‘Tis the season for traveling — whether for family gatherings or to go on vacation — and it looks like this year is going to be a busy one.
A recent Deloitte survey found that the 2023 holiday season comes with an increase in travel intent as nearly half of Americans plan to travel, and the share of travelers planning to stay in hotels has surged to 56%. However, with inflation and tight wallets, Americans are also increasingly looking for deals on hotels.
Fortunately, experts shared several tips with us to help you score hotel deals this holiday season. Check them out.
Comparison Shop and Consider Amenities
Not only is it important to compare prices when looking for a hotel for your holiday travel needs, but it’s also important to compare amenities. These amenities could help reduce other travel costs, according to Andrea Woroch, consumer and money saving expert.
“For instance, a hotel that offers free daily breakfast for your group could give your overall food spend a nice little relief,” she said. “Other perks like free parking, free hotel shuttle or free Wifi can also help.”
Look for Last-Minute Deals
Another tip is that hotels may be willing to give you a deal on a last-minute availability, so calling the hotel directly and negotiating is an option.
“Otherwise, search for last-minute hotel deals using apps like HotelTonight, which provide discounts of up to 70% off room rates at highly rates properties across the U.S.,” added Woroch, noting that you can also set hotel price tracking alerts using sites such as Hopper or Trivago to stay on top of any last-minute deals.
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Score Deals on Travel Gift Cards
According to Woroch, you can get hotel gift cards at a discount through gift card resale sites such as Raise, which was offering 4% off gift cards to Hotels.com and up to 8.3% off to Great Wolf Lodge.
Get a Hotel-Branded Credit Card
Another way to save is by getting hotel-branded credit cards, which can give you several perks including free stays and extra rewards for bookings.
“For example, the World of Hyatt Credit Card offers a free night when you hit a spending minimum for the year and the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card provides a free anniversary night certificate, annually,” Woroch said.
Look for Bundles
The number one way to save money on travel — this holiday season and any other time — is to look for packages that bundle airfare, hotel, and even car rentals together, according to Priceline‘s consumer travel expert Christina Bennett.
“For example, customers who book their flight and hotel together on Priceline save an average of $240,” she noted.
Book Directly on Hotels’ Websites
Marina Guastavino, CEO and co-founder of Directo, said that her go-to tip for better hotel deals this holiday season — which might go against the grain — is to avoid depending exclusively on discount booking platforms and, instead, check out the hotel’s actual site.
“By booking directly, you can access lower prices since hotels won’t have to pay commissions to third-party booking sites. This principle also holds true for vacation rentals, particularly those managed by larger property management firms. Substantial savings, ranging from 5% to 20%, are often achievable through this method,” she said.
Another tip: if you don’t see a lower price on their site, try reaching out by email or phone. “Seven out of 10 times I tend to get a better deal just by asking,” Guastavino said. “Mentioning a special occasion or reason for the trip also might just get you some additional points.”
Join Hotel Loyalty Programs
Guastavino also recommended checking out hotels’ loyalty programs, which are free to join and will get you additional benefits.
Use Hotel Booking Engines
According to Peter Strebel, president of the Americas region of RateGain, there is literally one tried-and-true way to find the best hotel rates in real-time: using hotel booking engines.
“These are the primary backbone of online hotel reservations. They connect hotels to a global audience, directly enabling travelers to directly book rooms at a competitive rate directly from the hotel’s website,” he said. “Understanding how these engines work can help you navigate the online booking process more effectively.”
He recommended several hotel booking engines travelers should be utilizing this holiday season, including Trivago, which aggregates information from various booking sites, providing a comprehensive overview of available options. In addition, he said that Kayak’s strength lies in its powerful search algorithm that scans hundreds of travel sites to bring users the best deals.
“The platform also offers features like price alerts and flexible date search, helping travelers save money and plan their trips more effectively,” he said.
Sign Up for a Travel Rewards Credit Card
Ensuring that you’re using a rewarding credit card on your travel purchases is key, said Samantha Landau, consumer expert at TopCashback.
“Travel credit cards can offer up to 10x rewards points or miles for travel purchases, depending on the card’s program,” she said. “And if you’re in the market for a new credit card, consider looking for a travel credit card with a sign-up bonus. Make sure to review the terms for the bonus to ensure you won’t break your budget just to qualify for it. Depending on the program, you may be able to use your earned rewards and/or signup bonus to help pay for your trip.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 9 Ways To Get the Best Hotel Deal This Holiday Season