8 Proven Tips To Find Cheap Hotel Rooms

by RJ

in Travel

How to Find Cheap Hotel RoomsThe best way to find cheap hotel rooms is by using Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” feature. I have stayed in 4-star hotels for under $60 a night and 5-star hotels for under $100.

There are two ways to use Priceline.

Priceline has a search feature that’s simular to the other popular travel sites (orbitz, travelocity, etc…). You enter the location and nights you wish to stay, and the search engine shows the exact hotel and price.

Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” feature is a lot different and comes with a little risk but a lot of reward. It’s essentially a blind auction. You insert what you’re willing to pay, the general location, the star-level, and the dates you wish to stay. If your bid is accepted,  you then find out the hotel.

The downside is…

  • You pay in full the date you book the hotel
  • You don’t know which hotel you’re staying or the exact location
  • Can’t cancel without insurance

The upside is tremendous savings.

For years I’ve been using Priceline to save on hotels. Not once have I regretted the savings. The purpose of this post is to detail my strategy of using Priceline to find cheap hotel rooms.

8 Tips to Find Cheap Hotel Rooms Using Priceline

Priceline – Tip # 1 – Gauge the Market

Review the current rates in the city you wish to stay at both Priceline, using the standard hotel search, and Hotwire. Hotwire doesn’t allow you to see the hotel you’re staying at but does give you a general location, price,  and star rating. This helps to see what you’re starting bid at Priceline should be.

For example, if I search 4-star hotels in Chicago for Friday, August 12th Priceline’s standard search shows the lowest 4-star hotel downtown is $179 a night. If I search 4-star hotels on Hotwire for August 12th, the lowest bid is $120 a night. Therefore, I know that I should start my bidding below $120.

Priceline – Tip # 2 – Watch for Price Anchoring

Ignore what Priceline says is the median price for hotel rooms. This is a great example of price anchoring. Instead, use betterbidding.com, a forum where travelers post their winning bids.

Priceline – Tip # 3 – Play the Odds

Best deals are found on 3.5 and 4 star hotels. Once in a while you get a steal on a 5 star hotel, but it’s rare (Vegas is the one exception for me).

Priceline – Tip # 4 – Hide Your Hand

At first, never select more than one star level or location when bidding. If your bid fails, you can rebid right away if you add location or drop a star level.

Priceline – Tip # 5 – Split up Your Stay

If you’re staying for more than 5 or 6 days, split up the trip between two hotels. It’s not often one hotel wants you taking up a room at a discounted rate for an entire week.

Priceline – Tip # 6 – Know When to Bid

Start you’re bidding no earlier than two months before your stay. Timing is a tricky. My best bids have come at times when I needed a hotel room in the next 48 hours. However, I’ve had times when I’ve not been able to find a deal on such short notice.

Priceline – Tip # 7 – Don’t Waste Bids

If you place your bid and get the following message, “Based on recent data, your price has only a small chance of being accepted” go back and revise your bid. This way you won’t waste a bid.

Priceline – Tip # 8 – Know How to Counter

If you get a counter offer after bidding, it means you’re close. Although, don’t rebid using their counteroffer. Instead, bid less less than half way in between. For example, recently I bid $100 a night for a 5-star hotel in Vegas. After the bid was placed, I got a counteroffer saying I should bid $125. The following day I bid $112, my deal was accepted.

Conclusion – How to Find Cheap Hotel Rooms

As long as you don’t care exactly where you stay and are fine with paying up front, Priceline is the best way to find cheap hotel rooms.

If you have any other tips for using Priceline or any other way to find cheap hotel rooms, please share in the comments. 


If you’re learning more about how to save on travel, I highly recommend Frequent Flyer Master


Photo by: Ahmed Zahid

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

lizaNo Gravatar August 13, 2011 at 12:46 am

Thanks for these tips here. It helps me. I am on the verge of looking for the cheapest hotel tips and here it is now.


alysa@impulsesave.comNo Gravatar August 15, 2011 at 10:05 am

Great tips! You are totally right about the “bid less than halfway in between the counteroffer” idea: I feel like it’s a common bargaining method, and it usually works!


RJNo Gravatar August 15, 2011 at 10:24 am

Thanks Alysa. The key is patience. As long as you’re willing to wait another day, it works.


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