When planning your next trip and making reservations for hotels, flights, or car rentals through popular platforms like Expedia, Hotels.com, or Vrbo, it’s essential to be aware of the shared rewards program called One Key Rewards. This program allows you to earn rewards not only from One Key but also additional credit card points, depending on the best credit card that aligns with your banking and rewards preferences.
Since One Key Rewards is categorized as an online travel agency (OTA), it’s crucial to use a credit card that offers bonuses for travel-related expenses. Booking through OTAs means you won’t qualify for bonus categories provided by premium travel cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
To maximize your earnings across One Key Rewards and its various brands, consider utilizing credit cards that align with your spending habits and offer travel-related bonuses.
By understanding the dynamics of this rewards program and using the right credit card, you can make the most of your bookings and accumulate more rewards for your future travels. Booking through OTAs may exclude you from certain bonus categories, so it’s essential to choose the appropriate credit card that includes OTAs as part of its “travel” bonus category.
So, before you proceed with your reservations, take the time to assess the credit cards available to you and select the one that best fits your travel preferences. By doing so, you can make your trips even more rewarding and enjoyable.
Best credit cards to use with the One Key rewards program
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is highly regarded as a top travel card due to its valuable benefits. For an annual fee of $550, cardholders receive a generous $300 annual travel credit that automatically applies to eligible purchases. This credit can be used for a wide range of travel expenses. Additionally, the card offers excellent rewards, earning 5 points per $1 spent on flights and 10 points per $1 spent on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards® after the initial $300 is spent on travel purchases each year. Other travel and dining expenses earn 3 points per $1, while all other purchases earn 1 point per $1.
Apart from the attractive rewards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides extensive travel insurance coverage and benefits. When traveling, cardholders enjoy primary rental car damage insurance, ensuring peace of mind during their journeys. Access to Priority Pass lounges at airports is available upon enrollment, offering a comfortable and relaxing waiting experience.
Moreover, the card offers valuable trip delay and medical emergency coverage when the trip is paid for using the Sapphire Reserve. This adds an extra layer of protection during unforeseen events while traveling.
The points earned through Chase Ultimate Rewards® are incredibly versatile. Cardholders can redeem them with over a dozen airline and hotel partners, including World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. Additionally, the points can be redeemed at an elevated rate of 1.5 cents per point to pay for travel booked via Chase Travel.
For new cardholders, there is a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account. Furthermore, the card has no foreign transaction fees, making it an excellent choice for international travelers.
U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card offers attractive benefits for travelers and diners. With up to $325 in annual credits for travel or dining purchases, you can get reimbursed for some of your expenses when booking with One Key brands. What sets this card apart is its easy-to-use rewards system, allowing you to earn points quickly on your travel spending.
Unlike other cards on this list that may require complex and time-consuming points transfers to get high-value redemptions, the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Card lets you redeem points at a fixed value of 1.5 cents each. This way, you won’t have to worry about navigating through various redemption options to make the most of your points.
Additionally, the card provides other travel perks, including reimbursement for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years (up to $100). It also grants you access to Priority Pass lounges on multiple occasions throughout the year. Moreover, you’ll have trip protections in place to cover unexpected incidents during your travels.
The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Card does have an annual fee of $400. However, with its impressive earning rates, you can accumulate points rapidly. For spending with One Key brands, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent. On prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center, you’ll get 5 points per $1. For travel purchases and mobile wallet spending, the earning rate is 3 points per $1, while all other eligible purchases earn 1 point per $1.
To sweeten the deal, the card offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Best of all, there are no foreign transaction fees, making it an excellent option for international travelers.
American Express® Green Card
The American Express® Green Card is an exceptional travel rewards card that offers unlimited points on travel expenses, making it ideal for both subway commuters and frequent flyers. With no caps on points earned, you can enjoy the flexibility of using your American Express Membership® Rewards points with a vast selection of 20 travel partners, such as Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, and Delta Air Lines. Additionally, you have the option to redeem points for travel through Amex Travel.
One of the standout features of the Green Card is its ability to offset the annual fee effortlessly. By utilizing the benefits, you can receive up to $189 in statement credits each year to cover your CLEAR® Plus membership fee, providing you with expedited security access at various stadiums and airports. Moreover, the card offers up to $100 in annual statement credits for airport lounge visits through Lounge Buddy, making your travel experiences even more luxurious.
In addition to its travel perks, the Green Card also comes with valuable trip protection features. These include trip delay insurance, baggage insurance plan, and secondary rental car loss and damage insurance, ensuring you have peace of mind during your journeys.
The card’s earning rate with One Key brands is exceptional at 3 points per $1 spent. You can earn 3 points per $1 on restaurant expenses and 3 points per $1 on various travel-related purchases like flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours, and ridesharing services. For other purchases, you will still accumulate points at a rate of 1 point per $1 spent.
Citi Premier® Card
Looking for a credit card with a lower annual fee? Consider the Citi Premier® Card with its $95 annual fee. Despite the lower fee, it still offers points on eligible travel without any earning limits in this bonus category.
While the card no longer provides travel or shopping protections since Citi removed these benefits from most of its credit cards in 2019, it does come with several advantages. These include a strong earning rate, no foreign transaction fees, and the ability to earn points that are usable with 14 airline partners, three hotel programs, and Shop Your Way retail program.
The Citi Premier® Card boasts valuable transfer partners like JetBlue TrueBlue, Emirates Skywards, Wyndham Rewards, and Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. Additionally, it offers an annual $100 credit toward a single-stay hotel booking of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) made through Citi Travel, once per calendar year.
With an annual fee of $95, the Citi Premier® Card provides a favorable earning rate of 3 points per $1 spent with One Key brands. For other purchases, cardholders earn 3 ThankYou® points per $1 at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, and hotels, and 1 point per $1 on all other transactions. Furthermore, until June 30, 2024, users can earn 10 ThankYou points per $1 spent on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked through the Citi Travel portal.
New cardholders can take advantage of a welcome bonus of 60,000 points by spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Moreover, the card has no foreign transaction fees, making it convenient for international use.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Elite credit card
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Elite credit card stands out for high net worth individuals due to its attractive benefits. While its travel earning rates may not appear impressive initially, the points are still valuable at 1 cent apiece in the travel portal.
One of the main advantages of this card is the potential to earn up to 75% extra rewards on every purchase through the Preferred Rewards program. Bank of America banking and/or Merrill investment account holders can qualify for this reward boost, allowing them to potentially earn 3.5 points per $1 spent on travel. However, to reach this rewards tier, a minimum of $100,000 in average daily balances is required.
Beyond the bonus earnings, the Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite card offers various perks. Cardholders can benefit from up to $300 in annual statement credits for airline incidental fees, up to $150 in lifestyle statement credits (applicable to rideshares, food delivery, and streaming services), and up to $100 reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees once every four years. Additionally, cardholders enjoy a 20% discount on flights when paying with points in the travel portal and receive Priority Pass Select lounge membership.
The card comes with an annual fee of $550 but provides excellent earning rates, especially with One Key brands. Cardholders can earn 2 points per $1 spent, or up to 3.5 points per $1 spent if they qualify for Preferred Rewards. For non-travel and dining purchases, the card offers 1.5 points per $1 spent.
As a welcome bonus, users can earn 75,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Furthermore, the card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, making it suitable for international travel or online purchases made in foreign currencies.
Guide to the One Key Rewards program
In a significant change, Expedia, Vrbo, and Hotels.com have come together to create a unified rewards program known as One Key. This merger marks the end of their separate rewards programs, which had distinct offerings and benefits for users.
With the introduction of One Key, users may be curious about the new program’s features and how it will impact their existing rewards, bookings, and status tier. This integration aims to streamline the rewards process and provide a more cohesive experience for customers across all three platforms.
Customers who were part of the individual programs can expect their rewards to be consolidated into the new One Key program. This means that any accumulated points or benefits from Expedia, Vrbo, and Hotels.com will now be combined, offering more comprehensive rewards and perks.
Additionally, with the merger of these programs, there might be changes to the terms and conditions, earning rates, and redemption options. It’s essential for users to review the updated policies and guidelines to make the most out of the new One Key program.
While some users may have concerns about losing their existing rewards or status, the companies assure that efforts have been made to ensure a smooth transition. Customers’ status tiers and benefits will be maintained or enhanced within the One Key program, preserving the value of their loyalty.
How to earn rewards with One Key
One Key members have the opportunity to earn OneKeyCash, which can be utilized for future bookings. The amount of OneKeyCash you earn is dependent on your status tier within the loyalty program.
For Blue members, the earnings are set at 2% back as OneKeyCash on bookings made through Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo. Silver members enjoy a higher return of 3% back, while Gold members receive 4% back. At the pinnacle tier, Platinum members earn an impressive 6% back as OneKeyCash.
It’s worth noting that these earning rates do not apply to flights. For flights, the OneKeyCash earning rate is significantly lower, standing at just 0.2%, unless the flight is part of a package where standard rates apply. Moreover, OneKeyCash is earned only on the base fare of bookings, excluding taxes, and the enhanced earning rates are applicable solely to VIP Access properties.
Upon closer examination, even Platinum members earning 6% back might find the new rewards less appealing than the previous rewards offered by Hotels.com. In the past, Hotels.com provided travelers with a free night after every 10 paid nights booked through their website, translating to a 10% return on stays. The value of the free night was calculated based on the average of the 10 bookings, making it a more enticing reward system for frequent travelers.
What are One Key rewards worth?
One Key offers a rewarding program known as OneKeyCash, where the rewards hold a face value that can be used for future bookings. For instance, if you have accumulated $1 of OneKeyCash, you can redeem it for a $1 discount on a hotel booking or car rental. However, when it comes to flight bookings, you’ll need to have enough OneKeyCash to cover the entire cost, including taxes and fees.
The great thing about OneKeyCash is that it provides some flexibility with other reservations. For such bookings, you have the option to apply a partial payment using your OneKeyCash rewards and then pay the remaining amount using your credit card. This way, you can mix and match your rewards and payment methods to maximize your benefits.
One Key loyalty tiers
One Key offers a tiered membership system with four levels: Blue, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. By simply joining, anyone can attain Blue status without any cost. To reach Silver status, a minimum of five trip elements is required, while Gold status necessitates 15 trip elements, and Platinum demands 30 trip elements. These requirements are on an annual basis, which means members must requalify each calendar year.
Regardless of their membership level, all One Key members have the opportunity to earn and book across various platforms such as Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo. Additionally, they gain access to flight price tracking through the Expedia App.
For Blue members, there are benefits like getting 10% or more in discounts with member pricing at hotels. Moving up to Silver status brings additional advantages, including a 15% discount on hotels, higher OneKeyCash earnings, and priority member support.
Gold members, on the other hand, receive a 20% discount on hotels, double the rate of OneKeyCash earnings compared to Blue members, and the perk of Price Drop Protection. For those who reach the highest tier, Platinum members, they enjoy VIP support, can get up to $100 off a hotel stay, and earn OneKeyCash at a rate of up to 6% back.
How to maximize your One Key rewards
When using the best credit card for your One Key bookings, you can earn rewards and status tiers, as well as OneKeyCash directly from the program. However, there’s a way to maximize your rewards even further. By utilizing shopping portals like Rakuten or Cashback Monitor, you can “triple dip” and earn additional rewards before making your bookings online.
Taking this extra step only requires a few clicks but can result in significant benefits. Cashback Monitor is particularly helpful in determining which portal offers the best deal for the site you plan to visit. The cashback percentages may vary widely, ranging from 1% from one partner to 10% from another, so it’s essential to explore your options.
Rakuten offers a convenient browser button that you can activate to streamline the process. While it may not compare other portals to find the best deal, Rakuten has a unique feature. You can adjust your settings to earn American Express Membership Rewards points instead of cashback on every eligible purchase.
By leveraging these shopping portals, you can make the most out of your One Key bookings, earning multiple rewards and potentially boosting your overall benefits. It’s a simple yet effective way to enhance your travel experiences and savings.