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The Complete Guide to Hotel Best Rate Guarantees

The Complete Guide to Best Rate Guarantees


Using Best Rate Guarantees (BRG’s) we’ve gotten completely free stays at the InterContinental Vienna (a $300/night hotel), IC Budapest, IC San Juan, DoubleTree Bucharest and more. We’ve also used BRG’s to get huge discounts at the JW Marriott Bangkok, the Grand Hyatt New York and more.

It’s simple. Book with a hotel/site that offers a Best Rate Guarantee and find a lower rate elsewhere and get a free night, gift card, discount or points. Get rewarded by helping the hotels keep the other booking sites accurate.

Here you’ll learn how a BRG works, what each hotel offers, how to find them, how to submit one, and extra details that will keep you from wasting your time submitting invalid claims!

Background of BRG’s

 

Hotels often make arrangements with third party sites that help them sell unsold rooms.  However, their preference will always be to skip this middle man and sell their rooms on their own website. So many hotels have created a system that not only incentivises booking with their own site, it also keeps them aware of price disparities that may exist between their own site and the rates listed on these third party sites.  If a third party site is listing a better price for their own room than they are, they want to know, theoretically so that it can be fixed.

Or sometimes a third party booking site wants to make sure that their prices are lower than the other third party booking sites’ available.

This strategy for maintaining the best price is called a “Best Rate Guarantee”.

 

So what is a BRG exactly?

A Best Rate Guarantee is a promise that a hotel chain or booking site makes, claiming that the rate they are offering is the lowest rate. If after booking you find a lower rate, you can submit a “Best Rate Guarantee claim” to show where you’ve found a lower rate.


Once your claim is approved the hotel or booking site will lower your rate, plus, they usually give a little bonus.

For example, Hyatt will match a competitor’s rate and then add another 20% discount. Or Hilton will match a competitor’s rate and then give another $50 discount.

Although the biggest rewards, like a free night, are possible but harder to score.

 

 

What are the best BRG’s

 


If you want to dive a little more deeply, check out our master post on Best Rate Guarantees.
 

Major hotel chains:

  • InterContinental Hotel Group – Match and give first night of the stay free

  • Choice Hotels – Match and give first night of the stay free

  • Best Western – Match and give $100 gift card

  • Starwood – Match & 20% off, or 2,000 points

  • Hilton – Match & $50 per stay

  • Club Carlson – Match and 25% off

  • Marriott – Match and 25% off

  • Omni – Match & 25% off

  • Hyatt – Match & 20% off

  • Accor Hotels – Match & 10%

  • Shangri-La – Match & 10%

  • Mandarin Oriental – Match & 10%

  • Wyndham – Match & 10%

  • Kimpton Hotels – Match & $25 toward food


  •  

    Smaller Chains:

  • Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts – Match and “up to 20% off” for 3 nights

    -Europe, Asia and Africa and excludes a few hotels. View their map here to find locations.

  • Kempinski Hotels – Match & 25%

    -Big in Europe and Asia

  • Rydges Hotels and Resorts – Match and 50% for 1 night

    -Big hotel chain in Australia and New Zealand (+ Middle East & UK)

  • Citadines – Match and 50%

  • The Ascott, Somerset and Citadines – In Asia and Europe

  • Langham Hospitality Group – Match and 25%

  • Fiesta Americana – Match and 25%

  • Affinia Hotels – Match & $50 credit + room upgrade

    -Small New York chain.

  • Danubius Hotels – Match & €30 toward food

    -European hotel chain based in Hungry

  • Vienna International – Match & €30 toward food

  • Jurys Inn – Match & 1,000 points

    -Big UK hotel chain. Click here to see what you can redeem 1,000 points. Rooms go 3k-20k. Unless you have a travel agent account… and then it’s too good to be true? Someone please explain how I can get these redemptions? Seriously.

  • OZO hotels – Match and free upgrade

    -Small chain in Asia. But could book the room under a suite to get upgraded to a suite.

  • Same with Amari


  •  

    Online Travel Agencies:

  • Traveocity – Match & $50 off the next trip

  • Vegas – Double the difference up to $150

  • CheapTickets – Match and $50 credit

  • Expedia – Match and $50 credit

  • Orbitz – Match and $50 credit

  • How to find and book a BRG:

     

     

    1) Use popular search aggregators, like the ones listed here:

     

    Sites that compare prices across multiple other sites for the best rates:


     

  • Kayak.com
  • Wego.com
  • Trivago.com
  • Hotelscombined.com
  • Hipmunk.com
  • Room77.com
  •  

     


    Smaller sites you could also try:

     

  • innstant.com
  • galahotels.com
  • easyclicktravel.com
  •  

     

    2) You’ll need to find the rate on both the hotel’s website, and a lower rate on one of these different booking sites.

     

    3) Once you successfully find a lower rate on one of these websites, book a cancelable rate on the hotel’s own website.

     

    4) Submit a claim form.

    Each hotel BRG policy listed above has a link to the policy and claim form. Submit a claim form online, or some hotels have a phone number you can call to submit a claim. The phone option would take more time, but make sure the agents see it right away (before the rate changes).

    5) If you get denied, cancel. Otherwise, enjoy the discount/free night.

    Tips:

    Kayak is big enough that it may not be the best source for finding the sites with lower rates, but it sure is the easiest to use. It not only scrapes a ton of other sites, it allows you to sort by chain, and sometimes by currencies.

    Although, lesser known booking sites are often the source of better rates for the tougher cases, but also tend to have different/stricter rules that may not qualify.
     
     

    Rules for getting approved:

      


    Everything needs to match


  • Cancellation: The date, and time you have to cancel must match exactly.
  • Payment Type: Is it pre-paid? Is it pay on arrival? When and how you pay matters.
  • Room Type: A room type would be like a “superior” or “deluxe” room. This and even the views must match exactly.
  • Bed Type: Many times it matters not only the room and view, but which bed type. King, queen, or twin, it must match.
  • Post-Taxes: The rate must be bookable, and the final rate after taxes must match up.
  • Breakfast: Is breakfast included or not? It must match.
  • Public Rate: The rate must be bookable to anyone and should not require a membership to a site.
  • 24 hours ahead of check-in: In general, you must submit your claim within 24 hours of booking, and more than 24 hours ahead of check-in.
  • Currency: In the case of IHG and Choice, it must be bookable in the same currency. Sometimes it will show one currency but book in another. It must be the bookable currency. However, many major booking sites have different versions of their site for different countries. So you may be able to find a version of the site that books in the local currency needed.

    (Note: Never assume because you see a rate on Kayak that it’s bookable until you go all the way through the booking process.)

  • Specific BRG policies

     

    IHG – Free Night


    IHG is the most strict as the better rate has to be bookable in the same currency, the price has to be better before and after taxes, and they are very strict in matching the rate types and currency.
    Because IHG gives a free night per stay, they have some extra rules to prevent gaming:

  • 1 free night per 7 days, in a 50 mile radius (according to google maps).
  • 1 per household in 7 days.
  •  

    Choice – Free night


    Choice is not only strict, they sometimes completely sell out a room type to the booking sites. This means that the rooms they have on their website, might technically be different than the rooms on the other booking sites. Odd, but in these cases it’s impossible to get a BRG. Make sure the room types, rates, currencies and cancellation policies match.
     

    Hilton – $50 off a stay


    If you’re lucky enough to find a $50/night hotel, you can possibly get a free night with Hilton. And unlike IHG and Choice, Hilton is very reasonable in their claim process (meaning a legitimate claim will be approved).

    Doing this, we got a completely free night at the DoubleTree in Bucharest, plus breakfast as gold members. The rate was ~$60 on Hilton.com and we found it somewhere else for ~$50 and they matched the $50 and gave $50 off.

    Domestically, (in the USA, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico) they give a $50 American Express Gift Card, so in that sense it’s more of a rebate. But internationally, it could be turned into a free night.
     

    Best Western -$100 gift card


    If you can figure out how to get a BRG with Best Western, you could have a constant supply of free nights. They give a $100 Best Western gift card as their reward. However, you can even use a gift card on a stay that is BRG’d. Meaning you can use a gift card to pay for the hotel and earn a $100 BW gift card for future stays.

    Basically, you need to pony up and pay for a hotel to get the first gift card, and then they’ll ship you one that you can use for your next stay. Hopefully during that stay you can not only completely cover it with the last gift card but BRG to get another gift card.

    Of the ones on this list, Hilton is by far the easiest to get a valid claim with. But that’s a reflection of the other three, as I’ve had an easy user experience with Hyatt, Marriott, many booking sites, and pretty much everyone that isn’t IHG or Choice.

    Conclusion

     

    Always book cancelable rates. I’ve tried to stress the importance of matching rates and types, but chances are, you’ll miss something. Or, it’s possible that the rate could change by the time one of the agents gets around to looking at it. The last thing you want is to be stuck paying the higher rate on a hotel! Make it cancelable and leave time.

    The biggest thing is to go all the way through the booking process to double check the rate is actually lower, and bookable.

    As you may guess, the bigger the reward, the harder it is to submit a valid claim. A free night at the IC London Park Lane will be a lot harder to get approved than the DoubleTree in Bucharest. This is partly because BRG’s are doing their job and people are actually looking and submitting claims, for rates which the hotel will make sure to correct on the lower website. But also, Choice and IHG are a little worried about being gamed so they are strict about the many details of the terms and conditions.

     

    Related Posts:

    25 Comments

    1. This is a really great post that consolidates helpful information all in one place. Where did you get the “Match and “up to 50% off” for 3 nights”? I got super excited but see 20% on the website.

      Reply
      • Doh. Sorry. Must have backspaced and deleted when I now see this. The question was with regard to Moevenpick.

        Reply
      • Okay, I’m not crazy. I checked and it was 50% off and they recently changed it to 20%! Bummer. Thanks for letting us know though!

        Reply
    2. How successful has everyone been in finding BRG’s in the last few months? I’ve been striking out lately.

      Reply
      • Probably depends on the company. I haven’t tried IHG in a little bit, but last few times I did I got denied. Like I said, the others are always more reasonable. Wouldn’t mind hearing from others though.

        Reply
      • I did a few Marriotts in the past couple weeks. Easy, approved in 24 hours.
        Tried a Choice claim, but it wasn’t the same “room type” or something. Just more strict than others, which oh well. They still got back to me within 24 hours so I wasn’t left waiting and trying to figure out my travel plans

        Reply
      • Good success rate with choice. Not so good with IHG.

        Reply
    3. Thanks for pulling this together Drew. I’ve used your guidance to do some Hilton BRG’s successfully, though even with the same OTA’s, they sometimes accept or deny claims depending on the hotel (weird, huh?)
      I’ve got a question regarding booking consecutive one night BRG’s with Hilton on different accounts (same room type). How do we ask the front desk to ‘reserve’ our room on subsequent nights?

      Reply
      • lol, doesn’t surprise me.

        So with that, I’m not sure off hand if Hilton has terms and conditions to protect that. But me personally, I would risk having to change rooms and just go down and check out and check back in every day.
        I mean, you could email, it’s not a big deal, unless I’m wrong and there is a rule against it.

        Reply
    4. How do you book your claim with the lower rate? Do you just take screen shots or do you book both the official hotel website & the cheaper website & submit a claim with the receipt?

      Reply
      • Easiest way is: if the cheaper site is cancellable, book both the hotel site and the cheap site and ask questions later. I’ve given my reservation number from the cheap site on the claim form, though I don’t actually know if that means they can look at my reservation or not. I figure being forward with as much info as possible can’t hurt.

        If you can’t get a free cancellation on the cheap site, you could try submitting screen shots, though I’m not sure the claim form will take it. You may be stuck hoping the lower rate sticks long enough for the claims team to investigate.

        @Drew – along those lines, do you know if any chains take longer than 24-48 hours to review the claim? I’ve only done Marriott and Choice and both got back within a day. The lower rate may stick for a day, but beyond that, it seems like the rates fluctuate too quickly due to a lot of factors: date of travel, how far out you’re booking, hotel popularity, etc

        Reply
      • You only have to book on the hotels website. I have never ever booked on the competitors website as well. You just say where you found it, and they go try to find the same rate. Most all BRGs do not accept screenshots.

        Reply
      • Interesting.. Thanks for the info; I’ll just skip booking on the other website from now on

        Reply
    5. Great write-up! Just an addition to your IHG info. They will only match if the difference is at least $1.00 or 1%, whichever is greater. I’ve tried this a few times and gotten dinged on that one line item.

      From their T&C: “The minimum difference between the two prices must be 1% or $1, whichever is higher, in order to account for variances with currency conversions on non-IHG websites.”

      Reply
    6. Interesting, but a bit strange that you focus on the programs where the prize may be greater, but can be virtually impossible to claim for, whereas you ignore Marriott, Sheraton and Hyatt, which can be quite straightforward to claim…

      Reply
      • I find Marriott and Starwood claim process and success to be “easiest”. Hilton used to be a hassle (perhaps still is). Look at appropriate flyertalk threads to get a sense of how “easy” each BRG is at any given time.

        Reply
    7. The TA rates for Jury’s Inn are based on a different point system, whereby 5 points are earned per room night booked. i.e. to get 100 euros back, you have to book over 130 room nights.

      Reply
    8. Does anyone know if any of the hotel chains will match rates found on Travel Pony?

      Reply
    9. Great guide again! Thanks to you and your site for teaching me this method, I have successfully booked many free BRG’s. Best of luck to you.

      Reply
    10. Great guide thanks. But I’m having great difficulty finding lower prices. Is anyone else having this problem and are there clues to overcome it. I’ve tried all the sites suggested by Drew with no luck. Is it perhaps a timing issue? Is there a particular time of day/day of week when prices tend to change and then they vary more? I’m amazed at the similarity of prices across all these sites. Thanks

      Reply
    11. Hotels.com has a promotion for the Intercontinental in Mendoza, Argentina, where if you stay 3 nights, the 3rd night is free. For September 26-29, that makes it an average $73 a night (non-refundable rate). On the IHG site, it’s $109 a night (non-refundable rate), and the hotel currency is US dollars. The risk is booking a non-refundable rate. Do you think IHG will honor the BRG?

      Reply
    12. With help from your post I did my first BRG claim with Orbitz and had success! I got an oceanfront suite for $140 with $110 back in Orbucks. Incredible! Thanks so much for this guide.

      Reply
    13. Please ignore the two previous questions (better yet in the moderation process do not even post them) and answer just this one — do not want to impose too much, how do you get Orbitz to approve a claim when all the competitors sites, at least in my experience have discount or sale price? In my experience Orbitz says that this is a special discount price, so ineligible. Perhaps you have a better comparison site,or perhaps
      Just a different experience.

      Thank you

      Especially appreciate it if you do not post the two previous posts/questions or remove them if already posted, thank you

      Reply
    14. I’ve always found that Starwood is the easiest, followed by Marriott. Hilton is very hard (in my experience). Carlson used to be easier, but now they’ve tightened up the rules. Best Western is somewhere in the middle – not impossible but not exactly easy either.

      Choice actually used to be fairly easy but have tightened up.

      IHG has always been fairly difficult, but for a while there it was actually moderately easy to get something approved. However, it’s harder than ever now. I remember when I got a huge suite at Palazzo for free once, albeit that one was not a trivial one because of the cancellation policy of the competing site, which was actually LESS restrictive.

      Also worth mentioning that Fairmont now has a BRG program for 10% off. However, it was problematic the first time because the agent denied it unfairly, but on appeal it was granted.

      Reply

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