- Priceline is an online travel agency where you can search for and book the exact hotel rooms and flights you want, or you can use the Priceline Negotiator to “Name Your Own Price” to possibly save more on your reservation.
- To use Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price“, you need to agree to stay at any hotel in your desired area and/or fly at any time of the day on any airline
Our Editor’s ReviewEveryone has seen the funny Priceline Negotiator commercials, but many wonder if you can really save more money by bidding on hotels and flights using their “Name Your Own Price” service. Priceline claims that you can save up to 60% on brand name hotels, and they even have a page that shows the you recent winning bids in your destination. We checked this page for Seattle hotels today, and apparently someone bid and won a 4-star hotel in “downtown Seattle” for $136. Comparing this price by simply searching their website for 4-star hotels in downtown Seattle, the cheapest we found was the Hyatt for $169. Of course, we don’t know which hotel the bidder won, but if it was the Hyatt they saved over 20%. Not excellent, but not bad. How is Priceline able to offer this big of a discount? They claim that more than 40% of hotel rooms go unused every night, and their brand-name hotel partners are willing to negotiate to fill those unbooked rooms. If you choose to use the Priceline “Name Your Own Price” for hotels, we have some bidding tips for you. Before you start bidding, you want to do a little research. Using Priceline’s regular search engine, find 4-star and 5-star hotels in your desired destination and write down the lowest price you find (exclude lower star-level hotels). This is the price that you want to beat by at least 20%. We have heard that the hotels in Priceline’s regular search engine do not necessarily correspond with what they will give you when you name your own price. However, it’s a good indicator of the general hotel market, and now you can begin bidding. The Priceline rules state that if you lose a bid on a hotel, you are not allowed to re-bid for 24-hours unless you either (1) change your star-level or (2) add an area. Obviously, you should begin by bidding on the highest star-level available, so that you can go down if necessary (we recommend that you don’t bid on anything less than a 3.5-star hotel on Priceline). After you lose a bid on 4-star hotels, you can add an “area” that has zero 4-star hotels, so that you may re-bid a higher amount without really changing anything. Finally, you want to keep hotel booking fees in mind, because Priceline will charge you one. In this regard, bid at least 20% less than the going rate, or else it is not really worth the booking fee that you pay. The “Name Your Own Price” booking fee varies, and is disclosed after you win a bid. Some say it is good to bid 50% less than the “median” rate for your destination. See winning hotel bids in top cities here. Bidding for airfare on Priceline is an even simpler process, especially if you are flying from a small city with only a couple airlines. All you need to do is research your exact flights and write down the lowest price to get you to your destination. Now, simply bid about 20% less on Priceline to see if you can save, however, you need to be flexible and okay with having your flight departure time anytime between 6:00am and 10:00pm. When you make a “Name Your Own Price” (Priceline Negotiator) reservation, it is always non-refundable and all sales are final. Make sure your travel plans are solid. Priceline has a couple of guarantees that we like. The first is the Priceline “Big Deal Guarantee“, in which they guarantee that you won’t find a lower published price at same hotel (on the nights you are staying) up until midnight before your check-in date. If you do, Priceline will match that price and give you $25 on top of that. Plus, they will also give you a $50 Priceline vacation coupon for a future vacation booking. Be aware that hotels that they consider “1 star” are excluded from the Priceline Big Deal Guarantee. Click for full details on the Big Deal Guarantee. The second guarantee that Priceline offers is their “Quality Experience Guarantee” if you bid on Priceline airline tickets or hotels. For airline tickets, Priceline guarantees no red-eye or off-peak flights, that they will only have one-stop each way, and no layovers over 3 hours. For hotels, Priceline guarantees you will be booked only into hotels that are within the star-level and area that you agree to. Click for full details on the Quality Experience Guarantee. Priceline was the first major travel site that we’re aware of to offer no booking fees on published airline tickets. We also find them to have lower fees than most major travel sites, all around. Priceline’s hotel selection is huge (60,000), and believe it is larger than any other travel site that we have written a review of. Compared to other major travel sites, they also seem to get fewer complaints. Just spend a few minutes reading our travel site customer reviews to see which travel sites are getting several complaints and you’ll see that Priceline complaints are few and far between. Most Priceline customer complaints come from those that were upset that they were not given a refund after cancelling a “Name Your Own Price” hotel reservation. Always keep Priceline’s cancellation policy in mind, if you are unsure about your travel plans, even when booking a published hotel or airfare (not bidding). For a few bucks more, we highly recommend travel cancellation insurance from a company like SquareMouth to protect you.
Want more hotel bidding tips?Check out our how-to article on travel auctions and learn how to bid on travel auction bidding websites such as LuxuryLink.com and FamilyGetaway.com where you can bid on hotels and save up to 60% on luxury and family hotels.
Priceline Fees and Policies*
- No booking fees on all published airline tickets on Priceline.
- Priceline Name Your Own Price (Priceline Negotiator) purchases carry a variable booking fee. This is disclosed after your bid is accepted.
- Priceline Name Your Own Price (Priceline Negotiator) purchases are non-refundable and unchangeable.
- Priceline Name Your Own Price (Priceline Negotiator) carries no guarantee that specific hotels, dates or prices are available, that your bid will be accepted, or that you will get savings off of fixed prices. Fixed prices and star levels of hotels do not necessarily correspond with Priceline Negotiator.
- For all other purchases, the cancellation policy varies per booking. Read the individual cancellation policy on the booking page before you buy.