Get a 2% Rebate on Your Airline Ticket Purchases

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Orbitz Rewards is two years old and they’re offering double ‘Orbucks’ on flights booked by October 25.

I don’t love booking hotels through online travel agencies like Expedia and Orbitz. But I do like booking flights. With hotel programs you generally won’t earn points in their loyalty programs (and in some cases, won’t get elite status benefits) if you book through third parties. Those restrictions don’t generally apply to airlines.

So you get the same benefits booking through an online agency as you do booking direct, and you can take advantage of the online agency’s rewards program in addition to earning frequent flyer miles (and possibly small business rewards points) from the airline.

And of course you also earn points with the credit card you use to pay for airfare — so with an online travel agency you can ‘quadruple dip’.

Orbitz Rewards is my preferred online travel agency rewards program, largely because after Expedia introduced their program less than four years ago they devalued it and then they absolutely gutted it.

Since Expedia recently got the go ahead for its acquisition of Orbitz there’s some possibility the generosity of Orbitz Rewards will be short-lived, but I’ll take advantage of it while I can!

Normally you earn 5% back on eligible hotels booked through their mobile app and 3% back booked via desktop, plus 1% back on airfare. This promo gives you a 2% rebate on air. Orbucks then redeem like cash for prepaid hotel stays.

When you use my link to sign up for Orbitz Rewards, you get $25 in Orbucks to start. Feel free to leave your own refer a friend links in the comments.

(HT: Frequent Flyer Bonuses)

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. Really Gary? Being a seasoned traveler, I thought you would point out the perils of booking with an OTA in case of IRROPS or any change/cancellation you want to initiate.

    A recent case in point:
    I normally avoid booking flights on OTA. However, 3 months ago,I booked kenya airlines(KQ) flights on Orbitz. KQ charges $10 to book tickets on their website which Orbitz doesn’t. 3 weeks before the journey, Orbitz changed my reservation to a flight the next day. I called, was put on hold for 2 hours and told that the flight I originally booked was cancelled. However, Orbitz and KQ still displayed the flight I had booked even one week later. After talking on the phone for a total of 8 hours, Orbitz agreed that the flight hadn’t been cancelled; but they can’t put me back on the same flight since my booking class was sold out (which turned out to be a lie). I cancelled my ticket with Orbitz and paid a $50 premium to book with KQ, peace of mind. I could go on about other troubled I have had with Orbitz and Delta; but this is already a long rant.

  2. Whoa. That’s scary!

    I also think you don’t get the SPG points from Delta flights if you don’t book on Delta’s website.

  3. I have used Orbitz only to book flights originating out of China and in my experience they suck a big one. I wouldn’t use them if they offered 50% cash back.

    They end up booking you on flights coded on Delta partners, but in ticketing classes which earn zero miles. They give you layovers in obscure airports which are basically cesspools and then long layovers. I get the impression they sell crap on which they get paid higher commission rather than sell prime routes where they’d earn a few pennies less.

  4. @asar I find that OTAs are generally more useful than airline websites, although i do use both. Things can go wrong, but you’ve got two avenues to fix them, two parties on the hook. And they are really useful for building tickets with multiple airlines, as well as adding segments to the end of a reservation or ticketing “in-country” for the best pricing (eg using Expedia’s sites in new zealand, brazil, spain, etc. when you want a ticket issued there. A ‘seasoned traveler’ knows the value of an OTA. Perhaps I should have been more careful about warning novices booking complex itineraries (i.e. who don’t know what they are buying) on an OTA. That’s a good point…!

  5. Hi Gary,

    Not that you said otherwise but I booked a flight through a German OTA using my Citi Prestige, and the $250 air travel credit did not apply. I followed up with Citi, and they told me that this is an *airline* credit and that they would only apply the credit if I provide proof that the OTA is an airline.

    I assumed that the 3 points/$ earning ratio would also not apply then, but it did and I didn’t notice (unfortunately, Citi doesn’t display the earning ratio as conveniently on the online statement as with Chase).

    Best,
    Jan

  6. Gary — Quick question. Since I have the UA Explorer card I get one free checked bag on a UA flight. Does that still hold if I book a UA flight with my UA Explorer card thru an OTA?

  7. @ Gary: No, you do not always have two avenues to fix issues when things go wrong. I have had airlines cancel flights or seriously delay them to a point far beyond use and then you are stuck fighting Orbitz for a refund and have them cry and moan because the fare is non-refundable. Fortunately chargebacks work.

    Maybe in some markets Orbitz is of value, but at least in the Chinese / Hong Kong market Orbitz is a turd. They tend to sell leftover product on often sub-prime carriers.

    The only thing I have found that sucks even worse that Orbitz are sites such as Hotels.com. But not by much.

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