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New hotel price freeze tool could save you $100 if rates rise

June 16, 2021
6 min read
New hotel price freeze tool could save you $100 if rates rise
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Over the past year, flexibility has become more important than ever for travelers, and we've seen the industry respond accordingly. Some airlines dropped change fees, travel credit cards added new redemption options and travel companies such as Uber and Airbnb added new features — all centered around flexibility.

Travel planning and booking app Hopper is the most recent company to join the party as it releases a new feature for all app-users today: price freeze for hotels.

The new feature — which has been in beta but fully releases to all users on June 16 — allows travelers to search for hotels on the app and then pay a deposit to lock in that specific price for a specific window of time. If the price rises within the time between you freezing the price and booking your stay, Hopper will cover up to $100 of the difference.

"[Our customers told us] they wanted to travel, but that they didn't feel confident booking," Hopper's head of hotel fintech, Anwesha Bhattacharjee, told TPG. "We realized that our customers needed a way to feel comfortable planning a trip without necessarily making the monetary commitment until they were absolutely ready."

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Here's a breakdown of how it works: Let's say you are planning a trip to New York City to watch the Macy's fireworks show this year, and you find a hotel you think you want to book that is listed on Hopper for $300 per night. You aren't entirely sure you'll be able to get off work to travel yet, so you put down a deposit for the price freeze feature. Three days later, everything is in order for you to make the trip, but the price has risen $50 per night for your planned two-night stay. When you book the hotel through Hopper, you'll only be charged for the original price you locked in. Hopper will cover the $100 difference, and your deposit will act as a credit toward the cost of the stay.

If you decide you don't want to book that hotel, your deposit amount can be applied toward a future price freeze or toward another booking if you decide to go with another hotel instead.

It's important to note that when you use price freeze on a hotel on Hopper, you are not making a reservation with the hotel. The feature is more like price insurance on a particular hotel stay. Your reservation is not guaranteed with the hotel until you book and pay for your room, so you'll still want to book as soon as early use as you can — especially for busy holiday weekends like the upcoming Fourth of July. If the hotel does happen to run out of availability between you putting a price freeze on the hotel and booking, Hopper will refund the deposit you paid.

Deposits vary in price depending on a number of factors, including length of stay and price per night at that hotel. When I poked around the app, I was able to find hotels in NYC I could price freeze for $16 per night. And remember, the deposit will be applied to your booking. Generally, the price freeze tool can be used to lock in a price until seven days before the trip dates or as much as 60 days in advance of the stay.

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Price freeze will benefit budget travelers booking last-minute trips the most, especially those traveling in groups where you need to coordinate accommodations for multiple people.

There are, however, a few downsides to consider.

The first is that Hopper is a third-party booking tool, which means you may not receive elite night credits or have your existing status honored when you book a hotel through the app. This won't matter as much if you're a casual traveler with no interest in elite status or if you're regularly booking stays at boutique hotels that aren't part of a major hotel brain, such as Hyatt or Hilton. But if you are an elite status holder or you're trying to make elite status a reality this year, booking direct is always the better option.

Something else to consider is that the price freeze tool will only save you a maximum of $100 on your total booking. So if the price changes $150 for the entire stay, Hopper will only cover $100 of that and you'll still be on the hook for the $50 difference. According to Hopper, customers who use the price freeze tool save on average $43 per stay (or $17 per night), so the savings aren't lucrative.

But even if this specific tool alone doesn't offer hundreds of dollars in automatic savings, it is another addition to Hopper's broader product that helps travelers — especially beginner travelers and budget travelers — plan trips. Hopper uses predictive technology to determine the best time to book with what the company claims is a 95% recommendation accuracy. You can set up alerts for price drops for flight routes and hotel stays, and there is a similar price freeze feature available for flights.

Related: The best flight booking apps

And this tool is only a hint at what is coming up next for Hopper.

(Photo courtesy of Hopper.)

"We're always innovating," said Bhattacharjee. "There are a bunch of new products that are either out or on their way."

Hopper is teaming up with Capital One to power the credit card issuer's revamped travel portal launching in the second half of 2021, and it's likely we'll see Hopper's tools — including the new price freeze tool — integrated into the experience for cardholders. Additionally, Hopper plans to roll out the ability to price freeze for specific room types soon.

For road warriors and elite status holders, this tool may not be a gamechanger for you. But budget travelers and beginners who are still experiencing a bit of booking anxiety as destinations reopen and travel returns in some regions of the world can use this tool to help plan trips and get excited about traveling once more — without having to put hundreds of dollars down on a hotel just yet. I personally might put this tool to use the next time I plan out a girls trip with friends, in case prices increase while the group chat comes to a final consensus on whether to book the hotel or not.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more