Last Updated on October 20, 2022 by Rose Morah
Hotel booking has really changed. When it comes to getting the best hotel deals, the same advice someone would have given you a few years ago may not be helpful right now.
In this article, we are going to discuss how to get cheap hotel rates even when booking a hotel last minute.
1. Search for new hotels
When looking for a last-minute hotel to stay in, you could try looking for newer hotels in your destination.
On most occasions, newer hotels tend to have cheaper rates and good hotel services compared to other older hotels.
This is how they target customers before building their name in the industry.
If you book a new hotel today, there is a high probability you will get a higher price for the same accommodation in the months to come.
2. Avoid the major hotel chains
If you are traveling internationally, you could avoid booking a hotel in major hotel chains.
International hotel chains tend to charge a premium rate when they have only one of their hotels at a travel destination.
But what if you love international hotel chains and want a better hotel deal?
I’d recommend you find local hotel chains.
You are likely to get great services from local hotel chains for only half the price of the International hotel chain.
3. Get a Hotel credit card
Hotel credit cards can help you save, especially when you are booking last minute on a tight budget.
Advantages of having a hotel credit card
- You earn points that you can redeem for hotel bookings and cashback rewards.
- You enjoy late checkouts.
- You get to enjoy free breakfast/lunch or dinner.
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4. Use your affiliations
You can use your affiliations to get discounted hotel deals.
- Good hotel deals just for being a member of AAA.
- Senior Discount.
- Corporate rate.
- Military/Government rates.
The AAA hotel rates are usually about $30 cheaper than the normal rates.
Most hotels that offer these rates usually have them only on flexible days. This means that you may not have that option on some other days.
5. Be smart with your bookings
If you are going to stay for more than 2 days in a hotel, let’s assume you will be staying for 3 days, this is what you could do:
First, select all the 3 days and find out the total rates.
Next, select each of the 3 days and compare their prices. Be sure to compare weekdays and weekends separately.
So, if you find that booking 1 day every day will be cheaper, you can go ahead and make 3 reservations separately. Additionally, if you find that weekdays are cheaper than weekends, then book on the weekdays.
You can also book rooms in different hotels in the same locations if they have different days with expensive and cheaper rates.
This means today I can sleep here, but tomorrow I sleep at a different hotel.
6. Sign in to the 3rd party hotel booking sites
I have realized that when searching for hotel deals through the 3rd party booking sites, I mostly end up getting better deals when I’m signed in than when not.
7. Check the prices on the hotel’s official website
Sometimes hotels offer better prices and perks when you book with them directly.
However, before you do that, I recommend you first check the prices on third-party booking sites.
Additionally, you could call and ask them for a better deal. This way you could end up with a better deal than you expected.
Remember to check the exact total amount before you book the room.
Some third-party websites hide taxes and other fees. The price may hence seem cheaper because the extra fees have not been added.
Additionally, even after calling the hotel, they may forget to give you that extra information.
8. Pick non-refundable or prepaid hotel bookings
When booking a last-minute hotel, I’d recommend you book a non-refundable hotel rate. This could be a couple of days or hours away.
But, what’s the advantage of the non-refundable or prepaid hotel rates for last-minute hotel booking?
Most of the time they are usually cheaper than the refundable rates.
9. Rebook a hotel room for a cheaper price
For this to work, you need to book a refundable hotel room a few weeks before. Then stay alert for any price drops prior to your check-in date to cancel and rebook.
I have personally used this trick several times before.
How do I manage to nail this trick?
I book early in advance, then send my reservation confirmation to Pruvo who then alerts me when the price drops.
Once the price drops, I then rebook the room for a cheaper price.
10. Book last minute
You can easily get a good last-minute hotel deal through websites that provide users with unused hotel inventories.
You should note that by last-minute here, I mean booking a hotel on the same day that you will be staying.
This will mostly work if you are flexible and don’t really care what the place you will be spending the night looks like.
11. Bid on a room
Again, this is for those people who are not so concerned about how where they are going to be staying looks like.
There are really good websites that will allow you to bid on hotel rooms.
A good example, and also what most people recommend, is Priceline.
NB: You will need to know how to bid on Priceline beforehand.
12. Explore other options
You don’t have to stay in a hotel to enjoy your stay. There are other many options available such as:
- Bed & Breakfast.
- Sleeping in the car.
- Booking a day room. They are usually cheaper.
- Taking an overnight train that has sleeping quarters. They are so much cheaper than a hotel room. You will hit 2 birds with one stone – you travel while you sleep!
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13. Buy gift cards
Buying hotel gift cards can help you get great hotel deals from their discounts.
You can buy hotel gift cards from hotels that offer them or from online websites that resell hotel gift cards.
14. Use shopping portals to get hotel discounts.
Sometimes hotels partner with various merchants to offer hotel discounts to customers who shop through their shopping portals.
This can be a great way to get a good last-minute hotel deal while doing your online shopping.
I have gotten good hotel discounts on eBay of up to 20% by shopping through eBay.
15. Use Google hotel price comparisons
When I don’t have the time to hunt last-minute hotel deals online, I use Google.
Oftentimes, I get great deals on Google the day before.
When it comes to the best hotel room prices, Google is a great tool because it compares multiple hotel sites.
How do I get cheap deals on Google?
I normally type the name of the city followed by the name of a hotel. Google will then suggest the best deals, including other alternative hotels.
On my last vacation, I applied this method and ended up getting a hotel room that was $100 cheaper than what I would have normally paid.
It was cheaper and with quality hotel service.
16. Be Flexible
By being flexible I mean being able to travel during the off-peak season or to places where fewer people are going.
These are places that are usually less hyped or not hyped at all.
This also applies to business and leisure travel destinations.
For example, San Diego gets both business and leisure travelers.
So, how can you get good hotel rates here?
Leisure travelers in San Diego will mostly book hotels or resorts that are closer to the beach on weekends while business travelers will mostly book hotels that are downtown on the weekdays.
So, if I was going on a business trip to San Diego on a weekday, I could avoid paying high rates by not booking downtown where all the business travelers are.
On the other hand, if I am traveling for leisure on a weekend, I will book around downtown and avoid the hotels that are closest to the beach where every leisure traveler is staying, hence avoiding paying higher rates.