13 Tricks Savvy Travelers Use to Save Big on Hotel Rooms

by Shelli Stein

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended holiday to multiple destinations, the nights you spend in a hotel are likely the most expensive part of your holiday. Paying too much for hotels can easily see your best budgeting efforts fall apart. If you know where to look and how to book, you can save money on hotels. Here are 13 tips to help you NOT bust that budget!

I spend more than 100 nights a year in hotels, so I’m always seeking new ways to save.

a room with a chandelier and stairs

The lovely Park Hyatt Saigon

My Favorite Hacks That Save Money on Hotels

1. Book rooms directly with the hotel.

We’re not the only ones who want to save money on hotel stays. The hotels themselves look to save money, too. One way the hotels save money that benefits both us as consumers and the hotels as businesses, is by encouraging the booking of hotel rooms directly on hotel websites.

Many hotels guarantee that the lowest rates appear on their websites. Booking directly also keeps those hotel loyalty reward points flowing because many hotel chains won’t apply points or use our benefits if we book through third party sites.

See a lower rate elsewhere? Reach out to the hotel and see if they’ll honor it.

2. Hotel rates do go down. Take advantage!

Have you ever fussed too much about the best time to book your hotel room? I used to. But not any more. Now, I just book my room and let Pruvo monitor the rates for me. Pruvo is free to use, so I’ve got nothing to lose and savings to gain.

Pruvo alerts you if it finds a cheaper option after you book. You can then cancel your original reservation and make a new one using the site’s own booking service.

For a few years now, Pruvo has been my ace in the hole when it comes to ways to save money on hotel rooms. And they keep getting better.

Recently, Pruvo won the People´s Choice Award at the Expedia Startup Competition. Apparently lots of other happy Pruvo customers agree with me.

What if you could learn everything you need to know about your destination in just 15 minutes? Here’s how!

3. Consider a hotel credit card offer.

Credit cards affiliated with hotel rewards programs can save you money. When you charge purchases to the card, you receive points toward a free hotel stay. Free is the best hotel savings there is, right? Hotels constantly run promotions to add to your stash of hotel night reward points.

Promotions and bonuses for new hotel credit card holders change constantly, so it’s good to keep an eye out for them. The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa , the Chase World of Hyatt credit card, and the Hilton Honors credit cards are just a few solid options.

You can find reviews of these cards here!

If you decide to get a travel rewards credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card (currently offering its highest sign-up bonus ever), use your points wisely like transferring to partners.

4. Use a last minute app to get a hotel room for a last minute stay.

While I tend to book hotel rooms as far in advance as possible, and then let Pruvo monitor the reservations for price drops, there are still times when that’s not possible. That’s when it’s good to find last-minute deals using apps such as HotelTonight or Priceline Express Deals.

5. Days of the week, times of the year matter.

I frequently stay at the same hotels I’ve stayed at before. I can tell you which days of the week their rates are lowest, what time of year their conference business creates crazy high room rates, and which times of the year they have no rooms available at all. (Yes I know, I spend too much time in hotels!)

If your schedule is at all flexible, even if you have not stayed at a property before, it does pay to check their rates and see if certain days of the week are markedly different in price. Sometimes booking each night individually gets you a better price and sometimes booking a cluster of nights cuts the price. If you can time your stays and play with the pricing a bit, you’ll save money, for sure.

Save money on hotels with elite status giving access to club lounges

Hotel lobby and entrance Hyatt Regency Vancouver

6. You can resell your hotel room. 

Do you book nonrefundable room rates? Here’s a workaround if your plans change and you can’t keep your reservation.

If your plans change unexpectedly and you’re left with a nonrefundable hotel booking that you can’t use, you can resell it to someone else using services like RoomerTravel or Cancelon.

These sites charge a fee so you won’t get the full price back but you’ll salvage at least some of your cost. These sites save buyers money, too, often offering rooms for half price.

7. Get free Wi-Fi in exchange for being a loyalty member.

Some hotels do charge for Wi-Fi, but many hotel chains will include it for free for their loyalty members. Sign up for the loyalty program at every hotel chain. Even the ones you never think you’ll use. You never know, and it’s a money waster to pay for Wi-Fi during a hotel stay.

8. Traveling with multiple devices? Wireless routers to the rescue.

We’ve already established that paying for Wi-Fi during a hotel stay isn’t necessary. But if you find yourself paying for Wi-Fi and then paying per device, well that’s the worst case scenario. To avoid this, create a hotspot for all your devices to share using a Wi-Fi travel router. A router sets up a single hotspot for all your devices to share.

Save money on hotels buy using hotel points for free nights

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires Park Suite Full View

9. Breakfast not included with your hotel stay? Make your own.

When traveling, some people do like to go out for breakfast. But this article is about saving money on hotel stays, right? So if breakfast isn’t included with your room rate, keep it simple and create your own breakfast.

Many hotels will bring you a small fridge, if you request one. Hotels often let you use the microwave in the sundry store if the lobby has a store. If these options don’t work, you can always use the kettle or coffee maker to heat up water for soup or oatmeal. There’s always the energy bar option, too. Get creative and save a few bucks!

10. If you miss the included breakfast, get a to-go box.

On a recent fabulous hotel stay in Kyoto, Japan the hotel staff prepared a wonderful to-go box for us when we had an early morning train to catch. We had no idea this was possible, so it often pays to reach out and ask. I’ve had this happen in Thailand as well. Sure makes it much easier to get up so early and head to the airport!

11. Park, stay, and fly options sometimes make sense.

I haven’t done this myself, but I’m always aware of whether or not this option would work and save some money. Early morning flights can sometimes require an airport hotel stay. Did you know that some hotels offer car parking rates that are less than airport parking facilities? By partnering with a parking company, the hotel gets an extra source of revenue and you get to save money on hotels.

Both ParkSleepFly and BuyReservations are two sites that enable you to see if paying for a hotel stay that includes parking at the hotel while you’re away would be cost effective.

12. Ditch the hotel bar. 

Many hotel guests, particularly when traveling solo, spend considerable time in the hotel bar. They sit and work and have a few drinks. I get that spending time alone in a hotel room can get lonely, and that working in public spaces often feels less lonely. But those bar tabs add up.

If saving money on hotel stays is what you’re after, whether your choice of beverage is wine, beer, sparkling water, or soda, it’s much cheaper to shop at a supermarket or convenience store and do your work or watch TV in the room than in the hotel bar.

No fridge in your room and need to keep your beverages cold? Load ice into your bathroom sink or ice bucket and create your own cooler.

Copenhagen Marriott

Good example of the neighborhood architecture across the canal from the Copenhagen Marriott

13. Hand wash your laundry.

I know I’m an exception, but I often enjoy doing laundry in laundromats when I travel. I’ve met locals and had some fun laundry experiences, too. Yet it does take time away from my day and if I don’t have much laundry to do, it’s easier and quicker just to wash a few items in my hotel room.

For instance, in San Gimignano, Italy, it was fabulous to hang washed clothes from a clothesline outside my window while enjoying a beautiful view of the hills and Italian landscape.

In any case, whether hang drying is possible or you’ve used the hotel room hairdryer to finish off drying a few items of clothing, avoid at all costs (and those costs are high) paying hotel prices for laundry.

Final Thoughts

Paying full price for hotel rooms simply isn’t necessary. There are so many ways to cut hotel costs and save money on hotels. This list is by no means exhaustive, so please share your favorite tips and help us all save even more money.

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Gene March 21, 2019 - 3:58 pm

@ Shelli — Good list! There are so may bad ones out there…

Shelli March 21, 2019 - 4:27 pm

Thanks Gene! If you have any tips to add, please do.

Boonie March 22, 2019 - 4:54 am

– If you have AAA or AARP memberships these usually save money.
– One negative about booking with 3rd party sites like Expedia or Hotwire is you will not earn points for loyalty programs
– Check TravelZoo or Groupon. Recently booked a FL hotel on TravelZoo that included breakfast and resort fees which was much less that the hotel site. I’ve seen deals where hotel parking rate is also included.
– Check out the package rate, I used to shy away from these but if the breakfast buffet at a nice resort is $32 and you get this daily for 2 people each day can really add up. Some include cocktails, percentage off dining and a better room/view.
– You mentioned loyalty programs but know what benefits or ask the front desk what they are. They sometimes forget or are too busy to give you the daily water bottles or free breakfast vouchers.

Shelli March 22, 2019 - 9:11 am

Great additions, Boonie, much appreciate you adding these in. The package rate is a good idea!

Jason November 30, 2019 - 7:13 pm

The #1 way I save money on hotel stays is to email the hotel directly before I book and ask them for a special lower rate than what is available online. I tell them that I will be staying in their city on the following dates and that their hotel is one of the places that I am considering staying at, and I was wondering if they could give me a better price than _____ (which is the lowest price that I am able to find online). While not always successful, at least half the time I get a lower rate. Everything is negotiable, so don’t be afraid to ask. The worst that could happen is they say no. On more than one occasion, the rate/total cost I got was lower than the get a 4th night free rate through CITI Prestige.

Shelli November 30, 2019 - 7:17 pm

That’s impressive, Jason. Thanks for the tips. I agree, worst that happens is a no. Is there a particular hotel chain where your strategy works best?

Jason November 4, 2023 - 10:42 pm

Hi Shelli. No, there is no particular hotel chain where this works best. I have done this with both independent hotels and hotels that are part of a chain. I do think that the odds are better when dealing with a small independent hotel than one that belongs to a chain. My succesful experiences have been mainly in Asia and a few times in Europe.

Shelli November 5, 2023 - 10:00 am

Thanks so much, Jason, for adding your successful data points. I agree, it can be hit or miss, yet still worth giving these saving opportunities a try. Enjoy your travels!

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Kia Netherland April 23, 2022 - 12:56 am

It was interesting when you said that booking hotel rooms directly on their websites could allow you to save more money through some deals. My husband and I are interested in booking a hotel room where we can stay for 3-4 days with the kids. We want to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary intimately without breaking our banks, so we will do your tips.

Shelli April 23, 2022 - 12:44 pm

Hi Kia, I still check directly on hotel websites. Hope you find savings and have a wonderful celebration!

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Ava Murphy October 20, 2022 - 3:01 pm

It did catch my attention when you said that you can save money when you book hotel rooms directly. This is something that I will consider because I am interested in staying in a motel for 5-7 days when I visit my mother in a different city. Since I want to save money and find a motel that can meet my budget, I will surely do your tips.

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Pedro November 5, 2023 - 1:05 am

The biggest savings is often taking advantage of the hotels “price match guarantee” . All the majors will price match the best price online of competitors and give a 20% discount. I’ve found Hilton to be the easiest, but all of them work. The key is making sure all of the information is the same such as room type, number of beds, number of guests, etc… and to call. Submitting online they almost always reject it, but if you can walk them through it in live time it is pretty rewarding.

Shelli November 5, 2023 - 10:02 am

This is great info to add to this post, Pedro. Appreciate you taking the time to add this to the comments so other readers will benefit. Enjoy your travels!

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