I’m cheap and with 4 kids I need to be! Using hotel points for free stays saves a ton of money but there are times when using points is actually not the cheapest option. I’m not talking about putting valuations on points and comparing them to paid rates either. I’m talking about taking advantage hotel and travel provider Best Rate Guarantees.
What is a Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) ?
Simply put a BRG is a travel providers guarantee that they have the cheapest rate available for your hotel stay and provides some type of compensation if they don’t. That can be in the form of matching the lower rate, taking an additional percentage off the lowest rate, giving you bonus points, or even giving you a completely free night!
Pretty much every hotel chain out there has a best rate guarantee these days along with the majority of the major 3rd party booking engines such as Expedia and Orbitz. Everyone is competing to get your business and offering a BRG gives customers peace of mind. Being guaranteed the lowest rate makes people confident that they don’t need to shop around. After all, if they guarantee the lowest rate, then I must be getting the best deal… Right?
Wrong. That is not always the case. With so many different sites, discounts, and sales it is simply impossible for everyone to have the best rate every time. But a BRG is worthless if you don’t actually look for a better rate!
How do I find a BRG?
I wish I had a quick easy method for you but the truth of the matter is that it is simply a matter of comparing multiple rate quotes from multiple sites. You will need to have an idea of what various BRG’s are out there and what you hope to find. For example, if you are trying to get a totally free night then you would want to look at IHG or Choice properties which both give you the first night free! (I’ll cover what each brand offers later)
- Pick your destination and the brand hotel you want to look for.
- Check the rate on the hotels website for rates on the dates you want.
- Check rates from other sites such as Kayak.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Wego.com, or wherever. There are tons of sites to check.
If you don’t find anything then pick another brand and start over.
Once you find a price discrepancy on another site you need to make sure they are the exact same offerings. Is it the exact same room, same cancellation policy, etc.
If you have an exact match it is time to go ahead and book the room via the site with the higher rate and then submit your Best Rate Guarantee form to them. I highly advise to only make refundable bookings just in case your BRG gets denied for some reason.
It is all about comparison shopping!
I think this is probably the biggest reason more people do not take advantage of BRG’s. They can be time-consuming and potentially addictive! Some sites like Wego.com will pull rates from multiple different sites and list them out for you which can be helpful. But I would highly advise not just relying on a comparison site as I have found the rates aren’t always the same.
Here is an example that was featured on The Best Rate Guarantee Blog, which is another good BRG resource.
1. Search the hotels own site for rates for your destination and dates.
Looking for dates in February in New York City, I plugged in 2/21/14 at ChoiceHotels.com where we find the GEM Hotel – Chelsea, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member for a rate of $211.65.
2. Comparison shop!
Checking the rates on multiple other booking engines sometimes pays off. Here we see Hotels.com has this hotel for $187 a night.
Remember, before you pull the trigger on the deal you need to make sure they are the same rate, cancellation policy, etc. Then we go ahead and book our stay via Hotels.com and immediately submit our Best Rate Guarantee form. If all goes as it should you will be getting your first night free!
If for some odd reason, it was denied you will be glad you booked the refundable rate.
What Does Each Chain/Site Offer as a Best Rate Guarantee?
Here is a list of the biggest chains and what they offer by way of a BRG. Follow the link to each chains website for details on their BRG.
Find a lower rate and your 1st night is free!
Find a lower rate and your 1st night is free + they will match the lower rate for the remaining nights of your stay!
Hilton will match the lower rate and give you $50 back.
- For Hotels outside the USA, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, we will adjust your bill by US $50 (or local currency equivalent).
- For Hotels inside the USA, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, we will give you a US $50 American Express Gift Cheque. The Gift Cheque will be sent to you the next business day after your stay, as reserved, is completed.
Marriott will match the lower rate and then take an additional 25% off the lower rate.
SPG will match the lower rate that you find and then give you the option of either:
- An additional 10% off the lower rate
- 2,000 Starpoints
Club Carlson will match the lower rate and then take an additional 25% off the lower rate.
Omni Hotels will match the lower rate and then take an additional 25% off the lower rate.
Hyatt will match the lower rate and then take an additional 20% off the lower rate.
Accor will match the lower rate and then take an additional 10% off the lower rate.
Best Western will match the lower rate + they will send you a $100 Best Western Travel Card for future stays!
Expedia will refund the difference and give you a $50 travel coupon.
Hotels.com will match the lower rate all the way up to the reservations cancellation deadline
Orbitz will give you the difference in the form of Orbucks + $50 additional in Orbucks. If you are an Orbitz rewards member you can receive an additional $100-$200 in Orbucks.
Priceline will help you rebook at the lower rate or refund 100% of the difference + for US customers you will receive a $50 coupon towards a future Priceline Vacation Package.
If you are willing to spend a little time, are flexible, and persistent you can save a ton of money on your paid hotel stays. Whenever I am planning a trip the first thing I do is look for a potential BRG score from either IHG or Choice, if nothing pans out then I look at booking with points. I will periodically double-check prior to my trip just in case I can snag something and cancel a night or two of my award stays.
Remember, a BRG claim has to be submitted within 24 hours of your initial booking to be valid. So look for the lower rate before you book something! Also remember that each program has its own list of terms and conditions and you must make sure you are familiar with them before booking! I didn’t cover all the terms and conditions for lengths sake, but make sure to familiarize yourself.
Give it a shot on your next trip and see what you can find!! Good luck!