Here’s my spending philosophy: If you can get something a bit cheaper, it’s worth a little effort.
Of course, I like tools that do the hard work for me. Tap or click for an online shopping helper to find discounts that work.
There are digital tricks that can make travel easier, safer and more affordable, too. Tap or click for five smart tech tips you should read before you hit the road this summer.
When saving on hotel rooms, the sites that claim to have the best possible deal aren’t always the way to go. Sometimes, you can do better on your own. My son just used the tips below to get a hotel room for $80 cheaper than the lowest price online.
Don’t book through a travel site
When you’re looking for a hotel, travel discount sites like Kayak, Expedia or Hotels.com are good places to start — but don’t book there. Once you find the lowest available price at the hotel you want to visit, call the hotel’s reservation desk.
Many hotels will meet or beat the best internet rate when you book with them. They’d much rather skip the commission to the travel site and book your stay directly. The hotel might even throw in a free upgrade like a nicer room or complimentary breakfast.
If you’re not having any luck with the first person who answers, respectfully ask to speak to the sales manager.
Speaking of saving, I put together 8 proven ways to lower your monthly internet, cable, and streaming bills. You’re welcome.
This is the best time to book a hotel room
If it’s feasible, wait until the day you need the hotel room to book it. The later in the day, the better. After 4 p.m., hotels know the odds of selling a room are pretty slim, so you’re more likely to get an even lower rate. On average, the same-day rate of a hotel room is 10% cheaper than booking in advance.
But this comes with a caveat. Don’t rely on this strategy if you’re traveling to a busy tourist city or a town where a large event is happening. You might be fortunate, but most people book rooms well in advance. In a pinch, sites like Hotel Tonight can help with last-minute bookings.
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Don’t forget the extra discounts
When you book online, you’ll probably see a field to enter membership details to save more. Don’t forget to ask for those discounts when you call a hotel to book.
Veterans, AAA members, seniors, government employees and students often qualify for discounted hotel rooms — sometimes on top of the discount, you’re already getting.
It’s not just a few bucks, either. AARP members can get up to 15% off at Marriott hotels; Best Western offers 10% off to members. Wyndham Hotels has special rates for guests 60 and older. AAA can save you up to 10% at Hyatt hotels and MGM Resorts properties.
Here’s another pro tip: If you know what hotel chain you’d like to stay at, go to their website, sign up for their mailing list, or download their app. You’ll be the first to know about any special discounts and promotions.
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When you have to book online, use Incognito mode
Calling last minute to score a cheap room is great when it works, but sometimes you do need to book ahead online. Your best bet is to open an Incognito browser window.
Some travel companies keep track of what you’ve searched for and will increase prices the next time you visit the site. You don’t have to worry about price gouging when you use Incognito mode.
It’s not just the travel industry that does this, either. Many online shopping sites know when you’re stalking an item and could raise the price if you leave and come back later to buy it. Don’t leave it up to chance.
Incognito mode might not hide everything you do online, but it does have some practical uses. Tap or click for five more of my favorites.
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