MONEY SAVER | TRAVEL

Expedia Travel Hacks That You Need To Know

Written by Vanessa M. W. | August 30, 2022

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In 2019, I was able to book four nights at a 5-star, all-inclusive boutique resort for my honeymoon in Cancun, Mexico. The original price was estimated to be $4,000, but I paid $0.00. It wasn’t magic — it was math! Let me explain.

For a full year, I worked every angle, doubled my credit card points whenever possible, and blended together the ultimate recipe to make the most of my travel points and daily deals on Expedia. In essence, my hard work and planning basically bankrolled my entire honeymoon.

In this article, I’ll share my best travel hacks, tips, and tricks for one of my favorite websites: Expedia.com.

Best Expedia Coupons 2022

How to Earn Rewards Points and Travel for Free

As an avid traveler, I’m always on the hunt for a good deal. I want to go farther, for longer, and for less. The easiest way to do that is to maximize my ability to earn points on specific travel provider websites or with a travel rewards credit card; however, not all purchases are treated equally. Each program will provide incentives to book certain hotels or buy from specific companies — this is where you can make a grab for some serious points.

For example, in Expedia’s Rewards program, you’ll earn two points for every US$1 spent on hotels, vacation packages, activities, cars, and cruises. Additionally, you’ll get 1 point for every $5 you spend on airfare for flights booked on Expedia, and double the points if you book through Expedia’s app.

Let’s put a few numbers down so you can see the power of playing the game! If you spend $500 on a hotel, $500 on a car, and $1,000 on airfare through Expedia, then you’ll earn 2,200 points. If you book on the app, you’ll double that for a total of 4,400 points!

According to Expedia’s Rewards page, 140 Expedia points have the cash equivalent of $1. To give you a better idea of what your points are worth, have a look at the chart below.

# of Expedia Points 5,000 points 30,000 points 80,000 points
Approximate Monetary Value US$35 US$214 US$571

I book nearly all of my trips (both business and pleasure) on a select few travel programs so I can compound points quickly. If you book all over the market, you’ll never accumulate enough points to make a serious dent in your travel costs. I then pay careful attention to any promotional offers that might earn me double, triple, or even quadruple points! This is how I quickly racked up over 30,000 points on Expedia for my honeymoon.

Read More Pro Tips for Saving Money on Travel

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Free Upgrades and Bonuses for Customer Loyalty

Methods for earning points quickly tend to be popular topics for obvious reasons, but the real fun begins when you learn to unlock free upgrades and save money on luxury hotel stays.

Free upgrades and bonuses tend to be reserved for those in the upper echelon. Expedia encourages customer loyalty for frequent travelers and repeat clients by incentivizing high-value upgrades with their spending — the more you spend, the greater the rewards.

For example, I am a Gold Member with Expedia, which means I spent at least $10,000 on eligible bookings or stayed 15 room nights in a single calendar year. By booking both my personal and business travel on Expedia, I’m able to quickly achieve Gold Member status. This unlocks special perks like:

  • Free WiFi
  • Free breakfast
  • Free spa access
  • Free welcome drink or snack
  • Free room upgrades (unlimited)
  • And more!

Prior to 2021, I took my travel hacking to the next level by staying exclusively at Expedia VIP Access hotels. VIP Access hotels are great properties with amazing service and, at the time, points in these exclusive spots were worth DOUBLE, elevating my savings to ridiculous heights.

This is how I was able to get the cost of my 5-star resort down to $0.00. The resort was a VIP hotel, so my 30,000 points were doubled to 60,000 (cash equivalent to $428). In addition, the hotel had an extra 10% off deal — I tacked on an Expedia coupon, applied a gift card I received from work, and finally, scored a free upgrade to a suite thanks to my status. Stacking deals like this is basically an Olympic event for travel bloggers.

Please be advised that Expedia announced on January 30, 2020, that reward points would only continue to be worth double at VIP hotels until January 31, 2021, as reported by Doctor of Credit. This is most likely a consequence of the pandemic, though it is unclear if the upcoming change will be a permanent one. Note, however, that when customers book VIP hotels, they are able to earn triple points as of February 1, 2021, onward.

Take Advantage of Seasonal Travel Deals

Flexibility will be your greatest asset when it comes to travel hacking. If you’re dead set on a specific location, date, or supplier, it becomes more difficult to work the system.

Every travel rewards program or website will have daily, weekly or monthly deals that give customers the opportunity to redeem generous discounts for a brief window of time. This is because travel reward programs strike marketing agreements with specific hotels, carriers, or service providers throughout the year, creating ever-shifting opportunities for more flexible travelers.

For Expedia, I always start my travel search in the deals section of their website so I can explore what’s on sale. I try to establish a general idea of my desired activities (i.e., city break, ski trip, etc.), then look to see which deals make the most sense for me given my location, budget, and timeframe. Plus, I can earn triple the rewards points when I book a VIP Access Hotel from the deals page, which means more points to use for later trips.

When hunting for the best deals, don’t forget these two important rules:

  1. Avoid peak season. While enjoying the gorgeous Santorini sights in July may sound like fun, the summer months are actually the worst months to travel as Santorini will be flooded with tourists. In other words, it means inflated prices and a shortage of available hotel deals. Always book for the beginning or end of the travel season. There will be fewer people crowding your destination than during the high season and you’re more likely to snag a deal.
  2. Take advantage of sales during national holidays or major celebrations. There will almost always be deep hotel and flight discounts during Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine's Day. If you plan accordingly, you can snag a real deal! For example, I specifically buy airline points during Christmas time because they’re regularly on sale for up to 50% off.

Adopt These Year-Round Travel Hacking Habits

Traveling with Expedia

After traveling to over 50 countries, I know that good habits year-round are critical to maximizing travel hacking methods. This means that I am constantly thinking about the best ways to earn points, even if I don’t have an immediate trip coming up.

So what does that look like?

  • Maximize your spending. Shop recommended providers through your travel rewards card whenever possible to earn extra points. As the saying goes, always make your money work for you.
  • Look out for point sales during the holiday season. Don’t rush into this — unless there’s a sale of 30% or more, you can skip this point. Don’t forget to triple-check that the points don’t have a looming expiration date (RIP to all the expired points that were never used during the pandemic).
  • Pick up the tab. When traveling with a group, always book the accommodations on your travel rewards credit card with your Expedia account so you can scoop up those double points. Secure the savings, then settle the bill.

As you become more knowledgeable in the travel hacking space, this whole process will be more intuitive. You’re going to start noticing specific times of the week or holiday season where deals are easiest to find, and you’ll get better at spending intentionally with promoted companies to rack up points with your everyday purchases.

If you’re overwhelmed, don’t give up — it gets easier over time. For additional money-saving tips, check out our guide on how to save money on flights! I may have traded in my passport for new pajamas this past year, but even a global pandemic hasn’t stopped this girl from collecting points and upgrades as the world opens up again — and it shouldn't stop you either.

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