11 Insider Tips to Avoid Paying Full Price for Hotel Stays

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There are lots of terrific strategies you can use to avoid paying full price for a hotel.  These can come in handy if you don’t have enough points to book a free award stay.  Or if you prefer to stay at independent hotels with no loyalty program.

A few of the best ways to save money on hotel stays involve making the most of certain credit card perks.  For example, Million Mile Secrets team members Keith and Harlan have both use the 4th night free benefit with the Citi Prestige to save $1,000s each year on paid hotel stays.

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
Learn the Secrets and Tricks Insiders Use to Never Pay Full Price for a Hotel Stay!

Beyond credit card benefits, you can take advantage of quick booking tricks to reduce your out-of-pocket expense when paying for a hotel stay.  Just a few seconds of your time could get you easy savings!

How to Save Money on Hotel Rooms

Link:   When You Should (and Should NOT) Use Points for Hotel Stays

Even if you collect hotel points, sometimes it can make sense to pay cash for your stay.  For example, using points for an inexpensive stay might not get you the best value.  Instead, you can save your points for a future award stay.

But if you decide to pay cash, you should NOT pay full price.  You can use these tricks to get the best deals!

Tips to Save on Hotel Stays
1. Use flexible credit card points (like Chase Ultimate Rewards points) to book hotel stays through a bank travel portal
2. Redeem miles linked to cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Card
3. Citi Prestige 4th night free
4. Check for deals with AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts or Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
6. Earn cash back by booking your stay through a shopping portal, like TopCashBack

7. AMEX cardholders can register for AMEX Offers, which frequently include hotel discounts, to save money or earn bonus points
8. Check for deals with online travel agencies, like Hotwire or Priceline
9. Find last-minute deals by booking through apps like Hotel Tonight
10. Book discounted hotel rates if you're a loyalty member, part of AARP or AAA, or in the military
11. Call the hotel directly and ask for a discount when booking

1.   Citi Prestige 4th Night Free

Link:   Citi Prestige Card

Citi Prestige cardholders can take advantage of the 4th night free perk for paid hotel stays, which is one of the most valuable benefits on any rewards credit card.  And it’s easy to use.

There are 3 ways to book eligible 4th night free reservations:

Several Million Mile Secrets team members use the 4th night benefit for their paid hotel stays.  Team member Jasmin has saved $730 with this perk.  And team members Keith and Harlan have each received more than $2,800 in statement credits during the time they’ve had the Citi Prestige!  Most recently, team member Keith used this benefit to save ~$250 on a stay at The Westin New York Grand Central!

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
Team Member Keith Used the 4th Night Free Perk to Save on a New York City Hotel Stay Near Grand Central Terminal!

Just be sure to check out this post explaining why you might NOT want to book 4th night free reservations online.

2.   Redeem Flexible Credit Card Points to Book Hotel Stays Through Bank Travel Portals

Link:   The Trick to Travel Flexibility: Transferable Points

There are several reasons why I recommend folks collect transferable points with programs like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.  With these programs you can redeem points for hotel stays through the bank’s travel portal without having to worry about blackout dates.

Depending which card(s) you have, your points might even be worth more when booking this way.  For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get an amazing deal booking travel (including hotel stays) through the Chase travel portal.  Because points linked to this card are worth 1.5 cents each!

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
Use Flexible Credit Card Points to Book Stays at Boutique Hotels Like the Montecito Inn Near Santa Barbara, California!

3.   Pay for Your Hotel Stay With Certain Credit Cards and Use “Miles” to Offset the Charge

Link:   Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Link:   My Review of the Capital One Venture Card

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Many folks like to earn straightforward miles with cards like the Capital One Venture and Barclaycard Arrival Plus.  Because you just pay for hotel stays with the card like a regular purchase.  Then, use your miles to offset the charge.

If you’re a budget traveler, you can use rewards with these cards to save money on hostel stays.

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
It’s Easy to Use Capital One Venture Miles or Barclaycard Arrival Plus Miles to Offset Hotel Charges, Even Hostel Stays!

Capital One Venture miles are worth 1 cent each.  And you have 90 days to sign-in to your online account, find the hotel purchase, and “erase” it with your miles!  Plus, there’s no minimum redemption amount!

Arrival Plus miles are also worth 1 cent each.  And when you redeem miles for travel purchases, you’ll receive a 5% rebate.  But you can’t redeem miles unless the purchase is at least $100.

4.   Check for Savings and Extra Perks With AMEX Fine Hotels or Chase Luxury Hotels

Link:   Chase Luxury Hotels vs AMEX Fine Hotels

When you book a stay through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts or Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, you can find competitive rates and enjoy extra perks like late check-out, room upgrades, and free breakfast.

Million Mile Secrets team member Keith booked a 4-night stay at the luxurious One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico through AMEX Fine Hotels, which included a 4th night free.  So not only did he save money, but he enjoyed extra perks, like a room upgrade and free breakfast (worth $70 per day!)

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
If You’re Booking a Luxurious Hotel Stay, You Can Potentially Save Money and Enjoy Extra Perks by Booking Through AMEX Fine Hotels or Chase Luxury Hotels!

Keep in mind, you can only book through these programs if you have eligible credit cards.

5.   Capital One Venture Hotels.com Promotion

Link:   Capital One Venture Hotels.com Promotion

Capital One Venture and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card cardholders can earn 10 Venture miles per $1 you spend on Hotels.com bookings with your Capital One Venture cards (valid through January 31, 2020).  To earn the bonus, you must book through this link and pay with your Venture card.

You can combine this deal with the Hotels.com Rewards program.  So you’ll still be able to earn every 10th night booked with Hotels.com free, in addition to the 10% you can earn with your Capital One Venture cards!

The 10th night free benefit is calculated by averaging the cost of all 10 nights.  So it’s essentially 10% off, which means you can save up to 20% on your Hotels.com stays!

6.   Book Through a Cash Back or Shopping Portal

Link:   EVERYTHING You Need to Know About Earning Bonus Rewards Through a Shopping Portal

Million Mile Secrets team member Meghan says she always checks online shopping portals before booking a hotel stay.  Just one extra step in the process can earn you easy cash back!

For example, I checked TopCashBack and there are deals at Hotels.com (up to 12% cash back) and many IHG brand hotels (8% cash back).

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
Simply Going Through a Shopping Portal to Book a Hotel Stay Can Earn You Easy Cash Back!

Keep in mind, shopping portal bonuses change constantly.  That’s why I recommend checking these shopping portal aggregators to be sure you’re getting the best deal:

7.   Check AMEX Offers for Hotel Deals

AMEX cardholders can register for AMEX Offers, which frequently include ways to save on hotel stays.  Team member Jason has saved hundreds on hotel stays thanks to these deals.

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
AMEX Offers Frequently Include Ways to Save on Hotel Stays. You Just Have to Register Your Card!

8.   Book Deals Through Online Travel Agencies, Like Hotwire or Priceline

Link:  How to Find the Best Deal on Last-Minute Hotel Rooms

When you book hotel stays through an online travel agency, you typically will NOT get elite status perks.  This means no room upgrades, late check-out, or bonus points for your stay.  But if you’re just looking to book the cheapest rate, this might be the way to go.

I recently shared a step-by-step guide to find deals on last-minute hotel rooms.  You can follow this method even if it’s not a last-minute booking.  For example, you can check Hotwire for “Hot Rate Hotels.”  Or use Priceline’s Name Your Own Price bidding feature.

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
Traveling to New York City and Looking to Book the Cheapest Hotel Stay? You Might Consider an Online Travel Agency Program, Like Hotwire Hot Rate Hotels or Priceline’s Name Your Own Price!

9.   Book Through Hotel Tonight to Save on Last-Minute Hotel Stays

The Hotel Tonight app is a free mobile app (Apple or Android) that lets you find and book discounted hotel rooms up to 7 days in advance.  If you book last-minute hotels, sometimes you can save money using the Hotel Tonight app.

If you aren’t loyal to a particular brand or prefer non-chain and boutique hotels, it might make sense to book through Hotel Tonight if you find a good deal.  But keep in mind, when you use the app, your reservation is non-refundable.

10.   Take Advantage of Discounted Room Rates

Most hotel chains offer discounted room rates to loyalty members.  You can also book cheaper rates if you’re a member of AARP, AAA, or part the military.  Keep in mind, anyone can join AARP for ~$16 per year and take advantage of their travel discounts.

My preference is to book directly through the hotel using the lowest available rate I can find.  This way, you earn points and elite status credit!

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms
When Paying Cash for Stays, I Prefer to Book Directly Through the Hotel so I Can Take Advantage of Elite Status Perks, Like Lounge Access!

11.   Call the Hotel Directly

You could try calling hotels directly (not the hotel chain’s reservation line) and kindly ask to speak with the manager.  Sometimes hotels just want to fill empty rooms and may be able to give you a better deal.

If you do this, try leading the conversation by mentioning the prices you found online and asking if they can give you a better rate.  Million Mile Secrets team member Scott has had success with this method!

Bottom Line

It’s surprisingly easy to avoid paying full price for hotel stays.

You can take advantage of certain credit card perks to save lots of money when booking paid hotel stays.  For example, Million Mile Secrets team members Keith and Harlan have both use the 4th night free benefit with the Citi Prestige to save $1,000s each year on paid hotel stays.

There are lots of other useful tips & tricks for folks who prefer to stay at independent hotels with no loyalty program.  You can pay for stays with cards like Capital One Venture.  Then, redeem miles to offset the charge!

One of the easiest ways to save on money hotel rooms is to book through a shopping portal, like TopCashBack.  I recommend adding this step to your booking routine because you can earn 10%+ cash back on eligible paid stays!

What did I miss?  Let me know any tips you have for saving on hotel stays!

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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