If you don’t have enough hotel points with one chain for your whole stay or want to stay at non-chain hotels, one of the best ways to save money is to book your stay on Hotels.com . Let’s look at how you can stack discounted Hotels.com gift cards, cashback from shopping portals, and which credit cards you should be using.
Buying Discounted Hotels.com Gift Cards Online
There are several ways to obtain discounted gift cards. A major eBay gift card seller, PPDG (PayPal Digital Gifts) , sells discounted gift cards and often has Hotels.com gift cards on sale. You can sign up for PPDG email alerts or watch out for deal alerts on Doctor of Credit website.
A few times a year Amazon has Hotels.com gift cards on sale. These so called lightning deals, run for a very short time so you have to act fast. Look for a discount of 15% to 20% off on a $50 or $100 gift card. Amazon limits discounted gift cards to one per customer but if you have a travel partner they can order one as well. When Amazon runs their gift card sales my husband and I order one card each from our respective accounts.
Newegg also often runs gift card sales. If you have a business Visa credit card, such as Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Ink Business Cash Credit Card you can get 3% off through Visa SavingsEdge program. Enroll your business Visa in SavingsEdge program here and receive a 3% automatic statement credit when shopping on Newegg . You can stack cashback portals with Visa SavingsEdge discount to shave off a few more dollars off the price of the gift card purchased on Newegg. Newegg also limits the number of discounted gift cards you can purchase in one transaction. However, if the cards are still on sale and are available 48 hours after your first purchase, you can buy them again.
Stacking Discounts with Cash Back Portals
If you aren’t using cash back portals when shopping online, including booking travel, you are leaving money on the table. I always start my online shopping by going to Cashback Monitor and searching for the best portal payout. Cashback Monitor will show you which portal has the best cash back deal. Don’t sign up for too many portals, as most have payout minimums; it will be hard to reach your minimum payout if you have too many accounts. Note that gift cards are often excluded and you might not earn any cash back through the portal; it is definitely a YMMV (your mileage may vary) situation. For me, Top Cashback has consistently tracked Newegg purchases.
Buying Discounted Hotels.com Gift Cards in Stores
If you have Ink Business Cash Credit Card, or Chase Ink Plus (not available to new cardholders) it makes sense to buy Hotels.com gift cards at office supply stores. These cards earn 5% back in the form of cash or points. Staples and Office Depot regularly run sales on merchant gift cards in store and online. Use the sale to stack discounts, shopping portals’ cash back and credit card points.
Hotels.com gift cards are also sold at big national grocery store chains such as Kroger. Grocery stores also have gift cards sales on a regular basis, especially around the holidays. If you purchase Hotels.com on sale, use a credit card that earns bonus points at grocery stores, and stack it with fuel discount (if available), it can add up to significant savings.
Using Cashback Portals to Book Your Stay
When you are ready to book your stay don’t forget to go through a shopping portal. Because shopping portals’ payout rates change all the time, remember to always start with Cashback Monitor. Don’t forget to google Hotels.com discount codes before making your reservation. Shopping portals usually list additional discounts as well.
Hotels.com Rewards Program
Hotels.com has its own rewards program –stay 10 nights (single or multiple stays) and get one night free. You can use your free night on your next stay, but note that you will have to pay taxes and fees.
Per Hotels.com terms, you can only use one gift card per booking, however, you can combine multiple gift cards into one card by going to their gift card balance transfer page and clicking on balance transfer tab.
I’ve seen reports online that not all hotels bookable on Hotels.com accept gift cards. So before buying a lot of discounted gift cards, check if you can use them to book your preferred property.
Keep in mind, that if you are going after elite status with any hotel program or want to use your elite status perks, bookings made through third parties usually aren’t eligible for upgrades and other elite status perks. There are, however, many wonderful independent or small chain hotels, especially abroad, where you can save 10% or more by using Hotels.com discounted gift cards and the strategies outlined above.
As you can see, it’s very possible to save big when booking your stay on Hotels.com . Be strategic about stacking discounted gift cards, shopping portals, and remember to use the credit card that earns you the most points.
If you have used Hotels.com in the past, tell us about your experience. If you have any other optimization strategies share them in comments or tag me in the group.
If you really want to maximize your travel rewards check out ChooseFI's free travel rewards course.