So you’re planning a trip. You’ve researched. You’ve squirelled away points or (gasp!) actual dollars, and now you’re ready to book your vacation.
Now you might think that once you press the “confirm stay” button on your booking method of choice, you’re done, with nothing left to do but count down the days til you get to leave, but in fact, a smart traveler isn’t quite done.
Even after you’ve booked, you can save money & points by continuing to check up on your trip. Here’s how:
1. Periodically Check Your Hotel Rate For Decreases
We’re going on an Alaska cruise next year that departs out of Seattle. Since we always like to get to our departure city the day before a cruise leaves, that means we needed a 1-night hotel stay somewhere in the city.
After looking at my options, there was one hotel that stood out above the rest — the Hotel 1000 Seattle. With all the newest high tech hotel gadgets, bubbles upon arrival, complimentary luxury car service, a highly-rated spa, and much more, we just had to check it out.
One problem – the Hotel 1000 isn’t a member of any hotel loyalty programs, and we hate having to pay cash. But, of course, as we have a healthy stash of Chase Ultimate reward points, even that wasn’t a problem – we exchanged 25,694 UR points for a nightly room rate, inclusive of taxes of $321.18. Not a bad deal – still a redemption rate of roughly 1.2 cents per point.
But a month later, the hotel rate had fallen to $294.99. And as the Chase points redemption rate is tied to actual cost of rooms, the points rate had fallen too. So I called up Chase, and within about five minutes, my original points had been refunded, and I was able to book at the new lower rate of 23,599 points — saving myself 2,095 points that I can now use elsewhere.
And you can generally use this trick even if booking with cash, though if you book a non-refundable rate, you’ll generally do better asking for an upgrade than a partial refund. A particularly good use of this tactic is on cruise bookings, where they’ll happily rebook you at the lower rates (or upgrade you accordingly) all the way up until the time final payment is due. In fact, it saved us over $400 on our last cruise.
2. Sign Up For Additional Promotions
If you’re booked on a cash stay, you should spend the weeks or months leading up to your stay keeping an eye on any special promotions that you can find from your hotel’s loyalty program.
IHG in particular often has a number of promotions running at once, as does SPG. And as long as you’ve signed up before you’re stay, you may be in store for extra points just for clicking a few buttons.
Once you’ve already got a stay or two booked and upcoming is also a great time to request a status challenge – it’ll make it easier to meet the minimum stay requirements and pick up a snazzy new elite status along the way.
3. Check out the Hotel Upgrade app
I don’t know how this app really works, and I sure don’t get how it makes money. But it’s dead simple to use. Choose your location, and if your hotel is listed, you can sign up for a little bonus gift – like extra points or an automatic upgrade.
Like I said – dead simple. Unfortunately, they don’t have too many properties included, but if they do happen to have yours, why not pick up a little extra?
What tips do you have for saving money even after booking? Tell us in the comments. Header photo courtesy of Hotel 1000.