The Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi is a travel rewards credit card with a $95 annual fee, a strong sign-up bonus, and automatic membership in Expedia’s highest frequent traveler tier. Its rewards program favors frequent travelers who use Expedia to book hotel stays and airfare, as well as people who spend heavily on dining and entertainment.
The Voyager Card is comparable to a number of other travel rewards cards. These include branded cards such as the Citi Expedia+ Card (a less generous version of the Voyager card), the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card, the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express, Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, and Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.
The Voyager Card’s competitors also include general-purpose travel rewards cards whose rewards programs aren’t tied to specific hotels, airlines, or travel booking sites. Prominent examples include the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card, Citi ThankYou Premier Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, Discover it Miles, and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Though some of these cards are annual-fee-free, most have annual fees ranging from $50 to $100.
When you spend at least $2,000 within three months of signing up, you receive 25,000 Expedia+ bonus points. That’s equivalent to a $350 credit at more than 1,000 +VIP Access hotels worldwide. +VIP Access hotels are select hotel properties, often managed by global brands, that confer special benefits to Expedia+ members.
Earning Expedia+ Points
This card earns an unlimited 4 Expedia+ points per $1 spent on qualifying Expedia purchases, such as airfare, travel activities, travel packages, and Expedia Rate hotels. Expedia Rate hotels are hotels (including many +VIP Access hotels) with which Expedia has negotiated special rates available to anyone who books through Expedia and are indicated by an “Expedia Rate” text line in each Expedia Rate hotel listing. Non-Expedia Rate hotels, car rentals not included in larger travel packages, and cruises, are all excluded from the 4x category and earn only 1 Expedia+ point per $1 spent.
This card also earns an unlimited 2 Expedia+ points per $1 spent on restaurant dining and entertainment (including movies, concerts, sporting events, and other events classified as entertainment). Finally, this card earns an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases, including Expedia purchases not included in the 4-point category. Points don’t expire unless your account remains idle (no point earnings or redemptions) for 18 consecutive months.
Redeeming Expedia+ Points
Expedia+ points can be redeemed for hotel, airfare, and vacation package purchases through Expedia’s online travel portal. You can also redeem over the phone with an Expedia agent.
For hotel redemptions, the minimum redemption threshold is 3,500 points (worth $25 at regular Expedia Rate hotels and $50 at +VIP Access Expedia Rate hotels). If you don’t have enough points to redeem for a full room night, you can make up the balance with cash.
For vacation package redemptions, the minimum is also 3,500 points ($25 value) and the maximum is 48,000 points ($300 value). Vacation package redemptions come as vouchers and can be deposited into your Expedia account for future use, allowing you to save up multiple vouchers and redeem all at once on a single vacation package. For airfare redemptions, the minimum redemption amount is the full cost of a one-way or round-trip flight – typically at least 8,000 points, and often much more.
Expedia doesn’t allow partial fare redemptions. There are no blackout dates, though all redemption methods (especially vacation packages) are subject to availability.
Complimentary Expedia +gold Status
As long as your account remains open and in good standing, you’re automatically given Expedia +gold status. +gold benefits include a 30% bonus on Expedia+ points earned on Expedia Rate hotel stays, complimentary room upgrades where available, and dedicated 24/7 service from special Expedia representatives.
Account Anniversary Bonus
If you spend $10,000 in a 12-month period beginning and ending on your account anniversary, you get a 5,000-point bonus (worth approximately $31).
Annual Air Travel Credit
As long as your account remains open and in good standing, you get a $100 air travel credit every year. This credit can be used against incidental airline purchases (such as in-flight purchases and baggage fees), Global Entry or TSA Precheck fees, or for WiFi carriers in airports (such as Boingo).
There is a $95 annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%, while late and returned payments both cost $35.
Citi Private Pass
This card includes access to Citi’s Private Pass feature. Private Pass offers exclusive or discounted deals on a host of events and experiences, including sporting events and outings, celebrity chef dinners, musical performances, and more.
This card comes with many useful travel-related benefits, including complimentary loss and damage insurance charged in full to your card; complimentary global travel accident insurance; and lost baggage insurance, up to $3,000 per person.
The Expedia+ Voyager Card from Citi’s non-travel benefits include complimentary one-year extended warranties on items whose original warranties expire in five years or less; and purchase protection (up to $1,000 per item) on items stolen or damaged within 120 days of purchase.
This card requires excellent credit. If you have any notable dings on your credit record, you’re not likely to qualify.
- Comes With Automatic +gold Status. The Voyager Card includes complimentary Expedia +gold status, which confers a 30% bonus on Expedia+ points earned on Expedia rate hotels, 24/7 service from dedicated Expedia reps, complimentary room upgrades where available, and other perks. If you travel frequently, this benefit is likely to pay off many times over. It’s worth noting that many competing cards, including Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature ($69 annual fee) don’t have similar benefits.
- Annual Air Travel Credit Reduces Nickel-and-Diming During Travel. If used in full, the annual air travel credit more than offsets this card’s annual fee. Moreover, it can pay for annoying surcharges that bedevil frequent travelers, such as WiFi carrier charges and incidental airline fees. Many general purpose travel cards don’t offer annual air travel credits.
- Anniversary Bonus Rewards Heavy Spenders. If you travel heavily or use the Voyager Card as your primary credit card, it’s entirely possible that you can rack up more than $10,000 per year in charges. If you do, you get 5,000 bonus points, worth more than $60 when redeemed for hotel stays at +VIP Access hotels. Many general purpose competitors, including the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, don’t offer anniversary bonuses.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. The Voyager Card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, which is great news for people who regularly travel outside the U.S. Its stablemate, the Expedia+ Card, can’t say the same – it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.
- Points Don’t Expire. As long as you earn or redeem points in any given 18-month period, your Expedia+ points don’t expire. In other words, you can wait until you’re ready to book your next trip without worrying whether your points are going to be there when you do.
- Flexibility to Earn Points at Multiple Hotel and Airline Brands. The Voyager Card earns points on purchases with all hotel and airline brands (provided they’re available for booking on Expedia), not just a single brand or brand family. This is a big advantage over branded hotel and airline credit cards, which seriously hamper travel flexibility through enforced brand loyalty.
- Has an Annual Fee. The Voyager Card’s $95 annual fee is tough for infrequent travelers to swallow. It’s difficult to earn rewards quickly enough to offset the fee without spending heavily on Expedia travel bookings and restaurant and entertainment purchases. If these aren’t big budget categories for you, you probably don’t need this card.
- Moderate Point Earning Rate. This card earns 4 Expedia+ points per $1 spent on most Expedia bookings, 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Overall, this isn’t an abysmal scale, but it’s not particularly generous either – certainly not in light of the card’s $95 annual fee. Many other travel rewards cards, such as Hilton Honors Surpass from American Express (12 points per $1 spent on Hilton stays, $75 annual fee) and Citi Hilton Honors Reserve (10 points per $1 spent on Hilton stays, $95 annual fee), have much higher point-earning rates on some or all travel purchases.
- Mediocre Redemption Values. Expedia+ points aren’t particularly valuable at redemption – they’re usually worth less than $0.01 apiece, and only rise above that threshold when redeemed for stays at +VIP Access hotels. By contrast, many general purpose travel cards value rewards points at a flat $0.01 per point. Some branded cards tied to specific loyalty programs offer opportunities to redeem at far higher values, though consistency varies from program to program.
- Airfare Redemptions Are Sub-par. You can redeem your accumulated Expedia+ points for airfare, with a big caveat: You need to have enough to cover the full cost of your chosen flight. That’s usually at least 8,000 points (for short-haul flights), and often quite a bit more than that. If you fly only occasionally, opt for a general-purpose travel rewards card with more flexible airfare options, such as the Capital One Venture Rewards or BankAmericard Travel Rewards Cards.
- No Cash Redemptions. You can’t redeem your Expedia+ points for cash. That’s a big drawback if you want to (literally) cash out your account’s earnings without actually taking a trip. Some general-purpose travel rewards cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee), do let you redeem for cash.
- Can’t Redeem for Car Rentals. You can’t redeem Expedia+ points for car rentals not included in larger travel packages – a major drawback for travelers who don’t want to buy a package just to get a car. Virtually all general purpose travel cards are more flexible on this point.
In some ways, the Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi splits the difference between a general-purpose travel rewards card and a branded airline or hotel credit card. Like general purpose cards, Voyager offers accelerated earnings on most travel booked through Expedia, as opposed to purchases made with just one favored hospitality family or air carrier. Like many branded cards, Voyager gives cardholders complimentary frequent traveler status (+gold), conferring a host of potentially valuable benefits.
However, Voyager has unmistakable shortcomings – so the middle ground it occupies isn’t necessarily the land of milk and honey. Though everyone’s travel patterns and preferences are unique, there are plenty of great general purpose and branded travel cards out there with more favorable mixes of terms and benefits. You’re not guaranteed to find a better card for your needs, but you certainly won’t know until you look.