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Priced out of a vacation? Find excellent hotel deals at these destinations across the US

July 17, 2021
5 min read
Priced out of a vacation? Find excellent hotel deals at these destinations across the US
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I've found some incredible hotel deals during the coronavirus pandemic. But as travel has restarted and restrictions have relaxed in the U.S., weekly reports from hotel analytics company STR show that the average daily rate of domestic hotels is slowly increasing. The July 4-10, 2021 period even showed a 5.4% increase in the average daily rate at U.S. hotels compared with a comparable week in 2019.

Hotels in some markets are currently charging much higher rates than usual. After all, there's significant pent-up demand in select markets and travelers who are willing to splurge. For example, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) published a June 2021 report showing that Miami hotels see a 31% increase in revenue per available room when comparing May 2019 to May 2021.

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But, the average daily rate is primarily increasing in leisure destinations. In particular, AHLA's June 2021 report showed the revenue per available room when you compare May 2021 to May 2019 was 33% lower for airport hotels and 52% lower for urban hotels. And across the top 25 U.S. hotel markets, AHLA's report shows that seven markets are still in a depression while 14 are in a recession. After all, these markets typically relied on business and convention travel.

Of course, all this data is backward-looking. But, if you're looking for a great deal on an upcoming hotel stay, depressed urban markets can provide some excellent opportunities. Here are the seven largest U.S. markets that were depressed in May 2021, according to AHLA's June 2021 report:

  • San Francisco, CA: $62 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $203 in May 2019 for a 70% decrease.
  • Boston, MA: $61 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $184 in May 2019 for a 67% decrease.
  • Washington, DC: $51 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $145 in May 2019 for a 65% decrease.
  • New York, NY: $95 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $249 in May 2019 for a 62% decrease.
  • Chicago, IL: $52 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $126 in May 2019 for a 59% decrease.
  • Seattle, WA: $54 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $122 in May 2019 for a 56% decrease.
  • Minneapolis, MN: $40 revenue per available room in May 2021 compared to $81 in May 2019 for a 51% decrease.

Revenue per available room represents a hotel's ability to fill its rooms. As such, hotels in these cities likely saw less revenue per available room due to decreased occupancy rates and/or room rates.

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Many of these cities were popular with business travelers and groups pre-pandemic. But, now travelers can snag good deals in some of these cities. For example, if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you can book luxury hotel stays through Amex's Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program. And you can currently snag a third, fourth or fifth night free at several hotels in the cities listed above when you book your stay through Amex FHR. Check out all the current offers on Amex FHR's offers page.

You can also find some attractive rates even if you want to book directly with the hotel or through an online travel agency rewards program. For example, a quick search for a two-night stay in San Francisco late next week gave the following results with Hilton Honors:

(Screenshot courtesy of hilton.com)

Of course, what is a good deal varies across travelers. I'd likely book the Hilton San Francisco Finacial District for this stay. And, although I could redeem 34,000 Hilton Honors points per night for this stay, I'd book a cash rate. After all, I'd only get 0.45 cents per point when redeeming Hilton Honors points.

As travel recovers, there are plenty of hotel deals to be found. Of course, you can find hotel deals in international destinations where travel is still restricted or only starting to reopen. But domestically, you'll typically find the best deals in urban destinations that hosted many business travelers and meetings pre-pandemic.

However, this trend will shift as travel continues to recover. So book your urban vacation now while prices are low. If you book a refundable rate, you can always rebook later if prices drop.

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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TPG featured card

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

1 - 10X points
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

80,000 bonus points
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®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

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
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