Hotwire.com has been in business since 1999 as a portal for travelers to find the best deals on airfare, hotel accommodations and car rentals. Offerings by Hotwire.com are vast and easily customizable, making it easy to purchase exactly what one wants and needs for an upcoming trip. The convenience of having a one-stop shopping experience for a vacation is appealing to many customers and Hotwire.com delivers above and beyond the competition.
Hotwire.com states in their mission statement that their continued goal is to obtain "ridiculously low prices" for their customers. By comparison shopping with competition, we have found this to be the case in nearly every instance.
- Mobile App
- Instant savings available
- Friendly and professional customer service
- Several options available to build custom packages
There is much good to mention about Hotwire.com's services. These offerings include the following features designed to make booking travel easier. (After all, who wants to spend as much time or more planning their vacation than actually enjoying it?)
- They offer discounts whenever possible. The Hot Rate discounts for travel can be up to 40% off the original price for airfare and hotels. Hotwire also offers steeply discounted car rental rates. (These steep discounts come with a non-refundable clause, so it is important to teak this factor into consideration.)
- Hotwire.com has an award-winning mobile app which offers exclusive discounts to app users. This app is available for both Android and Apple devices and is easy to use in both platforms.
Instant Savings Available
- Subscribing to Hotwire.com's newsletter gives travelers $10 off a hotel reservation.
Easier (than most of the competition) to find policies on changes and cancellations
- Clear policies on terms and conditions for changing or canceling each type of travel reservation via a hotlink document on the website. This could be more predominately featured on the homepage, but the information is available.
Friendly and Professional Customer Service
- Hotwire stands out from the competition in their customer service quality.
- 24/7 customer service
- Agents are friendly and able to answer questions and work to explain terms and conditions
Several Options Available to Build Custom Packages
- Flights, rooms and car rentals can be added a la carte to provide exactly what you need and want to get the perfect travel package.
Simply because a traveler does not know the accommodation specifics until after they book their itinerary, it doesn't mean that the traveler cannot set some specifics. For example, a traveler can mark in their search that they only want hotel rooms with a three star rating or above. This keeps travelers from booking hotels that are not up to their expectation. There is also the option to search by brand if a traveler is not comfortable with the "Hot Rates," but the discounts may not apply.
- No rewards program
While Hotwire does operate "globally," their network of over 173,000 hotels does have some limitations to it. Hotwire exists on a number of continents, but the number of hotels and operating cities is relatively average compared to other travel agencies. Hotwire can book hotels in the following areas, but they are not guaranteed to have accommodations available in the city of the traveler's choice:
- North America
- Latin America
Hot Rate reservations are somewhat limiting due to:
- Travel reservations not refundable
- The name and exact location of the hotel is not revealed until after booking
Typical Third Party Travel site woes include:
- It is important to remember that when you book with a third party travel site, that you are adding another person into the communication.
- Changes and cancellations will need to be directed to Hotwire.com rather than the airline or property.
- Additionally, a confirmation call should always be placed to the airline, car rental company and hotel before travel so that if there were glitches (rare, but they happen) in the booking, these can be addressed before you are at the airport or waiting to check into your hotel.
No Rewards Program
Hotwire not only does not offer a rewards program to their travelers, but they are also not compatible with other rewards programs. For instance, other travel agencies will allow travelers to book their accommodations using their travel credit card or redeem their miles using the platform, but Hotwire does not. Since travelers are already getting discounted rates on hotel rooms and other accommodations, travel rewards do not apply. The following "rewards" are not available for travelers to use when booking with Hotwire:
- Club Rewards
- Promotional Programs
- Frequent Flier Miles/Points
There may be an exception or two for those booking a rental car. Some rental agencies will allow the traveler to book a retail rate rental with points or earn miles. Other than that, the rewards system is not compatible.
The Bottom Line
We can recommend using Hotwire.com for booking your travel packages, but acknowledge there are better options. Their customer service is above par, the website is easy to navigate and the discounts offered can be significant. It is important to note though the nature of the Hot Rate reservations are that they are non-refundable and non-transferable (as is the case with many of the low-priced options available from other third-party sites, the airlines and hotel properties themselves). Those who use Hotwire for their booking needs can expect the following from this agency:
- Booking options: Blind, but discounted booking
- On the go: Easy-to-use mobile app
- Selection: Limited destinations/hotel network
- Rewards program: Not compatible with rewards offers