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In big news for travelers, sister companies Vrbo, Expedia and Hotels.com have created a single rewards program called One Key.
Starting July 6, 2023, travelers who book Vrbo vacation rental stays, rooms through Hotels.com and trips through Expedia will be able to earn rewards points called OneKeyCash that can be spent on all three sites.
But how does the new loyalty program compare to the old ones? Does it make it easier to get travel deals or buy cheap flights?
Here’s everything to know about the program so far:
The One Key travel rewards program goes live on July 6, 2023, across Vrbo, Hotels.com, and Expedia.
As of July 6, 2023, you’ll be able to earn rewards from Vrbo, Hotels.com, and Expedia with the One Key rewards program, and you’ll be able to spend those rewards at any of those sites.
You can’t sign up for One Key before July 6, 2023, but you can create a new account with Expedia or Hotels.com — and you’ll automatically get signed up for those rewards programs. Then, when July 6 hits, those programs will automatically get switched over to One Key.
Note: If you’re an existing rewards member, you may want to spend your points soon. (See the final tip in this article to learn more.)
One Key members earn 2% back in credit for qualifying travel purchases from Vrbo, Expedia, or Hotels.com.
One Key members receive 2% in OneKeyCash for every dollar spent on qualifying travel activities, car rentals, cruises, hotel stays, and vacation rentals. (Members also earn 0.2% in OneKeyCash for every dollar spent on eligible flights). Your OneKeyCash basically is a “store credit” for Hotels.com, Vrbo, and Expedia, that can be used on all “Pay Now” bookings.
To earn OneKeyCash, be sure to sign in to your One Key account before making any bookings. If you book something using the Pay Now option, your OneKeyCash will hit your account within about three days. If you use a Pay Later option, it can take around 45 days.
Bonus: You can stack OneKeyCash with other rewards you may get from your credit card and/or airline rewards programs.
There will be four different tiers of One Key, which come with increasingly better perks.
Similar to the existing Expedia Rewards program it will soon replace, One Key has multiple membership tiers that come with increasingly better benefits. Although there’s no official word as to how people reach each tier, if it’s modeled after Expedia’s program, it has to do with the number of bookings (or “Trip Elements”) you make in a year.
With Expedia Rewards, you’d earn one Trip Element per flight ticket, night at one hotel room, night at a vacation rental, car reservation, night in a cruise cabin, and activity ticket.
Here are the four tiers of benefits for One Key members, according to One Key FAQ:
One Key Blue
One Key Blue offers:
- The opportunity to earn and spend OneKeyCash on eligible bookings across Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo
- Access to free price tracking for flights on the Expedia App
- Savings of 10% or more for members on eligible hotels worldwide
One Key Silver
One Key Silver offers all the benefits of One Key Blue, in addition to:
- Member pricing on eligible hotels with savings of 15% or more
- The opportunity to rack up 50% more OneKeyCash on eligible stays at VIP Access properties on Expedia and Hotels.com
- Discounts on food and beverages, as well as other perks, when you stay at select VIP Access hotels
- Priority traveler support
One Key Gold
One Key Gold offers all the benefits of One Key Blue and Silver, as well as:
- Savings of 20% or more with Gold Member Prices on eligible hotels worldwide
- The opportunity to earn 100% more (4%) OneKeyCash on eligible stays at VIP Access properties on Expedia and Hotels.com
- Late checkout, early check-in and room upgrades when available for eligible bookings at VIP Access hotels
- Free Price Drop Protection at no extra cost on eligible flight bookings on the Expedia app
One Key Platinum
One Key Platinum offers all the benefits of One Key Blue, Silver and Gold, as well as:
- The opportunity to earn 200% more (6%) OneKeyCash on stays at VIP Access hotels on Expedia and Hotels.com
- Platinum VIP Support
- A one-time 10% Expedia discount (up to $100 off)
One Key’s cashback seems to be better than Expedia Rewards, and worse than Hotels.com.
If you’re already a member of Expedia Rewards or Hotels.com Rewards, your membership(s) will automatically transfer to One Key and your rewards to OneKeyCash. If you’re a Vrbo member, you’ll get an email from Vrbo with instructions on how to proceed as the launch date approaches.
When it comes to cashback for eligible travel bookings, One Key offers $0.02 (2% back) in OneKeyCash for every $1 spent, which is higher than the 0.7% cashback percentage offered by Expedia Rewards. (Except for airfare; you only get 0.2% cashback with One Key for those tickets.)
If you’re a Hotels.com Rewards member, be warned: OneKeyCash is actually a step down for you because you’ve typically 10% cashback on your bookings, returned to you in the form of a free night that is worth the average of your 10 hotel stays.
But once One Key takes over, instead of your 10 hotel stays turning into a free night’s stay, the program will calculate how much you spent for those 10 hotel stays, and convert it into OneKey Cash, totaling 2% of what you spent (only 1/5 as good as the old days of “buy 10 nights, get one free”).
Tip: If you’ve been holding off on booking an upcoming stay with your Hotels.com freebie, you might wanna do it before One Key launches on July 6, 2023, to ensure you get that full 10% back.