Booking hotels online is convenient and easy–that is how I book most of my hotels–but here are 3 things to watch out for.
1. Rates–it used to be that you could always find the lowest rate available online. But that’s not always the case. On a recent trip to Oregon, I booked 4 different hotels. After checking online rates, I got a lower rate at 2 of the 4 by calling the hotels directly and using my AAA discount. So, while online deals can be really good, it’s worth a couple of minutes to call the hotels directly and ask for their best rate.
2. Refundability–Many online hotel reservations are non-refundable these days–which may save you a few bucks on your rate. Just be sure you won’t need to cancel. Also, some of these non-refundable reservations will say, “Breakfast not included”, even though the hotel routinely offers free breakfast. Make sure you read the fine print!
3. Cancellation policies–Make sure you know what they are BEFORE you make the reservation. Most hotels allow you to cancel a reservation up to 24 hours before your arrival date without a fee, but some have much less flexible policies–especially if you book online. Some require you to cancel as much as 7 days in advance or they will charge at least one full night, sometimes more. Again, read the fine print!