The Dwindling Options for Earning Shopping Portal Points for Travel Bookings

Several readers have emailed over the past few days about Orbitz and Travelocity no longer being a part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall.

  • I’ve written for years that one of the easiest passive ways to earn points is to go through a shopping portal to make purchases you’re going to make anyway.

  • And over the past couple of years some of the best, most lucrative shopping portal offers have come through the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall.

  • Plus, Chase points are among the most valuable (in my opinion along with American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints) because of the variety of programs you can transfer the points to.

I especially liked that going through the Chase portal earned 2 points per dollar with Travelocity, on top of the points you’d earn paying with your credit card (e.g. Sapphire Preferred would earn 2 points per dollar on top because the purchases were travel).

And I liked Orbitz because:

  1. It tends to be the best online travel agency for pricing complex multi-airline itineraries
  2. It introduced its own rewards program which created triple and quadruple dipping opportunities.

Unfortunately neither participates in the shopping portal any longer. For airfare all that’s listed is:

I actually like the Expedia booking interface best of all the online travel agencies. But they aren’t as good at pricing as Orbitz (which uses ITA for airfare searches) and they gutted the Expedia Rewards program.

Some people like buying airfare from airline websites directly. Airlines no longer incentivize that, and I find that online travel agencies can be more flexible in constructing and pricing itineraries. Plus those sites give you opportunities for multiple layers of earning, and without giving up any mileage or status-earning ability.

Fortunately Orbitz can still be found at BigCrumbs, at Ebates, and at MrRebates — although none of their offers are especially lucrative outside of hotel bookings. Travelocity participates with these sites as well, albeit in a similar manner.

On the whole, and especially for air, the Expedia offer through the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, looks most attractive to me at present.

For hotels you have Expedia, Hotwire, and also Hotels.com which participates with a variety of sites and lets you earn points through the shopping portal, in their rewards program, and for your credit card spend.

I do not use it myself because while Hyatt and Marriott will honor elite benefits of Hotels.com bookings, the other major chains generally do not. And in all of those cases you aren’t entitled to points accrual in the hotel program or credit towards elite qualification when booking through Hotels.com.

Nevertheless, for the hotel guest not earning status, the hotels.com program combined with a shopping portal and a credit card that bonuses the spend it can be a good option.


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. Airfare bookings on Orbitz scores you 500 MyPoints points, using MyPoints as a portal to get to Orbitz. 11100 MyPoints points scores you 5000 United MileagePlus miles. To get 11100 MuPoints points faster, use Vayama through MyPoints to earn 750 MyPoints points per airfare booking.

  2. Using Hotels.com is a great option when you’re not at a chain though, or perhaps a chain you don’t really have much interest in point-earning at (e.g. Best Western.)

    A 100 dollar hotel booked through hotels.com via the UR portal and paid for with a Chase Sapphire preferred would give you:

    1 Hotels.com Membership Rewards night worth 10$
    200 points for paying for the hotel
    300 additional points for using the portal.

    That’s a pretty good haul I’d say, worth roughly, what, $17.50?

  3. I usually book hotels on hotels.com. In addition to usually being 3x on the Ultimate Rewards mall, I like that you earn a free night for every 10 nights you book. Very convenient for destinations with no chain hotels.

  4. What about using the travel.americanexpress.com… in theory you get double the Membership Rewards points for booking travel through there. Are there any downsides? (i.e. spend doesn’t count towards airline status?)

  5. Question- if you book airfare at a third party site and there are irregular ops that require a change- must you make that change through the third part, say Expedia, instead of directly through the carrier?

  6. @silverspringer during irregular ops the operating carrier handles changes, if there are schedule changes in advance the ticketing agent does

  7. @Jim – it’s actually 12,000 Mypoints convert to 5000 United miles – not 11,100 points. Unfortunately Mypoints keeps on devaluing, although I agree that it’s often the best way to link to third party travel agency sites like Expedia.

  8. Why not book directly with the airlines, use your AE Premier Rewards card and get triple points?

  9. If I book airline tickets through Expedia, do I get the benefits of my United Club Card Visa?

  10. I think you missed the point on hotels. You talked about what disappeared for airlines but not hotels. Up until recently, there were links to SPG, Marriott, IHG, and even Best Western on the UR mall, which allowed you to earn bonus UR points, plus hotel program rewards points and elite credit.

    I used these as recently as two weeks ago to earn about 1,000 bonus points on a two-night IHG booking that I also earned several thousand IHG points. Now we’re stuck with whatever’s available on ebates or similar sites instead of UR points, unless you want to forego traditional hotel rewards points altogether.

  11. Barclay Arrival portal still has Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity under both flights and hotel. Only 1 bonus point for each of them right now, but better than nothing.

    For hotels there are tons of better points-earning options including BedAndBreakfast.com, booking.com, bookit.com and a long list of specific hotel chains.

  12. I’ve long been trying to figure out how to maximize travel bookings. I currently book airlines directly with the airline using my Amex Gold card to get 3x MR points. Can I also get 2x points with the travel.americanexpress.c… In addition to these 3x points? Also I stay heavily at SPG properties and have to use my corporate discount code. I’ve found that booking through ebates portal I don’t get any ebates credit. Is there a way to book SPG properties with my corp set discount code and still get some credit through a portal. Any suggestions are appreciated.

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