Travel

How To Score Cheap Hotels On Priceline (The Ultimate Guide + Video)

How to score cheap hotels on PricelineI’m going to show you exactly how to get the best possible hotel deal on Priceline resulting in savings of up to 70% off a hotel’s published rate. No joke, if you want proof you can check out my list of previous cheap hotel scores.

I’m going to walk you through it step by step giving you tons of extra information most guides don’t cover and to top it off I’m going to show you a video of me doing it myself so you can be 100% confident when you do it.

Sound good?

But first, I want you to know exactly what you’re getting into by giving you the pros and cons of bidding on hotels. Also, if you aren’t familiar with Priceline and what hotel bidding is, read the above link for a good primer and then come back here to learn exactly how to do it.

Start A New Priceline Bid

The Ups And Downs Of Hotel Bidding

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The Best Sites For Finding Cheap Flights

Last updated: March 18, 2019

The best sites for finding cheap flightsLet’s face it, trying to find a good deal on airfare can be intimidating!

There are so many sites to look at – from airline sites, to online travel agencies, to third party comparison services. Ultimately, you’re left wondering if you're getting the best price. And that's not a good feeling.

The best place to start is always with comparison websites that don’t actually let you book directly. This is because not only do they have access to the same inventory as the others, but they also partner with a wide array of online travel agencies to ensure you get the absolute lowest price.

In fact, most sites should have very similar prices and inventory because they all use a small shared set of backend systems. Therefore, the biggest savings come when you either find an interesting booking that is a mish-mash of multiple airlines or one of the online travel agencies decides to get aggressive on their pricing and pass on some of their usual profit to you. Keep reading » about The Best Sites For Finding Cheap Flights

Avoiding The Costly Upsell On Car Repairs

Avoiding the costly upsell of car repairsI’ve written quite a few articles about saving money on cars and car repairs and even buy my own parts to save up to 90%, but I’m still far from a car expert. Just the other day I was booking an appointment to get my 2013 Santa Fe serviced, when it hit me that I may have succumbed to the upsell many times in the past.

When I called to make the appointment, the friendly lady on the line started giving me all kinds of recommendations. She informed me that my vehicle was due to have the brakes inspected and lubricated to prolong their life, that my tires should be checked for alignment to avoid tire wear, and one other thing that I can’t remember right now.

Luckily I had my wits about me, so I politely inquired about the cost of each of the services she offered me, the benefits of doing the service, and if it was necessary under the regular maintenance required for the warranty.

The brake service itself was $200 and as I started declining the services, she started offering me cheaper options ending with the $25 alignment test.

They Almost Had Me

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Lost Luggage: How To Minimize Your Losses

Lost luggage: how to minimize your lossesI travel a few times a year (some trips for business, some for pleasure) and have been lucky with my luggage - it's only been lost twice in the past 5 years and both times the airline was able to quickly recover the luggage.

Others aren't so lucky. They wait for their bag to arrive and when it doesn't show, they are sent to airline customer service to go through the long process of claims and paperwork related to finding the bag. Each year about 2% of lost bags aren't recovered, and it's important to know what to do if it happens to you.

Reporting Lost Baggage

Most airlines have a customer service area in major airports (located near where the bags come out in the arrivals level) that deals specifically with baggage issues. If your bag doesn't arrive your first step is to go here. It's important you report the lost bag immediately - if not, the airline won't be responsible for it.

If you had connecting flights with a different airline, the airline that you last flew on is responsible for your bags. For example, if you flew Westjet to Toronto and then American Airlines to Florida, then American Airlines would be responsible for your baggage.

Related: Top Aeroplan Credit Cards Compared

Once at customer service you'll be asked for your baggage claim ticket that was originally given when your bags were checked while checking in for your flight. It's a small barcode that has all the tracking information for your bag. The airline can still look up your bag's information without it, but it takes longer to search the system and isn't as accurate.

A customer service rep will then ask you for the details on your bag. Important details on you baggage are the approximate size, colour, contents, identifying marks (such as a ribbon), where your trip started and what connections you had (if any).

This information is entered into the system and delayed baggage form is given to you with a unique reference number and a toll-free number you can call to find out the status of your bag. At this point your bag isn't technically lost - it is "delayed" and you'll need to give the airline a chance to find it first before claiming it as a lost bag.

Delayed Baggage Compensation

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Do You Splurge?

Do you splurge?A person new to HowToSaveMoney.ca might think that I’m a tight fisted miser who bends down to pick up every penny - or should I say nickel? - off the street and then goes home to curl up in bed and snuggle with my piggy bank while laying on my mattress stuffed with cash.

As enticing as that sounds, it simply isn’t so!

My goal in life is to save as much money on everything I can so I have more money left over to live a good life and to splurge on the things I enjoy! No, I don’t believe we need oodles of money to be happy, but I do definitely enjoy spending it on some things and I’d be lying if I said it never brings a smile to my face. I’m human like the rest of you, and we all like to spoil ourselves from time to time.

My Favourite Splurges

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Getting The Most Out Of Your New Car Warranty

Getting the most out of your new car warrantyWhen shopping for a new vehicle, people tend to place a lot of emphasis on the warranty always looking for the best possible coverage. As such, car manufacturers compete heavily on warranty, especially foreign manufacturers.

The gold standard for new car warranties used to be 3 years bumper to bumper and after that you were on your own if something went wrong. Now it’s becoming increasingly common to see 4 and 5 year warranties, as is the case with Hyundai and Kia, and many luxury brands. Mitsubishi even goes so far to offer a 10 year powertrain warranty on some of their vehicles with a 5 year warranty on everything else. Here is a handy guide to new car warranties on Cars.com.

Related: How To Make Your New Car Last Forever

However, after having such a large influence over buying decisions, the warranty is often relegated to the back of the buyer’s mind as soon as the purchase is completed only to be thought of again if an obvious problem arises. As with a lot of things in life, it can really pay off to be proactive in your approach to your car warranty to maximize the value you get out of it and ensure the longest possible life out of your new vehicle.

Understand Your Warranty Fully

It’s pretty common for people not to understand their warranty fully, including the important exceptions it contains, and they are then surprised when they discover something they thought was covered isn’t. Bumper to bumper sounds promising doesn’t it?

The truth is there are still a lot of things that aren’t covered or have a shorter coverage period because they are considered to be subject to regular wear and tear. Typically things like brake pads, rotors, tires, cosmetic appearance, wipers, belts, batteries, hoses and certain electronic components have exclusions or exceptions because they are considered to be items that suffer from regular wear and tear.

You’ll want to review your warranty document carefully and jot down any notable exceptions that pop out at you.

Get Early Adjustments Made

During the first year almost anything and everything is covered under your warranty. If there is something you don’t like or are worried about with your new car, simply call the service department and get them to look at it. Have a small rattle that’s annoying you? Covered! Can’t figure out how to operate the fancy technology? They’d be happy to help!

Just be aware that some warranties will only allow you to come in for free adjustments once or a couple of times. If that is the case, make sure you make a comprehensive list of adjustments you’d like before you go in so that you don’t end up regretting it later after you’ve already used up that benefit.

Find Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) For Your Vehicle

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How To Make Your New Car Last Forever

How to make your new car last foreverUp here in the frozen north, the land of salt and snow, it is hard to keep a vehicle on the road for more than 10 years before it becomes a bucket of useless rust and a fountain of endless repair bills!

I often hear about people selling or scrapping their vehicles because they become too expensive to maintain, so they upgrade to something newer and cut their losses. Doing this may sometimes be the best choice, but I think there is a way to lower repair bills and keep cars on the road longer. Yes, even in Canada!

Consider Buying New And Keeping Longer

It has long been the rhetoric of personal finance gurus that you should always buy used because new cars depreciate up to 20% instantly as soon as you drive it off the lot and standard depreciation is about 15 to 20% per year. As a car gets older, 15 to 20% of the then current value of the vehicle gets to be less and less, which is why it is oft-recommended that you should buy used to save money on depreciation.

However, I’ve noticed the rhetoric is starting to change as more and more personal finance pundits are starting to buy brand new vehicles over a used one. This topic could be debated until the sun stops shining and there probably still wouldn’t be a resolution, because both sides would have valid points. Personally, after thinking I would land on the “always buy used” side, I’ve actually ended up in the buy new camp.

Reasons To Buy New Over Used

  • Knowing the vehicle’s history. The biggest reason for me buying new is I know exactly how the car has been driven and cared for. There’s a much lower chance of getting a lemon or a mistreated vehicle and, if you do get a lemon, at least you have the warranty to back you up. People who buy new vehicles every 4 years may not think about doing things to extend the life of their vehicle because they know they will unload it before problems arise - so buyer beware.
  • New prices are falling. Prices of new vehicles have gone down so the spread between new and used isn’t as attractive as it used to be. It’s crazy that brand new vehicles can be purchased for less than $10,000 these days.
  • Worry free driving. With a new car you get years of worry free driving where you usually have both warranty coverage and free roadside assistance should anything happen.
  • Low interest rates. To attract buyers, car companies offer insanely low interest rates and offering to pay cash doesn’t usually sweeten the deal much, believe me I’ve tried. If you can’t pay for the car upfront, then you’ll definitely get a better interest rate buying new. Even if you have the money to pay it all (a good idea), it can make sense to enjoy your 0% interest loan and invest or earn high interest on your cash in the meantime.
  • Keep it longer. If you buy new and take care of it, then you should be able to keep your vehicle for 10 to 15 years and by the end you are really starting to benefit from lower depreciation and cost savings, just like if you had purchased used, but you got to enjoy a significant amount of “new time” as well.
  • Less hassle. By keeping a car longer, you don’t have to go through the hassle of making such a major purchase nearly as often. Less time researching, finding a buyer, fixing it up for sale, having to buy new winter tires because your old ones no longer fit, and so on. Not to mention actually selling a vehicle is a time consuming and often depressing process while you try to find a qualified buyer unless you choose to trade it in at a dealer and lose a bunch of money that way.
  • Fewer fees and taxes. Granted, buying a new car comes with quite a few fees and a hefty tax bill, you’ll have to pay them less often. Every time you buy or sell something, you usually encounter taxes and fees. Sales tax, advertising fees, detailing costs, inspection - they all add up!

Keep Your New Car On The Road Longer, For Less

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Don't Pump All Your Money Away: Ways To Save On Gas

Don't pump all your money away: ways to save on gasHow does this sound?

You've just finished fueling up your car and you're tallying all the savings you've managed to achieve on your $80 gas purchase. First, you saved $16 through paying for your gas with 20% discounted gift cards. Then, you saved another $1.60 through buying those gift cards with your 2% cash back credit card. Next, you saved another $1.80 by filling up on 3¢/litre off supreme Thursday. Finally, you earned $2.00 in rewards "money" that you can use for future gasoline purchases.

That's a grand total of $21.40 saved, or a 26.75% savings on your gas bill! Sound too good to be true? Well it isn't - or at least it wasn't - because I've done it many times myself at Canadian Tire a few years back. If you want to know how I did it, I'll continue the story at the bottom of the article. But for now, these are the ways you can save big money on gas today!

1) Get A Credit Card With A Gas Bonus

It's no secret I'm a big advocate of responsibly using credit cards to reap all kinds of rewards and buying gas with your credit card is one of the best ways to reap those rewards even quicker. Why? Because many cards offer bonus rewards for buying it, that's why!

With bonuses like 4% cash back or up to a 10¢/litre discount, having the right credit card can make a big difference.

Full Details: Best Credit Cards For Gas Discounts

2) Rewards Programs

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Travel In Heaven Instead Of Hell

Travel In Heaven Instead Of HellThe act of traveling abroad, particularly by air, can be a grating experience. Long lines, delayed flights, customs forms, expensive food, small uncomfortable seats, endless waiting at airports, getting almost naked to clear security, lack of affordable cell phone coverage, overpriced hotels … the list goes on. Fortunately, there are lots of little hacks to make it MUCH more seamless and enjoyable.

Although I'm not a business road warrior by any means, I've had my fair share of experience traveling to far-off destinations thanks mostly to airline miles, reward points, and cheap hotel tricks. I am currently at the airport on my way back from FinCon 2014 which took place in New Orleans, so it's the perfect time to share all the little hacks I've developed over time.

Before You Leave

  • Be sure to pack the following:
    • Noise isolating headphones (i.e. ear buds). These will help you sleep, relax, entertain yourself, and get work done. That way you won't have to pay to buy something cheap and inferiour.
    • Pen and paper. You'll need a real pen to fill out those customs forms and for jotting notes if your cell dies.
    • Portable phone charger. There are usually outlets at airports and sometimes on planes, but do you really want to be stuck in one place charging your phone? Portable chargers are so cheap, just get one.
    • Empty water bottle. You can fill it after you clear security so you can always stay hydrated without buying expensive drinks.
    • Credit card(s). There a many things you just can't do while traveling without one. More than one is preferred in case one gets frozen, which commonly happens while traveling.
    • A good book. Electronic devices often aren't allowed during takeoff and landing on most airlines but books are fine.
  • Figure out a better plan for your cell phone. You actually don't need to pay through the nose for talk, text, or data in foreign countries (see how here).
  • Get your hotel accommodations in order:
    • Check Trip Advisor for traveler tips and photos for your hotel so you can request a newly renovated or well-located room. Not all rooms are created equal.
    • Call and confirm reservation and dates to make sure the hotel has you in their system, especially if you booked through a third party. Mix-ups do happen!
    • Give your rewards program number if they don't have it already, especially if you have some sort of status.
    • Get the right room. Ask for the type of room you want or even an upgrade. This is also the time to provide them with any special requests you may have.
    • Ask for a discount. If you're booking directly with the hotel, you can try calling them and asking for a discount instead of booking online. Tell them you'll just go to Priceline or Hotwire if they can't give you a better rate.
    • Print out your reservation confirmation to take with you.
  • Check-in online 24 hours in advance:
    • Many airlines don't let you choose your seat until the time of check-in unless you pay extra. Checking in online as soon as you can gets you the pick of the best seats.
    • Your goal is to have your seats chosen, your boarding passes in hand (or on your phone), and your baggage tickets ready before you hit the airport.
    • Now you'll be able to skip through the check-in line and get to security much faster.
    • All of this can usually be done via your phone if you want to take the time to set it up.
  • How to pick the best seat on any airplane:
    • You typically want to be near the front of the plane:
      • You can get off the plane much faster, which also helps with lines at security, customs, baggage claim, and getting a taxi.
      • You get food and beverage service first so you can settle in or go to sleep faster.
      • There is less engine noise at the front of the plane.
      • Your window view won't be obstructed by the plane's own wing.
      • You'll probably be closer to bathrooms (at least on larger planes).
    • Type your flight number into Google or sites like SeatGuru to see the exact plane type and layout along with information about each seat:
      • Some seats have more leg room (exit rows or bulkheads).
      • Avoid seats that don't recline (back of plane).
      • Make sure you get an electrical outlet.
      • Avoid seats without a window and more…
    • If you can't find your exact flight on SeatGuru, figuring out the plane model using your flight number through Google and then punching that directly into SeatGuru can help.
  • Dream of this while you sleep...Sleep really well the night before you leave. Pack a few days early and force yourself into bed at a reasonable hour the night before you leave. You'll have a much better time when you arrive if you do.
  • Learn how to put your electronic devices in airplane mode. Do this when you are on the plane and after you land to both conserve battery (it drains really fast when the phone can't get a signal), comply with airline regulations, and avoid costly data charges in foreign countries.
  • Confirm flight departure times. Type your flight number into Google to make sure it is on schedule. Call the airline if you want to be extra sure.
  • Check airport parking rates and options before you leave.
    • You might be able to find a coupon online, especially if you're using Park 'N Fly.
    • Get a friend to drive you or take public transit if that is possible.
  • Research airport transfer options at your destination airport:
    • Options typically include bus, subway, shuttle, taxi, or limousine.
    • For some airports, getting a taxi is totally worth it. For others, public transport is quick, cheap, and easy. Be smart and not excessively frugal here.
    • Look for coupons or discounts if you book in advance.

At The Airport

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Cheap Cell Phone And Data Plans For Traveling To The USA

Cheap cell phone and data plans for travelling to the USAI'm going to be leaving for the American personal finance bloggers conference called FinCon in a couple of days to meet up with like-minded people and try to learn ways to make HowToSaveMoney.ca better.

While there, I'm going want to be able to use my cell phone to call home as well as have data access for Google Maps, keeping up on email, checking on my site, looking up restaurants and attractions, tethering to my surface so I can work anywhere, and the list goes on.

There are a lot of options out there and not everyone is aware that you have more choices than just paying through the nose with your existing provider. Here are a few of the choices you have:

The Easiest Way To Go

The easiest thing to do is to check with your current cell phone provider to see what kind of add-ons they have for traveling to the USA. If you plan to use your phone for more than 1 or 2 calls or texts, then this is almost certainly a better option than paying per use.

Pay per use rates are typically around $1.50 per minute talked, up to $1 per text sent, and as much as 5 cents per kilobyte of data used which works out to $500 for 100MB of data, which is insane. Pay per use rates vary by provider, but they are never very attractively priced.

Only considering a combination of talk, text, and data, these are the cheapest rates offered by some popular Canadian providers in no particular order.

* In some cases I had to piece together rates for a talk, text, and data plan where no such plan was offered. In cases where a period of less than 1 month was available, I chose pricing for packages of 7-10 days in duration which would cover the length of a typical vacation.

Provider

Price

Talk

Data

Text (Sent)

Period

Rogers

$40

50 minutes

200MB

Unlimited

31 days

Bell

$50

100 minutes

100MB

1000 messages

30 days

Telus

$25

50 minutes

50MB

150 messages

30 days

Koodo

$40

Unlimited

250MB

Unlimited

10 days

Fido

$40

50 minutes

200MB

Unlimited

31 days

Virgin

$50

100 minutes

100MB

1000 messages

30 days

Wind

$15

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

1 month

The Pretty Cheap And Pretty Easy Way To Go

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