Hotwire is a hotel booking service that also offers flights and car rentals. It’s a good way to find bargains because it sells rooms, seats and cars that have gone unsold by the companies. Unlike other booking services such as Orbitz and Expedia, it doesn’t have a rewards program so it might not be a good option for frequent travelers.
We found searching for hotels through Hotwire to be somewhat more difficult than some of the other services. It doesn’t have as many sorting or filtering options as other booking sites. Many of the basics are still there: You can sort by price, star rating and area.
One thing we really liked was Hotwire’s map view, which segments cities into areas. When you click on a city section, you are shown the available options in that area. You can’t filter by accommodation type, and we weren’t able to find hostels through Hotwire, so single, cost-conscious travelers may want to look elsewhere.
Hotwire lists its Hot Rates first. These are highly discounted rooms, with prices reduced by as much as 30 percent. The hotels themselves are anonymous; you’ll be given a general location and list of amenities, but won’t know the name of your hotel until you complete the purchase. So, if there’s a hotel chain you prefer above others, this may not be your preferred shopping experience.
If you’re planning a trip in the future, you can set up a price watch that will send you emails if the price for a specific date changes. Unlike other booking service, this doesn’t track a specific listing, but rather a specific date range.
One of Hotwire’s chief drawbacks is the absence of a rewards program. You can create an account and get access to members-only pricing, but there’s no option to earn points from your purchases. The best rewards programs we saw give you points for each dollar you spend booking through a service. So while Hotwire is a good way to find bargains, it may not be the best for frequent travelers.
With its hot rate deals, Hotwire offers some significant discounts. You can book cars and flights, but there’s no rewards program to join.