Hotwire vs Priceline vs

Last modified on December 30th, 2014

Hotwire Hotel Room

When you do a ton of traveling, you are invariably faced with finding accommodation wherever you end up. While it’s possible to find private apartment rentals for a week at a time, most people that aren’t traveling as part of a vacation package generally opt for a hotel for shorter trips.

I’m no stranger to booking hotels online. In fact, I started using Hotwire for most of my bookings not long after the service first came out. While I sometimes wait until I get to a destination prior to booking a hotel, for the most part I book online beforehand to minimize stress when I arrive.

Through the years I’ve sampled most of the major hotel booking services and wanted to share my experiences with a few of the major ones here: here is my comparison of Hotwire vs Priceline vs

Hotwire pioneered the low-cost online hotel booking space. Hotel rooms that typically cost $300 a night were often sold at around $100 on Hotwire, which made it possible for budget travellers to obtain rooms that would typically be outside of their budget. I’ve used Hotwire to book rooms in New York City, Buenos Aires, and even London.

One of the major downsides to Hotwire though is that you are not informed of the actual hotel you are booking until after the process is complete. While I’ve never had a “bad” room with Hotwire, not knowing the exact location of hotel is a bit scary, and you can often end up further away to an area that you had hoped for.

Since you don’t know any hotel details, you also don’t know the amenities that come with the hotel room as well. Nowadays internet access is pretty important for most people, and a room that doesn’t include free internet access can end up costing up to $15 more a day once that’s factored in.

Another issue with Hotwire is that you can’t change any part of a booking after the fact. If your plans suddenly change and you no longer need the room, you’ll be charged the full price for the booking with no hope of a refund.

And while most of the rooms I’ve obtained with Hotwire have been adequate for my purposes, often the rooms were located near the elevator or at the far end of the hotel complex – in other words, the less desirable rooms in the hotel.

But in a pinch, still works well and provides low cost rooms with a bit of excitement during the booking process.


Priceline is a bit different than Hotwire in that you can actually see a list of all the hotels and book them directly, albeit at higher prices. Where it is similar to Hotwire though is in their Make an Offer option. The concept behind this feature is that a person can pick a location to book a hotel, some dates, as well as a minimum level of quality (i.e. a four star hotel), and then make an offer to all hotels in the area. In theory if any of the hotels have rooms available and don’t think they’ll sell them through their normal channels, you might end up getting a great deal.

The main issue for me with Priceline though is that I’ve never been able to get a great deal. Whenever I set a price, it has always been rejected. When that happens you are given the option to make another offer with an increased price or with a lower the level of quality. If that fails, you are often forced to wait 24 hours to try again.

That entire process takes time and energy, and truthfully I rarely feel like devoting either of those towards booking a hotel, especially if it doesn’t save me much more than a service like Hotwire. So I rarely use Priceline these days.

My favourite service these days is You get to see an entire list of hotels prior to booking. That means you get to see the location of the hotel, the user reviews (which are important for booking), all the included amenities, and a fixed price. That means there are no surprises when you book, which as I get older is far more preferably to the surprises you sometimes get with Hotwire or Priceline.

I still believe you can probably get a better deal on a hotel by using Hotwire, but not knowing your hotel beforehand with Hotwire is a pretty big disadvantage, as is not being able to change any part of your reservation after the fact. I suspect Hotwire is feeling the competition lately, as they now open up a window as part of their booking process – I imagine they receive a commission if someone books that way. Priceline has similar disadvantages to Hotwire, and also requires quite a bit more work to get a great deal.

To Sum It Up

For me personally, since I usually travel with my girlfriend, my hotel booking service of choice these days is You may end up paying a bit more with them, but you’ll know ahead of time what the hotel is like and you can alter your reservation after the fact.

But if I am just looking for a nice hotel room, and don’t really care if there are one or two beds in the room or exactly where it is, then I’ll definitely use

13 responses to “Hotwire vs Priceline vs”

  1. Chad says:

    I’ve found to be very helpful narrowing down which hotel you might end up with. It works for both hotwire and priceline as users post their results and I’ve always got the hotel I wanted. It still sucks that there are no changes or refunds, but as with most online sites to get the best prices there are no refunds or changes.

  2. shanna says:

    Ive had multiple encounters with Hotwire. I find that they are very eager to take your money but as soon as that has been accomplished then Hotwire is no longer willing to help you in anyway. I have a reservation booked for April 28th and I’m unable to make the reservation so i inquired about refund or transfer to someone else’s name and they responded saying that it is not possible at all and those are there terms. I don’t believe that there is nothing they can do especially for transferring it into someone else’s name because there still getting the money. This site does not have good customer care, they don’t try and help you in anyway. I will never use Hotwire again and neither will any of my friends, family and coworkers after i explain this situation. A higher price is worth the flexibility and professionalism that Hotwire will not offer.
    I suggest everyone read all the fine print and think twice about there decision to book through Hotwire. sincerely,

    Frustrated and disgruntled customer

  3. Duane says:

    Well, in all honesty, Hotwire makes it pretty clear that you are getting that big discount because there are no changes allowed. Last time I looked I remember a big warning on the checkout page.

  4. juno says: has issues too. I have booked with them, then i would get a e-mail telling me that it will take 24h to process my booking. One time i called them and told them that in 24 hours it will be to late considering that i was booking the same day i was arriving at the hotel, they told me that i should call the hotel directly and book with them. Then i incurred about “Welcome Rewards” program that they offered and i was told that they will credit me the Rewards points when i complete my stay at the hotel. Later on i called them to redeem my ‘Welcome Rewards’ and i was told that the person that told me that did not tell me the truth and that their is nothing they can do about it (what a fraud)

    I stumbled on this blog because i was looking for a better alternative to, I do not trust them if they can just misrepresent and tell costumers whatever they have to to stay in business. I also discovered that their prices where higher then if you just book directly with the hotel in the first place by $10-20. So do not just trust the price that they offer, check directly with the hotel, you will be pleasantly surprised.

  5. Steven says:

    I found hotwire to be dishonest with their use of the group average. I have used price line many times and very happy. the price I got for a hot deal was exactly the same as on the hotel website. I choose from a beach area but my hotel was not close to the beach and so my savings we based on the average rate for beach hotels but I did not get a beach hotel. crappy location and no savings. since then I have seen others who have had the same problem steer clear of hotwire

  6. Chris says:

    As a Hospitality employee for more than 3 decades, it never amazes me to find people who want to do the price quibble.

    You know there are less expensive ways to travel, like, or checking out Bed N breakfasts near your destinations. Though the B&B’s will want you to pay a FAIR MARKET PRICE.

    I am certain that not many of you here or reading this has ever told your boss that you are only working at $5.00 an hour today, because you want clients to feel like they had a good deal, and the price they wanted to pay.

    Seriously, take a guess how much it takes to clean your room, after your hairy ass gets out of bed, or the time it takes to scrub the bath tub/shower clean.

    Everything adds up, and in this business, if any of you find a pubic hair on your toilet seat, or heaven forbid you don’t have soap in your bathroom; tell me you’re not on the phone looking for a rate reduction, or first free night. And let’s not forget your loyalty points, you earned them, by haggling your room prices down, and you demand that free weekend.

    The HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD is housekeeping, try it one week, get a real taste of physical backbreaking labor, and don’t forget the soap.

    And most of you cheap asses don’t tip accordingly, because your room was too expensive, or there was no soap, or it completely slipped your mind.

    Housekeepers make MINIMUM WAGE, and *LIVE* on your tips.

    BTW, we know who you are, we collect your little quirks on the hotels Property Management System, so that we all know what to expect when you appear in our hotel, motel, bed n breakfasts.

    Consider that next time you stay with any of us.

  7. Duane Storey says:

    @Chris – I am sure housekeeping is a hard job, but if there’s a wage problem, then take it up with management or find a new job. I don’t think it’s fair to blame people for not tipping – they aren’t responsible to pay the employee, the management is. I hear that complaint in the service industry in Canada all the time, because management doesn’t pay enough. That’s a systemic problem, not a tipping problem. Tipping should be for special or appreciated service not as an added tax that is expected all the time to compensate for underfunding. I’ve been all over the world and in many countries not tipping is the norm. In Japan it’s considered rude, and they have some of the best service in the world.

    And then you go to some places in the US like Las Vegas where there are big signs that say “tips of 23% are the normal” – really? That’s ridiculous, and on par with income tax in some countries.

  8. Babar says:

    @ Chris. Are you telling me that in order to get a clean hotel room, I should tip the housekeeping employees. That is absolutely ridiculous. Housekeeping is part of the hotel package.

    Hotels would rather sell rooms that would otherwise be empty at a low price to make some money off them. If they were not benefiting from putting up their hotel on priceline or hotwire then they would not be doing that.

  9. Belinda says:

    Not a fan of Hotwire. I have used Priceline successfully and stayed in some very nice hotels at some great prices, but I am currently in my first and last Hotwire hotel. Here are my gripes: The hotel, purportedly a 2.5 star hotel, is an old-style motel with exterior doors on the rooms. It is clean, updated and in a safe neighborhood, but the only source of natural light is the walkway where guests pass directly in front of the room every few minutes. Consequently, it is a cave with artificial light. Also, my room, purchased through Hotwire’s blind booking, cost me more than I could have paid using an AARP discount on the hotel’s website. Because it was prepaid through Hotwire, my room is one of several “undersized” rooms with about 100 less square feet than the majority of rooms, no doubt used exclusively for pre-sold guests. It is also located at the top of the stairs. I could have gotten a better room in this same hotel for the same price I paid Hotwire (if I had been inclined to book at this hotel, which I would not have) if I had booked directly on the hotel website.

  10. lewis wells says:

    Duane you are so so right on about this tipping crap !!!

  11. Martin Bacon says:

    I tried HOTWIRE for the first time on a whim with a trip to Williamsburg .. (I’ve never used Priceline) .. The Hotel I have been allocated is EXACTLY the same price as offered on … I’m not unhappy with the hotel BUT IF I had booked through I would not have needed to pay in advanceand I would have had the abilty to cancel the reservation if I was forced to .. With this in mind I am not sure I would use HOTWIRE again …. I have also tried TRIVAGO and found that offered some good deals and at least you know the Hotel where you will be staying

  12. julie says:

    I haven’t had any luck with I have had to pay upfront for rooms that were sold out. I was told routinely overbooks. Never using them Again.

  13. Ken Bowen says:

    I am done with Hotwire. I just went to book a hotel in the Canton, Ohio area. I found a suitable choice, selected it and found it was not in the area I had searched, but well north of Akron , Ohio, probably 50 miles away. I immediately called to speak with “customer service”, as in within 3 minutes. The “customer service ” job must be simple since the only thing they can say is “we can’t help you”. I have used Hotwire for over 10 years for both business and personal travel, hotels, airline reservations, and rental cars. Perhaps I made a mistake this time. I don’t know how, but maybe I did something wrong in the process. The fact that long time customers, with no history of refunds, get no consideration for loyalty disturbs me. I can see my history on the website, surely customer service can as well. There are too many other options today to be dragged through a knothole with a company, like Hotwire, that cares nothing, absolutely nothing, about customer loyalty. I am booking through another method to get a hotel in the area I want, and Hotwire just gets one over on me this time, but I guarantee it is the last time I do business with them.

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