BY TERENCE LOOSE
Traveling isn’t cheap. Whether you’re going away for business or taking a well-deserved vacation, it’s just too easy to rack up a bill worth hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of dollars. And often, your biggest budget buster is your hotel room.
Luckily, there are various savings strategies you can use to find the perfect hotel that fits within your budget — or at least offers free perks. Read on to find out how you can uncover secret deals and save money on hotels.
BUY SOMEONE ELSE’S RESERVATIONS
To save money on your next vacation, consider snagging a last-minute hotel deal through RoomerTravel. The website allows you to purchase other travelers’ unwanted hotel room reservations at a low rate, said consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch.
“The site connects you with travelers who are stuck with a reservation they can’t cancel but are willing to sell and transfer the reservation at a discount,” she said.
USE COUPON CODES FOR A CHEAP HOTEL DEAL
Hotels don’t regularly offer coupons, said Woroch. But if you search, sometimes you can find coupon codes for third-party booking sites that will score you a cheap hotel room. For example, Coupon Sherpa offers 50 percent off select hotels at Hotels.com, said Woroch.
ASK FOR A PRICE MATCH TO SAVE MONEY ON HOTELS
Price matches aren’t just for Target shoppers, they’re also for travelers looking for a cheap hotel room. Although hotels might not heavily advertise it, many of them will match a competitor’s lower price if you ask, Woroch said. That goes for third-party sites, too.
“Hotels.com offers to price match any competitor or hotel’s price — just book, then submit the cheaper-priced link,” said Woroch. “I do this because I earn a free night through their site after 10 stays, so it’s a win-win.”
NEGOTIATE A HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Sometimes, the best leverage you’ll have is not with hotels, but with individuals who are renting out their vacation homes, said Woroch.
“If you find last-minute availability through VRBO or HomeAway, haggle with the homeowner for a cheaper price,” she said. “He or she will be motivated to negotiate in fear of missing out on the last-minute booking.”
CHECK YOUR WAREHOUSE CLUB
Costco has offers for hotel discounts — and more — for members, said Woroch. “If you’re a member (of) a warehouse club, check their travel site for deals on hotels and vacation package values,” she said.
STAY MIDWEEK TO SAVE MONEY ON HOTELS
If you can avoid staying in hotels Friday and Saturday, you could score a cheap hotel deal.
“Most hotels offer a significant discount on rates starting on Sunday through Thursday,” said Woroch. As an added bonus, the pool, restaurants and spas will be less busy and sometimes offer deals, she said.
LOOK FOR INCLUSIVE HOTEL DEALS
It can be incredibly frustrating to find a seemingly great hotel rate, only to see your cheap hotel deal get jacked up with daily parking fees, internet fees and even resort fees. The solution — find an inclusive hotel that includes these perks in the price.
“Free breakfast, Wi-Fi and parking are big perks that should be considered when comparing hotel rates, as those daily fees can add up quickly depending on the length of your stay,” said Woroch.
A family of four can save nearly $40 a day by opting for a hotel with free breakfast, she added.
MAXIMIZE YOUR CREDIT CARD
No, no — we’re not saying go hog wild with your Visa. But often, credit card holders get exclusive, attractive hotel deals, said Woroch.
“For instance, MasterCard card members can get an extra 10 percent off select hotel bookings through Hotels.com, via a deal posted on Coupon Sherpa,” she said. The deal is good through the end of 2017.