Booking Tips


1. Time your booking. On any given day, prices can fluctuate based on whether the hotel thinks it will be able to fill its rooms for the night. Your best time to book is usually within 24 hours of the stay, when hotels slash prices to avoid vacant rooms, but that creates a lot of uncertainty and isn't ideal when you're traveling in an unfamiliar place.

Thankfully, websites can help you time your bookings so you get the best price without running the risk of not getting a room at all.

2. Check for affiliation and other discounts. You may qualify for additional discounts simply by belonging to an association or organization.Check with your professional organization, university or any other group you might belong to. Your credit card might also offer discounts – Visa Signature, for example, offers discounts and perks on a rotating cast of hotels.

3. Use rewards malls. When it comes time to finally book, utilize cash back and credit card rewards to earn bonus rewards.

4. Negotiate, not pay, for upgrades. Instead of booking the fanciest room in the place, reserve a lower-rate room and then ask for an upgrade. If you're traveling at an off-peak time, you have a higher chance of moving up to a vacant, better room at check-in.

You can also try a number of tactics to score an upgrade such as:

  • Calling a manager to see what room is available (it usually helps to mention if it's a special occasion)
  • Showing up exactly at check-in time in hopes that your room won't be ready, and they'll have to upgrade you to a better, prepped room
  • Tipping in advance and asking nicely for an upgrade

Here, too, your credit card can come in handy. The American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts booking tool gives room upgrades, resort credits and breakfast. Visa Signature and World MasterCard cardholders can also get special deals.