Simple Tricks To Getting Extra Perks When You Check Into Your Hotel

There's no way around it: Vacations can be expensive. It's no surprise that people are always on the hunt for the best way to save money on flights, but what about hotels? It'll help your budget if you book the cheapest possible room, but upgrading to that luxury suite may really improve the experience. That's why everyone loves scoring a free upgrade and unexpected bonus perks during their stay — but how can you improve your chances of getting one on your next trip?


Before chasing that coveted upgrade, make sure that you're taking advantage of everything that comes with your stay; it isn't always immediately obvious what is included. There may be some special perks that you're entitled to that aren't always advertised. If your hotel is near an airport, they probably know that your flight can be unpredictable, so they might let you check in early or late without any extra fees. If you're staying in a major metropolitan area, the hotel may have a deal with local organizations like gyms, restaurants, and museums that offer you serious discounts. Always check in with the concierge. Not only do they know all the perks, but they may even be able to get you tickets to local events.


Make a good impression

You're checking into a hotel room in Las Vegas and you slip a $20 bill in between your ID and your credit card and politely ask, "Do you have any complimentary upgrades available right now?" This is known as the credit card sandwich, and according to guests reporting on Front Desk Tip, it works about 75% of the time in Sin City. You don't necessarily have to slip the clerk cash to get an upgrade, though — just be friendly and polite. Travel and money podcaster Chris Hutchins told HuffPost, "I've found that being nice to the person checking you in and just asking if there's anything special they can do for your stay can sometimes result in an unexpected surprise during your stay."


Being nice to the staff, positive about your experience, and a generous tipper may be the best way to actually score an upgrade or a fun perk during your stay. In the end, a lot of these decisions are made by the staff, so if they have a positive impression of you when you ask them for a favor, they are more likely to see what they can do to help you. Just make sure you're coming off as curious and excited about what's available rather than acting entitled to free stuff.

Book through the hotel's website

Using a booking site like Expedia or can be a great way to narrow down your selection and find accommodations on a budget, especially if you have loyalty points through one of them, but if you're hoping to get extra perks and upgrades once you're there, you are much better off booking directly through the hotel. While third-party sites might be able to offer you a better deal on the initial price, it's very unlikely you'll be given a free upgrade if you booked this way. 


According to budgeting expert Andrea Woroch in an interview with HuffPost, hotels would rather have you reserve directly through them than go to a third-party site, and there may be perks associated with booking through the hotel website. "They will also be more likely to give you some free amenities in that booking," Woroch said. 

Put it on the right card

Some credit cards have special benefits for travelers. If you travel often, you may want to select a card that gives you points or cash back for booking flights and hotels. Some of these can even get you better deals on rooms when you book through their rewards portals, depending on which hotel you're booking. These rewards may be enough incentive on their own, but using the right card to book your hotel room could also get you some exciting perks when you arrive — or even a free upgrade.


Some cards, like the Business Platinum Card from American Express, entitle cardholders to free upgrades at some Marriott and Hilton hotels, while others, like the Chase Saphire Reserve card, provide special perks and upgrades at certain luxury hotels and resorts. Taking advantage of these benefits requires some advanced planning. You will have to know which hotels your card gives you benefits for and seek them out when planning your trips, but you could score some great benefits if you do.

Call the hotel before you arrive

When you're hoping the hotel staff will do you a favor, communication is key. In general, hotels will be happy to accommodate reasonable requests as long as you give them enough notice. Sometimes all you need to do to secure something like early check-in is make a quick phone call. Sending off an email may work, too, and is a great option if you're short on time or stuck at work, but a phone call has a better chance of success since you can have a more natural conversation with a real person at the hotel.


Calling or emailing in advance and genuinely expressing your excitement and enthusiasm for your upcoming stay can go a long way. It's also worth telling the hotel why you are visiting, especially if it is to celebrate a big moment like your anniversary. Hutchins told HuffPost, "I've seen this work so many times I stopped counting, and people have gotten upgrades, free breakfast, a bottle of champagne and, one time, the hotel actually monogrammed the guest's initials on their pillows."

Join a hotel rewards program

If you have a favorite hotel or hotel chain, you may be able to lock in some great perks by joining their hotel rewards programs. A lot of major chains have programs where you earn points every time you stay, which can be traded in for amenities and discounts. Some offer their members fun perks like exercise classes, complimentary hotel breakfasts, and free drinks. The best part is that many of these loyalty programs are totally free to join, so there's no downside to signing up.


If you are really committed to getting the most out of your hotel stays, you might want to get a co-branded credit card specifically for your favorite hotel chain, like IHG One Rewards or World of Hyatt, which can bump you up to "elite status." Usually, all it takes to become elite is to spend enough money or stay enough nights at the hotel chain annually, so it's perfect for people who have to travel regularly. Exactly what you get for being "elite" depends on the hotel chain, but typically you get a good amount of free perks, free room upgrades, and free nights added to your stay.