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Should You Apply for a Travel Agency Credit Card?

We all love the co-branded credit cards.  Whether we’re using a credit card for a favorite hotel chain, or a preferred airline for travel, using a co-branded credit card helps travelers collect more from their location, in either discounts, earned points or miles, or status.  But, what about co-branded credit cards with travel agencies?  They exist, too!  Whether it’s Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, or Priceline, there’s a credit card out there for each site.  But, is it worth it?  Let’s explore below!


The Good

If you are reading this and are loyal to a single travel site, then a co-branded card likely makes sense.  While not as rewarding as other co-branded cards for hotels or airlines, travel agency credit cards do reward those users for their loyalty.  The Orbitz Rewards visa offers up “Orbucks” for purchases made on the card, which means you can use those points for full or partial purchases on  Travelocity, Expedia, and Priceline’s cards work in similar ways.

I also like the fact that the cards do not have an annual fee, making cost of ownership zero dollars if you pay off your bill each month (which you always should).


The Bad


For most of the credit cards, you are locked in using your points on those specific websites.  The Citi PremierPass Expedia card will let you use the points earned on Citi’s ThankYou program, and the Priceline Rewards Visa will allow you to take a statement credit for any purchase that is above $25.  The other cards, on the other hand, have you stuck in their respective programs.

Also of note in regards to the Orbitz card- you can only use your redemptions on hotel reservations- no flights or rental cars.  I find this highly restrictive and a bit ridiculous.  Many of the cards also have restrictions on the type of purchases that actually earn miles (rental cars rarely count, and anything that isn’t prepaid).

Less value

The final point of contention is the value of your points- the Travelocity Rewards American Express offers one point per cent redemption, unless you’re redeeming 20,000 points at a time- then it is two cents per dollar.

The Citi PremierPass Expedia card earns ThankYou points, so it varies in terms of value.  The Orbitz Rewards Visa earns Orbucks, which are worth one dollar for hotel redemptions.  And finally, the Priceline Rewards Visa is quite ambiguous with its points, stating it’s how you redeem that makes the value of the points fluctuate.


Bottom Line

If I were someone that buys a lot on these sites, I would stay far away from these cards.  Instead, I would focus on a card that rewards travel purchases, like two points per dollar with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card credit card.  That way, you have the flexibility to redeem your rewards for whatever you’d like.  These cards seem to have too many rules and stipulations associated with them to make them worth your while.  But, every person is different.  What do you think?  Let us know below in the comments!