Finding a reasonably priced hotel room is not necessarily a slam dunk in the Internet age. Can you get the best deal if you use websites that specialize in discounted room rates, or are there similar – perhaps even better – deals on hotel companies’ sites?

The answers are "yes" and "yes," depending on your needs. As Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst for Atmosphere Research, explains, “Sometimes discounts come at a very dear price. You have to be careful.”

For example, although Priceline’s “name your own price” policy can provide discounts of up to 60%, the company doesn’t tell you the name of your hotel until after you book it, which might place you somewhere you don't want to be. If getting points in your hotel loyalty program is important to you, you might not get them if you book on some discount sites. And discount sites’ rates can have other strings attached: Rates can be nonrefundable, or you might not be able to change the specifics of your reservation, which can be a problem if your travel plans change at the last minute.

According to Harteveldt, hotel sites frequently offer more – and sometimes even more lavish – discounts than hotel-discount websites. Hotels' own discounts can include weekend promotional packages with discounted rooms, special discounts for loyalty-program members and discounts available only to members of AAA or AARP.

If you choose to deal with a hotel directly rather than with a discount hotel-room site, try calling its reservations department when you are planning your trip and request the lowest rate that can be canceled with no penalty, suggests Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University. He advises calling again right before you arrive to check for a cheaper rate, also cancellable with no penalty. If you then end up finding a lower rate online, you can cancel the reservation made directly with the hotel at no cost to you.

Best Sites for Discounted Hotel Rates

In addition to hotel companies’ websites, here are some sites offering discounted hotel rates that are worth exploring:, established in 1998, today connects you to rooms in more than 300,000 hotels in 170 countries. Its largest discounts, up to 60% off retail rates, are through its “name your own price” policy. However, you can only specify the destination and neighborhood where you want to stay and your travel dates. If you want a hotel that’s identified, you have to choose the “express deals” feature, which provides discounts up to 55% off retail rates. For both types of bookings, reservations cannot be canceled, changed or transferred, and refunds are not permitted., a German company now controlled by Expedia, an online travel agency, lets users compare rates at more than 700,000 hotels worldwide featured on over 200 booking sites. Trivago claims its users save an average of 35% on room rates; users make reservations directly on the booking site.Trivago also provides hotel reviews from booking sites. is based in Amsterdam and owned by Priceline. It offers accommodations at more than 500,000 properties in 205 countries – everything from small, family-run bed-and-breakfasts to executive apartments and five-star luxury hotels. Many rates found on this site do not impose cancellation penalties; in addition, payment is often not required before travel., based in Singapore and also owned by Priceline, offers rates at hundreds of thousands of hotels, exclusive promotions and hotel reviews by its customers. Another plus: The company gives customers points for every booking made, worth 4% to 7% of the reservation’s price; points can be redeemed to reduce the cost of a future booking or saved to pay for an entire stay. One reason to check out Agoda, according to Harteveldt: Sometimes hotels give non-U.S. booking sites different, even lower rates to sell than they give to U.S. booking sites., established last year, lets users bid on rooms at independent boutique hotels in U.S. destinations including New York; New Orleans; San Francisco; Chicago; Los Angeles; Boston; San Diego; Seattle; Miami; Phoenix; Anaheim, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; Telluride, Colo.; and Portland, Ore. The site’s bidding system collects unique pricing data at the time of the user’s search – information that can help the user obtain the rate desired.

Hotel Tonight offers an app that lets travelers book hotel stays of up to five nights at the last minute. Starting at 9 a.m. daily, hotels represented by Hotel Tonight release whichever rooms are not booked at rates that have been significantly discounted. Hotel Tonight currently works with hotels in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and 12 European countries. Properties range from what Hotel Tonight describes as “crashpad” to “luxe.” Bookings are nonrefundable.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of how or where you book your hotel room, Hanson advises defining your mission before you search sites: Looking for the very cheapest rate dictates one type of research. Having flexibility as a factor dictates another. Also important, according to Harteveldt, is carefully reading all the terms of whichever rates you are considering so there are no surprises once you book.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    Drawbacks Of Travel Reward Programs

    These nearly universal loyalty programs can have handy perks, but they're not a free ride.
  2. Savings

    11 Ways to Save on Hotel Costs

    One of the biggest expenses when traveling is lodging. According to the latest data from the Hotel Price Index from, U.S. travelers spent about an average of $174 per night on hotels ...
  3. Savings

    6 Ways To Avoid Paying For Hotel Wi-Fi

    Use these tips to get free Internet access when you're on vacation.
  4. Credit & Loans

    Best Frequent Flyer Credit Cards For (Almost) Free Travel

    Worried about how you’re going to afford your next plane ticket? We’ll show you the best credit cards for racking up frequent flyer miles.
  5. Personal Finance

    Navigating The Hotel Star System

    Three stars, four stars, gold star, who star? Sometimes the hotel star system can seem as wacky as a Dr. Seuss book.
  6. Investing

    10 Cheap Vacations for the Ultimate Foodie

    If you are a foodie then explore one of these destinations in 2016.
  7. Taxes

    Internet Sales Tax Vs. Brick & Mortar Sales Tax

    Learn about the differences between sales taxes and Internet sales taxes, and the goods and services that typically incur each type of tax.
  8. Entrepreneurship

    How an Internet Sales Tax Will Affect Your Small Business

    Learn about how the Marketplace Fairness Act may impact small business owners should it pass in the House and what the act requires from business owners.
  9. Investing Basics

    Internet Sales Tax's Effect on Interstate Commerce

    Find out how a national Internet sales tax could affect interstate commerce, and why some bigger online retailers are lobbying for such a tax.
  10. Personal Finance

    5 Airlines That Offer Refundable Plane Tickets

    Compare prices for non-refundable and refundable airline fares for five of the United States' most popular airlines, and learn about varying cancellation fees.
  1. Does QVC charge sales tax?

    QVC, an American TV network, is registered with states to collect sales or use tax on taxable items. QVC is also required ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does Walmart take international credit cards?

    Foreign visitors to Walmart locations in the United States can use their credit cards issued by banks outside of the U.S. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is QVC publicly traded?

    QVC, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corporation. It is attributed to the QVC Group tracking stock, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How often do financial advisors have to travel?

    The frequency with which a financial advisor needs to travel varies according to numerous factors, such as the size and location ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can I invest in electronic retailing (e-tailing)?

    Electronic retail is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Every year, more people are choosing to purchase ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What countries represent the largest portion of the global retail sector?

    The United States and China are the world's largest and second-largest retail markets, respectively, by total retail sales. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center