If you’ve never heard of Orbitz Rewards, now may be the time to take a closer look at the online travel agency’s loyalty program.
Orbitz is bringing new benefits to its Platinum members on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, including a choice between a TSA Precheck waiver or a $50 credit for LoungeBuddy.
As a reward program that benefits travelers based on booking instead of loyalty to one hotel brand, Orbitz Rewards is a contender for individuals and families who don’t travel frequently. With a low threshold to earn status and easy-to-understand rewards, the new benefits improve Orbitz’s offerings to leisure travelers.
Jump ahead for what you need to know:
The new Platinum benefits coming to Orbitz Rewards members
The biggest changes to the Orbitz Rewards program affect Platinum members, who book 12 or more hotel nights per year through its website. Currently, Platinum members receive a TSA Precheck waiver when they reach status, a benefit that's good once every five years.
With the new benefits launching Monday, Nov. 12, Platinum members will get their choice of either a TSA Precheck fee waiver or a $50 LoungeBuddy code. Those who already have TSA Precheck or get it through a travel credit card (including Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card, Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®) can instead use their benefits to book a premium airport lounge up to two months in advance. The choice of benefits is available every year a member qualifies for Platinum status.
» Learn more: When is an airport lounge day pass worth the splurge?
The additional choice of LoungeBuddy benefits are a direct response to customer feedback, as members indicated a desire for a different rewards option than TSA Precheck when reaching Platinum status. Because lounge passes through LoungeBuddy start at $25, travelers may use this benefit to book up to two visits to a premium lounge for themselves, or get one-time access for two people flying together.
Top-tier members in the Orbitz Rewards program will also receive a $50 reimbursement in Orbucks for airline travel incidentals. The reimbursement categories are very broad, ranging from checked luggage fees, in-cabin pet fees and seat assignment fees, to in-flight Wi-Fi and ground transportation booked on Orbitz. This reimbursement benefit used to only apply toward checked baggage fees.
To use this benefit, Orbitz Rewards Platinum members must book their flights through Orbitz.
Simplicity in redeeming $50 airline incidental credits
In addition to the new benefits, Orbitz is streamlining the process for Platinum members to receive their $50 airline credit. With the expansion of benefits, members will receive a new online form to upload receipts and get reimbursed via Orbucks faster.
» Learn more: How to get free checked bags by holding the right credit card.
Previously, members had to email a picture of their receipts to be processed for reimbursement to their Orbucks account. Through the web portal, Orbitz expects the process to be a simpler experience that will allow loyal travelers to quickly claim their rewards.
Earning more rewards through the Orbitz mobile app
Orbitz is offering additional rewards to travelers who book their next trip from their phones. When booking through the Orbitz mobile app, Orbitz Rewards members can earn 5% back in Orbucks on all their mobile hotel bookings. The standard 1% Orbucks still applies to all flights and travel packages booked through the mobile app.
» Learn more: Seven unexpected ways your credit card can save you money on trips.
When paired with the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card, travelers can earn up to 10% back in Orbucks on their booked hotels. In addition, the card offers 7% Orbucks back at qualifying restaurants through the Orbitz Rewards Dining Program, 6% Orbucks back on flights and travel packages booked on Orbitz, and 5% Orbucks back on cruises and activities booked on Orbitz. The card grants complimentary Gold status upon sign-up and has no annual fee – giving you rewards without worrying about covering a credit card fee.
What makes Orbitz Rewards different from other programs?
Most travel loyalty programs are based on two factors: how often travelers use them and how much money they spend. While this can work to the benefit of frequent travelers who annually fly over 100,000 miles, stay at hotels 30 nights or more and spend over $10,000 on travel, it’s not sustainable or rewarding for those who do not regularly travel.
Orbitz Rewards is built for travelers who still fly and stay at hotels more than once a year, without the high spending requirements. Travelers can earn Gold status with just four hotel nights booked through Orbitz during a calendar year, and move up to Platinum after 12 room nights in a calendar year.
» Learn more: How to make disloyalty pay off with credit cards.
The program is also built for those who don’t like tracking the ever-changing values of points and miles but still want rewards. Orbucks rewards act like cash back toward future trips. Rewards range from 1% back in Orbucks on flights and travel packages, to between 3% and 5% on hotels. Orbucks can then be used like cash on Orbitz.com to pay for future trips.
Even though the typical Orbitz customer only books three trips per year, rewards can add up quickly. The company estimates the average Orbitz Rewards member gets $26 back in rewards every year, which can be used immediately after a traveler books trips.
Why earn Orbitz Rewards Platinum status?
Orbitz Rewards elite status offers a stronger value proposition for those who aren’t constantly traveling. Instead of earning points toward a program where you may get a return over time, Orbitz Rewards gives travelers the freedom to use their rewards where and how they see fit.
By booking a combined 12 nights through Orbitz – a similar amount of nights that hotels require travelers to stay for Silver status – casual travelers can receive perks often reserved for the elite. The benefits include complimentary upgrades at VIP hotels (where available), along with waived fees at participating hotels for breakfast, Wi-Fi or resort fees. Additionally, frequent flyers can also earn Orbucks on top of their frequent flyer miles when booking through the online travel agency.
Moreover, loyalty can pay off in big ways for Platinum travelers. In 2017, Orbitz Rewards members redeemed nearly 2,000 TSA Precheck fee waivers and applied for Orbucks rebates on around 2,000 checked bag fees on flights. The combined total saved Platinum members an estimated $260,000 in extra costs.
If loyalty to one brand or hotel program isn’t rewarding for your travel style, Orbitz Rewards may be a better overall option. With a low threshold to earn rewards and a cash-back style program, Platinum status can be in reach sooner than you realize.
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 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card