Yesterday an email popped up that caught my attention (because it was offering free money):
I hadn’t paid much attention to Orbitz, preferring to book my travel either through a travel provider’s own program (for the loyalty points and upgrades) or opaque third-party sites like Priceline (which can yield some great deals if done right).
But when something’s free, I’m not going to complain about the price.
I had low expectations since many Orbitz hotel promotions seem to exclude a lot. Like this one:
But when I “tested out” my free $50 credit, lo and behold it did not have that exclusion and worked on many (I’d say ~80%) of the hotels in areas I searched for.
Not only that, there were many decent (3-star-ish) hotels with pre-discount rates around $50, meaning the rate would’ve been zero, or a negligible amount, with this deal. (You still have to pay tax.) Wish I’d taken screen shots (sorry, won’t happen again).
I ultimately used the credit on a hotel for an out-of-state event I’m attending in a few weeks. That one wasn’t free, but the net cost was only ~$50 after my triple-dipping shenanigans. A solid, well-located hotel — and it’s literally adjacent to the event so I’ll save on time and transportation costs.
Read on for a description of the Orbitz Rewards loyalty program, followed by tips for maximizing value.
Earning and redeeming “Orbucks”
- Hotel bookings earn 5% in Orbitz Rewards if booked through the app (3% if booked on a computer).
- Flight bookings earn 2% in Orbitz Rewards if booked through the app (1% if booked on a computer), capped at $50 in Orbucks annually per member. You can often double dip by earning frequent flyer miles while earning Orbucks.
- Packages earn 1% in Orbitz Rewards.
- Earned Orbucks expire 12 months from the date earned. Promotional Orbucks (like the $50 I got) expire per the terms of their respective promotion.
- Orbucks can only be redeemed on hotel bookings (not flights).
In addition to base membership, there are two “elite” tiers with perks including concierge services and potential upgrades, Wi-Fi, and breakfast:
- Star member: to qualify, book and stay at least four Eligible Hotel room nights within a rolling 12-month period.
- SuperStar member: to qualify, be a Star member and book and stay at least twelve Eligible Hotel room nights within a rolling 12-month period.
There is also a Best Price Guarantee.
Hints and tips
Here are some suggestions to help you potentially double or even triple dip. Not all of them can be combined, so do the math and optimize for your own situation – that’s part of the fun of this “game.” 🙂
Have an existing member refer you. You’ll get $25 in signup credit and they’ll get $25 after your first completed stay. Of course you’re more than welcome to use my referral link (thanks for supporting this site!). Note that the signup credit is not instant; it comes by email a few days after signup.
Use code DOWNLOAD25 to save $25 on your first hotel stay (book by 6/30/14, travel by 9/30/14). This code is only valid on mobile bookings.
Pay with a credit card that earns an applicable category bonus. (I used one that earns double points on all merchants categorized as “travel.”)
Check out this page for other promotions that might fit your needs. Currently on offer are a $25 credit for a hotel booking in Germany (book by 4/29/14) and a $30 credit for one in Los Angeles (book by 5/16/14).
Try code HOTEL10 for 10% off a qualifying hotel (expires 6/30/14). This code excludes many hotels, though (see the second picture in this post).
As always, be sure to read all terms and conditions carefully.
Finally, one more suggestion…
Even if you’ve no need to book anything right now, consider signing up for the potential of getting random free credit in the future. I got $50 yesterday even though I don’t remember booking anything in years. (Actually, not sure I’ve ever booked anything through them.)