Are you looking for a way to get a free hotel room? We know how it feels to be on a budget and not get the most out of your trip. While it's true that traveling can be expensive, it doesn’t always have to be.
All you need is a bit of creativity and some insider tips. With the right knowledge and strategy, you can get free hotel rooms and enjoy your trip even more.
We’ve researched the best ways to score a free hotel room or discounted stay. We also included insider tips and other tricks that could help reduce your travel expenses even further.
By following these simple steps in our guide, not only will you save money but also time and energy by avoiding the pitfalls most people fall into when booking their hotel stays.
Don’t skip this so you don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount per night just because you want a nice place to stay.
1. Sign Up for Hotel Loyalty Programs
One of the surefire ways to enjoy a complimentary room stay is to earn it. This can be done by signing up and using a hotel loyalty program.
Hotel loyalty programs allow you to earn points every time you stay at the same property or chain of properties. After earning enough points, you can redeem these points for a free room. A lot of times, you could be rewarded with a free night or nights just for enrolling in the loyalty program!
When enrolling in a hotel loyalty program, make sure to choose a large hotel chain that has multiple locations nationwide and in other countries. It's also wise to choose a hotel chain that has hotels located in your frequent destinations.
This will give you more opportunities to earn points and use them when traveling. You don't want to choose a small chain that only has one or two hotels.
Some of the best hotel loyalty programs for free nights include:
2. Use Your Credit Card Points
Exchanging your credit card points for free hotel stays is another way to save money on your next trip. This works like a cashback program where you earn points every time you use your credit card for purchases.
There are different ways to approach this:
Sign Up for a Hotel-Branded Credit Card
A hotel-branded credit card will allow you to redeem your points to get a free hotel stay voucher. Some cards will also award you free nights on your account anniversary, when booking multiple nights, or when you reach a certain spending limit.
Examples of hotel-branded credit cards are:
- Marriott Bonvoy American Express Credit Card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- World of Hyatt Credit Card
Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card
If you don't want to be tied down to one hotel chain, signing up for a travel rewards card is another great option.
A travel rewards card also allows you to earn points when you use it for purchases. You can redeem these points for free hotel rooms and other travel-related expenses.
Some of the top travel credit cards include:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- American Express Platinum Card
- Bank of America Travel Rewards Card
If you already have an existing cashback credit card, check with your card provider whether the points you're earning can be redeemed against hotel stays. Ask whether they have partner hotels that will accept the points that you've earned on your cashback card.
You can also ask if you can upgrade or switch your existing card to a travel rewards card from the same credit card provider.
3. Watch Out for Hotel Promotions
If you're planning a longer vacation, taking advantage of hotel promotions that offer free nights can help you save a lot of money.
Many hotels and travel sites usually offer a night free when you book multiple nights. For example, if you book 2 nights, a promotion might offer the 3rd night free.
Before booking a hotel stay, check the hotel's website first. Usually, the promos are listed on the OFFERS or DEALS page.
You can also check popular travel sites for special offers:
While some of these sites will not offer free nights, a great promotion like a 50% discount deal is the same as getting your 2nd night for free.
Special offers and promotions usually happen during low peak season. This is the time when you're more likely to score a great deal because hotel rooms are usually empty and hotels may not be making that much money.
Reservations during the low-peak season are usually more flexible, so it's easier to apply free night promos when you book.
4. File a Complaint
In some instances, complaining to the hotel management can give you a free hotel stay, but you have to be aware that it may not always work out that way.
You must also file a complaint only for a valid reason other than getting a free hotel room.
Getting a complimentary room as compensation for a disappointing experience will depend on the severity of the situation.
For instance, if you had a minor complaint like a malfunctioning TV or a late room service, then a free hotel stay may not be on the table. You're more likely to get transferred to another room or you'll be offered a free meal.
However, if the complaint is more serious and it ruined your entire holiday experience, then you have a better chance of getting a room upgrade or even a free hotel night stay.
So what situations will get you a free extra night in a hotel? There are different reasons for complaining, including:
- Bad or late service
- Fixtures not working
- Cleanliness issues
- Noise issues
- Being placed in the wrong room
- Problems with payment and billing
You’re also more likely to get compensation if you’re a loyal customer, booking a luxury hotel, or staying during a momentous event like a honeymoon or anniversary.
A budget roadside hotel is less likely to offer you compensation even if you complain non-stop.
Many people think that getting emotional is the best way to get a room upgrade or a free hotel room as compensation. However, seasoned travelers confided in travel forums that the easiest way to get what you want is to be nice when complaining.
While screaming and threatening may be effective in showing how dismayed you are, these are also the surest ways for the hotel management to get annoyed at you.
Acting irate will just make your request harder to follow through and may cause hotel staff to think that you're just trying to get one over them.
Instead, use the tactics below to effectively get your point across:
- Immediately flag your concern by talking personally to the hotel staff. Going down to the front desk is better than calling by phone.
- When you raise your concern, do it calmly, without yelling or disrespecting the staff.
- Empathize with the staff but remain firm in communicating your expectations. For example, if you're staying during the high peak season and find yourself placed in a room near the elevators where the noise is not tolerable, you can say:
“I understand that you have many guests during this period and perhaps that's the reason why you placed me in such an unfortunate room. But I am really looking forward to a restful night and would appreciate it if you can switch me to a quieter area of the hotel.”
- If your concern was not addressed or remedied immediately during your stay, after repeated complaints, you can write an email to the management outlining your concern. Again, be nice in the email but clearly communicate your issues. It's better if you can add photos and specifics to support your claims.
- You can indicate in your email that since you would like to stay again in their hotel in the future, you thought it best to write them first and settle the issues directly rather than posting your review on TripAdvisor or Booking.com.
- If you don’t get a response after a few days or a couple of weeks, posting your review on hotel booking sites can be your last resort to get compensated.
5. Use Your Travel Blog
If you have some writing and basic tech skills in your arsenal, starting a travel blog is a brilliant way to get free hotel stays. If you get really popular, some hotel brands may even pay you money in addition to a free holiday.
The job of a travel blogger is to create engaging content that can attract tourists to travel to different destinations. Many hotels and resorts are often willing to provide free lodging for travelers who will feature them in a blog or online magazine with a good readership.
Take note that before hotels will agree to provide you free accommodation in exchange for a feature on your blog, you have to show that you have a sizable following. You'll have to support your pitch with website visit statistics and clicks.
You also have to show that you’re catering to their target market. For example, if your blog is mainly about cheap rooms for young adult travelers, you can't really expect the Ritz Carlton to give you free nights.
If you’re just starting out, you can start writing about the hotels you have stayed in in the past instead of spending money on new hotel bookings.
You can also build a following by doing guest posts for more popular travel blogs in exchange for a backlink to your blog.
6. Become a Social Media Influencer
Not much of a writer? Don't worry because when it comes to social media, a picture (or a video clip) is worth a thousand words. Hoteliers often invite influencers to come and stay in their hotels free of charge.
In exchange, the influencer has to provide an image or a short video clip for their social media feed. If you have a healthy amount of followers on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube, there's a higher chance of getting offered free nights.
If your focus is to get travel perks like free hotel rooms, curate your feed and highlight the travel niche to get more engaged followers. This means posting at least 70% of travel or lifestyle-related images or content.
If your feed is a mishmash of different things and interests, it will be harder to get noticed by brands.
When you have a decent amount of followers and posts, start following the hotel brands you’re interested in. Follow other travel influencers to see which hotels are offering influencers free nights.
7. Work in a Hotel Chain Part-time
If you have some free time in your hands, working in a hotel part-time will not only earn you extra spending money but can also get you free nights and employee discounts.
Traditionally, only regular hotel employees get free nights and discounts but because of hotel labor shortages, there are some properties that are offering even part-time employees with perks to attract them.
For instance, the Omni Hotel and Resorts is offering summer interns and new employees free hotel stays in addition to signing bonuses. This could be a good idea if you're looking for a side hustle and a free holiday as well.
Check with the local hotels in your area if they have part-time vacancies. Larger hotels will usually have more vacancies. Don't forget to ask what perks part-time employees enjoy.
8. Ask a Family or Friend Who Works in a Hotel
If you want to enjoy a hotel stay at a rate that is almost free, then another route is to get a “friend or family discount.” Employees of hotel chains usually get free nights in a year or massive employee discounts, especially during off-peak season.
Ask a friend or family who works in a hotel if they can help you get a free night through their privileges.
Many travelers on Reddit agreed that they have saved a lot of money because they had a family or friend who gets an employee hotel discount.
You can join travel-related groups or communities on Facebook to expand your network. You might find hotel or airline employees in those groups.
Make sure to build real connections instead of asking for a discount outright. It's best to wait for them to offer instead of asking.
9. Use Free Hotel Vouchers from the Government
Occasionally, some cities or counties offer free hotel vouchers during calamities or unforeseen events. These vouchers are often offered to those who are homeless or people who have been displaced by a fire and other natural disasters.
For instance, the city of New York and California offered free hotel rooms for coronavirus-positive patients who have nowhere to quarantine. The purpose is to make sure that these patients have a private space to rest in and not infect others.
To get the free hotel vouchers, you usually have to go through a verification process with the local government or organization handling the program.
Bonus Tips to Get Hotel Savings
If you’ve been planning your next vacation and are looking for a little help to make it more affordable, we hope that this list can help you save a few extra dollars or even gain you a free night.
Can't get a free room? Here are some extra tips to save further:
- Check out multiple sites for the lowest rate.
- Book directly with the hotel instead of travel sites or travel agencies and negotiate if they can match the lowest rate available online.
- Book in advance to avoid high rates.
- Want a free hotel stay on your birthday? Tell the reservation staff or front desk that it's your birthday or honeymoon. While you might not get the room for free, you might be awarded a free upgrade to a better room.
Try out our tips above so you can enjoy a hassle-free trip without spending too much out of pocket.