Know when to book. Site like One Two Trip compares quoted rates with a hotel’s average cost, telling you which deals really are the best.
Get alerts. Yapta will send you emails notifying you when room prices go down. Likewise, if you make a reservation with Tingo, they’ll track your rate and issue a refund if a less expensive option pops up.
Name your own price. OK, with Priceline’s Name Your Price tool, you aren’t exactly guaranteed they’ll agree to the rate you suggest, but the worst they can say is no! Similarly, use Roomer to buy hotel rooms from people who won’t need their non-refundable bookings after all. Their loss is your gain!
Travel at less popular times. Find out when the best time to visit an area is…and then visit at the complete opposite time of the year! If you travel when no one else is visiting the city, hotels will offer deep discounts to gain your business.
Call the hotel. Phone a specific hotel location (not the chain’s corporate number) during regular business hours to see if the hotel will match or beat rates you’ve found online. Better yet, visit the city’s tourism page and see if local hotels or bed and breakfasts pop up. They’ll likely be happy to have the business and offer a discount so you don’t go to the chain place down the street.
Use coupon books, Groupon codes and discount memberships. Dig down deep in your handbag and see if you have a AAA card. Find out if your car insurance offers discounted rates on hotels. See if you still have that big, ol’ coupon book from your child’s fundraiser still lying around, or purchase one at a gas station in the town you’re visiting. When all else fails, Google the name of the hotel and the words “promo codes” for deals you didn’t even know existed.
Find out hidden costs in advance. Some hotels charge a resort fee, a valet fee, a parking fee, a pet fee, or a cancellation fee that may not be included in an online quote. Others charge for Wi-Fi, breakfast or use of the gym. Ask about everything in advance!
Consider traveling without reservations. Forget doing this is you’re traveling to a popular destination during a special event or the height of the season. Otherwise, check out the app HotelTonight, which caters to travelers looking for a room last minute. Also, keep in mind the best rates appear on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and right after holidays.
Use your reward points. Perhaps you have a credit card that offers something similar to air miles and you've been racking up points for years! Dig through your file box or online statements to find out if you're enrolled in any of these programs. American Express is known for this, and Discover offers a cash back bonus, so you have quite possibly been "saving" for a vacation without even knowing it! Sometimes bank debit cards even offer rewards when you opt to make a transaction as a "credit" instead of a "debit."
Buy the package deal. If may be cheapest (and simplest) to book airfare, hotel reservations, and a car rental, all at the same time.