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Friday, 20 December 2013

The Definitive Guide to 10 Best Rate Hotel Guarantees Series: Part 1 - Choice [with Video]

We try to get sales on hotels or airlines, since it saves us money.  And we've often gotten some great prices, if we've been able to plan in advance.  Other times, we've gotten some great last-minute prices by using a few tricks that I've posted about earlier.

Sometimes we have to transit through a city or airport, and need just one night in a hotel.  When that happens I like to start by looking for Best Rate Guarantees, and if you locate one you can stay for free.  Totally free.  Hotels which could cost +$500/night, FREE.  And there are some nice places we've stayed at, and others we have coming up.  You can also use them to lower the overall cost of a longer stay, of more than just 1 night.  

But how hard is it to find one?  What are the rules?  How can it be free? 

A Hotel We Got for Free in Manhattan! Regularly $450/night
Most of the major hotel chains, and online travel agencies, have Best Rate Guarantees (BRG's).  Basically, they offer to match, beat, or even give you a free night if you happen to find a better rate with a competitor.  Now admittedly, looking for another competing price takes more time and effort.  However, the payback can be significant if you're prepared to do just a few minutes of work.

Other bloggers have posted some excellent write-ups on BRG's, some extremely thorough, but in this series we're going to explore some popular brands and their rules primarily for Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, since that is where most of us travel around here.  There are many hotels with BRG's, but so as not to dilute, we'll only focus here on 10 Best Rate Guarantees, those which are best for our region.

A few large chains with thousands of locations, actually offer the 1st night of stay for free, if you find a competing and eligible rate which is lower.  So if you are only staying 1 night, you get that night free.  They can give away free nights because they'd rather give you 1 free night, for helping them locate where they need to adjust their prices to compete.  Most consumers won't bother to claim for a free night, they'll just see the lowest rate and book whatever is cheapest. 

In this series I'm also introducing a new feature, that I hope will be helpful for you.  I'm including a short youtube video clip, where I quickly walk you through how to find, book, and submit a claim for a free or discounted BRG stay.  This will show you just how easy it is.

You can go straight to the video now, if you're like me and don't want to read the instructions!  Or keep reading if you want written details.  

Best Rate Guarantee Series

Choice Hotels include 11 hotel brands, ranging from the bottom, like EconoLodge, to some very top end hotels of the Ascend Collection.  

Our Manhattan Ascend Collection Distrikt Hotel - Free!

How hard is it to find a free night with the Choice Hotels chain?  

Choice has over 6,300 properties, so it's pretty easy to find one in almost any size city.  I've found and gotten lots of free nights at Choice hotels, so they are reasonable when it comes to honouring better rates if you can find one.  Some other chains are must more stringent in deciding to give away free or discounted nights.  

I prefer the Ascend Collection of Choice hotels if I can find one, since they are top end hotels, and some in the US or Europe go for upwards of +$700/night.

When I've had problems with free nights, the BRG team at Choice has been helpful and prompt in responding to any questions or problems related to any free night stay I've earned.


  1. Must book a reservation on Choice website. (I book refundable so I can cancel if they deny my claim)
  2. Difference in price must be greater than $1 or 1%.
  3. Submit the claim within 24 hours of booking.  (I claim immediately in case the rate might change)
  4. Amenities must generally match. (same room type, same description, or close)
  5. 1 free night per person/household per 30 days.  (I lost track once and requested a free night 29 days from another free night I already had; they would not honour the 2nd claim.  So they do track your free nights.)
*READER HINT - If you are traveling with others who do not live with you (separate name/credit card billing address) and all of you need a night somewhere, once you find a BRG, you could also help them to lodge a claim at the same time, submitting yours and theirs simultaneously.  This way, all of you can get your free night, before rates get adjusted, and after they've honoured your free night claim(s).  In the example of this post, my wife and I got a free night, which normally costs $450, and our friends did as well.  Our total free night value was $900 for 2 couples for the 1 night we needed to be in Manhattan.  At a 5* hotel in Times Square, you betcha!


I prefer to use Kayak or HotelsCombined, each are similar with pros and cons, but work the same to search lots of sites for prices to compare and find a BRG.   

At the Kayak homepage, enter your info such as: how many persons, date, city, etc.  We will search for a hotel in Melbourne 1 week from now.

The results in our dummy booking will give you hundreds of hotels in Melbourne to select from.  Scroll down and at the lower left you will see the 'Hotel Name' search box.  You can also select an entire hotel chain from this box, and in our search we enter 'Choice' to get only those hotels which we know offer a free night.

In This Example, We Input 'Choice' into the Hotel Name Box to Search the Chain
The search will come back with only hotels from the Choice chain.  

Search for a price discrepancy.  When you find one, you might have a winner!  In this case I found Kayak to be lower in price than the Choice Clarion Suites Getaway hotel.  Click on the link of the lower price competitor, and the Choice hotel, to see if both pages load with valid prices.  Occasionally prices are out-of-date, but by clicking through you'll quickly know if there are any updates or errors. 


Take a good look at the prices.  Are they more then a $1?  1%?  Do the currencies match?  Are the amenities the same?  Oftentimes the exact wording doesn't match on say, Kayak, and Choice.  So quickly read through and ensure they look similar in description.  Check to see if the pictures on both sites are the same, thus the same room type.  This will be what the Choice agent searches for when deciding to give you a free night.  Is the price refundable, in case your claim is rejected, and you need to cancel and find another free night elsewhere? 

If you are satisfied then make the reservation and immediately submit a claim for a BRG.  I do it so that the agent at Choice who handles your claim can get onto it as soon as possible to give me an answer.  

If I'm rejected I cancel as soon as I find out.  I've noted that I usually get a decision within 1 or 2 days, but I've also received them within an hour at times.

If you didn't click on the short video link above, here it is again, so you can quickly see how easy it is.


We've benefited greatly from Choice BRG's.  They consistently honour valid lower competitor prices, and are very professional and quick to respond.  

We LOVE using BRG's to stay for free, especially when we are only passing through, stopping over at an airport for a night, or just not really staying for long in one place.  We'd rather save our money for longer stays, when we don't want to move around, and get free nights for those times we only need 1 night to crash.


Of course, in the above scenario, if you'd chosen to stay 3, 4, or even 5 nights or longer in the hotel, and you'd gotten the 1 free night, along with additional discounted nights you would saved significantly.  So you could use BRG's to lower your cost for longer stays.  

The sample I've highlighted above, was about $13 less per night via Kayak.  So Choice would have to honour a $13/night lower rate.  So, for a 5 night stay you would save $74, since the 1st night is free.  Then $13/night for the other 4 nights.  That is a total savings of $126 on a 5 night stay just for spending a few extra minutes comparing prices, and submitting a claim for a valid price difference.  Not bad.  Super actually!


Take a few minutes next time you're traveling to save serious money on your trip, by learning how to use BRG's.  You'll definitely Travel Better..and Travel for Less!

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