Most people have tried Priceline at some point or another. I bought plane tickets in 2000 for South America for $700 instead of $1,200, was assigned to that very middle seat of a 5-seater in the middle row of those larger planes with two men surrounding me, each asleep with their heads turned towards mine and breathing their bad breath in my direction. And I didn’t get any frequent flier miles. I used to buy groceries on there (you would bid on different products, pay online and then take the printout to the checkout at the store later) but Priceline got rid of that deal. I used to experiment to see if I could fly from St. Louis back to New York for $40, but the airlines never went for it. The price differences are not outrageously cost-effective, but sometimes they will give you quite a deal, especially “in today’s economy” which is my new favorite catch-phrase.
However, an excellent deal can be found if you book hotels on Priceline. My stepsister does this all the time. For example, we had reserved the Hyatt in Bethesda, Md. for our wedding guests. A $250 room was $139 a night with our wedding rate. My stepsister went to Priceline and got it for $50. $50!? Yes, $50.
How it works: Go to Priceline.com and click on the Hotels tab. Enter your city information and check-in/ check-out dates in the “Name Your Own Price” section. It will pull up a list of specific areas as well as a map, how luxurious you would like your hotel, and what price you’re willing to pay. For my stepsister, she scored a 3 1/2 star upscale hotel in downtown Bethesda for $50. My aunt, hearing of my stepsister’s success, tried the same but we think she entered her choice of locations wrong, because she was placed in a Radisson of some kind far away in Rockville. Well, not too far, but maybe a 15-minute drive farther than she would have liked, considering all the hotels around the Hyatt.
Priceline will alert you if there are no participating hotels in your star-rating range. Before you finally make the reservation, you’ll have to enter your credit card, and then whatever hotel in tha area accepts your bid, that hotel is yours whether you like it or not. But since you can narrow down by star rating and location, and you really don’t care that much about the hotel, you’ll likely get an excellent deal. Sleep tight!