Priceline vs Hotwire: Which Is Better?

Priceline vs Hotwire, two renowned players in the online travel industry, offer unique platforms for securing travel deals. Priceline, known for its innovative pricing strategies like ‘Express Deals’ and the ‘Name Your Own Price’ system, allows travelers to bid on or purchase travel services at discounted rates. 

Hotwire, on the other hand, specializes in ‘Hot Rate’ deals, providing deep discounts on hotels, flights, and car rentals, with the catch of undisclosed details until after booking. Both platforms cater to budget-conscious travelers, offering a blend of savings and convenience but with distinct approaches. This article delves into the nuances of Priceline and Hotwire, helping travelers decide which suits their needs best.

What are Priceline and Hotwire?

Priceline and Hotwire are two prominent online travel agencies (OTAs) that specialize in offering discounted rates for various travel-related services, including hotel stays, flight tickets, car rentals, and vacation packages. They are known for their unique pricing models and methods of selling travel services.


Background: Established in 1997, Priceline operates as a subsidiary of Booking Holdings Inc., a prominent global provider of online travel and associated services. Services: Priceline extends a comprehensive spectrum of travel services, encompassing hotel reservations, airline ticket bookings, car rentals, and cruise arrangements. Additionally, it offers bundled package deals that combine these various services, providing travelers with comprehensive options.

Unique Features:

  • Name your price: Previously more prominent, this feature enabled customers to bid on hotel rooms, flights, and car rentals. Users could specify the price they were willing to pay, and Priceline would match them with a service provider willing to accept that price.
  • Express Deals: This feature provides substantial discounts on hotels, flights, and rental cars. The details of the hotel or flight are disclosed only after the booking is finalized, enabling Priceline to offer reduced rates.

Background: Established in 2000, Hotwire operates as a subsidiary of the Expedia Group, a global travel industry giant. Services: In alignment with Priceline, Hotwire offers a spectrum of travel services, encompassing hotel reservations, airline ticket bookings, car rentals, and vacation package arrangements. Notably, it is recognized for its competitive hotel deals.

Unique Features:

  • Hot Rate Deals: Hotwire’s primary feature is its ‘Hot Rate’ deals, especially for hotels. These deals offer rooms at significantly discounted rates. The catch is that the user does not know the exact details of the hotel (like its name and precise location) until after the booking is made. The idea is that hotels can offer unsold inventory at lower prices without publicly advertising these discounts.

Both Priceline and Hotwire are designed to appeal to budget-conscious travelers looking for good deals. They operate under models that benefit both the service providers (like hotels and airlines) by filling up unsold inventory and consumers, by offering lower prices. The trade-off for these lower prices typically involves less flexibility and more uncertainty about the specifics of the service until after the purchase is made.

Which is better, Priceline vs Hotwire?

Deciding whether Hotwire or Priceline is better largely depends on the specific needs and preferences of the traveler. Every platform possesses its unique strengths and features, tailored to diverse user needs.


1. Best for Last-Minute Bookings: Hotwire is often preferred for last-minute travel, especially for hotels. Their ‘Hot Rate’ deals are designed to sell unsold hotel room inventory, which can lead to significant savings.

2. Opaque Booking Model: If you’re comfortable not knowing the exact details of your hotel or rental car until after you’ve paid, Hotwire can provide excellent deals. This uncertainty is a trade-off for lower prices.

3. Limited Control: Hotwire offers less control over the specifics of your booking (like the exact hotel or flight times), which can be a downside for those who prefer more predictability.


1. Bidding System: Priceline’s ‘Name Your Own Price’ feature, although less emphasized now, allows for bidding on travel services, which can lead to substantial savings if you have a good strategy.

2. More Transparency with Express Deals: Priceline’s Express Deals give you slightly more information about your booking compared to Hotwire’s Hot Rate deals, although exact details are still hidden until after booking.

3. Wider Range of Options: Priceline often provides a broader selection of hotels and flights, giving users more choices.

Key Considerations

  • Type of Travel: For spontaneous, budget-conscious travelers, Hotwire’s last-minute deals are ideal. Priceline might be better for those who plan and want more options.
  • Flexibility: If you’re flexible with your travel plans and open to surprises, Hotwire’s opaque model can be more rewarding. Priceline offers a bit more predictability.
  • Price vs. Control: Hotwire is generally better for lower prices at the cost of control over specifics. Priceline strikes a balance between price and control.
  • User Experience: Consider the ease of use of each platform’s website and mobile app, as well as customer service, which can be crucial for travel bookings.

Ultimately, the better choice depends on your personal preferences regarding price, flexibility, control, and the level of risk you’re comfortable with. It’s always a good idea to compare both platforms for specific trips, as deals and offerings can vary greatly depending on the destination and timing.

Is Hotwire worth it?

Hotwire can be worth it for many travelers, especially those looking for discounted rates on hotels, car rentals, and flights. Hotwire is worth considering if you are a flexible traveler who prioritizes getting lower rates over knowing specific details of your booking in advance. It’s particularly beneficial for last-minute travel plans. 

However, if you prefer having complete information about your accommodations or travel services before booking, or if you need flexibility in terms of refunds or changes, Hotwire might not be the best fit for your needs. As with any travel booking platform, it’s a balance between the level of risk you’re comfortable with and the savings you’re aiming to achieve.

Also Read : How to Find the Cheapest Flights and Hotels on Hotwire

Do last-minute reservations on Hotwire work better?

Booking at the last minute on Hotwire can often lead to significant savings, particularly for hotels. Hotwire specializes in selling unsold inventory at discounted rates, which means prices can drop substantially as the date approaches. This makes it an attractive option for spontaneous travelers or those with flexible plans. However, it’s important to be comfortable with the uncertainty of not knowing specific details, like the hotel name, until after booking.

Is Priceline the best deal?

Priceline can offer some of the best deals in the online travel booking industry, especially with features like ‘Express Deals’ and the less emphasized ‘Name Your Own Price’ bidding system. 

It often provides competitive prices on hotels, flights, and car rentals. Priceline’s strength lies in its ability to balance discounted rates with a greater degree of transparency compared to similar services. While users don’t know the exact hotel or flight details with Express Deals until after booking, they get more information upfront compared to opaque booking sites. 

However, whether Priceline is the “best deal” depends on specific travel needs, dates, and flexibility. It’s always advisable to compare prices across multiple platforms, including direct bookings, to ensure the best deal.

How is Hotwire so cheap?

Hotwire offers cheap rates primarily through its ‘Hot Rate’ deals, which work based on the principle of selling unsold inventory from hotels, airlines, and car rental companies. Here’s how it manages to provide such low prices:

Unsold Inventory: 

Hotels, airlines, and car rental companies often have unsold inventory, especially as the date of service approaches. Rather than leaving these rooms, seats, or cars empty, they are willing to offer them at significantly reduced rates.

Opaque Model: 

Hotwire’s ‘Hot Rate’ deals do not reveal the name of the hotel, airline, or car rental company until after the booking is complete. This opacity allows these service providers to offer lower rates without publicly undercutting their standard prices, thus maintaining their brand value and pricing structure.

Bulk Purchasing: 

Hotwire may also negotiate rates with travel providers by buying rooms, seats, or rental car availabilities in bulk, securing them at lower prices, which are then passed on to customers.

Dynamic Pricing: 

Hotwire uses dynamic pricing strategies that adjust prices based on demand, time to service date, and other market factors, allowing it to offer more competitive rates than traditional fixed pricing.

Lower overhead costs: 

As an online platform, Hotwire has lower overhead costs compared to traditional travel agencies or the service providers themselves, enabling them to offer lower prices.

Attracting Price-Sensitive Customers: 

The platform targets budget-conscious travelers who prioritize savings and are flexible with their plans, which aligns well with the nature of ‘hot rate’ deals.

By combining these strategies, Hotwire manages to offer travel services at lower prices, making it a popular choice for travelers looking to save money. However, customers need to be comfortable with the level of uncertainty associated with not knowing the specific details of their booking until after payment.

Is Priceline safe for hotels?

Priceline is considered safe for booking hotels. It’s a reputable online travel agency that partners with a wide range of well-known and reliable hotels. Priceline ensures that the hotels it offers meet certain standards and often includes user reviews and ratings to help customers make informed choices. 

Additionally, the platform provides secure payment methods and customer service support for booking issues or concerns. While the specifics of some deals (like Express Deals) are undisclosed until after booking, the overall quality and safety of the accommodations are maintained.

Does Hotwire save money?

Yes, Hotwire can save travelers a significant amount of money, especially with its ‘Hot Rate’ deals. These deals offer discounted prices on hotels, car rentals, and flights by selling unsold inventory from travel providers at reduced rates. 

The savings are often substantial compared to standard prices. However, the trade-off is that the specifics of the booking (like the exact hotel or car rental company) are not revealed until after the purchase is made. 

This model is particularly beneficial for flexible travelers who prioritize cost savings over knowing all the details of their accommodation or rental service in advance. It’s always a good practice for travelers to compare prices and consider the value of their savings against the level of uncertainty they’re comfortable with.

What’s the catch with Hotwire?

The main catch with using Hotwire, particularly its ‘Hot Rate’ deals, lies in the trade-offs related to pricing and booking transparency:

  1. Opaque Booking Details: With ‘Hot Rate’ deals, the specific details of the hotel, airline, or car rental company are not disclosed until after the booking is completed and paid for.
  1. Non-Refundable and Non-Changeable Bookings: Most ‘Hot Rate’ deals are non-refundable and cannot be changed. This lack of flexibility can be a significant factor if your travel plans are not firm.
  1. Quality and Expectations: While Hotwire does offer deals with known and reputable providers, the uncertainty about the specific provider might lead to varying levels of satisfaction, depending on the user’s expectations.
  1. Suitability for Your Needs: Since you don’t know the exact location or provider beforehand, there’s a risk that the booked service might not entirely meet your preferences or needs (e.g., hotel location, flight times).

These factors make Hotwire’s ‘Hot Rate’ deals more suitable for flexible travelers who prioritize savings and are comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty. The platform offers great deals, but users need to weigh the cost savings against these considerations.

Priceline vs Hotwire

Is it safe to book with Hotwire?

Booking with Hotwire is generally considered safe. As a well-established and reputable online travel agency, part of the Expedia Group, Hotwire ensures secure transactions and adheres to standard industry practices for customer privacy and data protection. They partner with known and reliable service providers, including hotels, airlines, and car rental companies. Customer support is available for assistance with bookings and resolving issues.

Is Hotwire cheaper closer to the date?

Regarding pricing, Hotwire is known for offering particularly good deals closer to the date, especially with its ‘Hot Rate’ hotel bookings. As the travel date nears, hotels are more inclined to discount unsold rooms to fill them, leading to potentially lower prices. This makes Hotwire an attractive option for last-minute travelers. 

Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that price fluctuations can occur due to factors such as demand, location, and seasonality. While monitoring prices can be beneficial, there’s no guarantee of securing a lower rate. Therefore, it’s advisable to compare prices diligently and make a reservation when you come across a rate that aligns with your budget and requirements.

Also Read : Is Hotwire Legit? (BEWARE Before BOOKING)

How can I get the cheapest hotel rates?

To secure the cheapest hotel rates, consider the following strategies:

Use Price Comparison Websites:

  • Websites like Kayak, Trivago, and Google Hotels aggregate hotel prices from various booking platforms, allowing you to easily compare rates and choose the best deal.

Book in Advance or Last Minute:

  • Booking well in advance can secure lower rates, especially during non-peak times and when hotels offer early booking discounts.
  • Last-minute bookings can lead to discounts as hotels aim to fill unsold rooms, but availability may be limited, and the best deals might vary.

Be flexible with travel Dates:

  • Prices for hotels can vary significantly depending on demand, seasons, and local events. Adjusting your travel dates slightly can result in substantial savings.

Sign up for alerts and newsletters:

  • Many travel websites and hotel chains offer exclusive deals and discounts to subscribers. Signing up for newsletters and alerts can help you stay informed about special offers.

Leverage membership discounts:

  • Memberships like AAA, AARP, or hotel loyalty programs often provide discounted rates or exclusive promotions for members.

Use Cashback and Discount Sites:

  • Websites like Rakuten or Honey offer cashback rewards or additional discounts when you book through their platforms. This can lead to extra savings on hotel bookings.

Consider alternative accommodations:

  • Explore options beyond traditional hotels, such as hostels, guesthouses, vacation rentals, or budget hotel chains. These alternatives can offer more budget-friendly options.

Check for hidden fees:

  • When comparing hotel rates, be sure to factor in all costs, including taxes and fees, to get a true picture of the total price.

Use reward points or miles.

  • If you have accumulated points or miles through credit card rewards or loyalty programs, consider using them to book hotels. This can result in free or discounted stays.

Stay outside major tourist areas:

  • Accommodations located slightly farther from major tourist attractions or city centers often have lower rates. Public transportation or rideshares can provide convenient access to these locations.

Negotiate directly with the hotel:

  • Calling the hotel directly can sometimes lead to better rates or value-added services, especially if you’re booking a longer stay or during less busy periods.

Travel During Off-Peak Seasons:

  • Off-peak seasons often come with reduced hotel prices. Plan your trip during these times to take advantage of lower rates and fewer crowds.

Utilize online travel agencies:

  • Platforms like Priceline, Hotwire, and often offer competitive rates and special deals. Opaque bookings on platforms like Hotwire can result in significant savings, although you won’t know the exact hotel until after booking.

By incorporating these strategies into your hotel booking process, you can maximize your chances of finding the most affordable rates for your accommodations, allowing you to save money for other aspects of your trip.

Priceline vs Hotwire

What time of day is ideal for Priceline hotel bookings?

The best day to book a hotel on Priceline can vary, but there are a few general guidelines that can help you find better deals:

1. Mid-Week Bookings: 

Traditionally, booking on a Tuesday or Wednesday can yield better rates. This is because hotel prices often fluctuate during the week, and mid-week is typically when demand is lower and hotels may release more deals.

2. Avoid weekends and holidays: 

Booking during the weekend or close to major holidays usually results in higher prices due to increased demand.

3. Check for special promotions: 

Keep an eye on Priceline for any special promotions or flash sales, which can occur at any time.

4. Regular Price Monitoring: 

Hotel rates can fluctuate regularly, making it advisable to track prices over time before finalizing a reservation. This practice helps you gauge pricing trends and potentially secure a better deal.

Why is Priceline so cheap?

Priceline offers competitive pricing for several reasons:

Negotiated Rates: 

  • Priceline negotiates rates with hotels, which are often lower than standard rates. The consumers subsequently pay the reduced rates.

Opaque Booking Deals: 

  • With features like ‘Express Deals’ and the previously more prominent. Priceline sells rooms without revealing the hotel’s name upfront. Hotels can offer lower prices through these deals without publicly discounting their rooms, which can help maintain their standard pricing and brand image.

Bulk Buying Power: 

  • Priceline, being a large online travel agency, has significant buying power. It can secure rooms in bulk at discounted rates.

Dynamic Pricing Model: 

  • Priceline uses a dynamic pricing strategy, adjusting room prices based on demand, availability, and other market factors, which can lead to cheaper deals.

Efficiency and Scale: 

  • As an online platform, Priceline operates with lower overhead costs compared to traditional travel agencies, allowing for more competitive pricing.

By combining these strategies, Priceline can offer a range of accommodation options at lower prices, making it an appealing choice for budget-conscious travelers.

Priceline vs Hotwire

Does Priceline charge a fee?

Priceline generally does not impose an additional booking fee for hotel reservations. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to consider the following aspects related to fees:

  • Total Price Display: Generally, the price you see displayed on Priceline includes all basic charges, including room rates, taxes, and any fees that the hotel might charge.
  • Service Fees for Special Services: In certain cases, like when using the ‘Name Your Own Price’ feature or for flight bookings, Priceline may include a service fee. This fee is usually built into the total price you see.
  • Cancellation or Change Fees: Depending on the booking’s terms and conditions, there might be fees for canceling or changing a reservation. Priceline does not set these fees; rather, the hotel or airline does.
  • Resort Fees: Some hotels charge additional resort fees that might not be included in the initial price displayed on Priceline. These are paid directly to the hotel.

Also Read : How To Find Hotwire Hotels: Tips And Tricks For Budget Travelers

FAQs on Priceline vs Hotwire

1. Can I earn loyalty points or rewards for bookings made through Priceline or Hotwire?

Priceline depends on the specific hotel’s policy regarding third-party bookings. Some hotels might not offer loyalty points for these bookings. Priceline also has its own rewards program. For Hotwire, hotel loyalty points typically aren’t earned on ‘Hot Rate’ bookings, but regular bookings may qualify depending on the hotel’s policy.

2. Can I specify room preferences (like bed size or smoking/non-smoking) when booking with Hotwire or Priceline?

On Priceline, you may request specific room preferences, but they are subject to availability and not guaranteed. For Hotwire’s ‘Hot Rate’ bookings, special requests can’t be made in advance since the hotel is unknown until after booking.

3. How does the customer service compare between Priceline and Hotwire?

Both platforms offer customer support, but the level of service can vary. The ease of resolving issues like cancellations or changes might differ based on the policies of the booked hotel or airline.

4. What happens if I need to cancel a ‘Hot Rate’ hotel room on Hotwire?

‘Hot Rate’ bookings on Hotwire are usually non-refundable and cannot be changed or canceled. It’s important to be certain of your plans before making such a booking.

5. Are there any hidden costs when booking with Priceline or Hotwire?

While both platforms strive for transparency, additional costs like resort fees, parking fees, or taxes may not be included in the initial quoted price, especially for resort locations.

6. How do I know if a ‘Hot Rate’ deal on Hotwire is a good deal?

Compare the ‘Hot Rate’ against standard rates for similar hotels in the same area and check the amenities listed. Reading reviews and ratings can also give insights into the value of the deal.

Final Thought: Priceline vs Hotwire

In travel planning, securing the ideal hotel at an affordable price is frequently a top priority for discerning travelers. Striking the perfect balance between comfort and cost can significantly elevate the overall travel experience. In a world where options abound, this guide aims to equip you with strategies to unlock the secrets of securing the cheapest hotel rates.

From utilizing price comparison websites to understanding the art of flexibility, we will delve into a comprehensive toolkit of tips and tricks. Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or a weekend wanderer, this guide will empower you to make informed choices and embark on unforgettable journeys without breaking the bank.

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