I understand that many people will not want to play the credit card game. Also it’s hard to cover all travel expenses through credit card sign up bonuses. So I want to talk about some of the other ways that I save money when booking travel.
First, I almost never book hotels or rental cars through the main travel sites. I generally use Priceline, Hotwire or Last Minute Travel. Priceline allows you to name your own price, while Hotwire and Last Minute Travel give you discounted prices, but you don’t know the company you’re booking with until after you book. Both of those methods may have people nervous – 1) because you don’t know which company you’re going to end up with 2) with Priceline, you may not know where to start bidding.
Luckily, there are ways around these concerns. There are forum sites where people post winning Priceline bids and Hotwire bookings. They also have information about which hotels participate in the programs. They do not have Last Minute Travel information, but you can use similar techniques to Hotwire on Last Minute Travel. My 2 favorite forum sites are Better Bidding and Bidding for Travel.
Rental cars are really straight forward. I really just use the sites to know where to start bidding.
For hotels, each of the forum sites gives you a list of hotels that participate in the Priceline and Hotwire programs by level of hotel. The Hotwire list gives you a list of amenities to help you figure out which hotel you might get. Better Bidding also has a feature I love. It’s the Priceline and Hotwire Calendar of Wins. It allows you to easily search winning bids for a given time period for a location. It’s a great feature to help you gauge what you should bid since hotel prices vary based on the time of year.
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll cover bidding strategies so you don’t have to wait a day between bids if your first bid is not accepted.