By becoming an educated bidder, it's possible to land better accommodations at a better price than you'd get from a travel agent or through the normal channels. "You have to do your homework, seek out previous winning bids, and look at the rates available in that particular market. If you don't, you could wind up paying a lot more than you need to," says Lucas Wiseman, a regular Priceline user.

Step 1.

Find the average low price for the room location and quality that you desire by doing some preliminary searching through sites like Expedia, Orbitz and This research also minimizes the chance of over-bidding.

Step 2.

Include locations that are close to your destination to increase your chance of a lower price. Unless it's absolutely necessary to be right in the middle of the action, be open to a short commute. states, "One strategy that experienced bidders employ is to target areas on the fringes of popular destinations such as the California Wine Country and Orlando. You can often get a good deal by doing this and still wind up fairly well situated."

Step 3.

Refer to hotel room bid history archive sites for reports of successful bids (see Resources). These sites are useful for learning about room quality, value and techniques used to get the winning bid. This will also help narrow down your bid amount and minimize the need for subsequent offers.

Step 4.

Price your hotel on Hotwire first, then move on to Priceline. Hotwire gives its lowest price up front, no purchase required; Priceline requires a purchase if your bid is accepted. According to travel blogger Gary Leff, "A good rule of thumb is to check Hotwire after you've researched retail sites to get a benchmark rate, then bid up to 20% less on Priceline."

Step 5.

Bid on a high-star hotel to get more value from your room. A pricier hotel can cut a higher percentage from the room rate, making it possible to hook a classy room for a bargain hotel price. Hotel bid site tipster Don Nadeau advises, "A place charging a retail rate of $450 a night has a lot more room to play with than a $59 Days Inn."

Step 6.

Change your bid to circumvent the Priceline 24-hour rebidding block. Rebidding rules count for hotels in the same star category and date. "However, you can bid again before 24 hours if you change a date, city, star category, or neighborhood," Nadeau says.