There are way too many online booking sites available in the market and even though I personally do prefer to book directly with the hotel chain (since it earns me eligible nights, points and status), I do employ the use of an online travel agent (e.g. Expedia or Hotels.com) from time to time. When booking boutique properties (that do not have a strong loyalty program), it makes a lot more sense to go via an OTA since it typically gives me at least 10% off (there is an Expedia promo code for each bank in Singapore that you can utilise).
I am not going to cover the entire Expedia Rewards Program in Singapore and it is definitely worth noting that the rewards program on Expedia differ from country to country - what I will do however, is to touch on the more important bits like how to accrue points and what are they worth really. As usual, this is not a commissioned article (I do not get paid for these things!) and it solely reflects my personal views on the rewards program.
Membership Tiers in Expedia Rewards Program in Singapore
There are three tiers in the Expedia Rewards program in Singapore - Blue (lowest), Silver and Gold (highest). The free membership gives you Blue status (you can start earning and redeeming points at this level so there is no reason why you should not sign-up to be a member) but getting Silver and Gold requires a minimum spend each year.
Silver status can be achieved after spending S$5,000 on eligible bookings (or staying 7 qualifying hotel room nights) and Gold can be achieved with S$10,000 spend or 15 qualifying room nights. It goes without saying that most people would find it easier to achieve status via the qualifying room nights method (unless you spend more than S$667 per night on average!). The main difference between the three membership tiers of the Expedia Rewards program in Singapore is the earn rate of points as well as extra perks at VIP Access hotels.
How to Earn Expedia Rewards Points?
Members in the Expedia Rewards program can earn points for every S$15 spent on flights, hotels, packages as well as activities. Let us first talk about hotels, packages and activities booked on Expedia Singapore - eligible bookings will earn at least 20 points per S$15 spent and this translates to a maximum of 1.90% cashback when utilised towards VIP Access hotels. Obviously the cashback is not great (especially since Hotels.com promises 1 free night with every 10 night) but it is worth noting that these points can be accrued on top of 10-12% discounts that you can easily get with your credit cards in Singapore all-year round.
Silver (+10%) and Gold (+30%) members earn more points per S$15 spent on eligible bookings made on Expedia Singapore and this translates into a maximum cashback of 2.09% and 2.48% respectively when used towards VIP Access hotel bookings.
Should I book Flights on Expedia?
Eligible flight bookings made via Expedia earn the least number of points - members are rewarded with only 2 points per S$15 (approximately 0.10% cashback if used towards hotel stays). With that being said, DBS Altitude Cardholders can earn up to 6 miles per dollar when booking flights via Expedia on participating airlines like Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, Qatar Airways and Thai Airways just to name a few.
The biggest downside with booking flights via Expedia is the possibility of having to deal with the Expedia customer service team (instead of the airline) in the event that you need to made modifications or changes to your confirmed flights. While you are typically issued a booking reference code or PNR for your flights (which you can use to manage bookings on better airlines), this can sometimes be tricky if you are flying on a low-cost carrier or a less reputable airline.
What are Expedia Rewards Points Worth?
Expedia Rewards Points work as cashback towards your next booking - you can redeem these points for just hotel or for flight + hotel bookings. There are no blackout dates (since each point has been assigned with a value) and based on my estimation, each Expedia Rewards point is worth approximately 0.7 cents (or $0.007).
|Expedia Rewards (Singapore)||Blue||Silver||Gold|
|Points per S$15 on Hotels, Packages and Activities||20||22||26|
|Equivalent Cashback - VIP Access Hotels (Est.)||1.90%||2.09%||2.48%|
|Equivalent Cashback - Other Hotels (Est.)||0.95%||1.05%||1.24%|
Once you hit Silver or Gold tier in the Expedia Rewards program, using your points for VIP Access hotels will give you the greatest cashback value. If you are a Gold member, you are looking at approximately 2.48% cashback at VIP Access hotels and on top of that, you will also earn 250 bonus points at these hotels. 250 Expedia Rewards Points are worth approximately S$3.57 at VIP Access hotels and S$1.79 at all other hotels. As I have mentioned before, the amount of cashback that you get with your Expedia Rewards Points is not great but getting 10-12% consistently (and stacking it with the cashback discounts via ShopBack if you know how) is the main draw of this online booking site. If you prefer not to use the promo codes, booking via Hotels.com may prove to be a better option for you in the long run (even though you should still click through ShopBack for extra cashback).
What Are VIP Access Hotels and Why Are They Important?
VIP Access hotels are basically hotels with special partnership agreements with Expedia - your points are worth twice as much at these properties and Silver as well as Gold members get to enjoy extra amenities like complimentary breakfast, late check-out and spa credits (just to name a few). Gold members will also receive 250 bonus points with each stay and they may receive free room upgrades when available.
Since your Expedia Rewards Points are worth the most at VIP Access hotels, it makes sense (from a value-maximisation point of view) to redeem them at these properties.
Booking on Expedia Is Cheaper Than Booking Direct, Right?!
I love my hotel loyalty programs and I spend good money each year to retain my status on these said programs - I am currently Platinum Elite with Marriott Bonvoy, Diamond with Hilton Honors, Black on DISCOVERY Loyalty and Jade with Shangri-La's Golden Circle just to name a few. I truly believe in investing in good hotels (and spending money!) because it helps 'pay' for my next stay. It is certainly worth noting that most major chains are excluded when it comes to the 10-12% discount code that you get with your credit card. In fact, most of the larger hotel chains (e.g. Hyatt and IHG) have member-exclusive rates which are not available publicly. Therefore, it is almost always cheaper to book directly - going through ShopBack, Rakutenor TopCashBack can also translate into 12% cashback from time to time - and that is the only way you will earn eligible nights and points.
With that being said, if you are looking to book a non-chain hotel, getting up to 12% off (with your credit card promo code) and stacking it with ShopBack (if you can) and earning Expedia Rewards Points make it extremely worthwhile. In the extremely rare event where an OTA rate is lower than that on a chain-hotel, you can always submit a best rate guarantee to get it matched and beaten (and pick up a few points along the way!).