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Lifestyle

May 5, 2013

6 things to ask before booking a summer vacation

(Continued)

For smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts, pick up the phone and negotiate.

Q: Are nonrefundable rooms a good deal?

A: Sites like Priceline and Hotwire offer deep discounts in exchange for taking a chance.

Vacationers only learn the name of a hotel after they pay upfront. They also aren’t guaranteed a bed type or choice of smoking or non-smoking room. And some hotels give such guests less-desirable room locations, like next to the ice machine.

Many hotels now offer nonrefundable rates on their own websites. The savings might be less, but you still get to pick your room type and know where you will be staying. If your plans change and you rebook, however, you lose your money.

Keep in mind that room prices can drop after you book. That discounted, nonrefundable rate could still be higher than if you booked the room a month later.

A relatively new travel site, Tingo.com, tries to balance the best of both worlds. Guests prepay for a fully-refundable hotel room. But if the rate falls, Tingo automatically cancels the reservation and rebooks travelers at the new, lower rate, and refunds the difference. The typical rebate is $50, according to the site, which is owned by TripAdvisor.

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