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When it comes to booking hotels on points, there are more choices now than ever before. With big brands like Hyatt and Marriott partnering with boutique chains and even home rental agencies, there is no shortage of ways to book hotels using points.
But booking hotels (regardless of whether you’re using points) is not always simple. You have to narrow down your choices by price, location, rating — and sometimes even scrap your travel plans altogether because a trip might be more expensive than your budget permits. That’s where Google’s new hotel tools come in handy.
While Google Travel doesn’t display point redemption rates for hotels, it does offer a new suite of tools that can simplify your travel planning. These tools help you home in on the best locations, figure out which chains offer hotels in a particular city and even determine when might be the best time to travel for your overall budget.
» Learn more: 5 new ways to maximize your travel booking on Google
When to visit
If you’re flexible with your travel dates, then the new “When to visit” tab on the Google Hotels search results page can help you save on your trip or figure out the best time to go. This tab contains four columns listing each month of the year, average weather, crowd sizes and hotel cost.
How is this useful when you’re booking your trip with points and miles? With more airlines and hotels implementing dynamic award pricing, the number of points required can depend on demand and airfare. This tool can give you a good idea of when you can expect to redeem fewer points at a particular destination.
If you use a card like Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, then you don’t even have to conduct a separate award search. You can do all your research and book your trip on Google Travel, then redeem miles later for a statement credit.
Where to stay
Location is one of the most important factors for most people when they’re booking a hotel, balancing between a preferred location and venturing slightly farther away from it to secure a lower rate.
What’s great about Google Travel’s hotel search is that results are listed and displayed on a map. You can easily find hotels in your desired neighborhood or quickly assess where hotels are the cheapest, if budget is a primary concern.
The “Where to stay” tab can also help you narrow your choices down by neighborhood. If you’re a first-timer, you might not even be familiar with the various neighborhoods in a particular city. This tab includes a description of each neighborhood, what it’s known for, the average cost of hotels there and a location score to help you choose the best option.
Personally, when I’m researching hotels for a city I’ve never visited before, I often have multiple windows open: One for the hotel search engine, Google maps and Wikipedia pages for each neighborhood I’m interested in. This new Google Travel feature combines all of these tools to simplify the booking process.
The hotel search results now have a feature that will notify you if you’ve searched or stayed at a specific hotel before. It can also recommend options similar to hotels you’ve stayed at in other cities. This personal results tool essentially customizes search results based on your demonstrated preferences.
What you’ll pay
The “What you’ll pay” tab provides a breakdown of hotels by star rating, the number of properties available and the average price you can expect to pay.
Once you’ve selected a hotel, you can choose to see prices with taxes and fees included per night or per stay. This can give you a clear understanding of what you’ll pay at each hotel, rather than getting hit with sticker shock at the end of the booking process.
The bottom line
Google’s new hotel search features can be very helpful in planning your next hotel stay, especially if you’re traveling to a city you’re unfamiliar with. If you’re simply exploring and are flexible on travel dates, then these tools can help you get the most out of your points and cash by guiding you toward cheaper travel dates and locations.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Sin City on a Budget: How to save on your next trip to Vegas Google launches flight price protection Find the best travel credit card for you