Orbitz Rewards Visa Review: Complex Terms for High Rewards

You'll earn an extra 5% on eligible Orbitz bookings. But you don't have a lot of redemption options. Only one, really.

Robin Saks FrankelDecember 4, 2018
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Our Take

3.6

NerdWallet rating 

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 prepaying for bookings and redeeming only for hotel stays — maybe give it a chance.

Comenity Capital Bank Orbitz Rewards Visa Card Credit Card

Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.49% - 26.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High rewards rate

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Rewards only redeemable for hotel stays

Alternate Pick: Simple, flexible rewards

Discover it® Miles
NerdWallet rating 

Discover it® Miles

1.5 miles per dollar, no hassles

These rewards are easy to earn ... and understand: 1.5 miles per dollar on every purchase. Plus, you can redeem those miles for any travel expense — flights, hotels, etc.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The rewards on the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card can seem dazzling at first. The card gets you an extra 5% back in Orbucks — Orbitz's rewards currency — on eligible Orbitz bookings and 2% on all other purchases. But its restrictions on both earning and redeeming can greatly diminish the card's luster.

Because of how the card’s bonus categories are defined, for example, hotel bookings through Orbitz need to be prepaid to qualify for the top rewards rate. And although the Orbitz site can be used to book airfare, lodging, cruises, and rental cars, your Orbucks can be used only toward qualifying hotel stays. That means the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card is a good choice for only a narrow band of travelers: Orbitz loyalists who are OK with making prepaid bookings and using their rewards solely toward free nights. For travelers who don’t fall into that category, other cards offer greater flexibility and value.

Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card: Basics and benefits

Card type: Travel.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Receive a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 with your Orbitz Rewards® Visa® in the first 90 days of account opening

Ongoing rewards:

  • 5% in Orbucks on qualifying Orbitz bookings, including prepaid hotel bookings, flight bookings and package bookings. (Rental car bookings don't qualify for 5%; instead, they earn 2%.)

  • 2% in Orbucks on all other purchases.

These rewards are in addition to what you'd normally earn as an Orbitz member. More on that later.

Nerd tip: Like some airlines and hotel loyalty programs, Orbitz also has its own dining program, which earns 5% in Orbucks at select restaurants. You can enroll in the program with any credit or debit card. With the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card, you're automatically enrolled, so you'll earn a total of 7% back in Orbucks for these purchases (5% through the dining program, 2% via the card).

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 17.49% - 26.49% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Balance transfer fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of the balance transfer, whichever is greater.

Other perks:

  • Automatic Gold status, which can get you free Wi-Fi, breakfast and waived resort fees at certain properties.

  • 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 free room upgrades at Visa Signature luxury hotels, exclusive discounts at top retailers and access to select sporting events and other experiences.

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 Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card come on top of what you 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:

Type of booking via Orbitz

Rewards rate for Orbitz Rewards Program members

Total rewards rate for Orbitz Rewards members who also book with the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card

Prepaid hotels

• 3% via Orbitz.com • 5% via mobile app

• 8% via Orbitz.com • 10% via mobile app

Flights/Prepaid packages

1%

6%

Cruises

N/A

5%

Prepaid activities

N/A

5%

Car rentals

N/A

2%

All other purchases with the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card earn 2% back.

There's no limit to the number 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.

Why you might want the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card

high rewards rates

When you use this card to prepay hotel bookings through Orbitz on the mobile app, you'll get an impressive 10% rewards rate: 5% in Orbucks from your card and another 5% from Orbitz's loyalty program. That potentially makes this card quite valuable if you book this way frequently — especially since it has an annual fee of $0.

Even if you don't use the card for qualifying Orbitz purchases at all, you still get 2% back in Orbucks on all other purchases. That's also noteworthy, considering that travel cards with bonus categories generally only offer the equivalent of 1% back on all purchases that fall outside of bonus categories.

Just temper your excitement at those kinds of rewards by keeping in mind you can only use Orbucks toward hotel bookings.

No annual fee or foreign transaction fees

The Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card doesn't charge an annual fee, so even if you don't use it often, you can still come out ahead on rewards. It also doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, making it a good card to use abroad.

Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card: Drawbacks and alternatives

Restrictions on earning rewards

Earning the highest tier of rewards — 5% back in Orbucks from the loyalty program and 5% back in Orbucks from the card for a total of 10% — requires some effort. Not only do you have to book your hotel stay via Orbitz's mobile app, you also have to prepay for your stay using the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card.

It might be easier to research travel options on your desktop 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. For a card with fewer restrictions on earning rewards, check NerdWallet's best travel credit cards.

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, you're out of luck.

If you still love the idea of a co-branded card with an online travel agency, but are daunted by the Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card's redemption restrictions, take a look at the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card. This card is aimed at those who regularly use the online discount travel agency and want to earn rewards quickly toward future travel. The card earns 5 points per dollar for every eligible purchase, which includes cruises, Name Your Own Price purchases, Express Deal purchases, Pay Now bookings and trip protection products. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. Redemption time is where the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card really shines. All eligible purchases of $25 or more that post to your account within 120 days will earn points worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for statement credit. And, you'll also get a 10% points rebate back in your account on all travel purchases and redemptions made with the card, not just those made through the Priceline site.

Modest sign-up bonus

The Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card offers the following: Receive a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 with your Orbitz Rewards® Visa® in the first 90 days of account opening 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, such as the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card or the Discover it® Miles.

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?

The Orbitz Rewards® Visa® Card can offer solid value — but only if you're willing to jump through hoops and accept that you can only redeem for hotel stays. If that's not you, this isn't your card.

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