There are many third-party sites out there that offer travel deals and cheap prices. You may have come across Hotwire while searching for deals. Is Hotwire legit, and are their deals any good? Keep reading to find out what we’ve uncovered!
Hotwire is a website that lists cheap travel deals from service providers worldwide. Owned by Expedia, this third-party website boasts of helping travelers enjoy discounts of up to 60% on flights and accommodation.
But with the abundance of flight deals services like Scott’s Cheap Flights or Matt’s Flights and tons of other hotel deals websites, is Hotwire really any good?
Above all, is Hotwire legit and can they be trusted? Here’s our must-read Hotwire review!
What is Hotwire?
Founded in 2000, Hotwire is an online travel website that offers cheap travel deals on hotels, cars, flights, and vacation packages. Hotwire claims to offer the lowest rates for travel services, helping travelers save big bucks.
Hotwire has partnered with major travel companies around the world. It helps them sell their service by listing their unsold hotel rooms, flight seats, etc. Hotwire lists these unsold services on the website at a very low price.
By using Hotwire, companies get to make money on spare seats or rooms that otherwise remain unsold.
Customers can enjoy the unsold services at an uber-cheap rate. It’s a win-win for both customers and travel companies.
Hotwire mobile app is available for both Android and iOS devices. It helps you keep track of bookings easily and save deals. You can also subscribe to their newsletter to get alerts on the latest deals.
How does Hotwire work?
Hotwire sells opaque inventory. When you browse through deals, you will find that some details of the travel service are kept anonymous until you make the payment.
For example, specifics like the hotel’s name, street address, airline company, and flight seat number may remain unknown. Hotwire claims to only partner with brand names for hotels, so chances are you’ll get a hotel name you recognize.
How is it different from Travelocity or Expedia?
Expedia is the parent company of Travelocity and Hotwire, amongst other travel booking sites out there. While both Travelocity and Hotwire both use Expedia’s resources and system, they both operate a bit differently than one another.
Travelocity is a lot more similar to Expedia than Hotwire, offering travel deals on hotels, flights, or travel packages to travelers. Hotwire offers last-minute travel deals where travelers will be able to bid on an anonymous hotel room without knowing which hotel it’s going to be.
For general-purpose travel booking, I’d recommend you look through Expedia and Travelocity or other competitors like Momondo and Booking.com.
If you’re down for a bit of spontaneity, give Hotwire a try and start your bid for your next vacay! Just make sure you’re aware that they’re non-refundable, even if you end up getting a hotel you don’t like.
Finding deals on Hotwire
Visit the Hotwire website and select the service you need. If you select hotels, enter the destination, check-in and check-out dates, and the number of guests. Once you click ‘Find a Hotel,’ you get a list of choices.
The star rating of hotels, price, amenities, and guest reviews are available, while the hotel’s name is kept undisclosed. There could be details of the neighborhood, landmarks, and other information to help you identify the hotel. It is noteworthy that your payment is non-refundable except for a minimal number of conditions.
What we liked about Hotwire
Hotwire is one of the popular websites for finding cheap travel deals, operating for over 20 years. Many travelers have benefitted from its cheap offers. Hotwire claims to offer discounts of up to 60% on hotels, 40% on flights and cars. The majority of its partners are leading travel companies, so you can expect the quality to be good.
Hotwire assures that its hotel deals are the lowest rates you will come across anywhere. But, say you came across a cheaper rate for the same hotel room on the same date you booked for within 24 hours of booking. If all the details match, Hotwire will pay you the difference between the rates. You must submit a ‘Refund Request” under a low price guarantee to claim it.
Travelers can find deals on flights, local transportation, and accommodation all in one place. You can search and book each service individually or go for a package deal. It is convenient and helps you manage your booking easily.
What we disliked about Hotwire
No cancellation or refund
Most of the bookings on Hotwire offer no refund and require full payment to confirm your reservation. This is because you get the services at highly discounted rates. So, it’s not ideal to book them if there’s a chance your travel plans will change or be canceled.
In some instances, you can end up paying more than the discounted price for hotels. This is because Hotwire excludes additional charges you might have to pay at check-out like resort fees, parking fees, and energy charges in the pricing of hotel deals.
So, make sure you read the terms and conditions well beforehand to know if you will be charged extra or not. Even Hotwire can charge you an additional cost for tax recovery and surcharges.
How to pick good hotels on Hotwire?
One of the frequent complaints we came across was the state of the hotel rooms booked on Hotwire. As the hotel name is usually kept anonymous until the booking, it is difficult to determine the quality of the service.
However, we advise you to do some research and try to find the hotel’s name based on the background information provided in the description.
Sometimes, hotels with a rating below 3-stars can offer poor services and low-quality accommodation. So, it’s always best to go for 3-star hotels or above. In some cases, Hotwire also provides three hotel names as options and guarantees the listed hotel to be one of them.
What are some Hotwire alternatives?
There are plenty of other travel websites similar to Hotwire that aggregate cheap travel deals for you. Some offer travel package deals that include multiple travel services, while some focus on just one, like flights or hotels.
Priceline is perhaps the most popular competitor of Hotwire, and you can read our reviews of it here.
Other alternatives worth considering are Hopper, Momondo, Travelocity, and Skyscanner.
Is Hotwire Worth It?
We think Hotwire is a helpful and spontaneous website for budgeted backpackers looking for the best savings on travel services last minute.
The deals are not abundant, especially for non-U.S. countries but it’s still worth a look before you make reservations the standard way. With the luck of a draw, you might get an excellent bid on a hotel you really like!
However, there are several drawbacks booking with Hotwire. If you do not like the hotel or room you ended up with, there’s no canceling or refunds available. You also won’t know what you’re bidding for, so the unknown factor might not be for you.
Don’t worry if Hotwire’s not for you though, since Lastminute also offers a similar service, so you might want to check them out as well!
Our Rating: 3.8/5
- Cheap deals
- 24h Price-match
- Travel packages
- Multiple travel services
- No cancellation or refund
- Hidden Costs
- Anonymous Hotels + Rooms
How to Book With Hotwire
So how does Hotwire work?
Booking with Hotwire is fairly simple. You go to their website, add your location (I typically choose the location with “city center” in the destination name), input your dates, and number of guests, and then run your search.
You’ll get a search results page similar to this one.
BEFORE you click on anything, I need to mention that if you do click on the text that reads “What hotel will I get?”, the HOTEL PRICE INCREASES. You’ll need to take a leap of faith here (or use an incognito browser or clear your cookies).
Here’s an example of what I received when I clicked the “What hotel will I get button?” NONE of these hotels were what I actually received. What I received was much better than what I anticipated.
I also like to filter my offers by going to the Hot Rate tab and then filtering by Price (low to high). On the map, I also choose the locations that I prefer to stay in. I wanted to stay near the Eiffel tower, because WHY NOT?!
Take your chances and book. You’ll get a sneak peek of what your room will look like (it might not be the exact room) but what you can do is save the image and do a reverse image search in Google and do some sleuthing to figure out what the hotel you may be staying in.
And once you book, remember that the fee is non-refundable due to the great deal you’re getting.
Ready to book your next hotel stay with Hotwire? Click here to book.
If you found our Hotwire review helpful, please share it on Pinterest! Thanks for your support!