Here are some tips to add to your storehouse of money-saving knowledge. For instance, you can get money back when a hotel room rate drops. Or you may be able to get free airline lounge passes or a hotel upgrade. Here's how.
Getting money back if the price goes down: If your hotel lowers your room rate between the time you buy and check in, which happens about 20% of the time, you can usually rebook at the lower rate, or get a refund automatically. Tingo.com checks and rechecks your hotel rate almost until the hour of check-in and automatically refunds the price drop to your credit card. It also alerts you if a room upgrade is available at the original price you paid.
Orbitz (www.lat.ms/10eeB99) will give you 110% of the price difference if another Orbitz customer rebooks the exact same dates and room type. Orbitz also works with airfares and packages. But you no longer get cash back; now you get Orbucks, which can be spent on future travel on Orbitz. Orbucks expire a year from issue.
Yapta.com will alert you to airfare price drops, but it only works with a relatively small number of airlines, and all but three airlines will charge a change fee (typically $150 on a domestic fare). The three domestic U.S. airlines that will refund a price drop in the form of a future travel voucher without charging a fee: Southwest, Alaska, and JetBlue.
Airline frequent-flier credit cards with perks: Several fairly new airline-affiliated credit cards offer unusual perks formerly reserved for uber-fliers. The United Explorer Card, for instance, has no annual fee for the first year; 30,000 bonus miles with a $1,000 spend; and then the perks kick in, including first checked bag free, priority boarding privileges and two lounge passes per year.
Coupon codes: Many airlines, travel agencies such as
Hotel upgrades: It's always wise to sign up for every hotel's frequent-stay program, even if you're staying just once. Kimpton Hotels gives you a $10 mini-bar credit for each stay plus free Wi-Fi, just for signing up. Fairmont gives you free Internet access. And hotels offer upgrades, promos and other perks, even at the lowest membership levels.
Rental cars: Sign up for frequent-user programs, such as Hertz Gold Plus. It's free to join, and there are discounts, upgrades and extra perks. A site called Autoslash.com will check your car rental reservation and alert you if the price has gone down since the time you originally booked.
Frequent-flier program "hacks": One insider secret is how to get "Gold" status on the Star Alliance airline group, which has 27 member airlines. Gold status gives you a lot of perks, such as lounge access, even when flying on cheap fares, and priority boarding. Aegean Airlines has the easiest path to Gold status with a low threshold of 20,000 miles. (Most other programs require 50,000 miles before the flier earns this top-tier status).
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