In an ever-evolving world of travel, customer loyalty programs have become a significant part of the journey. Today, we introduce you to a new entrant in this sphere – One Key (Expedia One Key). This travel rewards program is a joint venture by giants of the travel industry: Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo.
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1. What is the One Key Program?
One Key is a comprehensive travel rewards program that provides members with exclusive Member Prices and the opportunity to earn OneKeyCash on eligible bookings. This rewards currency can be used across Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo, offering travelers a seamless and rewarding booking experience.
As a member, all you need to do is sign in before making any bookings. You’ll then start earning rewards across all eligible, global travel bookings made on the US points of sale on Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo.
One Key is a new travel rewards program by Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo. The program was launched on July 6, 2023.
By joining the One Key travel rewards program, you unlock a world of travel benefits. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a casual vacationer, One Key provides a straightforward and rewarding way for you to maximize your travel experiences. The best part? You need very little to start benefitting.
The program is designed to cater to every traveler, making it easy for anyone to start earning and saving right away.
2. How Does the One Key Program Work?
As a One Key member, you’ll receive 2% in OneKeyCash for every dollar you spend on eligible hotels, vacation rentals, activities, packages, car rentals, and cruises. In addition, you’ll earn 0.2% in OneKeyCash for every dollar spent on eligible flights. The best part? You have the opportunity to earn OneKeyCash on top of any airline loyalty program earnings and credit card rewards.
Your rewards multiply when you book stays at VIP Access properties. Once you reach One Key’s Silver tier (it’s super easy; more on this below), your OneKeyCash earnings increase by 50%. It doubles as you hit the Gold tier and triples as you ascend to the Platinum tier.
2.1 Travel Loyalty Program for Families
OneKeyCash is earned by you, the account holder, who makes the booking, irrespective of the travelers named in the booking.
Planning a family trip? Rest assured, all OneKeyCash, including those from roundtrip flights for all your family members, will be deposited into your One Key account. There’s no need to set up separate accounts for your family members or children to collect rewards.
2.2 You Are Paid in 3 Days (for Pay Now bookings)
The OneKeyCash for most ‘Pay Now’ bookings will appear in your account just three days after you complete your trip.
For ‘Pay Later’ and all Vrbo bookings, your OneKeyCash will usually be confirmed 45 days after you complete your trip, although in some cases it may take up to 90 days. Still, soon enough for most to be used for your next vacation.
3. One Key Tiers: Here’s How They Work (It’s Super Simple)
How can you climb up the tier ladder with One Key?
The more travel components you book through Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo, the higher your status becomes with One Key.
Sounds simple, right?
But, what exactly is a travel component on One Key?
It’s a reservation. Any reservation. Hotel. Flight. Activity. With a value of $25 or more in USD, excluding taxes and fees. Here are some examples of One Key travel components:
- 1 flight (one-way ticket or return ticket)
- 1 hotel room night (5 nights are considered 5 components!)
- 1 night on a cruise
- 1-day car rental
- 1 roundtrip ground transportation ticket (including airport shuttles, transfers, etc.)
- 1 activity ticket (like a private tour, a theme park ticket, and so on)
What is a travel component on One Key? It’s a reservation. Any reservation. Hotel. Flight. Activity. With a value of $25 or more in USD, excluding taxes and fees. For example, 1 night at hotel, 2 nights are considered 2 components.
As for your tier status, ascending the One Key tiers is quick and easy. Here’s what you need to book to qualify for each tier:
- Blue – Simply register, at no cost!
- Silver – Book 5 travel components within a year
- Gold – Book 15 travel components within a year
- Platinum – Book 30 travel components within a year
For instance, if you booked a 2-night hotel stay and a 3-day car rental, you’d accumulate 5 travel components, enough to achieve Silver tier status in one go.
Tier status is determined on a calendar year basis, from January 1 to December 31, and your progress will reset on January 1.
4. How to Join Expedia One Key?
Joining One Key is a breeze (and it’s free) – just follow this link!
To qualify for One Key (currently accessible only in the US), you’ll need to log in or set up an account on the US variant of Expedia, Hotels.com, or Vrbo’s website or app. For information on how to transition tier status and rewards from Expedia Rewards and Hotels.com Rewards to One Key, please refer to the official Expedia One Key FAQ page.
If you were previously a member of Expedia, Hotels.com, or had an account with Vrbo, your account will likely be automatically transferred to One Key in most cases. Vrbo users will need to agree to the T&Cs.
5. How to Track and Redeem OneKeyCash on One Key?
Monitoring your rewards is straightforward – simply visit your rewards activity page to view your accumulated earnings and to check your progress towards the next tier status. Please bear in mind that only eligible bookings are rewarded (bookings made on the US points of sale on Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo).
You can use your OneKeyCash at any time. Once they’re confirmed and deposited in your One Key account, you’re free to use them.
6. What’s the Value of OneKeyCash?
When it comes to redeeming for eligible travel options, OneKeyCash offers a 1:1 dollar value. Yes – each dollar of OneKeyCash equates to a 1 US dollar discount on the price of a vacation rental, hotel, car, or activity.
7. Can You Convert OneKeyCash Into Cash?
You can’t convert Expedia OneKeyCash into cash.
You also can’t transfer it to other people.
But you can use your OneKeyCash money to make flight, accommodation and activity reservations for your friends and family. You can pay for others using your OneKeyCash rewards, using your One Key account. And you will likely be earning new rewards as you’ll be making these new reservations (if you are paying for at least a part of these reservations value).
What are the Pros and Cons of the One Key Program?
While every loyalty program has its strengths and weaknesses, the One Key program seems to lean more towards the pros than the cons.
Here’s a brief overview:
- Easy to earn rewards. With One Key, you don’t have to make a large number of bookings to start reaping the benefits. Even a few reservations can start earning you valuable OneKeyCash.
- Flexible redemption. You can use your OneKeyCash for partial or full payment of eligible travel bookings, including vacation rentals, hotels, car rentals, and activities. For flights, though, you have to have enough of OneKeyCash to cover the full price of the reservation.
- Tiered benefits. The more you book, the higher you climb in tier status, unlocking even more perks and rewards.
- Broad application. The program covers bookings across three major platforms – Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo, widening your range of options. So, it’s not only about flights, or only about hotel reservations. It’s flights, hotels and activities like day trips, which is awesome.
- No cash conversion. You can’t convert your OneKeyCash into actual cash, which might be a drawback for some users.
- Non-transferable rewards. The inability to transfer OneKeyCash to other members may limit its usefulness for some people.
In conclusion, the One Key program offers a rewarding experience for most travelers, with minimal drawbacks. The ease of earning and redeeming rewards makes it a compelling choice for those who would anyway use Expedia, Hotels.com, or Vrbo for their travel bookings.
What is your experience with the Expedia One Key loyalty program? Are you a member of the One Key program?
Featured photo by Zehra Karadeniz