When I book my travel, nearly all of it is directly with the hotel or airline’s site. However, on my next trip, I’m going to be booking with Upside, a new service led by Priceline founder Jay Walker that has raised 50 million dollars in venture capital. I always think about whether startups will go bankrupt, so in this case I’m not worried.
Upside is a company targeting business travellers, and right now, they have a really good deal expiring soon. If you have never used Upside, you can use promo code BACKMS to get a minimum of $200 in gift cards back with a $400+ total trip price. You must use the promo code by 8/31, although your travel can be beyond that date.
Just like other OTAs (e.g. Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) you put in your information and they’ll give you combinations of itineraries that where they can pass on savings to you. Right now, it’s through gift cards. The booking process is very straightforward. You can either select a flight, or a flight + hotel, flight + uber, and hotel + uber. Personally, I would select the flight or flight + uber option. You earn miles and points from your flights just as you would booking with Expedia or directly with the airline. However, you would not earn points or elite credit with Upside.
Sample Travel Package – HUGE Savings
When booking your flights with Upside, you have to travel roundtrip, with a maximum stay of 28 days. You must originate in the US, and in most cases your trips will be domestic. There are a few Canadian destinations that you can select as well. For example, let’s say I wanted to go from Seattle to Honolulu. The flights on United are $361.
This is the same price on Upside.
Adding 2 Uber Credits bring the price to $401. It looks like they’ve taken a $10 discount off the Uber credit. This makes the package just over the $400 market, triggering the promo code with $200 of Gift Cards. The Uber credits can only be used one-time (no residual value), and can only be used during the trip, so keep that in mind.
These aren’t crappy gift cards either. Amazon, Ebay, and Target are among the retailers included, which I value (and you can sell) at close to face value. You will receive these gift cards within 72 hours after your trip.
Upside – Worth it for Canadians?
The value proposition becomes a little less because you can’t book trips starting from Canada. However, since you can book trips to Canada, it might be worth looking at positioning on one or both ends to split the booking into two separate trips. It does work best if you have domestic US trips planned.
Overall, the best value is when you have flights that are exactly $400. The discount with the gift cards rebate becomes close to 50%. When taking a look at other flights, most of them are exactly the same price as Google Flights/ITA Matrix, so if you have a paid fare that you need to book, this is an opportunity to get a huge discount. Book soon as the promo code expires 8/31.