Discover It vs. Orbitz Rewards Visa - on Orbitz!

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Discover It vs. Orbitz Rewards Visa - on Orbitz!

Postby yfan » Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:42 am

So, I have a brand spanking new Orbitz Rewards Visa. I haven't activated it yet, and thinking whether or not I should. Given its additional 5% rewards on Orbitz (in excess of the Rewards program), not activating it would seem foolish, except for this: I have a Discover It card.

So? So, ShopDiscover's online portal has a link to Orbitz, which - provided I use my Discover card to book - gives me 5% cashback on Discover, the same as the Orbitz Rewards Visa, and the Discover cashback is potentially more valuable, because it is (a) cash, and thus does not expire, unlike Orbucks, which expires in 12 months, and (b) can often be redeemed for 20%+ more than face value if spent with partner gift cards (there are plenty for me to choose from).

This last part, B, compensates at least partly for not using Orbitz' mobile app, which maximizes the rewards. Needless to say, you can't use ShopDiscover's link AND the mobile app at the same time. Assuming a 20% bonus on partner gift cards for Discover, let's say Discover's cashback on Orbitz actually amounts to 6% (5% + 20% of 5%, which is 1%). The Orbitz rewards program's Orbucks (those separate from the card's) is awarded anyway - which is 3% on hotels (5% if booked through mobile app), 1% on flights (2% if booked through mobile app), 1% on packages.

The Discover extra cashback, however, does not apply to standalone flight bookings. Given this, the rewards structures come down to this:

Hotel Booking:

Discover: 6% + 3% = 9%.
Orbitz Rewards Visa, booked on desktop: 5% + 3% = 8%.
Orbitz Rewards Visa, booked on mobile: 5% + 5% = 10%.


Discover: 6% + 1% = 7%
Orbitz Rewards Visa, desktop or Mobile: 5% + 1% = 6%.

Again, I would value Discover's cashback at slightly more than Orbucks, since Orbucks expire.

If I am going for packages, I'm obviously better off with the Discover offer (the average package saves somewhere between 1 and 2 percent as opposed to booking flights and hotels separately). If I am going for hotels only, Orbitz Rewards Visa potentially offers 1% extra in rewards, but then again, it might expire!

The only thing I would be consistently better off with the Orbitz Visa is for standalone flights, and Kayak almost always tends to find flights cheaper than Orbitz - and I'm talking around 5-10% cheaper.

At the risk of answering my own question, should I even bother activating the Orbitz Visa? If I don't, will it still report as a new account? If I do, the ONLY benefit is that the card automatically gives me Orbitz' "Gold" rewards status.

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