This is the time of year many of us plan our summer vacations and with this year's gas prices, we want the best deal we can find.
But when you're booking that hotel room, it turns out there are several money saving secrets the hotel is not telling you.
Don't expect special treatment elsewhere
These days, many travelers use websites like Expedia or Travelocity for a good rate on hotels.
Frequent traveler Steve Hale, who we found at the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, likes Priceline.com . He said, "I bid on Priceline. That works fine. I'll get a 3-star hotel for $50, $60." Indeed, you may get a very nice rate. But don't expect any perks.
A new report by SmartMoney Magazine lists things hotels won't tell you. Topping the list: You need to book through the hotel itself -- not 3rd party websites -- to get room upgrades or extras like gift cards.
Best Deal? Not where you think
Katie Wright, another veteran traveler, uses the price comparison website Kayak to find rock bottom prices.
Katie told me, "I mostly use Kayak.com , that always shows the lowest rate. And there's an app for the Android market."
But SmartMoney says an easier way to find a discount is to follow your favorite chain on Facebook and Twitter: They alert you to deals the instant they become available, not days later.
Forget about the website photo
Another secret hotels wont tell you: Your room probably won't look like the one on their website. That's the best room in the house, and the photo may be doctored on top of that.
SmartMoney recommends the website Oyster.com , which posts real user photos next to hotel advertising photos, and the actual scene can be a real surprise.
Extras may be negotiable
Hate paying for a room phone or pay per view movies? SmartMoney says another secret is that many hotels will often waive those fees if you ask in advance.
Remember Katie? She does that all the time, saying, "I usually just haggle, and I call and say what do you have? What can I do to get a better rate or something extra?"
Points are easier to build than you think
Another thing hotels wont tell you: You can build up reward points without staying there. Just sign up for a hotel branded credit card and earn points every time you use it.
Many, like the Marriott card, even give you a free night just for signing up for the card.
Bedbugs? Don't ask...we won't tell
Finally, SmartMoney says the one thing hotels will never say to you is that they can't do much about bedbugs. Most hotels are reactive, which means they spray for bugs only after complaints.
It suggests checking the website Bed Bug Registry.com before you book.
Smartmoney says on arrival, you should still check the beds for bugs, even at 5-star hotels.
And if you find something suspicious, demand more than just a replacement room.
That way you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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