I stay at a lot of hotels. In fact, I’ve lost count how many times I stayed in a hotel last year (maybe 50? Or, possibly 100). While I am relatively domestic these days with my own apartment, I still get out and travel as much as my time (and budget) allows, to the tune of 64 flights last year. I’ve also literally lived in hotels for 365 days a year for several years, so I know how quickly it can erode your bank account if you’re not careful.
Speaking of budget, those who know me understand that I’m thrifty, but not cheap. I don’t mind spending money on a great value, to spoil cool people, or for a unique experience, but I just hate to waste my hard-earned loot. And I find the prices for most hotel rooms way too high for my liking.
Unfortunately , along with my beer pockets, I also have tastes that are…maybe not champagne, but let’s say red wine. I like to stay in a nice, clean, comfortable, and practical hotel while I travel.
So, I’ve devised a little checklist for saving a buck or two as I travel, still allowing me to stay in decent or even very nice places but lowering my total overall cost. I’ll share the first 5 of my 15 fast, easy, and cheap ways to save money on your hotel stay here, and the rest in future reviews.
1. Before you book, email the hotel or go on their website and ask if they have a membership or rewards card. If they do, you might get a significant discount on your first stay just for signing up. Or, you can at least amass points towards a free visit.
2. You can also book on a credit card that has cash back or airline points, so you’re profiting or benefiting somehow.
3. As you’re booking, carefully gauge the price bump for breakfast. Some hotels always include free breakfast in their price. But, increasingly, more and more offer a base price without breakfast, and then another price with the option to eat. If they only charge $5 or less for the most important meal of the day, it’s definitely worth it. But I’ve also seen hotels try to charge $12, $15, or even $20 just for eggs and coffee!
4. If the breakfast is way too expensive or not an all-you-can-eat buffet, just stop by a corner store the night before and pick up a few black coffees, a small container of milk, a few bananas and muffins and you’ll save a bundle.
5. You’re definitely going to call me cheap with this one, but consider replenishing the minibar yourself if you take anything out of it. Of course, if it has fancy hi-tech sensors and paper strips across each item, then stay away from the minibar altogether. But if you want a few beers, a soda, or some snacks, just go to the local 7-11 or corner store (like when you’re getting your breakfast!) to pick up those same items before you check out. It can save you a few bucks all the way up to $10 or so, depending on the prices and what you ate.