This post assumes you know the basics of Hotwire and Priceline e.g., how to get virtually unlimited rebids.
These are a few extra tips you can use to become an ABSOLUTE expert using these sites. Most of these tips refer to hotel bookings, but I love these sites for flights too.
- Make sure your Priceline and Hotwire emails aren’t going to spam.
My Priceline emails seem to always go to spam in gmail. This happens however many times I mark them as “not spam.” Why is this important? Because they send you coupon codes. I just got one for 10% off my next express deal stay.
Once you have this coupon, you can try bidding 15-20% below the express deal rate and still have the express deal to fall back on.
- If you don’t have a coupon, ALWAYS get cashback.
You can get 10% Cash Back on Priceline by clicking through from a site called Shop at Home (not sponsored). They send you a check once you’ve reached $20 in cashback (which is only 1-2 hotel stays). This currently applies to the express deals and name your own price. They give 3% cashback for Hotwire, which is better than nothing. Always get some cashback!
- Know when it’s better to just use the express deal rather than bid.
If you know you want a particular amenity like a pool or free parking then sometimes it’s better to just go with the express deal rather than bid if those aren’t guaranteed amenities. Note that sometimes the listed amenities are wrong or you need to read carefully. For example I recently had a fight with them over a deal that listed a pool which it turned out was closed for winter. It’s still listed as having a pool.
Also, sometimes the first page says free wifi and then it later says “free wifi in public areas” when you click through.
Check if any resort fees are listed underneath the taxes or at the top right of the property details screen. These will only be listed for the express deals. In locations where resort fees are the norm, if you bid, you need to bid $20-30 lower to allow for the resort fee.
- Get $25 off by using the Hotwire App.
You can get $25 off any reservation over $100 (e.g. two nights at $50) by booking using the Hotwire mobile app. The search isn’t great on the app (it’s hard to compare the different properties offered) but the booking is very easy.
Priceline coupons sometimes only apply to using their mobile app too. Search on your laptop and switch to your phone when you need to book.
- Don’t accidentally book a Motel 6.
As much as I like Motel 6, when I’m Pricelining or Hotwiring, it’s not what I’m aiming for. I almost ended up booking what I am now pretty sure was a Motel 6. I didn’t expect a Motel 6 to be listed as 2* but thank goodness checked the regularly priced listing and saw they had it listed as 2*.
You can use any clues available on property details screen of the express deals to try to figure out the hotel.
For example, Googling a phrase mentioned in the listing which was “grab and go breakfast” + the destination name + “hotel” showed up that the property was an Extended Stay America. It looked like a nice property but didn’t have a hot tub, which I ideally wanted.
Googling “free wifi in public areas” + destination name + “hotel” also revealed the likely name of another hotel. Use the hotel lists on Bidding for Travel as a baseline for guessing which hotels you’re likely to get.
- Realize you might get “upgraded” to a higher star level.
Let’s say you want to avoid a particular 2 1/2 star hotel that comes up regularly for the destination you’re looking for. If you bid 2* you might still get stuck with that 2 1/2 star property you don’t want.
Sometimes you can tell this is likely to happen if the express deal rate is lower for the 2 1/2 star property than the 2 star. Even this is a big clue that there is probably something wrong with the 2 1/2 star hotel.
The star ratings are usually fairly reliable for national chains but independent hotels are much more of a lottery.
I hope you find these tips useful and happy saving!!