Frugal travelers love finding that absurdly low fare on a flight to a coveted destination or a deeply discounted night at a resort — but we don’t want to spend hours researching prices at individual airlines or hotels.
Thankfully, Priceline makes searching for the lowest prices super simple to. It’s a one-stop shop for finding flights, hotels, and rental cars, so you can book your entire trip faster.
Priceline has several features that help you get the best deals, and while they’re all relatively intuitive to use, it’s worth understanding how each one works to maximize your savings. Check out these insider tips to help you make the most of your shopping experience on Priceline.
How to use Priceline for flights
Before you search for flights, you may want to check out some of Priceline’s advertised deals. You can scroll down to see package deals on a carousel, or scroll down further to see deals by city. You can also find exclusive deals only in the app, so it might be worth downloading on your hunt to find the best prices.
When you’re ready to search for specific destinations and itineraries, you can either use the search feature at the top of the page or scroll down to the Trip Builder if you want to book your flight and hotel at the same time.
To search for affordable air travel:
- Select the “Flights” tab
- Choose “Round-trip,” “One-way,” or “Multi-destination”
- Enter your departing city and destination
- Select your dates on the Departing-Returning flight calendar
- Choose the number of travelers from the drop-down menu
- Select your preferred class (Economy, Premium Economy, Business, or First) from the adjacent drop-down menu
- Click “Find your flight”
To get the most out of this tool, it’s best to be flexible about when you fly, since some days will be cheaper than others. Here’s an example of what the flight calendar looks like:
As you can see, flights from Denver to Paris in September and October 2019 currently range from the low price of $332 to a whopping $1,050.
Once you select a departure date with a low fare, you’ll see the options for return dates, which will determine the final round-trip price. You may need to play around with this tool a little, since not all cheap departure days will have low-priced return days that will work for you. But it’s a lot more useful than blindly entering dates to see what Priceline comes up with.
For most airlines, Priceline offers a Best Price Guarantee, which means they’ll refund 100% of the difference if you find a cheaper flight on another public site within 24 hours. Note that this does not apply to packages and select airlines, including Air France, British Airways, Frontier Airlines, and Spirit Airlines.
How to use Express Deals for flights
Priceline’s Express Deals can save you some serious cash on some flights — but it comes with a catch. You’ll have book travel without knowing the airline or exact itinerary beforehand.
Underneath Priceline’s flight search tool, you’ll see a banner that says “Save up to 50% by searching Express Deals.” This option is best for last-minute deals. It doesn’t show a flight price calendar, but you can try searching these bargains to see if you get a better price.
Just click the banner and enter your departure city, arrival city, and dates. You can search for both one-way and round-trip flights using this tool. Click “Find your flight” to see a list of flights for your dates by order of price.
If an Express Deal is available for your dates, it will be prominently featured at the top of the list. It will show a number of airlines, one of which you’re guaranteed to be booked on, and will only reveal approximate travel times and layovers.
You won’t receive your precise flight information until after you book. In exchange for booking without knowing all the details, you can get some really deep discounts.
How to use Priceline for hotels
When using Priceline to search for accommodations, you’ll find large hotels filled with amenities, bed and breakfasts, and even private homes you can rent. Here’s how it works:
- Select the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page
- Enter your destination
- Enter your check-in and checkout dates
- Enter your number of rooms
- Click “Search”
Unfortunately, Priceline’s search feature doesn’t allow you to see prices by date on a calendar as you can with flights. The per-night price shown in your search results is typically an average for all the nights you plan to book.
Priceline has a number of additional features you can use to find cheap deals on hotels.
How to use Express Deals for hotels
With Express Deals, you’ll be matched with exclusive deals from trusted hotel brands. The catch? You won’t know the name of the hotel until after booking. However, you’ll be able to view the star rating, location, and amenities. You can even see reviews from other customers to find out if the hotel is up to your standards.
Here’s how it works:
- Underneath the main hotel search tool, you’ll see a link to search Express Deals
- In the box that pops up, enter your destination, check-in and checkout date, and number of rooms
- Click “Search Express Deals”
- Use the filters on the left-hand navigation of the results page to narrow down your options
When you use Express Deals, you’ll have the added benefit of qualifying for Priceline’s Best Price Guarantee up until midnight the day before you travel. If you find a better deal on a public site between booking and traveling, Priceline will refund 200% of the difference on Express Deals!
Name Your Own Price tool
Priceline’s Name Your Own Price tool allows you to place a bid on a selection of hotels. Like Express Deals, you won’t be able to see the name of the hotel before booking, but you’ll be able to select from a list of neighborhoods in your destination city and enter your minimum star rating. If your bid is accepted, you’ll be obligated to book.
You can bid a lower-than-average price to save money, but there’s no guarantee that your bid will be accepted. Still, people have snagged some serious savings using this method.
This tool is somewhat hidden on Priceline’s site. Here’s how to find and use it:
- About halfway down the Hotels page, you’ll see a box that says “Name Your Own Price and save.” Click “Start Your Hotel Bid” to get started
- Enter your destination, check-in and checkout dates, and number of rooms
- Click “Bid Now”
- On the next page, you can select neighborhoods in your destination city, which are shown on an area map
- Next, under Step 2, select the minimum star rating you’d like for your hotel
- Under Step 3, enter your bid (price per room, per night) and your full name, then click “Preview Offer”
- Ensure all the details are correct, then click “Continue” to enter your payment information
Once you place your bid, it usually takes just a few minutes to find out if it was accepted. Some bookings can take longer than others, so be patient.
If your offer is accepted, your choice of credit cards will be automatically charged for the reservation. If you’re rejected, you’ll need to wait 24 hours before trying again or change some of the details of your bid to try again sooner. For example, you could try to bid for a lower-star hotel or choose different neighborhoods. But to simply bid a slightly higher price, you’ll need to come back the next day.
Pros and cons of using Priceline
Priceline offers most of the features that other travel booking sites provide, with the exception of a loyalty program. Hotels.com, for example, offers one free night for every 10 nights you book via its site. If you want to earn extra points for Priceline purchases, you’ll need to apply for the the Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card.
The other caveat is that when you use the “Name Your Own Price” tool, you’ll be obligated to buy if Priceline accepts your bid. However, Priceline’s Best Price Guarantee applies here as well, so if you find a cheaper rate elsewhere, Priceline will refund the difference.
With that said, Priceline features several easy-to-use tools that will help you find the best deals. The fare calendar is incredibly useful, and we’ve seen great results when using Express Deals. Priceline doesn’t need to be the only site you check to find cheap flights to Europe, for example, and save on hotels, but it’s certainly a good place to start.
If you're a rental car is also on your itinerary, consider comparison shopping on a site such as Autoslash.
How to use a credit card to maximize your Priceline booking
When booking a trip on Priceline, double down on your savings by using a credit card that will earn you serious rewards. The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card could be a useful option if you use the site frequently, since you’ll earn 5X the points on Priceline.com purchases.
But you can also use one for the best travel credit cards that's more flexible like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This card earns 3X points on other travel and dining, including travel booked through Priceline.
Alternatively, you could use Priceline to find a great deal and then see if you can replicate the price on your credit card issuer’s travel portal. That way, you can use points to purchase your flight or hotel. You might even be able to fly for free if you have enough points.
Priceline can be an extremely valuable tool for the frugal traveler — though it might take a bit of patience and even some risk, especially when bidding. It’s easy to use, even if you’ve never visited the site before, and our insider tips will help you take your savings to the next level. Bon voyage!
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Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
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