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One Key to replace Hotels.com and Expedia Rewards soon – what you need to know

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Expedia Group has now announced the (rough) date when One Key, the new rewards programme, will launch in the UK.

Your accounts will be switched “between July and October 2024”. Don’t ask me why they can’t narrow it down further!

This will replace Hotels.com Rewards and Expedia Rewards. It will also allow you to earn and redeem rewards on vrbo home rentals.

Details are now available here.

One Key to replace Hotels.com and Expedia Rewards soon

For Expedia Rewards, which is already a weak scheme, the change is minimal.

For Hotels.com Rewards, it amounts to a gutting of the programme.

However, the change has one benefit – you can cash out the value of your accumulated Hotels.com Rewards now without having to wait until you hit 10 nights. You don’t even have to use the money for a hotel – you can redeem it against an Expedia flight booking instead. It’s a short term gain, but long term you will be worse off.

Why is (was) Hotels.com Rewards great?

We had been recommending Hotels.com Rewards to HfP readers for many years. You can see the details here.

For anyone who cannot commit to a specific hotel brand, or doesn’t do enough nights to earn a decent level of status or rewards, it is your best option.

It’s a very simple scheme. Whenever you complete 10 nights, you get a credit towards a future booking for the average ex-VAT cost of those 10 nights.

These means that you are receiving a 10% rebate on your ex-VAT spend.

Even better, the credit can be used as part payment if you prefer. You are not restricted, as you are with many hotel programmes, to booking a standard room as a reward. You can book a suite if you want, as long as you pay the difference.

Another benefit of Hotels.com Rewards is that you can book for anyone you want (with the bookings in their name) and earn the rewards for yourself. I have done this numerous times when booking hotel rooms for my in-laws.

One Key to replace Hotels.com and Expedia Rewards soon

One Key is far weaker than Hotels.com Rewards

One Key will give you a combined loyalty account account across Hotels.com, Expedia and vrbo.

You will receive 2% of your ex-VAT spending at Hotels.com as OneKeyCash. This means that rewards are being devalued by 80%.

You will also earn 2% on vacation rentals, activities, packages, car rentals and cruises booked via Expedia and vrbo. Flight bookings via Expedia will earn just 0.2% (£1 on a £500 booking).

What happens to my existing Hotels.com free nights?

The only bit of good news is that your existing free night awards are not going to be wiped out.

They will be converted into OneKeyCash at their existing value. If you have a free night worth $175 to use up, it will be swapped for $175 of One Key credit. The expiry date will remain the same.

What happens to part-earned Hotels.com free nights?

Don’t panic. You won’t lose the value of any existing stamps in your Hotels.com Rewards account.

The stamps you are currently collecting towards your next free night voucher will be turned into OneKeyCash based on their existing value, ie 10% of the ex-VAT cost of that particular night.

Let’s look at my own personal statement.

  • I have acheived 6 of the 10 ‘stamps’ required towards my next free night
  • the average spend to date across those six stays is $132.72

When One Key launches, I will receive a starting credit of ($132.72 / 10 * 6) $79.63.

As it turns out, I also have $1.50 in Expedia Rewards credit. This will be merged in, to give me an opening One Key balance of $81.13.

One Key to replace Hotels.com and Expedia Rewards soon

What happens to Hotels.com Rewards status?

One Key has its own status programme, which is based on your combined activity across Expedia, Hotels.com and vrbo. We will cover this in more detail once the programme has launched.

Your launch status in One Key will be based on your combined recent bookings at Expedia, vrbo and Hotels.com, as long as you used the same email address for all sites.

A switch date ‘between July and October 2024’ is not helpful

To be honest, I was expecting a firm date to be announced for the One Key switch. Giving members a four month window is not hugely useful.

You can make Hotels.com bookings for stays up to the end of June with certainly that you’ll get your 10% return via Hotels.com Rewards.

You should NOT make a hotel booking for after 1st July – unless it is cancellable – if your main reason for making it is Hotels.com Rewards credit.

Let’s look at the upsides …..

To be fair, there are two upsides to changes:

  • once your existing free night vouchers are converted into OneKeyCash, you will be able to spend them at Expedia (for flights – but you must pay for the ENTIRE flight in OneKeyCash) and vrbo (for rentals) – you are not restricted to hotel room redemptions
  • anyone with a few Hotels.com Rewards ‘stamps’ who thought they would never hit 10 nights to trigger a free night voucher will release the value they have built up

Conclusion

I know many HfP readers are big fans of Hotels.com Rewards and put the bulk of their hotel bookings through it. I used it a lot myself, especially when making hotel bookings for family members.

Hotels.com is taking a gamble, hoping that the bookings it loses from ‘heavy stayers’ like our readers will offset the savings in reward payments to occasional bookers. Let’s see if it works.

We’ll bring you more details of the status elements of One Key when the UK switch happens, which we now know will be “between July and October 2024”.

You can find out more on this page of the Hotels.com website.


Hotel offers update – May 2024:

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?

  • IHG One Rewards is offering an 80% bonus when you buy points by 8th June 2024. Click here.
  • World of Hyatt is offering a 20% bonus when you buy points by 1st July 2024. Click here.

Comments (127)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Nigel says:

    I saw someone else mention this, but Avios Hotels could be an option but… you have to pay to cancel, even if you get a refund from the hotel?!

  • Jason says:

    Their email about this would have been more honest if they had said rewards are being reduced from 10% to 2%. Instead, they make it seem positive for customers when it’s actually a 80% decline in value.

  • Sam says:

    Hi Rob, if you have 3 current stamps with 2 pending at the end of the month, should you do anything to preserve/get the best value? I have just logged in and it’s still showing as stamps so not gone to the new program yet as such! Thanks

  • Dubious says:

    There’s probably also an argument that by using Hotels.com the hotel gets a broader reach and saves on some marketing costs (for the independent hotels).

  • Paul Filby says:

    Nearly all my hotels were booked through hotels.com. Silver member for years, think I will seriously look at different options now it’ sounds like a terrible reward programme now.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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