The Pros and Cons of Orbitz
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Online travel agencies have been around since the late 1990s and still provide major assistance to people booking travel. Whether it’s flights, hotels, car rentals or all of the above sold as a package, we can find it all online.
Orbitz is a search engine and an online travel agency that makes it easy to locate, sort and filter through various travel components with discounts to boot. But is there a catch? Why wouldn’t everyone use Orbitz for all their travel needs?
Here's a look at the pros and cons of Orbitz.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
The pros of booking with Orbitz
Orbitz has a rewards program
The online travel agency has its own rewards program named Orbitz Rewards. It’s free to join and you can earn rewards called Orbucks on most travel purchases, including:
Orbitz travel packages.
Making the same purchases through the Orbitz app earns you even more Orbucks. Here’s how much cash back you can earn as Orbucks by booking travel.
The rewards instantly post to your Orbitz account and you can use them toward booking hotel nights.
Additionally, the more hotel nights you book through Orbitz, the higher your elite status in the Orbitz Rewards program. When you first join, you’re automatically a Silver member and receive member-only pricing.
After you stay four nights in a year, you become a Gold member and get access to free amenities, such as free Wi-Fi and breakfast at VIP Access properties.
After staying 12 nights in a year, you reach Platinum status that allows you:
To get reimbursed up to $50 Orbucks for seat upgrades or bag fees.
A TSA PreCheck enrollment fee credit (worth $85, though the TSA PreCheck application fee was recently lowered to $78).
Room upgrades and early check-in at VIP Access properties (when available).
Promo codes are abundant
Orbitz has no shortage of promo codes. It's rare that you won't find a discount for booking travel (mostly hotels) on Orbitz. To find the currently available promo codes, visit this page.
The coupons are available for a limited time and offer a percentage off your stay. Promo codes can be combined with Orbucks, so if you have both, you'll save in more ways.
You can still earn airline miles
Even if you book a flight through an online travel agency, you can still add your frequent flyer number and earn rewards. If you’re an elite flyer, your status is recognized, and you can take advantage of all the perks associated with airline status, such as priority boarding, free checked luggage and an elevated earning rate on rewards.
You can cancel or change a reservation as per the travel provider’s policy
If an airline or a hotel chain allows free changes or cancellations, you should be able to make changes to your booking. Orbitz doesn’t charge extra for updating your reservation.
Additionally, Orbitz allows you to cancel a flight for a refund according to the Department of Transportation-regulated 24-hour cancellation policy.
Travel packages can save you money
In many cases, if you buy an Orbitz travel package, such as car rental/hotel/flights all in one, the total cost may be lower than if you were to book all the travel components individually. If you need a flight, a car and accommodations, or some combination of the three, it’s possible to get a discount on the total cost of the trip by booking a vacation package.
» Learn more: The most valuable perks of the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card
The cons of booking with Orbitz
Rewards expire in a year
The Orbucks you earn expire after one year, and it’s not possible to extend their expiration date by earning more rewards. You have to use them by the cut-off date or lose them. The good news is that you can redeem Orbucks for partial credit.
You must pay in advance to use a promo code
Although the Orbitz promo codes can save you a percentage off a hotel bill, you must prepay for your reservation to qualify for the savings. Additionally, the offers usually don’t apply to multiroom bookings, and some properties aren’t eligible for a discount.
Hotel elite benefits aren’t recognized
When you make a reservation at a chain hotel through Orbitz, the reservation is considered a third-party booking and doesn’t qualify for elite night credits toward status. Even if you’re an elite member already, benefits associated with your status tier won’t be recognized unless you book directly with the hotel.
If you wish to cancel or change a booking, you have to go through Orbitz
Like all online travel agencies, Orbitz acts as a facilitator between the customer and the travel provider. In other words, your reservation isn’t made directly with an airline or a hotel chain.
If you need to change or cancel a flight or a hotel room, you have to contact Orbitz customer service to request a change with most airlines. If you contact an airline or a hotel chain directly and provide your record locator, they’ll be able to tell that it’s not a direct booking and send you back to Orbitz.
The exception to this is flights booked with low-cost airlines, such as Frontier, Spirit or Ryanair. Orbitz can’t cancel these flights on your behalf, so you have to contact the airline directly.
If you wish to add travel insurance/protection to your booking, you can purchase coverage at checkout or rely on your credit card benefits.
Travel packages aren’t flexible
As convenient as travel packages might be, what you see is what you get. Although you can customize your package by choosing a flight departure time and picking a more suitable hotel, the options are more limited than if you were to book a hotel separately.
The bottom line
Before booking your next trip on Orbitz, consider the travel agency’s pros and cons. Both the website and the app can save you money off a hotel stay, but you must pay in advance. You can cancel a flight for free, but you must deal with Orbitz instead of the airline. If your plans aren’t firm, consider a direct booking.
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