Best Rate Guarantee claims are one of my main strategies for hotel rate discounts. Over the course of a calendar year, Best Rate Guarantee claims save me several thousand dollars on the published rates for chain hotels while still allowing me to earn promotion bonuses and elite stay credit.
Today I experienced a successful Choice Hotels Best Rate Guarantee claim for Inn of Chicago, an Ascend Collection hotel.
Today I saw the room rate on Kayak.com for Inn of Chicago, Ascend Collection at $95.20 through getaroom.com, Expedia, Travelocity, Expedia and other sites.
Choice Hotels had the room listed at $119.
Getaroom.com showed free cancellation next to the rate.
Both Choice and getaroom rates offered penalty-free cancellation with a slight difference in deadline time. Getaroom.com listed the cancellation deadline as 10am day before arrival and Choice Hotels listed the cancellation deadline at 4pm day before arrival.
Submitting a Best Rate Guarantee claim
There are some general rules about Best Rate Guarantee claims to know:
- Except for Starwood (only online claims), Hyatt (phone), and Kimpton Hotels (phone), all other major hotel chains require you book a room first on the hotel chain’s websites before you are permitted to submit a Best Rate Guarantee claim. Starwood matches lower rate and awards 2,000 points per stay for an approved BRG. Hyatt reduces lower rate by 20%. Kimpton matches lower rate and gives $25 hotel credit.
- Never book the Online Travel Agency (OTA like Expedia, booking.com, Travelocity) rate before submitting a Best Rate Guarantee claim with a major hotel chain. If your best rate guarantee claim is rejected, then go with the OTA rate, if still available. I have done that. Sometimes the OTA has a ridiculously lower rate than the hotel chain and a Best Rate Guarantee claim is rejected.
- The best circumstances are when you deal with room rates that can be cancelled. I see many potential and likely Best Rate Guarantee claims, however, I avoid BRG claims when comparing prepaid nonrefundable rates. The risk exists that an Online Travel Agency truly has the lower rate, but there are a variety of reasons a claim is rejected. I avoid being stuck with nonrefundable hotel rooms whenever possible. I get enough of that crap with airline tickets. On a reservation with flexible cancellation, you can book a room with Marriott, Choice, IHG, Best Western, Hilton and drop the reservation if the Best Rate Guarantee claim is rejected.
I booked a two-night stay on Choice Hotels website for Inn of Chicago, Ascend Collection at $119 per night. Then I filed a Best Rate Guarantee claim with Choice Hotels and I checked the little box stating I had read the Terms & Conditions for a Choice BRG.
I hadn’t read the T&C.
Choice Hotels Best Rate Guarantee claim form.
Claim #1: Response in 31 minutes from claim submission.
I put Kayak.com as the site for the rate discrepancy and in comments section I listed four other sites getaroom.com, expedia.com, travelocity.com and hotels.com with $95.20 rate.
Response #1: Rejected with highlights.
“Search engines, such as Google and Kayak, are not third party websites.”
This is clearly stated in the T&C I checked stating I had read.
Claim #2: Response in 44 minutes.
My rookie mistake. I didn’t follow through to check rules of Travelocity. And I realized my error, that I forgot to check the cancellation terms of the Travelocity rate, just after hitting send.
Response #2: Rejected, no highlights.
“Travelocity is prepaid, nonrefundable rate with no cancellation allowed and your rate may be cancelled up to day before arrival.”
Claim #3: Response in 48 minutes.
I knew getaroom.com was the free cancellation rate in the beginning of my search on Kayak.com and I was an idiot for not listing it on the first claim. I submitted this one within a few minutes of Claim #2 after I realized the Travelocity rate was nonrefundable and my Choice Hotels rate had flexible cancellation.
Response #3: Claim Approved. Rate adjusted to one free night and second night at $93.24 for the two-night stay.
The actual rate on getaroom.com an hour after my initial search was a flash sale deeper discount at $77.35 with a message on their booking page stating the sale was ending in 7 minutes.
And the sale really did end.
The rate went to $93.24 at the top of the hour, after I submitted my Choice Hotels Best Rate Guarantee claim. Choice Privileges matched that $93.24 rate.
Result = 1 free night and second night at $93.24. Two nights in Chicago in a 3-star hotel for under $110 after tax and Choice Privileges stay credit and points for the paid night.
The rate on Choice Hotels was $275 after tax for the two nights.
My one paid night on a 2-night stay will earn Choice Privileges credit of one stay for the current promotion 8,000 points after two stays February 27 – May 14.
This stay should earn 932 base points in Choice Privileges. One more stay before or after Chicago earns 8,000 total points equating to about 6,000 bonus points on top of the 2,000 or so base points earned from Chicago and one other Choice Hotels stay.
There are 1,500 hotels globally in Choice Hotels available for one reward night at 8,000 points and as recently as November 2013 there were dozens of hotels in Paris and London and around Europe at seasonal reward night rates of 8,000 points.
Website photos look nice for public spaces at the Inn of Chicago.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.