22% off Hotels.com gift cards with Amex Offer and portal rebate, but is it a good deal?

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Amex just introduced a new Amex Offer: Spend $50 or more on a Hotels.com Gift card and get $10 back:

Amex Offer Hotels dot Com

This offer can be added to your account through Twitter.  Use hashtag #AmexHotelsdotcom.

This offer is not available through social media channels, which indicates it is targeted.  I found the offer on every one of my and my wife’s cards.  If you buy a $50 gift card with an enrolled card, this deal amounts to a 20% rebate.  If you have multiple Amex cards, make sure to use the multi-browser trick to load the offer to all of your cards.  Please see: Complete guide to Amex Offers.

Additionally, some cash back portals are currently offering up to 2% cash back when you buy gift cards from Hotels.com.  I found 2% rates for gift cards at both TopCashBack and Giving Assistant.  So, if you start your shopping at one of these portals, buy $50 Hotels.com gift cards, and pay with a different enrolled Amex card each time, you should get a total of 22% cash back (20% from Amex and 2% from the portal).

Name / LinkOfferFrequent Miler Notes:
Giving AssistantYou will earn $5 after your first eligible purchase. We'll earn $5 too.Excellent cash back portal. Very fast payments.
TopCashBackBonus rates vary.TopCashBack is one of our two favorite portals because it almost always offers the best cash back rates. Our other favorite is Rakuten.

If you buy several gift cards, Hotels.com will let you combine their balances into one:

Hotels dot com balance transfer

Is it a good deal?

This appears to be a great deal.  If all goes well, you should be able to get 22% off up-front when buying gift cards, and then make use of additional Hotels.com promotions and discounts in the future when booking hotels.  All of that is in addition to the Hotels.com Rewards program which offers a free nights for every 10 nights booked through Hotels.com.

Here’s one factor that reduces the wow factor of the deal. According to both Giving Assistant and TopCashBack, if you shop through a portal to Hotels.com in order to book a hotel, you will not earn cash back on the portion of the booking that is paid for with gift cards.  Hotels.com is usually available through portals for 7% cash back.  So, assuming that you would have shopped through a portal, your real savings with this deal are 22% – 7% = 15%.

I think that 15% off is still a very good deal.  Keep in mind, though, that if you have or want to get hotel elite status, nights booked through OTA’s like Hotels.com don’t usually count for elite credits or benefits.

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