I'm sure most of you already use one of the existing dining reward programs such as United's MileagePlus dining or American's AAdvantage Dining, which provide 1 mile to 'Members' and 3 miles to 'Online Members' per $ spent at participating restaurants. To be an 'Online Member' that just requires having a profile and receiving emails from the program, which is certainly worth it for triple the rewards. For those that have more than 12 transactions in a calendar year, there is a 'VIP' tier which provides 5 miles per $ spent.
Orbitz just announced that it will be launching Orbitz Rewards Dining, a new program that will allow Orbitz Rewards members to earn 5% in Orbucks on qualifying dining purchases, with the rewards jumping up to 7% when using the Orbitz credit card. The program has been launched with Rewards Network which has over 11,000 restaurants across the US, and is the same network of restaurants that United and American use.
Should you switch over to Orbitz Rewards Dining?
Since all of the programs use the same dining network, it really comes down to the value of the rewards. In terms of the pure monetary value, let's assume that you are currently earning 3 miles per $ spent in the airline frequent flyer program of your choice. Depending on the program, the value of each mile is probably in the 1.5-2.0 cents-per-mile (CPM) range, which would put the cash value of the return at 4.5%-6.0%. Orbitz is offering 5% which is essentially the equivalent of 1.67 cpm, so it is certainly competitive. Additionally, if you use the Orbitz credit card then you will be earning 7% which is higher than the returns from any of the existing programs in non-VIP tiers.
Based on this, I will continue to accrue dining rewards in my AAdvantage account, and won't be switching dining rewards at this time. But this certainly a great enhancement for those of you that are big into Orbucks, or are looking for a more flexible way to accrue and spend you dining rewards.