If you sit in a hotel lobby for more than an hour, you are likely to see someone come downstairs, complain about their room, and ask for an upgrade. It seems that they are really only looking for the upgrade; the issues they are complaining about in reality weren’t really that big.
For many of us, the idea of yelling at a front desk clerk is foreign. We don’t want to make anyone’s night unpleasant, but an upgrade might be nice. So how to get an upgrade?
Here is a list of possible ways to get an upgrade for free or inexpensively:
Check your credit cards – Many of them have travel benefits. It doesn’t have to be a free room, but you might be able to trade points for an upgrade.
Pull out your auto club card – Auto clubs can often get you a discount. Sometimes it is significant enough to make the upgrade similar to the cost of a regular room. The AA for example do have some great benefits.
Try your car insurance provider – Again, many insurance companies have quiet travel benefits attached to your policy. If you look at their website, you might find some benefits at certain hotel chains.
Be flexible – There are times when being willing to give up your double bed hotel room for a king size will get you a much better room. In many single-bedded rooms, sleeping on the couch isn’t a hardship. Also look under the couch, most of them are “hide-a-beds” that can fold out into a bed.
Offer to make changes if they are booked – If you are bumped by an over-booked hotel, you should not only get a free hotel room, but you can ask for an upgrade. See if there is another hotel further down the road toward your destination. Offering to drive on can get you a free night in a great room on the way home.
Sign up for their rewards program – Hotel chains have loyalty programs. Lots of these offer free upgrades “when available.” Sign up for the program and then ask.
Sign up for a credit card – The larger hotel chains have their own credit cards. You can get points for spending money with them, but if you sign up at the front desk, ask if you can get an upgrade for signing up. The hotel management is handsomely rewarded for signing people up and they are likely to be willing to give you a gift for making them look good.
Shop around – If you have a reservation at one hotel, call other hotels nearby. Tell them that you have a standard room at a specific price, but you would really like an upgraded room. Ask if they can meet that price on a better room.
Here’s a secret: It doesn’t cost anymore to clean a larger room than it does a smaller one. If you are staying in a standard room with two beds, an ‘upgrade’ to a king sized room costs the hotel nothing. In fact, even a room with a whirlpool tub is not significantly more expensive to clean.
Bonus Secret: Ask! It’s as simple as that. “I was wondering if there are enough rooms available for me to get a free upgrade to the better room. If you aren’t booked, I would really appreciate it.” Don’t be sneaky or sly. Simply come out and ask. Very often, you’ll be told yes, simply because it’s not a big deal to upgrade you.