How to Book Flights, Hotels and Other Travel on Expedia
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Booking travel on Expedia is easy. You can use the popular online travel agency to search and purchase such things as accommodations, cruises, excursions and activities, flights, and rental cars.
The site is especially handy for building your own highly customized travel package. Want a pet-friendly three-bedroom condo convenient to Aspen Mountain with a hot tub, bundled with round-trip airfare and a rental car specifically from Alamo that holds six passengers?
How about first class nonstop tickets to Maui for eight nights plus a hotel? You can look for a specific package that includes lodging for six of those eight nights, a convertible rental car, premium seating at a luau, a helicopter tour and a snorkeling excursion to Molokini crater.
Expedia lets you get that specific when you book a vacation package. But this online booking website may not always be your best choice.
Here’s how to book travel on Expedia and tips for deciding whether this is the right booking website for your next trip.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
How to search and book on Expedia
To start your search you must first go to Expedia.com. From there you have multiple options laid out for you, depending on what type of booking you are looking for. You can select the following options to get started:
“Stays” for hotels, vacation rentals, hostels and other accommodations.
“Flights” for air travel.
“Cars” for rental vehicles.
“Cruises” for cabins on major cruise lines.
“Things to do” for excursions and activities.
“Packages” to bundle two or more of these trip elements.
You’ll be asked for your trip details, like destination city and departure city. You can get even more specific by selecting fields for:
Specific neighborhoods in your destination city.
Amenities like a swimming pool or fitness center.
The type of car you want to rent and more.
When you search for flights, you’ll see different airlines with various fares and itineraries. When you search for hotels or other stays, you’ll see a nightly rate. But when you search for packages, you’ll see a per-person total for the trip, with the airfare and accommodations added together.
Resort fees, if any, are usually payable directly to the hotel and thus not included in the total Expedia displays. For the best deals, select “Package discount” from the “Sort” menu above the properties.
If you’re booking a package, you’ll first be asked to select your hotel.
Then choose your room type. To upgrade your stay, note the per-night additional cost displayed under each room category.
After you pick your room, you arrive at the flights page, where you can apply even more filters, including your preferred airline, whether you want to pick your own seat and your preferred cancellation and other terms. Some options will add to your cost.
Once you’ve selected your flight, you’ll have a chance to add on a car, airport transfers or activities at your destination.
Before you book, you’ll get a chance to review your trip details, including change and cancellation policies. Some hotels and flights are nonrefundable and nonchangeable, so review this page carefully.
Next you will just need to enter your traveler information and payment method. After you finalize your purchase, you’ll get an email containing your trip details and an Expedia confirmation number, which you can use on the website to access your trip information or make changes.
Say goodbye to hotel points — and hello to airline miles
When you book a room at the website of a chain hotel, you can earn loyalty points redeemable for future stays and other rewards. When you book the same hotel through Expedia, you won’t earn hotel loyalty points.
However, you can earn airline miles when you purchase air travel through Expedia. When booking your flight, select the “Frequent flyer, TSA PreCheck, redress and more” drop-down menu.
Then enter your member number in the airline loyalty program field.
You’ll earn miles for the flight. But if you pay with an airline-branded credit card, you won’t earn bonus miles from the card issuer.
For example, if you’re a member of the HawaiianMiles program and you have a Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®, you can book a flight through the airline’s website to earn 1 airline mile per physical mile flown, plus 3 miles per dollar for charging the tickets to your card.
If you purchase the same flight through Expedia, you’ll still earn 1 HawaiianMile per physical mile flown, but you won’t get the 3x mile bonus for using the card. Instead, the charge will count as a regular purchase, for which this HawaiianMiles credit card pays 1 mile per dollar.
You can probably make up for these forfeited miles by paying for your trip with another card that rewards general travel purchases, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and double up on those benefits by joining Expedia’s own loyalty program — Expedia Rewards.
» Learn more: How much are your airline miles and hotel points worth?
Sign up for Expedia Rewards
Sign up for Expedia Rewards before you book and you’ll earn 1 point for every dollar you charge for eligible hotel stays, car rentals and more when you book through the website. For flights, you’ll earn 1 Expedia Rewards point for every $5 spent.
Download and use Expedia’s app, and you’ll earn double points on eligible travel booked through the app. Either way, the Expedia Rewards points are on top of any frequent flyer miles you earn from the airline.
Your Expedia Rewards points are redeemable for future travel booked through Expedia. And you can earn points even faster using an Expedia Rewards credit card.
You can often save money by booking your flight, accommodations and other travel needs as a package.
Even for a la carte bookings, sometimes Expedia will have deals you can’t get through the travel providers themselves. But the reverse can also be true: Sometimes the airline, hotel, etc. will show a better price when you book with them.
The only way to be sure is to spend a little time comparing rates and fares online. Take a few minutes to search for your flight, hotel and car separately from competitors, including the airline and the hotel itself.
For packages, add up the total cost of a la carte bookings and compare it with Expedia’s total package rate. Make sure to factor in any resort fees and taxes. Then you can choose the option with the lowest total cost.
If you want to use Expedia …
Expedia.com offers great convenience and, in many cases, great package deals. Before you book through Expedia, consider the value of any hotel points or bonus airline miles you could forgo — but also consider whether that loss is offset by the points you earn through Expedia’s own rewards program.
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