Loyalty program devaluations come in many shapes and forms. This is not the first Expedia Rewards devaluation, but it’s surely a huge one for its elite Gold members.
Slightly over a year ago, the Citi Expedia credit card increased its Welcome Bonus to 70,000 points. It was a really great deal with a potentially huge $980 haul. The bonus was quickly reduced to 50,000 points, but while it lasted I managed to open two accounts for me and my wife — here is my post about it:
And it was indeed an awesome gem! Let’s fast forward to now.
Expedia is removing double-point redemptions at VIP Access hotels
This is bad. Really, really bad!
I was alerted by reader Ed, who had received the email from Expedia. I still haven’t received the email, but when I checked my wife’s email account I found it in the Promotions folder. It arrived yesterday morning, so check your email if you’re curious, not that it would change anything. Here is the important part.
A change to your VIP Access benefits
An update to your VIP Access™ experience
Please note, with this update, your points will continue to be worth double ($1,029.60) at VIP Access properties only for a limited time. If you wish to redeem double points for a memorable VIP Access experience, you must book by 01/31/2021, when this change will take effect. [Bolding’s mine]
So here you have it. Normally, 140 Expedia points get you a $1 credit, so one Expedia point is worth about 0.7 of a cent, which is hardly a great value. However, Gold members (the Gold status comes with the card automatically) get twice that amount when they redeem points at VIP Access Experience hotels, making the ratio ~1:1.4.
VIP Access perks?
Supposedly, staying at VIP Access hotels should also give you some benefits that vary from one property to another. However, as I mentioned in the above post, the VIP Access Experience doesn’t mean the world of fancy, expensive hotels or “an exceptional, one-of-a-kind stay” (I chuckled uncontrollably upon reading that). In fact, it means very little, if anything at all. VIP Access is a very eclectic collection of properties, from budget to upscale ones.
Having said that, I was able to book a points stay at Windsor Leme in Rio last February on Expedia points, and it was a decent 3-star hotel in a killer Copacabana location across from the beach. Nothing fancy about it, but it served the purpose. And, of course, the clerk didn’t have any idea (or pretended not to) what I meant by a VIP upgrade, but being a nice fellow, I let it slide that time. 🙂
In any case, I wouldn’t expect any actual perks from this, although some hotels may be better than others in recognizing Expedia elites. 🙂 But perks or no perks, redeeming double points at VIP Access hotels is an awesome feature, which is, unfortunately, not going to stay with us after February 1. Instead, you’ll earn “triple points” for booking this “exceptional, one-of-a-kind stay” (insert a chuckle), which is a ridiculously lame attempt at hiding the truth about what it really is — a drastic devaluation of the Expedia+ card and its Gold status.
At least, the Expedia Rewards devaluation won’t hit us over the heads without warning, and we seriously owe Expedia our gratitude for the advance notice. You have 2 months before the devaluation hits, so redeem your points before February 1 for maximum value.
How to redeem Expedia points
If there is a silver lining in the whole thing, that’s how easy it’s become to search for VIP Access hotels. It used to be quite convoluted, but since then, they’ve added it as a filter on the left, and you can use it with any other filters you want.
Another thing, I’ve noticed, is how many new VIP Access hotels they’ve added. They even have one on Easter Island now.
But this COVID-19 thing…
Yes, which is why I would do one of the two things.
1. Search for and book a room with free cancellation. It’s often considerably more expensive than non-refundable, but you will protect yourself and your points.
2. Or buy COVID-19 insurance or look into a CFAR (Cancel for Any Reason) add-on. I’ve never used either, so research thoroughly.
To be honest, I have such disdain for filing claims and jumping through the hoops expecting any number of gotchas, that I’d rather pay extra and book a free-cancellation room. But it’s nice to know that there are options.
Of course, if you have to cancel after the Expedia Rewards devaluation, your points will lose 50% of its value, but it’s better than losing them all.
There are some great deal VIP Access hotel redemptions
Surely, we still have time until February 1, but who doesn’t love browsing the internet aimlessly like we have nothing better to do, right? So I thought I’d check them out.
I’m planning a trip to Portugal next fall to compensate for the lost trip this year, so I naturally checked some options in Lisbon. Didn’t take me long to find a bunch of great-looking serviced apartments smack dab in the heart of Old Town. Yes, Expedia does have vacation rentals among its VIP Access properties if you’re interested. I sure am — I love space.
I’ve also found excellent deals in central Paris, London, Venice, and Kyoto, but listing them all would be useless. Your buying power will fluctuate wildly from date to date (Expedia points are 100% “dynamically priced,” you know 🙂 ).
If you’re an Expedia Gold member (you automatically are if you have an annual-fee Expedia+ Voyager card), spend your points by 02.01.2021 to book VIP Access hotels for double value. Also consider booking a free-cancellation room or buying travel insurance in case you won’t be able to travel.