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Apryl Duncan

Thrifty Thursday: Name Your Own Price for Hotels Really Does Work

By July 22, 2010

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You've seen the commercials. You know the celebrity attached to the company's name.

But does Priceline.com really save you money?

A picture of William Shatner
William Shatner is the face of Priceline.com.
Photo © Getty Images
I recently took my son on a quick trip to hit the family-friendly attractions in my hometown. We only planned to stay the day. But as the hours passed us by, I decided we should spend the night.

I got online and every hotel room in the area was more than $100 before tax. I've used Priceline.com before so that's where I went to name my own price.

Here's how it works:

I entered my star rating so Priceline would only search for the hotels I wanted to stay with for the night. In other words, you don't enter a bid and end up in a dive just because no other hotels accepted your price.

I was also able to choose the area of the city I wanted to stay in. Priceline will only search the hotels in that area with the star level you've chosen.

When it came time to bid, I thought I'd be clever and low ball the amount I was willing to pay. Priceline immediately told me that my bid wasn't likely to get accepted based on what other name your own price travelers had paid recently. I would've taken my chances if Priceline allowed you to submit more than one bid on the same star level in a 24 hour period. But it doesn't, so I upped my bid by $10.

Within minutes, I had the fanciest hotel in the area for exactly 50% off what the hotel's site as well as other travel sites said the room rate would be for the night. I felt so lucky 15 minutes later when I walked into the front lobby and the guy behind me looking for a room was turned away because the hotel was fully booked.

Over the years, my husband and I have used Priceline to book a getaway at a 4-star Grand Hyatt for $50. My mom scored a $137 room at the Embassy Suites for $60.

There are pros and cons of using Priceline.com, though. When my whole family comes along, we usually book a suite. Priceline doesn't give you that option when you're trying to book a room.

In fact, after my hotel was booked, a confirmation page said that room types can't be guaranteed. So if you want a non-smoking room with a king size bed, you have to call the hotel after you've booked your reservation through Priceline and cross your fingers that they can accommodate your request.

Another downside is your personal taste. I've heard unhappy travelers voicing their complaints about their room to the hotel manager. They can switch rooms but a refund is out of the question. You've prepaid for your accommodations through Priceline.

Of course, Priceline offers other name your own price rates. You can book your next flight or car rental too. But you have to be willing to fly on your selected date at the time Priceline books for you.

For car rentals, you can choose the size of your car. But if you're a die-hard Ford fan, for example, you can end up in a Chevrolet.

If your travel plans are a bit flexible or you don't mind the travel roulette wheel, give Priceline a try. Beat the bidding system with strategies that help you save big on your next trip. We've saved hundreds on hotel rooms so far.

What are your tips for saving money on travel?

Thrifty Thursday Tips from About.com Parenting Guides:

July 22, 2010 at 8:05 am
(1) Susan says:

It is true that you are not guaranteed the type of room you book. I once booked a room with two doubles for my daughter, my grandkids and me, using Priceline. We got a room with a king. I spent the night on a rollaway bed. Even in a five-star hotel, a rollaway bed is still uncomfortable! And for some reason it’s worse to be surrounded by such luxury and to be sleeping on a rollaway.

As for car rentals, no matter how you rent a car, it’s been my experience that you are seldom guaranteed a certain make of car, just a car in a particular “class.”

July 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm
(2) Apryl says:


You are a wonderful grandma to sleep on the rollover for your daughters and grandkids!

For us, with car rentals, we used to use Hertz because Ford used to own them. If we didn’t like the type of car they put us in, we could always ask what else they had available. But since Ford sold them off, there’s not much wiggle room. If a traveler is willing to do some digging, you can find out which car brands rental companies have more of so if you want to steer clear, no pun intended, of a certain type of car, you have a better chance of doing so — like us getting stuck in a Toyota Camry amidst the massive recall!

Apryl Duncan
Guide to Stay-at-Home Moms
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July 23, 2010 at 10:01 am
(3) Carol Flett says:

This is great info. I will give it a try on our next trip. Thanks.

June 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm
(4) Brian says:

I found a hotel at the Boulders Resort in Phoenix for only $85 and the rooms there start at $189. So excellent deals!

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