How I used Priceline to Save 50% on a Last Second Hotel Night

16
1558

Last Sunday I found myself in Raleigh, North Carolina needing a hotel room for one more night.

The Days Inn where I was staying wanted $103 for that night, and I’d have to move to a smoking room, which didn’t interest me at all.

I looked at some nearby chain hotels, and the Sheraton wanted $229 plus tax or 7,000 Starpoints, which I valued at $175.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 11.34.31 AM

I checked kayak.com for other options, and I didn’t find anything I liked. All the offers were too expensive or in the wrong part of town.

That’s when I decide to use Priceline’s Name Your Own Price feature to book a hotel room for the night.

How does the Name Your Own Price feature work? What’s the one big trick? How much did I pay for my last night in Raleigh?

In short, Priceline’s Name Your Own Price system works like this:

  1. Hotels offer Priceline deeply discounted rooms to sell as long as Priceline sells the room in an opaque way.
  2. Priceline makes the process opaque by letting you pick a city, a zone of the city, and the minimum quality (in stars) of your hotel, but not the hotel itself.
  3. You enter a credit card number and then make a bid.
  4. If your bid is accepted, your credit card gets a non-refundable charge, and you are told which hotel you got.
  5. If your bid fails, there are strict limits on when you can re-bid to make it impossible to just keep bidding $1 higher until you get the hotel at the lowest possible price.

I had a great experience booking a room in Raleigh with Priceline. I followed the steps I laid out in “Free First Class Next Month: Name Your Own Price on Priceline to Save Hundreds on Hotels” exactly.

1. I identified the one or more zones in the Raleigh area where I wanted to stay.

I wanted to stay in the Arena Area zone to be able to walk to a basketball game that night.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 2.17.33 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 2.31.59 AM

2. I identified zones that only had very low quality hotels.

This is the key to getting free rebids, which I’ll explain in a later step.

You need to find all the zones that only have worse hotels than the quality level you plan to bid on. I was going to bid on three star hotels. There were three zones that had no three star or better hotels: zones 8, 11, and 13.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 2.32.28 AM

3. I made a low ball bid for a three star hotel in the Arena Area zone.

I bid $45, which after taxes and fees meant I was authorizing about a $60 charge on my credit card if my bid won. It didn’t win, so I went to the Free Rebid Strategy.

4. I made my first Free Rebid.

Priceline doesn’t just let you bid $1 more until you find the lowest price that gets you into a room.

You either have to wait 24 hours to bid again or change your dates, add lower quality hotels, or add zones.

The secret to Free Rebids is to add zones that only have very low quality hotels.

Remember that I wanted a three star or better hotel in the Arena Area and that the Wake Forest zone had no three star hotels (see Step 2).

If I add the Wake Forest zone to a rebid, Priceline lets me rebid immediately since I’ve added a zone. But there’s no danger of a winning bid actually placing me in the Wake Forest zone since I’m bidding on three star or better hotels and the Wake Forest zone has no such hotels.

I added the Wake Forest zone, bid $5 higher, and again my bid was rejected. No worries. I had five more possible Free Rebids.

5. I used the “permutations method” for Free Rebids to get the maximum number possible.

With three dummy zones with only low quality hotels, it’s easy to see how I could get three Free Rebids by adding them one at a time to my search. But you can actually get many more (in this case six) by using the permutations method laid out here. It’s extremely easy, and everyone can understand it.

On my second Free Rebid–$55 plus fees–I got the lovely Try Again Right Now offer screen. When you get this screen, Priceline is offering you the chance to break its normal rules and bid again without changing anything, and they even tell you what bid is likely to work hint, hint, wink, wink.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 11.27.17 AM

Ignore Priceline’s hints and winks if you still have Free Rebids left. I had four left, so I ignored the suggested bid size and moved to my next free Rebid knowing that $67 would almost certainly succeed, so I should try lower to save a few bucks.

6. I Made a Successful Bid

With four Free Rebids left and a small window between my failed bid of $55 and the price Priceline wanted me to offer of $67, I could have started to inch up by smaller increments on my bids. But I stuck to my strategy of increasing my bid $5 at a time to save time.

My next bid was for $60, which meant I was authorizing a total charge of $77.62 on my card after taxes and fees.

The bid was successful!

My hotel was revealed to be the Hyatt Place Raleigh-West.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 11.28.34 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 3.01.53 AM

Priceline said I had saved 49%, and that does match up with the rate I saw on hyatt.com of $119 plus taxes ($134.28) for the room.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 11.29.52 AM

I was extremely happy with the hotel I had been awarded, although I was a little disappointed in myself for failing to look it up before using Priceline to see what it would have cost in points. The hotel is a Category 1 Hyatt that costs only 5k points per night and had availability the night I stayed there.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 11.30.04 AM

I still preferred paying $77 to using 5k Hyatt points though because I don’t have 5k Hyatt points, so I would have transferred in 5k Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt points, and I value 5k Ultimate Rewards at more than $77.

Also, I paid the $77 with my Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, so I can remove that charge with Arrival miles and make the stay completely free if I want.

Recap

I used the Name Your Own Price feature on Priceline to save $60 on my hotel in Raleigh on Sunday. If you know how to take advantage of the system’s rules, you can get very close to the lowest price offered by Priceline, which can be 50% or more off of the retail price for a hotel room.

If you’re confused about any of the steps I followed, please read “Free First Class Next Month: Name Your Own Price on Priceline to Save Hundreds on Hotels.”

Have you used the Name Your Own Price feature on Priceline to save money on hotels?

 


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I used to use PL a lot more. Not sure if it’s in your earlier article, but the pioneer website for PL travel was biddingfortravel.com. You can still go there and look up stretegies (most of which you’ve detailed) and more importantly, the prices and hotel names of other winning bids, but as competing sites have grown u[, BFT no longer seems to get the traffic it once did. Too bad.

  2. Do you know, for example, if I win a bid on PL for a Marriott hotel, would it count towards promotion that I’ve signed with Marriott (two stays till end of April get one free night cat 1-5)?
    Thanks

    • Does not count as a stay credit for things like that. A priceline stay is kind of like an airline award ticket in that you don’t earn points or status on the stay.

  3. P.S.
    Rather wanted to ask does it count “regular” reservation at PL for Marriott towards hotel promotion and points.
    It would be impossible to make sure to win just Marriott.

  4. I have used this technique successfully a few times. But I just tried it last week bc I needed a hotel near HNL for just one night. The day before I needed it, I tried to get the 1 star hotel right near the airport. I stopped trying once I got to $90. Ended up staying at a hostel for $30, which I took the public bus to.

  5. I still use BiddingForTravel and have for 13 years for my Priceline bids. It is still an invaluable resource. If you do use it please post your bids for all to see. It really is easy to see. It has saved me thousands of dollars over the years.

  6. I have enjoyed great hotels at Motel 6 prices from Hotwire over the years. The internet rules. Now I can get advice from people like you and stay in a very chic hotel in Paris on points right now while my 9 year old sleeps and I have jet lag and cannot. Thanks for your info.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.