How To Score Free Hotels Nights Without Miles And Points

Best Rate Guarantees (BRGs) can be a great way to score free hotel nights when using miles and points is not an option or if you’re like me and enjoy the thrill of finding a great deal. We’ve stayed at lots of hotels in expensive cities that would have cost well over 250 GBP for free.

However, there are a number of data points and so I’m creating a guide that explains everything you need to know about submitting a BRG claim form with Choice Hotels International, Inc. (Choice).

 What is a BRG?

Many major hotel brands and hotel aggregate sites (like Orbitz, Expedia, etc.) advertise a Best Rate Guarantee to entice potential consumers to book with them directly versus their competitors.  A sweet spot with these claims is when the brand offers a free room for the first night when a lesser rate is found.

Choice is a hotel brand with a stellar Best Rate Guarantee program.  Choice will give you your first night free (if you have a non-US address) if you can find a cheaper rate on a third party website.  For U.S. customers, the lower price will be matched and also receive a $50 Reward Card 6 weeks after your hotel stay (not too interesting for those based in America).  BUT for international customers, the first night of your holiday will be free (from my experience, it is 0£ if you are staying outside the US.  Inside the US, I was charged $3.50 in taxes per room)

How do I play by their rules?

  • One free night per name + address every 30 days
  • The claim form must be submitted within 24 hours of the original booking and at least 48 hours prior to a 6 pm arrival on the first day of the booking
  • Only one claim may be submitted for each “stay,” or any number of consecutive nights at one hotel by the same guest
  • If you are booking more than one night, the first night is free, then all other nights are the price of the lowest price
    • So say I’m booking 2 nights with Choice at an original rate of 200# per night, but find a cheaper rate of 175# per night on booking.com. If this rate is approved, then the cost is:
      • 0 (for the first night) + 175 (for the second night) = 175 + tax
  • Third party websites do not include aggregate search engines like Google or Kayak.  To my knowledge, the only location which has immunity from BRG are Ascend Hotel Collection properties in Las Vegas, NV which include a casino, so steer clear of those if you want to stay at their hotels for free.

How do I find a BRG?

STEP #1.  Search www.ChoiceHotels.com for your destination and holiday dates.

STEP #2.  Search www.booking.com for the name of the hotel and holiday date(s) to see if you can find a cheaper rate.

  • Make sure you change the currency at the top of the screen to “Hotel Currency.”  You certainly do not want to be comparing Euros with Pounds and miss a lesser rate.
  • Also, click through as though you are actually making a booking so that you can see any taxes and fees that they may charge you to be sure that you are truly seeing the lowest rate.  It depends on where you are traveling to if the taxes and fees are included in the initial booking rate or added on on the final booking page.
  • In addition, use the following check list to ensure that you are making the exact same booking:
    • Exact same room type (size of the bed must match)
    • Exact number of guests (you’d be surprised how much one guest versus 2 guests effects the price)
    • Same cancellation policy (cancelable versus non-cancelable)
    • Same length of stay

Now, if everything outlined above checks out, and you have a price difference of 1% or US $1.00 (or the equivalent unit in the hotel’s currency, so 1£, 1€ , etc.), whichever is higher, then you’re in business.

STEP #3.  Once you are sure you have found a lower rate, go ahead and make your booking at www.choicehotels.com.  Remember to place your non-U.S. address on the details page to get the free night (customers with a US address get a $50 gift card and a price match).

STEP #4.  Fill out a Choice BRG claim form, which can be found by following this link:  https://www.choicehotels.com/deals/best-rate-guarantee/form.  Here, you will enter all of the details of your reservation as well as the details of the competitive rate.

  •  A choice representative will get back to you within 48 hours with their decision (so they claim, but this has taken a bit longer for me sometimes).
  • Sometimes their decision is incorrect, and I have sent Choice reply e-mails outlining why the competitor’s rate submitted is, in fact, lower.

If your room is free, you will not earn any Choice points for your stay.

My advice:

  • Only book a cancelable rate! Unless you are okay with potentially having to pay for the hotel reservation, booking a cancelable rate covers you in the event that your claim is rejected.
  • Choice hotels range in quality from low (think Quality Inn, Comfort Inn, etc) to high (Ascend Collection). However, their brand has locations all over the world in major cities with great locations close to the city center.
  • Bookings may include 9 rooms or less, but make sure that the competitor site has 9 rooms available to book.  If there are not 9 rooms available when the Choice representative reviews your claim, it will be rejected for all of the rooms even if their price is not the best.

Teasers:

Check out these before and after shots of what the room should have cost, then what we actually paid:

Recent Saturday night stay in Dublin:

  • dublin1
    Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.16.34 PM

    Note the price per night!

    Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.17.12 PM

    After I my claim form was submitted, my night became free!

     

    Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.24.12 PM

    Price per room before submitting a claim form!

    Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.24.25 PM

    Price per room after my claim form was approved!