Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Orbitz mobile users reap biggest rewards from new credit card

Orbitz wants to give travelers even more reasons to use its mobile booking application with the introduction of the new Orbitz Rewards Visa Card.

Orbitz launched a new loyalty program last fall and the new rewards credit card is the second phase in that initiative. By offering even higher rewards to users who book via the mobile app and use the new credit card to pay compared to those booking via desktop, Orbitz hopes to drive more mobile bookings while providing a more seamless experience.

“What’s most interesting here is the strong incentive to use the mobile app—and the card—in tandem,” said Cree Lawson, CEO/founder at Arrivalist, New York. “I’m sure that this will drive people to make a few bookings on the mobile device. The offer is solid.

“But is the goal to get you to book?,” he said. “Or is this an Uber or Seamless-style strategy where they can offer a more frictionless transaction by having an app on your phone with your credit card number imbedded?”

Mr. Lawson is not affiliated with Orbitz and commented based on his experience in mobile.

Orbitz could not comment by the deadline.

Earning Orbucks
The Orbitz Rewards program enables users to earn rewards at a higher rate for hotel bookings made from its mobile apps than booking through other channels. The card offers users rewards when booking travel as well as when they make everyday purchases.

Coupled with the rewards earned by using the new rewards credit card should make booking via mobile more attractive for some consumers.

For example, rewards members who book eligible hotels on the Orbitz mobile app using the new credit card will earn 10 percent in Orbucks — the Orbitz Rewards currency — compared to 8 percent when bookings are made on desktop. When booking a flight, mobile app users will earn 7 percent back compared to 6 percent for desktop users.

According to data from PhoCusWright and Alliance Data, the average consumer spends $2,780 on travel and $10,000 on non-travel credit card purchases each year. That consumer would earn $423 in Orbucks using the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card and boooking travel through the mobile app.

New customer acquisition
The Orbitz Rewards Visa Card allows cardholders to earn 5 percent in Orbucks when purchasing flights, hotels and vacation packages on This is in addition to Orbucks earned through the Orbitz Rewards loyalty program.

All other purchases on the card earn 2 percent in Orbucks.

Orbucks can be redeemed when booking Orbitz Rewards hotels.

Cardholders receive a $50 activation statement credit after spending $200 on the card within 90 days.

Cardholders also become Star-level members of Orbitz Rewards, giving them benefits including hotel upgrades, complimentary hotel amenities and a priority customer service number.

Orbitz partnered with Alliance Data Retail Service on the new rewards credit card. As part of the partnership, Orbitz will have access to Alliance Data’s digital and mobile capabilities and will work with the company on a multi-channel approach to acquiring new cardholders and on customized marketing strategies designed to increase card use.

Orbitz also offers a traditional rewards credit card through Capital One.

The strategy is a way for Orbitz to reward its most engaged customers.

The rewards program and new credit card are also meant to help Orbitz better compete against Expedia and Priceline.

“Online Travel Agencies can’t break the habit of looking at every computing device as a cash register,”  Mr. Lawson said. “Sure, you can book on a mobile device.

“But you can also travel with it; you can tweet with it; you can take photos with it; you can even—get this–make calls with it,” he said.

“Are there any rewards from calling in from your mobile phone or app? Probably not. I’d like to see travel marketers use the new functionalities that mobile phones bring.”