You’re planning out your vacation. You know where you’re going and you’ve got transportation figured out. Now it’s time to find a place to stay. You can keep your travel plans on-budget and still kick back in comfort. Here are our tips for getting the lowest price on a hotel room.
Use an aggregator
You could go crazy if you try to use every single hotel booking site out there to find the best deals. That’s where an aggregator like Kayak.com or Trivago.com comes in handy. You choose the location and dates and these sites will dig through the deals coming from big-name booking sites like Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz. The aggregator delivers them all together in one place for easy comparison.
Tip within a tip: Saving money on your hotel room is only half the battle. Click here to learn the secret formula that can help you save tons on your airfare.
Use your credit card rewards
Have you checked your credit card rewards program lately? It’s easy to accumulate points and forget they’re there. Even if you don’t have a travel-focused rewards program, chances are your points are good toward a room at a large hotel chain. Sign onto your credit card online to see what’s available.
Membership has its privileges
Look out for better rates and discounts offered to members of organizations like AAA and AARP. You may need to provide your member number or show your card at check-in. Military members may also qualify for special rates.
Sign on for a loyalty program
Big hotel chains would prefer you book your rooms directly through their websites. One way they lure you in is by offering loyalty programs, many of which offer a small discount if you’re a member and book through the hotel’s official site. Look for other extras included with membership. You may qualify for free Wi-Fi, early check-ins, or complimentary breakfasts.
Loyalty programs can be especially worthwhile if you go on long trips and will be accumulating multiple-night stays that can lead to free nights. Some programs also offer tempting extra perks for their most loyal customers, such as room upgrades and concierge services.
Pick up the phone
In the age of online booking, you might overlook one of the oldest methods for getting a better hotel deal: talking to a real person.
Call up the particular hotel you would like to stay at and see if the receptionist can wrangle you a better rate than what you’re seeing online. It may help to mention you’re considering reserving through a booking website that would normally charge the hotel a commission.
Hotels themselves aren’t the only ones with secret rates available to callers. For example, booking site getaroom.com advertises an 800 number to call to get secret discounted rates over the phone.
Book at the last minute
Hotels with unsold inventory are more willing to bargain at the last minute. There’s an element of risk to this approach, so it works best for people who don’t feel the need to plan out every last detail of their trips.
You might not end up at your first choice for a hotel and it can backfire during extremely busy times when hotels are booked full. The reward is you might get a great room at a bargain price. This can also be a smart time to pick up the phone and check rates directly with the hotel of your choice.
You can also try for a last-minute booking online or check out an app like HotelTonight. The app lets you book up to a week in advance. It offers a wide range of big cities around the world but doesn’t cover everywhere. HotelTonight’s secret weapon is its inside track on unsold rooms from its hotel partners.
Test out DreamCheaper
DreamCheaper is an intriguing startup with a simple premise. You email your hotel registration confirmation to firstname.lastname@example.org and then just sit back and wait. DreamCheaper will monitor the room price for changes.
If it finds a lower rate, it will offer to cancel your existing registration and re-book the room for you at the new, lower rate. In exchange, DreamCheaper keeps 20 percent of the pricing difference. DreamCheaper might not always find a lower rate, but there’s no harm in letting it try and you could potentially save a nice chunk of change.
These are some of the best ways to save, but there are other hidden ways to trim even more dollars off your trip. Click here for 9 money-saving tips airlines and hotels don't want you to know.