Expedia and Citi Thank You Network Severing Ties

Expedia and Citi Thank You Network are severing ties on December 1.

Currently Expedia’s prepaid hotel bookings and air and hotel packages earn Thank You Points, and Expedia offers a co-branded credit card issued by Citi which earns bonus points for Expedia purchases. That earning goes away for purchases December 1 and thereafter.

Expedia promises a new rewards program in early 2011. We’ll see what they have in store. To date they haven’t been especially aggressive.

Hotels.com doesn’t have an especially rewarding program, but will give you a free night for every 10 booked — the idea being you can book through them and not be tied to specific chains (or specific chain booking sites) and still earn rewards. Sure, those Hotels.com nights can only be redeemed based on your least expensive nightaverage hotel rate, but it’s something.

Expedia doesn’t reward air-only bookings, which is what I’ve used them for most often. And they don’t reward hotel bookings outside of their lucrative ‘special rate’ offerings. So the Thank You Points was something, an outsourced reward for some bookings, but hardly a driver.

Expedia has an elite program as well, but there’s no real benefits to it other than a higher priority customer service number. When they launched they at least offered to cover the fee for Mileage Manager, which tracks frequent flyer and frequent guest accoutns, tracks expiration dates, and assists with award bookings. That was dropped after a year, and they really just promise ‘special offers’ (aka ‘useless spam’).

Hopefully Expedia’s loyalty rewards re-think will actually be creative, rather than just a way of cutting costs by not having to buy points from Citibank. Anyone with knowledge here, much appreciated.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Frankly, I’m not surprised. The rewards available from the Thank You network have been decreasing signficantly in value over the years. More offerings, but more points required to buy something than the old 100 points = $1.00. So a $30 item used to cost 3,000 points. Now, it would be closer to 4,000 points.

    The end for me was when Citi dropped the only worthwhile travel reward. Any flight under $400 (40,000 points) only cost 20,000 points for elite members. The elite card had a $75 annual fee. They got rid of the program with no notice, and still had the nerve to charge the $75 annual fee. I found out three months after they charged the annual fee, and five months after they ended the program. It took me five calls to get the annual fee reversed. There were no other worthwhile benefits of the premier pass elite.

    Don’t get me started on the new interest rate they tried to charge me (21.99%) earlier this year. I used to charge almost $20,000 a month on my card (I used it as a business card), and always paid my entire balance on time at the end of the month. It was either “take the new rate, or we won’t renew the card when it expires (Sept 2010)”. So AMEX has been getting my $20,000 a month, and I’ve been getting cash back. And I close my Citi card in a month.

  2. One correction to the Hotels.com program – the value of your free night is the average of the 10 nights you earned it with, not the least expensive night. Still a far cry from pre-devaluation days, where the free room was anything up to $400, but I have to admit I could see where they lost vast amounts of money on that…they did on me!

    Would like to see Expedia come up with something unique – I never use Expedia right now, but a good program could get me to try them for hotels.

  3. Will Tahnk you points still be earned by the other citi credit cards and redeemable for air travel (curently using an expedia) or should I dump all my thank you points by Dec 1?

  4. I supprised that the “fixed rate travel” (20k points for up to a 400$ ticket lasted as long as it did; it was my understanding the we lost alot of money keeping it around i ust work here though so who knows

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