Well That Was Fast! Less Than 8 Months and Expedia Already Guts its New Rewards Program

It was only the end of March when Expedia introduced full details on its Expedia Rewards program. (The program itself launched end of January, they just didn’t tell you anything about it…)

Now at the beginning of November they’re already announcing changes to the program. There are two major changes. First is that flight bookings will only earn one point per two dollars spent (instead of one point per dollar). That’s a 50% cut in earning. Second, they’re also making changes to the redemption chart on November 22nd. And as far as I’ve been able to tell, we do not yet know what those changes are. Since Expedia highlights the ability to use the old chart through November 22nd, it’s a safe bet that the redemption chart will become less favorable.

I’d love to use all of my accumulated points before then, but of course I cannot, because Expedia doesn’t release points for use until 90 days after travel. So a whole bunch of them are ‘pending’ and unavailable.

Now, I do have to say that the program they introduced in the spring was quite generous. Take airfare bookings only, it was a rebate of 1% – 2% (the more points you saved, the higher value the redemption that was available). And that’s on top of any cashback you might have earned through a website like BigCrumbs.

Personally I had earned about 32,000 points, of which 27,000 are available. Now, a 26,000 point redemption is worth $300 in hotel stays. But 50,000 points – what I was saving towards – was worth $1000. It clearly made sense to hang onto points.

Now, the earn rate has been cut and we don’t even know yet what’s become of the burn rate. Presumably Expedia has decided they were much too generous. But they knew the math when they introduced the program and it’s been ony a matter of months. I do feel a bit cheated, not having been given the opportunity to take advantage of the value proposition that they offered even after giving them substantial airfare spend over the past 7+ months. A shame, really.

Thank you for being a valued Expedia Rewards™ member. With the Expedia Rewards program, you earn points on all the hotel stays, flights, packages*, and activities you book on Expedia.com and can redeem points for travel with no blackout dates instead of being locked into a single brand or airline.

Since the program launched earlier this year, we’ve been working to fine-tune Expedia Rewards, and we want to let you know about some important program changes that are going into effect today.

What has changed?

  • All vacation package bookings will now earn double points (2 points per $1), so you can maximize your point earnings when you book your flight and hotel with Expedia.
  • Flight bookings will now earn 1 Expedia® Point per $2 spent.**
  • Earn double points (2 points per $1) on all hotel bookings starting with your 2nd hotel booking between now and June 30, 2012. You must register here to receive the bonus points.
  • As an Elite Plus® member, you’ll earn 25% bonus Expedia Points on any hotels or vacation packages that include a hotel.
  • Our reward chart will also be changing effective November 22, 2011. To redeem your accumulated Expedia Points at the current conversion rates, please be sure to do so before this date.
  • For a limited time, redeem your points for a donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital® to support childhood cancer research.

What has stayed the same?

  • You’ll continue to earn points on 70,000+ hotels, 140+ airlines, and 3,500 activities booked on Expedia.com.
  • As always, earn miles with your frequent flyer programs and earn Expedia Points on the same booking.
  • Redeem points for eligible hotels and flights with no blackout dates.
  • Plus, you’ll continue to receive exclusive bonus offers.
  • You’ll continue to enjoy all other benefits exclusive to Elite Plus members, such as free room upgrades at VIP Access™ hotels, priority customer care, hotel price guarantee, and more!

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 Milepoint.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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  1. I have a “one strike and you’re out” policy toward programs that devalue without notice. I call them treachery programs, the opposite of loyalty programs. I “fire” them as soon as I can use my remaining points. That’s the only vote I have, so I try to make it count.

    The next time Expedia does this, remember that you have been warned that they consider it OK to devalue your points without warning.

    There are still many programs managed by people who follow the Golden Rule. Send a message by moving your business to those companies.

  2. Even worse, already-booked itineraries will earn at the new rate, not the rate that was in effect when the trip was booked.

  3. I do not understand! I have 32k points accumulated. Do I need to use these for travel prior to 11/22? I was saving for a trip and do not want to have these go down in value! Rahhhhhhhhhh!!!

  4. I’m surprised by how little chatter there is out there about this. I would have thought people would have been more up in arms about this, but there’s hardly a chirp other than this post, a couple of angry posts on their FB page and a short thread on FT.

    Is there any indication whatsoever about how the reward chart will change? My feeling is that they’ll leave the points toward airlines alone at 1c a piece, but that they’ll make the redemption for hotels less generous.

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