Executive Summary -
Perhaps one of the more under-rated cards in rewards land today. If you use priceline.com exclusively to book your travel, and you travel a lot, then this card will fit right in your wallet. You can redeem the points for cash too! (which makes it a great cash back card as well). The only issue I have is the card design, which has William Shatner's face on it like in the commercials!
There are more variety of travel rewards cards than any other type. In you want to earn points for travel, there are many ways to go about it. You could use a frequent flier card to accumulate miles. Or get an hotel affinity card to earn loyalty points. There are cards that allow you to transfer points into FF miles. You could also decide to earn points via credit card reward programs. Even then, there are annual fee and no annual fee cards. If all this is pretty confusing, travel portal and aggregators have gotten into the act as well. In recent years, portals like travelocity, expedia, orbitz and priceline have become increasing influential in the travel industry. And they have also gotten into the loyalty game by having their own reward programs and credit cards as well!
In the aggregator space, priceline.com is a little different from the rest. Rather than being a "traditional booking portal", priceline.com has access to inventories of unsold hotel rooms and you can actually bid on those (caveat being you do really know the which hotel and it's exact location). Still, it is very popular with the budget conscience travelers who are looking for the best deals. And now, they have come up with a credit card which allows you to earn points and use them when you book your next stay with them.
How Does Priceline Visa Work - The reward formula of this card follows it's peers very closely. When you use the card to book stuff on priceline.com (using this card off course), you will earn 5 points for every dollar that you spend. For other regular purchases, you get one point per dollar. There are no limits on the points you can earn and they do not expire. When you use the Priceline.com Visa to book a trip on their website, you can use points to get statement credits. 100 points gets you $1 in value. So in effect, the redemption value is 1% (which is pretty standard for most reward programs). One important thing to note is that the minimum redemption value is $25.
Another thing to note is that certain type of expenses like cruise bookings, non-Name Your Own Price® car reservations, and hotel reservations designated as Pay When You StaySM do not qualify for the five points per dollar rewards.
How Does This Compare With It's Peers?
The best direct comparison is to look at other aggregators who also have affinity cards. The first comparison that we will make is with Travelocity MasterCard, which is also issued by Barclays. They way the cards works is quite similar to Priceline. However, rather than earning five points for using the card with Travelocity purchases, you only earn three points. However, their redemption ratio is slightly better when you redeem 20,000 points or above. Here is how it works. When you redeem 5,000 points, you get $50 in value. When you redeem 10,000 points, you get $100 in value. But when you redeem 20,000 points, you get $400 in rewards value. Like Priceline, you redeem points for statement credits. Aside from this difference, Travelocity is a American Express while Visa is the network for Priceline.
Expedia is another one of the aggregators that have a credit card. It is issued by Citi and unlike Priceline, whose network is Visa, Expedia cards are MasterCards. And the rewards that they earn are Citi ThankYou Points. There is an annual fee version as well as a no annual fee version. They both allow you to earn double points when you use the card at expedia.com to book your travels. The ThankYou Points can be used to book travel at Citi's ThankYou travel portal. The redemption value is 1% (ie 1,000 points gets you $10 in value).
Orbitz.com used to have a Visa issued by Capital One. But it appears that they are either no longer issuing the card or actively marketing it. The Orbitz Card allows you to earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel on their site using the card. Other purchases get you 1 point/$. Like the other cards, you use points to get statement credit for your travels that you book with Orbitz.
Verdict: Top Of The Pack Among Aggregators?
After looking at what other travel aggregators' affinity cards are offering, it appears to me that Priceline.com is best when it comes to earning points (5X vs 3X for it's peers). The only card that may give it a run for it's money is Travelocity's Card because when you redeem 20,000 points, you actually get 2% return ($400) in value. Hence, for high spenders, that might be worth something.
However, at the end of the day, whether you choose to go with this card entirely depends on how often you book your travel with priceline.com. If you do, then this might be the card that is right for you. However, if you are the type that tends to absolutely hunt the best deals to the penny and use several aggregators to book your travel, then this is not the card for you (and neither are the other aggregator credit cards). If you belong to this camp, a general travel rewards credit card is probably better. If you are a frequent flier and simply want to focus on earning miles or hotel loyalty points, then this not the card for you.
But once again, if you only use priceline.com to book your travel and you do it quite often, then consider this card.