The Best And Worst Things About Using Expedia

Expedia and other online travel agencies (OTAs) run their businesses on the idea of convenience. With something like Expedia, you can access flights, hotels, rental cars, and experiences in one place. That ease of access alone is a big reason people go to OTAs for their travel planning needs.

Especially if you've never been to a particular place before, it can be tempting to utilize a one-stop shop for all of your planning and organizing. While Expedia makes for a terrific partner in planning out a trip, doing a little bit of research on your own could help you save money and make your trip a whole lot better.

Regarding traveling, we can't blame anyone for wanting to score a good deal. And for those deals, travelers frequently head to third-party travel sites like Expedia to make planning easier. While the deals on the site can be too good to be true at times, and Expedia can be an excellent resource for travel purchases, there are several downsides to be aware of.

Expedia frequently has deals

Last-minute travel planners, listen up! Expedia often has incredible money-saving options for travel if you're booking at the last minute. Besides their sales throughout the year, booking a short-dated package or stay is one way to get the most for your money. However, how much you can save on each travel category varies, even outside of those last-minute deal pockets.

When booking hotels, for example, a last-minute deal might save you around 15% on average, though generally, you'll save about 10% on Expedia. Flights are the same, and you'll save roughly 10% on flights through Expedia and 5% on car rentals.

Like many other sites and stores, Expedia follows the American sale holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Black Friday. Besides these typical sale dates, you can watch out for surprises or special sales on Expedia by following them on social media or signing up for their emails. OTAs are a bit like Kohl's; there's always a sale on.

You're stuck with a middleman if something goes wrong

When you travel, there is always a chance that something can go wrong. If and when that happens, if you book through a third-party company like Expedia, you aren't able to negotiate your traveler's rights directly with the airline, hotel, or car rental company. The company you book through is suddenly the middleman, and you're stuck waiting on them to help you rectify your situation — even if you buy insurance with them.

This middle-man scenario becomes even more complicated if you're traveling abroad. You may have struggles with the time differences, having to place long-distance calls, or juggling emails or chats while on your trip. Plus, if you hope to take advantage of required airline payouts for canceled or otherwise mishandled flights, you have to lean on Expedia's customer support instead of being able to get the money directly from the airline. Or, even worse than that, you contact a company to get your money for you, who then has to talk to Expedia and the airline, which will cost you more fees by the end.

Using Expedia offers bundling options

Building a complicated itinerary can be a pain, especially if you aren't a frequent traveler. Luckily with a site like Expedia, you can book a flight, hotel, car rental, and even activities all in one place. It's like your own personal travel agent. Travelers reportedly save, on average, about 10% on all their travel when bundling through Expedia.

Another bonus to being able to plan all of these steps at once is that you can keep it organized on Expedia. There's only one spot to check for your flight itinerary, hotel details, and car rental information — no need to scramble to find email confirmations at 6 a.m. after a red-eye flight and no sleep.

More than saving and organizing, being able to create bundles for yourself also allows you to compare different scenarios. Does it make more sense to do a stopover at Heathrow or fly straight to your destination? Should you rent a car, or does it make more economic sense to take public transportation? All of these options and more await you in your planning journey.

Booking direct can be cheaper and better

Here's the thing about saving with Expedia: It's not always the cheaper option. Even if it is, the site cannot guarantee that the hotel will give you the requested room. And if you book through a third party, the front desk will likely not upgrade you upon check-in. And, honestly, you'll probably get a worse room than you would have just by booking directly with the hotel.

Take it from us: We have gotten stuck in creepy, dirty, and frankly unacceptable hotel rooms after booking with an OTA. While you can gripe to the front desk to try and get a better room after check-in, the hotel isn't obligated to serve you as well as other guests who booked directly.

Many hotels will even price match or guarantee their rate is cheaper than or at the same price point as the third-party sites. By doing this, you can still save money but stay in the hotel's good graces. Who knows, maybe you'll end up in an ocean-view room instead of a city-view just because you booked direct.

Expedia rewards can help save even more

As one of the largest online travel agencies on the market, Expedia's loyalty program helps bolster its reputation among travelers because they can earn points as they make purchases on the site. In addition to racking up points, loyalty members can get special deals and access to extra perks like free breakfast or credits to use on their trip. This loyalty program is especially helpful if you book exclusively through Expedia.

When you lean on a loyalty program, the more you use that service, the more rewards and points you'll accumulate. So if you plan on being reliant on these perks and points, consider how you can maximize your spending with Expedia. You won't get as much out of a loyalty program like this if you jump between airlines, hotel chains, and rental car companies. If you don't have status with other hospitality companies, it makes sense to start accumulating credits with Expedia.

Only 24 hours to change your mind

Expedia has a full-refund cancellation policy, though you only have 24 hours to decide. If you cancel after that grace period, you won't get the full amount back — even if you have a valid reason to cancel. This is not a unique situation among travel agencies or companies, though it is an issue customers have with Expedia specifically.

Especially if you plan on bundling your vacation purchases on Expedia, re-booking everything individually could be a pain if you decide to cancel. The individual companies aren't indebted to you to help you rebook your original plans or to honor what you tried booking on Expedia the first time.

And, if you're unlucky enough to get to the hotel and find out you didn't get the room you wanted because you booked with a third party, you're definitely out of luck for a refund. This 24-hour refund policy is tricky when it comes to unfulfilled expectations, so unless you're willing to deal with any potential disappointment without a promise of a refund, maybe reconsider booking with Expedia.

Expedia offers multi-flight itineraries

Even experienced travelers can miss a good deal when juggling different flights, particularly for longer holidays involving a lot of additional travel. Online travel agencies help divert this issue by offering the option to search itineraries with multiple flight interchanges. This can save you a ton of time during planning. You may even discover a mini trip in the middle of your vacation, thanks to a long layover. For example, spending a few nights in Reykjavik on the way back from Europe.

Looking at a range of flight itineraries is particularly helpful if you're unfamiliar with the place you're traveling to. It may show you smaller airports you weren't aware of, airlines you've never heard of, or demonstrate a better way to get from point A to point B. Expedia allows you to search where you're going with added stops for those long-haul European adventures so you can book your flights in one go rather than spend hours trying to line up flight paths.

Third parties don't always get access to all airlines

Airlines are not all treated equally regarding online travel agencies and other third-party sites. Particularly for regional, smaller, or budget airlines, they are often left off of these sites. So if you aren't able or willing to find itineraries on your own, you might miss money-saving flights with unlisted companies. Allegiant, for example, isn't included on Expedia at all.

Other airlines that remove themselves from third parties (though they may still be available on Expedia) include Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue. More importantly, even if they are available on Expedia, many airlines only offer special deals when travelers book directly on their website. If you are a diehard budget airline flier, booking directly with the airline is probably the better way to go to save money instead of going to Expedia.

Even if you can find your preferred airline on Expedia, it's worth noting that if you don't book directly, it can be nearly impossible to change your reservations. From changing dates to applying upgrades, booking a flight with a third-party site only complicates the process.

Expedia offers payment plans

Payment plans or pay-later options are becoming increasingly frequent when online shopping. Although Expedia isn't alone in offering payment options, it is a bonus to using their website. These options can sometimes be used with no interest or additional fees, which can be nice for travelers who want to break up their spending into more manageable amounts.

One downside to these payment plans is that they use some of the same options other shops use. So if you are stacking pay-later payment plans with Affirm or Klarna between Expedia and other retailers, you may end up paying too much per month, and then the payment plan falls apart. If this happens, your reservations can be canceled.

Remember that only trips over a certain amount even qualify for payment plans. So before you decide that you're going to go that route, be sure that your vacation will amount to enough — but don't spend more than you can afford to.