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How 1 phone call saved me hundreds of dollars on a hotel stay

Feb. 09, 2022
6 min read
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While searching on a hotel website, you’ve likely come across an advertisement for a best-rate guarantee of some sort. Most major hotel groups offer one, though some display them more prominently than others.

These guarantees exist to give customers the peace of mind that they'll always get the best deal by booking directly with the hotel. If you find the same room listed elsewhere for less, the hotel will generally match the lower rate and then up the ante by providing an additional discount or bonus points.

People often overlook this perk because they think it's a marketing gimmick and thus not worth the effort. But as I experienced firsthand, these guarantees are very real and can save you big bucks — you just need to familiarize yourself with how exactly they work.

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The Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Hotel best-rate guarantees

Most major hotel chains offer best-rate guarantees, including:

  • Marriott: Matches the lower rate and gives you the choice of an additional 25% off (20% for Design Hotels) or 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (worth $40 based on TPG valuations).
  • Hilton: Matches the lower rate and gives you an additional 25% off.
  • Hyatt: Matches the lower rate and gives you the choice of an additional 20% off or 5,000 World of Hyatt points (worth $85).
  • IHG: Matches the lower rate and gives you five times the IHG Rewards Club points, up to a 40,000-point maximum.

All of the guarantees come with lots of terms and conditions, but here are the key requirements shared across the chains:

  • You must have already booked the room directly and at the lowest publicly available rate (except for Hilton).
  • Claims generally must be made within 24 hours of booking.
  • The lower rate must be on a valid third-party retailer (i.e., Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and Hotels.com).
  • This excludes sites that don’t tell you the hotel name until the reservation is completed, sites that require a membership or affiliation to book, mobile-only rates, sites that don’t offer immediate confirmations and some others.
  • The lower rate must have the exact same conditions as the rate booked directly through the hotel chain:
  • Same booking dates.
  • Same room type.
  • Same cancellation policies.

This last bullet is crucial — the two rates must match word for word. For instance, let's say we're comparing two flexible rates. If one rate says we can change or cancel "up to Jan. 1" and the other says "before Jan. 1," our claim might be rejected as the latter could imply 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31. Likewise, if you're booking a king room, for example, and the name of the room on the competitor's site is simply "standard room," that could be enough to invalidate the claim.

Although not required, it's best practice to take a screenshot of the lower rate on the competing website and include it in your claim form when possible.

Related: 4 reasons to consider booking your next hotel stay through an online travel agency

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My experience with Hilton's price-match guarantee

Personally, I find Hilton's price-match guarantee to be the most generous. Aside from the significant 25% discount, I like that it lets you match rates over the phone before booking. This way, you can walk the agent through exactly how you found the rate and not have to go back and forth over email.

Most recently, I took advantage of this perk to book a stay at the Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts.

The nightly rate on Hilton's site for an Oceana King room was $686 before taxes and fees.

(Screenshot courtesy of hilton.com)

However, after comparing rates on Google Hotels like I always do, I noticed that Expedia had rooms available from $621 per night.

Upon closer inspection, I confirmed that it was for the same exact room and had the same cancellation policy, so I rang up Hilton to book. As a top-tier elite, I had access to the dedicated Diamond line, which was able to help me on the spot, rather than having to transfer me to the price-match department.

Related: What is Hilton Honors elite status worth?

(Screenshot courtesy of expedia.com)

I explained that I initially found the rate via Google Hotels and walked the agent through replicating the search.

Although Expedia used the language "fully refundable before" on the room selection page, while Hilton said "fully refundable until," I was able to confirm on Expedia's checkout page that the cancellation period was indeed through 11:59 p.m. on the same day as Hilton. My claim would have probably initially been denied over email because of this, but I was able to easily direct the agent to this piece of fine print over the phone.

(Screenshot courtesy of expedia.com)

The agent matched the lower rate and applied the additional 25% discount. My new nightly rate came out to just $465, saving me over $200 per night with just a 10-minute call.

(Screenshot courtesy of hilton.com)

Bottom line

Price matches can be a hassle to get approved due to their many terms and conditions. But when they do work out, they can save you money and be well worth the effort. Plus, unlike if you were to book through a third party, you'll earn hotel points and receive elite benefits as per usual.

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
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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Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

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10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

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  • Annual Fee

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  • 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.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees