Category Archives: Travel Deal Sites

BJ Wholesale Club’s Travel Discounts

I am planning a trip to Wyoming for my family this summer.  In my research, I learned about something I’ve never used before – BJ Wholesale Club’s Travel Discounts.  I needed to book a rental car for the trip and couldn’t believe that the rates were running over $550/week for a full-sized rental.  I could not bring myself to pay that much, so I was going to try Priceline.  I went to Better Bidding and Bidding for Travel to try to get an idea of where I needed to start bidding.  Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information about Wyoming on those sites.

So I looked at the general discussion about rental cars.  I came across a post where someone said that they had good luck with the BJ Wholesale Club’s Travel Discount program.  Technically you need to be a member to use the discounts, but most of the rental car agencies don’t ask for your number (only Enterprise did in my searching).  I am a member regardless, so if they ask to see my card when I go, I have one. 

I searched each of the rental car agencies and was shocked when I saw that renting a full-sized car from Dollar Rent A Car was only going to cost me $240 for the week!  I thought that I must have entered my location or dates incorrectly, but I hadn’t.  I thought maybe it didn’t include unlimited miles, but it did. 

I’ll write more about my trip planning for our Wyoming vacation in another post, but I wanted to make sure everyone knew about this site considering it saved me over $300!  And since it’s booked directly with the rental car agency (and not through a discount site like Priceline or Hotwire), we can get frequent flyer points.

Reminder: Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the British Airways credit card with 100k sign-up bonus.

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$199/7 nights at select Wyndam Hotels the next few weeks

I just saw an incredible deal on slickdeals today that I thought you guys would like.  At select Wyndam Hotels, you can stay for $199 for 7-nights.  It’s good for the next few weeks.  Here’s the link on slickdeals and the link to the site that’s actually doing the deal.

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Travelzoo and Shermans Travel

Wednesdays are a great day for finding deals.  It’s the day that airlines put out their weekend reduced fares.  It’s also when Travelzoo Top 20 and Shermans Travel Top 25 lists come out.  Travelzoo’s list is posted around 11 AM ET and Sherman’s is earlier (around 9 or 10).  These 2 sites search the web to find the best travel deals.  If you’re thinking of traveling to Europe or the Caribbean, I would definitely check these sites.  You can typically save hundreds on package deals to those locations.

The sites are much more than their top lists.  You can search hotel, airfare, car, vacation, and cruise deals based on location.  We took a trip to San Francisco several years ago.  Through a deal we found on Travelzoo, we got our hotel in downtown San Francisco right near the piers for about half price.

I also check Travelzoo throughout the week.  They have a section for Today’s Top Deals so you don’t have to wait until Wednesdays to find great deals.

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Priceline Hotel Bidding Strategy

I rarely book a hotel through traditional sites.  I have had great success with Priceline.  I use the sites that I described in yesterday’s post to help me figure out where to start my bidding.  Priceline allows you to name your own price for a hotel stay.  You enter the star level of hotel you want and the area.  You are told the hotel you won after the bid is accepted.  If your bid is not accepted, you either need to wait a day to bid again, or you need to change either the level of hotel you’re looking for or the location.  However, if you implement the following bidding strategy, you can essentially perform the same search multiple times in one day.

Here’s how it works.  Let’s say you want to take a trip to San Francisco and stay at a 4-star hotel in Nob Hill.  The first thing you do is go to the Name Your Own Price section of site.  Enter in San Francisco, CA as your location and the dates you want to travel.  After that you’ll be taken to a page that shows a map of San Francisco with all the different areas.  The first thing you need to do is figure out which level of hotels exist in each section.  Here’s what is was when I searched:

  1. Civic Center South – 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3
  2. Financial District – 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
  3. Fisherman’s Wharf – 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2
  4. Japan Town – 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3
  5. Marina – 1, 2
  6. SFO North - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3
  7. SFO International Airport - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
  8. SOMA - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
  9. San Mateo - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
  10. South San Francisco - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3
  11. Union Square East - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4
  12. Union Square West – Nob Hill - 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4

Notice that many of the areas do not have 4-star hotels (Civic Center South, Fisherman’s Wharf, Japan Town, Marina, SFO North, South San Francisco).  These are the areas that we’re going to use to get us free rebids.  Since they don’t have any of the star level we want, we can add them in to our search when our bid isn’t accepted, and that will allow us to rebid.  And we know there’s no way we could end up with a hotel in that area because they don’t have any 4-star hotels.

Priceline requires that you change the combination that you’re searching every time you rebid.  So here’s what you would do (until you get a win):

  • Bid 1 – bid on your preferred location of Nob Hill
  • Bid 2 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and Civic Center South
  • Bid 3 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Bid 4 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and Japan Town
  • Bid 5 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and Marina
  • Bid 6 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and SFO North
  • Bid 7 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill and South San Francisco

Now we’ve exhausted all the first combinations.  If you still haven’t received a winning bid, continue on including 2 locations.

  • Bid 8 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill, Civic Center South, and Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Bid 9 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill, Civic Center South, and Japan Town
  • Bid 10 – up your bid and search on Nob Hill, Civic Center South, and Marina

I think you get the idea.  You just keep adding in locations and changing the combinations of locations until you get a winning bid.  If you don’t win the first day, wait 24 hours, and try the strategy again.

Here’s a good site that talks about the strategy in more detail:

Up tomorrow: My favorite non-travel deal sites

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Priceline, Hotwire, and Last Minute Travel

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.

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