Did you know that you're entitled to a refund if the price of your hotel room, rental car, or airfare drops after you've booked?
Pricing in the travel industry is based on a surge pricing model, also known as supply and demand, which means that rates and fares go up and down all the time. In fact, between the time you book a trip and the time you take it, there's a fairly good chance that the price you paid for your hotel room, rental car, or airline ticket will drop.
Here are three genius websites that will track your travel purchases and either rebook your hotel room or car rental automatically at the lower price or send you an alert that you're entitled to an airline price-drop voucher. All three services are free, so it never hurts to sign up.
Tingo for Hotel Refunds
Tingo tracks your hotel price and if the price goes down, it will automatically rebook your room at the lower rate. The site keeps checking for price drops up until the day of your arrival or until the rate becomes nonrefundable—usually 24-48 hours before your arrival. Every time the rate goes down, Tingo sends you an email with a new booking number at the lower price. There's no limit to the refund amount and you never have to submit a claim. The refund is made directly to your credit card and you don't have to lift a finger. Brilliant.
Tingo works with virtually every hotel group and thousands of independent properties. The only time Tingo can't help you is if you're booking a non-refundable rate.
Autoslash for Car Rental Refunds
What Tingo is for hotels, Autoslash is for rental cars. The site will track your car rental and automatically let you if the price goes down. Better yet, Autoslash will ask if you'd like it to rebook you at the lower rate, and it will take care of it with no muss, no fuss. In addition, Autoslash will apply any eligible discount coupon codes, which may further lower your cost.
Yapta for Airfare Refunds
Getting an airfare refund is quite a bit more complicated. Yapta tracks your airfare and sends you an alert if the price goes down. But unlike Tingo and Autoslash, Yapta will not automatically rebook your ticket. You have to do the legwork to get your refund. Even so, Yapta has helped saved fliers millions of dollars over the years so it's always worth a try.
If you book your flights directly through an airline (and not a third-party site such as Kayak or Expedia), you can enter your flight details. Yapta works with all the major US airlines, with the exception of Southwest Airlines. It does work with foreign carriers.
Here's the sting: Airlines will deduct a rebooking fee (typically $75-$200, depending on the airline) and give you a voucher for the difference, typically good for a year from your original booking. Very often, but not always, the rebooking fee wipes out any savings.
Three US carriers do not impose a rebooking fee. The biggest, Southwest, can't be tracked with Yapta but the refund process is the most straightforward out there.