The Bottom Line: If you prize simplicity in a travel rewards program, forget about this card. But if you're willing to jump through a few hoops to earn the best rates — and you're comfortable with redeeming only for hotel stays — maybe give it a chance.
Orbitz Rewards Visa Card
18.24% - 27.24% Variable
recommended credit score
Pros & Cons
No annual fee
No foreign transaction fee
Rewards only redeemable for hotel stays
Alternate Pick: Simple, flexible rewards
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
2 miles per dollar, no hassles
These rewards are easy to understand: 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. Through January 2020, you'll also earn 10 miles per dollar at Hotels.com. Plus, you can redeem those miles for any travel expense — flights, hotels, etc. There's a terrific sign-up bonus but also an annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.Read our review
The rewards structure of the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card — issued by Comenity Bank in partnership with the Orbitz.com travel website — can be generous indeed. If you hew to the right formula, you can earn rates as high as 10% back in "Orbucks" rewards on eligible purchases.
Even if you don't fully optimize this card, you'll earn at least 2% back in rewards for any spending that doesn't fall into a bonus category. That's impressive.
But snagging the card's highest rewards rates isn't all that simple. It depends on what you're booking and how you're booking it. And despite a high rewards valuation, redemption is restrictive. Orbucks can be used only toward qualifying hotel stays.
Orbitz Rewards Visa Card: Basics
Card type: Travel.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: Get $100 statement credit after you spend $1500 in the first 90 days.
Ongoing rewards: Short answer? It's complicated. For the long answer, see the next section.
Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 18.24% - 27.24% Variable.
Foreign transaction fees: None.
Balance transfer fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of the balance transfer, whichever is greater.
Automatic Gold status, which can get you free Wi-Fi, breakfast and waived resort fees at certain properties.
Enrollment in the Orbitz Rewards Dining program, which can earn you up to 7% back in Orbucks at eligible restaurants (5% through the dining program, 2% via the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card).
Travel protections including lost and stolen baggage coverage, accident coverage and rental car insurance.
Cardholders who qualify for additional Visa Signature benefits will also receive a six-month CLEAR membership, which replaces your ID with a fingerprint or iris scan at participating airports and event venues in the U.S.
How the rewards program works
The card earns rewards equal to a percentage of your spending, and those rewards are paid in the Orbucks currency. Rewards earned on the card come on top of what you can earn by being a member of the separate Orbitz Rewards Program. (Program membership is free, but if you're not already a member, Orbitz will ask you to join in order to apply for the credit card.)
Adding to the complexity, when you book travel through Orbitz with your Orbitz Rewards Visa Card, you'll earn rewards at different rates based on:
What kind of travel you book — hotel, airline, car rental, etc.
Whether you book on the web at Orbitz.com or through Orbitz's mobile app.
Here's how it breaks down:
All other purchases with the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card earn 2% back.
There's no limit to the amount of Orbucks you can earn with the card, although reward caps on airfare spending do apply to base earning through the rewards program. (These caps depend on your program status: Silver, Gold or Platinum.)
Orbucks that you earn on purchases won't expire if you use your card at least once every 12 months.
Best features of the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card
Sky-high rewards rates
Earning up to 10% in rewards on Orbitz hotel bookings is a fabulous rate. Only two other cards can give you a comparable return. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card give you 10 miles per $1 spent on rooms booked through Hotels.com through January 2020. But unlike the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card, those cards won't also give you up to 6% back in rewards on flights, which is stellar. Even if you don't use the card for travel purchases at all, you still get 2% back on all other purchases. That's also exceptional, considering that a 1.5% rewards rate has become the industry standard for rewards cards. And if you frequently dine at restaurants that participate in Orbitz's Dining Rewards program, that potential 7% reward rate is a pretty sweet way to finish a meal.
Lack of fees
Many of the best travel credit cards charge annual fees that start around $95 and go into the hundreds of dollars. Many cards charge foreign transaction charges, making them a poor choice to use abroad. The Orbitz Rewards Visa Card charges neither of these fees, so it won't cost you a thing to carry it wherever your plans take you.
Broad hotel choice
Co-branded hotel cards typically offer high rewards rates only when you book within a particular hotel chain. But the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card earns the same enhanced rate on any hotel booked through the Orbitz site, making it a good choice for someone who doesn't want to be tied to any one brand.
Stackable airline rewards
The Orbitz Rewards Visa Card lets you double-dip. When you use the card to book airfare through the Orbitz portal, you'll earn Orbucks. On top of that, you can earn frequent flyer miles in the airline's loyalty program, assuming you're a member.
Drawbacks and alternatives
Higher rates have some hoops to jump through
Earning the highest tier of rewards on both hotels and flights requires some effort. Not only do you have to book via the mobile app, but you also have to prepay for your stay using the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card. It might be easier to research travel options on your computer — but your earnings rate would decrease if you booked that way. And paying upfront for your hotel can be unpalatable, especially if your travel plans change and you have to go through the hassle of getting a refund. Or perhaps you're trying to book something far in advance and don't have the money saved up yet. You can put it on your Orbitz Rewards Visa Card, but you'll accrue interest if you can't pay the entire bill right away.
Limited redemption options
Although you can earn rewards with this card on anything, you can redeem rewards for only one thing: hotel bookings through Orbitz. If you were hoping to save up for a discounted flight or a cruise, this card won't be the ticket to that kind of redemption.
Modest sign-up bonus
The Orbitz Rewards Visa Card offers the following: Get $100 statement credit after you spend $1500 in the first 90 days. That's nothing to sneeze at, but it's small compared with offers from comparable travel cards that can double or even triple that amount.
For example, the $0-annual-fee Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers the following 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.
It's not a true dining rewards card
Sure, 7% back on dining sounds incredible, but you'll earn that rate only at restaurants that participate in the Orbitz Dining Rewards program. Depending on where you like to eat, this may not be a fit for you. Restaurants not in the program will still snag you 2% back, and that's great — as long as you're fine with redeeming toward hotel stays through Orbitz.
For more information about credit cards that can help you with hotel stays, visit NerdWallet’s roundup of best credit cards to have.
Is the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card right for you?
When it comes to hotel rewards cards, the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card has some of the highest earning potential of any card we've seen. You just have to be OK with jumping through the required hoops. As long as you're comfortable redeeming for more hotel stays, the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card is an outstanding rewards card.
But if it's redemption flexibility you're seeking, that's not what you'll get. If you favor a particular hotel chain, for example, or you want to use your rewards for something other than hotels, you'll fare better with another card.