You need to go away for the weekend, or arrange a stop on the way to somewhere else. The obvious solution is a hotel… but they can be so expensive these days, can’t they?
They don’t have to be.
There are many ways you can save money on hotel bookings, from downgrading your requirements to simply asking for a discount from the hotel manager. We’ve put together this list of tips and tricks you can use to get a good hotel at a budget price.
Don’t Stay in a Hotel
Not every hotel you find online is actually a hotel.
Rather than focus on the big hotels with endless corridors of rooms, why not consider smaller options? Guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and public houses with rooms you can book are all good alternatives.
And they’re invariably cheaper.
So before you hit sites like Hotel.com or Trivago looking for hotel chains with high ratings in sumptuous surroundings, consider these small, private businesses. They’re especially suitable for family trips, as they’re usually homey and offer freshly cooked food.
And while we’re on the subject of private hotels and guest houses, always spare a thought for booking with AirBnB (or any of its alternatives), especially if you’re spending more than a few days in a big city. You’re sure to bag a solid savings.
Use a Hotel Price Comparison Service
When booking a hotel online, you should always use a comparison service to make sure you’re getting the best price for the room. In short, the owners of the websites negotiate special rates with hotels (typically a 25 percent discount) and offer these to you. This means that the hotel owners are making less on the rooms than when you book directly.
To make sure that your hotel stay is cheaper than it would be if you called the hotel, use a comparison site. Here are a few of the most popular:
It is wise, however, to employ more than one of these sites for any one booking, just to make sure that you are getting the biggest discounts.
Join a Rewards Program
Several hotel booking websites offer rewards programs. These allow you to collect discounts over a period of time and apply them to future bookings. Often there is a time limit on these discounts, however. Also, you need to make actual bookings in order to accumulate the discounts!
Hotels.com, Orbitz, and Expedia in particular all offer rewards programs.
Hotels.com offers what is probably the simplest, offering one night free for every ten that you book. In monetary terms, this is a 10 percent rebate. However, it cannot be used in a different hotel unless you pay the difference. For instance, a rebate earned on a $100 room can be used on a $150 room, as long as you pay the $50.
Orbitz offers Orbucks, credits that can be used on future purchases. You’ll find a 5 percent return on hotels booked via the mobile app, 3 percent if booked on a PC, and 1 percent back on flights.
Expedia’s Expedia+ program is another popular choice. With this program, you get points, and when enough are accumulated, they can be spent on discount vouchers. Here, you accumulate two points per dollar spent on hotels (and one point for $5 spent on flights), which mean it can take a while to generate enough points for a discount. A $25 discount voucher can be gained at 3500 points. This makes the Expedia+ program ideal for regular travelers looking for hotel discounts.
Get Cashback Online
Cashback websites are also a good option for booking hotels. This means that not only do you get a discount (smaller than usual), but you can also get money back on your purchase.
Several sites are available for you to sign up for such offers, but you’ll need to check them out first to see which is best for you. Cashback offers change regularly, so you might find that the ones we suggest no longer give the cashback for the same offer or the same rate.
One good site in the U.K. is PouringPounds.com, which offers cashback for Hotels.com, Expedia, Booking.com, and many other hotel and travel booking websites. U.S. travelers can use sites like BeFrugal and TopCashback.
But check coupon websites too, as well as crowdfunding offers sites like Groupon, for the best cashback offers and discounts.
Use Your Credit Card’s Cashback
The cashback doesn’t end there, either. If you have a credit card, there is a strong chance that it offers cashback on purchases over a certain value. While this won’t represent a physical discount, you’ll still be saving money on your hotel booking!
Cashback is typically credited to your account in the following billing cycle (if not before), so you shouldn’t have to wait long for the savings. Just remember to use your credit card to make the booking. And consider other ways you can save money shopping with your credit card.
As with any credit card spend, however, it’s important to make sure that you can settle the bill at the end of the month and keep your balance at zero. If this isn’t possible, don’t use your credit card.
Book Direct and Request a Discount
If all of this sounds far too complicated, and you just want to book a hotel the old-fashioned way and get a discount, you can!
All you need to do is pick up the phone or send an email to inquire about making a booking for a night or two, and suggest that you would be happy to receive a discount.
Why would this be accepted?
Remember above, when I explained how discount sites work? They get a 25 percent (or a bit less) discount from the hotels, and pass on most of the discount to you. The rest is their profit. Offering you a slightly smaller discount increases the amount of money they make.
There is nothing to stop you contacting your preferred hotel and asking them for a discount. You can expect to get around 10 to 20 percent off your hotel bill, which is nothing to be sniffed at! And all it takes is a phone call or an email — no apps, signups or comparison sites required.
Wherever you stay, remember to leave valuable feedback. While it’s always good to tell those who run the hotel, you could also help others by sharing your reviews online. And take good security precautions when staying in hotels, wherever you are.
There are many options to save money on hotel bookings, but that doesn’t mean we’ve got them all covered here.
You undoubtedly know some tricks we don’t, so once you’ve unpacked your case and freshened up, why don’t you let us know about them? Use the comments box below!