This is the thirty-third post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Name Your Own Price on Priceline to Save Hundreds on Hotels Part 1

Yesterday we learned about priceline’s “name your own price feature” that allows us to save 60% on booking hotel rooms. I walked you through process of bidding, the pre-bidding preparation of noting all the zones without the quality of hotel we want, and gave a guideline for the first bid amount.

Now make your first bid. If you’re looking for a 4 star hotel in the Madison Square Garden – Convention Center of New York like in my example, the first bid should be the $40 per night suggested in the last post.

You will be prompted to enter your credit card info. And priceline will show the total amount of your bid including taxes and fees, which is usually about $10 per night higher than the amount you entered.

There are three things that can happen. First the bid may be accepted. It’s unlikely that your first bid will be accepted, but if it is, your card will be charged, and you will have a nonrefundable booking at a hotel in one of the zones you’ve bid on.

Second, the bid may be rejected outright. I’ll explain how to handle this in a moment.

Third, the bid may be rejected, but with a counteroffer from priceline.

In either the counteroffer or outright rejection situation, you will want to continue bidding with a free rebid. Remember yesterday when I said to write down the numbers of the zones without the quality of hotel you want or a higher quality?

I want a 4 star hotel in New York, so I wrote down the four zones, which had only 3 and 1/2 star hotels and below. Those zones are the key to free rebids.

You have as many free rebids as you have zones without your quality hotel or higher. (You can actually stretch your rebids much farther if you don’t mind using permutations. See here.)

I have four zones, so four free rebids. I would space out my rebids so that I go from $40 to the highest price I’m willing to pay over the course of those four bids. So if I were willing to pay $80 per night, I would make my rebids $50, $60, $70, $80. If I had a surfeit of free rebids from the permutation method–ten in this case–I would just add $4 or $5 to my bid each time.

How do you use a free rebid? You use a free rebid by adding one of the zones you’ve identified as free rebid zones earlier to a previous bid. When your bid is not accepted, priceline brings you back to the bidding screen and offers the chance to add a zone or a lower quality hotel.

Add exactly one zone during each free rebid. So my second bid will have two zones, Madison Square Garden – Convention Center and one free rebid zone. My third bid will have three: Madison Square Garden – Convention Center, my first free rebid zone, and a second one.

Why is a free rebid free? Because I am looking for a 4 star hotel. That means priceline will only book me into a 4 star hotel or higher. I am adding zones that don’t have such hotels. That means the only zone I can be booked into is still my desired zone, Madison Square Garden – Convention Center.

So I am getting free rebids by adding dummy zones that priceline cannot book me into!

As you’re working through your free rebids, one may be accepted! Great. More often though, before one is accepted, priceline counteroffers. The counteroffer looks like this, and claims that if you up your bid to a specific amount, the hotel is yours. Always decline; we’re very close to getting an even better deal!

Common wisdom is that once priceline counteroffers, you can usually get the room for about half the difference between your last bid and the counteroffer.

At this point, decrease the amount between your rebids to a few dollars. Priceline will eventually accept one of these free rebids at a level below their counteroffer, and you’ve probably saved hundreds on a multi-day stay.

Those are the basics of using priceline to get your hotel after you’ve booked your free first class ticket to the exotic locale. If you want to learn more, here’s an entire blog on the subject.

Now that you know how to exploit priceline, get to work saving hundreds of dollars on your next hotel reservation. Let me know your results.

Continue to Using the MileValue Calculator.

5 COMMENTS

  1. […] This is the thirty-fourth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Name Your Own Price on Priceline to Save Hundreds on Hotels (Part 2). […]

  2. Is it best to wait until the last minute for the best deals or are you able to win a bid for a trip that is several months away?
    Thanks for the great info!

    • In practice, I usually am booking about a week out. But I think this can work any time the hotel is expecting few guests.

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