When booking a hotel, travelers often request the AAA discount and leave it at that. I wondered how good a discount AAA really provides, and tested a few cities to find out.
In most cases, I found a given hotel brand's "online only" or "prepayment" rates were cheapest. These rates often carry the highest risk, as you prepay for your entire stay and get no refunds if you have to cancel. They can be a great deal if you know your plans won't change.
Here are sample per-night rates, taking AAA into account, at three major brands:
- Hawthorne Terrace Hotel, Chicago: $198 AAA, $152 advance purchase
- Dragon Gate Inn, Los Angeles: $111 AAA, $90 Internet only
- Best Western Kennedy Airport, Jamaica, New York: $153 AAA, $128 Internet only
- Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Chicago—Downtown: $170 AAA, $109 advance purchase
- Holiday Inn Los Angeles—International Airport: $95 AAA, $90 advance purchase
- Holiday Inn LaGuardia Airport, Corona, New York: $294 AAA, $263 great rates
- Chicago Marriott at Medical District/UIC: $151 AAA, $159 leisure rate
- Renaissance Montura Hotel Los Angeles Airport: $95 AAA, $99 leisure rate
- New York Marriott Financial Center: $294 AAA, $309 weekend rate
With the exception of Marriott, the tested hotels typically offered rates that undercut AAA. The best rule of thumb? Check to see what the AAA discount is at your preferred hotel, then get online. If you're willing to prepay or book in advance, you may save even more.
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