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Many hotel chains have a policy that if you find a better rate on a different website than their own (ie hotel.com, expedia.com, etc.) then you are entitled to a benefit such as bonus points, a discounted rate, or even a free night. For years I have read about these types of policies, but I have to admit that I have never done one myself. The main reason I have never done one is time. I’ve about hit my limit with the amount of time I can devote to travel related issues, so I had never gone on a scavenger hunt for a lower price…..until now.
I did it this time in large part just so I could tell others about the process in can they had the time to go on a similar scavenger hunt. However, it was actually kind of fun….though it was time-consuming. While each company does it a little differently, the general premise is that you book a room with a hotel chain on their website (though not all require you to actually book the room beforehand), and then if you find the exact room and type of booking for sell on another website within 24 hours, you submit the claim and then if they are able to verify that you found a lower rate, you get your “prize”.
- With Choice Hotels that means you get a free night and the rest of your nights at the lower rate
- With Starwood Preferred Guest you get 2,000 bonus points or 10% off the lower rate
- Hyatt will give you 20% off of the rate
- Priority Club/Intercontinental Hotel Group will give you the first night free and the subsequent nights at the lower rate
- Hilton gives you a $50 American Express for hotels within the U.S.A., Puerto Rico, Canada or Mexico or$50 off your bill for hotels located elsewhere.
- Club Carlson knocks off 25% of the lower rate for your stay.
Some of these hotel chains require an online submission, and with some you can call in and have it verified right on the spot. Of course, I am sure that some reps and some chains are more helpful with claims that others. I can’t personally speak for the process with other chains, because I have not yet taken the time to try the BRG out. I can speak to my recent experience with Club Carlson, and since so many of us are looking to maximize the current Big Night Giveaway promo, I think it makes since to highlight their process. Before I outline the steps, I do want to throw in a word of warning that I have read a report or two from folks who have been told that BRG will not qualify for the “Big Night Bonus”. I have not found anything written officially that would clearly exclude this type of rate, but I do want to include that caution. You can follow this discussion on FT – it looks like someone recently successfully completed a stay for this promo using a BRG, but if you want to wait for a few more success stories before you do this, that isn’t a horrible idea. That said, here are the steps I went through for my successful BRG claim.
1. Research, research, research. Find a day at a hotel you want where the rate is lower on a competing site than on the Club Carlson site. I used hotels.com for this purpose, but you can certainly use other sites. I had much better luck when I looked for “special” rooms like those that were smoking or those that were accessible rooms. I’m sure you can find more standard rooms, but my luck was better with specialty types of rooms. Also, if you can find a site specific sale on one of these third-party hotel booking sites, then that may be a good chance to find a BRG. Just make sure that you have the exact dates, exact type of room, and exact type of rate.
Here is what I found on hotels.com. The King Smoking room was showing for $62 on Hotels.com, but was going for $69 from Club Carlson (no, I don’t really smoke).
2. Book the room through the Club Carlson website at the higher price. Of course, go through TopCashBack.com to do so to get 10% cash back for Radisson stays (at least in theory – I am not 100% sure how this will work with a BRG). I chose to book a refundable room in case the process BRG didn’t work. I could have saved a tad more if I had done it with a non-refundable room, but I just didn’t want to gamble that much (and my rate was already awesome anyway).
3. Submit a claim to Club Carlson. This process was very easy online, but it did take them a bit longer than I expected to get back with me. I submitted my claim around 4PM on a Sunday and assumed I would hear back the next day. However, I did not get a response until mid-day on Tuesday. Not a huge deal, but rates certainly could have changed in that 44 hour period. I have read with some Park Inns you do have to send a fax. Here is the response I received:
We appreciate your submission of a best online rate guarantee form. We have researched your claim and found you are correct in finding a lower rate on another website. We have confirmed the lower rate less 25% for you. Your rate is now $39 per night plus tax. This email will serve as your confirmation for the best online rate guarantee. Your confirmation number xxxx will remain the same. Please keep this information for your records.
My reservation in my Club Carlson account does reflect the updated rate and amount. Yes, I scored a room at a Country Inn & Suites that will cost me $39 plus tax, and will earn me over 44,000 points. That is good math. Had I been doing this all along for reservations the past 10+ years I am sure I could have saved a decent amount of money. I doubt I will do it every time I have a reservation due to time constraints, but I will try to shop around when I have some spare time. What worked in my favor this go round was that my dates were flexible, my hotels were flexible, and my room type was flexible. I didn’t really care what I booked as long as it was a Club Carlson hotel in my area, and it was at a good rate.
Be aware that the Club Carlson policy regarding Best Rate Guarantee claims is that if your claim is approved, then full prepayment will be billed to the credit card you provided on your reservation, and an advance payment of $25.00 USD is non-refundable. It also states that cancellations made within 3 days of arrival will be charged 1 night plus tax. However, in my experience no pre-payment was required. I have read other similar reports, so that likely varies somewhat.
I’d love to hear from those who have used this process before. Like I said, this was my first time, so I am just outlining how the process worked for me thus far. I won’t know the total outcome of this for several more weeks when I have my actual stay.
Disclosure: The TopCashBack link above is my own referral link that will get me $10 if you use it, and earn at least $10 in cash back yourself. Feel free to leave your own link in the comments thread and use each others’ links! Share the love. 😉