You might guess that a lot of folks wind up having me book their travel. And I’m not a travel agent, and don’t get commission (or ‘overrides,’ heh).
But I may be able to get something in my pocket for it anyway. For instance, since airlines stopped offering bonus miles for online booking in most cases and online agencies stopped charging a service fee in most cases, there really weren’t many compelling reasons left to book directly with an airline over a travel site like Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity. And sometimes those sites are easier to buy from, or even cheaper (depending on how they’re updating GDS inventory, or pricing fuel surcharges, for instance).
I personally like booking on Expedia the best, for its simple interface, though for complex multi-carrier itineraries I’ll sometimes use Orbitz. Fatwallet used to pay 1% cashback on Expedia bookings and sometimes as much as 2.4%. But now it’s a flat $3. For a $1500 itinerary, that’s a huge waste.
So I’ve started making my Expedia purchases via e-bates which still offers a flat 1%. (There are of course other options as well.) I’ll start with ebates, click their link to Expedia, and bam 1% in my pocket pretty reliably.
This is also a more general reminder that many travel providers, including many you wouldn’t expect, do offer cash back or miles for purchases and that it’s always worth checking EVReward< before making any purchase online. You’re losing out on cash or miles if you don’t. There are offers from United, JetBlue, Delta.. Avis, Thrifty, Sixt. Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Marriott.. to name a few.
So don’t forget to go through the most advantageous portal when booking travel, whether for yourself or others.
All that said, when it comes to hotels especially it’s still usually better to go through the hotel’s own website directly because several chains will only give elite benefits or offer loyalty points accrual for bookings made directly with them. Using a cashback link that offers something for booking on those hotel websites is perfectly fine, going through an Expedia or Travelocity is not. It helps to know your favorite hotel program rules (and to consider a ‘best rate guarantee’ claim when a hotel’s rate on their own site is higher than what you can find elsewhere).