Hotwire and Priceline from Chicago Seminars

Here are the slides from Hotwire and Priceline that I did at the Chicago Seminars:

After proposing this topic, the amount of work required to attempt to clearly document booking travel through these sites increasingly dawned on me as the date approached. I was still taking screenshots the morning of the session. This is by far the most comprehensive piece I have seen on either website and hope it is useful. A miles and point audience stayed in their chairs for the full 90 minutes so I count that as a success.

There is a lot more to these sites than many realize. How about 6x rewards for airfare bookings on Priceline while still getting your status and miles?

I even challenged attendees to dump their dull metal credit cards and carry Shatner cards. Guaranteed conversation starter. Meet Trekkies the world over. If you are in the market for the Priceline Rewards Visa, which offers 5x cashback on most Priceline purchases and no annual fee, using my offer will support this blog.

Chicago Semimars 2013

See also my International Travel Bootcamp from opening night, and How to Book Rental Cars for Less co-presented with Million Mile Secrets.

Rapid Travel Chai newsletter ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook ¦ Instagram


  • Pingback: How to Book Rental Cars for Less from Chicago Seminars - Rapid Travel Chai()

  • Great, comprehensive review. I use Priceline in particular quite frequently, but have given up on complex rebidding strategies. The two or three times I tried I ended up saving about $10/night on hotels for an hour of my time researching and bidding compared to where I would’ve bid to begin with. I may try the automated service you mentioned next time as an experiment. Thanks!

  • Ben

    I cannot see your slides on explorer nor on firefox, maybe I am the only one. But is there a way for you to embed a pdf?

  • @Ben – it may be security settings on your computer, best will be if you go direct to the presentation page on Slideshare and view or download the PDF version there, you can download on that page by clicking “save” at the top menu bar of the slide show. Sorry for the trouble.

  • Ben

    Thanks, appreciated.

  • Gene

    Another great presentation, thanks!

  • Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive presentation. Priceline rules!

  • Mr. Cool

    very interesting slides.
    gonna be using priceline to bid on a rental car in akhazia?

  • Jamie

    Thanks for the slides. The talk was really interesting. Though I have to admit I was wondering what was so hilarious about the talk in the adjacent room. I’m too new to this stuff (and not cynical enough) to go to a talk about whether the game is almost over, though. Better to learn a few tricks about priceline/hotwire and just appreciate the way the game is right now.
    It sounds like you’ve gotten some great deals. I can definitely see myself trying Priceline for our next car rental.

  • @Mr Cool – I am really tempted to try to take a car to help explore, however I could not find out any reliable information on the formalities and since I do not speak Russian, it seems to be asking for a lot more trouble than it is worth. I will take buses in and out and probably charter a taxi for a day to get to some out of the way spots. In Kalingrad I am flying (cheaply) on Air Baltic to Latvia to avoid the land borders since there are reports of often multi-hour waits since that is a big smuggling route.

    @Jamie – Steve Belkin (beaubo on FlyerTalk) is a great speaker and you should catch his talk sometime. The laughs are from some of his extreme miles and points exploits. The meat of the talk is a compelling argument that being a free agent, rather than a status-chaser tied to certain programs, is a much better approach for many in the miles and points hobby. The ‘game is almost over’ part is the dollop on grouchy FlyerTalker sprinkled on top.

    I could only think of so many ways to make the dry topic of Hotwire and Priceline, hopefully you and the audience found things of practical use.

  • Jamie

    I did really enjoy the two talks of yours I went to.
    Next time I will have to make it to Steve Belkin’s talk. People certainly sounded entertained. This time around I went to mostly beginner talks. It was fun to see the people whose blogs I’ve been reading all this time. Next year I’ll hit more of the advanced talks. Since I live in the area it’s a no brainer for me to attend. It was a fun weekend. There was only one talk I went to that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Since I signed up for most of the beginner talks, a lot of it I knew already. But it was still interesting. For anyone flying across the country to attend, I would recommend strongly considering going to the advanced talks. Most of the beginner stuff you could pick up from people’s blogs.

  • @Jamie – it was a delight to meet you in person.

    Feel free to send feedback to the organizers, probably Howie at Frugal Travel Guy is best. Each year they try new things and want to make it a great experience for attendees.

  • Brandon

    Is it always allowed to pick up a car up to 24 hours late, or only with rental cars booked on Hotwire? In addition, if you voluntarily change your flight in an overbooked scenario, then would you be allowed to pick up a rental car more than 24 hours late or miss the first night of a hotel stay? Also, is that toll add-on in the Newark example mandatory or optional?

  • @Brandon – Hotwire explicitly states 24 hours as their policy. Priceline seems to be the same though does not explicitly put that on their website. As for rental cars in general, each agency would be different but for non-prepaid rentals I doubt you would be guaranteed a car that late, though they might honor it if they have cars, so best to call the location in advance of your new arrival.

    A voluntary flight change would be gray area, Hotwire/Priceline could in theory ask for proof or verify with the airline that it was involuntary. Things may be possible but you will be taking a risk.

    The Newark example for Dollar/Thrifty is if you trip any toll during your rental you are charged that amount for each day of the rental, for unlimited toll use. They have different rates by market. Other agencies charge a per day ‘covenience fee’ plus the cash rate of tolls actually used. Many tolls now are toll by plate so no good way to avoid them if already on the road. One participant said he has had success by paying the tolls online immediately after the rental, which is before the slow rental agency billing, so as to avoid the rental agency surcharges. Wish I had thought of that on a recent NYC rental.