Frequent Flyer

Orbitz Adds Dining Points to Rewards Program

Members of the Orbitz Rewards program can now earn Orbucks when dining at more than 11,000 participating restaurants.

Orbitz clearly intends its Orbitz Rewards scheme to be the dominant player among online travel agency loyalty programs.

The program, launched in October of 2013, rewards members with what amounts to a rebate of up to five percent for hotel bookings. The program self-reports current membership exceeding 2 million.

In April, the company added a co-branded credit card to the program, allowing users to earn an extra 5 percent on Orbitz bookings.

And beginning on August 5, members of the Orbitz Rewards program can earn Orbucks when dining at more than 11,000 participating restaurants.

Program members earn five Orbucks per $1 spent on meals, including tips and taxes, or seven Orbucks per $1 when charging the meal to an Orbitz Rewards Visa card. (One Orbuck is worth $1 when redeemed for hotel room nights booked via Orbitz.)

As are the miles-for-dining programs linked to most airline and hotel loyalty schemes, Orbitz Rewards Dining is operated by Rewards Network.

Is Orbitz Rewards for You?

The addition of dining points is an enhancement to the program, albeit a decidedly incremental one. The value and utility of Orbitz Rewards remain fundamentally unchanged. Key considerations:

  • If you already use Orbitz, the program and credit card can generate a solid 10 percent rebate on hotel bookings. Do it.
  • If you already use an OTA for most of your travel bookings, the Rewards program certainly makes Orbitz worth a look, if it’s not already your go-to app.
  • Most hotels don’t award points in their own programs for bookings made through OTAs. So booking Hilton through Orbitz means foregoing HHonors points (and the possibility of earning HHonors elite status) in favor of Orbucks.
  • On the other hand, booking flights through Orbitz doesn’t preclude earning miles in the airlines’ programs. So you can earn both AAdvantage miles and Orbucks for an American flight booked on Orbitz.
  • A caveat that Orbitz doesn’t do nearly enough to highlight: Orbucks expire after just 12 months. Use ’em or lose ’em!

Reader Reality Check Do you participate in the loyalty programs of the online travel agencies? If so, which ones?

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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