6 Ways to Get Cheap Hotel Rooms - NerdWallet (2023)

It’s easy to blow your travel budget on full-price lodging. Learn how to get cheap hotel rooms so you can spend your hard-earned cash on something more memorable.

1. Compare sites and deals

How you book your reservation can make a big difference in costs.

(Video) 4 Budgeting Systems You Need to Know

Start with sites like Kayak, Expedia or Priceline.com to get an overview of hotels in your desired area, but don’t rely on them to give you the full picture. Go on to research those hotels on your own. Search for promotion codes and perks such as free parking, breakfast or WiFi.

And don’t neglect a hotel’s own website. Some chains promise the best rate when you book via their site.

2. Negotiate your rate

Once you know the lay of the land, select a few favorites and pick up the phone. Tell the hotel the price you found via other sites and see if they can beat it.

(Video) Cheap Hotels | Hacks & Tips 2022. How to book cheap hotels. Anyone can use this strategy.

3. Look for last-minute deals

Apps like HotelTonight and One:Night specialize in helping last-minute travelers get cheap hotel rooms. Sites such as Hotels.com and Hotwire also list deals for just a day or two in advance.

Last-minute bookings don’t work in every circumstance, though. Traveling for a crowded conference or holiday can lead to a spike in demand — and price.

(Video) 10 of My Best Tips For Saving Money on Travel

4. Explore alternative accommodations

Finding a hotel isn’t your only lodging option. You can rent a room, apartment or entire house via sites like Airbnb and HomeAway.

Hostels are a great option for budget travelers, especially those venturing outside of the U.S. Don’t worry — you don’t need to share a dorm-style room with a mass of 19-year-olds (unless you want to). Most hostels offer a handful of private rooms with en suite bathrooms.

5. Pick a different neighborhood

Staying in the heart of the city typically costs more. Save a few bucks by staying away from the city center, but near public transportation for easy downtown access.

(Video) Smart Alternatives to Airbnb

In Chicago, for example, you can book the Hyatt Regency O’Hare for $152 per night, according to a recent search on Expedia. The hotel is just a few minutes' walk from the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line, giving you easy access to the airport and downtown Chicago. By comparison, staying at the Hyatt Regency downtown will run you $299 per night.

6. Use your affiliations

Seniors, government employees, students, members of the military and AAA members may qualify for discounted hotel rates when traveling. Ask the hotel before booking or look for deals via websites such as AARP, Military.com and AAA.com.


How do you get crazy discount at hotels? ›

15 Tips To Book The Cheapest Hotels
  1. Use Credit Cards With Huge Travel Cash Back Perks. ...
  2. Sign Up To Hotel Booking Engines Loyalty / Rewards Programs.
  3. Download Hotel Booking Smartphone Apps. ...
  4. Check Prices Directly With Hotels. ...
  5. Book In Advance With Free Cancellation. ...
  6. Book In Advance With Non-Refundable Rate.
Dec 29, 2022

How can I finesse my hotel room for free? ›

Best Ways to Get Free Hotel Rooms
  1. Cash-Back Credit Card Rewards. ...
  2. Hotel Credit Cards. ...
  3. Credit Card Travel Portals. ...
  4. Hotel Loyalty Programs. ...
  5. Hotel Promotional Offers. ...
  6. Online Travel Agencies. ...
  7. Attend a Timeshare Presentation. ...
  8. Become a Mystery Shopper.
Jan 22, 2023

Do hotels get cheaper the longer you wait? ›

“Actually, hotel prices decline the longer you wait,” says Shank, “so if you haven't made plans yet, you can be rewarded for that with a better deal.” Same-day rates on HotelTonight are, on average, 10 percent less than if you book the day before, according to Shank.

What is the 15 5 rule hotel? ›

15/5 rule: When a guest is within 15 feet their presence should be acknowledged through some means whether a smile or head nod. Similarly, when a guest is within 5 feet they should be greeted in an appropriate manner whether that be a “hello”, “good morning”, or “good evening.”

What is the $20 hotel trick? ›

The 20 Dollar Trick, sometimes called the sandwich trick, is a $20 tip sandwiched in between the necessary ID and credit card required at the hotel front desk check-in. In the past, this was a great way to get a complimentary upgrade.

How do you value a hotel in 60 seconds or less? ›

Essentially all you need to do is divide the total sales price by the number of rooms to arrive at a PPR (Price Per Room) value.

How do you get bumped in a hotel? ›

10 tricks for getting a hotel upgrade
  1. Get with the program. ...
  2. Choose the right credit card. ...
  3. Mention it's a special occasion. ...
  4. Try your luck and ask. ...
  5. Pay them a compliment. ...
  6. Stay at a new hotel. ...
  7. Book directly through the hotel. ...
  8. Check in later.
Mar 12, 2018

Is it cheaper to book a hotel over the phone? ›

I got the idea from Consumer Reports magazine, which claims its shoppers got the best hotel rates by calling the hotels directly. That's compared to online services that promise discounts or to using hotel websites, even if they have low price guarantees. My friends have tried it, and they say it works, too.

What is the cheapest day to book a room? ›

Cheapest Day to Book Hotel Reservations

Most travel agencies agree that the cheapest days to book hotels are Fridays and Saturdays.

Is there anything cheaper than a hotel? ›

Apartment or House Rentals

It Can Save You Money – You can usually find rentals much cheaper than hotels, especially if you are in a large group. Better Amenities – Apartment and house rentals typically have amenities that might not be available to you in a hotel, such as a kitchen or a washer and dryer.

What is the 72 hour rule in hotels? ›

Reservations must be cancelled seventy two (72 hours) hotel time, prior to your arrival date, in order to avoid a one (1) night full room cancellation fee. If reservations are cancelled less than 72 hours before the arrival date, you will may be charged the full room charge plus taxes.

What day of the week do hotel prices drop? ›

The research shows that the lowest average daily rate (ADR) for domestic accommodations tends to occur on Mondays, when travelers can save more than 15% compared with booking and staying on the most expensive day, Friday.

What time is cheapest to book a hotel? ›

Book close to arrival

That's not just a fluke. Kayak data shows rates tend to drop the closer it gets to check-in time — but not too close. “Our data shows that waiting until you're about two weeks out from checking in is when we do see prices sort of starting to drop,” Clarke said.

What is 10x10 rule in hotel? ›

They refer to their customers as guests. Cast members are trained to acknowledge each guest with a smile anytime they come within 10 feet of that person.

Why do hotels check at 4PM? ›

2) the delayed check-in times (3PM or 4PM) are to allow housekeeping enough time to get all the rooms clean. If there are enough available rooms, most hotels let you check in early, but they don't want you to ASSUME that just because you show up early you can check in.

Why is there no room 420 in hotels? ›

Some hotels are playing it even more safe by removing room 420 altogether from their room numbers. It´s kind of a superstitious move – the same way hotels went mad some decades ago and removed level 13 and room number 13. Other hotels have been even more creative with their solution, labelling room 420 as “419 + 1”.

What is the most stolen item from hotels? ›

Towels are actually the most stolen items from hotel rooms, which is why many high-end hotels are actually installing electronic tags on them. With towels and even bed linens in your luggage, you might end up having to pay for whatever you took because of the tracking microchips installed in them.

Can hotel rooms be bugged? ›

A bugging device in a hotel is not easy to spot as they are often concealed inside everyday items (smoke detectors, fire alarms, clock radios, landline phones, docking stations, speakers, and even behind power outlets, air-conditioning vents, or ceiling lights),” says Jurist.

How do you survive a sketchy hotel? ›

Bring some disinfecting wipes and wipe off some of these surfaces before you touch them. Bring a pair of flip-flops you can wear in a grimy shower. Consider removing the bedspread altogether; if you get cold, use the bathroom towels for warmth. If the bed sheets look dirty, ask the front desk for a replacement set.

How do you get a secret price on hotels com? ›

You can unlock Member Prices in 2 ways:
  1. Become a Hotels.com® Rewards member.
  2. Download the Hotels.com® app.

What is hotels secret price? ›

The “secret price” is a discount available on some hotels to any Rewards member. If you're logged into your account while searching, you'll see the discounted price when you search for hotels.

Does the $20 sandwich still work? ›

Does the $20 Dollar Trick Still Work in 2022? Often Yes. It worked nearly every time we have tried. We also hear of the trick working time and time again.

What is the 80/20 rule in hospitality? ›

Under the 80/20 Tip Rule, you can only apply a tip credit to an employee if they spend at least 80% of their time in category 1, and no more than 20%, or 30 consecutive minutes, in category 2. Meanwhile, no tip credit can be applied to any work in category 3.

Do hotel prices go down the closer you get? ›

The ideal amount of time to book a hotel room is only 15 days before your trip, according to a 2021 NerdWallet study. Looking at more than 2,500 hotel room rates between 2019 and 2021, NerdWallet found rates were about 13% cheaper when booked 15 days before compared to four months before.

What does ADR mean in hotels? ›

Average daily rate (ADR), one of the three key hotel performance indicators (along with occupancy and RevPAR), is the measure of the average paid for rooms sold in a given time period. The metric covers only revenue-generating guestrooms.

How do hotels decide which room you get? ›

"The front desk agents are the ones who choose a room for you when you check in, choosing from the available inventory. If you call beforehand, you can talk to a front desk clerk and ask about the best rooms, like corner rooms, a room on a higher floor, away from the elevators and ice machines."

What is the most common reason hotels overbook? ›

Sometimes overbooking happens simply because a guest doesn't check out when they are scheduled to leave or if a room becomes “out of service” due to an unexpected maintenance issue. Sometimes, however, simultaneous bookings happen when two guests book the same room from different channels at the same time.

How to get a spectacular hotel room upgrade for free? ›

Even if you don't have status, here are five tips that may help you snag a free upgrade to a more luxurious room:
  1. Join one or more hotel loyalty programs. ...
  2. Avoid travel sites and book directly with the hotel. ...
  3. Ask staff for a hotel room upgrade. ...
  4. Let staff know if you have an issue. ...
  5. Plan your stay during the off-season.
Jan 24, 2023

Can you talk a hotel down in price? ›

Though it's best to phone ahead, you can negotiate on arrival. If you walk in without a reservation and are unhappy with the rate you are quoted, tell the desk clerk and ask if there is a lower rate or offer a rate that you are willing to pay.

What time of day is best to book hotel? ›

Best time to book a hotel on the day of your stay

Prices usually plummet around 4 pm as hotels work to entice customers to their empty rooms. If you're bold enough to wait until after 8 pm, you'll find prices probably reduce by another 5-10% again.

What is the best app for booking cheap hotels? ›

If you want to book the perfect stay, use one of these hotel apps
  • Booking.com. Best hotel app overall. View now.
  • Airbnb. Best hotel app for private stays. View now.
  • Hostelworld. Best hotel app for hostels. View now.
  • Hotels.com. Best hotel app for cheap hotels. View now.
  • HotelTonight. Best hotel app for last-minute stays. View now.
Feb 1, 2023

How do I find the secret price on hotels com? ›

The “secret price” is a discount available on some hotels to any Rewards member. If you're logged into your account while searching, you'll see the discounted price when you search for hotels.

How do crazy deal cards work? ›

For example, you buy a Crazy Deal item for $20 that comes with a $10 Crazy Deal Gift Card. If you return the item with the full $10 balance on your Crazy Deal Gift Card, you will get $20 back. If the Crazy Deal Gift Card has been partially used and only has $5 left, you will only get $15 back on your return.

How to get a free hotel? ›

How to Get Free Hotel Rooms
  1. 1 Exchange good reviews for a free stay.
  2. 2 Join a hotel loyalty program.
  3. 3 Use a hotel credit card.
  4. 4 Redeem offers from third-party booking sites.
  5. 5 Book through a site with a best price guarantee.
  6. 6 Earn points through online shopping portals.
  7. 7 Swap frequent flier miles for hotel points.

Can there be fake hotels on booking com? ›

The CEO of Booking.com insists her platform never has to worry about fake hotel reviews, unlike competitors such as TripAdvisor. “With Booking.com, it's always real,” Gillian Tans said during a one-to-one video interview with Yahoo Finance UK at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

What is incognito mode in hotel? ›

Because cookies aren't stored on your device after your browsing session is complete, incognito mode prevents companies from tracking your browsing history, which can help you get lower airfares, cheaper hotel bookings, and avoid dynamic pricing. You can protect sensitive information.


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