Frugal Hack #24: Save by Booking Directly with Airlines and Hotels…Again

Updated August 10, 2020 by Kyle

There is no doubting the fact that online travel agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, and are convenient.  You can book all of your travel from one spot, and search through various companies to find a competitive rate. But to find the best deals these days, they’re not where you should be looking. By dealing directly with the airline, hotel, or rental car company you’re going to save significantly more.

United Airlines

Why? Well, these online travel agencies (OTAs) are charging a fee, often up to 15% to hotels, airlines, and car companies. Companies are sick and tired of it, and in many cases, would rather deal directly with the customers and pass the savings along to them in the form of lower rates, free upgrades, and free food & drink credits.

So think about it this way. If Embassy Suites is getting nailed by a 15% fee from, they’re very likely undercut them and offer you a 10% discount for booking directly. So in effective you’ll get a rate 10% lower than what any OTA can give.

The methods of reaching hotels, airlines, and car rental agencies directly is as simple as calling the front desk of a hotel, the corporate phone number of a rental car agency, or the customer service number of the airline. Also, keep in mind, that most of their websites now have “Live Chat” operators standing by who can offer you a good deal as well.

I recently wrote about this on Lifehacker and some of the comments provided some great insight as well.

“Yeah, I was very annoyed last month when I thought a scored a great deal on the Doubletree via Hotwire, only to find out my friend got the exact same rate via Doubltree’s website (and got points for the stay where I did not).”

From a hotel manager, “If you want the best deal, go online and find what the OTA has listed for the price. Then call the hotel and speak to the front desk manager or general manager and tell them you found a $100 rate on Expedia, and will book directly with the hotel for $80.”

“Most hotel chains offer a lowest price guarantee if you book directly so if you find an advertised price cheaper for the same room they will meet or beat it. Plus you get rewards points for booking directly whereas you typically don’t get them if you book through a 3rd party.”

Ask the Reader: Have you booked directly with hotels or airlines recently? If so, tell me what kind of a deal you scored.

By Kyle James

Photo by Curi Media


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Money Beagle

Well we just booked some flights with Delta and they popped up a deal where if we signed up for their card and made the purchase on Delta, they would basically give me the miles which was the same as a free flight to be used in the future. The prices were the same on the travel sites but no way would I have gotten that extra bonus.


Kyle, some good points in this article. But have you considered utilizing miles and points to fly for free? Very easy to do if you have a good credit score.

Sérgio M

You forgot to mention the frequent flyer programs that generate points to fly for free, which are also great options.