Originally created by Microsoft, Expedia is one of the biggest and most successful online travel sites in the world. Being based in North America means it’s one of, it not the strongest in this market when it comes to hotel accommodation. These days Expedia is owned by Expedia Group, which also includes sites such as Travelocity and Orbitz – in fact you will find that these are almost the same site, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
|The most important thing to get out of the way is that Priceline belongs to Booking Holdings, also the parent of the world’s most popular hotel booking site, Booking.com. This therefore means that the hotels and pricing it has access to are generally the same, however the presentation on it’s website and some minor details are different. Where Booking.com is positioned as a worldwide brand, Priceline remains a predominantly North American affair.|
|Expedia's hotel reservation system is a mature product with considerable options. They offer both prepaid and pay-at-hotel options depending on the hotel with their pay-at-hotel offering currently being marketed as “Reserve now, pay later”. Besides hotels and resorts, they claim to offer access to more than 1 million apartments and alternatives accommodations. With the current COVID-19 situation, they also offer information on cleaning practices at the property. As with most of the major travel sites they offer a large range of rooms with free cancellation, as well as some which are fully-refundable. They also have a map where you can see the nearby attractions in the city, although the map itself is fairly basic. Expedia offers quite a lot of information about extra charges that other sites often don’t, including valet parking fees, Wi-Fi fees, pet fees, parking fees and even the deposit you must leave when checking in. Generally speaking, Expedia has fairly high quality hotel reviews and allows you to filter by type of traveler. Unfortunately though they don’t let you filter by room type which some of the competitors offer. You also can’t sort by the worst reviews first which a lot of people want to read. For those with accessibility issues, Expedia offers quite a lot of information like whether each of the public facilities are wheelchair friendly – this information is lacking from almost all competitor sites. When searching, the top search results are usually marked with an “Ad” label and might not necessarily be relevant to your search results so it’s important to keep this in mind. One great feature of Expedia is that is on the search page every image is an image carousel allowing you to compare hotels better without having to click through to every one. One of the best things about booking on Expedia is that each room only shows one price, and then users can add things like breakfast, free cancellation, or change to a “pay-later” type booking by adding extra money. Overall this makes for a much more pleasant booking experience than other sites which often list 5 -10 prices for the same room, each with slightly different options. Generally speaking we find Expedia’s approach to fees relatively transparent, for example cancellation policies and penalties are prominent, and also feature on the checkout page right before you make the booking as a final reminder. Searching on Expedia is a very smooth experience. Besides searching by city, you can also search by country, state/province, airport, train station, attraction, area, or even metro station. The search results are also delivered fast, unlike some other sites.||Something particularly unique about Priceline are their Pricebreaker Deals where they present you with three different hotels in a certain city or area and the final price, however you don’t know which of the three hotels you actually get until you make the booking. Typically these hotel rates are well below the normal price so you know you’re getting a good deal no matter which hotel you get, but of course you don’t get to choose. They’re also non-cancellable so if you don’t like the hotel they choose for you it’s too bad. We find that the search experience on Priceline is above average. For most basic queries it works very well, although it doesn’t support state or country based searches, well not very well anyway. What it does offer though that most other sites don’t is the ability to search by address. Enter an address, for example that friend who’s house you’re visiting, and the system will show you the closet results to that address. It seems that most of the hotels reviews, at least for those outside of North America, come from Priceline’s parent company Booking.com. While the number of reviews is quite good, we found that the functionality wasn’t so impressive. It’s possible to filter by type of traveller, but not by anything else, which means you can’t sort by room type or by bad reviews to find the ones most relevant. On the individual hotel page the map is very disappointing. Although it clearly shows the hotel, it doesn’t have any other data points for things like attractions or restaurants, and there’s not even anything like the distance to the nearest airport. In fact, distance to the airport and major landmarks and airports doesn’t exist on the hotel information page at all. From our point of view, this is a massive shortcoming when it comes to booking hotels on Priceline, especially when all the other travel sites have been providing this for a long time. Priceline offers both prepaid and pay at hotel type rooms, as well as refundable and non-refundable rooms. What we found a little bit odd if that often the non-refundable room rate was more expensive than the refundable one, and sometimes the rates were the same price – it’s a little bit of a mystery why Priceline even displays these rooms.|
|Pricing & Fees||Pricing & Fees|
|From a random sample test, we found that Expedia's pricing wasn't particularly impressive. Having said that, the pricing is still relatively in line with other players, in fact Expedia actually had the cheapest prices on a few hotels. In addition you need to remember that Expedia's home market is North America, so it stands to reason that they should be one of the first sites to check out if you're travelling in the United States or Canada.||As with the other major hotel booking sites, Priceline doesn’t charge any kind of booking fee or payment fee. From our testing, we returned similar pricing to Booking.com for most of the hotels although some had some significant different, indicating that at least sometimes, they run different pricing strategies. If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest price, Priceline wouldn’t be high on our list, but definitely worth checking if you want to cover all bases.|
|Expedia without a doubt has the best availability for hotels in North America. From our own tests though we found that they are not always as good in Europe and Asian markets, so it's going to depend on what exactly you are looking for.||Since Priceline is partnered with Booking.com, their availability is excellent. Both the number of hotels and accommodations, as well as the availability of those accommodations can’t be matched by other travel sites overall. As their primary focus in on western countries, you can sometimes find that in other regions local competitors have offer a better selection.|
|Expedia is available on desktop and mobile browser, as well as a mobile app on both Android and iOS. In addition, Expedia is available almost worldwide, which means they support over 35 languages.||Flights can be booked via Priceline’s mobile app, website or mobile website. What’s unusual though it that Priceline only offers an English interface, which really emphasizes that its product is built for the North American market.|
|Payment Methods||Payment Methods|
Expedia don't charge any extra booking fees or credit card fees, which is in line with most of the other major players. As they offer both prepaid and pay-at-hotel booking options, it might be worth taking this info consideration when you're booking. In terms of payment method, they accept all the major credit cards including American Express, Visa and Mastercard. In addition to that they accept Paypal. They don't however accept Google Pay or Apple pay.
Credit card options on Priceline are a little bit limited, but it will depend on which currency you are paying in. If you’re paying in USD, you can pay with MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover, however with some other currencies only MasterCard and Visa are available. PayPal is also accepted, but once again not for all currencies. If you’re paying in USD you also have a “Pay Over Time” option, where you can make four interest-free payments through Affirm.
|As one of the earliest players in the online travel industry, Expedia has a well-established reputation. While their booking experience is generally considered quite good, they are not particularly well regarded for customer service. In particular, they are known for very long waiting times on the phone. Their mobile apps rate reasonably in the respective app stores, however the scores aren't as good as some of the leading players.||If we compare Priceline’s ratings with other travel sites on platforms like Trustpilot, they are generally fairly high, although these ratings platforms are always subject to a degree of manipulation.|
|Customer Service||Customer Service|
|Expedia provides a number of toll-free phone numbers which can be called from varies countries around the world. They also offer a chatbot which can complete a number of simple actions like checking or cancelling your booking without having to talk to a real person. Although they might not be known for answering the phone quickly, unlike some competitors they don’t charge extra any money for service, which means that when a hotel offers free cancellation, even if you speak to a customer service representative it won’t cost you a cent. For the record, you don’t need to speak to anyone to cancel a booking, this can be done directly through the website.||Priceline offer a local phone number for around 50 countries worldwide, but it will take a bit of digging through their menus to find them. They also appear to offer customer service by text message. When compared to other travel sites though, they don’t appear to offer and kind of online chat option or even email.|
|Expedia is always a site worth checking. While they are not known for their customer service, they have excellent available, paricularly in North America, and offer solid prices. In addition, they're been around for more than 20 years, so you can trust that they'll still be tomorrow.||We wouldn’t hesitate to book with Priceline, but at the same time we also wouldn’t highly recommend them, as their offering is fairly generic. The Pricebreaker deals are definitely worth paying attention to though, especially if you’re traveling around North America.|