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A look at seven of the major hotel best rate guarantees (what they say & what they offer)


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All the major hotel chains (and a lot of the minor ones) say that to get the best price going, you should book with them directly and not through any of the third-party sites that pepper the internet.

The fact is, however, that because some hotels choose to quietly dump their excess inventory somewhere other than their chain’s own website, lower prices than what the main hotel sites have published can sometimes be found.

To persuade people to keep booking directly and not with third party sites, most hotel chains therefore offer some kind of guarantee which says that if you find a rate lower than the one published on their site, they will offer you some kind of compensation.

The rules of the various best rate guarantees offered by the major hotel chains and the compensation these guarantees offers can vary significantly, so what you’ll find in this article is a look at each of the key guarantees currently published and some of my thoughts on what they offer.

What all the chains agree on

While there are differences between all the rate guarantees that you’ll find, a few key terms are shared by them all, so rather than repeat them under each individual guarantee, here they are:

  • The lower rate that’s being used to trigger the guarantee, must be a rate for an identical booking to the one offered by the hotel chain.
  • An identical booking means a booking that’s for the same hotel and which offers the same type of room, for same number of guests, on same dates of stay, for the same length of stay, with the same inclusions, the same guarantee and cancellation policies, and the same booking conditions.
  • Rate comparisons will be made net of any taxes, gratuities, or any other fees associated with the room rate (e.g. resort/destination fees).
  • The bookings must be in the same currency.
  • The best rate guarantee will not apply where:
    • The claim is being made within 24 hours of the check-in time (some chains require a 48-hour window).
    • The lower rate is published by ‘opaque or auction sites’ where the hotel brand and/or the specific hotel is not known until booking is finalized.
    • The lower rate is part of a package in which the room rate is not clearly visible, itemized, or delineated in the package.
    • The lower rate is only available through a website that charges a membership fee.
    • The lower rate is not immediately bookable.
    • The lower rate requires a special discount code or is a specially negotiated rate that’s not generally available (e.g. AAA rate, corporate rate, group rate, senior rate, etc…).

The best way to sum all of this up is to say that if the lower rate that you find differs in any way (other than price) from the rate that the hotel chain is offering, the claim will almost certainly be unsuccessful.

One of the most common things that causes claims to be rejected is when the two rates have different cancellation policies (e.g one allows for cancellation up to 1 day before check-in while the other only allows cancellations up to 2 days before check-in).

Amazingly, you may find that even if the lower rate that you’ve found elsewhere is the rate with the more generous cancellation policy, the hotel chain will still use the difference in the cancellation policies to dismiss the claim.

Note: We have provided links to the full terms and conditions to all the guarantees discusses, so make sure that you read all the details carefully before assuming that you can make a valid claim – do not just rely on our summaries.

Hyatt ‘book with confidence’

a grey stone with writing

In summary:

If you find a better rate than Hyatt is offering and your claim is accepted, Hyatt will match the lower rate and give you your choice of an additional 20% off the lower rate or 5,000 World of Hyatt Bonus Points.

Eligibility:

To be eligible to make a ‘book with confidence’ claim you must book a stay at a Participating Hotel through a Hyatt website and within 24 hours of your booking, submit a claim request with Hyatt if you have found a publicly available and immediately bookable room-only rate on the internet for the same stay that is at least $1 lower than the comparable rate on the Hyatt website.

Key extra terms (not covered by the general terms discussed earlier):

  • Any reservations made with consecutive night stays at the same location shall be considered one stay/reservation for purposes of the Best Rate Guarantee and therefore, shall only receive one Reward if verified and eligible.
  • Each Claim may only cover one room, and a guest may submit up to three Claims per night and all of which must be at the same hotel.
  • For a valid Claim, only one Reward will be issued per stay regardless of the length of the stay.
  • The additional discount offered by the guarantee will only be applied to the room rate and is not valid on spa, restaurant, room service, in-hotel outlet charges, service charges, mandatory resort fees, gratuities, taxes, or incidental expenses.

Link to all the terms and conditions of Hyatt’s ‘book with confidence’ guarantee.

IHG ‘best price guarantee’

a building with a sign on the side

In summary:

If you find a better price than what IHG is offering somewhere else and your claim is approved, IHG will match the lower rate and give you five times the IHG One Rewards Points due on that room rate (up to a 40,000-point maximum).

Eligibility:

To be eligible to make a ‘best price guarantee’ claim you must book a hotel room at an IHG branded hotel using any IHG direct channel (such as a branded website, call centre or the mobile app), and within 24 hours of making your reservation, submit your claim request with IHG if you find a rate online that’s at least 1% lower than the lowest rate available on the IHG website or mobile app.

Key extra terms (not covered by the general terms discussed earlier):

  • The 5x Points Award will be calculated on the room rate only and will not include any other charges billed to your hotel room portfolio.
  • The portion of the 5x Points Award that is above and beyond what you otherwise would have earned on the room rate for your stay will be awarded as bonus points and will not count towards your IHG One Rewards membership tier status.

Link to all the terms and conditions of the IHG ‘best price guarantee’

Hilton ‘price match guarantee’

a sign on a wall

In summary:

If you find a lower qualified price on another booking site and your claim is accepted, Hilton will match it and give you a further 25% off your stay.

Eligibility:

To be eligible to make a ‘price match guarantee’ claim you must find a qualified price that’s at least 1% lower than the official Hilton booking channel for the same accommodation and terms either before you book or within 24 hours after you make a reservation through an official Hilton booking channel.

A lower qualified price means a price that is lower than the one published by Hilton (there is no minimum difference requirement stated) that relates to an identical booking to the one offered by Hilton and that doesn’t contravene any of the rules of the guarantee.

Key extra terms (not covered by the general terms discussed earlier):

  • For stays longer than one night, the Price Match Guarantee will be evaluated based on the total room price for the entire stay.
  • If your reservation is coming up in the next couple of days, Hilton recommends that you request a call rather than submit an online request.
  • If you submit your claim online, Hilton will try to independently validate it within 48 hours. If you make a claim over the phone, Hilton will try to independently validate it immediately.

Link to all the terms and conditions of the Hilton ‘price match guarantee’

Marriott ‘best rate guarantee’

a sign on a building

In summary:

If you find a lower rate for the same hotel, same room type, and same reservation dates on a non-Marriott website or non-Marriott Bonvoy app and your claim is approved, Marriott will match the Comparison rate AND give you your choice of either an extra 25% discount on the room (20% discount for Design Hotels) OR 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Eligibility:

To be eligible to make a ‘best rate guarantee’ claim you must make a reservation using any official Marriott reservation channel (Marriott.com, Marriott Bonvoy App, Customer Engagement Centers, or directly with a hotel) and within 24 hours of your booking, submit a claim request with Marriott if you have found a publicly available and immediately bookable rate on the internet for the same stay that is at least $1 lower than the comparable rate on the Marriott website.

Key extra terms (not covered by the general terms discussed earlier):

  • The best rate guarantee does not apply to:
    • Ritz-Carlton Montreal, The Ritz London, Ritz-Carlton Residences, The Ritz-Carlton Club, Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott’s Grand Residence Club, or any other properties operating under Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation brands, its subsidiaries and its affiliates.
    • Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy, Sheraton Vacation Club, Westin Vacation Club, or any other properties/units owned or managed by Vistana Signature Experiences, Inc. its subsidiaries and its affiliates.
    • All-Inclusive properties and Elegant Hotels branded properties.
  • Comparing Marriott channel rates to those found during later searches on Marriott channels (including Marriott-affiliated, private label, or property standalone websites) are not eligible for the guarantee.
  • For Design Hotels Partner Hotels, rates found on the Design Hotels Website, Design Hotels Mobile App and any individual Design Hotels standalone Website & Mobile App are not eligible for the guarantee.
  • Rate disparities primarily attributable to fluctuations and/or differences in currency exchange rates are excluded from the guarantee.
  • All approved claim rewards (either points or discount) will only be available for up to three guest rooms.

Link to all the terms and conditions of the Marriott ‘best rate guarantee’

Radisson ‘best online rates guarantee’

a building with a sign in front of it

In summary:

If you find a lower rate that what Radisson.com is offering and your claim is approved, Radisson will match that rate and then give you a further 25% off.

Eligibility:

To be eligible to make a ‘best online rates guarantee’ claim you must make a reservation on Radissonhotels.com and within 24 hours of your booking, submit a claim request with Radisson if you have found a publicly available rate on the internet for the same stay that is at least 1 USD/1 EUR/1 GBP lower than the comparable rate on the Radisson website.

Key extra terms (not covered by the general terms discussed earlier):

  • Rate disparities solely attributable to rounding, fluctuations and/or difference in currency exchange rates are excluded from the Best Rates Guarantee
  • For prepaid bookings, the 25% difference offered by the guarantee will be refunded on the applicable credit card by the hotel.
  • When a claim covers a stay for multiple, consecutive nights, the rates will be reviewed based on the average over the entire stay (the total consecutive nights stayed by the same guest or guests in the same hotel, regardless of the number of check-ins or check-outs or separate reservations). Comparison Rates applicable to only a portion of the reservation will not be honored.

Link to all the terms and conditions of the Radisson ‘best online rates guarantee’

Choice hotels ‘lowest price guarantee’

a room with green couches and chairs

In summary:

If you find a lower, publicly available rate on a website other than the Choice Hotels website and your claim is approved, Choice will match the lower rate and, if you’re a US or Canadian resident, give you a $50/CA$50 reward card. Guests from outside the U.S. and Canada will receive their first night free instead.

Eligibility:

To be eligible to make a ‘lowest price guarantee’ claim you must make a reservation using any official Choice Direct channel and within 24 hours of your booking, submit a claim request with Choice if you have found a publicly available and immediately bookable rate for the same stay that is at least $1 or 1% lower (whichever is greater) than the comparable rate on the Choice website.

Key extra terms (not covered by the general terms discussed earlier):

  • Free nights issued to international residents are subject to the following terms:
    • The room rate for approved Bookings that are one night will be discounted to $0.
    • Room rates for Bookings that are more than one night will be discounted to the Competing Rate; the rate for the first night will be $0.
  • The Lowest Price Guarantee does not apply to reservations made at WoodSprings Suites or at Vacation Rentals by Choice.
  • The online claim form informing Choice of the lower rate must be submitted within 24 hours of the Booking and at least 48 hours prior to a 6 pm arrival on the first day of the Booking.

Link to all the terms and conditions of the Choice Hotels ‘lowest price guarantee’

Best Western ‘low rate guarantee’

a sign on a building

In summary:

If you find a published rate on the Internet that is lower than what is published on bestwestern.com, Best Wester will honor the lower rate and send you a $100 USD Best Western Gift Card as well.

Eligibility:

To be eligible to make a ‘low rate guarantee’ claim you must make a reservation on bestwestern.com or through a participating affiliate organization website that links to bestwestern.com. and within 24 hours of your booking, submit a claim request with Best Western if you have found a publicly available and immediately bookable rate for the same stay that is at least $1 lower than the comparable rate on Bestwestern.com.

Key extra terms (not covered by the general terms discussed earlier):

  • Limit one Gift Card per household per claim for any stay and only one Gift Card per household during any thirty day period (lower rate will be honored regardless of eligibility of Gift Card due to limitations).
  • The Gift Card will be issued in the form of a virtual card (an E-mail certificate or printout from the website) unless a physical plastic card is requested.
  • The $100 (USD) Gift Card will be emailed or mailed after the consumer’s stay is completed. Virtual cards will be emailed within two to three weeks after the consumer’s stay is completed. Physical plastic cards will be mailed within four to six weeks after the consumer’s stay is completed.
  • Reservations booked within forty-eight (48) hours of the hotel’s earliest published check-in time on the arrival date of the claim are not eligible for the Program.
  • For a multiple night stay, the total cost for the stay will be evaluated in determining whether the competing rate is lower.

Link to all the terms and conditions of the Best Western ‘low rate guarantee’

Thoughts

The most important thing that I can point out is that you should expect the hotel chains to do everything within their power to dismiss a claim.

That doesn’t mean that claims won’t be honored (I’ve had a few successes over the years), but these guarantees are more about marketing and persuading people to book direct (so the chains don’t have to pay commissions to 3rd parties) rather than actually providing comfort to people making reservations.

The second thing to point out is that some of these guarantees are better than others.

The Hilton guarantee is my favorite for two reasons:

  1. You can make a guarantee claim without having to make a reservation first.
  2. You can call up, speak to an actual person, and have your claim processed in real time – there’s no need to wait for some overworked department to get back to you via email.

The guarantees offered by Best Western and Choice are probably the weakest in terms of what bonus is being offered (on top of the price match), but it’s with the IHG guarantee that you have to be extra careful with your expectations.

IHG says that it will ‘match the lower rate and give you 5X the IHG® One Rewards points, up to a 40,000-point maximum, for the room rate for that hotel stay‘ and that seems to suggest that the maximum bonus available, regardless of the cost of the room or the number of nights in the booking, is 40,000 points.

I value those points at $160 and if that’s how IHG’s terms are supposed to work (I’ve never managed to make a successful IHG claim so I don’t know for sure), that favours cheap stays over expensive ones and makes the guarantees offered by Hyatt, Marriott, Radisson, and Hilton considerably more valuable.

Other things to note…

If you’re making a claim on a booking that costs less than $100, the terms of the guarantees offered by IHG and Hilton will be marginally more favorable as their rules state that a price difference must be ‘at least 1%’.

The more expensive the nightly rate, however, the better Hyatt’s, Marriott’s and Choice’s guarantees are because they state that the minimum difference to qualify for a claim only has to be $1 (and not 1%).

I quite like the idea of finding that an official nightly rate of $1,000* is beaten by a 3rd party rate of $998 and then successfully getting Marriott to give me the room for $748 đŸ™‚

*Not that I’d ever pay that!

Apart from the obvious (room type, cancellation terms, etc…) the things to keep an eye on are the terms that are specific to each chain as it’s easy to be tripped up by them.

Marriott, for example, seems to have more properties/brands excluded from its guarantee than all the others put together and some chains require check-in to be at least 48 hours away (other say 24 hours).

Bottom line

Best rate guarantees are a marketing ploy and not meant to be a good thing for customers. Always remember that.

As most chains will require you to make a booking before you can make a claim (well done to Hilton for being the odd one out here), you should be careful to read all the rules of the guarantee you’re attempting to invoke before you assume that you’ll be successful as it’s easy to be caught out on a technicality.

In fact, if you work on the assumption that you’ll be unsuccessful, you’re likely to be better off.

Overall, I prefer the Hilton guarantee to all the others, but based on the way these things work in practice, my favorite guarantee is always the last one that I managed to invoke đŸ™‚

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