Booking a Hotel? Read This First

Here’s how to avoid common hotel booking mistakes that could be costing you big bucks.

If your typical routine for booking a hotel stay goes something like this: Find and book a room on Expedia, then confirm and pay for your nonrefundable two-night stay with a debit card, you’re doing it wrong.

According to Airfarewatchdog, you just made three hotel booking mistakes, which could potentially be remedied by booking directly through the hotel, paying a little extra for a refundable room, and using a credit card.

If you want to ensure that you enjoy your next hotel stay and avoid common booking blunders that could ruin your trip, here are some of Airfarewatchdog’s tips:

  • It pays to be loyal (at least when it comes to the best rooms). If room location is important to you, avoid booking your stay through an online travel agency like Priceline or Expedia. Airfarewatchdog said travelers who book their room on the hotel website or are hotel loyalty members often get better rooms. “[B]eing a member can guarantee better room placement, free nights, or helpful amenities like complimentary breakfast or Wi-Fi,” Airfarewatchdog said.
  • Check the reviews. A hotel that looks amazing online may actually be a dump with unclean rooms. You may be able to avoid picking a subpar hotel if you check the reviews. Airfarewatchdog recommends using sites like TripAdvisor and Oyster to see how people who have actually stayed at the hotel would rate it. You’ll also find out if it’s really in the heart of downtown, as the ad claims, or actually miles away.
  • Use a credit card. “Not only do credit cards offer rewards like airline miles, free night stays, or cash-back bonuses, but they also offer certain guarantees that debit cards and cash do not (such as fraud protection or immediate refunds for mischarges),” Airfarewatchdog says. Also, many hotels require an incidental deposit if you use a debit card, instead of a credit card, to book your stay.
  • Nonrefundable? Sure, booking a nonrefundable room is a little cheaper. But if there’s any chance (even a slim one) that you’re going to have to cancel your reservation, then opt for a refundable room rate. It could save you money if anything were to happen.

Click here for Airfarewatchdog’s list of 10 common hotel booking mistakes and how you can avoid them.

I always book through an online travel agency and, more often than not, I pay with a debit card. So I’m making two of Airfarewatchdog’s common booking blunders.

Here’s a video we recently did on saving 30 percent on your next hotel stay. You can read about it here.

Do you have any tips on booking a hotel stay? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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  • Helene O’Neill

    Another tip for lower rates is to ask for a room currently not on sale to the public. This room would have a minor repair problem, such as a broken chair leg, or a non-working TV. As a single, I stayed in such a room with two beds, and one bed was covered by room curtains. I believe the term is “an off-view room.” There might not be any when you arrive at the hotel, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, if you don’t have nonrefundable reservations.

    • Michael Smiley Gawthrop

      That does depend on the hotel… that will work better at independent hotels… a lot of the chains have strict rules on the state of rooms that are rented, and even if you are willing to take one that has problems, their franchise agreement may not allow them to rent it.

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