10 Ways to Save Big on Your Next Hotel Stay

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Although they’re still below pre-recession prices, hotel rooms will probably be costing you more this year. The Hotel Price Index found that global hotel prices rose 3 percent in 2013, the fourth straight year with an increase.

Fortunately, Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson knows a couple of tricks to help you slash rates by 30 percent or more. Watch the video below and then keep reading for all the details.

1. Go in the off season

The top way to save on your hotel room is to travel during off-peak times. That’s how I saved more than a $100 a night at Cedar Point. With fewer people traveling, hotels drop their rates in the off-season to pull in as much business as they can.

2. Stay midweek

If off-season travel doesn’t work for you, try to hit your destination during the week rather than on the weekend. Unless the hotel you’re staying at caters to business travelers, you’ll probably find cheaper rates on weekdays.

3. Search online for promo codes

Before booking a hotel, try searching online for coupon codes or promo offers. If you’re booking through a third-party website, don’t forget to search for codes associated with the booking site as well as the hotel.

In addition, follow your favorite brands on Facebook and Twitter. Companies occasionally distribute codes or announce flash sales on social media. You might even send a message or tweet the company and ask if they have a coupon for loyal customers like you.

4. Shop around

Hotels are a bit like cars: Everyone has a different price for roughly the same thing. Find the best rate by searching for hotel prices on a couple of different sites or use an aggregator like Trivago.com. Be sure to clear the cookies on your computer between searches to ensure your search history isn’t influencing your results.

Also, don’t neglect calling the hotel directly. In my experience, some of the best rates are offered by the hotel and not available online.

5. Think outside the hotel

Sometimes the best deal isn’t a hotel at all. If you have a large family or are traveling with a group, you may find it’s cheaper to rent a vacation home. For a different experience, you could try a bed and breakfast, Airbnb or a hostel or, for the really adventurous, couch surfing.

6. Bundle your vacation

If you’re using a third-party site, try bundling your vacation. Some sites will provide discounts if you buy your airfare or rent a car at the same time that you book your hotel room. However, be sure to also price out your airfare and room separately to ensure you’re getting a bargain.

7. Rethink the entertainment package

Many hotels offer entertainment packages that add meals and attraction tickets to your room. On the face of it, many of these packages are a good deal, but do some research before making your reservation.

Sometimes the entertainment package can lure us into spending more for perks we don’t need or even necessarily want. Other times, it may be just as cheap to buy the included items separately. By waiting to make those ticket and meal purchases after you arrive, you’ll likely have greater flexibility in your schedule.

8. Sign up for a loyalty program

From Choice Hotels to Hyatt, hotel chains fitting every budget offer loyalty programs. They often work like frequent-flier miles, earning you free nights after a certain number of stays. However, they may also entitle you to discounts and other perks like evening receptions or room upgrades. Best of all: Most are free to join.

9. Join a club

Membership has its privileges, and some organizations have negotiated discounts with hotel chains. AARP and AAA are the two groups most likely to get you a rate cut. If you’re a member, be sure to ask about special rates before booking your stay.

10. Ask for a deal

Finally, the best way to cut your hotel rate may be to simply ask. Don’t bother using a third-party booking site or even the hotel chain’s 800 number for this strategy. You need to call the front desk of the hotel and ask for the lowest nonrefundable rate they offer.

Another option would be to make a refundable reservation and then continue to shop around. If you find a lower price, go back to your preferred hotel and ask if they can match the competition’s price. At the very least, you may get offered an upgrade.

Are you traveling this summer? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page telling us how you plan to keep your hotel costs down this year.

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Comments & discussion

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  • ThomasPNitzsche

    As a guest and host, I have LOVED my AIRBNB experiences. I would add that I have found the best way to save big is to become a bidding pro using PRICELINE’s “Name Your Own Price” feature. I have found the information and conversations on the forum http://www.biddingfortravel.com to be invaluable when learning how to bid (IE: what a “free rebid” is) as well as bidding strategy. I have stayed in 4-star hotels for a fraction of the retail “rack rate”… as low as $50 a night… and I have never had any problems with my stays. In addition, Priceline is a Upromise partner, which means a % of the purchase goes to my niece’s 529 college fund and Priceline also has a rewards credit card which is well-rated by independent survey for consumers who travel and use the site frequently.

  • Synthetic1

    Hostels aren’t just for college students! They can be well-located, inexpensive, might include parking, and usually more enjoyable than many motel/hotel lodgings. We are in our 50’s-60’s with a college student son. Meet people from around the world. Hostels offer dorm lodging but also private rooms (our recent stay in San Francisco was a 3-bed room with a shared bath with a 4-bed room – zero issues at all). Rate is about $30/day/person, simple breakfast included. When we got worn out our son walked over to the main lounge area and met other students. I feared the hostel experience but honestly it became a main feature of our trip.

  • pennyhammack

    My cheapskate ex son-in-law always stayed at the very cheapest hotel he could find when traveling on business until he came home with scabies.

  • ThomasPNitzsche

    I have found that bidding for travel is the way to go! Become a master negotiator by using online blogs to determine bidding strategy and you can save BIG! I have stayed at 4* hotels for as little as $50 a night using the one advertised by Captain Kirk. :)