Oct212014

Two Best Rate Guarantee claims denied this week

Angelina of Just Another Points Traveler posted a summary of Best Rate Guarantee policies yesterday for ten major hotel chains – Everything You Need to Know About Best Rate Guarantees. Nice summary, although I disagree with some of her assessments.

I have filed over 50 Best Rate Guarantee claims in the past two years and I have a different take on which chains are best for approval.

Kimpton – Angelina rates Kimpton the easiest. I agree in that Kimpton is the only hotel chain remaining that accepts a phone call to process a best rate guarantee claim since Hyatt dropped their phone claims a few months ago. You can get a best rate guarantee claim approved prior to booking a room.

Marriott – In her ratings Angelina gives Marriott a middle tier rating.

I give this program a 2.5 because with any online claim form, rates could change before the claim is viewed, but for the most part, they are pretty generous in honoring claims.

Just Another Points Traveler

I completely disagree with this rating since every major hotel chain requires an online claim form. The advantage of Marriott in my experience is they are the most lenient about accepting claims by far compared to the other programs. I have had more success with Marriott than any other chain. My claims are approved about 80% of the time.

Starwood is one of three programs with Kimpton and Hyatt that allow you to file a best rate guarantee without having booked a room on the hotel chain’s website first. Next to Marriott, I have had more success with Starwood than any other chain for the number of approved best rate guarantees, but I have had most of my claims rejected in the past year for weak reasons. I used to get about 50% approval and that has fallen to less than 25% in 2014.

My main complaint about Starwood is 10% off the lower rate is a low discount for an approved claim. Marriott and Carlson give 25% off and Hyatt gives 20% off the lower competitor rate. And if you choose to take 2,000 points instead, then the lower rate from the competitor website is only matched. Angelina suggests taking the 2,000 points. That is my advice too when the 10% off the lower rate is less than $40 value. Take the 10% and forget the points when cash savings is more than $40 or $50.

Hyatt is a tough program to get a Best Rate Guarantee claim approved. I have had five nights at Hyatt this year on Best Rate Guarantee discount rates. Overall, I ‘d say my approval rate is less than 25% with Hyatt. I do not see many rate discrepancies for Hyatt.

IHG best rate guarantee claims offer first night free when approved. Angelina states approvals are pretty easy. That is not my experience. I had four approved claims for free nights in 2013. In 2014 I have been shot down every time.

Here is the reason for IHG Best Price Guarantee rejection this week:

Please be advised that the rate on www.amoma.com has a more restrictive policy when it comes to the time frame and charges involved in cancelling the reservation and it is incomparable to the Best Flexible Rate on IHG.

Therefore, your claim will not qualify for the Best Price Guarantee.

IHG is not disputing the rate is lower on Amoma, just that it has a more restrictive cancellation policy. The cancellation policy is where I find Marriott excels for best rate guarantee claims. Online Travel Agency (OTA) sites rarely offer the same cancellation time as the hotel site. Many of the discount OTA sites have a day of arrival 12:01am cancellation policy time compared to 3pm to 6pm day of arrival for the hotel site.

Hilton – Never had an approved BRG with Hilton. They have a bad reputation for denying best rate guarantee claims. Honestly though, I have filed very few claims with Hilton.

Club Carlson – I have had success with Club Carlson and received a 25% discount, but I just don’t see too many opportunities for best rate guarantee claims with this chain.

Best Western – receive a $100 gift card for an approved claim. My favorite rejection reason for the year came from Best Western. I was told special discount rates from an OTA are not acceptable.

Choice – one free night for approved claims. Angelina rates this program highly, however, she neglected to mention Choice Hotels only allows one Best Rate Guarantee free night every 30 days. If you have a free night tonight, you can’t get another free night on an approved claim for 30 days. At least IHG allows another BRG free night for a different IHG hotel more than 50 miles away. Choice is another hotel chain that rejected my best rate guarantee claim this week.

The Best Internet Rate Guarantee program terms & conditions state that the rate located on a competing website must match the rate terms/restrictions that you made at www.choicehotels.com. The competing website information you submitted requires prepayment. The reservation you made at www.choicehotels.com is a pay when you stay at the hotel reservation.

The room rate for the same room at The Gibson, Ascend Collection Dublin on getaroom.com was 40EUR less per night with a flexible cancellation policy for full refund 48 hours before arrival. For 35 EUR less per night than the Choice Hotels site I can also include breakfast.

The plain fact is this hotel is substantially less for the same room type through an OTA. In this case, I might just decide to forego the Choice Privileges credit and book the lower rate for The Gibson through a third party.

Wyndham – Angelina has nothing nice to say about Wyndham. I have been to some nice Wyndham Hotels like Mills House, Charleston, South Carolina where Wyndham points have great value. Here in the western USA, road tripping is a lifestyle and there are long stretches of road where Wyndham and Choice are the only hotel options around. You lose the hotel snob attitude when it is just you and a car in the desert or mountains and a hundred miles of wilderness to reach the next town. That being said, I don’t recall ever applying for a Wyndham best rate guarantee.

The Final Word

I always check for best rate guarantee claim opportunities wherever I travel. Nearly half my paid stays are on approved best rate guarantee claims with discount rates. Since my two claims this week were denied, I’ll keep looking for another opportunity.

Check out Angelina’s post on Just Another Points Traveler – Everything You Need to Know About Best Rate Guarantees.

Related Loyalty Traveler Post: Analysis of eight Best Rate Guarantee claims with six hotel chains (April 28, 2014).

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Ric, I have found lower rates on competing websites and Hyatt routinely disallows them for one reason or another, whether it is what they claim to be the wrong bed size, or a company in which you have to be a member of a club in order to book. They are very crafty and it is a lot of work, usually for nothing

  2. Best Western is a scam. They could claim any lower rate to be a discounted rate and reject the BRG, in my experience.

  3. Actually for ChocieHotels you can get more than 1 night approved per 30 day period, the booking itself can not be within 30 days of another approved BRG claim.

  4. Marriott is quite good in my opinion. I have to agree with IHG that Amoma has a more restrictive cancellation policy so that is the most difficult part in filing a successful claim. I don’t blame the hotel for that.

  5. I appreciate Loyalty Traveler’s detailed past series of posts on BRG claims and policies for all the chains. It’s my go-to source for refreshing on these programs prior to a BRG pursuit.

    My experience with these is limited, but in the past two years I’ve gone 1 for 1 with BRG claims accepted by Hilton, Starwood and IHG. All have been in South America, and all using third party sites from the US with prices in dollars.

  6. Ric,

    Until you mentioned BRG claims a few months ago, I never even bothered to check. In the past month, I’ve gone 2/2 with SPG and just went 1/1 with Hilton snagging me a 25$ / night room at the Istanbul ParkSA Hilton!

  7. @Carlos – Choice free night claims

    ” Free Night Limit: one (1) free night per name on the Booking and/or household for any thirty day period between Booking check-in dates.”

    This reads to me as 30 days between two free nights earned through a BRG. If I stay tonight on a free night then I can’t stay another free night on a Choice BRG claim for 30 days from now, which would be a free night on November 21.

  8. @Michael – I have stayed at Hyatt on OTA rates after filing a BRG claim and having it rejected by Hyatt. I stayed in Orlando for about $100 on an OTA when Hyatt was charging something closer to $200.

    There is no harm in trying for a best rate guarantee, but when the hotel chain refuses to match the lower rate, then I weigh the value of the loyalty points and benefits against the rate difference and sometimes that favors booking the hotel stay through the online travel agency and giving up the loyalty benefits and points for the hotel stay.

  9. Hi Ric! Thanks for referencing my post. I do have to add that I agree with you with IHG in terms of 2013 vs 2014. I just had an IHG claim denied which I was so confident would approve. It kind of annoyed me. Back in the days, all it took was a quick phone call. Now, not only did it take them 2.5 days to get back to me (!), but their reasoning for the denial was slightly denying…

    I’m not giving up though!

  10. Oddly enough, I’ve had pretty good success this past year with getting several IHG and Choice claims approved for free nights, but Marriott has been a tougher nut to crack, even though their offer is not as generous. I had a clear-cut Look No Further claim for Marriott. but by the time they replied two days later the online price had changed to match my lower price and it was denied.

  11. IHG BRG has become a farce. They look at ways to ‘deny’ you. They should scrap the program altogether if they can’t afford to offer it. I submitted a claim two days back, they came back this morning stating that the rate on the competing site was non-refundable (when it was not). Have sent them a screenshot highlighting the rate and asked them to revalidate, but not very hopeful with IHG nowadays.

    On the other end, I have had good luck with Choice until now. Almost all the claims I have submitted were looked into quickly.

    Tried my first Hilton BRG this week, and it was a breeze. Got a room for $30 after accounting for the gift card they would send to me. Due to my status with Hilton, breakfast would be included in that rate (totally awesome deal in my book).

  12. My experience matches Ric’s, particularly in regards to successes with Marriott and failures with IHG.
    This is a useful post, thanks.

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