The Secret To Getting Best Travel Prices on Priceline & Hotwire: Part One


This is part one in a three-part series on using Priceline and Hotwire to get killer travel deals.

Who has a better price on hotels, Hotwire or Priceline? Is there a “secret” to bidding? What sort of travel booking is always a win-win situation?

These questions and more will be answered in today’s episode of BETTER BIDDING WITH SAMANTHA!

This is part one in a two part series of how to use Hotwire, Priceline and other sites in your arsenal of tools for finding the best travel deals online.

The big secret
Most articles make you read through the whole thing to get to the money shot, but I’m going to give it to you right up front. Are you ready?

The biggest secret to getting the best rates on anything is: (drum roll please) do your homework, cross reference and recheck.

In a word: don’t. Since you are not in control of departure or arrival times, Priceline (Name Your Price) and Hotwire don’t really work in your favor. You can, however, use them for research, along with other sites. You MAY find cheaper seats using one site vs. another but it’s more likely you will find cheaper seats by varying certain factors about your trip, such as

  • departure/return date
  • length of stay
  • departure/return airport

Use the following sites to research these factors to find your best price.

  • AirfareChecker:’s tool to check fares for Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity all at once!
  • Your airline of choice: I personally have had good luck going directly with my airline. I flew once from Mpls to NY with two days’ notice for $200 from .

Car Rentals
Booking a car rental online is usually a “win-win” situation; you know your cars are usually one year old or less, and you’ll always get them where they said they’d be! Of course you don’t get to pick your model, but do you EVER get to drive the kind of car you’d really like to drive from a car rental place? (There really aren’t any secret formulas* like there are for getting the best hotel rates.)

Getting the best deal on a rental car: homework

  • Check prices for car rental date/car type you want on This will give you a good baseline of what you should expect to pay.
  • Check car rental bidding history sites to see what people are paying in your area for your car type. Some sites to check are Bidding For Travel and Better Bidding which list car bidding by state.
  • Go to the car rental company websites and compare prices. Car rental companies will frequently have “internet only” specials that could get you a better deal.
  • If you want to take a swipe at Priceline Name Your Own Price, ignore the “coaching tips” you will get when you make an offer as they aren’t really helping you. This matters less when you’re bidding on a car rental for $25 a day, but more when you’re looking at paying $200 or $300 a night for a hotel (more on that later).

Car Rental Booking Tips

  • LOOK in advance, don’t BOOK: Don’t book too far in advance as prices fluctuate. It’s good to start LOOKING in advance though.
  • Hotwire and Priceline don’t use all the same car rental companies. As of this writing, Hotwire car services are: Avis, Hertz, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, and National. Priceline in addition has Fox, Thrifty, Dollar, Alamo. Thrifty seems to be much cheaper!
  • Look at TOTAL price, not just daily rate: Priceline and Hotwire (and any car rental company) always add on fees to the daily rate. For example, if you get a car onsite from an airport, you will be slammed with more fees than if you find one offsite. But booking sites have their own fees. Secret: Hotwire tends to have cheaper fees than Priceline.

Airfare and car rentals are pretty straightforward. But getting a four star hotel for a two star price? That takes some fancy footwork…and it’s Coming Next Time in Part Two: Beating the System: Killer Priceline Tricks for Hotel Deals.

Guarantee your Airport Parking, and save money by booking ahead!

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  1. Charlene Jaszewski Says:

    Hey Sam,
    Your readers might want to try this trick I saw on
    1. Bid on a car rental from XX location for a low price.
    2. If it’s declined, switch to another location in the n’hood for $1 (which for sure will get declined).
    3. Then switch back to your original location for slightly higher bid. If it’s still rejected, keep switching back and forth until you get your bid accepted!
    NOTE: Priceline may be catching on so this might not work.

  2. Samantha Says:

    Oooh what a fabulous trick Char! I can’t imagine that one staying a secret for too much longer :)

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