When it comes to travel costs, typically, one of the biggest costs that eat up the funds is accommodation. And why shouldn’t it?
Traveling can be tiring, and a good soft bed is the best way to end a leg of the journey. A luxury hotel or resort might be the final ingredient in your dream vacation. Maybe you’re planning a family or friends vacation and need the extra rooms.
So, there are good enough reasons to make room in the budget for a good hotel room – but what if you can snag a good hotel room for free? Is it possible? Is it legit? Hotels with free nights don’t grow on trees, do they? How can you stay in hotels for free without pulling a sneaky Peter Sellers scumbag move?
Good news! If you’ve ever wondered how to get free nights at hotels, there are several legit ways of securing free nights at hotels. You can get free hotel nights by signing up for certain credit cards that give cash back or credit cards that partner with hotels.
You can snag free hotel stays by promoting hotels online or joining a rewards program with a hotel chain. Read on to find out how to get free hotel rooms!
Best Ways to Get Free Hotel Rooms
1. Cash-Back Credit Card Rewards
Finding the right card with the right rewards is one way to stay at hotels for free. We at Viatravelers know the importance of finding a good travel credit card – one of the reasons is because of the potential to get free nights at hotels.
One great example is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which a few of us have used. As well as being the key to spending the night free at a hotel, it can also help you save on Airbnb, VRBO, and rideshare companies like Uber. This card also earns anywhere from 2X to 10X miles on travel bookings and right now has sign-up bonuses.
Another travel-friendly credit card worth looking into is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. When you redeem points for hotels or airfare, car rentals, or even cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the points are worth 25% more, so you get some bang for your buck.
The last I’ll mention is one of our favorites; the American Express Platinum Card. This card is ace for those who travel a lot and can make the most of the annual fee.
Spend $5,000 in the first three months to earn 60,000 bonus points, which can be redeemed on rideshares, flights, car rentals, and, yes, free hotel rooms!
2. Hotel Credit Cards
Many major hotel chains offer co-branded credit cards that can help you earn a free hotel room. Holders of a hotel-branded credit card typically earn free stays by earning points through day-to-day spending at grocery stores or gas stations, for example. This is similar to any good cash-back credit card, but there’s more…
A typical hotel credit card will give holders free night certificates yearly for paying the card’s annual fee! This means with one card, you have two avenues to secure a free night at a hotel potentially.
A few great examples of hotel credit cards include:
- The Marriot Bonvoy Rewards Credit Card through Chase.
- The Hilton Honors Credit Card through American Express.
- The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card through Chase.
- The World of Hyatt Credit Card through Chase.
- The Best Western Rewards Credit Card through Mastercard.
See related: Private Label vs Co-Branded Credit Cards
3. Credit Card Travel Portals
Most major credit card issuers have what is known as travel portals to convert the points you earn through eligible purchases. Among the many things you can use points on, you can use your credit card points to book free hotel stays.
The most common free room offers are “Nth night free” type offers where you can tack on an extra night for free depending on how many nights you book.
Typically the minimum is 3rd night free, but you can also find deals for 4th and 5th nights free. Some will even offer 2 consecutive free nights depending on how many nights you have booked.
Two of the best travel portals are the Amex and Chase travel portals.
American Express Travel Portal
Chase Travel Portal
The Chase Travel Portal run through Expedia is widely regarded as one of the most generous travel portals. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card both have relatively low annual fees and generous point conversion rates.
4. Hotel Loyalty Programs
Think of any major hotel chain and you can bet your bottom dollar that they have some hotel rewards program to help you earn free hotel stays.
A prime example is the Marriott Bonvoy Rewards Program. The Marriott Bonvoy program is free to sign up, and from there, you can qualify for up to 9 free nights per year. But how does one qualify? Simple!
Once signed up, you can spend money at Marriott brand hotels or with their partners to start racking up points. If you decide to pair a debit or credit card with the program, you’ll find that building up points is a piece of cake!
In addition to the free membership option, the Marriott Bonvoy program has 5 more echelons, each with a fee and increasing bonuses to the number of points you earn with each purchase or booking.
Depending on how much you travel, this could be a real boon, as the top level of this rewards program can see you over 100 free nights a year, as well as VIP service and practically any amenity you could ask for/ Other great hotel rewards programs include:
See Related: Hotel vs. Motel vs. Inn
5. Hotel Promotional Offers
Depending on the destination, time of year, or events in the area, a hotel may offer extra hotel points or one free night (or even more) for canny travelers with their eyes on a great deal. Again, many of these deals take the form of the “Nth night free” offer.
Taking advantage of promotional offers can be as simple and straightforward as booking at the right time or even just following a hotel chain’s social media accounts to earn bonus points.
This brings us to the topic of social media; if you’re keen on free hotel nights or cheap hotel rooms, it is totally worth following the accounts of hotel brands.
Then you can keep your finger on the pulse and be the first to hear about any promotions, deals, and free hotel stay giveaways they might be offering. At the very least, you could save money!
See Related: Best Websites to Book Cheap Flights and Hotels
6. Online Travel Agencies
Online travel agencies are a haven for all manner of travel deals from cheaper car rentals to free flights; after all, what’s the point of a travel agency if they can’t cut you a deal? So, it goes without saying that lots of travel agencies can get you discounted or even free hotels.
Additionally, you’ll start building up points that can be spent on the cars, the flights, and of course, discounted and free hotel rooms. Signing up for the silver plan will see you earn additional points when you use Expedia to book your travel arrangements, as well as free meals and parking credits.
Going one step further and signing up for gold will mean you can enjoy a free room upgrade and sometimes early check-in, as well as guaranteed late checkout (and all the benefits of a silver membership).
If you’re a real budgeting nerd and have a broader appreciation for what counts as “free” Booking.com is a great travel agency that can save you money. Sign up as a Booking.com Genius member, and you get 10% off the price of a room. Now, say you were spending 10 days in the same hotel – 10% off your room for 10 days is essentially one free night!
See Related: Proven Travel Agency Marketing Ideas
7. Attend a Timeshare Presentation
One of the most common ways to get a free hotel room or a free stay at a luxury rental is by attending a timeshare presentation.
A free night stay at a fancy accommodation is one of the most common giveaways timeshare companies offer – typically at the very same timeshare that they’re trying to sell you on.
Timeshare presentations differ in terms of length, perks and rewards, and while they have a reputation for aggressive sales tactics, or being dull (or both), it is a proven way of getting a free night’s stay somewhere special.
See Related: VisitorsCoverage Review: Is It Legit?
8. Become a Mystery Shopper
When you hear the term mystery shopper, it’s likely that the first thing you’ll think of is the practice of testing retailers’ quality of service and compliance with laws and regulations. Did you know that there are mystery shopping companies that do the same for hotels as well? Yup.
Now the problem here is that this is essentially a working vacation. The more of the hotel you explore and the more amenities you make use of, the better because, at the end of your stay, you’ll need to provide detailed feedback.
You should also do your best to verify the legitimacy of any mystery shopper company you plan on working with. There are some less-than-scrupulous companies out there that will try and scam you.
So yeah, there’s a little legwork involved, but this is a surefire way of getting a night or two out of some luxury hotels. You never know – you might even want to make a career out of it.
Another easy option is to use cashback and coupon apps like Capital One Shopping where you’ll get discounts and rewards when you make routine purchases online. When you do this, you’ll accumulate points and potentially cash that can be used for hotel stays.
See Related: Best Travel Credit Cards
9. Negotiate with Hotels
You’d be surprised what you can wheedle out of a hotel if you just get someone on the phone! Outside of peak season, most hotels are pretty empty and pretty eager to encourage guests to stay during these quieter months.
You’ll generally find better rates online during this offseason, but if you’re able to talk to the hotel directly, you might find that they’re more than willing to shave off one or two free nights if it means more guests.
Who knows? If you come to the table in a friendly and reasonable manner, you might be able to squeeze even more perks out of them or even build a longstanding relationship with the hotel for more nights free!
See Related: Do Hotel Takes Cash? Things to Know
10. Complain About Your Stay
Now this one is a little trickier than some others, and the real rub is that it’s virtually impossible to get a free hotel room in this way before you book. That said, complaining to a hotel about your stay there can potentially get you a night shaved off your bill. There are a few things to bear in mind before you go down this route:
- Be polite. Be nice. Be the dream customer every poor service industry worker dreams about getting. The nicer you are to the hotel staff, the more likely they are to help you out.
- Come with a genuine complaint. Ah. Yes. The REAL tricky bit. Unless you have a genuine complaint, your claim for a night knocked off your bill might not pass muster. That said, if you have a real, genuine, grievance, then you have a real, genuine reason to make a complaint. Think of faulty room amenities, being unable to sleep due to the noise, rude staff, roaches, or food poisoning; these are GENUINE reasons to complain. Running out of hashbrowns at breakfast or bad weather is not.
- Be persistent. While maintaining an air of cool, calm, and kindness don’t be too afraid to keep gently pushing until you get the desired outcome – or as close to it as possible.
- Know that there is no guarantee that complaining will get the price of a room knocked off your bill. You can assume that all hotels will do their damndest to make sure that they cater to your needs and desires as well as they are able – they’re in the hospitality business after all. As courteous as they may be, there is no guarantee that your complaint will result in a free room.
It might be uncomfortable, but this is how to get a hotel room for free after you’ve paid for it!
11. Try the new Affirm plan through Delta Vacations
Born out of the COVID-19 Pandemic in an effort to get people back in the air, Delta has launched the new Affirm scheme to help people plan and pay for their vacations in one place.
While this sounds pretty typical on the surface, there’s more to it than that. Affirm by Delta Vacations is a simple loan scheme that lets you plan out your entire vacation and pay it off later in 6, 12, or 18 easy monthly payments.
All you need to do is give them your name, date of birth, phone number, email address, and the last four digits of your social security number, and wait for approval from Delta Affirm.
There are no hidden fees, and at 10% APR the interest is quite reasonable. Yes, again, this requires a broader appreciation of the term “free hotel rooms,” but it can potentially mean booking your entire vacation, hotel room included without having to pay for it for months.
See Related: Best Marriott Hotels & Resorts in the US
12. Work for a Hotel
Perhaps the easiest and most guaranteed answer to the question “how can I get a free hotel room?” is to get a job at one! No, I’m not kidding. You are guaranteed free hotel rooms without taking out credit cards or joining a hotel loyalty program.
One of the main perks of working for a hotel, particularly a large hotel chain is getting free nights to stay at hotels within the chain. These free night rewards may also extend to luxury rooms or suites.
And then again, depending on what kind of job you get at the hotel of your choice, you may find yourself in a position where you can lodge at the hotel while you work!
See Related: Beautiful 7-Star Hotels from Around the World
13. Join the Travel Industry
If you’re wondering how to get free hotel stays and working for a hotel chain doesn’t sound like your bag, why not try another career in the travel industry?
As mentioned earlier, hotels are rarely fully occupied, so hotels frequently offer these rooms to travel industry insiders as a reward.
Then, if you were to get a job as an airline pilot or as a flight attendant, not only would you be offered free hotel rooms as job perks, there’s almost a guarantee you’ll be put up in a hotel on a weekly, if not daily basis!
14. Join a Frequent Flyer Program
Frequent-flyer programs are among the best ways for frequent travelers to earn rewards like free hotel rooms. Most airlines offer some form of frequent flyer program that allows members to earn points that can be exchanged for free flights, seat upgrades, car rental, hotel room upgrades, and free hotel stays.
Some of these airlines partner exclusively with certain chains, while others enjoy a pretty broad catalog of hotels where you can cash in your points at hotels all over the world.
15. Become a Social Media Influencer
Do you rock a serious ‘gram game? Is your TikTok account swimming with millions of viewers? If you maintain or plan on building a large social media presence, you might be the perfect candidate for a free hotel stay.
The most effective form of marketing is word-of-mouth and social media is the ULTIMATE form of word-of-mouth. Many hotels, including luxury hotels and resorts, are more than happy to offer free hotel rooms to influencers with even relatively modest followings.
In the influencers’ world, 15,000 followers might not sound like a lot. However, to a hotel, the cost of a few free nights to an influencer could potentially mean 15,000 customers.
Now imagine you had 1,000,000 followers…
16. Become a Travel Blogger or Travel Journalist
And yes, the best till last! Ever felt like sharing the best experiences you’ve had on your travels around the world? So did we, and so we formed ViaTravelers. Part of this excellent job involves staying at hotels…a lot of hotels. It also involves a lot of writing about our favorite hotels (which I can assure you are legion).
As gaga as hoteliers go for popular influencers, they’re just as keen to work with travel bloggers and travel journalists. Depending on the popularity of the blogger or journalist, a good review could result in a boom in business – potentially even bigger than the boost offered by the influencer followed by millions.
Why? Because the people who follow travel bloggers or journalists are part of that audience because they are already interested in travel. From the hotel’s perspective, readers may be already shopping around for places to stay.
We know this method works because we do it all the time – and I’m not just talking about stays at chain motels and inns. With ViaTravelers, we’ve been able to stay at some of the fanciest, most exquisite, and most prestigious hotels and resorts on the planet for nothing – save a mention in an article here or there.
You can check out our experiences with them here! The generous access we’ve been granted is something I’ll always be grateful for, not just for staying at a hotel for free but also for the chance to learn more about the establishment, the staff, the area, and everything else that makes traveling great.
You get to build relationships and friendships while on a mission to share the most special corners of the world.