The Major Differences Between Travel Booking Sites You Should Know

Travel booking sites make are there to make our lives easier when it comes to planning our next getaway. Whether you’re looking for a flight, hotel or car rental, every online travel agent promises to give us the lowest price available and Rakuten Travel & Vacations can help with Cash Back on your next booking. We wanted to put those promises to the test and see which one actually gave us the best prices. Check it out.

Travelocity vs. Expedia vs. Orbitz vs. Priceline

short arrow Price Test Comparison for the Same Flight

I’m looking for the lowest economy/coach class fare for a one-way departure from San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK) and from SFO to Seattle (SEA). I am booking 2 months out. Airfares are rounded up or down to the nearest dollar, and stops are mentioned.

Travelocity logo
SFO to JFK: $149 one-way. JetBlue Airways (nonstop). Carry-on bag included. SFO to SEA: $69 one-way. United Airlines (nonstop). Carry-on bag included.
Expedia logo
SFO to JFK: $149 one-way. JetBlue Airways (nonstop). Carry-on bag included. SFO to SEA: $169 one-way. United Airlines (two stops). Carry-on bag included.
Orbitz logo
SFO to JFK: $148 one-way, JetBlue Airways (nonstop). Carry-on bag included. SFO to SEA: $68 one-way. United Airlines (nonstop). Carry-on bag included.
Priceline logo
SFO to JFK: $114 one-way. Unknown airline via Express Deal (will fly with United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines or Delta Airlines). One stop. Carry-on bag and advance seat selection included. SFO to SEA: $68 one-way. United Airlines (nonstop). Carry-on bag included.

The winners: Orbitz. SFO to JFK is a nonstop flight, and while it is not the cheapest airfare, Priceline’s Express Deal means you have a morning takeoff between 6AM and 2PM and one maximum layover of six hours. While this may be okay with some people’s schedules, it is not a winner in my books. For the SFO to SEA flight, Orbitz or Priceline – same price, same airline. 

short arrow Price Test Comparison at the Same Hotel

I’m looking for hotels (not hostels) in New York City and Seattle for one adult with check-in on November 19 and checkout on November 22. My baseline is a standard queen bedroom with a single bed and your basic amenities. No special views or locations – just looking for the best price. I ended up comparing Browery Grand Hotel in New York and Rodeway Inn in Seattle.

Note: Booking.com does not offer flight bookings, but they do offer hotel bookings. I have included it here. All hotel estimates are non-refundable rates as we’re looking for the most affordable option. 

Travelocity logo

Browery Grand Hotel (NYC): $37 per night ($128 total for three nights).

Rodeway Inn (SEA): $42 per night ($143 total for three nights).

Expedia logo

Browery Grand Hotel (NYC): $37 per night ($128 total for three nights).

Rodeway Inn (SEA): $42 per night ($143 total for three nights).

Orbitz logo

Browery Grand Hotel (NYC): $37 per night ($128 total for three nights).

Rodeway Inn (SEA): $42 per night ($143 total for three nights).

Priceline logo

Browery Grand Hotel (NYC): $46 per night ($144 total for three nights).

Rodeway Inn (SEA): $42 per night ($148 total for three nights).

Booking.com logo

Browery Grand Hotel (NYC): $144 total for three nights (Per night cost not stated).

Crown Inn (SEA): No bookings for Rodeway Inn available. Crown Inn is $171 total for three nights, per night cost not stated.

The winners: For both cities, Travelocity, Expedia or Orbitz. Initially, my vote was for Priceline or Booking.com, but after taxes and fees, the total jumped from $116 to $144 for a stay in NYC and from $126 to $148 in Seattle.

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short arrow Price Test Comparison for Flight and Hotel Bundles

Since there are many offers for discounted airfares and hotel stays when you book them together, I thought I’d see how the prices differ when I do book as a bundle. The same conditions as above apply. This is a roundtrip flight and hotel stay for November 19 to November 22.

Note: Booking.com does not have bundled offers.

Travelocity logo

New York: $386 for flight, hotel, taxes and fees with Browery Grand Hotel and JetBlue Airways. Roundtrip flight and hotel stay separately: $425.

Seattle: $300 for flight, hotel, taxes and fees with Skyway inn SeaTac and United Airlines. Roundtrip flight and hotel stay separately: $280.

Expedia logo

New York: $295 for flight, hotel, taxes and fees with Browery Grand Hotel and Frontier Airlines and American Airlines. Roundtrip flight and hotel stay separately: $425.

Seattle: $300 for flight, hotel, taxes and fees with Skyway inn SeaTac and United Airlines. Roundtrip flight and hotel stay separately: $280.

Orbitz logo

New York: $295 for flight, hotel, taxes and fees with Browery Grand Hotel and Frontier Airlines and American Airlines. Roundtrip flight and hotel stay separately: $425.

Seattle: $300 for flight, hotel, taxes and fees with Skyway inn SeaTac and United Airlines. Roundtrip flight and hotel stay separately: $279.

Priceline logo

New York: $298 for flight, hotel, taxes and fees with Browery Grand Hotel and Frontier Airlines and American Airlines. Roundtrip flight and hotel stay separately: $400.

Seattle: $282 for flight, hotel, taxes and fees with Rodeway Inn SeaTac and Delta Airlines. Roundtrip flight and hotel stay separately: $284.

The winners: In New York, at just one stop per flight, Expedia or Orbitz is the most economical option. If you prefer nonstop flights, Travelocity is the way to go. In Seattle, Priceline. Nonstop flights for the best price.

Final Thoughts

When booking with Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz, you can expect to find about the same price across the board. With Priceline, you can find cheaper prices compared to the first three I named, but you should always double check to see the final total with taxes and fees included. Booking.com is only good for hotel bookings, and the one total we could compare is higher than its competitors. Even though you’re trying to get the best price on your next vacation, shopping with Rakuten guarantees Cash Back at each of these travel booking sites. Safe and happy travels!

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