In September, Expedia announced that all of its reward schemes – including Expedia Rewards, Hotels.com Rewards and eBookers BONUS+ – were to be merged into one programme. Vrbo, Travelocity and Orbitz would also be included.
This was bad news for Hotels.com Rewards members, because the scheme is currently very generous – you get a 10% return on your ex-VAT spending.
I was expecting that all of the Expedia loyalty programmes would cut their rewards to the level of Expedia Rewards. I was wrong – Expedia Rewards is getting worse for most members. If Hotels.com Rewards ends up being merged into this programme it will be gutted.
What is happening to Expedia Rewards?
The changes to Expedia Rewards, which take effect from 1st February, are outlined here. Click the link at the end of the first paragraph.
To add confusion, the redemption rate is changing from ‘140 points are worth £1’ to ‘100 points are worth £1’.
Expedia will expire 28% of the points in your account on 31st January. If you previously had 140 points (worth £1 in the old scheme) you will end up with 100 points (worth £1 in the new scheme).
There are also changes to how you qualify for Silver and Gold status which – due to the impact of the status bonus – make comparing the old and new schemes even more complex.
How will the earning rate change?
Hotels, flight and hotel packages, excursions and car hire:
- Currently earn 2 points per £1 (1.4% return)
- Will earn 1 point per £1 from 1st February (1% return)
- Currently earn 1 point per £5 (0.14% return)
- The earning rate does not change on 1st February, but the return increases to 0.2% now that you only need 100 points to save £1
You will continue to earn double base points when you book with the mobile app.
Status bonuses are changing
- Silver members get a 10% point bonus
- Gold members get a 30% bonus
Going forward, this is changing:
- Silver members will get a 100% points bonus on hotels, flight and hotel packages, excursions and car hire, taking their total return to 2%
- Gold members will get a 200% points bonus on hotels, flight and hotel packages, excursions and car hire, taking their total return to 3%.
However …. Silver and Gold members will no longer receive a status bonus on flight bookings.
The criteria for earning Silver and Gold status are also changing
Going forward, the criteria for earning Silver and Gold status will also change. This was previously based on hotel nights or total spend.
It is now based on something called a ‘Trip Element’:
- Silver status will require 10 Trip Elements in a calendar year
- Gold status will require 25 Trip Elements in a calendar year
A ‘Trip Element’ is defined as:
- a flight (one Trip Element per person on the booking)
- a hotel stay (one Trip Element per room per night)
- an accommodation rental (one Trip Element per night)
- a car hire (one Trip Element per booking)
- an activity (one Trip Element per ticket)
For most people, qualifying for status will be harder:
- Silver previously required seven hotel nights – you will now need 10 nights unless you add in some flight, car or activity elements too
- Gold previously required 15 hotel nights – you will now need 25 nights unless you add in some flight, car or activity elements too
You will note that not all ‘Trip Elements’ are created equal. We may see a lot of people booking activity tickets via Expedia as an easy way of picking up Trip Elements, given that you earn per ticket and not per booking.
Expedia Rewards is making it very difficult to compare their old and new schemes. In general:
- non-status members are worse off unless they only use Expedia for flight bookings, in which case they will be better off
- Silver members are better rewarded on non-flight bookings BUT Silver status will become harder to earn, and Silver members will be worse off on flight bookings
- Gold members are substantially better rewarded on non-flight bookings BUT Gold status will become substantially harder to earn, and Gold members will be worse off on flight bookings
It was always the case that anyone putting enough hotel nights through Expedia Rewards to earn status would be better off booking the same rooms via Hotels.com, which is a sister company.
Even with these changes, a Gold member of Expedia Rewards will only receive 3% back on hotel bookings (4% if booking via the Expedia app) vs 10% back with Hotels.com Rewards.
The big question now is how Hotels.com Rewards will be integrated into this structure. Is Expedia serious about using the same reward structure for Hotels.com? If it is, it will kill its appeal for its heaviest bookers.
PS, Remember that booking hotels via Expedia will also stop you earning hotel points and elite night credit. Your status benefits are also unlikely to be respected.
You WILL earn airline miles and status points when you book flights via Expedia – it makes no difference to booking directly with the airline. However, Expedia adds booking fees which usually makes it more expensive than a direct booking.
Hotel offers update – November 2021:
Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.
Want to buy hotel points? There is currently a special offer running with Hilton Honors (100% bonus to 7th December), Marriott Bonvoy (45% bonus to 8th December) and World of Hyatt (30% discount, equivalent to a 43% bonus, to 30th December).