3 Ways to Get a Great Deal on a Hotel

Here are three ways we’ve gotten great deals on hotels:

Option #1: Go Through a Travel Site

If you’re willing to be adventuresome, you can purchase your hotel “blind” through Hotwire or Expedia and get a great deal. You’ll save at least $15 or $20 — often more! — if you’re willing to purchase the hotel room without knowing what hotel you are staying at. You can search by lowest price and star rating to see what prices are for the area you’ll be traveling to. We are typically able to find a three-star hotel for around $50-$60 per night this way.

Unless you don’t mind staying in rather questionable hotels, I wouldn’t suggest getting anything less than a three-star hotel as we’ve learned the hard way that two-star hotels can be hit and miss and one-star hotels should be avoided altogether. (Ask me to tell you the story of the roaches and the guy trying to break into our room in San Antonio at the one-star hotel we stayed at there if you need further proof. Yikes!)

While you can get some great deals this way, you are taking a risk. Sometimes it pays off well, other times, you end up with a less-than-stellar experience. But the savings have been worth it to us in most cases.

If you’re going to purchase your hotel room online, always go through Ebates to get cashback and check RetailMeNot.com for any applicable coupon codes. Do keep in mind that you usually cannot get a refund on hotels reserved online through Hotwire or Expedia so you’ll want to make sure your travel plans are set in stone before purchasing.

If you want to get to pick your hotel before you purchase or be able to get a refund if your travel plans change, I’d recommend going through Orbitz. They have great deals, they show you the price including fees, and they do not charge you if you cancel your reservation. Usually, their prices are a little higher, but it might be worth it to pay a little to know what hotel you’re reserving ahead of time, and to not be charged if you cancel your reservation.

Option #2: Call and Haggle

Jesse loves to do this. He’ll pick out a few hotels he’s interested in having us stay at and then he’ll call them and ask them for the best rate they can give us. We usually can’t get as great of rates as we can reserving the hotel online, but we almost always are able to get at least a 15-20% discount off the price they initially quote us.

Be sure to ask for any applicable discount that might apply to you (AAA membership, AARP, Military, etc.) and call knowing exactly what you’re willing to pay. If they aren’t willing to do it, call the next hotel on your list.

As always, though, be polite and courteous. There’s no need to get irritated at them if they aren’t willing to go down on the price. Many hotels have specific pricing policies and can’t go lower than a certain price point.

Option #3: Walk In and Ask For a Bargain

This is what we did on our road trip last week. It was our first experience and it actually worked out really well. The advantages were that we were able to scope out the hotels and area ahead of time, instead of just relying upon pictures or information on the internet.

While we didn’t get quite as low of a price as we could have by purchasing through Hotwire, since we had to change our travel plans at the last minute due to the tornado in Joplin, it worked out well that we hadn’t reserved hotel rooms online anyway, as we would likely have been out the money.

We both decided on a price we were willing to pay per night and then picked out a few hotels in the area to go into and ask for a deal. Because we were traveling in the middle of the week, most of the hotels were quite empty and seemed more than willing to work with us to give us a discounted price. If we were going somewhere during a busy season, this approach likely wouldn’t have been as successful.

Coming tomorrow: How to Have a Successful Road Trip With Young Children

What are your best tips for getting a great deal on a hotel? Tell us in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Aberline says

    Just don’t use Bookit. I used it to book a weekend in Myrtle Beach and when we got to the hotel, they had reserved the wrong type of room! If the hotel hadn’t been willing to change my room at no cost, I would have ended up paying almost $200 more than the room I was originally given was worth.

  2. Rose says

    PRICELINE!! I know folks talk about their bad experiences…but I have NOT had one yet and I have been using them for over a year and booked at least 20 different hotels. I’ve gotten HILTON for $39 numerous times…Always bid $39-$45 and get a Hilton, or other 3 star hotel. I’ve been so lucky!! I have 3 kids plus hubby so that makes 5. I always call ahead to the hotel and make sure 2 beds in the room were reserved. Then I ask for a Crib for my 2 yr old. It has worked every time. Love Priceline!

  3. says

    we’ve had good luck with prices on hotels.com too – the prices seem to match up with the other site, expedia, orbitz, etc and you can see what hotel it is. My husband has even called them and had them do the search for him when he was traveling and didn’t have internet access. He told them where he was and they gave him the names of the closest hotels in his price range, booked it for him and he went and checked in. A nice perk since often the cheap deals you have to pick and pay for online before the day you need to check in!

  4. says

    I’m hesitant to use Priceline because we have 3 kids and their terms state that they do not guarantee how many beds we’ll get. Anyone ever have a problem with that?

  5. says

    If you’re prefer a particular hotel chain, consider signing up for their “frequent stayer” program. My dad travels frequently with his job, and I’ve seen first hand the benefits of the rewards he gets through his points.

    We personally prefer the Hilton line of hotels – Hampton Inn, Hampton Express, Homewood Suites, Doubletree – and stay with them at least once or twice a year. We may pay a little more upfront for each individual hotel stay, but we currently have enough points for a free one night stay at a high-end Hilton or two nights at something a little more budget friendly. We’re hoping to save our points long enough for it to pay for an entire week somewhere when we have a big anniversary.

    Also, since we’re rewards club members, we often get upgraded from a standard room to a suite that we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.

  6. Jean says

    And don’t forget…sometimes the rate is better if you ask for a “weekly rate” even if you only stay 4-5 days. Seriously. I’m in a hotel right now, which we rented for one week, even though we’re only here for 5 nights. And yep, I asked for “the lowest price you can give me” at the desk. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

  7. kimberly says

    Does anyone have any tips on Orlando or Daytona Beach? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am trying to save up enough for my daughter and I to fly out for about 5 days in late July.

      • kimberly says

        Thanks Jamie. Now I need to try to find a good rental and some discount activities for Orlando and Daytona Beach.

  8. Elizabeth Rehn says

    We will go and look at the hotels in the area pick a few hotels, then ask if we can use their computer in the lobby and go to one of the travel websites and see which one is cheaper and book it online, by the time we get to the front desk our reservation is in their system and we are ready to go.

  9. Heather says

    I saw some of your commenting that you were worried on priceline and travelocity that it states you are not guaranteed how many beds you are wanting at check in. Your reservation is never guaranteed as well and when you get to the hotel late at night on a sold out weekend then you will not have a room. If you check in early on your arrival day, Say if check in is not until 3pm. You can still check in as early as you want. If the room is not ready the hotel will store your luggage for you and you can still enjoy the pool and all the acitivities they have to offer. This will also guarantee that if you get to the hotel earlier, you can at least check in and wait for your room to become clean. The hotel will not cancel your reservation once you have checked in!
    Also Many people don’t believe that hotels sell all the rooms in the hotel/resort. They do though. They will risk having to walk someone to another hotel if that means they can oversell/overbook the hotel to just get it full and have all their rooms occupied come the end of the night.
    Another tip, Most hotels run their audit around 1 or 2am in the morning. If your check in is on May 2nd and you don’t arrive at the hotel until 2:15am on May 3rd, you were already considered as a no show to the hotel for your first night and your room might have been given to someone else and you wont have a room to sleep in if they gave it away.
    Last nut not least – If you are staying at a hotel/resort and you are unhappy with anything at all, please let managers/supervisors know. If you dont tell them and leave unhappy the problem never gets resolved. Most of the time you can get a dollar ammount off, free dinner, free coffee in their coffee shop, etc….Also, if you really rave to them how you loved something they will make sure you are taken care of as well and give you something for the great reviews.

    I only give this advice from experience of working at a 5 diamond resort.

  10. Dineen says

    I’ve had the “haggle in person” work well for me. Also, if you are travelling by car on a major interstate you can find deal books at rest stops. The hotels, restaurants and attractions along the route advertise in those books. Hotels have special “walk-in only” rates advertised in those books that are often better than what you can find with other deals. As I understand it, they may have only a few of those special rate rooms available, so be prepared for what seems like “bait and switch” and be willing to walk out and go across the street to another hotel if you don’t get the price you want.

  11. Morgan says

    Huge Hotwire Tip: If you’re afraid of what hotel you might get… just check Google maps for hotels in the area. This is totally helpful if it’s a small town. They only have 5 or so to choose from, so you can look ahead and have a better “prediction.”
    My husband and I did a “Hotwire Honeymoon,” moving from Indiana to California starting the day after we got married. It worked out really well. We only spent 30 to 65 a night (some nice, some decent), and got some great freebies too being newlyweds… I suppose it helped that our car was still covered in chalk paint on our journey! Now, *don’t lie*, but if you are celebrating an anniversary or a bday, some will offer you a comp meal, upgrade, or room service!
    Another tip: Stay in smaller towns further away if possible. Last weekend we drove to Santa Barbara, and rather than spending $160+ for a room, we stayed 45 minutes away for $40. Sure, we “paid for gas,” but definitely not $120 worth! And the drive was gorgeous.

  12. Emily says

    Last fall my husband inquired about rates at a Sheraton in Chapel Hill, NC – when they told him $180 per night he said thanks but no thanks but they then offered it to him at a price of $90 per night! Since it wasn’t peak time there for parents dropping off students they were needing to fill up rooms. And even a room at half the rate is still better than nobody in the room at all.