Here’s something you’ve probably noticed: It’s getting harder to find great deals on hotel rooms. It’s not just an illusion—hotel prices are rising, and fast. Over the first six months of 2014, the average cost of a hotel room in the United States was $137, a solid 5% higher than the same period last year. And that 5% is just an average. Some cities saw much larger price increases, like Nashville (+20%), San Francisco (+12%) and Seattle (+12%).
But harder doesn’t mean impossible. There are still ways to get good deals, especially if you book online. Here are nine tips for how to get the best hotel rates on the Internet.
It still pays to shop around. Try a variety of online booking sites, travel search engines, and hotel websites. You never know when someone might run a promotion.
Be flexible about your dates
When you can, be flexible with your dates. On Sunday night, rates are usually lower than on any other night of the week.
Book non-refundable rates in advance
If you are traveling somewhere less popular, you can try booking last minute, but you will not always get a better deal (and you might find the hotel is full). For many hotels, the best rates are available 7 or 14 days in advance. The rates are non-refundable and payment is usually due at booking, but you can easily save 20% by planning early.
Know the total room cost
Don’t get dinged with extra charges. Make sure the room rate includes all applicable taxes and fees. Hotels are currently implementing some pretty strange hotel fees, and you can only avoid them if you know about them.
Use any applicable discounts
Are you a member of AAA? What about AARP? If you belong to any organization, find out if there is a discount code you can use to get an extra deal.
Sign up for hotel newsletters
If you don’t mind getting a few extra emails per month, sign up for hotel newsletters. They often contain special promotional discounts.
Name your own price
If price is your top concern and you don’t care where you stay, try a bidding site like Priceline or Hotwire. The website BetterBidding.com has great advice on how to use these sites to your best advantage.
Check daily deals sites
Use travel rewards points
There is no better price than free, and if you are a frequent traveler it is definitely worth it to sign up for hotel loyalty programs. Hotel Engine’s loyalty program gives you up to 10% back on every booking, which you can apply for a discount on your next reservation or save up for a free night.
Try Hotel Engine today for the best prices you can find online. We are so confident you’ll love it, we’ll give you $10 toward your first booking.