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Hotwire or Priceline? Which is Better?

Hotwire and Priceline both offer some of the best online discounts available—particularly when you use their most robust discount programs—the ones that do not give you the name of your airline, hotel, or car rental provider until after you pay.

Hotwire or Priceline space bar

To find out which company is better, Rick Archer interviewed Don Nadeau, the president of BidonTravel.com. Don Nadeau, a long-time budget travel expert, has worked extensively with both companies, and knows their pros and cons.

Should I choose Priceline or Hotwire?

Hotwire and Priceline are great, but not identical. Choose one over the other depending on your needs at the time.

Which is easier to use?

For a long time, Hotwire has been very much easier to use for low prices. Determining a winning bid on Priceline can be time-consuming and can fail.

That has changed.

Hotwire still offers—

4-star hotels. 2-star prices. Save up to 50% with low Hotwire Hot-Rates!

However, Priceline now offers, which is just as easy to use—

Express Hotel Deals up to 45% off with no bidding!

Well, which one is best for discount hotel rooms?

This takes a bit of explaining.

With either company, you pick the price, quality, amenities, and neighborhood you want, but not a specific hotel. For example, with Priceline’s Name Your Own Price service, you can bid on a 4-star hotel in Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue neighborhood. When Priceline accepts your bid, you find out the hotel name.

Because it wants you to have a winning hotel bid (and only makes money if you do), Priceline’s bidding neighborhoods tend to be large with lots of hotels in your quality range. If one has sold out, very likely there are others.

When using Hotwire though, you don’t bid on your hotel. Prices are displayed.

Hotwire can use smaller neighborhoods because it’s not concerned with you having a winning bid. This makes it easier to pinpoint the location you want. For instance, Hotwire currently divides Priceline’s North Michigan Avenue neighborhood into two neighborhoods.

Hotwire.com

Then why use Priceline for hotels?

Priceline may be cheaper!

You can easily find out Hotwire’s price, and then bid a little lower on Priceline. If accepted, you’ll enjoy a lower price for a similar quality hotel or even the same hotel used by Hotwire.

Also, Priceline has relationships with a greater number of hotels and hotels in more cities than Hotwire does, which may mean a lower price for your trip.

Priceline Hotels - Select your Exact Hotel or Name Your Own Price!

You mentioned picking the quality. Whose hotel rating system do you trust the most?

Hotwire and Priceline star quality ratings are similar to AAA auto club diamond ratings. However, both companies increase or decrease star rankings based on customer input.

Although their hotels are not always ranked the same, I can’t say one system is better than the other, as both are so driven by customer experiences.

You will probably end up happier if you book a higher ranked hotel—getting a 4-star hotel for a 2-star price, instead of a 2-star one for a 1-star price.

Which site gives more information about its hotels before paying?

Hotwire does.

Hotwire includes helpful information such as the availability (but not times ) of airport transfers. However, neither Hotwire or Priceline tell you some basic information, such as if pets are welcome.

What about their hotel price guarantees?

Many Internet sites guarantee hotel prices, but specifically exclude guarantees on the types of deep discounts you get using Hotwire and Priceline, where you don’t find out the hotel name until you pay.

Both Hotwire and Priceline guarantee that you’ll have the best price. If you find a lower price available to the general public for the same type of room, in the same hotel, on the same dates, you’ll get a refund of the difference. Priceline adds $25 to the difference. Hotwire gives you back double the difference in price, excluding taxes. Although both have short deadlines for applying, these are great guarantees.

$25 Name Your Own Price Hotel Guarantee!

How about their cancellation policies?

Neither Hotwire or Priceline allow refunds or changes for their lowest prices.

Be certain about your trip. Both companies offer you insurance for a fee in case you are forced to change.

How do they compare on discount rental cars?

Both use top companies like Avis and Hertz. Go with whichever has the best price at the time of your trip. The quality of your experience should be the same.

Which is better for airfares, Hotwire or Priceline?

I really like that you can pick the time of day on Hotwire for a discount. With Priceline, you must to be willing to depart anytime between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. for travel in the U.S. when using its “Name Your Own Price” bids.

For the biggest discounts though, you have to be willing to depart anytime of day on Hotwire, just as on Priceline. In addition, Priceline has discount flights to more places.

As with hotels, you can always find out Hotwire’s price, and then bid a bit lower on Priceline.

Priceline Flights - Select your Exact Flight & time or Name Your Own Price!

BidonTravel.com has numerous Priceline bidding tips plus Hotwire information that helps you save.

Which uses the best airlines?

Both use ones like American, Delta, and United.

What about vacation packages?

I love that Hotwire allows you to book a vacation package with hotel and rental car but without an airfare, which is great if you’re using a frequent flyer airline ticket that costs nothing.

Otherwise, go with the site that has the cheapest price for the same hotel, type of room, and dates. Both companies display prices and hotel or resort names for their vacation packages. This allows you to choose exactly what you want.

How do you decide which company to use?

I always compare them, and go with the one that gives the most quality for the money on the dates I need. I tend to use Priceline more than Hotwire. (Neither charges me less than you pay.)

You should be satisfied with either Hotwire or Priceline, as long as you realize that you cannot change anything once you’ve paid and you will not get a refund if your plans change.

Whether you choose Hotwire or Priceline, enjoy your savings!

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