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Purchasing hotel room nights from Priceline or Hotwire without knowing the hotel name can be tricky. I’ve found a formula for getting hotel rooms for up to half off without ending up at a hotel you wouldn’t want to stay in.
Here’s what you need to know to get the best hotels possible from both sites, while still getting the mystery hotel discount.
» Learn more: Looking for more travel hacks? Visit our travel community
1. Always look at reviews
I always look at the recommendation rating and the neighborhood before booking a hotel. If you have to take a cab because you booked too far away, you’re adding time and money to the price. I never book a hotel with less than a 70-80% recommendation rate on Hotwire. Priceline uses a scale of 1 to 10. I won’t book a hotel with a rating less than 7.
2. Priceline and Hotwire will tell you the last hotel that was booked under the deal
As soon as you click on a hotel, both Hotwire and Priceline will tell you the hotel the last person booked when choosing the mystery hotel option. Hotwire will also give you a sampling of four hotels it’s guaranteed to be. One trick to finding out what is likely the exact hotel is remembering that the mystery hotel will always say a percentage off the initial price you saved. If you look at the four hotels it could be that when purchased as a non-mystery hotel, you can add back the discount and see which hotel matches.
3. Know your nonnegotiable amenities
I book only pet-friendly hotels as I have a miniature schnauzer. Since these special deals are nonrefundable, it’s important you check the amenities list for any items that are absolutely necessary for you such as free breakfast, free parking or location. Also, remember that being pet-friendly doesn’t always mean there isn’t a charge. If you can figure out the hotel name first, call it quickly to check on its pet policy to make sure it doesn’t forbid your dog’s size.
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 2021, 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
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Fall 2018 hotel points promotions: Which ones are worth your time? More than an app: HotelTonight expands to desktop 3 ways consumers benefit when hotels compete with Airbnb