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Hi! I’m Nicholas and I’ve spent the last five years traveling all over the world in the name of adventure photography. One of the biggest challenges for me has always been learning how to find the best deals online to travel. Airfare and hotel fares can rack up fast, and honestly, I’d rather spend my extra money on a new camera lens. I’ve used countless travel sites to find deals, but two sites I always end up coming back to are Priceline and Expedia. They’re the easiest sites to use, and I always seem to find the best deals on them.
Now at first glance, these two websites might look like they have identical features. However, several key differences between the two companies could potentially result in you saving hundreds of dollars. That means more money to spend on your vacation!
By the end of this article, you’re gonna learn some decision-making tips for choosing between the two sites, see the main differences with pros and cons, and learn about the key features of each of these two sites.
Let’s dive in!
Bottom Line Up Front
The bottom line is that Expedia is the best website if you’re looking for a solid, set-in-stone deal with more options. They are a massive company that has been around for years and has all the intricacies of the travel industry down to a tee. But if you’re looking for a website that got a better-reviewed service, is a bit smaller, and has the potential to save you even more if you’re flexible and willing to gamble a bit, Priceline might be the best option for you.
Main Differences between Priceline vs Expedia
- Priceline won’t tell you where you’re staying until after you’ve paid, whereas on Expedia you’ll know exactly where you’re staying
- Priceline mainly works in North America, whereas Expedia can be used for bookings all around the world
- Priceline has a better customer service team, whereas Expedia makes you jump through a few hoops before talking to a live person
- Expedia is a much larger company than Priceline, which means you’ll find more booking options than Expedia
- Expedia’s reward program (Expedia Rewards,) lets you get rewards from more types of bookings, whereas Priceline’s reward program is a bit more specific in how you can get points
Decision Making Tips
Before we take a look at the details of Expedia and Priceline, let’s take a look at my criteria for selecting a good travel website. There are so many options online nowadays, that it can get confusing if you’re not sure what to look for.
The most important thing to ask when looking for a deal online is how flexible you are. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t mind gambling a bit, you can end up saving a lot more money in this space. That’s because some travel websites, such as Priceline, will give you deals up front- but not tell you what you are getting until you’ve already paid.
Another reason flexibility is an important decision tip is that it allows you to access bundles, where you may have to sacrifice a few things for extra savings. At the end of the day, you pay for more control over your experience. But if you’re willing to just let things flow as they may, you may walk away pleasantly surprised- and with extra money in your pocket.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is important to me because I don’t like to spend hours trying to figure out what the best deal is online. I like seeing all the options clearly laid out in front of me, and knowing exactly what I’m getting into before I click buy. A good way to test a travel website’s ease of use is simply to search for a random flight and see what pops up. If the following page has an overwhelming amount of information, you may want to look elsewhere.
Customer service, to me, is generally a pretty important feature. Although it is a catch-22 because most of the time you don’t need to deal with customer service. But knowing that they have your back if things do go wrong (for example, if the hotel wants to charge you twice,) can make a huge difference in your mental relaxation over vacation. I generally define good customer service as having an easy-to-reach person over the telephone that can help you problem solve your issue in a kind and helpful manner.
When in doubt, I like to read reviews about travel websites. The industry is known to get a bit scammy with its methods of upselling, tacking on prices, and bundling deals. Sometimes it can get so confusing you’re not even sure if you’re saving money. Therefore, I like to trust reviews on forums such as Reddit about people’s experiences on different websites. That way, I can determine if it’s worth my time to pursue.
Let’s take a look at the main differences between Priceline and Expedia.
To start, Priceline is owned by Booking Holdings, which is one of the world’s most popular hotel booking websites. However, Priceline is a niche brand in the company that focuses primarily on Western countries, and most specifically North America. Like Expedia, it can be used to book hotels, flights, and cars… But it’s best suited for booking hotels, and the way it does this is unique to its brand.
Users start by picking a certain area and a budget, then are presented with a group of hotels and a final price that is usually a very good deal. The catch is that you don’t get to pick which of those hotels you get, and once paid, you can’t back out. Therefore this makes Priceline a bit of a gamble, but if you do a little research on the area and the hotels you might be getting, it can make the process a lot more comforting. This means that the prices of Priceline are usually better than Expedia- you just have to be willing to be a bit more flexible.
Another big difference between Priceline and Expedia is that Priceline is a smaller brand and generally acts like it. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. If you’re into a solid customer service program, you’ll find that Priceline is a better option, as they aren’t nearly as “corporate.”
On the other hand, since Expedia is a larger company, you’ll notice that their website is more streamlined for ease, and there are more options to choose from. You’ll also notice that the prices on Priceline are a bit higher, but they generally have better reviews.
Expedia is a major competitor to Priceline, and it is owned by Expedia Group- a major player in the travel shopping genre. It was founded in 1996 by Rich Barton and was initially a division of Microsoft. Since then it’s grown up to acquire Orbitz, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, and countless other competitors. To say it’s a big company is an understatement. It’s the most successful travel company of all time.
With this big-league status, Expedia can pull a few plugs that other travel websites can’t. Namely, it has more options to choose from than any other site and is almost always lower in pricing. For example, on Expedia not only can you book flights, hotels, and car rentals, but you can find cruises, activities, attractions, packages, and vacation services. It truly is an all-in-one destination for travel.
Another major difference between Expedia and Priceline is that Expedia connects you with specific hotels for reservations that you can either pay up-front or at the hotel. They also don’t have a strict cancellation policy like Priceline, so you’ll be left with a bit more flexibility on your vacation. This means it is a bit more expensive up front, but at least you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for before you put your credit card in.
I also enjoy how much information Expedia provides about certain hotels/experiences. You’ll find way more information on certain topics, all the way down to the wifi fees of certain hotels, so there aren’t any surprises down the road.
With that being said, you’ll notice that this means the Expedia user experience can be a little overwhelming to first-time users. There’s so much information at once that it can be difficult to figure out what you want. If they can figure out a solution to make it more minimal (but still keep all the extra information,) they might become the best travel site on the market.
Now that we know the main differences between Priceline and Expedia, let’s take a look at some of the more specific features of the two travel websites.
Priceline allows is a travel shopping website that allows users to book flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises on it. This is accomplished through a fairly intensive search engine that automatically searches for the best deal for you based on your selection criteria. Users can also search for savings with package deals if they’re trying to make their trip even easier to book. Priceline doesn’t charge a booking fee for its services either, which is a bonus. Most of their profit comes from doing collaborations with hotels and rental companies specifically.
One of the biggest features of Priceline is its VIP loyalty program. As you rack up more trips within the program, you’ll rise the ranks to Blue, Gold, and Platinum levels where you’ll get even bigger discounts on all your rentals. This also means you’ll get customer priority when it comes to customer service, and you’ll get deals on significantly more hotels. It’s worth subscribing to the loyalty program if you’re an avid traveler and want to maximize your savings.
It’s worth noting that Priceline also has an app on the Google Play and Apple App stores, that is highly reviewed and easy to use. This makes it easier to book vacations on the go or modify your details if needed.
- Its the best feature is its hotel booking application, which can give you up to 60% off hotel prices
- Joining its loyalty program can lead to long-term savings
- Finding the best deal can be a little complicated, but if you put in the time it will be worth it
Expedia is a travel shopping website with an exorbitant amount of features. It’s daunting to even look at the number of things you can reserve on this website- but that’s not a bad thing. Let’s start with the basics. You can book flights, hotels, and car rentals with relative ease, and even book package bundles to give yourself a discount on all of these. To take it a little further, Expedia also allows you to book attractions, cruises, and activities that aren’t always featured on other travel websites.
This makes Expedia a particularly exciting website because you can figure out almost your entire trip without even having to leave the site. In terms of availability, I would say that Expedia has the most options available. It’s a worldwide company after all, while Priceline is simply more focused on Western countries.
In terms of a rewards program, Expedia uses a program called Expedia Rewards. Joining the program is free, and as you travel more and more, you’ll move into the upper tiers of the program known as Silver and Gold. Once you’re in the upper-class levels, you’ll get more points for each trip you go on for free upgrades, and a plethora of bonuses like free breakfasts, spa credits, and more.
One of the biggest features of Expedia is the level of information it provides you about certain bookings. You’ll see high-quality reviews, detailed descriptions of locations, and reservation tips. This is only something that can come from a company that’s been in the business forever- they’ve had time to build a database of information that’s worth tapping into.
Expedia also has an app that can be downloaded on the Google Play or Apple App stores, however, it isn’t rated nearly as high as the Priceline app.
- Cheaper prices than the competition
- Massive database of reviews, information, and tips
- Customer service is severely lacking. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row before booking
See also: Top Expedia Alternatives For Travel
Alternatives to Consider
One of my favorite alternatives to Priceline and Expedia is TripAdvisor. Before it became a travel booking website they were purely a review website, which means that they’ve acquired a massive amount of user information about hotels and attractions. You’ll find that they have some of the best reviews on the internet, which is ideal if you want to know exactly what you’re going into. Often I’ll go to TripAdvisor just to get intel on a few hotels, then hop over to a website like Priceline to book for cheap, knowing any of the hotels I land will be great.
Kayak is my favorite site if you like fancy features. They have a great program called “Hacker Fares,” which will automatically pair flights together with different airlines to help you get the best deals. It’s saved me hundreds of dollars in the past, especially in international travel. They also have a great feature called “Price Alerts,” where you can get live notifications on your phone when prices to a particular destination drop below normal. This makes travel easy, so you don’t have to keep checking back on the website every couple of days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: No, Priceline is owned by Booking Holding, while Expedia is owned by Expedia Group. Although the two websites have similar functions, they are major competitors in the business and have slightly different formats for acquiring deals for customers.
Answer: Priceline is a reliable website to use to book your next travel experience. They work with only the best companies in the travel business to ensure your flight, hotel, and car rental experience goes as smoothly as possible. They’ve also been in business for over two decades, so they have built a reputation for themselves.
Answer: Yes, but they are built into the pricing mechanism. Since Expedia works directly with hotels, flights, and rental companies, they are charging you a fee for making the booking experience easier. However, if you play your cards right, you still might be saving money with Expedia over booking them yourselves. This is because a lot of companies run special deals and bundles that are only available on Expedia.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for the best prices on a travel deal, I’d air in the direction of Expedia. They’ve been in the industry forever, and have built a reputation for reliability. You can also book almost your entire trip on their website, from the flight down to daily activities. This makes the travel experience easy to manage, and a bit fun if I’m being honest.
But let’s not cut Priceline out of the equation. If you’re willing to let them take the wheels a bit in favor of saving more money, Priceline might be the option for you. I also find it entertaining to book a hotel without knowing where you’re going to land… It makes the travel experience that much more raw.
Either way, you’ll end up saving a decent amount of money if you decide to use either of these sites to book your next vacation. I hope this article has been helpful in determining which site to use. Happy travels!
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