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Yesterday I shared one of the strategies we use to get good deals on airfare, so I thought that today I should share one of the tips we use to get good deals on hotel reservations.
Just like with our post on airfare, there are situations when using points for hotel stays doesn’t make sense either because you don’t have enough points, the return per point wouldn’t be very good thanks to low(ish) rates, or you need the stay to count toward a promotion or for elite status.
One of the tools that some savvy travelers use to save money hotel stays that they aren’t paying for with points is a best rate guarantee. Many hotel chains advertize that you can find the lowest rates on their websites, and if you happen to find a lower rate on a different site then they will give you something ranging from a % off the lowest rate, bonus points, a food and drink credit, or even a night free. Hotel chains want you to book via their site so that they don’t have to pay a commission to anyone else, so it is in their best interest to have you trained to use their site when booking.
Admittedly I don’t do this for every hotel stay we have as it can be time intensive, but it is still an important tool to be aware of, and there is even a new site out there that promises to help with this that we will get to in a minute. People use all sorts of sites to try and find lower hotel rates, but there is no one sure-fire site that will always be best. Hotelscombined.com, trivago,com, and Kayak.com can be good places to view prices from many sites at once, but just be aware that it will show some sites that probably won’t qualify for best rate guarantees.
- With Choice Hotels that means you get a free night and the rest of your nights at the lower rate if you find a lower rate within 24 hours of booking
- Starwood Preferred Guest gives you a 2,000 points bonus or 10% off the lower rate if you find a lower rate within 24 hours of booking or before you book
- Hyatt will give you 20% off of the rate within 24 hours or before booking via their new(ish) online form
- Kimpton Hotels will match the lower rate and give you a $25 food and beverage credit on your stay
- Intercontinental Hotel Group will give you the first night free and the subsequent nights at the lower rate if you find a lower rate within 24 hours of booking.
- 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 within 24 hours of booking (but more than 48 hours before the stay).
- Marriott will take 25% off the lower rate if you submit with 24 hours of booking
- Best Western will match the lower rate and award a $100 Best Western Travel Card if you find a lower rate within 24 hours of booking.
- Wyndham Rewards will give you 10% off the lower rate if you submit a claim within one business day of your original booking and more than two days before arrival.
The exact policies of each hotel chain’s Best Rate Guarantee vary, but there are some common themes that often include:
- The lower rate on another website must be for the same hotel, for the same date(s), for the same room type, for the same number of guests, in the same currency and must be publicly available for booking via the internet. This sometimes even means that if the lower rate you find has even more generous cancellation policies or similar that it won’t be honored. It usually has to be exact.
- The customer service rep must be able to replicate your results, so if the price changes between when you submit your claim and when they get to it, it won’t count.
- Websites that require you to log-in or be a member to view rates (like Travel Pony) do not qualify.
- Discount codes like AAA, Senior Rates, etc. don’t qualify.
- Sometimes the difference has to be for more than a certain amount, for example some have a rule it has to be a difference of greater than 1% or similar.
- Best Rat Guarantees usually can’t be used for same day arrivals
Even if you don’t find something that qualifies for a Best Rate Guarantee claim, by spending a couple of minutes searching on various sites mentioned above you can at least feel confident you are getting the best deal out there for the night you need. I also want to mention a new site that is still somewhat in beta mode called stayangel that not only monitors your hotel reservations for you to make sure you have the lowest price, but also submits best rate guarantees on your behalf. I can’t vouch that it works as intended yet, but it is a site to keep an eye on as they hopefully move out of beta in the future.
Have you ever used Best Rate Guarantees to save on hotel rooms?