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Hotel FAQ

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Joined: 4:19 PM - Jan 16, 2000

7:03 AM - Jan 20, 2000 #1



The best advice one can get is to read through Priceline's entire website before placing your offer. By placing an offer on Priceline's website, you have agreed to their Terms & Conditions. Please read them thoroughly. It is also very helpful to enter your bidding parameters and go through the screens until you have to enter your payment information. Common questions are often answered simply by doing this, so we ask that you do so before asking for bidding assistance.

1. We are 3 or more people wanting to share one hotel room. How do we know if the hotel will allow this and that we will get a room with two beds? We want to be guaranteed a smoking/non-smoking room. We want a room with kitchen facilities.   We want to take our pet with us.  Can you bid for a pet-friendly hotel?

You are only guaranteed a room with double occupancy, regardless of what type of rooms the hotel may offer. You cannot bid for a specific hotel.  Any special requests must be made directly with the hotel once your bid has been accepted, but the hotel is not obligated in any way to accommodate the request. It is very important to note that there are some hotels that Priceline uses that offer only one bed in a room, especially when bidding 1* or 2*, but it has happened at all quality levels. This should be taken into account if you require more than one bed. As to smoking/non-smoking, a hotel will take a request but can offer no guarantees. There is no way to bid for a suite or for a room with kitchen facilities or a pet friendly hotel. Again, you are bidding for a room only and neither bedding requests nor smoking/non-smoking requests can be guaranteed.  If you must have a pet friendly hotel, Priceline isn't for you. Comment added to indicate that you cannot bid for a pet friendly hotel. 10/3/11

1a. I would like to be upgraded on my Priceline hotel reservation. What is the best way to accomplish this?

Priceline reservations qualify for standard rooms. If you prefer a premium room, such as one with a particular view, on a high floor, etc., you should not use Priceline. While some hotels will allow you to upgrade your accommodations at checkin (often with an additional per night fee), there is no way to be assured that you will get a premium room.

2. Is it best to bid far in advance or at the last minute or somewhere in between. When is the best time of day to bid so I will have the best chance of getting the best deal?

There is no consensus answer to the best time to bid because a winning bid is dependent upon hotels giving Priceline rates to sell which is at the hotel's discretion and determined by many different factors, including, but not limited to, special events, whether a hotel gets most of its bookings way in advance or much closer to checkin and how well the hotel revenue managers keep on top of their projected occupancy. Further, there is no best time of the day to bid. It's possible that you could bid successfully at an amount lower than what was rejected just a day or two before.

I can confidently say that it's best to bid at the last minute only if your dates are not a high occupancy period.  Hotels will reduce their Priceline rates close to checkin if there is plenty of availability.  You just need to know based on available rate info. if your dates are projected to be low or high occupancy. Added 6/24/13

3. Which hotels does Priceline use?

There have been winning bids posted for virtually every major/minor hotel chain and several independent hotels that you may not be familiar with unless you've previously been to that city. On each of the city/state categories, the first topic is a Hotel List that includes all of the hotels that have come up on winning bids posted to; however, any hotel is a possibility through Priceline. It is very important to note that new hotels and quality levels can appear at any time. You cannot assume that because there are no hotels listed at a certain quality level that Priceline doesn't offer hotels at that quality level in the zone you are bidding. Determining the quality levels offered in each zone is explained in #10 below. If there are no hotels listed on the Hotel List for the area you are bidding, refer to the Website Addresses List for a guide to the ratings Priceline typically assigns to each hotel and check their websites to see if they are located in the area you are bidding.

4. I bid for an airport hotel and the hotel is 10 miles from the airport. How can they do this?

Priceline provides maps which outline the geographical parameters of each zone. While the name of the zone can admittedly be misleading or even inaccurate, the area outlined on the map prevails. Therefore, it is very important that you study the map before selecting a zone to make sure you will be satisfied with any location that falls within the boundaries of the zone which appear on the map.

5. If I bid a certain amount, and there are two available hotels at that price, which one will Priceline pick? Will it pick the one that is less expensive at the regular rate?

Not necessarily at all. We've seen hotels assigned on winning bids that had significantly higher available rates than others in its class/location. Trying to figure out in advance which hotel you will be assigned goes counter to the whole concept of name your price.

6. How do I know if I'll get a hotel that really is the quality I bid for? I'm wondering because I know that Expedia rates some hotels 3 star that Priceline rates 4 star.

You don't. After learning of thousands of winning hotel bids, there have been some quality issues reported. If you truly feel that you have been deceived, you need to provide that feedback to Priceline. As to Expedia's ratings, please disregard them altogether as they are meritless. Expedia rates some 4 star hotels 2 star and some 2 star hotels 4 star.

7. How much should I bid for a hotel?

Check at least three hotel websites (make sure that you check rates at hotels that Priceline rates the quality level you are bidding, based on the hotels that appear on the Hotel List) to determine the lowest published non-government rate for your exact dates of stay and in the same area of the city in which you plan to bid. If you ask for bidding help, you must use the hotel websites for rate checking purposes. Do not use Expedia or or any other travel agency website including Priceline's retail site for rate-checking purposes as they do not always provide accurate rates. Some travel agency websites will show No Availability when in fact the hotel is empty, as evidenced by the very low rates that may be available on the hotel's own website. Their ratings can be inaccurate as well. In the case of Priceline's retail site, the zones are often different than on their Name Your Own Price site and there are hotels that participate in one service and not the other. Post the accurate rate information on the message board assigned to the city in which you plan to bid. Please refer to the Websites for Checking Hotel Rates forum for the proper way to determine the absolute lowest available rate. If you do not follow these guidelines, it is possible that you will rely on inflated rates that do not truly reflect the amount of availability for your dates and may result in an overbid. There are also lists posted at the top of the city categories that list the hotels we have seen come up on winning bids posted to These lists are provided to assist in checking available rates for your travel dates and are in no way indicative of all the possible hotels that could come up on a winning bid. Comment added to indicate that some hotels participate in only one of Priceline's services and not both. 1/10/09

If you add a zone on a re-bid that offers the same quality level you are bidding, it is very important to check rates in that area as well. Rates vary considerably by zone in some cities. Your first bid could be rejected, and if you add another zone and do not properly adjust your bid amount for that added zone, you run the risk of either overbidding or wasting a bidding opportunity. If you decide to add a zone that offers the same quality you are bidding after you have already included one or more free re-bidding zones or if you have no free re-bids, rather than add that zone to your existing bid, you should start a completely new bid because that way, you have all of your free re-bidding zones, as well as the initial zone, to add once again as free re-bids. All of the information in this paragraph applies just the same if you change your travel dates (even by just one day).

Priceline has set minimums at each quality level by which they will not even consider your bid if it is below their self-imposed minimum. Those minimums are:

1* $15; 2* $17 (Las Vegas $15); 2.5* $19 (Las Vegas $15; 3* $25 (Las Vegas $15); 3.5* $25 (Las Vegas $15); 4* $40 (Las Vegas $20); 4.5* $40; 5* $55

This does NOT mean that you should just randomly bid these amounts for their respective quality level. This only means that you should not bid less than these amounts or you will be wasting a bid. Bidding strategies should always be determined based on available rates, how far in advance you are bidding, how many re-bidding opportunities you have, and what has generally been an acceptable amount when available rates are similar to what you are finding for your travel dates.

Please do not ask how much to bid for a specific hotel or how to increase or decrease your chances of getting a specific hotel. That's just not how Priceline works. You are bidding for a zone and a quality level and if the zone you are bidding offers a higher quality level than you are bidding, you could be upgraded. There is no way to avoid an upgrade if you do not want one and when you initial Priceline's website, you have agreed to the possibility of an upgrade since it is addressed in the Terms & Conditions. Bidding higher in the hopes of getting a specific hotel or avoiding a specific hotel most often results in an overbid for a lower priced hotel (typically the one you didn't want). Dead link removed. 4/1/06

8. I saw that Priceline now tells you the average price for a hotel room based on the city and quality level you are bidding. Wouldn't it be easier if I just used that information to determine a bid amount?

Absolutely not, and I cannot stress that enough. Ignore that information as though it didn't even exist. The rates listed on Priceline's website have been proven to be completely false. Please follow the guidelines in #7 above for determining your bidding strategy.

9. What is a free re-bid?

A free re-bid is adding a zone that has only up to a lower quality level than you are bidding, to a rejected bid. It is not adding a zone that just doesn't have the quality level you are bidding. It must be a zone that has only up to a lower quality level.

For re-bidding purposes (when your bid has been rejected), add a zone that has only up to a lower quality level than what you are bidding, because that just gives you a free re-bid for your original zone. In other words, if Zone B has only 1*, 2* and 3* hotels (or 1* and 2*), and your original bid for a 4* hotel in Zone A has been rejected, you can add Zone B as a free rebid to your Zone A offer. You will not get a hotel in Zone B because it does not offer 4* hotels. Of course when you add the zone, you'll need to increase your bid amount and not lower your original quality level. To determine which zones offer which star levels, see #10 below. The Hotel Lists should never be used to determine your free re-bid zones for the reasons stated in the introductory comments on the Hotel Lists which you should read to learn how the Hotel Lists are compiled.

In order to re-bid, you have to change at least one parameter of your bid. That could be adding a zone (as shown above), or changing the quality level, or changing the checkin or checkout date. Once you have exhausted all of those, you must wait 2 hours before bidding again. change from 24 hours to 2 hours  Edited 11/22/14

10. How can I tell which zones offer which star levels on Priceline?

Just place a check mark in the box of the zone as though you were going to bid that zone. Scroll down and note the highest quality level offered in that zone. Then scroll back up, uncheck the zone and check the next zone and note the highest quality level offered in that zone. Do this for each zone listed. Make sure that only one zone is checked each time. And you should always re-check zone definitions and quality levels offered prior to each bid (even if you just bid the same city the day before), as Priceline makes changes to quality levels offered and zone definitions all the time. We've seen this happen many times. When performing this check, make sure the checkin date is not the current date, or you will not be able to check the zones that do not offer same day bidding. Edited 9/3/06

11. With some small towns, there are no zones, just the town itself. Is there a way to get a free re-bid?

With the help of a map, you can sometimes locate small towns between Priceline's towns where, if you start a completely new offer for that small town, you will be given several zones to choose from, including your desired city. The other zones can then be used as free re-bids for your desired city, provided they offer no hotels at or above the quality level you are bidding for.

12. I just received a counteroffer on my hotel bid. Is this new? If my bid is rejected and I don't receive a counteroffer, does that mean Priceline doesn't have access to inventory?

Priceline counteroffers on hotel bids on a random basis. Priceline will accept less than the counteroffer price, so if you have an available free re-bid, you may want to raise your bid by half the counteroffer. This is merely a guide. To reject the counteroffer, press the Click Here link.  That will take you to a re-bid screen.  Sometimes raising your offer by less than half of the counteroffer will be enough to garner a winning bid and sometimes it will require slightly more than half. In order to undercut the counteroffer, you must add a free re-bid zone. Priceline will not allow you to undercut the counteroffer otherwise, so if you have no free re-bids, you cannot undercut the counteroffer unless you wait 2 hours to bid again, which is what you may want to do unless it's a last minute bid. #12 edited 9/3/15

The lack of a counteroffer does not mean Priceline lacks access to hotel inventory. Priceline's counteroffers are completely random -both the instance of a counteroffer and how much higher than the actual acceptable price the counteroffer is.

13. I just bid for a 3* hotel and my bid was rejected. I want to try for a 4* hotel now but 4* is greyed out on the re-bid screen. How can I bid for a 4*?

You cannot add a higher quality level to a re-bid. You can only add a zone and keep your quality the same, or lower your quality level. For any change that you make on your re-bid, please note the comments in #7 above about adjusting your bid amount.

14. I've already bid up to my limit for a 4* without success. I'm getting anxious and I just want to get something, so I'm going to bid for a 3* now, but I don't want to get a hotel in a zone that I added for a free re-bid when I was bidding for a 4*. Is there any way I can make sure I won't get a hotel in that zone?

Yes. When you decide to lower the quality level you are bidding, it's usually best to start a completely new bid. That way, you won't have any zones included that you don't want to have. This is allowed when using Priceline, because you have not previously bid that quality level in that zone.

15. I need a hotel room near the airport because I have a very early morning flight the next day, and I need to make sure the hotel provides a shuttle van ride to the airport.

If you absolutely have to have the use of a hotel shuttle, then Priceline is probably not your best option. While the majority of hotels located within airport zones do offer complimentary transportation to/from the airport, not all of them do, especially when the zone is large and covers a distance several miles from the airport.

16. I'm bidding in a city where there are no zones displayed, so how do I know what geograhical area Priceline considers in a situation like this?

When this question was asked directly to Priceline, they responded: "When you request a hotel room in a city and no map is provided for you, we will search for a hotel located within city limits. We are unable to search for a hotel that is within a specific area of that city."

17. Can I bid for a hotel room on the same day as I want to check in?

Priceline offers same day bidding up to 11:00 p.m. Eastern time in most zones. You will know if your desired zone is available for same day bidding if you are able to place a check mark in the box next to the zone. If the box is greyed out, same day bidding is not offered. All other areas require that you bid no later than midnight EST the day prior to checkin. Edited 3/28/06

18. I've been bidding for weeks for my 10 day vacation. There is plenty of availability but I cannot get an acceptance. What is the problem?

Priceline has to have access to inventory at the same hotel for your entire stay in order to accept your offer. While available rates may indicate plenty of availability, if the hotel projects they will sell out on even one night of your stay, they will not give Priceline access to inventory for that date, which results in your bid being rejected. While we have seen some bids accepted for extended stays, there are certain cities where it will be difficult, if not impossible to get a bid accepted for more than three or four consecutive nights and when it does happen, it is often at an amount higher than we typically see for that zone and quality level. You may have to consider splitting your bid, which could result in getting two different hotels.

Conversely, we have seen some winning bids that would suggest the hotel has a lower Priceline rate per night for extended stays than they do for stays of a shorter duration. I would say this is much more the exception than the rule though.

19. At checkin, is it necessary to submit the credit card that you used to bid?

No. With your bid, you are paying Priceline. Priceline does not give out your credit card info. to the hotel. A bid can be placed with anyone's credit card, even in a name different from that on the reservation (you must provide accurate credit card information including the billing address). The bid, however, must be placed in the name of the person checking in. Any card in the name of the person checking in may be used to guarantee incidentals.

20. Where are the hotel reviews and how do I post a review where there isn't one?

The Hotel Reviews section of the board is near the bottom of the screen on the main page. Note that reviews are limited to one topic per hotel so if there is already a review for your hotel, please add your comments as a reply. You can determine if there is already a review to your hotel by looking for the "LINK TO HOTEL REVIEW" link on the Hotel Lists at the top of each state/city hotel category. Follow the link and post your comments. If you wish to post a review for a hotel where there isn't already a review posted, please do so in the Hotel Reviews section of the board (not in the main hotel categories). An Administrator will then link it to the appropriate Hotel List. Please do not notify us of your new review. We will see it and link it to the Hotel List during our regular update period.

As a result of a major hacker attack on 5/31/05, we have lost many of our hotel reviews. If you receive an error screen when clicking on LINK TO HOTEL REVIEW on a Hotel List, that means we have lost that review. Added 6/10/05

Also note that reviews should be limited to Priceline stays and comments regarding affinity programs are off topic for In order to post a review, you must have first posted your winning bid at the time you obtained it. Non-complying reviews will be removed without further comment. Edited 11/7/06

21. I am concerned that if Priceline goes out of business that I will lose what I paid for the hotel I bid for several months prior to my stay. What will happen if Priceline goes out of business?

Your Priceline reservation is prepaid. Personally, I don't think losing your money is a valid concern.

22. Can I sell my Priceline reservation?

Contact the hotel directly and ask them. Reselling is a violation of Priceline's Terms & Conditions and therefore is not allowed on

23. Can I add nights at the same hotel to my existing Priceline reservation?

Priceline offers the extend your stay option on all winning bids; however, this does not mean that it is actually available at the hotel and when it is available, it may be offered at a higher rate than your original reservation. The statement "Hurry, this option is only available for a limited time!" is completely untrue since sometimes it is never available. It's just a marketing ploy. It must be done within 120 days of when the original offer was accepted but no later than 11:00 a.m. local time on your checkout date and you can only do this one time (neither the 24 hour re-bid rule nor free re-bids apply) and for the same number of rooms as your original stay which you are trying to extend. If attempting to add multiple nights fails, you cannot try again for fewer nights or vice versa. You can add up to the number of nights of your original reservation, so if your original reservation is for three nights, you can add one, two or three nights. You cannot add more rooms to your accepted bid.

If you first try a multi-night stay which is rejected and then a bid for fewer nights is accepted, DO NOT immediately try to extend the stay to include all of your original nights as it will be rejected.  Wait until the last minute before checkin to try the extend stay feature.  Added 3/3/13

For the full terms of this feature, search for "extend stay" through the Help Section of Priceline's website. Updated 5/11/08

24. Will it be harder to get my bid accepted if I am bidding for more than one room?

Bidding for more than one room (you can bid for up to 9 rooms in a single bid) should have no effect on your bid, with the exception that the zone you are bidding is limited to small hotels. For all practical purposes, this shouldn't have any bearing on your bid. Updated 5/13/08

25. How can I determine how much Priceline paid for my hotel room?

It can no longer be determined how much Priceline paid. Until recent changes, knowing the tax rate in the jurisdiction of your hotel would allow you to determine Priceline's cost as Priceline will accept an offer at their cost. With this recent change, Priceline now assesses the tax based on the bid amount and then combines that amount with a processing fee that is based on a proprietary formula.

26. I see comments about Saturday checkin problems. What does this mean?

Some hotels will not allow a Saturday checkin on a Priceline rate because it prevents them from selling the room for the entire weekend. This makes sense during periods of high occupancy; however, we are seeing this happen in a number of zones even when available rates indicate low to medium occupancy.

We do sometimes see Saturday checkin restrictions removed within a week or so of the checkin date but it's best to bid even closer to checkin than that in many places. Updated 10/1/12

27. If a hotel's website or reservation system is down, will that have any impact on my chances of getting a bid accepted?

Yes. As an example, if you are bidding for a 4* hotel in Downtown Houston and Hilton's reservation system is down, Priceline will not be able to book you into the Hilton even if Hilton has given Priceline access to inventory at the price you name. This will either cause all bids to be rejected or a higher bid to be accepted as a result of binding at the next highest Priceline rate. This is one more reason why it is so important to check available rates on the hotel's website prior to bidding. When the reservation system is down, do not bid until it comes back up because you will end up locking yourself out for 24 hours or overbidding. You can also confirm that Priceline doesn't have access to inventory when a hotel website is down by checking to see if any hotels of that brand are displayed when doing a Priceline vacation package search.

28. Do I really have to select two zones because I really just want to stay in one zone?

Priceline's website says "Improve Your Chances - Select 2 or More Areas Below." You do not have to select more than one zone. That's just an enticement from Priceline to increase your chances of getting your bid accepted because obviously the more zones you include, the greater your chance of an acceptance. You should only select more than one zone on your first bid if both zones are equally acceptable AND they both have the quality level you are bidding. If you are bidding for a 4* hotel, you do not want to include a zone in your first bid that has only up to a lower quality level than 4*.

29. Do airport hotel stays qualify for Park and Fly?

No. While there may be a random airport-area hotel that will allow you to leave your vehicle at no charge, you should not count on that. Even for guests who have paid published rates, they generally pay a higher room rate for park and fly privileges.

30. Our friends are joining us the day after we check in but we need to stay at the same hotel. How can we make sure they get the same hotel we get?

The only way to guarantee that both rooms will be at the same hotel is to place one bid for two rooms for the same dates. In this case, you may want to put both rooms in your name so you can check into both rooms when you arrive. The second room will go unused the first night and then you can give the keys to your friends when they arrive the following day. Alternatively, if one party is checking out a day earlier than the other, they can just check out and let their room go unused the last night. Obviously there will be an additional expense having a room go unused for one night, but this is the only way to guarantee that both rooms will be at the same hotel. The extend stay feature mentioned above only works for the same number of rooms as the original bid.

31. When my bid was rejected, instead of letting me re-bid by using free re-bids or changing my dates, Priceline is displaying a screen with regular hotel rates and there is no way for me to continue to bid. What can I do to keep on bidding?

Priceline is now displaying regular hotel rates in some cases and they want you to think that you cannot bid anymore. While this is sometimes an indication that they do not have any Name Your Own Price rates available, in most cases, that is not true. In doing so, they have eliminated any possibility to continue bidding through that screen. When this happens, you must abandon that bid and start a completely new bid. So that your new bid will not be kicked back as a duplicate, you must change something. A simple change would be to include both the zone you are bidding as well as a free re-bid zone in your first bid. This will prevent your bid from being kicked back as a duplicate. Hotel FAQ #31 added 7/11/05

32. What are Express Deals?

Express Deals are similar to Hotwire where the price is displayed upfront along with some of the hotel amenities and a guest feedback rating.  This is beneficial to those who don't want to be upgraded which is a possibility when bidding.  Bidding will typically result in a discount of 5%-10% less than the Express Deal rate. Hotel FAQ #32 added 9/28/13
Last edited by Sheryl on 11:58 PM - Sep 03, 2015, edited 32 times in total.
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