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Orbitz has its roots in cheap flights, but now the online travel deals aggregator offers deals on all sorts of travel, including lodging, rental cars and vacation packages.
Perhaps the biggest thing that sets Orbitz apart from other online travel agencies is its genesis: Orbitz was created by a handful of the world’s most prominent airlines.
In response to the growth of online travel agencies like Expedia and Priceline — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines (among others) got together to make their own. These days, however, Orbitz is actually owned by one of the companies it first aimed to compete with: Expedia. But despite being owned by the same company, Expedia and Orbitz have many differences.
Here’s what you need to know about booking travel on Orbitz.
How does Orbitz work?
Orbitz can be used to search for and book a variety of travel, including flights, hotels, vacation homes, all-inclusive resorts, rental cars and vacation packages. When you book, you’ll earn Orbitz Rewards — dubbed Orbucks — which you can accumulate and redeem for hotel stays.
You can book travel online or through the Orbitz mobile app, which entails additional features such as mobile-exclusive deals (like up to 30% off hotels), real-time alerts of travel updates (like your flight status and gate number) and the ability to directly message your hotel through the app.
When you’re ready to book, the entire transaction is handled online. In most cases, there’s no need to speak to a human travel agent. Expect to receive a confirmation email with your trip details upon booking.
While you don’t actually need an Orbitz account to book travel, it’s generally a good idea. By signing up, you’ll automatically become a member of the free-to-join Orbitz Rewards program, which can help you rack up status and Orbucks.
Having an account can also make it easier to access past and upcoming trip information. If logged in, you can view and print your itinerary under the “My Trips” tab.
From there, you’ll be able to easily access your confirmation code (which you’ll generally need to check in for flights), display your whole itinerary in one screen, and quickly navigate to change and cancellation pages should you need to modify your trip.
How to use Orbucks from Orbitz Rewards
When you have an account, you’ll be able to earn Orbucks, which are the official currency of the Orbitz Rewards loyalty program. Orbucks can then be cashed in on hotel stays.
The amount of Orbucks you earn varies by what you book and how you book it. Presumably because Orbitz wants to get you in the habit of booking through its app, Orbitz offers an even higher rate when you book there rather than on the Orbitz website.
Here are the Orbucks earn rates for each type of travel reservation:
For bookings made on Orbitz.com
For bookings made on the Orbitz app
Earn rate on flights
Earn rate on packages
Earn rate on hotels
Earn rate on activities
Hotels and activities (such as guided tours, museum tickets and pub crawls) have the highest earn rate: 4% back in Orbucks. A $500 hotel stay would net you $15 in Orbucks when booked on the website or $20 in Orbucks when booked on the app. While booking on the app might feel cumbersome, it’s almost always better if you want to maximize rewards.
Every Orbuck can be redeemed for $1 off your next hotel stay booked through Orbitz. Unlike many other loyalty programs where you must have enough rewards points to cover the cost of your travels, the Orbucks program allows you to redeem as you go. Even if you only have $5 in Orbucks to your name, that’s $5 off your next hotel stay. That makes it easy to avoid sitting on a pile of points, which we generally don’t recommend.
Plus, the practice of earning and redeeming Orbucks can be stacked with other savings, such as earning points or cash back by booking through a travel credit card.
The catch? Orbucks expire fairly quickly. Most Orbucks expire within one year from when they were earned. As soon as you earn an Orbuck, it’s almost always a good idea to use them on your next hotel stay to avoid the risk that they’ll expire.
» Learn more: Should you book hotels through Orbitz?
Orbitz Rewards elite status
The Orbitz Rewards elite status program entails three tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Orbitz Silver status
How to earn: Free to join.
Top benefits of Orbitz Silver status
Ability to earn Orbucks when you book flights, hotels, packages and activities.
Access to a customer service phone line dedicated to members.
Orbitz Gold status
How to earn: Stay four nights a year in lodging booked through Orbitz.
Top benefits of Orbitz Gold status
All of the above Silver status benefits, plus:
Extra goodies at VIP Access properties. Benefits vary by individual property, but they tend to be along the lines of free Wi-Fi and free breakfast.
Orbitz Platinum status
How to earn: Stay 12 nights a year in lodging booked through Orbitz.
Top benefits of Orbitz Platinum status
All of the above Gold status benefits, plus:
Up to $50 in Orbucks to reimburse qualifying travel expenses.
A coupon code worth $85 to cover the cost of your TSA PreCheck application fee (note that the PreCheck application fee recently dropped to $78).
Free room upgrades and early check-in (when available) at VIP Access properties.
The $50 in Orbucks travel reimbursement covers up to $50 spent per calendar year for any of the following expenses:
Seat assignments or seat upgrades.
Airport or in-flight Wi-Fi.
Ground transportation booked on Orbitz.
Activities booked on Orbitz.
To claim those expenses, you’ll need to submit a photo of your receipt through Orbitz’s Reimbursement Request Form. You can also mix and match, so you could expense a $25 baggage fee and a $35 seat upgrade fee. The combined $60 receipts would get you $50 back in Orbucks.
If you have Orbitz Platinum status, that’s also an easy way to get TSA PreCheck for free. TSA PreCheck is a membership program that offers dedicated airport security lines and streamlined screening at a few hundred airports across the U.S. The application fee is normally $78, but if you’re an Orbitz Platinum member and you fill out the TSA PreCheck Request Form, Orbitz will email you a code to cover the application fee.
» Learn more: A quick guide to TSA PreCheck
The best credit cards for booking on Orbitz
Certain travel credit cards pair especially well with online travel agencies like Orbitz and even competitors like Expedia, Hotels.com or Priceline. Here are the best cards specifically for Orbitz users.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (for travelers who like flexibility)
This card is a good one beyond just Orbitz spending; it's also good for purchases throughout your daily life.
If you’re open to occasionally booking outside of Orbitz, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on travel booked through Chase. Otherwise, the earn rate is 2 points per dollar on other travel spending (including online travel websites like Orbitz). You’ll also get 3 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, streaming services and online grocery purchases, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.
The card has an annual fee of $95, which can be slightly offset by a $50 statement credit offered each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
In your first year, take advantage of the 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®.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card (for no annual fee)
Credit cards with annual fees can certainly be rewarding, but annual fees aren’t for everyone.
With the $0 annual fee Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, you'll earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on any purchase, whether it’s a fun vacation booked on Orbitz or just your everyday spending.
What’s nice about this card is that your points can be redeemed as a statement credit for almost any sort of travel purchase, including flights, hotel stays, vacation rentals, baggage fees and restaurants (whether at home or on vacation).
Points are usually worth 1 cent each, but sometimes they’re worth more. If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you earn 25%–75% more points on every purchase. With the highest tier of Preferred Rewards status, that’s more than 2.6% back on all spending. Plus, points don’t expire.
Beyond the $0 annual fee, there are also no foreign transaction fees. Apply now to earn the sign-up bonus: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
The Platinum Card® from American Express (for luxury travel perks)
On the opposite spectrum of no-annual-fee travel cards is a card with a $695 annual fee: The Platinum Card® from American Express. But for frequent travelers who like the luxury life, it can easily be worth it. Terms apply.
Several built-in statement credit perks can help the annual fee easily pay for itself. These include:
$200 a year for airline incidental fees. This reimburses costs like checked-bag fees or in-flight refreshments, and it applies to a single airline of your choice (you can change airlines once a year). Enrollment required.
$200 a year for hotel bookings. This credit applies to prepaid bookings through American Express Travel at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties.
$200 a year for Uber. This is issued as $15 monthly Uber Cash (though you get a total of $35 in December) to cover rides or eats orders in the U.S.
$100 a year at Saks Fifth Avenue. Enroll and receive $50 worth of credit for in-store or online purchases from January through June, plus another $50 for purchases from July through December.
Up to $100 for trusted traveler programs. You can receive either one $100 statement credit every 4 years for the application fee for Global Entry or one $85 statement credit every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck.
$189 a year for Clear. Clear is a program that helps you speed through airport security and get into stadiums more quickly. Statement credits are enough to cover Clear’s annual cost.
It also pairs well with Orbitz, because while Orbitz offers an excellent rewards rate through its loyalty program for hotel bookings, the Orbitz loyalty program’s reward rate for booking airfare is only ho-hum. Meanwhile, The Platinum Card® from American Express is prime for airfare spending — as long as you're fine booking airfare outside of Orbitz.
You’ll earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. You’ll also earn 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel should you opt to book lodging with American Express, too. Terms apply.
From there, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on other eligible travel expenses booked with American Express Travel, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Is Clear worth the cost?
How to save money on Orbitz
Orbitz 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 charging it to the right credit card, comparison shopping, using a shopping portal or using exclusive deals, here are the best ways to save money with Orbitz.
1. Use CashbackMonitor to stack and earn cash back / travel rewards
CashbackMonitor is a shopping portal aggregator that shows you all the cash back and travel rewards you can earn for any specific merchant. Here are the current earn rates shown on CashbackMonitor for Orbitz.
Click on your preferred shopping portal and complete your transaction on Obitz. Note that not all Orbitz purchases will earn the advertised rates. For example, if you want to use TopCash back for your Orbitz purchase, you will see that only hotel bookings earn 7%. Other purchases earn different rates.
» Learn more: How to earn extra points and miles shopping online
2. Comparison shop elsewhere — then flex Orbitz's Price Guarantee
With Orbitz's Price Guarantee you can get a refund for the difference if you find a cheaper offering of the identical booking (including on the same date) elsewhere. So before booking with Orbitz, it’s not a bad idea to browse other websites like Expedia, Priceline or the direct travel provider itself.
For flights, packages, rental cars and activities: You must submit your claim within 24 hours of booking.
For hotels: You must submit your claim up to two days before your stand-alone hotel check-in date.
To qualify for Orbitz's Price Guarantee, the reservation must cost at least $50 (excluding taxes and fees). There are a few other limitations, including that the price must be quoted in U.S. dollars and the cancellation policy must be the same as what Orbitz is promising.
If you qualify, you can submit a Price Guarantee claim to Orbitz.
3. Use Orbitz coupon codes
One of the easiest ways to find Orbitz coupon codes is through Orbitz itself. The company makes its coupon codes pretty transparent, posting them all on one page. Before booking, check that page for any applicable codes that could save you money on your next trip.
To use an Orbitz coupon code, select the “Enter a coupon or promotion code” link on the payment page and type in (or paste) the coupon code. Your discount will then be applied, as long as your booking is eligible for the terms of that promotion.
4. Browse the Orbitz deals page
If you just want to get away somewhere — and you’re open-minded to exactly where — then you may be able to score by shopping at the Orbitz deals page.
The deals found here tend to be for very specific dates and at a sometimes-eclectic mix of properties. But regularly checking the Orbitz deals page can be worth it purely to stoke your sense of wanderlust. And if something truly piques your interest, then you’ve also lucked out with a discount trip.
5. Sign up for an Orbitz Rewards account to unlock Insider Prices
Some of the best deals are limited to Orbitz Rewards members. Considering Orbitz Rewards is free to join, it’s almost always a financial mistake not to book from an account.
If you visit the Insider Prices page and you’re not logged in, you’ll see listings but you won’t actually be able to see prices.
Try again from a logged-in account to reveal discounts. In this example, you’re looking at as much as 40% off simply for being an Orbitz Rewards member.
How do I cancel a reservation on Orbitz?
If you need to change or cancel a reservation made through Orbitz, log into your account or open the app and navigate to the “Trips” page, where you’ll find your itinerary. If you don’t have an account, type in your reservation number — otherwise it’ll pop up automatically for a logged-in account.
From there, select the button that says “Cancel.”
Orbitz cancellation policy
Before canceling your reservation, read the terms carefully. Each airline, hotel and other type of reservation sets their own cancellation terms — it’s not set by Orbitz.
If you’ve booked a vacation package, you might be able to cancel your entire vacation package in one go. But depending on what the package consists of, you might need to cancel each part individually.
Not all travel is eligible for a refund, and sometimes booking travel on Orbitz can be aggravating because the policies vary by each individual property. Some trips might be entirely nonrefundable.
However, Orbitz offers a fairly robust set of search filters, including one for fully refundable bookings. If there’s a chance you might need to cancel your reservation — and those chances can feel increasingly likely since the COVID-19 pandemic — it might be wise to only browse listings with that filter on.
Orbitz refund policy
Refunds will go to your original payment method. And if you are entitled to a refund, don’t expect to get your money back right away.
For flights, most refunds are issued within 12 weeks, but some might even take longer depending on the airline.
For hotels, rental cars or activities, refunds are typically processed within 24 hours from the cancellation request. But from there, it can take banks or payment statements up to a week to post the credit to your account, and up to two billing cycles to show the credit on your statement.
How to contact Orbitz
Use the Orbitz customer service page to get help in straightforward situations like changing or canceling your trip or getting a refund. If you need further support beyond the self-service tools on that page, there are a few other ways to get in touch with support:
Chat with the virtual agent through the pop-up on the customer service page.
Use the chat support feature on the Orbitz app.
Call the Orbitz customer service call center phone number at 312-279-7740, which is available 24/7.
Send a direct message to Orbitz on Twitter @Orbitz.
Drawbacks to booking travel on Orbitz
Although Orbitz provides a convenient place to book all your travel, there are some negatives to using the platform.
No hotel elite status
Generally, large hotel chains (i.e. Marriott, Hilton) only allow you to earn your elite benefits and elite night credits when you book travel on their websites. They also do not give perks when travelers with elite status use online travel agencies like Orbitz to book hotel stays.
If you don’t care about elite perks or are staying at a boutique hotel that’s not part of a large chain, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Cumbersome cancellation process
When you book your travel through a website like Orbitz and need to change or cancel your trip, you will need to deal with Orbitz rather than with the airline or hotel. This can add an extra layer of complication if the airline or hotel cancellation policy differs from that of Orbitz.
Final thoughts on Orbitz travel
Orbitz is a large online travel agency that makes it easy for travelers to book flights, hotels, cruises, car rentals and more. The company offers many perks to entice travelers to book their trips on the platform, from offering Orbucks to providing discounts through the app. However, travelers need to remember that Orbitz is an intermediary so if you need to make any changes or cancellations to your trip, the process can be more difficult than if you were dealing directly with an airline or hotel.
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