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Almost all airlines offer rewards and loyalty programs, so why can’t travel agencies have their own? Expedia certainly thinks it’s worthwhile: they recently launched the Expedia Rewards program that allows you to earn travel rewards points when you book through the travel site.
How it works
Expedia’s rewards program allows customers to earn anywhere from 1 to 4 points per dollar spent. You earn one point when you book a flight, hotel stay, or car rental, but the more services you purchase, the faster your points accrue. For example, booking a flight AND hotel will earn you two points per dollar spent on the plane-ticket-plus-hotel combination. You earn four points when you book your flight, hotel, car, and activities from Expedia – basically, you’re earning quadruple points for pretty much everything you do on your trip.
That’s not all. If you book at an expensive “VIP access” hotel, you can earn an additional point per dollar.
Number crunching: getting the most bang for your buck
Getting just 1 point per dollar isn’t the most exciting thing ever. However, if you start booking a variety traveling services from the site, the rewards rate gets more appealing. As you use Expedia for more and more services, the rewards compound (I love math), which means that booking an extra service will not only earn you points for that service, but it’ll increase the rewards rate on the services that you’ve already purchased in your vacation package.
To illustrate, imagine a romantic trip for two from San Francisco to Paris Las Vegas from June 20th through June 24th.
• Purchasing just the flight costs about $520 → 520 points
• Booking just the hotel costs about $337 for four nights → 337 points
• Purchasing a vacation package of flight + hotel costs $848 → 1696 points
• Purchasing a vacation package of flight + hotel + car costs $976 → 2928 points
Booking a plane-and-hotel package on Expedia is a much better deal than purchasing the services separately. Not only is it cheaper ($848 < $520 + $337), but the number of rewards points earned is also higher (1696 > 520+ 337).
Adding a rental car costs only $128, but it nets a whooping 1,232 extra rewards points (384 for the rental car, plus the increased rewards rate on the plane and hotel). That’s almost 10 points per extra dollar spent, much better than the 1 point per dollar rate for booking just the flight on Expedia.
Maximizing your Expedia reward redemptions
Expedia Rewards hotel coupons range from $25 to $1,000. It takes 10,000 points to get a $100 hotel coupon and 50,000 points to get the $1,000 coupon. These hotel coupons can be used on 70,000+ hotels.
Here’s a more in-depth analysis on how you can get the most out of these hotel coupons:
|Rewards Points||Coupon Value ($)||Value per Rewards Point|
The more points you cash in at once, the more each point is worth. If you can’t wait until you have 50,000 points, however, you can still use some quick thinking to get a good value.
Take a look at the third column of the table. It measures the value you get for each rewards point . Now look at Column 1. Some rows offer a range of rewards: for example, redeeming 14,000 points for a $150 voucher gives you the same value per point as redeeming 22,000 points for a $250 voucher.
To optimize your rewards experience, you should try to wait to redeem your coupons whenever your rewards points jump the next “hurdle” and reach the lowest number of a range in Column 1. Specifically, you are better off waiting to redeem your points at 14,000, 32,000, 40,000 or 44,000 instead of 22,000, 38,000, 42,000 or 46,000.
The advantage of saving up your rewards points is that your points are worth more as they accrue. For example, you can trade in 50,000 points for a $1,000 voucher if you do it all at once. On the other hand, trading in 10,000 points five times only gets you $500 in coupons. But when you’re within a range, you don’t get that extra value per point. Saving rewards points to get to the next range is best way to maximize value.
Redeeming your points for airline miles
You can also redeem airline coupons that can be used on 140+ airlines. The number of rewards points needed to redeem a plane ticket depends on the airline. A round-trip flight from San Francisco to Newark, for example, can cost anywhere from 40,000 to 55,000 points depending on the carrier.
The real win = Expedia Rewards + airline miles + credit card miles
On top of Expedia’s own rewards, customers can still earn miles/points with frequent flyer and credit card rewards programs, as well as any hotel or rental car loyalty rewards. Yes, for those travel hackers out there, you can manage three or more different types of rewards with one purchase. Very efficient.
Since the happy couple above flies JetBlue, they can also earn 520 x 3 = 1,560 points towards the JetBlue TrueBlue frequent flyer program. If they use a JetBlue American Express card to purchase the vacation package, you can earn another 1,040 TrueBlue points on top of everything else.
From now until August 31st, MasterCard cardholders can also earn double Expedia Rewards points when they use a MasterCard, rewards or otherwise, to purchase selected hotels and vacation packages that have Expedia Special Rates (ESRs). There’s minimal hassle involved. Cardholders just need to put in their 12-digit Expedia Rewards ID to register for the program.