11 Insider Tips: Here’s How I Never Pay Full Price for Hotels
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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 hotels involve making the most of certain credit card perks like the 10X Venture miles you can earn through Hotels.com (through January 31, 2020 when you pay and book through this Hotels.com link) with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
Beyond the benefits you’ll get from many of the best credit cards for travel, 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
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!
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1. Redeem Flexible Credit Card Points to Book Hotel Stays Through Bank Travel Portals
There are several reasons why we recommend folks collect transferable points with programs like:
With these programs you can redeem points for hotel stays through the bank’s travel portal without having to worry about blackout dates.
Depending on 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!
2. Use Certain Rewards to Offset the Charge of Your Stay
Apply Here: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Many folks like to earn straightforward miles with cards like the Capital One Venture and Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, because you just pay for hotel stays with the card like a regular purchase. Then, you can use your miles to offset the charge.
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! You can read our full review of the Capital One Venture card here.
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. Check out our in-depth review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card here.
3. Citi Prestige 4th Night Free
The Citi Prestige underwent an overhaul late last year and the terms of the card’s 4th-night free perk changed substantially (for the worse!). But you can still take advantage of the 4th-night free perk for paid hotel stays twice per year.
There are 3 ways to book eligible 4th night free reservations:
- Log-in and book through the Citi ThankYou® Travel Center
- Call Citi Concierge at 561-922-0158
- Email your reservation request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: After September 1, 2019, you won’t be able to book 4th night free reservations through the Citi Concierge anymore – only through the ThankYou portal (online or by phone).
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 member Harlan has received more than $2,800 in statement credits during the time he’s had the Citi Prestige!
4. Check for Savings and Extra Perks With AMEX Fine Hotels or Chase Luxury 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.
Last summer I booked a stay at the Loews Regency San Francisco and saved hundreds of dollars thanks to booking through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts. Not only did I save money, but I enjoyed extra perks like a room upgrade and a welcome drink!
Keep in mind, you can only book through these programs if you have eligible credit cards, like The Business Platinum® Card from American Express.
5. Capital One Venture Hotels.com Promotion
Capital One Venture and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card cardholders can earn 10 Venture miles per $1 spent on Hotels.com bookings with your Capital One Venture cards (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 10X Venture miles 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
I always check 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 a variety of booking sites and hotel sites too. At the time of writing, for example, IHG brand hotels were offering 8% cash back on bookings.
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. Many of us on the MMS team have saved hundreds on hotel stays thanks to these deals.
I just took a short road trip to Bozeman, Montana, for the weekend and used an AMEX Offer to save $40 off $200 on a Marriott hotel stay!
8. Book Deals Through Online Travel Agencies
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.
We’ve shared a step-by-step guide to finding 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.
9. Book Through Hotel Tonight to Save on Last-Minute Hotel Stays
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 a member of the military. Keep in mind, anyone can join AARP for ~$16 per year and take advantage of their travel discounts.
I personally like to book directly through the hotel using the lowest price available. This way, you earn points and elite status credit.
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!
It’s surprisingly easy to avoid paying full price for hotel stays.
You can take advantage of certain travel credit card perks to save lots of money when booking paid hotel stays. For example, Million Mile Secrets team member Harlan has used the 4th night free benefit with the Citi Prestige to save $1,000s on paid hotel stays over the years.
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 we miss? Let us know any tips you have for saving on hotel stays in the comments below!
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! :)