Expedia vs. Kayak: The Best Travel Booking Experience?

Travel offers a way to nurture the soul, escape the daily grind, and explore the unknown. Yet, planning for travel can turn into an exhausting maze of decisions. Comparing Expedia vs. Kayak will offer insights into which platform will best alleviate the unnecessary tension that comes with planning travel.

In a digital age, where time is of the essence, the stress of organizing a trip can sometimes overshadow the excitement. We’ll consider the pros and cons of these behemoth travel sites to help pinpoint which is right for you.

Which is Better? Expedia vs. Kayak

While one might expect Expedia and Kayak to function the same, they are actually quite different. They both offer ways to streamline the travel booking experience and save you money along the way, but it is important to understand one key difference.

Expedia is better for those that want to book their travel in one swoop through one site. Kayak is better for those that appreciate the flexibility and the potential to find the absolute best value across the internet.

Expedia.com allows you to book travel through their site. You will start by picking your travel dates, and then Expedia will provide you with lodging accommodations, potential flights, and transportation options. The biggest way for you to save money is to book multiple needs in a bundle.

Expedia is extremely convenient, as they take the information you provide, and the algorithm returns what it thinks you need. Then, you can manage your entire trip all at once.

In contrast, Kayak.com searches other booking sites to find you the best deals. Kayak will then direct you toward one of the hundreds of partner sites so that you can book the best deals presented across the entirety of the internet.

That’s a very different approach, but the benefit is so subtle you might miss it. This enables Kayak to focus solely on providing a tool that empowers you. For example, Kayak shows you which dates have more expensive airfare than other dates. And Kayak offers a tool that will tell you the best month to travel to your bucket-list destinations.

In comparing Expedia vs. Kayak, the websites might look similar, but the function very differently.

Analyzing Price and Value: Does Expedia or Kayak Win?

In comparing Expedia vs. Kayak, you will find that Expedia offers the best value for those that want ease of use and a central point to manage their travel. In contrast, Kayak offers more value for those that are willing to book travel through multiple platforms as they search for the best pricing and solutions to their unique situation.

Expedia Price and Value

The biggest value of using Expedia is the brand’s extensive network. There are millions of options, and in my opinion, that defines value. You can find the cheapest accommodations possible or the most luxurious 5-star hotel. However you define price and value, Expedia is there to deliver.

Still, it is also worth highlighting that there are two primary ways to save money: bundling and the rewards program. Expedia emphasizes bundling more than some of its competitors, and for a good reason. It’s a win-win scenario.

Sure, when you bundle some combination of a flight, hotel, and car rental, Expedia likely makes more money. At the same time, if you plan to book for all three needs anyway, you might as well save some money yourself. Based on my family’s travel experiences and booking experiments, bundling often saves hundreds of dollars.

You can also save money by joining the Expedia rewards program, now known as One Key. As you earn rewards with One Key, you can use OneKeyCash across the entire Expedia platform. So, you can earn points through Expedia and spend them at Hotels.com or Vrbo.

Notably, One Key members save up to 10% on hotels and up to 30% when bundling a hotel with a flight. Discounts and rewards only go up from there.

Expedia's One Key Rewards can be used at hotels.com and Vrbo, too.
One Key Rewards – Expedia Family

Kayak Price and Value

Kayak.com is designed to help you see the world while saving money. You don’t need to overpay to explore. Instead, Kayak offers tools to help you find the best dates to travel, the best prices online, and free cancellations.

Kayak.com is part of the Booking family, which also includes Priceline.com. As such, Kayak can access the same extensive network, which means it offers millions of options and price points.

In the end, Kayak’s pricing aligns with most other online booking sites, but there is one very notable difference. Kayak’s user interface highlights the best dates to travel and other ways to design the trip of your dreams in the most cost-efficient way.

The end result is that users often save significant money, and this is especially true for users that have some flexibility in their preferred travel schedule. We will cover this more extensively in the ‘Services and Features’ section below.

For now, know that Kayak.com is uniquely designed to save you money.

Kayak's color-coded calendar is one reason to prefer its platform when comparing Kayak vs. Expedia.
Kayak’s Color-Coded Calendar

Comparing Services and Features

The prices will never be all that different when comparing online travel agencies. On the other hand, in considering Expedia vs. Kayak, you realize how important services and features become in distinguishing the competing brands.

Expedia Services and Features

Expedia lists hotels with special discounts at the top of their listing, and it’s easy to see important information before you ever click on a hotel option. You can also see which hotels participate in the ‘Reserve Now, Pay Later’ program, which essentially allows you to book the hotel and pay at the hotel.

You can search by your desired location, or for a little inspiration; you can review hotels in the top destination cities. Expedia’s simply designed layout is fantastic for helping you identify exactly what you want, even before you know what that is. Are you interested in VIP access? You can search for that, too.

The Expedia.com user interface is straightforward and easy to use. In fact, if there is one knock that we have on the Expedia user interface is that it is so simple it is almost boring. The platform also leaves some features on the table.

Based on my experience, my favorite part of the Expedia.com layout is that search options and filters are available but not busy. You can easily filter by your favorite hotel brand or by certain amenities. You can also expand a map so that you can choose a hotel convenient to your end destination.

Most travel booking sites have these features, but the beauty here is how simply these options are baked into the interface and experience.

In comparing the mobile app experience between Expedia vs. Kayak, you will find similar experiences, but Expedia incorporates ChatGPT.
Expedia App

Expedia Mobile App Experience

The mobile app experience very much reflects the overall online experience. Still, the Expedia app interface is more streamlined than the overall web experience. But there is one distinct Expedia app feature worth mentioning.

Expedia quickly integrated a ChatGPT-like feature that will help you explore various trip ideas. It’s a unique tool that helps you move past much of your indecision and potential planning roadblocks.

It remains to be seen whether the feature has staying power or whether competitors will integrate a similar feature. Still, for now, it represents a unique advantage for Expedia over competitor experiences.

With more than 3.4 million ratings, the Expedia app is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple app store. It is also the #4 overall travel app as of the time of this writing. Only Uber, Airbnb, and Lyft are listed higher than Expedia’s app.

Vacation helps your mental well being. In comparing Expedia.com vs. Kayak.com, the main thing is to book the travel you need.
Vacation Awaits

Kayak.com Services and Features

Do you have a bucket list of places to travel to and the flexibility to go when it makes the most sense? Kayak recently released the perfect tool to help. Utilizing its ‘Best Time To Travel’ tool, start by entering your end destination. Kayak.com will then recommend the best time to travel and help you find flights.

Then, as you search for the best dates to travel, Kayak.com color codes the calendar so that you can see which days in your selected month are the most affordable. Likewise, the calendar clearly warns which days to avoid.

And if you need a vacation package, Kayak offers tools to help you custom-build a vacation. Do you want to stay in a 5-star hotel, or will you accept something less luxurious? Do you prefer for your breakfast to be included with your hotel stay? Or do you want to stay somewhere with a casino on-site or for adults only? Kayak will help you tailor design the perfect package around these preferences.

I love Kayak.com’s approach because they position you in the driver’s seat to develop a travel plan that makes the most sense for you. Too many other competitors use algorithms to show you what the system thinks you want to see. Kayak’s design eliminates the bias of many of these assumptions.

Instead, Kayak provides driver assistance to help you navigate to the right end destination.

Kayak's platform will provide suggestions on the best time to visit a preferred destination.
Kayak Trip Suggestions

Kayak.com Mobile App Experience

Kayak.com’s mobile app has a few unique features that offer convenience and a little fun. In addition to more standard features, including price alerts and flight tracking, the app also has a tool to help you measure your bags. Follow the instructions to scan the bag, and the app will calculate if it is small enough to use as a carry-on.

The app also has a few games embedded, which are kind of fun to play while you wait at your gate. For instance, the first such game involves someone running through the airport and jumping over luggage to make their flight on time. Admittedly, I found myself playing over and over again to try to improve my score.

Still, the Kayak.com app isn’t as popular as the mainstream booking apps, such as those from Booking.com and Expedia. com. Even so, the Kayak app is still rated at 4.8 stars out of 5, with more than 350,000 reviews.

In comparing Kayak vs. Expedia, one unique feature is Kayak's in-app games.
Kayak’s In-app Game

Considering Customer Service

While it is no excuse, it is also easy to understand why online travel services struggle with customer service. After all, they serve as marketplaces, but they don’t own the hotels you stay in or the airlines you fly with.

Still, in comparing Expedia vs. Kayak, Booking vs. Expedia, or any other travel sites, customer service is an important but nuanced consideration.

Expedia Customer Service

What Expedia makes up for in expansive listings and advanced search features, they lack in independent customer service scores. There are fewer than 10,000 reviews on Trustpilot, but their score is rated as ‘bad’ based on a rating of 1.1 of 5 stars.

This doesn’t mean that you should avoid Expedia.com at all costs. Most travelers have no problem, and only the most angry customers tend to seek out places like Trustpilot to leave reviews. Even so, if you are concerned about cancellations or general customer service issues, you might consider Priceline.com instead of utilizing Expedia.

Kayak Customer Service

Kayak.com fares better than most of its competitors with its Trustpilot scores. That may be in part because there are only a few thousand reviews. Even so, where several competitors score 1 out of 5 stars, customers rate Kayak.com at more than 3 out of 5 stars.

Interestingly, while Kayak previously offered a loyalty rewards program, I can’t find the program if it still exists. That’s odd, given I was actively looking for it. So, maybe customers truly are looking for more than discounted rates many competitors provide through their loyalty programs.

Another point worth emphasizing is that Kayak often refers you to partner sites rather than allowing you to book travel through their site. So when you see a flight from American Airlines that you like, you might be redirected to AA.com.

And if you find a hotel that you like, you might be redirected to Priceline or Booking. You might think that is strange until you realize that Booking Holdings owns Kayak, Booking, and Priceline.

Perhaps Kayak’s customer service fares better because the brand more or less redirects travel arrangements and customer management to partner sites. That then begs the question: Why use Kayak at all? Well, the unique tools to help you pick the most affordable travel that meets your needs are still the gold standard.

Diving Deeper in Comparing Expedia vs. Kayak

Expedia.com might be a gorilla amongst online travel sites, but Kayak.com fits a meta-driven niche in a way that few other sites do. In comparing Expedia vs. Kayak, it is helpful to understand some of these differences.

More About Expedia

While Expedia.com is one of the most popular travel booking sites on the internet, the Expedia Group owns Expedia.com. In fact, they own much more than Expedia.com. They also own the likes of Travelocity, Hotels.com, VRBO, Orbitz, Trivago, and several other entities.

In fact, when you compare Expedia.com vs. Travelocity, you realize they are virtually the exact same websites.

The downside for you is that there isn’t as much variety on the web as you probably thought. On the other hand, Expedia has access to massive amounts of data, which they can use to improve their products, offerings, and recommendations.

New York City is among the most popular tourist destinations, especially for urban travel.
New York City – A Top Destination

More About Kayak.com

In an era when most online travel sites look the same and offer mostly the same information and prices, Kayak.com works differently. Most sites funnel you towards booking travel through their site. Instead, Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites to find the best prices and deals across the entirety of the internet.

The Kayak family includes brands like SWOODOO, checkfelix, momondo, Cheapflights, and more. In 2013, Booking Holdings (which owns Booking.com and Priceline.com) acquired the Kayak family. Given the familial connections, it is interesting how different some of the sites are when you compare, say, Booking vs. Kayak.

Expedia vs. Kayak: Which Should You Choose?

In considering Expedia vs. Kayak, the winner likely comes down to your personal preferences. The prices are mostly comparable, but the interfaces that help you choose your travel are very different. Expedia allows you to bundle and book your travel through its site. Alternatively, Kayak searches external sites for the best prices.

The Pros and Cons: Expedia vs. Kayak

The downside to using Expedia.com is that the interface provides fewer feedback points to the user when booking travel. With Expedia, you input your travel parameters, and Expedia provides the options that best match those parameters.

On the other hand, the benefit of using Expedia is its expansive partner network. Expedia also offers a well-developed mobile app, bundle pricing, and a solid loyalty reward program.

With Kayak.com, some people may not like navigating to multiple partner sites to book travel. Kayak lacks the command central-like ability to book all of your travel needs at once and monitor through one account.

Still, Kayak provides industry-leading feedback to help you pick the most affordable travel options. For instance, Kayak’s calendar shows which days offer the most expensive airfare compared to the least expensive.

Sydney, Australia, is among the most popular international travel destinations.
Sydney – A Top International Travel Destination

Is Expedia or Kayak Better?

This might be a surprise, but we recommend using Kayak for initial research and Expedia to book your travel. Kayak provides too many feedback points to ignore the platform completely. You can’t easily look at Expedia to see which days might be the cheapest to travel.

And if you haven’t finalized your travel plans, you can utilize Kayak to choose the month that might make for the ideal visit.

Still, once you identify the best travel dates, you can then book your travel through Expedia. With Expedia, you may be able to save money bundling your travel. You can also manage all of your travel through the Expedia mobile app. Plus, you can sign up for the rewards program to save additional money and earn rewards for future travel.

We hope you thoroughly enjoy your next trip and that our guide eases your stress. Focus on the joy of travel instead!

Jeremiah moved to the Charlotte area with his wife, Erin, back in 2013. The family has grown over the years, and they now call the Carolinas home. They enjoy hiking and adventures, road trips, backyard fire pits, and pizza night. Jeremiah loves to explore, and looks forward to sharing tips, tricks, and resources for your next trip.