Purchasing Airline Tickets for Others, Getting Something Back for Yourself

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).

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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  1. Have you looked into become an Expedia and other website’s affiliate programs?

    Expedia manages their affiliate program through Commission Junction http://www.cj.com, the pay-out depends on the item purchased, from $3 per airline ticket, 5.5% for some hotels etc… Here is the link to the Orbiz program: http://www.orbitz.com/App/Affiliate with rates. And as a final FYI the big programs like eBates might get better pay-out then you so their is a chance their rebate might be more than a commission to you as a low volume affiliate…

    I also would like to mention that if you were to go the affiliate route, you probably could use affiliate links for say the link to Westin Resort in Coloane and you might get some money as random people book any Westin after looking at the Westin site (3% commission via CJ.com). Its some work but might generate as much money as ads on the site.

  2. Mrrebates.com claims to have 1% on Expedia, but I’ve made 3 purchases through their portal (all non-travel though) and only 1 actually posted even though I followed the rules for all 3. I kept waiting, but then I missed my window to file a claim.

    So Mrrebates.com might work, but YMMV.

  3. Many airlines and hotels pay cash back, not just the meta-engines. You can book Delta via Ebates for 2% back, for example.

  4. I personally am a sucker for miles over cash, and I book all hotels and flights through the mypoints.com website, which takes me direct to the actual website itself, allowing me to triple dip (mypoints points which turn into miles, miles for the flight or hotel stay, and credit card points for using my mileage credit card). Also note that you can book through Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, etc. by going to mypoints.com as well!

  5. Priceline pays out 3% on fatwallet. Sure, the interface is poor, but if you figure out what you want first and THEN go to priceline, it’s an easy 3%. They also have a cancel-within-24-hours-for-free policy, which can be useful.

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