How to Save Money When Booking Hotels

April 24, 2023
5 min read

There are nearly 80,000 hotels in the United States alone — and more than 5 million rooms in which to stay when you are not at home. This means there is fierce competition in the hotel hospitality industry and if you remember what you learned about supply and demand in school, this equates to lots of ways to save when booking hotels. Here’s how.

How to Save Money When Booking Hotels

Keep Watching Prices

The great thing about booking a hotel is you can cancel a reservation without a penalty 24 to 48 hours before your stay. If you book a room well in advance, don’t assume that is the best price. Keep an eye on price drops and if you see a lower price, grab it and cancel your previous reservation — even at the hotel at which you already booked. (Or, contact the hotel and tell them you saw the lower room rate and ask for the adjustment.)

Don’t Trust the Aggregates

Sites like Expedia or TripAdvisor definitely help you find the lowest rates when you are just beginning your search and you aren’t quite sure what the going rates are, but they are not always actually the lowest. The aggregates make money being paid by the hotel brands to show you those room rates. However, the brands and the actual hotel itself may provide you lower rates in you book direct. If you see a room rate you like, go straight to the source, which may also mean you have the opportunity for upgrades and specials.

Request a Deal

Each hotel within a brand may have a price listed on their website but are run by a team that has goals to reach. If you contact a hotel’s management, they have the ability to make deals with you. For example, if you see a competitor has a room rate lower than theirs but would prefer their property, call them and tell them so. They may match or lower their price for you. Really!

Get Social

Follow hotels on their social media handles like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. This is where they are often announce special sales before they advertise them on their websites or send an email. (While you are at it, sign up for their newsletters and email alerts, too.)

Travel Beyond Weekends

For regular travelers, waiting until the workweek is over means weekend travel is key. This is why rates are higher at many resorts on Friday and Saturday nights. If you can travel during the week, or even Saturday through Monday or Thursday through Saturday, you’ll save on your “weekend” getaway.

Seek out Business Hotels

That said, if you want to travel over a weekend, take a look at hotels that cater to businesses, often near airports, downtown locations or convention centers. Business travelers are weekday stays so rooms are open on weekends and the hotels want to bring in business with lower rates.

Be Loyal

It is absolutely free to become a loyalty member of a hotel, and you very much should do so, even if you are only staying once. Members of loyalty programs receive perks like free WiFi, free water, and room upgrades. Go ahead and enroll.

Travel in the Off-Season

Of course everyone wants to visit the beach in the summer and because of that, you’ll pay a hefty price. I’m not saying you have to go in the winter but look at what is called the “shoulder season.” After spring break and before Memorial Day or after Labor Day before the holidays is shoulder season and less people are traveling (mainly because kids are in school). This is when you’ll find the lowest rates, even for hotels surrounding Disney.

Look for Amenities

One thing I have always hated is a stay at the Four Seasons means paying up to $25 a day for WiFi while a stay at a Holiday Inn means free WiFi. The cheaper hotels may not come with high-thread-count linens but they often throw in a free breakfast buffet, free parking and other perks. If your hotel is just the place to rest your weary head and you’ll spend the majority of your time out of it, seek the hotels that give you the biggest bang for your buck. If the resort is the destination, then stick with the one that makes it the most comfortable and fun.

Suite Savings

Hotel suites may be more expensive than a traditional room but besides offering a living space to enjoy, they often include kitchenettes with refrigerators and microwaves. If you can find a space with a kitchenette, that could mean a savings on dining out if you stock it and plan properly. That savings could be more than the extra price on the room, especially if you are traveling with as a family four with four mouths to feed.

Use a Travel Rewards Credit Card

If you travel enough, a travel rewards credit card can reward you with free hotels nights and upgrades. Some cards pay cash back up to 5% on your travel spending, others offer new cardholder bonuses that could earn you a free weekend if you spend a certain amount within the first 90 days. Just do all your spending on your card as you would a debit card (and pay it off each month so you don’t pay interest!) and you could have a getaway for free.

Bundle with Your Flight

Take advantage of the deals offered by your airline after your book a flight. Often, they will direct you to partner hotels in the destination in which you are flying and you’ll save on your hotel, as well as rental cars.

The bottom line

It really takes work to find the lowest prices but your time could result in big savings, which means more to spend on the fun stuff when you’re on vacation.

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