16 Tips for Saving a Ton of Money on Hotel Rooms
Save money so you can spend more where it counts: making memories.
Check price ranges—but don’t book yet
Use a site like Kayak.com that shows lots of hotel rates at your destination to be sure the one you choose is a good value. Once you find one you’re happy with, call the hotel instead of booking through the site, suggests Elizabeth of the blog Dutch Dutch Goose. “The hotels always offer the same price and typically either go lower or offer an extra perk like breakfast or an upgrade for booking directly with them,” she says. If you plan to dine out a lot on your trip, read these 12 simple tricks for saving money at restaurants.
Come to someone else’s rescue
Sites like Roomer give travelers the option of selling hotel reservations if they had to cancel their trips. “You are helping someone out who is no longer traveling but can’t get out of their reservation, while still saving money on the same hotel room you would’ve bought for yourself,” says Sarah Hollenbeck, personal finance and credit card expert at creditcards.offers.com.
Don’t be afraid to rebook
“Unless you’re pre-paying, hotel reservations aren’t like flight reservations. You can often cancel within 48 hours of your arrival date without penalty,” says Hollenbeck. Take the work out with a free service like Pruvo, which does the price tracking for you. If it finds a price drop in a room you’ve already booked, Pruvo will send you an email that helps you cancel the original room and rebook at for less money. Don’t miss these other 56 effortless ways to save money.
Use online coupon codes
Many hotels offer online promotions plus codes for 5 percent to 20 percent off. With Savings.com travel coupons, you can take extra money off rooms that are already marked down. Here are 11 other secrets booking companies don’t want you to know.
Factor taxes and fees into the rate
Taxes and fees on a seven-night stay can add $100 or more to your room rate. Plus, this doesn’t include resort fees, hotel energy surcharges, parking fees, pet fees, and incidental charges that some hotels might include. Check on these fees to be sure the room rate you found is indeed as great as it sounds. Don’t miss these other 10 travel mistakes that make your vacation stressful.
Request the lowest rate
Hotel pricing structure tends to include a standard rate, plus lower rates that aren’t typically mentioned unless a customer inquires further. When booking on the best days of the week for purchasing travel, asking for the lowest rate by phone or in person is often the best way to get the lowest price, one of the habits of people who are great at saving money do.
Check room types
When quoted a room rate by phone, customers can often get that reduced just by asking if there is a room type that costs less. Typically, the least expensive room includes two double beds or one king-sized bed. The most expensive is the suite, followed by a room with two queen or king-sized beds. Here are 10 more creative ways to save money you’ve never thought of.
Extend your weekend
If you’re leaving for a long weekend, extend your weekend to Monday instead of taking Friday off, suggests Isar Meitis, president of travel deal site Last Minute Travel. “Sunday is typically the cheapest night at a hotel,” he says.
Find grand openings
Hotel lines often feature new or soon-to-open hotels on websites. These hotels make excellent stays because the staff is new and management is eager to quickly establish full occupancy and an excellent reputation. Plus, promotions often mean prices are drastically lower at these locations than other hotels in the same line. These are hotel insider tips on how to score a free hotel upgrade.
Focus on reviews not stars
When looking for hotels, relying on the star ratings can be deceiving. These days, it is often more informative to rely on ratings by customers who have stayed in the hotel. Sites like TripAdvisor.com compare hotel prices alongside reviews, so you know you’re getting what you want for the price.
For a trip during peak travel times, call far in advance. However, if you don’t, not all hope is lost. As your travel dates approach, hotel prices fluctuate. Calling in August for a room over Thanksgiving Weekend may get you an unaffordable rate, but trying again in October, you might find the rate has been reduced. When there are many unsold rooms for a particular date, hotels lower the rates.
Use group savings
Nearly every hotel offers a Triple AAA discount, and these discounts tend to be even better than other savings like Corporate Discounts and even AARP rates. For instance, you could save 10 percent at Best Western or Hyatt hotels.
Ask about special discounts
Hotels usually offer discounts for government and military personnel, extended stays of 15 to 30 days or more, and a senior or AARP reduction. Sometimes a hotel manager will even extend a discount for regular visitors. Also, hotels near hospitals often offer special rates for individuals who are in town for treatment, again, particularly those who need to visit regularly. These discounts are not usually offered during online booking, so call to inquire. Heading to Disney World? Find out how to save money on a Disney vacation.
Take advantage of your credit card
Take a look through the reward programs your credit cards offer. “Many credit card companies have partnered with major hotel chains and travel websites to encourage sales and offer incentives to customers,” says Hollenbeck. You might be pleasantly surprised to realize you’re entitled to perks like free rooms just one of the secrets hotels won’t tell you.
Know the area’s price trends
The best price for your city depends on where you’re staying, says Meitis. “Business cities like New York and Washington tend to have higher rates during the week when business travelers are more likely to stay versus the weekend when leisure travelers may come into town,” he says. “Orlando and Miami, on the other hand, are more likely to have lower rates during the week.” If you’re locked into certain dates, figure out which areas of the city you can expect low rates, suggests Bino Chua, founder of travel blog I Wander. For instance, the French Quarter of New Orleans might be expensive on weekends, but a 15-minute walk to the business district downtown will offer substantially better prices, he says.
If you’re traveling with a group, you might be better off divvying the price of a vacation home instead of shelling out for individual rooms. “Splitting the cost of a three or four bedroom home where you aren’t forced to eat in a restaurant for three meals a day can make a huge difference to your budget,” says Meitis. (Just don’t make these 14 mistakes when booking a vacation rental!) If you’re doing a solo or couples trip, consider a hostel, suggests Elizabeth. And no, they aren’t just for 20-some backpackers. Some hostels offer private rooms with their own bathrooms at a lower fare than you’d get at a standard hotel.