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Two travel startups have come up with distinctive ways for travelers to earn rewards merely by booking trips.

travel money jar


At a time when frequent flier miles and other points-earning opportunities are harder than ever to manage and use, Upside and TRVL are refreshingly innovative options for accruing bonuses for purchasing airfare and hotels.

Upside rewards you with gift cards for being flexible with your travel plans. When you book airfare and hotel rooms, which the company offers as a package, Upside will offer you gift cards to Amazon, eBay, Home Depot, Whole Foods and dozens of other stores. Willing to fly during less desirable hours, or to stay at a hotel a little farther from the city center? You’ll earn even more in gift card rewards.

I priced out a weeklong trip to Madrid, flying from New York and staying at a modest hotel near the Royal Palace. The total came to $1,440, and I would earn $314 in gift cards. If you see the gift cards as a rebate, that’s a 22 percent discount.

Upside, founded by Priceline.com founder Jay Walker, is currently taking bookings for flights from New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles, with 40 international destinations currently available. More will be added in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the premise behind the soon-to-be-operational TRVL is to allow individuals to earn commissions from hotel, air, car and activity bookings that you make for yourself or for others. Those others could include friends or family, or even strangers around the world who read about your areas of expertise and ask you to make their trip arrangements.

How much could you earn? The website provides a few ballpark examples. Planning a three-night jaunt to New York City for two people could earn you $100, whereas a two-week, multi-country European journey could net you $450.

Once it’s up and running — the company is currently collecting email addresses of potential users, to prepare for a beta testing period — the website will allow you to recommend your favorite hotels and activities. You receive ratings based on how much the travelers enjoy their trips, and presumably, the higher the rating, the more booking requests you could receive and the more commissions you could earn. As with Airbnb and Uber, you also get to rate your customers.

Both sites are suitable for use by individuals going on vacation or for companies booking business travel.

Would you try Upside or TRVL?

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— written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma

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3 Responses to “2 New Ways to Earn Money for Booking Travel”

  1. jannet says:

    Yes I would try both but does it work from Canada?

  2. Martha says:

    Based on your article I would use Upside. TRVL ? I’ll have to see more details. TRVL sounds like the UBER of travel agents. I’ve made my own, and frequently complicated, travel arrangements for years. The internet makes it very easy, but I’m not a travel agent, if something goes wrong I have only myself to blame.

  3. Dorita Rosewitz says:

    I won’t use either. For years I used the inter to plan my own trips. This year I’m goig to Pittsburgh and the to Philadelphia. Thought I would be simple. 3 1-way tickets were expensive, the fact I could not get flights that matched my schedule. Last year I got a cheap flight England thru the AAA website. But I couldn’t arrange the 3-one ways. So I went to the AAA office, told the agent what I wanted, she took about 15 minutes to set it up and I saved $200 over what I would have paid for a round trip to Pittsburgh. AAA is rarely mentioned on travel blogs but if you’re already paying for thei roadside service, you check out their travel services. You might save a few bucks and can pick up a free map.

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