Take a break. No, seriously. Times are tough, and you’ve probably been working yourself too hard. If you don’t already have a vacation planned, you ought to get one on the books, especially if it’s been a while.
But planning your trip shouldn’t be more work than you’re already putting in on the clock. Here to serve your vacation to you in one convenient, discounted package is Priceline, an online travel agency.
Priceline strips away the chaos with a simple interface and loads of ways to save. Heading to the tropics for a beach getaway? Want to see the world’s largest aquarium? Hoping to catch a ride on a holiday cruise? It’s all there.
Let’s break down how exactly Priceline works. It has VIP memberships, deals, and even its own Visa–so pack your bags, because this ride is long…and it is worth it.
What Is Priceline?
Priceline, or Priceline.com, is an online travel agency that was founded over a quarter of a century ago in 1997. It’s more than just a marketplace for vacations, though–it’s also a marketplace for vacation deals.
Since its inception, Priceline’s goal has been straightforward: save consumers money. While the methods in which that’s practiced have changed over the decades, modern shoppers reap the benefits of that same original philosophy.
Priceline is accessible via their website and a specialized app. Their customer service is accessible via the same, and you can reach out 24/7 with whatever you need–an important benefit when traveling.
How Does Priceline Work?
Priceline is designed to cover all your traveling bases. You can shop for just one mode of travel and hotel, or shop for it all simultaneously.
Priceline Travel Searches
You have five categories to select from when you start your search on Priceline. Those are “Hotels,” “Flights,” “Bundle & Save,” “Cars,” and “Cruises.”
You’ll need to have an idea of when and where you’re going, but you can start with one category and add from there if you don’t immediately choose to bundle transportation and a stay. From there, you have a wide range of filter options.
If you’re searching by hotel first, you can sort based on location, pricing, amenities, and more. This is perfect for the shopper who has a general idea of things they want in their vacation but for whom the particulars are up in the air.
When searching by car, you can select how large of a vehicle you want, plus sort by rental company and other options. And don’t forget to check out cruises while you’re at it–a floating palace might be just what the doctor ordered.
Priceline Flexible Booking
Things happen. You might have planned a vacation, and you might need a vacation, but sometimes that vacation has to wait. Priceline promises their clients flexible booking to accommodate those needs.
Most hotels and rental cars booked through Priceline have free cancellation policies. To change or cancel an itinerary, start with the Help Center. You’ll be directed to your My Trips page for your Priceline account with instructions for your particular issue.
Once there, look for the trip that needs to be changed. If you have any trouble, Priceline’s 24/7 Customer Care department is ready to handle whatever the online tools couldn’t.
Instead of starting with where you’re staying, what about starting with what you want to do? Priceline Experiences makes it possible to search via something you want to…experience, then build from there.
The information provided about each attraction covers whether it’s guided, whether there’s a cancellation fee, and more. You can even search via a location rather than what you can do in that location if you need some inspiration.
For instance, Paris has over 450 experiences listed on Priceline. Each of these have ratings, costs, and other essential details covered, making it easy to maximize every hour of your trip and bundle everything you want to do with one convenient platform.
What Is Priceline VIP?
If you’re asking how to save the most money with Priceline, you’re going to want to pay special attention to their free VIP membership selection, which is broken into four tiers.
Priceline VIP Member
The baseline membership is called “VIP Member.” If you’re a Priceline customer but you haven’t signed up for the rewards program yet, make sure you sign in and see what your status is.
This is because the program is free, and the only way you move up through the tiers is by taking more trips through Priceline. You may qualify for a higher tier simply by being a frequent Priceline consumer.
As VIP Member, you qualify for the best-price guarantee overall (or get refunded the difference). You also get up to 10% off exclusive hotels, up to 10% off VIP rental cars, up to 50% off add-on deals for hotels, and up to 20% off add-on deals for rental cars on existing trips.
The final perk is a 5% Express Deal coupon after every trip. As a foundational tier for a free rewards program, this is pretty darn attractive. The only thing you have to do to be in VIP Member is to…sign up.
Priceline VIP Blue
The second tier for Priceline’s rewards program is called “VIP Blue.” To make it this far, Priceline customers need to complete at least two trips. As with the first (and all tiers), you receive their best-price guarantee.
You also get up to 50% off for over 15,000 exclusive hotels, up to 15% off VIP rental cars, up to 50% off add-on deals for hotels, and up to 20% off add-on deals for rental cars on existing trips.
The last two points are the same as in the VIP Member bracket, and the coupon offering is the same as the VIP Member bracket as well–enjoy a 5% Express Deal coupon after every trip.
Priceline VIP Gold
The Priceline rewards program’s third tier is named “VIP Gold,” and it pumps up the savings even more. The best-price guarantee applies here too, as always.
To access this tier, you’ll need to have completed at least five trips with Priceline or be a Priceline Rewards Visa Card holder. More on the latter point later!
While the VIP Blue membership gets you access to up to 50% off over 15,000 exclusive hotels, the VIP Gold membership gets you access to over 30,000. The rental-car discount bumps up to 20%, but the add-on deals numbers stay the same.
The Express Deal coupon gets an improvement in this tier–rather than 5%, the coupon is for 8% after every trip. If that sounds tasty to you, wait till you see what the final bracket has in store.
Priceline VIP Platinum
The highest tier of membership for Priceline’s VIP program is called “VIP Platinum.” You can only access this after at least 25 completed trips, which is five times that of what the VIP Gold tier requires.
Suffice to say, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve already done very well for yourself. You’ll be very familiar with that best-price guarantee. Now you’ll also have access to exclusive savings on over 45,000 hotels instead of 30,000, but the rental-car discount is still the same.
The discount for add-on deals is still also the same, maintaining its 50% off hotels and 20% off rental cars for all four tiers.
The Express Deal coupon, however, gets a further bump, becoming 10% after every trip rather than 8%. Furthermore, you get “first priority” for Priceline’s premium customer service, scooting you to the front of the line should anything go haywire with a trip.
Other Ways to Save with Priceline
The VIP membership is a free and easy way to save on your vacation, but it’s not the only way to save with Priceline.
Priceline Rewards Visa
The Priceline VIP Rewards Visa Card earns you points as you spend. You get 5X points for every $1 spent on eligible Priceline bookings, 2X points on gas and restaurant purchases (including delivery!), and 1X points back on everything else.
With the Priceline Rewards Visa, you also get immediate access to the VIP Gold tier, fast-tracking you through the first two memberships and dropping you right into the third.
This is an especially attractive offer for those using Priceline for the first time but want all the benefits of having been a longtime customer.
It also dovetails nicely with starting your first Priceline vacation because of a 10,000-point bonus offer for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after opening the account.
Priceline Bundle & Save
This one’s a bit obvious, but it’s worth taking into consideration as you plan your trip. The biggest savings tend to come from the biggest bundles, and Priceline has a whole “Bundle & Save” section to help you cash in on that.
Choose a hotel plus a flight, a hotel plus a flight and car, a flight and car, or a hotel and car. Even the bundles are flexible enough to accommodate whether you need to take to the air or the roads to get where you’re going.
Priceline states that you can save “up to $625 on hotel and flight bundles,” so keep that in mind when you’re exploring your options.
There are also sometimes discounts on having certain numbers of people in your party, so consider calling in reinforcements for better savings…and a better time.
Priceline App & Pricebreakers
The Priceline app isn’t just for convenience. Downloading it provides you access to their “tonight only” deals, which are app-exclusive discounts for everything from hotels to rental cars. Keep your itinerary close and your savings even closer.
Priceline also recently introduced their Pricebreakers program, where you choose a location and a schedule to see heavily discounted hotels. You’ll be shown three popular hotels and what they’ll cost.
Priceline then selects one of them for you, revealing the choice after you’ve booked. This more spontaneous mode of vacation planning won’t be for everyone, but for the adventurous and the savings conscious, it’s a new and fun way to be pleasantly surprised.