Frequent travelers know that the only thing better than a well-thought-out trip to a dream locale is a well-thought-out trip that you booked on a bargain.
While it’s certainly possible to save money utilizing hotel and airline points — or perhaps by taking advantage of last-minute travel deals — booking through third-party travel search engines like Expedia.com can sometimes yield big savings. But it’s not without its drawbacks.
Here are the pros and cons of Expedia, plus what you can expect when booking your flights or hotel stays through the platform.
The pros of booking with Expedia
It can be cheaper
Booking travel through Expedia can help you save, especially when you purchase a bundle of services for your trip. Expedia claims you can get an estimated 43% savings when you add a hotel booking to an existing flight reservation. In short, travel bundles especially can help you rack up savings.
Nerdy tip: A perk of booking travel through Expedia is that you select your hotel, airfare and car rental in separate steps in the process. This makes it easy to bookmark the page and compare the cost of these items on Expedia versus the cost on the company’s direct website.
» Learn more: 5 things to know about the Expedia credit card
If you don’t want to pay for your whole trip at the time of booking, Expedia allows you to make monthly payments toward your vacation. Expedia also offers exclusive "Book Now, Pay Later" hotel deals, so there’s less reason to let the looming cost of your accommodations deter you from your travel plans.
Options to purchase trip insurance
You can purchase a travel insurance policy that covers your entire trip easily on the website, giving you near-instant access to car rental, hotel, cruise and flight protections.
Policies vary, so be sure to read the fine print to understand what’s covered and what isn’t.
Current insurance policy options include:
Flight cancellation plan.
Flight protection plan.
Hotel booking protection plan.
Car rental insurance.
Package protection plan.
Availability of last-minute deals
Good news for spontaneous travelers: Expedia offers some impressive last-minute travel deals for flights and hotels. Offers are valid for stay dates within the next 14 days. The visible hotel costs are priced per room per stay based on the cheapest double room available, whereas the quoted flight prices are per person based on the cheapest return flights — potential additional baggage charges not included.
» Learn more: How to find cheaper last-minute flights
The cons of booking with Expedia
Iffy cancellation policies
It is possible to change or cancel your Expedia reservation without fees, as long as you’re in the 24-hour window for cancellation. If you’re not, the site warns that standard cancellation fees apply.
It’s fairly difficult to figure out Expedia’s various cancellation windows beyond the first 24 hours after booking. Here's just a taste of some of the policy differences:
Hotels have various cancellation deadlines; if the reservation was made on a nonrefundable booking, you may still qualify for cancellation, minus any hotel fees, by giving Expedia a call or chatting online.
Unused time on a rental car won’t be refunded, but if you cancel a qualified rental at least six hours ahead of pickup, you might get a refund.
Cruises must be canceled 90 days ahead of departure to still be eligible.
What’s more, you may have to pay Expedia’s cancellation fees on top of any fees the service provider might impose — though many of these are currently revised due to COVID-19. While some bookings through Expedia are nonrefundable altogether, view all of its cancellation policies to make sure you understand the potential financial consequences of a possible change in plans.
» Learn more: Coronavirus hotel cancellation and change policies
Lacking customer service
Outsourced customer service can be hit or miss with Expedia. If you have a specific complaint to make toward a hotel or airline, for instance, you may be given a longer runaround before actually having your question addressed. On the bright side, there are many ways to get in touch with Expedia to discuss bookings, including live chat.
Fewer opportunities for upgrades
When you book through travel search engines rather than through specific loyalty programs, you may hurt your chances of receiving free upgrades or other useful loyalty membership perks. Further, when you book through Expedia, you're not always guaranteed a room type or fare type. This alone can leave a lot of your travel comforts up to chance.
The bottom line
The Expedia pros and cons are worth consideration before booking your next flight, hotel, cruise or car rental. The chance to save big or pay over time are tempting, but the complicated cancellation policies might make a traveler hesitate. With the right deal, booking on Expedia could be worth it.
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
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Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card