When you’re planning a trip, booking a hotel is often the most expensive part of your travels. But there are some things you can do to reduce the cost of your hotel and save your hard-earned money for other expenses or something more fun like a nice dinner, shopping or unique experience at your destination. These are some proven ways that you can save money on hotels near you or just about any place in the world.
Use Your Membership Discounts
If you are an AARP member, AAA member or member of the military you may already quality for discounted rates at many hotels. Some hotel booking sites, (usually the hotel sites), let you apply this discount at the time of booking or you can often request the discount at check in simply by presenting your membership info.
Join Hotel Loyalty Programs
Most big chain loyalty programs offer room discounts available only to members and only through booking on the hotel sites themselves. Depending on how frequently you travel, you can quickly earn points towards future free stays. Some programs like Marriot Bonvoy (formerly Starwood) give you built in perks just for being a member like free wifi and later check out times. Don’t be afraid to join more than one program at a time. You’ll often get emails from all of them with special offers that could save you money.
Talk To A Human
It’s really convenient to book online but you may be missing out on room discounts that an actual phone conversation can elicit. Calling the front desk of a hotel you’d like to stay at, giving them details on your trip and just asking if they can give you a better rate than you’re looking at online can often prompt a good hotel employee to get your booking right then and there. Consumer Reports conducted a study that showed bargaining for a better room or rate worked almost 80% of the time. Ask about non-advertised specials, free parking, a bigger room for the same rate or a better room location. It never hurts (and often pays) to ask!
Book at the Last Minute
This technique is not for the faint of heart, but apps like HotelTonight and sites like Hotwire, Expedia and Kayak look for last minute deals from hotels eager to fill rooms that were cancelled by guests at the last minute.
Be On The Lookout for Resort Fees
Even if you’re not staying at a resort, more hotels are offering lower rates to appear at the top of hotel booking sites but add on extra daily fees, often called “resort fees” at the end of your booking process. These fees vary depending on location, time of year and the hotel amenities but look elsewhere if you think they’re too much.
Book With A Hotel Rewards Credit Card
There are so many credit card companies out there competing for your business, they often give you huge bonus miles and points just for signing up and spending the minimum amount needed to get the points. Booking your stay with a hotel card often gives you double points more that can go to free rooms in the future, free upgrades, meals, early check in/late check out and more.
Use An Opaque/Mystery Deals Website
Sites like Priceline’s Name Your Own Price option, Hotwire’s Hot Rates and Travelocity’s Top Secret Hotels offer steep discounts of 40-60% off regular room rates through an opaque process. In the case of Priceline, if you bid on a room and if it’s accepted, you won’t know the identity of the hotel until you’ve booked it. Hotwire and Travelocity offer a fixed price for the room but only basic info is shown for the hotel. If you’re willing to take a chance on the hotel, the discount potential here is the highest than any other method of booking.