Many hotel consolidation websites claim to have a best rate guarantee but as with lots of large claims there is nasty fine print which means that what is claimed is not always what you get.
For example, some of them will only guarantee the base rate not the total price that you will pay once they had their own fees and the relevant taxes. Others will require you to actually book with them at the more expensive rate and then show them the lower rate within a certain short time period (often 24 hours) and they will then give you the difference back as a refund, or sometimes the difference plus a percentage (such as 10% as a price beat).
Below we look at four of the major hotel booking websites and compare their “guarantees”.
“Best Price Guaranteed
You are getting the lowest possible price at the time of booking – guaranteed.”
Conditions which must be met in order for the price to be matched:
- 1. You have contacted us immediately after booking with all the details of the other deal including a link to the offer on the website and the exact price being quoted.
- The other deal is bookable online and is still available when we check.
- The other deal is subject to the same booking conditions you’ve opted for with Booking.com. This means:
It is the same property
It is the same room type, apartment type, etc.
It is for the same check-in and check-out dates
It has identical room conditions attached (including the meal plan, cancellation policy, package offer, etc.)
- The conditions of your booking with us still allow penalty-free cancellations and modifications.”
This is one of the sites which requires you to book with them and it will then issue a refund for the difference between the rate you paid with it and the cheaper rate that you have found.
HotelClub has a best rate guarantee which is pretty much identical to that offered by Booking.com
“Guarantee: If you book and pay for a qualifying hotel room rate on the HotelClub website, and then find the same room type, in the same hotel, for the same dates, at a lower price on a website other than www.hotelclub.com or www.ratestogo.com online, after taxes and fees, we’ll refund the difference.”
“To claim this Guarantee, you must send an email to Best_price@hotelclub.com to our customer service centre and include the following details:
- Your booking ID with HotelClub;
- The link to the website where you found the cheaper rate(s); and
- A screen shot that includes the date, room type, and rate(s) provided by that website.
What’s the deadline to submit my claim?
You must submit your claim to Best_price@hotelclub.com within 24 hours of completing your booking.
You can expect a response to your claim within 72 hours.
The Hotel must be available for instant confirmation and display the lower rate claimed at the time our agents check availability.”
I think that this one is a little cheeky to be honest. You are providing a screen shot when you are making the claim that shows the cheaper rate being available but if the agent takes a while within the permitted 72 hours to get back to you then that rate may not still be available which leaves Hotelclub open to decline your claim.
Expedia Price Match
Expedia have a price match which not only gives a refund of the difference between the rate you have paid when you booked with it and a rate you submitted within 24 hours of that booking but a $50 Expedia voucher for successful price match claims.
While Expedia still requires you to have made a booking with it before you submit the claim, that is they will not simply beat the other rate and charge you that rate, it is stated on its website that:
“If you haven’t booked yet (believe you meet the above criteria) and would prefer to book and validate the price match with one of our experienced agents please call our call centre 13 38 10. They will verify your claim and, if successful, they will make your new booking and process a refund (to the same credit card) for the amount of the difference between the price of the competitor offer and the same offer booked on Expedia.com.au. AU$50.00 coupon will be allocated to your Expedia.com.au account. Note: It can take up to 7 days for the refund to show up in your bank account.”
That provides some peace of mind that you are actually going to get the cheaper rate. You can call up Expedia and have them verify the other rate meet the price match requirements and they will then book at the Expedia rate, issue the refund of the difference and allocate the Expedia $50 voucher.
But of course the $50 Expedia voucher then also comes with conditions, namely that
It be used on a minimum stay of 2 nights and that the coupon is applied to the hotel base rate. Taxes and or fees cannot be paid for with the voucher.
Also, Expedia doesn’t want you to be too good at finding better deals and making it apply the Price Match as it states that “Limit: one (1) AU$50 coupon per entire booking, and three (3) coupons per customer per calendar month (regardless of the number of accounts used by the customer).”
Note that the Expedia price match can actually be extended to prices cheaper than the price paid with Expedia which you find up to midnight before check-in if you are an Expedia + member, which appears to simply require you to sign up for emails and for rewards without any membership fee to be paid. So if you book on 1 March for a stay on 1 June, you are able to submit a Price Match claim with Expedia by midnight on 31 May. This and the $50 voucher makes it quite an appealing price match.
Hotels.com also has one of the more extended price guarantees, with it applying until 23:59 of the night before check-in:
“Price Match Guarantee – If you find a lower rate on Hotels.com or on another website by 23:59 local time the day before your stay we will, refund the difference to you.”
In summary, all four require you to book with them and to then seek that they match the price you have seen on a competitor’s website, which they will do by providing a refund between the price you paid to them and the price on the competitor’s website. However, while Booking.com and HotelClub require you to submit such a claim within 24 hours of making your booking with them, Expedia and Hotels.com give you until the night before you check-in to the hotel to make such a claim (Expedia only if you are an Expedia + member). Expedia’s price match is probably the best of all of them as you do actually get a $50 voucher towards a future 2 night stay, which puts you ahead whereas all of the others put you in the exact same position you would have been in had you booked with the competitor’s website (not taking into account any loyalty points you may accrue for using a particular hotel booking website).