Hotel booking tips: The secrets to cheap hotels and the best rates

Hotel booking tips: The secrets to cheap hotels and the best rates

Are you looking to travel on a budget? Or are you trying to save money where you can? Our tips for booking affordable hotels can help you land a great stay at a great rate.

1.  Use hotel comparison site

Instead of searching multiple individual booking sites and comparing your findings, these sites will instantaneously compare rates from these same sources.

Many of them even allow you to book from the convenience of a mobile app.

Popular hotel comparison sites also known as meta search engines include TripAdvisor, Trivago, and Kayak.

2.   Call the hotel directly

If you are planning to stay at a particular hotel, it may be better to book over the phone as opposed to their website. Speaking to them directly can often result in better rates.

The hotel staff may be aware of rates that are not advertised or offered online. At the very least they should be able to offer some insight on what is affecting their current rates.

Events such as conferences, conventions, and concerts can cause hotel rates to rise and this is something you cannot anticipate unless you speak to the hotel directly.

For example, the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. attracts more than 1.5 million visitors to the city.

Be aware that holiday seasons may also cause hotel rates to skyrocket. In these cases, it may be wise to research hotels at a further radius from the center of the activity.

3.  Use apps to book impromptu trips

Booking last minute can result in much cheaper rates, but this tip pertains more to spur-of-the-moment trips.

It is certainly not wise to wait until the last minute to book a room for a trip that you have been planning a long time or an event that you need to be at. If you have lead time planning use tip one.

However, booking last minute can be beneficial for impromptu romantic weekend getaways or get-togethers with friends. If they don’t have a guest house, and all the Airbnb’s are full using an app to book a last minute hotel certainly may be a good idea!

Booking last minute is especially ideal for an impromptu trip to Las Vegas or a surprise family visit to Sea World San Diego when the vacancies are high and hotels are plentiful.

Certain apps, such as HotelTonight, work with hotels to negotiate steep discounts on unreserved rooms. Some hotels also slash their prices on their own to avoid vacant rooms.

Be sure to also pay attention to booking sites’ “last minute deals” sections as they display what hotels still have availability.

This can allow you to make last minute hotel reservation within 24 hours of your arrival.

4.  Book free cancelable hotel reservations

When researching rates, be sure to pay attention to offers that state “Free cancellation – pay later”.

This means that you can cancel your room without any penalty and they don’t require you to pay upfront when booking.

After booking this reservation, monitor its price and the prices of other comparable hotels.

Room rates are sensitive and can fluctuate as often as minute by minute because the hotel’s availability is constantly changing.

As a result of supply and demand, the more people that want to book a hotel, the more they can charge for rooms.

Once you have secured a cancelable reservation, you may find a better offer or be comfortable with the fact that you already have the best rate. Even your own rate could drop if you are lucky.

This little bit of extra work can be worth it for even bigger savings.

5.  Check for discounts

You may qualify for additional discounts simply for belonging to certain organizations or associations.

Be sure to check with your university, group, or organization to see if they offer any of these discounts.

Popular organizations that are known to utilize these discount programs include AAA, AARP, military and multiple airline miles programs.

A discount on a hotel could come as easily as a search on Groupon. Even certain credit cards offer hotel discounts. For example, Visa Signature holders have access to special offers for certain chains of hotels.

This is a way to get discounts with minimal effort that not many people know about. You may be surprised by what your organization offers as far as hotel discounts, so to be sure to check before you book.

6.  Secure canceled reservations

If you have yet to book a room, check for canceled reservations.

When people cancel their reservations last minute, hotels often offer the rooms at reduced rates because they are still trying to fill rooms. This is one way to get rooms on short notice for a big discount.

Also, sites like Roomer serve as platforms for consumers to sell and buy hotel reservations from each other at discounted rates.

Checking these sites is a good way to grab a room from someone who cannot fulfill their reservation.

7.  Negotiate (don’t pay for) upgrades

Reserve a lower-rate room then kindly ask for an upgrade when you check in to the hotel.

If you are staying during an off-peak time, you have a better chance of being moved up to a better, vacant room.

You can also try a few tactics to get that free room upgrade. Try calling a manager and asking which rooms are available; it can help to mention that it is a special occasion.

Also, if you show up right at check-in time and your room is not ready, they may move you to an upgraded prepared room.

To apply for travel and personal loans to make for a great trip, visit

The information provided in this article does not constitute financial advice and is provided for educational purposes only without any express or implied warranty of any kind. This article is not intended as legal, tax, investment, or any other advice, and Mariner Finance does not offer credit repair services. Consider talking with an appropriate qualified professional for specific advice.   

Blog posts are for informational purposes only.

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