18 Lucrative Tips for Scoring Cheap Deals on Hotels and Accommodation

Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses you face when traveling. Want to learn how to save money on it? Here are 18 tips that should help.

According to Forbes, the average cost of staying three nights at a mid-range hotel is over $500. Now imagine going on a longer trip to a nicer place and taking your entire family. The price skyrockets.

Clearly, paying for hotels and other accommodation isn’t cheap. But it’s also inescapable. You have to spend your nights somewhere, and most people want to stay in places that are well-located, have great views, and provide first-rate amenities.

The question becomes: how can you get all that without breaking the bank? Here are 18 tips that should help you score incredible deals on trip accommodation.

1. Book Hotels Last Minute

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It sounds counterintuitive, but research suggests booking hotels right before a vacation can be cheaper than doing it months prior.

In 2022, NerdWallet did a study of 2,500 room rates between 2019 and 2021. They looked at hotels around the world that range “across class and brand.” Two-thirds of the time, booking 15 days before the trip was cheaper than doing it four months out. The average saving was 13%.

However, there are caveats…

2. Book Hotels Months in Advance

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While booking right before your trip might be statistically cheaper, it’s also riskier. Popular places are likely to fill up.

Furthermore, a Travel and Leisure post draws an important distinction. Apparently, separate research has found that while the 15-day benchmark applies to business cities like New York, it’s less viable for popular vacation destinations. Hotel rates were cheaper two to three months before the trip in places like Hawaii and the Caribbean.

3. Get Free Cancellation, Set Price Alerts

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Ultimately, the most sensible approach is to book months in advance. This might be the cheapest option anyway, and it also ensures you get a room you want in the place you want.

Just make sure there’s free cancellation. That way, if you track the room rates and see them drop, you can cancel the current booking and rebook (or negotiate with the hotel to refund the difference).

The best way to track prices is to set up automatic price alerts on comparison sites like Skyscanner, KAYAK, and Trivago. These sites monitor rates for your chosen dates and send notifications if/when they fall.

4. Leverage Hotel Loyalty Programs

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Hotel loyalty programs offer incentives to compel guests to keep staying at the chain in question. Like a hotel that has a program you don’t utilize? Well, you’re essentially leaving money on the table.

The more you stay there and the more points you accrue through the program, the better the rewards become. Over time, you might go from free Wi-Fi to complimentary breakfasts, room upgrades, and even free nights.

5. Book an Airbnb Instead

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Airbnb is a fantastic option for finding affordable accommodation in sought-after locations. From luxury beachfront penthouses to staying in someone’s spare room, there are options to fit every budget.

Nowadays, these places are often run as an actual business. That means you can expect modern amenities and high standards of cleanliness and customer service. If the hotels seem overpriced, make sure you check Airbnb. It’ll likely have a cheaper alternative.

6. Airbnb: Get a Kitchen

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Want the best bang for your buck with Airbnbs? Get one with a kitchen. While you’ll have one 99% of the time when booking an entire home, kitchen access isn’t guaranteed if you’re only getting a room in someone’s home.

Always check beforehand. Having a kitchen means you can cook your own meals. That might be the last thing you want to do on vacation, but it’s a great way to save money – especially if you’re traveling for a long time.

7. Airbnb: Book Longer Stays

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An Airbnb can be cheaper than a hotel, anyway. Yet you can often score further discounts by reserving longer stays. Many owners apply automatic price reductions for bookings of a week and/or 28 days.

To see if that’s the case, set your trip dates for these durations on the app. With luck, you’ll see a big drop in the nightly rate for your chosen property.

Obviously, this only helps if you have the luxury of time. But it’s worth keeping in mind. For instance, you may like the idea of booking two different Airbnbs to see different parts of a city. But it’d probably be cheaper to stay in one property for longer thanks to the discount.

8. Airbnb: Contact the Owner

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Airbnb has tight controls over discussions of price on their app. Makes sense. They only make money if you book through their system, so it’s in their interest to make that happen.

However, there are sneaky ways around this. For example, some Airbnb properties have their own website. Why not find them online and reach out? Likewise, you can probably see the owner’s name on the listing. You could try searching for them on social media and sending a message.

If you contact them outside of Airbnb, they may offer a discount (because they’d no longer pay Airbnb’s cut). Just be aware: If you don’t book through Airbnb, you don’t get their payment protections, either.

9. Airbnb: Book Early

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It can pay to book an Airbnb months before your trip. This is because popular places fill up fast. Yet it’s also because many Airbnb hosts don’t understand pricing.

Unlike hotels, which tend to know exactly what they’re worth, Airbnb owners often unwittingly undercharge. These deals get swept up fast, though, which means you have to get in early to find them.

10. Book Direct, Consider Best Rate Guarantees

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While it’s common to book accommodation through third-party websites like Booking.com or Agoda these days, it’s sometimes cheaper to book directly through the hotel’s website. Hotels pay these sites a commission, so they’ll often incentivize direct bookings instead.

One way they do this is via best-rate guarantees. They’re basically saying, “Book with us. You won’t find our rooms cheaper anywhere else.” If you do stumble upon the same room at the same place on the same dates for less money, they’ll give you some kind of reward.

11. Search for Freebies

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Many hotels try to attract customers with perks, such as breakfast on the house or happy hour each evening. Although it might not seem like a major saving, a free meal every day for you and your family can stack up.

Always check what’s available! Whether you get discounted dining in the hotel restaurant or a free drink upon arrival, every little counts. Don’t see anything advertised? It never hurts to ask. They might have deals and discounts you simply haven’t seen.

12. Leverage Hotel-Affiliated Credit Cards

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Many hotel chains have deals with credit card companies that can save you serious money. Why not sign up for a card affiliated with your favorite?

You’ll get points for using it, which you can transfer to the hotel. Sometimes, you’ll even be offered transfer bonuses – not to mention welcome bonuses for signing up. These credit cards can also come with “elite status” perks that deliver freebies (e.g., breakfast) during your stay.

13. Phone Up and Ask

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As the old sayings do, fortune favors the brave, and you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. There’s no harm in phoning up hotels and asking whether they can do you a deal and/or throw in any freebies.

Of course, you’ll have more luck if there’s something in it for them. Are you a regular guest? Are you planning a big group trip? Are you hoping to stay a long time? They should be more willing to help.

14. Leverage Prepaid Rates

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Prepaid rates involve paying in full for your hotel booking instead of upon arrival/departure. This isn’t always an option, but it can be a fantastic way to save money when it is. For example, some high-end establishments don’t charge a “resort fee” for a prepaid rate.

The caveat is that the booking is usually nonrefundable. Only take this route if you’re certain the trip is going ahead on those dates.

15. Use Roomer Travel

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Ironically, you can actually benefit from other people falling foul of nonrefundable prepaid trips. How? Roomer Travel. This website lets people who can’t attend a prepaid trip sell it at a discount to anyone seeking a last-minute vacation.

It’s a cool service where you can find incredible bargains in places around the world. You just need to be flexible with where you go.

16. Check “Special Deals” Pages

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Most places have a page on their website devoted to seasonal discounts and deals. Make sure you check it before booking!

Run a Google search like this: “site:Hilton.com discounts and deals.” It should throw up the section you need. This is also true for anything else you’re booking on vacation! Always look for deals before booking.

17. Consider Alternative Forms of Accommodation

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Really want to save money? Consider camping, staying in hostels, hiring a campervan, Couchsurfing, or housesitting instead.

These options lack the luxury and creature comforts of hotels and Airbnb, but they’re considerably cheaper. If affordability is the number one factor, though, then it might be worth it.

18. Stay Outside the Main Location

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It’s natural to want to stay in the best possible locations when traveling. Unfortunately, the rules of supply and demand mean accommodation there is always far more expensive.

Consider staying just outside your ideal spot instead. There’ll be less competition for rooms, which keeps the cost down. The area might also be quieter and more peaceful.



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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.