How to use hotel Best Rate Guarantees (A trick to getting cheaper hotel stays)

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If you’re a savvy traveler, there’s no doubt you know to use one of the best hotel credit cards when booking your hotel stay. But have you ever booked a hotel room and realized later that you could have gotten a better price elsewhere?

Most major hotel chains guarantee that you’ll find the lowest price for a room on their own website. If you find a lower rate somewhere else, they’ll match or beat the price (and sometimes give you stuff like bonus hotel points, gift cards, even free nights).

Here’s a summary of the Best Rate Guarantee policies of each major hotel chain. If you’re diligent enough, you can get straight-up free hotels with regularity.

What does Best Rate Guarantee mean, exactly?

A Best Rate Guarantee is a promise that a hotel chain or booking site makes based on the claim that the room rate they offer is the lowest rate. If after booking you find a lower rate, you can submit a claim to show where you’ve found a lower rate.

Once your claim is approved, your hotel will lower your rate — and even give a little bonus. For example, Hyatt will match a competitor’s rate and then give you the option of a 20% discount or 5,000 points.

Although the biggest rewards (like a free night) are possible, they’re hard to score.

How to find BRGs

Here are sites that compare prices across multiple other sites for the best rates:

1. Use popular search aggregators.

And here are smaller sites you could also try: 

2. Find the rate on both the hotel’s website, and a lower rate on one of these different booking sites.

3. Once you successfully find a lower rate on one of these websites, book a cancelable rate on the hotel’s own website.

4. Submit a claim form. Each hotel BRG policy listed below has a link to the policy and claim form. You can submit it online, or some hotels have a phone number you can call to submit a claim. The phone option would take more time, but make sure the agents see it right away (before the rate changes).

5. If you get denied, cancel your refundable room. Otherwise, enjoy the discount/points/free night.

Kayak is big enough that it may not be the best source for finding the sites with lower rates, but it sure is the easiest to use. It not only scrapes a ton of other sites, but it also allows you to sort by chain and sometimes by currencies.

Although, lesser-known booking sites are often the source of better rates for the tougher cases. They do tend to have different/stricter rules that may not qualify.

Best Rate Guarantees by hotel chain

Best Western

If you find a lower rate for the same room after you’ve booked with Best Western, they’ll match the rate and give you a $100 Best Western gift card.

You have to submit your claim within 24 hours of booking. And you can’t submit a claim if your stay begins in less than 48 hours.

The BRG terms and conditions are at the bottom of this page. Lots of Best Western hotels cost less than $100 per night, so the gift card is like getting a free night — or better!

Choice

If you find a lower rate (at least 1% or $1 lower, whichever is higher) online after booking, you can submit a claim. If it’s approved, you’ll get a $50 Reward Card, as well as a matched rate on your stay. Anyone living outside the U.S. and Canada will receive their first night free. For one-night stays, that’s a straight up free stay!

The terms and conditions of the program say you have to submit your claim within 24 hours of booking. And if your stay begins within 48 hours of a 6 a.m. arrival, your claim won’t be approved.

Club Carlson

After you book a Club Carlson room online, if you find a lower competing rate (by at least $1 or equivalent in local currency), you can submit a claim. If it’s approved, Club Carlson will match the competing rate and give you a further 25% discount on your entire stay.

Club Carlson’s terms and conditions say the claim must be filed within 24 hours of booking, and the stay must begin at least 48 hours from when submitting the claim.

Hilton

If you find a lower rate online after booking with Hilton, they’ll match the rate and give you a 25% discount on your stay.

According to their terms and conditions, you need to submit your claim within 24 hours of booking. However, you can also call Hilton before you’ve even booked and let them know you found a cheaper rate. Hilton will then trigger their BRG policy for your stay at that hotel.

Hyatt

If you find a cheaper room somewhere other than Hyatt’s official site, they’ll match the rate and give you a choice as to how you’d like to be compensated:

  • 20% discount for your entire stay
  • 5,000 Hyatt points

We estimate Hyatt points are worth 1.5 cents each, making 5,000 Hyatt points worth $75. In other words, it’s usually the better option if you’re only staying a night.

According to the terms and conditions, you have to submit your claim within 24 hours of booking.

IHG

If you find a rate at least 1% lower online, IHG will match the price and give you 5x IHG points for your stay, up to a 40,000 point maximum. Their terms and conditions also require you to submit your claim within 24 hours of booking.

We estimate IHG points to be worth 0.5 cents each. And IHG hotels will offer standard members 10 points per dollar. So if your stay is $100, you’d normally get 1,000 points — but with this BRG, you’ll get an extra 4,000 points. That’s worth about $20, per our estimations. Not great.

Marriott

If you find a lower rate, Marriott will match the rate and give you two choices as compensation:

We find that Marriott points value tends to hover around 0.8 cents each. That makes 5,000 points worth $40. Still probably the better deal if you’re staying a single night at a moderately priced hotel.

Their guarantee doesn’t apply to certain brands, such as Marriott Vacation Clubs, Ritz-Carlton Residences, Marriott Vacations, and even a couple specific hotels have opted out of this. Click the Participating Brands tab for all the details.

Like other chains, Marriott requires you to submit your claim within 24 hours of booking.

Wyndham

Wyndham’s best rate guarantee says if you find a lower rate of at least $1 (not including taxes and fees), they’ll match it and give you 3,000 Wyndham points.

You must submit your claim within 24 hours of booking, and your stay must be more than 48 hours into the future.

Rules for getting approved

Remember that every single detail of the room rate needs to match when submitting a BRG form. Let’s take a look at an example so you can see what I mean.

Cancellation:

The date, and time you have to cancel must match exactly.

Payment type:

Is it prepaid? Is it pay on arrival? When and how you pay matters.

Room type:

A room type would be like a “superior” or “deluxe” room. This and even the views must match exactly.

Bed type:

Many times it matters not only the room and view, but which bed type. King, queen, or twin, it must match.

Post-taxes:

The rate must be bookable, and the final rate after taxes must match up.

Breakfast:

Is breakfast included or not? It must match.

Public rate:

The rate must be bookable to anyone and should not require a membership to a site.

24 hours ahead of check-in:

In general, you must submit your claim within 24 hours of booking, and more than 24 hours ahead of check-in.

Currency:

In the case of IHG and Choice, it must be bookable in the same currency. Sometimes it will show one currency but actually, book in another. It must be the bookable currency. However, many major booking sites have different versions of their site for different countries. So you may be able to find a version of the site that books in the local currency needed.

(Note: Never assume because you see a rate on Kayak that it’s bookable until you go all the way through the booking process.)

Specific BRG policies  

Choice – Free night

Choice is not only strict, they sometimes completely sell out a room type to the booking sites. This means that the rooms they have on their website might technically be different than the rooms on the other booking sites. Odd, but in these cases, it’s impossible to get a BRG. Make sure the room types, rates, currencies and cancellation policies match.

Best Western -$100 gift card

If you can figure out how to get a BRG with Best Western, you could have a constant supply of free nights. They give a $100 Best Western gift card as their reward. However, you can even use a gift card on a stay that is BRG’d. Meaning you can use a gift card to pay for the hotel and earn a $100 Best Western gift card for future stays.

Basically, you need to pony up and pay for a hotel to get the first gift card, and then they’ll ship you one that you can use for your next stay. Hopefully, during that stay, you can not only completely cover it with the last gift card but BRG to get another gift card.

Bottom line

Of the Best Rate Guarantee hotels on this list, Hilton is by far the easiest to file a valid claim with, in my experience. I’ve had an easy user experience with Hyatt, Marriott, many booking sites, and pretty much everyone that isn’t IHG or Choice.

Remember to always book cancelable rates. I’ve tried to stress the importance of matching rates and types, but chances are, you’ll miss something. Or, it’s possible that the rate could change by the time one of the agents gets around to looking at it. The last thing you want is to be stuck paying the higher rate on a hotel! Make it cancelable and leave time.

The biggest thing is to go all the way through the booking process to double-check the rate is actually lower — and bookable.

As you may guess, the bigger the reward, the harder it is to submit a valid claim. A free night at the InterContinental London Park Lane will be a lot harder to get approved than the DoubleTreeBucharest. This is partly because Best Rate Guarantees are doing their job and people are actually looking and submitting claims, for rates that the hotel will make sure to correct on the lower website. But also, Choice and IHG are a little worried about being gamed so they are strict about the many details of the terms and conditions.

Let me know about your experience with BRGs! And subscribe to our newsletter for more travel tips and tricks like this delivered to your inbox once per day.

Featured image by Klaus Vedfelt/GettyImages.

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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