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UPDATE: In early 2016 Orbitz was acquired by Expedia. Soon after that Orbitz’s Best Price Guarantee changed, and now they only offer a maximum of $50 in Orbucks for a claim. I am leaving this article as it is for historical reference and the tips I share for scoring a claim still apply!
Recently I learned a a little-known trick for staying at hotels for cheap or free from Drew and Caroline over at Travel is Free. By using a company’s “Best Price Guarantee” policy, you can score huge savings on hotel stays while you help the company keep their edge on the lowest rate. I used my favorite travel site, Orbitz, to try out the Best Price Guarantee approach and share my experience here on the blog.
The approach is pretty simple: if you book a hotel stay with Orbitz and find a lower rate on another site, you can submit a Best Rate Guarantee claim to Orbitz and get rewarded with “Orbucks” for a future stay. You can read about Orbitz’s Best Rate Guarantee on their site, but the details can get a little confusing. I will try to explain them as simply and clearly as possible here using my experience as an example!
How You Are Rewarded
All companies have their own Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) policy (check out a comprehensive list at Travel is Free), and Orbitz’s approach is to issue a reward in Orbucks, their Orbitz Rewards currency. One of the reasons I book with Orbitz are these Orbucks, which can be redeemed instantly for almost any stay on Orbitz. You can learn more about them here and sign up for an free Orbtiz Rewards account. (P.S. They are particularly useful to me because I can use them for stays at Walt Disney World, and Orbitz always offers promo codes for the best price on Disney stays!)
Here is how you are rewarded by Orbitz if you submit a successful BPG claim:
- If you are a new Orbucks member, you will get a $50 Orbucks reward plus the amount of the price difference.
- If you are a Silver Member, meaning you have stayed four nights in a calendar year, you will get up to a $100 Orbucks reward plus the amount of the price difference (up to the total price of your stay).
Yes, you read that right. If you have stayed just four nights in one year, you can earn 100% of the cost of your hotel stay back in Orbucks for a BRG claim. That’s essentially a free stay, provided that you were going to stay in a hotel that night anyway. As long as the total cost is under $100, you will get the entire cost credited to your Orbucks account. I’ll explain how the credit works if your total is over $100 in my example below.
How to Find a Lower Price
I personally used Kayak to compare the prices on Orbitz to those of other sites, though you could use any travel aggregator site (others include Wego, Trivago and Hipmunk). We were meeting friends at the beach on Saturday, so I looked for a hotel in the Wilmington, NC area for the night before to try out the BPG process. One critical detail to look for is that the room has a free cancellation policy. If your BRG claim is denied for some reason, then you just cancel your reservation and try again. 🙂
One of the search options on Kayak is a Free Cancellation policy, so I selected that when I searched. I also narrowed the price range to what I was willing to pay for my room. I also wanted a hotel right on the beach so I searched for that, too.
Then I just scrolled down the page while I looked for a discrepancy in prices between Orbtiz and another travel site. Once I found a hotel that looked good and had a price difference, I went on to the next step. The process up to this point took less than 5 minutes.