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This Is My Favorite Way to Save Money on Hotel Costs

Two people with suitcases checking into a hotel by swiping their phone on the payment reader with an employee behind the lobby desk.

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Travel is a big passion of mine. To afford to see more of the world, I make strategic moves that save me money on travel expenses. When I get a better deal on a hotel or flight, it frees up more money in my travel fund for other expenses like food and activities — plus it allows me to take more trips.

Hotel bookings are one of the more costly travel expenses. If you stay at a hotel for several nights, you can expect to pay a good chunk of cash. But there’s one technique that could help you score a better deal. Here’s one of my favorite ways to save money on hotel bookings.

Make a refundable hotel booking so you have flexibility

When I book a hotel for an upcoming trip, I ensure it’s a refundable booking. Some hotels offer travelers a more affordable rate if they book a non-refundable stay. But I value flexibility, so saving only a few bucks per night on a non-refundable booking isn’t worthwhile for me.

Most hotels let travelers who make refundable bookings cancel their reservations up to 48 hours in advance without penalty. This works nicely for me because I often rebook my stay later when hotel rates are more affordable.

Monitor hotel rates and rebook your stay when prices are lower

Travelers may get a better hotel rate by booking a hotel a few weeks or a couple of months in advance rather than making a booking a few days before they depart for their trip. But that doesn’t mean the rate they get a few months out will be the lowest rate the hotel offers.

It’s common for hotel rates to fluctuate, so booking in advance won’t ensure you get the best possible deal for your hotel stay. Some hotels lower their rates to encourage more travelers to book a stay. This means travelers who made refundable bookings can benefit when hotel rates drop.

If I find a better deal a few weeks before my trip begins, I save money by canceling my existing refundable stay and making a new refundable booking at the more affordable rate. This strategy has worked many times for me over the last couple of years, and I’ve saved well over $1,000.

Follow these tips for the best success

If you’re a frequent traveler who prefers staying in hotels, this booking strategy could save you hundreds of dollars yearly. But note that if you use this strategy, it’s essential to make sure you cancel the previously booked reservation. You want to avoid accidentally paying for two separate stays.

Before making a reservation, you should also review the refundable booking rules for the hotel to know how long you have to cancel if your plans change or you find a new, lower price.

How far in advance should you begin monitoring rates? I like to monitor prices starting at least a few weeks before my check-in date. If the hotel reduces the nightly rates for your travel dates, rebooking your stay could be a win for your bank account.

Don’t miss out on additional savings

As you make travel plans, look for ways to get a better deal. You can free up more cash in your vacation fund by taking advantage of hotel and flight deals. Monitoring hotel rates and rebooking your hotel accommodations could result in additional savings. Check out our personal finance resources for more ways to save money on travel expenses.

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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Natasha Gabrielle has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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