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Tips on Bidding for a Cheap Hotel with Priceline

My husband and I love the Name Your Price option Priceline offers. It has allowed us to stay at 4-star hotels for 2 and 3-star prices. Everyone Iíve talked to about this, has told me theyíre too afraid or skeptical to try it out. Iíve put together a list of tips that will help anyone who is just a little bit internet savvy score a great deal on a hotel using the Name Your Own Price option.

1. Plan ahead. The more time you have before you need to book, the lower you can start your bidding. If your low-ball bid is rejected, you canít just place a new bid immediately. (more on that below).

2.Before placing your bid, do your research. Use a variety of travel websites (travelocity, hotels.com, etc..) to research how much the rooms at hotels in your preferred star level are costing during the dates you will be booking.

3.Decide on a star level. The Priceline website explains the kinds of amenities that can be expected at each star level. It also gives examples of hotel chains found at that level. Decide which amenities are important to you. Remember, the higher the star level, the higher the costÖusually.

4.Analyze their city map. Priceline breaks up each major city into areas and offers a detailed map for each one. Some areas are more expensive to stay in than others. (My husband and I have often found that if we stay in the airport or convention center area on a quiet weekend, we can get a great deal on a 4+ star hotel.)

5.Bid. Now that you have decided what area of town you want to stay in, what star level youíre comfortable with, and how much those kinds of hotels are typically costing, decide how much you want to bid. Priceline claims UP TO 60% off. So you can calculate accordingly and name your price. You will be informed immediately whether your bid is accepted.

6.If necessary, adjust your plan, and bid again. In order to bid again immediately, you must change one of the other criteria as well (star level or location). If you donít want to change anything about your bid (other than the amount), then you must wait 24 hours before you can bid again.

Caveats: There are some things you need to know about using this service.

*The rooms offered only guarantee occupancy for two. In some cities, hotel rooms are so small you canít fit an additional rollaway bed, so be honest with Priceline when listing the number of people in your group.

*With this service you canít choose a specific hotel. (The hotel you book is revealed after your bid is accepted.) We have found that each of the hotels we have stayed in (through a Priceline booking) has been true to the star level.

*Thereís no refund. Once your bid is accepted, your credit card is charged. Thereís no canceling or changing allowed.

If you can live with these terms, then try the Name Your Own Price service at priceline.com and save yourself some money on your next hotel reservation. Of course, be sure to read all the terms and conditions on Pricelineís website before you bid.

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