(Update) Huge Devaluation Of Hotels.com Rewards; New One Key Program Only Giving 2% Back

Update 4/26/23: The Expedia group has confirmed that the launch date of the new One Key program will be July 6, 2023. h/t OMAAT


The Expedia Group has announced more details about their new loyalty program and when it comes to Hotels.com, it’s awful news. The new program is called One Key, but it’ll get two thumbs down from many people.

Hotelsdotcom Expedia VRBO One Key Thumbs Down

To give a recap of how the current Hotels.com Rewards program works, you get 10% back in rewards based on the pre-tax room rate of your stays, with the ability to redeem those rewards for every 10 nights you stay. For example, let’s say you stay five nights in a room costing $100 per night and another five nights costing $150 per night. You’d get back $10 in rewards for each of those first five nights and $15 back in rewards for each of the next five nights. That would give you $125 in rewards which could be redeemed towards one night; you couldn’t book two nights costing $62.50 per night.

There were a few other quirks to the program such as some hotels not participating in the program, the fact that rewards would expire if you had no activity for 12 months, etc. Seeing as Hotels.com is an OTA (Online Travel Agency), in most cases you don’t earn elite night credits in hotel chains’ loyalty programs, don’t receive elite benefits, etc. That made it a better option for stays at boutique properties, at hotel chains where you had no status or where status wouldn’t get you much (such as brands where free breakfast is included for all guests). Ultimately though, if you knew you’d book a stay through Hotels.com at least once a year (and therefore wouldn’t have rewards that expire), it was easy to mentally account for whether or not it was worth booking with Hotels.com by taking into account the 10% back you’d get on a future stay.

How The One Key Program Will Work

One thing that can be said for One Key is that it’s simple to understand. When booking eligible hotels, vacation rentals, activities, packages, car rentals, and cruises with Expedia, Hotels.com and VRBO, you’ll earn 2% back in OneKeyCash for every dollar spent. For flights booked with Expedia, you’ll earn 0.2% back in OneKeyCash for every dollar spent.

Considering Hotels.com Rewards effectively gives 10% back, One Key will offer 80% less than that. For people who frequently booked hotel stays on Hotels.com, that’s a ridiculous reduction in rewards that will likely have them looking elsewhere to book stays.

You can find full details about the new One Key program here. A few (one) key things to note:

  • Tier Levels – There’ll be several tier levels – Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum – which have increasing benefits and rewards.
  • Launch DateThis will be launched in mid-2023; there’s no exact date provided yet. Update: One Key will be launched on July 6, 2023.
  • Existing Hotels.com Rewards Earnings – Any existing stamps in the Hotels.com Rewards program will transfer across to One Key at their existing value. That means there’s no devaluation from your past earnings, just your future earnings.
  • Redemptions – Every $1 of OneKeyCash you earn can be redeemed for $1 off eligible bookings. However, to redeem OneKeyCash on flights you need to have earned enough rewards to cover the entire cost of the flight.

Positives Of The One Key Program

The most notable feature of One Key is how awful it is when it comes to earnings versus the Hotels.com Rewards program. Having said that, there are a few positives about this new setup.

  • VRBO – Earning 2% back on all VRBO stays will be a nice return for people who use the site for vacation rentals and didn’t previously earn anything. I’m also hoping that it’ll prompt Airbnb to introduce a similar kind of program.
  • Flight/Hotel Booker Earns All The Rewards – Here’s something that could be huge for someone who frequently books travel on behalf of family and friends. OneKeyCash will be awarded based on all eligible spend to the person making the booking(s). If you book a flight for five people, you’ll earn 0.2% back based on the total cost of all five tickets. If you book three hotel rooms for the same night because you’re traveling with others, you’ll earn 2% back on all three rooms. That’ll presumably be the case even if you’re not flying/staying yourself. Add in shopping portal rewards and you could be looking at a very nice return when booking for others.
  • Redeem As You Go – I noted earlier that you need to have enough OneKeyCash to cover the entire cost of a flight if redeeming it for a plane ticket. However, if you’ve earned $13 of OneKeyCash, you could redeem that for $13 off a hotel stay on Hotels.com without needing to have stayed 10 nights like you need in order to redeem in the current Hotels.com Rewards program.
  • Redeem Across Sites – Expedia used to have its own rewards program, Hotels.com had its own rewards program and VRBO had nothing. Now, you’ll earn OneKeyCash on eligible bookings across all three sites and can redeem it on any of those sites. If all your OneKeyCash was earned based on hotel stays booked on Hotels.com, you could still redeem it for a flight booked on Expedia provided you’ve earned enough OneKeyCash.

How bad (or good) this new program is will therefore depend on your booking behavior. If you used Hotels.com a lot, the new One Key program represents a massive devaluation, unlike anything we’ve ever seen from Marriott. For VRBO users, you’re now getting something where you weren’t getting anything before. For people who book travel for others, this could prove to be lucrative. I imagine more people will fall into that first category than the second or third categories, but at least there are some silver linings to this cloud.

If you don’t fall into those final two categories though, the new One Key program gives little incentive to pick Expedia or Hotels.com over similar sites. While 2% or 0.2% back is nice to have if you’re going to book with them anyway, it’s not a large enough percentage to move the needle to pick these two sites over any other for me personally. The one thing that Hotels.com does have going for it is the ability to buy its gift cards at a discount which could make it worth picking over other OTAs when it comes to hotel stays.


Are you a current Hotels.com customer who’ll be boycotting the program going forward, or are you among the people who’ll benefit from One Key? Let us know in the comments below.

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Richard Taylor

Booked c 40 nights per year with Hotels – In the UK because of VAT the reward night value was on the ex vat – so if you booked 10 nights at £100 each you would actually get £80 off as a ” free night” or £80 credit towards one. Either way, it was 8% and is now 2%. So its not worth being loyal anymore and i will just shop where the best deal is. Of course cashback is still available on Hotels and Expedia etc. via cashback sites. ( thought Booking.com has stopped all cashback in Europe in 2024) The cashback is much greater than the rewards but I used to enjoy stacking the savings.


Horrible loyalty program. No incentive anymore to primarily book with them.

Mark Jordan

Yes, I was using Hotels.com for about 220-270 nights per year and was super loyal to them. Now it’s dissolved and I’m using multiple apps and programs and only have booked 1 room with them since their poor decision. I wrote to their customer service and I was told that this program was much better than anything before and I broke it down and explain to him how it was not. Then I was told that there was so many people that didn’t stay but one or two nights a year and it was not fair to them for it to take so long for them to be able to get points accumulated so this is going to be better for the person who barely books anything apparently. So they just went ahead and severed the heads off of all the frequent users in the name of being fair to the people who barely use them. This sort of reminds me of a time back years ago when all the vegetarian people who don’t even eat in McDonald’s complained about the French fries being cooked in meat fat oil which is what gave them the traditional flavor that people love. And protested and made enough noise to where they change the actual flavor the French fries for people who don’t even eat McDonald’s.


Sir… This is a Wendy’s.

Mark Jordan

McDonalds also


Loved their old program. New program isn’t worth it, especially when you can book with cobranded credit cards for quick point accumulation. Additionally, some smaller hotels give perks for booking direct. We recently did a 2 night stay at a mom and pop resort and were given a $15 meal voucher for a local restaurant, which was absolutely delicious. Not only are they encouraging direct bookings but also helping to bring traffic to local businesses. A win-win.


I was a loyal Hotels.com customer b/c I loved their old program. It was fun, even on an almost childish level (collecting stamps = fun, in some strange way). This new program is horrible. Not just the fact that we get sooooo much less, but the fact that to use the one key cash for a flight means that you have to have enough to cover the ENTIRE flight is tricky. It meant I had to take a lesser flight in order to use the cash, and now have a random amount of cash left over that I’ll probably never use since I won’t be adding to the amount with new bookings…b/c I’m outta there.

k sr

This new program totally denigrates any of the previous bonuses and benefits of booking through Hotels.com. I will be using Trivago and other services in the future. Seriously – $3.40 credit on One Key vs a future usable credit on Hotels.com for a 3-4 day stay that equated to a one night credit. Screw you One Key.

tiffany bendetti

Terrible devaluation. Is there any other option?

Gabriel M

Do not like the new hotels.com changing to this system. I average between 30-45 says a year and the valuation now is really nothing. For 2024 I may look for a better option for rewards.

Tina R

I used Hotels.com very frequently for many years. This new OneKey program will have me looking elsewhere. Ridiculous loss of loyalty perks, What were they thinking. It’s more like ScamKey


This is a HUGE devaluation of rewards nights. On average, I book 40+ nights a year. With the previous rewards system I would earn 4 nights worth the value of my stays. With the new system I would earn approximately 1 night. This is ridiculous. One thing I don’t understand though is some places have a much higher values and others are just the 2%.


I book about 30 hotel nights a year. This new program is a non-starter and I will be actively boycotting hotels.com going forward.

Frank Miller

Departing after a decade …

Ian Haynes

Great article. Agree completely! Only I’m late to the party. Was really looking forward to merging vrbo stays and getting credit the way I frequently used hotels.com on the 10 punch system. This OneKey rewards system is BS and this will be the last booking for this rewards system, personal or business. I like to earn credit for my loyalty and this isn’t it.


Totally agree the shift from Hotels.com stamps rewards to Expedia OneKeyCash rewards is a sufficient enough devaluation to drop Hotels.com and start booking directly (which thus will change my behavior away from boutiques). What I haven’t seen is any suggestion of next best alternatives that aren’t owned by Expedia Group and thus subject to this lackluster program. Hotels.com, Orbitz, Trivago, Travelocity, and LastMinute are all EG owned. Where was the FTC when EG monopolized the online travel booking industry??

Amy Jones

I have used Hotel.com for 6 years. I exclusively booked through the site because the rewards program was so valuable. When the transition to One Key happened my one reward night worth $252.81 disappeared. The article above states the rewards would be transferred dollar for dollar. Additionally the app says we are crediting your account for $252.81 in One Key and my balance does not reflect that. I spoke with someone in customer service that gave me a $49 credit. When I explained that doesn’t resolve the issue he stated he would escalate the issue.
We’ll see.


I was told something similar and experienced the same as you, and had a balance of 0. But today I logged into my hotels.com account formally (which, the process has been recycled), and my $159 was there, as I thought it should have been all along. So, login again and check your onekey account balance. If you have any cash, you’ll have 18 months from your last booking or redemption to spend that onekey cash away. My plan is to spend all of mine and then I’m gone! (Btw, Way to go on the extra $49! You’re a champ! I couldn’t get anything out of them.)

Lastly, I think the expiration of dollars was extended from 12 to the 18 months because of all the blowback they were getting. Glad for that, but going forward, they’re just not worth the hassle anymore. Spend it one last time and …Bye’eeee!!