When you add it all up, your hotel stay can be the most expensive part of your vacation. Done right, your hotel stay can also save you a lot of money, costing you less than what you would pay for renting a house for one week. Hotels want your business and employ a variety of tactics to woo you. Here’s what you need to know about finding smart hotel savings.

General Costs, Taxes Included

When comparing hotel prices you should know that the standard room night does not include taxes. And those taxes come in at a rate that is usually higher than the local sales tax rate. Figure that you will pay an extra 10 to 20 percent for your room. Thus, a $100 per might room might set you back by $120.

Most other expenses with your hotel should be included, but not all. Some hotels charge people for Wi-Fi access. Others charge for phone usage, room service, laundry and newspaper delivery. Bottled water, parking and even “resort” fees may also be levied. Ask for full fee information before booking your room.

Amenities Make a Difference

There may be a few things that could tip your vacation stay plans in favor of the hotel. Room service is included and many hotels also come equipped with small refrigerators. Those labeled “suites” often include a separate sitting area and may have a kitchenette that brings in a stove, counter, dishwasher and other kitchen amenities.

If your hotel includes a breakfast, that cost is part of your price of staying there. Even so, with one meal daily covered, that leaves you with only two to consider. If you are on a strict budget, a kitchenette allows you to store foods that you buy locally. The savings here can be tremendous and would also provide an equivalent benefit to renting a home with a kitchen.

Flexibility Means Savings

For travelers that have the most flexibility, the best hotel savings can be had. For instance, if you want to visit a popular resort and think that you will have to book months in advance, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you can wait until the last minute, indeed the last day, to book your stay.

Hotel operators want to fill their rooms. Last minute cancellations mean lost revenue, something that they work diligently to make up. Thus, if you have plans that are being hatched at the last minute, contact the hotel for room availability. Negotiate your best deal and be open to switching rooms later in your stay, if necessary.

Redeem Those Points

You may have accumulated a sizable amount of points to pay for your next vacation or at least reduce your cost. If you have one or more credit cards, you may unknowingly be building points that can be cashed in to cover your stay.

Usually, you accumulate one point for every dollar spent. However, on certain purchases such as gasoline purchases, as well as for food and hotel stays, the points may accumulate at three to five times the standard rate. Find out how many points you have and redeem them for one or more free nights.

Savings Considerations

Other ways to save on your hotel stays include joining loyalty programs, using third party sites such as Booking.com and Hotels.com to find savings, using AAA or AARP discount codes, and choosing nonrefundable rates. With the latter, you must be absolutely sure that you will show, otherwise you risk losing everything.

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