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How to get a hotel room cheaper than the best price online

Here’s my spending philosophy: if you can get something a little cheaper, it’s worth the little effort.

Of course, I like tools that do the hard work for me. Tap or click an online shopping assistant to find discounts that work.

There are digital tips that can also make travel easier, safer and more affordable. Tap or click for five smart tech tips you should read before hitting the road this summer.

When saving on hotel rooms, sites that claim to have the best possible deal aren’t always the way to go. Sometimes you can do better on your own. My son just used the tips below to get a hotel room for $80 cheaper than the lowest price online.

Do not book on a travel site

When looking for a hotel, discount travel sites like Kayak, Expedia, or Hotels.com are good places to start, but don’t book there. Once you have found the lowest available price at the hotel you wish to visit, call the hotel reservation desk.

Many hotels will meet or beat the best internet rate when you book with them. They much prefer to ignore the commission on the travel site and book your stay directly. The hotel may even offer a free upgrade, such as a nicer room or free breakfast.

If you’re unlucky with the first person to answer, respectfully ask to speak to the sales manager.

Speaking of savings, I’ve rounded up 8 proven ways to lower your monthly internet, cable, and streaming bills. You’re welcome.

This is the best time to book a hotel room

If possible, wait until the day you need the hotel room to book it. Later in the day, the better. After 4pm, hotels know that the chances of selling a room are pretty slim, so you’re more likely to get an even lower rate. On average, the same-day rate for a hotel room is 10% cheaper than booking in advance.

But that comes with a caveat. Do not rely on this strategy if you are going to a busy tourist town or a town where a big event is taking place. You may be lucky, but most people book rooms well in advance. Strictly speaking, sites like hotel tonight can help you with last minute bookings.

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Don’t forget the extra discounts

When you book online you will likely see a field to enter membership details to save more. Remember to ask for these discounts when you call a hotel to book.

Veterans, AAA members, seniors, government employees, and students often qualify for discounted hotel rooms — sometimes on top of the discount you already get.

It’s not just a few dollars either. AARP members can get up to 15% off at Marriott hotels; Best Western is offering 10% off to members. Wyndham Hotels offers special rates for guests 60 and older. AAA can save you up to 10% at Hyatt hotels and MGM Resorts properties.

Here’s another pro tip: if you know which hotel chain you want to stay at, go to their website, join their mailing list, or download their app. You will be the first to know about special discounts and promotions.

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When you need to book online, use Incognito mode

Calling last minute for a cheap room is great when it works, but sometimes you need to book ahead online. Your best bet is to open an Incognito browser window.

Some travel agencies keep track of what you searched for and will raise prices the next time you visit the site. You don’t have to worry about price gouging when using Incognito mode.

It’s not just the travel industry doing this either. Many online shopping sites know when you’re stalking an item and might increase the price if you leave and come back later to buy it. Don’t leave it to chance.

Incognito mode might not hide everything you do online, but it has practical uses. Tap or click for five more of my favorites.

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