How To Save Money On Hotel Stays With Booking.com And Hotels.com
I always reduce the cost of my hotel stays by 20% or more while making reservations with Booking.com or Hotels.com – websites with very large hotel availability that make finding and booking hotels easy. Nearly 2 million hotels can be booked on Booking.com and hundreds of thousands are available on Hotels.com. As soon as you enter your destination and travel dates, you will see a list of hotels available at your destination and how much each of those hotels costs. You can then sort the search results according to price, location, hotel type, review score and other criteria; read each hotel’s description, see pictures and read reviews. Booking.com and Hotels.com can process your payment for hotel stay but you can also choose to pay at the hotel yourself. Besides being able to easily find and book your hotel, you can also save 20% or more off your stays when you make reservations on Booking.com or Hotels.com. Here is how.
Access Booking.com and Hotels.com through cash back websites or airline/credit card shopping portals
Never go directly to Booking.com or Hotels.com. Instead, access these websites by clicking their links on cash back websites or airline/credit card shopping portals. When you access Booking.com and Hotels.com through these portals and websites, you will earn up to 10% off your hotel stay.
Chase, Barclays, Wells Fargo and other banks often give extra 2-6 points if you access Booking.com or Hotels.com through their shopping portals and pay for your stays with that bank’s credit card. Check your credit card issuer’s shopping portal to see if you can do that with your credit card. If you have a CapitalOne Venture or VentureOne card and book hotels with those cards on hotels.com/venture you will get 10 points for each dollar spent.
United Airlines shopping portal currently offers 1 United Mileage mile for each dollar spent on Hotels.com and 2 miles for each dollar spent on Booking.com if you access these booking websites through United Airlines portal. American Airlines shopping portal offers 4 AAdvantage miles for each dollar spent on Booking.com but no extra miles for bookings made on Hotels.com.
There are a lot of cash back websites that give cash back if you access Booking.com or Hotels.com by clicking a link on a cash back website and then make a reservation on Booking.com or Hotels.com. My favorite cashback sites are Topcashback.com and Ebates.com as they usually have the best offers available.
Topcashback currently gives 3% cash back for Hotels.com reservations that will be used towards Hotels.com “free” nights (see “free” nights description below in this article) and 8% cash back for Hotels.com reservations that will not be used towards Hotels.com “free” nights. For reservations on Booking.com Topcashback will give you 7% back.
Ebates.com currently gives 1% cash back for Hotels.com reservations that will be used towards Hotels.com “free” nights and 8% cash back for Hotels.com reservations that will not be used towards Hotels.com “free” nights. Ebates.com currently gives 6% cash back for reservations on Booking.com.
Take advantage of Booking.com Deals and Hotels.com Secret Prices
Booking.com often has special discounts (or as they call them, “deals”) that reduce room rates up to 50% off their regular prices. You can see these discounts and take advantage of them only when you are logged into your Booking.com account.
Hotels.com has similar program and call it “Secret Prices”; discounts in this program also sometimes reach 50% off regular room rates. You will be able to see these prices only when you are logged into your Hotels.com account or after you provide your email address to Hotels.com.
Become a Genius customer on Booking.com or collect “free” nights on Hotels.com
It is simple to become a Genius customer on Booking.com – the only thing you need to do is to create your Booking.com account, make 2 hotel reservations from your Booking.com account and then complete those 2 stays. After that you will get an instant 10% off every time you book a hotel room on Booking.com.
Hotels.com has a similar rewards program in a sense that you essentially get the same 10% off however the main difference is that in order to get your “free” night you first need to book 10 nights on hotels.com and complete those 10 stays. After that you will get a “free” night which will have the value of the average room rate that you paid for those 10 nights. For example, if you paid $50 for each of the first 5 nights and then $100 for each of the remaining 5 nights, the value of your “free” night will be $75.
You can only use the “free” night to cover the cost of room rate (no taxes or fees can be covered with the “free” night). If your “free” night’s value is not sufficient to cover the full cost of your room, you can cover part of the cost with the “free” nigh and then pay the remaining part with your credit card. You can use the “free” night to pay for the room which is cheaper than the value of your “free” night but in that case you will lose the unused part of your “free” night – “free” nigh can only be used for a single hotel stay. So if you have a “free” night worth $75 and use it to cover the cost of a room that costs $50, you will lose $25.
You have to book at least once a year with Hotels.com to prevent your collected nights from expiration. If you use a Hotels.com coupon to reduce the cost of your stay, in some cases these nights will not count towards the “free” night (see coupon’s terms and conditions for details).
I personally like Bookling.com Genius discount better than Hotels.com “free” nights because Booking.com gives 10% discount instantly, I don’t have to worry about the expiration of collected nights or about losing part of my “free” night’s value if I book a cheaper hotel with a “free” night.
Make hotel reservations from your cell phone
Both Booking.com and Hotels.com sometimes have additional 5-10% discounts for reservations made on their mobile websites or mobile apps. Before making a reservation, check hotel prices on Booking.com or Hotels.com mobile websites and mobile apps because these “mobile” discounts cannot be seen from a desktop or a laptop computer.
Pay for hotel stays with your cashback or rewards credit card
If you pay for your hotel reservation with a cash back or rewards credit card that earns points, at the very least you will earn 1% cash back. However if you use a card like Chase Sapphire Reserve which earns 3 points for each dollar spent on travel (including hotels) and then in the future use these points to book travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel website, each point’s value will be multiplied by 1.5 and your 3 points earned on Booking.com or Hotels.com will become worth 4.5 cents. If you transfer these 3 points to some of the Chase Ultimate Rewards partner airlines or hotel programs, the value each Ultimate Rewards point can even double.
There are a lot of other credit cards that earn 1.5% or 2% cashback on hotel purchases so before making a reservation always choose the card that will earn most points.
Use coupons to reduce your hotel costs
Hotels.com always has at least a few coupons or rebate offers available that can reduce the cost of your hotel reservation by 10-15% or more. You will need to enter a coupon code during check out process in order to use it. But before using a coupon read its terms and conditions as well as the rules of other programs that you intend to use for that same reservation – some bookings made with coupons may not be combined with Hotels.com “free” nigh program or may not be eligible to receive cash back from websites like Topcashback.com or Ebates.com.
Use credit card points and bank account bonuses to cover hotel stays
After using all of the above described ways to reduce the cost of your hotel stay you can still cut it lower (even to $0) by using credit card points and/or bank account bonuses. In most cases you will need to pay for your hotel stay with a credit card (reduced price, if you apply strategies described in this article) but later you will get reimbursement for that payment in the form of a statement credit, a check, or a gift card. You can read two of my previous articles about it here and here.