Finding an affordable hotel stay can be a challenge with the nightly rate, breakfast, airport shuttle service and other fees included. That $95 nightly special can cost you more than $150 when all fees and taxes are added. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that you get the best stay possible to fit your budget by considering the following options.

1. Contact the hotel. You know where you want to stay and when, so why not contact the hotel directly? Most hotels allow you to connect with the front desk, to speak with a reservationist who can discuss room rates and package options. Of course, you’ll look online first to obtain general rate information, then call to learn if you can get amenities such as parking and breakfast included with your price. This is where you can ask the reservationist for a free upgrade or a free night’s stay if you pay the regular rate for two or three nights.

2. Understand loyalty programs. Credit card holders belonging to loyalty programs have some leverage when booking a room. For instance, if your Visa is tied in with Hilton, Marriott, Starwood Hotels or some other hotel group, there may be incentives for you to stay there including a best price guarantee, free room upgrade when available, double or triple points for each night’s stay when using the related credit card, and other perks. Review your loyalty program and plan accordingly.

3. Know your travel benefits. Beyond a loyalty program, you may have travel benefits through various memberships that you hold. The most common ones are AAA and AARP, with both offering considerable discounts for members. Other discounts may apply if you are a union member, you belong to a trade association, or you are connected with any group that has negotiated a discount with a particular hotel group.

4. Tap your travel agent. Travel agents are a thing of the past, right? No, that is not so. True, today’s travelers are more likely to do the booking themselves, but there are still agencies in place that serve the public. Some are generalists, serving everyone while others are specialists and are adept at pulling together honeymoon packages or may work with corporate clients. Travel agents are up on deals that are not published including free hotel stays and certain airline discounts.

5. Book late, if possible. If you book early you will get the best rate, right? That isn’t always true especially in cities where there are more than enough rooms than can possibly be filled (except during convention times or other special events). Consider arriving at your destination and heading to your preferred hotel without a reservation. At the front desk, negotiate your price with confidence knowing that an unsold room is also an unsold asset.

6. Book a package deal. Websites such as this one make it easy for travelers to book their airfare, hotel, and car rental in one place. What that means is that bundled packages can yield tremendous savings at rates that may be difficult to match if booked separately. Get pricing from and compare your findings with what you might obtain elsewhere. Take advantage of “hot rates” that offer special deals for a limited time.

7. Consider a bed and breakfast. You don’t have to stay at a hotel when traveling. Indeed, there are many private residences that operate as bed and breakfast establishments, offering a personalized touch and competitive rates. Most B&Bs offer free Wi-Fi, a must for the business traveler. Breakfast is, of course, included and some operators offer wine and cheese gatherings and snacks. Usually, you get a private bath and with keyless entry you can come and go as you please.

Stay Considerations

While price is important in any stay, your safety and comfort are also significant considerations. You can get the best price, but have a sleepless night at a value-oriented hotel located on a busy street. No amount of savings is worth it if you must compromise on the things that you value the most.

See Also — For our latest hot deals, please click here.