Updated January 2, 2020

Priceline: Find Cheapest Flights and Hotels

Read more about Discount Travel Sites

Is Priceline still good for flights and hotels? Learn how Priceline can really save you money with cheap airfare and hotel deals.

Pros & Cons

Priceline is not perfect, but you can still find a good deal if you know how to use it to your advantage. Here's a quick overview of the pros and cons of Priceline.

What We Like:

  • Up-front info for opaque bookings: Priceline gives more pre-purchase details than most other online travel agencies (OTAs) when using its opaque Express Deals.

  • Name Your Own Price/Express Deals: Get steep discounts on high-quality hotel rooms by "bidding" their prices and/or booking reservations without knowing all the information beforehand.

  • Easy-to-figure out Express Deal hotels: With just a little bit of work, it's fairly simple to determine the mystery hotel featured in an Express Deal.

  • Best Price Guarantee: If you find the exact same travel accommodations for less after you book, Priceline will refund 100% of the difference for regular bookings and 200% for Express Deals.

  • Vacation packages: Priceline's bundled vacation deals offer high discounts when customers book multiple travel accommodations at once.

What We Don't Like:

  • Third-party booking: Because Priceline is a third-party booking site, customers will not book or collect loyalty points with the travel providers themselves.

  • Difficult to search multiple dates/locations: Customers looking to book a flexible trip based on prices can only search for specific locations one at a time.

  • No price comparison tool: The website does not compile prices from other travel sites/individual providers for customers' comparison.

  • Same prices as other OTAs: Most OTAs try to outdo their competitors but end up offering nearly the same prices on most regular bookings.

  • No free rewards program: Travelers are required to sign up for Priceline's branded credit card in order to earn any kind of reward points.

Does Priceline really save you money?
You can save up to 60% with Priceline by using Express Deals and the Name Your Price tool. Being savvy and flexible with your plans gives you the best chance for significant discounts. You can also sign up for Priceline's free membership program to get exclusive deals, additional discounts, and perks.

William Shatner, as the "Priceline Negotiator," helped put Priceline on the map in 2012. Though the character has since met a sad, noble end, Priceline still offers great deals on hotels, flights, vacations, car rentals, and even cruises.

Read on to learn more, plus some money-saving tips you shouldn't ignore. We will discuss:

What Is Priceline?

Priceline is an OTA (Online Travel Agency) that finds the best travel deals based on each travelers' needs. Unlike "metasearch sites" like Google Flights or Kayak, customers book and pay directly through the Priceline website.

Priceline sells hotel rooms, car rentals, or airline tickets that are unbooked for a certain date. Because airlines and hotels lose money when rooms and seats go unused, it's in their best interest to sell them at a reduced rate versus letting them go unoccupied.

Is Priceline legit?
Booking travel though Priceline is completely safe. The company works only with the most well-established travel providers and guarantees every payment made through its website is secure.


Priceline is known for its "opaque booking" features, which lets you book flights, hotels, and rental cars for cheap without knowing all the travel details. While you can save a lot, you won't know exactly what hotel, flight, car you'll get until after you pay.

The site offers two main money-saving tools: "Name Your Own Price" and "Express Deals".

  • Name Your Own Price Tool: This feature only exists for hotels. It allows customers to make a "bid" for a per-night price of a hotel room. The hotels can then accept or reject the bid. If it's accepted, the customer is locked into the rate and pays immediately.

    Can you still bid on flights? Name Your Own Price for flights is dead. But you can still Name Your Own Price for hotels through Priceline.

  • Express Deals: Priceline offers its "Express Deals" for airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. Unlike the Name Your Own Price tool, there is no bidding involved. Express Deals offer low rates, but you won't know the exact flight, hotel, or car you'll be getting. Keep reading to learn more.

Priceline also offers a "Best Price Guarantee". If you find a flight, hotel, car rental, or cruise with the exact same itinerary for a lower price, the site will refund the difference.

If you find a better price with the same itinerary after buying an Express Deal, they'll refund you 200% of the difference.

If you have elite status with a hotel, airline, or rental car company, you can't use their benefits when booking with Priceline (that includes Priority Check-In through United Premier status, for example).

Booking through Priceline won't earn any airline/hotel/rental car rewards points, either. Therefore, it's always worth cross-checking your deal with the provider.

For example, if Priceline offers a Delta flight, go to the Delta site and see if they have that flight for the same price. If so, book directly through Delta to earn the points.

And always book with a credit card that gives bonus points for travel.

Priceline Flights

Priceline makes it easy to search for flights and filter the results.

How to Book a Flight with Priceline

To book, follow these steps:

  1. On the website home page, click on the "Flights" tab.

  2. Enter your departure city, destination city, and dates. Select round trip, one way, or multi-city.

  3. Priceline then lists options from (almost) all airline websites so you can compare prices.

  4. Use the filters to tailor your search by airline, departure and arrival times, number of stops, and flight duration.

  5. Select the flight you want and pay right on Priceline's site.

It's important to note that the price you see on the site isn't always the whole price. Low-budget airlines like Frontier and Spirit include extra fees for things like bags (checked AND carry-ons) and seat selection.

The same goes for checked bags fees on airlines like United or American. You'll need to pay for those things after buying your flight.

Keep reading to see how Priceline stacks up against the competition.

Priceline doesn't show fares from Southwest.com. Delta has reportedly withheld some flight information from certain sites, too. Check their websites individually to make sure they don't have lower prices.

Priceline Flight Rates

To see how Priceline's prices match up, we compared searches for round-trip flights from New York City to London across their top competitors:

Orbitz$410WOW Air
Kayak$360WOW Air
Google Flights$386Norwegian Air UK
Expedia$380WOW Air

Here is another example of round-trip flights from Los Angeles to New York City:

Google Flights$267Delta

When we limited our search to nonstop flights only, all of the sites evened out to the same price.

In general, most OTAs and metasearch sites will pull roughly the same prices for airline tickets. Priceline rarely gives you an edge on pricing on normal flights. But what about Express Deals?

Express Deals for Flights

Make sure your travel plans are flexible before you book with Express Deals. Remember, you won't know the details until AFTER purchase and these flights cannot be changed or refunded.

Follow these steps to find Express Deals:

  1. Click on the "Express Deals" link under the flight search bar.

  2. Put in your departure city, destination city, and travel dates, and number of travelers. Then choose a round-trip or one-way flight.

  3. If there are Express Deals flights available, they'll show up in the search results (these are displayed in a blue box). Otherwise, the site might just give you a normal list of flight options.

  4. For Express Deals, you will not see a specific airline, the number of stops, or the time of your flights before you book (that's why the prices are so low).

    Any info that is available can be seen by clicking the listing. You'll see a general departure window, possible number of stops, and any additional perks like free carry-on bags or advance seat selection.

  5. If you're satisfied with an Express Deal, click the green "Continue" button to buy the airline tickets directly through Priceline's website.

  6. Once you've purchased your flights, Priceline will share the departure time and airline.

If you don't see an Express Deal you want, try changing your dates or searching again the next day. Deals change, so prices could increase or decrease daily.

Express Deals are not guaranteed to stick around, so it's smart to purchase quickly if you find one you like.

Express Deals are usually found closer to your date of travel as airlines try to fill unsold seats.

Express Deal Flight Prices
When it comes to opaque booking options, Priceline's "Express Deals" primarily compete with Hotwire's "Hot Rates".

Although the lack of information makes a direct comparison difficult, we compared flights on the same dates to see how Priceline Express Deals and Hotwire Hot Rates stack up:

Roundtrip FlightPriceline ExpressHotwire
San Francisco > New York$234$241
Los Angeles > San Francisco$156$163
Minneapolis > Dallas$247$255

Priceline has a slight edge. And our research has shown that Priceline's Express Deals appear more frequently on Priceline's search results than Hotwire's Hot Rates do on their own listings.

Priceline's Change/Cancellation policy:
  • Normal flights: Change or cancel within 24 hours of purchase.
  • Express Deal flights: NO changes or cancelations

Priceline Hotels

Priceline's Express Deals and Name Your Own Price tool offer multiple ways to save on hotels. Read on for more.

How to Book a Hotel with Priceline

As with the flight search, Priceline's site lets you filter hotel results by specific criteria. To book, follow these steps:

  1. Click the "Hotels" tab on the homepage.

  2. Enter your desired city, destination city, and travel dates.

  3. Priceline will display available options.

  4. Use the filters to narrow your search by number of stars, neighborhood location, amenities, and hotel brand.

  5. Select the hotel you want and pay on Priceline's site.

As with flights, Priceline will sometimes list "Express Deal" offers as you search for hotels. Express Deals can offer major discounts, but you won't get all the hotel information before booking. We explain more below.

Priceline doesn't include taxes and fees in the price you see. Make sure to factor these costs into your search so you won't be surprised at checkout.

Priceline Hotel Rates
How would Priceline compare if we looked for the same hotel across all websites?

We looked at prices for 4-star hotels in downtown Chicago, IL to compare Priceline with its competitors. Here is the cost per night of the Millennium Knickerbocker Chicago:

WebsitePrice Per Night
Google Hotels$78
Expedia$87 (*non-split rate)
Millennium Hotels Website$99

*A split rate means they give you 2 separate reservations, and you may have to change rooms in the middle of your stay. A split rate can save you some money.

These websites often a better deal than the hotels themselves. But the price difference across OTA sites is pretty small.

Hotel Terms
Rules for changing or canceling your reservation vary by hotel. Some require upfront payment, others ask for a small fee upfront. Still others allow you to pay once you arrive.

Read the hotel's terms BEFORE you book. And remember: Express Deal bookings are always non-refundable and non-changeable.

Express Deals for Hotels

You can save a significant amount of money by booking an Express Deal hotel. Just like with flights, you won't know all the specifics of your booking until after you pay.

  1. To access hotel Express Deals, on the "Hotels" tab, click the "Express Deals" link under the search bar.

  2. Type in your destination, travel dates, and the number of rooms you need. Click "Search."

  3. You'll see a list of Express Deals that you can choose from. From these, click on a listing to learn more. However, you will see the name of the hotel or its address.

  4. Further narrow the search results by star rating, neighborhood, and amenities. You can also sort the list according to guest rating.

  5. Choose the hotel that fits your needs and pay right on Priceline's site.

Once you pay, Priceline will tell you the name of the hotel, its exact address, and the type of room (two double beds vs. one king bed, for example). Again, no changes or refunds are allowed.

Fun Fact: It's not too difficult to figure out which hotel you're getting with Express Deals. Keep reading to find out how.

How to Figure Out Express Deal Hotels

After you find an Express Deal you like, make sure you note the area the hotel is in, its star rating and its listed amenities. You can find this information by clicking the listing.

Here's figure out which hotel you're looking at:

Determine the Non-Discounted Price
Sometimes Priceline will give you the original price upfront. If it doesn't, you'll need to do a little bit of math.

For example, let's say the Express Deal is $74 at a 48% discount:

  1. Convert: Move the decimal 2 spaces to the left = 0.48
  2. Subtract: 1 - 0.48 = 0.52
  3. Divide: 74 / 0.52 = 142.30
  4. Original hotel price: $142, with a few dollars above or below as a margin of error.

Sometimes just knowing the price is enough. If Priceline shows you a map of hotels in the area, your hotel is probably one of them. It'll say so in a box at the bottom of the map.

From there, find the hotel price that's the exact price you calculated or just a few dollars above or below, that's your hotel.

If Priceline does not show you a map in your listing, you have just a few more steps to take.

Search Again with All the Information
Search for hotels with the same dates and location. Then, filter the listings to match the star rating, exact location of and specific amenities your Express Deal hotel offers.

From here, you should only see a one or a few listings. Find the one that most closely matches up to the original price, and you'll have found your hotel.

Name Your Own Price for Hotels

This tool is now exclusively for hotels. The process is slightly more complicated than just looking and booking:

  1. Search for your city and dates of travel.

  2. Look at the general prices for the hotels in the neighborhood and star rating that you want to book.

  3. Find a hotel that has a "Name Your Own Price" link.

  4. To place a bid, you must enter your payment information. The hotel(s) will then choose to accept or reject the bid, usually within minutes.

    Rule of Thumb for Bidding
    Check prices on other OTAs like Hotwire to get an idea of what initial discounts hotels are offering. Then, try bidding up to 20% less than that. You can get a great deal if you're willing to be patient and keep trying.

  5. If the hotel accepts your bid, you are locked into that rate. If it's rejected, you must wait two hours before submitting another bid for the same hotel quality, city area and dates.

Never make your first bid the highest you're willing to pay, even if the site warns you that your bid is too low.

If you struggle to figure out how much to bid, check out a site like BetterBidding for insight into how much to bid. You can submit multiple bids to multiple hotels.

The Name Your Own Price Tool might not be around for long. With the increase of instant booking, the demand for bidding, waiting, and maybe bidding again is shrinking.

Fewer hotels participate in the Name Your Own Price Tool. But offers for Express Deals are on the rise.

Priceline Rental Cars

If your travel plans require a rental car, consider booking with Priceline. We cover what you should know when booking a Priceline rental car.

How to Book a Rental Car with Priceline

To rent a car through Priceline:

  1. Click the "Cars" tab on the homepage.

  2. Enter your pickup and drop-off location and dates.

  3. Priceline will pull your options from all car rental agencies. You won't see the exact car, but most listings will provide a similar model to the car you're booking.

  4. Make sure to read the fine print on any car rental. Each company has different policies and restrictions about changing reservations.

  5. Read the fine print on any car rental. Each company has different policies on restrictions or changing reservations.

  6. Make your pick and pay.

Priceline charges taxes and fees that aren't reflected in the prices shown. Check out the smaller-sized "Total Price" listed under the price per day for the total cost you'll pay.

You can't exclusively search for Express Deals for rental cars. But you might come across one in your search. Priceline tells you the style of car, but not the specific model. Remember, Express Deals cannot be changed or canceled.

How do Priceline's car rental deals stack up against the competition? Read on.

Priceline Rental Car Rates

Here are Priceline's cheapest 3-day car rentals in Los Angeles compared to its competitors:

WebsitePrice per DayType of RentalRental Company
Priceline$33SUVFox Rent a Car
Orbitz$37SUVFox Rent a Car
Kayak$30EconomyBlack & White Car Rental
Expedia$37SUVFox Rent a Car

Insurance for Your Priceline Rental Car
Priceline offers a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) through their website. But several credit cards from CreditDonkey partners also offer rental car insurance.

**Secondary coverage means that you have to file a claim with your car insurance company first. Then the credit card/Priceline will cover whatever your normal insurance doesn't on eligible rentals.

Credit cards won't cover rentals in all countries and for some types of cars (like exotic or high-end models). Read the fine print - it might allow you to skip buying insurance from the rental car company.

Priceline for Cruises

Priceline also offers significant discounts on cruises. Again, it's better for a cruise line to fill a room at a discount than let it sit empty.

Follow these steps to book.

  1. Go to the "Cruises" tab on the Priceline website.

  2. Search by dates, specific cruise lines, types and length of cruises, and departure cities.

  3. Pick from a range of rooms on different cruise lines.

While you will find good deals, Priceline doesn't offer Express Deals or opaque booking for cruises. You'll always see the specifics of your room and cruise line. Some cruise lines will offer extras, like travel credits to use on activities or free specialty dinners.

Hotels and cruise lines can see if you have booked via Priceline versus directly on their website. While staff won't treat you differently, they may be less willing to offer upgrades or perks.

Those are typically reserved for those who paid full price. So unless you're super nice and you come across a generous staff member, don't expect upgrades.

Priceline Vacation Packages

Priceline's package bundle multiple travel reservations under one price. The goal of the bundles is to help travelers save when making all the necessary arrangements for their trips.

You can bundle your:

  • Hotel and flight
  • Flight and car
  • Hotel and car
  • Hotel, flight and car

Priceline advertises that customers can save up to $625 when booking a hotel and flight through one of the vacation packages. We found that the advertised savings for many bundles in different location can also be less than $100.

Always cross-reference your Priceline reservations/airline tickets on the companies' actual websites. You could end up getting better discounts by booking individually while also getting the brand's loyalty points, which Priceline cannot give you.

Here's how to access Priceline's vacations:

  1. Click on the "Packages" tab at the top of Priceline homepage.

  2. Select your desired type of bundle.

  3. Enter your departure city (for flights), destination city, travel dates and number of travelers.

  4. If you're booking a hotel, you'll first choose the hotel from a list of options. Clicking on listing brings up all the hotel's details and allows you to choose your preferred type of room.

  5. If you're booking a flight, you'll be shown a list of flight options. You'll be able to choose from all the flight details, such as the airline and the takeoff and landing times.

  6. If you're booking a car, it will be the last thing to show up as you book your vacation package. A suggested booking (with the possibility of an Express Deal) will be listed beneath your hotel/flight info. You can change the type of car you want by clicking "Change car" in the top right corner.

  7. Once you're satisfied with your vacation package, click "Continue to check out". You'll then enter information for each traveler and pay directly on Priceline's website.

While searching, use the filters on the left-hand side to only see the listings with specifications you want. If searching for a package is too overwhelming, you can also look at pre-made bundles for specific cities by scrolling down on the main Vacation Packages page.

Priceline Rewards Visa Card

If you are a dedicated Priceline shopper, you might consider applying for the Priceline Rewards Visa. It offers:

  • 5X the points on all Priceline purchases. That means for every $1 you spend, you'll get 5 points.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • 5,000 bonus points after your first purchase.

  • 10% of your points back after you redeem points through Priceline.

The Priceline Rewards Visa card has no annual fee.

How Priceline Compares

Priceline's discounts are similar to other OTAs and metasearch sites. Their Express Deals are almost always cheaper than what you'll find on a specific airline/car rental agency/hotel site. But remember, those deals lock you in without the ability to change or cancel your reservation.

Website# of 3-Star Hotels in Austin# of Car Rentals in Austin

The main opaque booking competitor to Priceline's Express Deals is Hotwire's Hot Rates.

It's not easy to compare the two because of the lack of details about the options and overall availability. But, our research shows some trends:

  • Priceline's Express Deals on flights are generally $15-$40 cheaper than Hotwire's comparable Hot Rates.

  • Priceline has more Express Deals on flights.

  • Hotwire has more Hot Deals for hotels and rental cars.

  • Priceline has better prices for their Express Deals on rental cars.

Again, these comparisons aren't perfect, but they offer a general idea. It's worth checking both Hotwire and Priceline if you want an exhaustive search on the cheapest options.

The Bottom Line

You can find deep discounts on everything from flights to cruises through Priceline. Use it as one of your first sites to search for cheap travel, especially if don't need to rack up program-specific points.

Write to Shawna Taets at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

Read Next:

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Tips for Travel
Save money on your next vacation. These top travel websites offer deep discounts and worthwhile deals on airfare, hotel rooms, and car rentals.

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