Since I have maintained some form of elite status with hotels and car rental companies for several years, I find that I never use sites like Hotwire or Priceline for those reservations any more. But, there are sometimes that using Priceline can still trump your discounts and elite status with hotel and car reservations.
Reasons To NOT Book With Priceline For Hotels And Cars
Since hotel nights and car rentals booked through oblique sites like those do not count for elite status or upgrades (most of the time), it is often worth the few dollars more per reservation to just book with the hotel/car rental location.
Not only that but I enjoy the freedom and flexibility that I have when booking car rentals with no-worry cancellations. Since you do not provide your credit card for booking rental cars (unless it is for pre-pay), you do not have to worry about forgetting to cancel a car and then getting charged for it (though it is always the courteous thing to do to cancel it if you don’t need it).
Not only are the elite benefits worth it much of the time, but it is also possible to get nice discounts through credit card programs (like the American Express Platinum gives you a 10% discount at National) as well as finding other coupons that can give extra days, free upgrades, or more money off your rental.
Not only that, but in the case of National, I (as an elite member) can book a mid-size/intermediate car and take my pick from the aisle of a wide selection of cars – including mini-vans and large SUVs (which is what we need when traveling as a family).
But, Priceline Can Still Trump Discounts And Elite Status At Times
But there are times that Priceline can still trump those discounts and elite status. I recently used Priceline for a vehicle rental because other outlets were charging a lot of money for the time period I was looking for – even National was charging $800 for their mid-size after my discounts! That was coming out to $75 per day!
Turning to Priceline, I started playing with a couple of things to see what it would offer me. I already knew that Budget would give me the vehicle class I was looking for at a price of $600 for the duration (and that was what Hotwire was quoting as well). I thought there was enough time before it had to be reserved so I started to put in what I thought was a nice starting point.
Not a surprise – it was refused (that is actually okay because I always wonder why I didn’t go lower if my first price is accepted!). But, they offered me an option to book it right then if I went up $2 per day.
Of course, I went with that and was able to secure the vehicle class I needed for under $30 per day! That was a savings of over half what I could have received from National with my discounts and coupons (not to mention renting only a mid-size with them) and half what Budget was going to charge me.
Do I get any elite benefits like credits for the rental towards free rentals? No. But, with such an amazing savings it really doesn’t bother me at all. It is nice to see that there are times that Priceline can still trump my elite status discounts and coupons!
Good Times To Use Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” Over Regular Bookings
There are a couple of times when you can really come out ahead using Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” function.
- Holidays – a great time to book with Priceline as regular rates will go way up around the holidays
- Conventions/Events – while it may cost double to secure a hotel room near/at a convention/event site using regular booking sites, using Priceline can give you a better rate and even sometimes at the host hotel!
- Major Cities – some cities cost more than others for lodging and transportation. Priceline can make a huge difference due to the sheer number of providers available and empty rooms and cars, despite the regular rates being higher for business customers/tourists
*Note: If you use the Priceline link above or this one – here – I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!