Just to get it out of the way: I promise that I’m not in any way compensated by Orbitz. I just think their program offers huge value and is a fairly easy entry into travel hacking. In about 10 months, I’ve managed to rack up about $1,000 in Orbucks (their rewards currency) as well as their Platinum status, which actually provides tangible benefits in two checked bag reimbursements (well, back in Orbucks) as well as a TSA Precheck voucher code. It only requires 12 nights (not stays!), and Orbucks-paid stays count towards that requirement, so it’s fairly easy to reach.
Anyway, last night I finally caved and signed up for the Orbitz Rewards Visa to see what sort of value I could get out of it and what other avenues it opens up. The card has a sign-up bonus of a $50 statement credit after $200 spend and earns 2% in Orbucks on every day spending. Most importantly for me, it has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and is Comenity-issued (which means it’s an Equifax pull). Obviously that set alone is a terrible deal, since I’d be better off just taking the 2% in cash with my FIA Amex.
However, where the card provides value to someone like me is that not only does it offer 5% Orbucks on Orbitz hotel bookings (on top of the 3 or 5% you already earn), but also it offers the same extra 5% on all flights booked with Orbitz. Considering I aggressively pursue rewards from Orbitz’s best price guarantee on my cash bookings, this can offer me tremendous value. Having the card also keeps rewards from expiring, which is really nice considering Orbucks expire either 180 or 360 days after earning independently of stay activity.
You may be wondering what the heck this post has to do with the Orbitz Rewards Dining program. Honestly, thus far, nothing. Let’s change that.
One of the listed ‘benefits’ of the cards is:
7% back in Orbucks at qualifying restaurants with the new Orbitz Rewards Dining program
Naturally, I asked myself, “What is this dining program, and how does it work?” As you might expect, it’s a perfect clone of all the other rewards dining programs as it too is run by the Rewards Network. You earn 5% on all restaurants participating in the program plus the 2% for everyday spend on the Orbitz card, for a total of 7%.
The next logical question is, “What’s the first dine bonus?” For other programs, it’s typically 1000 or 2000 airline miles, but that doesn’t make sense here. So what is it?
As a welcome gift to newly enrolled Orbitz Rewards® Dining members, we want to offer you a fantastic new member bonus. Earn an additional 15% in bonus Orbucks® – on top of your regular 5% – when you dine and spend $30!
What that means is that if you have a big (i.e. group) meal coming up at a participating restaurant, this could offer huge value. A party of eight at a reasonably nice restaurant can run you anywhere from $200-$500, which would then net you $40-$100.
Given that I maintain fairly high Orbucks balances, the program is a good fit for me independently of the first dine bonus, but even if not, you should definitely take advantage of it; combine it with Orbitz’s $25 Orbucks for first-time users (personal referral link — thanks!) and a 15% off coupon code, and you could net yourself a free night!