Can You Stay at a Hotel Without Paying? Our Investigation

Hotels vary a lot in prices. Sometimes we want to go with the cheapest option when budgeting for a vacation. But the cheapest option may also mean the least luxurious and comfortable option. Comparing prices between official and third-party hotel booking sites can get you hotels at lower rates. But are there ways to not pay for hotels at all?

In other words, can you stay at a hotel without paying? And what are the ways that you can get away with not paying for a stay? Read more for our investigation into ways you can stay at a hotel without paying.

Can You Stay at a Hotel Without Paying?

Technically, you cannot outright refuse to pay for a hotel stay. Not only would this be illegal. But your vacation would also be ruined by the trouble you have gotten yourself into by refusing to pay.

But – there are ways to hack the system where you can come out with your pockets full. What’s more, these methods are totally legal and legit. We have found the easiest ways guaranteed to get you a free stay and compiled a handy list for your next vacation. Here’re ways you can stay at a hotel without paying.

Different Ways to Get Free Night(s) at Hotels

1) Loyalty Programs

Joining a loyalty program can mean many things. Discounts, priority treatment, and freebies that sometimes include free hotel stays! There are several options you can choose from when applying for loyalty programs.

Hotel Loyalty Programs 

Many hotels have loyalty programs these days. Even international luxury hotel brands. With hotel loyalty programs, you can earn points from a range of sources. This could be every time you stay with the hotel, through booking flights, or eligible purchases with a card. You can use these points to redeem a free night or even multiple nights on a stay.

What’s more, becoming a member of a hotel has its perks and benefits. Often in the form of more free stuff! Members may enjoy complimentary upgrades, meals at the hotel’s restaurant, etc.

The larger the hotel chain, the more likely they are to offer memberships to guests. High-end hotel chains with loyalty programs include:

  • Marriot Bonvoy – for The Ritz Carlton, JW Marriot, St Regis, W, and The Luxury Collection hotels
  • World of Hyatt – for Hyatt, Park Hyatt, and Andaz
  • Hilton Honours – for Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, and Conrad
  • Le Club AccorHotels – for Accor Hotels, Fairmont, Raffles, and Sofitel hotels
  • IHG Rewards Club – for IHG hotels and Intercontinental

Third-Party Booking Site Loyalty Programs 

Even booking sites have loyalty programs these days. These programs work similarly to hotel loyalty programs. The most popular and beneficial is the Rewards program on hotels.com. For every 10 nights, you book through the website, you earn one free night.

Frequent Flyer Programs 

Frequent flyer programs are used by most airlines. Not only can you earn miles you can redeem for free flights and seat upgrades, but also free hotel stays. More and more hotels are eager to partner up with airlines and their frequent flyer programs. This means you can get free nights even easier! These include international luxury chains:

  • The Hilton Group with Lufthansa in the Miles & More program
  • Marriot Bonvoy with Emirates Skywards in the Your World Rewards program
  • Hyatt Hotels with American Airlines

These frequent flyer programs with hotels work in similar ways. For a specific amount spent on eligible items, you can earn an equal number of points or miles. These can later be redeemed, letting you stay at a hotel without paying.

2) Best Rate Guarantee Programs

This is a program used by more and more hotels around the world. The Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) program is usually found on official hotel websites. The program guarantees you are paying the lowest price for a stay. What happens if you found a price lower than the one offered by the official site of the hotel?

You can submit a claim to the hotel with the lower price you found. Make sure the length, type, and dates of the cheaper booking match the one you made on the official website. If your claim is approved, you can get a discounted or free stay depending on the hotel.

Be sure to check the timeframe for submitting a claim for the hotel you are booking with. Some may allow claim submission two days before your reservation is due. Others might only accept claims for a booking 24 hours prior.

3) Credit Cards

The type of credit card you hold can also determine whether you can stay at a hotel without paying. Once again there are several card types that offer you this chance.

Hotel Branded Credit Cards 

Most hotels usually have an affiliated credit card or bank. If you are a cardholder of this bank, it means you can enjoy special benefits from time to time. This could be booking discounts, birthday discounts and/or gifts, priority check-in, etc.

If your hotel has a loyalty program and an affiliated credit card, it means you can earn bonus points real fast. You can earn extra points by using hotel-branded cards on purchases. These can be eligible for every day. This means if you are lucky enough, you can earn extra loyalty points by buying your weekly groceries! All points earned are often redeemable for free stays at the hotel.

For certain cards, you may even receive hotel vouchers when you sign up. Sometimes free or discounted nights on your sign-up anniversary. Honestly, the benefits just keep on coming!

Transfer from Cards to Memberships 

As good as hotel-branded credit cards may sound, some of these cards are only available in North America. This doesn’t mean the rest of the world can’t enjoy this. You can still earn hotel points with a credit card regardless of where you are! As long as you are a loyal member.

You can earn points by transferring the loyalty program from your card into your account. This way, every time you buy with that card, you can earn extra points for staying at a hotel without paying.

General Travel Cards 

Some credit cards focus their rewards system on traveling. This means discounts and benefits when booking flights and hotels. Most of the time, you can associate general travel cards with your hotel loyalty account. Once again, this means you can start earning more points on purchases you make every day! This method can get you to stay at a hotel without paying fast.

Many hotel chains work with credit cards to offer you many benefits. These cards may not be hotel branded, but they can still earn you many freebies. One thing to look out for is a free night certificate. Cardholders can get this certificate after fulfilling conditions set by the hotel and bank, which you can use for free stays at the hotel.

4) Promotions & Offers

Booking your stay on third-party sites might get you the lowest rates. But you might miss out on official site-only promotions offered by hotels! Sometimes when you book on official hotel sites, they may offer you a free night on a booking for multiple nights. Make sure to check the official site for offers before making your booking!

5) Live Anywhere on Airbnb

Live Anywhere is a special program that lets you stay at an Airbnb for free for a year. Yes, you heard us right – a whole year! 12 individuals are selected by Airbnb to take part in this program. Each participant can bring up to 3 companions with them during their stay. For the 12 months, you will be traveling to and living in different Airbnb listings.

Airbnb covers accommodation costs. And each participant(s) receives a transportation allowance during the program. Listings and local hotspots are suggested by Airbnb. This is to ensure participants receive a rounded experience throughout the 12 months.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, Airbnb doesn’t offer this to the public for nothing! Each participant agrees to be Airbnb’s point of information. They will tell the company of product changes at listings. They will suggest resources that can improve long-term living experiences at Airbnb listings. They will inform them of ideal listing types for solo or group travelers.

They will offer the company information on the benefits of hosting by interacting with their hosts. All this is done to help better shape flexible living at Airbnb listings in the future. That’s it. That’s the catch. We would say this is a small sacrifice for staying at an Airbnb without paying for a year!

Airbnb listed their target customer on their website to be “remote workers, creatives, empty nesters, young families, staycationers, digital nomads”, etc. So, if you fit any of these categories, consider this unique program that lets you stay without paying!

Final words

Our investigation shows there are several ways you can stay at a hotel without paying. Be sure to do your research for the best rates. Hopefully, our list has been helpful for your next vacation!

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