How to get trip upgrades, from flights to rental cars


Everyone loves free things. Especially when they’re part of a trip. Now this post isn’t about how to get your whole trip for free, but we do have some tried and true tips for free and affordable upgrades on flights, hotels, and rental cars. Check them out below!

Hotels

Be late

Yes. You read that right. Arriving late for check in is a good thing. Hotels don’t want to give away upgrades too early on. By the time you arrive later, hotels have more flexibility to give out upgrades.

 

Ask for the upgrade

It may seem like a no-brainer but many travelers don’t bother asking for an upgrade. It might not always be free, but you may score a $1000 upgrade for only $100.

 

Pay full price

Don’t be too upset if you missed the flash sale Expedia was having. Hotels are likely to give upgrades to those who have paid full price for their room. That being said, it also pays off to book through the hotel’s website—the hotel has more flexibility to upgrade these rooms since money was paid directly to them.

When you’re booking let the hotel know when it’s for a special occasion (wedding, anniversary, birthday, etc.). It increases your chances of getting upgraded, or maybe even getting a bottle of bubbly.

 

Try out the new hotel

Forgo that decades-old Hilton for the new hotel that just opened up down the street. New hotels tend to have lower occupancy rates so not only do they have the availability to upgrade you, they also want you to have the best experience.

 

Travel off-season

Hotels aren’t losing money on a room that is sitting empty so upgrading you to a fancier room makes you happy and more likely to return.

 

Flights

Be early

Airline upgrades aren’t as easy to come by. Flights usually only have a few upgrades, at most. Arriving early can increase your chances of an upgrade and give you more one-on-one time talking to the desk agent.

 

Join the airline’s loyalty points program

If you’re a frequent flier, it might be time for you to consider joining a loyalty program. Airlines are more likely to reward passengers who are loyal and who have paid full price for their ticket.

 

Offer to be bumped

Check your flight 24 hours before departure to see if the flight has been oversold. You can do this by taking a look at the seating chart, trying to purchase an extra ticket,  calling the airline, or asking the gate attendant when you arrive. In the event the flight has been oversold, the airline will be looking for volunteers to get on a later flight. This is the perfect time to negotiate an upgrade on the next flight.

 

Cars

Call to book

There are a ton of car rental sites out there that can get you cars for less than $10/day. When you find these deals, take the extra moment to call the rental car company to see if they can offer you a similar offer or anything extra. People have more power than a computer.

 

Book the compact car

Pick the smallest car to rent and when you arrive, ask for the biggest compact car available. If you’re with your family and have a lot of bags, the desk agent will most likely offer you a free upgrade to a bigger vehicle. If the upgrade isn’t free, negotiate a cheaper price since these aren’t generally set prices.

 

Our last tip is to always be nice to everyone! We know traveling is exhausting but the employees you come in contact with are the decision makers that stand between you and your upgrade.

If you have any other tips or tricks for scoring upgrades, comment to let us know!