxurious resorts in Las Vegas and Hawaii. Discounts vary, but typically range between 10%-50% off.
If you prefer a bit more notice, head to Expedia’s Deals page, where you can sometimes find even bigger discounts (we’ve spotted rates as high as 70% off). Like the Last Minute Deals, these ones can feel pretty random, but the payoff can be astounding if you’re willing to travel anywhere.
Expedia also runs big sales during certain times of the year, like Thanksgiving weekend. During 2021’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, travelers saw deals of 30% off more than 3,500 hotels, and they could earn up to 4x the rewards points when booking travel on the Expedia mobile app.
In June 2021, Expedia hosted its first-ever Expedia Travel Week, which turned out to be its biggest sale of the year. Travelers saw savings of up to 60% for bookings made through the end of January 2022.
Pay attention to cheap days to travel
If you can be flexible with the date you book, you may be rewarded. At the end of 2021, Expedia released its own Expedia’s 2022 Travel Hacks report, with some surprising insights about the best times to book on Expedia. Among them:
Book domestic flights about a month in advance: Domestic flights prices usually start to increase 21 days before departure, and the sweet spot to book a domestic flight is between 28 to 35 days in advance.
Book flights on Sundays: Expedia says domestic flights are typically 5% cheaper, and international flights are nearly 10% cheaper.
Plan to pick up your rental car early in the week: Monday pickups tend to be the cheapest for domestic bookings, while Tuesday is best for international trips, according to Expedia.
Be smarter with your search strategy
Speaking of flexibility, be open-minded about how you find your reservations. Expedia has powerful search tools, which — if used wisely — can get you even better deals.
When booking flights, allow Expedia to search nearby airports. In most cases, a traveler heading to Times Square could fly into JFK, LGA or EWR airports and get there in roughly the same amount of time. So don’t tie yourself to one airport, and let Expedia search all nearby airports to get you the best deal.
Meanwhile, use Expedia’s flexible dates calendar. You might find stark differences in price, simply by shifting your travel schedule by a day.
As far as rental cars go, you can filter by airport versus non-airport locations. In this example for a St. Louis rental, airport locations start at $63 per day, while the off-site rental car facility is just $44. Even if you find yourself paying for a cab to shuttle you between the airport and an off-site rental location, the $19 savings might be worth it depending on the length of your trip.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card