There’s nobody better than a professional traveler to know how to get great hotel rates, free upgrades, and tweak their rooms to make their stay as comfortable as possible. In this article, a panel of professional travelers share their 25 best hotel hacks.
Credit Cards, Membership Programs, and Status Hacks
Before even searching for a hotel, some professional travelers start their hotel hacking with credit cards, membership programs, and status hacks to ensure the red carpet is rolled out well before they arrive.
1. AAA Membership
Chris Guillebeau travels the world (all of it — having recently completed his mission to visit every country), and is a New York Times bestselling author, founder of the Travel Hacking Cartel, and writes for a small army of remarkable people at ChrisGuillebeau.com. When he’s not staying at a hotel for free with frequent flyer miles, Chris says a simple membership with AAA can go a long way. Hotel Hacks
« A small investment in AAA membership (which anyone can join, from anywhere in the world) can save an average of 5%-10% on many hotel stays. Even if it doesn’t save money, rates booked through AAA are usually cancellable until the day of arrival, which helps a lot with flexibility. »
2. Use Hotel Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses
Matt Kepnes aka Nomadic Matt is author of How to Travel the World on $50 USD Per Day, and has been traveling the world since 2006. Matt advocates applying for hotel credit cards with hefty sign-up bonuses that will afford you up to a week’s worth of free accommodation. Hotel Hacks
3. Transfer Miles From Universal Credit Cards
Although Matt likes the occasional sign-up bonus, his steadfast hotel hack surrounds the use of universal miles, using travel rewards credit cards that allow you to transfer points to any number of airline and hotel programs. « You can transfer those points to hotel loyalty programs and redeem them for free rooms. » Hotel Hacks
4. Get Automatic Status With Your Credit Card
Al-Nawaz Rajan generally pays 2-star prices for 4-star hotels, and shares his travel hacking tips on Credit Walk. He’s a fan of using platinum cards that get you upgraded status at hotels just for being a card member. Some of those cards come with a hefty fee, but the upgraded status is worth its weight: « Some of the benefits of higher status include late checkout, free breakfast, Internet, upgrades to suites/better rooms, additional point earning, and welcome gifts. »
5. Get Your Status Matched
Once you have status with one hotel or brand, you can get that status matched with other hotels. Elizabeth Houck has flown over a million miles in search of budget premium experiences. And has lots of great advice to share at ElizabethHouck.com. She says getting your status matched is as simple as calling the loyalty line and requesting a Status Match or Challenge. Hotel Hacks
« Brand Y will want a copy of your most recent status statement from Brand X faxed or emailed (sometimes mailed) to them. Follow Brand Y’s requirements and instructions and usually within a couple of weeks you will have status. »
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