The price you pay for a hotel room can vary greatly depending on the property, its location and when you stay. On average, the daily rate for U.S. hotels was $120 in 2015, according to Statista, an online statistics company.
But you don’t have to pay the going rate if you know the insider tricks on how to get the best hotel prices while avoiding extra hotel fees. Here are 40 hotel secrets only insiders know to save money on your next trip.
1. Book 30 Days in Advance
Boutique hotel booking website Stayful found that you can get the best hotel prices by booking 30 days before your stay, said Cheryl Rosner, co-founder and CEO of Stayful.
However, if you don’t reserve a room a full month in advance, there is another window of opportunity to get a deal. Rosner said that hotels also tend to offer some of their best rates seven to 10 days in advance of a stay.
2. Wait Until the Last Minute to Book a Room
If you can handle waiting until the last minute, you’ll often find a great rate at a hotel by booking a room the day of your stay, said Carrie Peters, travel editor for Hotwire. That’s because most hotels are only 60 percent occupied on any given night, said Brian Ek, travel analyst for Priceline. “So they would love to fill that room even if it means filling it for only pennies on the dollar,” he said.
However, they’re more likely to offer discounted rates through third-party travel websites rather than their own sites, said Ek. You can find last-minute deals on sites such as Priceline, Hotwire and LastMinuteTravel.com. A note of caution: Don’t expect to find last-minute deals at popular destinations during their peak seasons, such as Florida beach cities during spring break or New York between Thanksgiving and Christmas, said Ek.
3. Get a Refund for a Price Drop
If you don’t want to chance ending up without a place to stay, you can reserve a room in advance and still take advantage of price drops by booking through Tingo.com. Tingo will automatically re-book your room at a lower rate if the price drops and refund the difference to the credit card you used. The average refund for rooms booked six weeks in advance is about $68, according to Tingo.
4. Stay on a Sunday
Timing a hotel stay right can save you money. Hotwire data showed that, on average, Sundays have the lowest rates for hotel rooms, Peters said. So, you can lower the overall cost of lodging if you plan your trip to include a Sunday night stay, she said.
5. Go to Tourist Locales Mid-Week
Cities that are major tourist destinations tend to see more traffic on weekends, when people are working and have time to travel. So prices tend to rise as demand does. You’ll save on the cost of lodging if you go against the tide, said Bob Tupper, author of “Drinking In the Culture: Tuppers’ Guide to Exploring Great Beers in Europe.”
“Go to touristy areas in mid-week when the tourists aren’t there in droves,” he said.
6. Visit Business Hotspots on Weekends
You can save money on lodging by staying at a hotel in a city’s business district on weekends when business travelers have checked out and headed home, Tupper said. For example, he found a room in an upscale business district of Zurich, Switzerland, on a weekend at half the price of a weekday stay.
7. Take Advantage of Shoulder Season
Shoulder season is the period of time between the off-peak season at a destination when the weather is not ideal for travel and the peak season when prices are high and crowds are abundant.
Because Easter came early this year, there’s a rare two-month shoulder season between spring break and the start of the summer travel season on Memorial Day, Ek said. “That’s 60 days when hotels will need help filling rooms, and the rates will be attractive,” he said.
For example, the average daily rate in the popular ski resort city of Jackson Hole, Wyo., is about $135 in May — a bargain considering it will jump to $198 come June, said Ek. If you visit during this shoulder season, you can see nearby Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks before the summer crowds arrive.
8. Get Deep Discounts During the Off-Season
Just because a destination has a reputation for extreme heat, cold or storms at certain times of the year, that doesn’t mean you’re destined to experience bad weather if you visit that spot then, said Elizabeth Avery, founder of Solo Trekker 4 U, a site dedicated to traveling solo.
What you will get, though, are deep discounts on lodging because demand will be lower in the off-season. For example, locales known for having a rainy season can be a good value because the rains can be brief rather than continuous, she said. You can still do plenty of site seeing — at a lower cost.
9. Stay in the Suburbs
If you stay on the outskirts of mid- and large-sized cities, you’ll find more upscale hotels at lower prices, said Neil Emerson, senior vice president of product development for travel brokerage company