Comparing Expedia Credit Card to Other Travel Cards: Review

Nov 10, 2016 | Be First to Comment!

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If you're like me, you probably make it a habit of booking trips through online travel sites. They're great tools for finding deals on flight, hotels, and more. Some even offer their own credit cards to help you save more money on travel -- a great way to get rewarded for your loyalty.

I took a look at the four major online travel sites that offer credit cards -- Priceline, Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz -- and compared their cards to determine the best online travel site card.

Here's what I looked at when reviewing the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card, Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card, Expedia®+ Voyager, and Orbitz Rewards Visa® cards:

Travel Site Cards - Rewards rates

Card Bonus rewards Base rewards
Priceline Rewards Visa 5 points per dollar on priceline.com purchases 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
Travelocity Rewards American Express 3 points per dollar on eligible Travelocity purchases 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
Expedia+ Voyager 4 Expedia+ points per dollar on eligible Expedia purchases and 2 Expedia+ points per dollar on dining & entertainment 1 Expedia+ point per dollar on all other purchases
Orbitz Rewards Visa 10% Orbucks back on eligible hotels booked via mobile app (8% through desktop/web) and 7% Orbucks back on flight booked via mobile app (6% through desktop/web) 2% Orbucks on all other purchases

You want to earn points fast, so you can get those free flights and hotel stays. So, it makes sense to first look at how quickly these online travel site credit cards can make that happen.

Orbitz Rewards Visa ®Takes First Place

Orbitz-Rewards-Visa-cardBased on the numbers alone, you can see that the Orbitz Rewards Visa® card stands out with its amazing rewards rates on travel purchases made through the Orbitz website. The caveat to Orbitz is that you'll have to deal with their rather confusing Orbucks program. But once you have that figured out, great rewards follow.

For example, you can get 10% back on eligible hotels booked through the Orbitz mobile app. You can also use the mobile app to get 7% back on flights.

If you're not an app person, you can still get good rewards on desktop, but it's important to know that they differ. Either way, Orbitz rewards are highly competitive with travel credit cards.

Priceline and Travelocity Take Second Place

Priceline-credit-cardBut, Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card and Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card have simple rewards programs. You get bonus points on travel purchases made through their sites and a flat 1 point per dollar for everything else.

Such a simple program stresses one thing: you’ll get value from these cards only if you use them for travel purchases. Otherwise, any other rewards card would be better.

Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card gives more points per dollar on bonus travel but Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card picks up the slack with a stellar redemption option.

Expedia®+ Takes Third Place

Expedia-voyager-cardThe Expedia®+ Voyager card has a rewards program that aims to convince cardholders to always keep the card in their wallets.

You’ll get bonus points for booking travel through Expedia — which is usually done online. But to get bonus points for restaurants and entertainment, you’ll have to carry the Expedia®+ Voyager card in your wallet.

To encourage more spending, the card gives you 5,000 bonus Expedia+ points. This happens when you spend $10,000 in the prior year (a 0.05% point bonus on $10,000 spent).

The rewards rate is decent and the bonus is nice, but they’re not enough to differentiate Expedia from the pack.

WINNER (Rewards rate): Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card

Travel Site Cards - Redemption

Card Priceline Rewards Visa Travelocity Rewards American Express Expedia+ Voyager Orbitz Rewards Visa
Bonus rewards 5 points per dollar on priceline.com purchases 3 points per dollar on eligible Travelocity purchases 4 Expedia+ points per dollar on eligible Expedia purchases and 2 Expedia+ points per dollar on dining & entertainment 10% Orbucks back on eligible hotels booked via mobile app (8% through desktop/web) and 7% Orbucks back on flight booked via mobile app (6% through desktop/web)
Base rewards 1 point per dollar on all other purchases 1 point per dollar on all other purchases 1 Expedia+ point per dollar on all other purchases 2% Orbucks on all other purchases
Redemption options Statement credit toward any purchase Statement credit toward any Travelocity purchase in the past 90 days Flights and hotel stays booked through Expedia Qualifying hotel booking through Orbitz
Redemption value 1 point per cent, starting at $25 Increments of 5,000 points for $50, 7,500 points for $75 or 20,000 points for the cost of an airline ticket or flight + hotel package up to maximum credit of $400 Varies based on travel reward $1 Orbuck per $1

The Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card may help you rack up points the fastest, but the value of those points may not be as great as they initially seem. With the accumulated Orbucks, you can only redeem for bookings at qualifying hotels through Orbitz. That can be restrictive when you're missing the other major aspect of travel: flights.

The Expedia®+ Voyager card also forces you to use your points toward travel booked through Expedia, but at least you can use the points for flights and hotels. These redemptions are not as limiting. They are great if you happen to always find the best prices on Expedia.

Meanwhile, the two remaining cards only offer statement credits, which mean your balance is being erased by however much you earn back. I feel statement credits are the best reward options -- think of it as receiving a refund on a past purchase -- very convenient.

The Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card has one noteworthy highlight. It lets you redeem a statement credit for up to $400 on flights or eligible hotels and vacation packages with no blackout dates, booked through Travelocity for just 20,000 points (2 cents of value per 1 point). That’s an incentive for you to save up those points instead of redeeming at the lower denominations. The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card, however, is very attractive because of its extremely flexible redemption options. You can pretty much “erase” any purchase with your accumulated points. (Reminds me of the popular Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.)

The optimal redemption on the Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card is the $400 statement credit for 20,000 points, which can be earned with $6,667 in Travelocity purchases (3 points/$). Meanwhile, to redeem $400 on the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card, you’ll need 40,000 points, which can be earned with $8,000 in Priceline purchases (5 points/$).

So, you’ll get slightly better redemption values with the Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card, but you’ll have more flexible redemption options with the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card. There’s no proper way to evaluate the two advantages so I’m calling it a tie between the two.

WINNER (Redemptions): Tie (Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card and Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card)

Annual Fee

  • Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card: $0
  • Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card: $0
  • Expedia®+ Voyager: $95
  • Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card: $0

Travel credit cards are notorious for having annual fees -- often because they have various travel perks that justify such fees (e.g., free checked bags, complimentary lounge passes and companion tickets).

None of the online travel agency credit cards have any ties to specific airlines or hotel chains, so they don’t really have any of these standout travel benefits that would warrant an annual fee.

Of the four cards only Expedia®+ Voyager has an annual fee. At $95 per year, it’s a quite a lot for anyone who doesn't like annual fees. But, the card has a set of great travel benefits -- particularly its $100 statement -- to make up for that fee.

However, when strictly speaking about the cost of the annual fee, it’s a three-way tie between the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card, Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card, and Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Cards.

WINNER (Annual fee): Tie (Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card, Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card, and Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card)

Interest Rates

  • Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card: 14.99-21.99% APR
  • Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card: 14.99-24.99% APR
  • Expedia®+ Voyager: 14.24-22.24% APR
  • Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card: 15.99-24.99% APR

It’s never a good idea to pay interest on a credit card, especially a rewards credit card. Also, rewards credit cards tend to have higher interest rates, which is the case for all four online travel agency credit cards.

Their APRs are relatively similar but the one with lowest average APR is Expedia®+ Voyager. Meanwhile, the Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card has the highest average APR -- probably because it has such high rewards rates.

Even though Expedia®+ Voyager takes the cake for interest rates, (again) I don’t ever suggest that you pay interest on any rewards credit card. The value of your rewards will be wiped out by those interest charges.

WINNER (Interest rate): Expedia®+ Voyager

Card Coverages

Did your flight get delayed for a long time? You might be compensated for lodging, food, and more as you wait for the next flight. This is just one example of how card coverages can be useful. Every credit card comes with its own suite of card coverages that you should take into account.

Below is a table that lists out the protection and coverages offered by each card:

A Barclaycard spokesperson did not reply to me with a full guide of benefits for the Priceline Rewards Visa and Travelocity Rewards Amex cards. The information below is based on standard Visa benefits (for Priceline) and on the latest Travelocity Rewards Amex benefits guide I could find online.

Priceline, Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz card benefits

Card Priceline Rewards Visa Travelocity Rewards American Express Expedia+ Voyager Orbitz Rewards Visa
$0 liability fraud protection Yes Yes Yes Yes
Purchase protection Yes Yes Yes Yes
Price protection Yes No Yes Yes
Return protection Yes No No Yes
Extended warranty Yes Yes Yes Yes
Travel & emergency assistance Yes No No Yes
Roadside Assistance Yes No No Yes
Auto rental insurance Yes No Yes Yes
Travel accident insurance Yes No No Yes
Trip cancellation/interruption coverage Yes (Visa Signature only) No Yes Yes (Visa Signature only)
Trip delay reimbursement Yes (Visa Signature only) No Yes Yes (Visa Signature only)
Baggage delay insurance No No Yes No
Lost luggage reimbursement Yes (Visa Signature only) No Yes Yes (Visa Signature only)

With the exception of the Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card, all of the online travel agency cards provide a decent set of card coverages that encompass regular retail purchases to travel. You’ll notice that, for the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card and Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card, I highlight certain coverages that are available only to Visa Signature cards.

Visa Signature is the upper tier version of Visa Platinum -- they offer different benefits. Priceline and Orbitz will give out different versions depending on your credit. Essentially, you want the Visa Signature version because of its extended list of coverages.

Again, looking at the chart, I’d say that the Visa Signature versions of the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card and Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card offer the best card coverages in the group. Expedia®+ Voyager was almost able to keep up with these two cards but it fell out of the contest because it doesn’t offer travel services and assistance (I spoke with a Citi customer service rep to confirm this).

WINNER (Card coverages): Tie (Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card andOrbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card)

Travel Site Cards - Travel Benefits

Card Travel benefits
Priceline Rewards Visa No pre-set spending limit and personal concierge; travel upgrades and discounts at select Visa partners (Visa Signature)
Travelocity Rewards American Express None
Expedia+ Voyager $100 annual statement credit for airline incidentals on qualified airlines or Wi-Fi carries or for the Global Entry fee; no foreign transaction fees and free personal concierge
Orbitz Rewards Visa No pre-set spending limit and personal concierge; travel upgrades and discounts at select Visa partners (Visa Signature) plus no foreign transaction fees

We’re talking about online travel agency credit cards here, so we have to look at the travel perks that these cards offer (if any).

Right off the bat, Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card is looking bad due to a lack of any noteworthy travel benefits. So, lets focus on the other cards.

Given that Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card and Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card are capable of being Visa Signature cards, you can receive free nights and discounts through Visa’s hotel and car rental partners. However, the Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card stands taller with the waived foreign transaction fees, which means you’re not going to pay currency exchange fees when swiping your card abroad.

However, the card with the best travel perk is definitely Expedia®+ Voyager. The $100 statement credit can be used for a basket of things including checked bags, in-flight meals, Wi-Fi access, lounge passes on 10 major airlines (AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United/Continental Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America Airlines) and the $100 Global Entry application fee. The Global Entry program allows pre-approved travelers to receive expedited clearance upon entry into the U.S.

Expedia®+ Voyager card has a $95 annual fee because of the $100 statement credit. If you can maximize this $100 statement credit, you’ll more than recoup the annual fee. Top this perk off with the rest of the card’s travel benefits and you’ve got a solid travel companion.

WINNER (Travel benefits): Expedia®+ Voyager

Verdict: Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card

Oddly, the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card and Orbitz Rewards Visa® Credit Card actually tied with three winning categories each. So, why did I give the crown to thePriceline Rewards™ Visa® Card?

Firstly, the hotel-only redemption option on the Orbitz card stood out as a major restriction to how you can spend your points. And, it carries the highest average APR of the group. These two aspects led me to favor the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card.

Winners and Losers, You Decide

Ultimately, you know what's best for your needs and preferences. This rundown is meant to give you as much information as possible, but you know yourself better than anyone else.

Your credit cards should help you enjoy and get the most out of your experience, but they are not the experience. Choose your destination, choose your credit card, and be present in the moment.

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