Expedia is finally going ahead with their previously announced loyalty program for all their brands and with it the famous Hotels. com Rewards will be seriously devalued. The new program called One Key will encompass Expedia, Hotels.com, VRBO, Travelocity, Orbitz etc. and will combine the separate loyalty programs like Expedia Rewards and Hotels .com Rewards.
There is quite the furor happening about the huge devaluation to the Hotels. com Rewards program that will be happening and it is huge. That being said, it wasn’t unexpected and it doesn’t come as a shock to me. Here’s what I said in December 2021 when I covered the news of the revamped Expedia Rewards program and the launch of one loyalty program for all the brands:
Is Hotels.com Rewards next?
It doesn’t end with these changes to Expedia Rewards however. Some of the other booking sites that Expedia owns, such as Hotels.com are most likely going to change as well. As first reported by the Expedia Group back in September, the company is planning on a loyalty program that extends across all their brands – Expedia, Hotels.com, VRBO, Travelocity, Orbitz etc. If I was to take a guess that’s why we see this change to Expedia Rewards and the other brands will most likely follow suit. If that’s the case you can consider it a huge devaluation to the existing Hotels.com Rewards program which is the best non-chain hotel program out there. It would basically drop from being a 10% return program to this 1% to 3% model. Now this purely a conjecture on my part but why announce that you are going to create a loyalty program for all your brands and then make changes to one of the programs just a few months after? The pieces of the puzzle do seem to fit. My only hope would be the earn rates are higher when you book on Hotels. com to make up for that huge difference.
The new One Key Loyalty Program
The new One Key program is similar to the revamped Expedia Rewards that launched on February 1, 2022. The big difference is they are moving to cash back rewards instead of points with a better base earn rate and redemption value does not change. The current Expedia Rewards program earns 1 points per dollar on hotels, car rentals, vacation packages etc. and 1 points for every $5 in airfare purchases. The new One Key program will reward 2% on on hotels, car rentals, vacation packages etc. and 0.2% on airfare. Since the program currently has redemption rates of 100 points to $1 the new cash back return on hotels, car rentals, vacation packages etc. is a better return than the current points accumulation. The earn rate for flights remains the same.
The other big difference is for earn rates for elite status members. They will be increasing the earn rates for elite status members however those increased earn rates will only be available on VIP Access Accommodations, not hotels, car rentals, vacation packages as seen with the current elite status boost.
So for Expedia Rewards members in some ways the new One Key program is an improvement but for Hotels .com Rewards members to 2% to 6% earned is a huge cut from the 10% currently enjoyed by members. The only silver lining to the new program for Hotels. com is that you don’t have to wait until you complete 10 nights to redeem – you can redeem your cash back whenever you like. Also all stamps will converted at a 10% of the value listed so at least members won’t lose any value of what they have already earned.
We also need to note that all the communication around the new One Key program at this time is for the U.S.. They state the program will launch mid-2023 in the U.S. and you need to use the U.S. version of their websites and apps. We’ll definitely keep an eye out to see what Expedia plans for their members and programs in Canada.
Wrapping it up
Expedia is finally bringing to fruition their loyalty program for all their brands but with that comes a massive devaluation to the very popular Hotels. com Rewards. Right now it appears the new One Key program will launch in the U.S. in the coming months and we can assume it will come to Canada at the same time or shortly after.