4 Uncommon Tips for Saving Money on Travel
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We love helping you save money on travel, especially teaching tips and tricks on how to use miles and points to travel for little-to-no money to amazing destinations. We also want to make sure you stick to your financial goals, which should include having an emergency savings fund and setting an annual vacation budget.
While we know it can seem hard to travel and meet your financial goals, in this article we share four uncommon budget travel tips for saving money on our favorite hobby.
» Learn more: How to set financial goals
1. Use Hilton’s Price Match Guarantee to get 25% off your stay
Hilton has one of the best price match guarantees in the business: If you can find a lower price on another website, Hilton will not only match the lower price, but will also take 25% off the cost of your stay.
To find potentially lower prices than what Hilton itself offers, we’d recommend using online travel agency TripAdvisor, which often lists the price for hotels from a number of different websites. In order to qualify for the 25% off, you need to ensure that the bookings match exactly — including dates, room type, cancellation policy and deposit upfront.
Also, although not specifically outlined in its terms, Hilton will generally only honor prices from well-known travel companies like Priceline, Orbitz, Hotels.com and Expedia.
That said, if you can find the exact hotel room you’re trying to book with Hilton for cheaper on another site, Hilton’s Price Match Guarantee is a great way to save money on your trip.
» Learn more: What to know before joining Hilton Honors
2. Use TopCashBack.com and Rakuten to get cash back on your trips
Another uncommon tip for how to save money when you travel is to use online cash back portals for additional savings. Examples include TopCashBack.com and Rakuten, and with either portal, you can often receive cash back for the money you spend on your trip (such as for hotels, car rentals and flights).
Although eligible websites vary — not to mention the exact amount of cash back offered can go up or down frequently — some deals we’ve recently seen include 3% cash back on hotels and cruises purchased on Expedia and 7% on car rentals booked through Priceline.
To get cash back through these sites, you’ll need to first register for an account with them and book your travel using the links that each site provides.
» Learn more: How to save money on holiday travel
3. Visit destinations that are less popular with foreign tourists
When you travel abroad, you likely want to experience the local culture and people (rather than being surrounded by tourists from your home country). Another downside to visiting oft-traveled locales: The higher the number of foreign tourists, the pricier you can expect your overall trip cost to be.
To help you save money on travel, consider destinations that aren’t as popular with foreign tourists. For example, Paris is one of the most popular cities in the world for tourism, with over 19 million arrivals in 2019. Lyon, the second most popular tourist destination in France, is visited by significantly fewer tourists — in the same year, it welcomed around 6 million visitors.
Here's an example of how much money you can save by going to a second city. We looked into three nights in a deluxe room at the Lyon Marriott Hotel Cité Internationale compared to three nights in a deluxe room at the Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel for the same dates in March 2022. Lyon's Marriott costs a total of $494, whereas the Marriott in Paris rings up at approximately $1,634.
» Learn more: Points & Miles 101: NerdWallet’s quick start guide
4. Use Virtuoso or Hilton Impresario to book high-end hotels
If you’re planning on booking a high-end property but would still like to save money on your stay, look into booking your hotel through either Virtuoso or Hilton Impresario. Both programs offer money-saving benefits.
Hilton Impresario offers the following benefits on hotels booked through an Impresario travel agent:
Complimentary room upgrade at check-in, if available.
$100 property credit, once per stay.
Daily complimentary breakfast for two guests.
Priority for early check-in and late check-out, when available.
Double Hilton Honors points.
You can find properties across several hotel brands on the Virtuoso website. The program offers similar benefits, including:
Preferred rates and availability.
Room upgrades when available.
Daily breakfast for two.
Dining, resort or hotel credits.
Early check-in and late checkout when available.
Exclusive amenities and experiences.
These benefits, particularly the free daily breakfast for two and hotel property credits, add up, making them a great way to save money on your next luxury travel getaway.
» Learn more: Do travel agents really save you money?
Final thoughts on uncommon budget travel tips
There are many ways to save money on your trips, including:
Taking advantage of price match guarantees.
Using cash-back websites like TopCashBack.com and Rakuten.
Visiting a destination that is off the beaten path, like a second city.
Booking luxury stays through agencies like Virtuoso and Hilton Impresario.
Regardless of your budget, saving money on travel can help you build up your travel fund or speed up other savings and investing goals.
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 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card