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.
Hotel Best Rate Guarantees:
Hyatt – Match & 5,000 points or 20% off
Mariott – Match & 25% off, or 5,000 points
Hilton – Match & 25% off
Club Carlson – Match & 25% off
IHG – Match & 5x points
Wyndham – Match & 3,000 points
Best Western – Match & $100 gift card
Omni – Match & 20% off
Fairmont – Match & 10% off
Accor – Match & 10% off
Movenpick – Match & 20% off (first 3 nights)
Kempinski Hotels – Match & 25% off
The Ascott – Match & 1st night free
Corinthia – Match & 1st night free
Ovolo – Match & 1st night free
Rydges – Match & 50% off 1st night
Frasers – Match & 50% off 1st night
Langham – Match & 25% off
Amari – Match & 20% off
Affinia – Match & $50 stay credit + upgrade
Mr and Mrs Smith – Match & $75 voucher
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:
Smaller sites you could also try:
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.
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
(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:
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.
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.