Along with flights, lodging costs are one of the biggest expenses for many vacationers. As such, savvy travelers are likely on the lookout for how to save money on hotels when planning their vacation.
While hotel prices often rise and fall over time based on supply and demand, there are ways to save money on hotels on vacation. This ranges from being flexible about when and where you travel to getting a hotel credit card and taking advantage of cashback rewards. Read on for a full rundown of the best ways to save on hotels for your next vacation.
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Tips to Save on Hotels While Traveling
Wondering how to save on hotels when traveling? Here are some tips to try.
Getting a Hotel Credit Card
Using credit card rewards to travel for less is one way to save money on hotels while traveling. Most major hotel chains have a co-branded credit card that allows you to earn points for staying with them as well as on your everyday spending.
Additionally, many of these hotel credit cards offer sign-up bonuses. With these bonuses, you may be able to earn enough credit card points for a few free nights just by meeting a minimum spending amount.
There are different credit card rewards programs, so just make sure to choose the one for the hotel where you’re wanting to stay.
Earning Hotel Cashback
One of the downsides of getting a hotel credit card is that in most cases, you’re limited to using your points to stay with that particular hotel chain. If you have a Marriott credit card that earns Marriott Bonvoy hotel points, for instance, you can’t use them to stay at a Hilton or Hyatt.
One way to get around that is to use a credit card that offers cash back rewards. These cards allow you to redeem cash rewards from your everyday purchases that you can then use to pay for any hotel you want.
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Keeping an Eye Out for Deals
Flexibility is key to saving money on hotels, and the earlier you start planning your vacation, the more luck you’ll have in finding travel deals. Many successful vacationers start planning their trips up to a year before they actually plan to travel. That gives you plenty of time to explore your options, wait for deals to pop up, and keep an eye out for sales.
Checking All the Conditions While Booking the Hotel
When you’re booking a hotel room, you’re generally presented with several different room rates. You might have a different rate if you’re a member of the hotel loyalty program, if you prepay for your stay, or if you belong to a specific organization.
These different rates also usually come with different cancellation policies. Make sure to read the fine print before you book, so you can know what to expect during your stay. The fine print could also detail additional fees that the rate doesn’t clearly include.
Looking Out for Free Breakfast
One way to plan a budget family vacation is to look for hotels that include complimentary breakfast with the room rate. If you’re traveling with a family, getting the breakfast that’s included in your hotel reservation might save you anywhere from $20-$50 per day. This can free up some of your hotel funds for other vacation activities, and can make a difference when comparing rates from different hotels.
Joining a Hotel Points Program
Even if you don’t sign up for a hotel chain’s co-branded credit card, you’ll want to make sure to join their loyalty program. There’s typically no cost to join the hotel’s loyalty program, and you’ll generally get perks like lower nightly rates or complimentary Wi-Fi. This can be a great way to save money for a trip.
Taking Advantage of Falling Rates
One strategy for saving money on hotels is to only book a refundable rate that you can cancel at any time. Then, periodically check back to see if the rate has fallen. If the rate is lower than when you first booked the hotel, cancel your original reservation and book at the new lower rate.
There are also services that you can take advantage of if you don’t want to stay on top of price tracking yourself. For example, websites and apps like Hopper and Rebookey can monitor hotel prices and notify you if the price drops after you’ve booked.
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Making Payments in Advance
Alternatively, you can prepare financially for travel by making your hotel payments in advance. Many hotels offer a lower rate when you prepay as compared to a refundable hotel rate where your credit card isn’t charged until your stay. You could save anywhere from $10 to $20 per night by prepaying in advance.
Plus, if you pay with a credit card that offers credit card travel insurance, you’ll have peace of mind that your prepaid funds aren’t lost if your travel plans change unexpectedly.
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Sticking to Your Budget
Like most financial purchases, one of the best ways to save money is to establish a written budget and then stick to it. If you plan for a trip a year in advance, you can make a budget for your trip and then create a travel fund where you put 1/12 of the cost into your travel fund each month.
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While hotel prices go up and down — sometimes multiple times per day — based on supply and demand, you can sometimes get great deals by booking at the very last minute. If you have a ton of flexibility, you can sometimes find cheap cruises or outstanding last-minute weekend hotel deals. This strategy is best used if you don’t have concrete plans and don’t have a strong preference for where you go.
Using Discounts You Already Have
If you’re a frugal traveler, you’ll want to also take advantage of any discounts that you already have. This could include saving on gas using grocery fuel points, buying discounted gift cards, or using credit card points to offset some of your travel costs.
This is another reason why planning in advance and being flexible can help — the more time you have to plan, the more time for you to take advantage of some of these deals.
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Lodging costs can be one of the most expensive parts of any vacation, so it’s a good idea to know how to save money on hotel rooms. Hotel prices fluctuate often based on supply and demand, so plan as far in advance as your schedule allows. The more flexible you can be in terms of when you travel, where you go, and what hotel you want to stay at, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to save money on hotels.
One of the best ways to save money on hotels is with credit card miles or cash back rewards. With the SoFi credit card, you can earn unlimited 2% cash back rewards that you can use to help pay for your next vacation. For a limited time, new credit card holders who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/22.
Invest your cash back rewards with the SoFi credit card.
What days are the cheapest to stay in hotels?
Determining which days are the cheapest to stay in hotels depends quite a bit on where the hotel is and who their clientele typically is. If you’re looking to stay in a tourist-heavy vacation spot, it’s likely that weekends are most expensive. On the other hand, a hotel that caters to business travelers might be more expensive during the week and cheaper on weekends.
What time of the year do hotel prices drop?
There isn’t a set time of day or year when hotel prices drop. Instead, hotel prices vary according to supply and demand. One strategy to save money on hotels is to book a refundable rate initially. Then, you can monitor prices and if the price goes down, you can just rebook.
Are hotels cheaper last minute?
Hotel prices vary all the time, both up and down. It’s possible for hotel prices to go down if you wait until late in the day on the night you want to stay. This can be an option if you have flexibility in your plans.
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