We all love to travel. But if you are not careful, the costs of your hotel could easily eat up most of your travel budget.
But that doesn’t mean it is impossible to find great deals on hotels. The key to getting discounts on hotels is to be flexible on when you would travel and what types of lodgings you would stay at.
You can also get great discounts through other tricks such as coupons, membership discounts, warehouse club deals, and “secret” hotel deals.
Below is a list of ways to get discounts on hotels, and their savings:
|Travel in Off-Peak Seasons
|Stay Weekends or Summer In Business Hotels
|Stay Midweek In Resort Hotels
|Ask For a Price Match
|Buy a Hotel Reservation from Someone Else
|BJ’s Wholesale Club
|Discounted Gift Cards
|Priceline Express Deals
|Lastminute.com Top Secret Hotel
|Hotwire Hot Rates
1. Travel in Off-Peak Seasons
One of the best ways to get discounts on hotels is to travel during the off-peak seasons. For example, if it is a hotel in Cancun, try to go during the fall and the winter. If it is a hotel in Aspen or Vail, try to go during the summer. If it is a hotel close to a theme park, try to go in January or September.
Hotels are pretty desperate to sell their rooms during off-peak seasons. You can get discounts of up to 60% if you travel during those times.
2. Stay Weekends In Business Hotels
The weekends and the summer months are the slowest days for hotels that cater to business travelers. These are the hotels you typically find in downtown business districts or close to office parks.
Just like a hotel close to a theme park will cut its prices in January and September, a hotel in a downtown business district will likely offer discounts on its rooms during its slow periods, namely the weekends and the summer.
3. Stay Midweek In Resort Hotels
Resort hotels are the opposite of business hotels in a certain way. While the weekends are the slowest times for business hotels, they are the busiest times for resort hotels. On the other hand, while the weekdays are the busiest days for business hotels, they are the slowest days for resort hotels.
A smart and frugal traveler can easily take advantage of this pattern – if you need a hotel during the weekend, go with a business hotel. But if you need a hotel during the week, you have a much better chance of getting a discount at a resort hotel.
Most hotels that do not cater to business travelers offer a significant discount on rates from Sunday through Thursday. And better yet, during the week the restaurants and spas at these hotels are less busy and may offer discounts that you can also take advantage of.
4. Search for a Discount Coupon Code
Unlike grocery stores or other retailers, hotels do not typically offer discount coupons. But there are exceptions. Once in a while, you will see a hotel running a discount coupon promotion.
The best way to find these hotel coupons is by visiting some of the many coupon websites on the Internet. Not only will you find coupons for specific hotels, but you will also find coupons for hotel booking sites such as Booking.com or Hotels.com.
Some good coupon websites that offer coupons for hotels and travel booking sites are:
- Groupon – 30% off Airbnb coupon
- Coupon Sherpa – $100 cash back rebate for Hotels.com
- Retail Me Not – up to 25% off for Booking.com
- Hotels.com – 7% off select hotels
5. Compare Different Websites and Hotels
One of the worst mistakes you could make when it comes to making a hotel reservation is to use only one hotel booking website.
Different hotel booking sites make different deals with different hotels. That means you will likely find different prices on these websites even for the same room at the same hotel. As such, you must use more than 1 booking site and compare the prices from different sites to find the best prices.
Some good hotel booking sites are:
Besides online travel agencies, make sure you check out the websites of the hotel brands directly. Quite often, you will find the lowest prices on a hotel website since the hotel does not have to pay a sales commission to an online travel agency if you book a room directly on the hotel website.
Some popular hotel chains and their websites are:
6. Negotiate Your Price
If you are willing to pick up the phone and negotiate, you will likely get a better price on your hotel stay than just making a reservation online.
According to a study conducted by Consumer Reports, negotiating your hotel rates has a 100% success rate and yields discounts ranging from 5% to 32%.
To maximize the discounts you get through negotiation, follow the steps below:
- Check hotel prices on multiple booking sites as well as directly on the hotel brand websites as discussed in the section above
- Write down the best deal you found and the hotel at which you found it. This will give you a starting point for your negotiation
- Do not book your room online. Instead, pick up your phone and call the hotel directly
- Do not call the national 800 number of the hotel. Instead, call the direct line of the specific hotel location you are interested in. Calling the direct line of the hotel location will give you a better chance of getting a discount. For example, If you want to book a room at the Marriott in 85 West Street in Downtown New York City, your choices of phone numbers are:
- 1 (888) 236-2427 – this is the national 800 number of Marriott. Do NOT call this number
- 1 (212) 385-4900 – this is the direct line of the Marriott in 85 West Street in Downtown New York City. Call this number
- Ask them what rates are available for the days you want to stay. If the rates you are quoted are not good enough, mention the rates you found on the Web and ask them if they could beat that. And if you have price quotes from their competitors, be sure to mention that to see if they could beat them
- If you are a member of organizations such as AAA, AARP, or the military, make sure you mention it. Many hotels offer a special discount for organizations like these (see the section below for more detail)
- If you are above the age of 50, ask them about senior discounts (see the section below for more detail)
- Repeat this process for a few hotels to get the best possible deal
- When you arrive at your hotel, bring up the price quote you have received over the phone and politely ask the receptionist if they could do better than that. Sometimes you can get an additional discount at the front desk just by asking
7. Ask For a Price Match
After you have received a price quote from one hotel as described in the section above, you can also use it to negotiate with a different hotel.
Many hotels have an unpublicized policy of price matching. They do not advertise it, but if you bring up the price of one of their competitors, they will often match that price.
This “ask for a price match” tactic is particularly useful if you have a strong reason to want to stay at one hotel but find a better deal at a different hotel.
For example, say you are a Platinum Elite status member of Marriott’s loyalty rewards program Marriott Bonvoy.
As a Platinum Elite status member, you get 50% bonus points, enhanced room upgrade, and 4 pm late checkout on all your stays at Marriott. This means you have a strong incentive to stay at Marriott.
But say you have found a better price at a Hyatt in the city you are visiting. You want to stay at Marriott but Hyatt offers a better price.
What can you do? In this case, you can call Marriott, bring up the price quote from Hyatt and ask them to price match it. Very likely you will get your price matched.
8. Buy a Hotel Reservation from Someone Else
Imagine you have paid for a non-refundable hotel reservation and then find out you are unable to travel. In this case, how do you recoup your money?
You cannot ask for a refund since the reservation is non-refundable. Wouldn’t it be nice if you can sell your prepaid reservation to another person, even at a loss?
It turns out this problem is common enough that several 3rd-party marketplaces have sprung up to facilitate the selling and buying of prepaid hotel reservations among strangers.
Sellers can list their prepaid reservations on these marketplaces to be purchased by buyers.
Two of the most popular marketplaces for prepaid hotel reservations are:
Buying an unwanted hotel reservation from another person on one of these marketplaces is a good way to get a discount on your hotel. According to Roomer Travel, the average discount on its website is 45 percent.
9. Use Membership or Military Discounts
Many organizations offer hotel discounts to their members. For example:
- AARP – 10% off at Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and Choice Hotels when booking through the AARP Travel Center Powered by Expedia or by phone
- AAA – AAA offers exclusive discounts on various hotels to its members. Up to 10% off.
- Military – many hotels offer military discounts to active duty personnel, retirees, and veterans. You can typically find these military discounts on a dedicated section of the hotel’s website. For example, the Best Western Hotels and Resorts website has a dedicated section on military discounts. Discounts typically amount to 10% or more.
And even if a hotel does not advertise discounts for an organization you belong to, you should still ask them about it.
Just call them up and ask “do you have discounts for AAA members?” or “do you have discounts for the military?” You may just be pleasantly surprised.
10. Take Advantage of Senior Discounts
Many hotels offer discounts to seniors. You do not even have to be a member of the AARP or any other senior organization.
To qualify for a senior discount at a hotel, just make a reservation on the senior discount section of the hotel’s website and show your ID during check-in to prove that you are over the threshold age for senior discounts.
And once again, even if a hotel does not advertise any senior discounts on its website, it does not hurt to call them up directly and ask them about it.
The minimum age to qualify for senior discounts differs by the hotel, but in some cases, these discounts are available to those as young as 50.
Examples of hotels that offer senior discounts are:
- Best Western Hotels and Resorts – Up to 15% off if you are 55 or older
- Choice Hotel – Up to 10% off if you are 60 or older or if you are a member of AARP, which you can join after you turn 50
- Candlewood Suites – senior discounts available to those who are 62 or older
- Red Roof Inns – 10% off if you are 59 or older
- Wyndham Hotels & Resorts – senior discounts available to those who are 60 or older
- Hampton by Hilton – Up to 10% off if you are 65 or older
- DoubleTree by Hilton – senior discounts available to those who are 65 or older
11. Check Warehouse Clubs
Many warehouse clubs offer deeply discounted hotel reservations to their members.
If you are a member of a warehouse club, be sure to check out its travel section. For example:
- Costco Travel
- Sam’s Club Travel – Up to 60% off on refundable hotels
- BJ’s Wholesale Club Travel – Up to 60% off on hotels
12. Get Discounted Gift Cards
You can buy a discounted hotel or travel booking site gift card on one of the many gift card marketplaces online and use those gift cards to pay for your hotel reservations. This way, you will be in effect getting a discount on a hotel.
- CardCash – 5.7% off on Hotels.com gift cards
- CardCash – 20.3% off on Fairmont Hotels & Resorts gift cards
- CardCash – 21.9% off on TripGift gift cards
- CardCash – 6.5% off on Global Hotel Card gift cards
- CardCash – 10% off on Ritz-Carlton gift cards
- CardCash – 6% off on Best Western gift cards
- CardCash – 22.8% off on Montgomery Inn gift cards
- Raise – 5% off on Hyatt gift cards
- Raise – 4.9% off on Marriott gift cards
- Gift Card Granny – 1% off on Hilton gift cards
13. Look for Alternative Lodgings
Hotels are not the only choice you have when it comes to accommodations.
In many cases, you can find cheaper lodgings by forgoing a hotel and opting instead for a private home, apartment, house, or youth hostel.
There are many websites that specialize in these non-hotel lodgings. Some of the most popular choices are:
- Airbnb – great for finding a private home to stay, be it a bedroom, an apartment, a house, or even a treehouse
- CouchSurfing – another great site to look for a private home to stay. Even though it is called CouchSurfing, you do not have to sleep on a couch here
- Vrbo – another popular marketplace for private vacation homes. Used to be called HomeAway but has been renamed Vrbo
- Hostel World – a great place to book a youth hostel
- Hostelling International – a worldwide network of not-for-profit Youth Hostel Associations. You can search for and book youth hostels worldwide here
14. Get a Secret Hotel Deal
Several online travel booking sites offer deeply discounted “secret” deals on hotels. All these secret deals work in a similar way – you tell the site where you want to stay (e.g., New York City) and your check-in and check-out dates. The site will give you a list of “secret” hotels that are deeply discounted.
You will not know the name of the hotel until after you have booked it, but you will be given general information about the hotel such as its general location (e.g., in Times Square area,) its star-rating (e.g., 3-star or 4-star hotel,) its amenities (e.g., free Internet, free breakfast, fitness center, etc,) and general info such as check-in and check-out times.
Many sites will also give you a list of the hotel brands that your secret hotel is guaranteed to come from. For example, Priceline’s secret deal may tell you your secret hotel is guaranteed to be either a Hilton, Westin, Hyatt, Omni, Kimpton, or InterContinental.
Some of the most popular sites for secret hotel deals are:
- Priceline Hotel Express Deals – Up to 60% off
- Lastminute.com Top Secret Hotel– Up to 35% off
- Hotwire Hot Rates – Up to 60% off
15. Try Priceline Pricebreakers
For years, Priceline was mainly known for its “Name Your Own Price” program in which you told Priceline how much you were willing to pay for a hotel reservation without knowing the name of that hotel. Priceline would either accept or reject your bid.
However, since early 2020, this “Name Your Own Price” program is no longer offered by Priceline. Replacing “Name Your Own Price” is a new program called “Pricebreakers,” in which you are given various sets of 3 hotels with each set carrying its own price. You pick the set that interests you and Priceline will pick one out of the 3 hotels from your chosen set.
With Priceline Pricebreakers, you can get discounts of up to 50%.
As an example, we used Priceline Pricebreakers to search for a hotel in New York City. After entering our check-in and check-out dates, Priceline offered the following hotel sets:
- $152 per night for one hotel from the set:
- Royalton Park Avenue – 5-star, regular price $318 per night
- The Knickerbocker Hotel – 5-star, regular price $193 per night
- The Marmara Park Avenue – 5-star, regular price $247 per night
- This means you can save at least $41 per night and as much as $166 per night
- $51 per night for one hotel from the set:
- Radisson Hotel New York Midtown – 4-star, regular price $120 per night
- Millennium Times Square New York – 4-star, regular price $96 per night
- Park Central – 4-star, regular price $106 per night
- This means you can save at least $45 per night and as much as $69 per night
- We got 50 sets in total ranging in price from $51 to $152
So, if you choose the first set, you would pay $152 per night and Priceline would give you either Royalton Park Avenue, the Knickerbocker Hotel, or the Marmara Park Avenue.
In short, you do not get to choose your specific hotel but you can choose the hotel set that your hotel would come from. In return, you get a deep discount.
16. Use T-Mobile Tuesdays To Book on Booking.com
T-Mobile Tuesdays is a program from T-Mobile that offers free stuff, discounted deals, and exclusive offers every Tuesday. It is only available to the customers of T-Mobile and Sprint.
One of the benefits of T-Mobile Tuesdays is discounted hotels through Booking.com. You can get discounts of up to 40%.
To use T-Mobile Tuesdays:
- Download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app from here
- Launch the app, scroll down, and select Booking.com
- Click Redeem
- You will be routed to the Booking.com mobile webpage
- Enter your destination, check-in, and check-out dates and click Search
- All hotels on the search result page will come with a discount that is exclusive to the users of T-Mobile Tuesdays
- To reserve a hotel, click on the hotel on the search result page and then click Reserve
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.