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 rental car provider until after you pay.
Which is better for you? Each has pros and cons.
Hotwire lists prices (no bidding) and that allows you to place a lower bid on Priceline. Calculate a winning bid and you save.
Because Priceline also lists deeply discounted hotel prices that require no bidding, also bid lower than these >
Hotwire requires less research and less time.
You merely find the best price on Hotwire and compare it to the best prices on sites like Orbitz that are usually at least partially refundable. If a hotel, also to Priceline's Express Deals.
Once you pay, you won’t extract a refund from either of them. Nor will they change your reservation.
Both Priceline and Hotwire allow you to choose hotel quality (star level), neighborhood and price.
However, because it wants you to make a winning hotel bid—the way it makes money—Priceline typically has larger neighborhood zones than Hotwire. That means your Hotwire hotel may be more ideally located for your needs.
I don’t want to make a big deal of this. For example, Priceline offers 6 neighborhoods in Midtown Manhattan alone between 42nd Street and Central Park.
Hotwire lists more amenities such as airport transfers (but not times of operation) for its hotels.
Both Priceline and Hotwire star quality ratings are similar to AAA & CAA 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. Generally, the more popular the hotel, the more you can trust these ratings.
You’ll usually end up happier at a higher ranked hotel—getting a 4-star hotel for a 2-star price, as Hotwire says, instead of a 2-star one for a 1-star price.
Neither Hotwire nor Priceline give you some basic information, such as whether pets are welcome.
As of this writing, Priceline has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and has held it for some time.
Hotwire acts the deep discount arm of Expedia.com, a respected company.
Hotwire lists prices (no bidding) and that allows you to place a lower bid on Priceline. Calculate a winning bid and you'll save.
Go by price. Both use major brand name companies like Avis and Hertz.
With small or midsize vehicles the price difference on shorter rentals may be negligible.
Go by price.
You will almost certainly find Hotwire easier to use. Again, you can bid less on Priceline and possibly get a lower price.
Most discount airfares these days have major cancellation penalties regardless of where you buy them. In this area, Hotwire and Priceline are not that different from other travel agencies or the airlines themselves.
As usual, you can bid less on Priceline and possibly get a lower price.
Before paying, make sure you are completely comfortable with not being able to obtain a refund or make a change. No refunds and no changes mean just that.
If it's a pinch to lose your money, take the insurance offered for medical emergencies, etc.