NEW YORK (MainStreet) – There are various travel-booking websites out there, and most of them have some sort of price guarantee policy in place in case fares or hotel room prices go down after you book. Expedia and Priceline, for instance, will refund you the difference in price if you find a lower price within 24 hours, and throw in a $50 credit to boot. CheapAir, meanwhile, will refund the difference if you find a lower-price fare anytime between booking and traveling (though you can only get the refund once).
While the various programs are different in subtle ways, they share a common thread – that key phrase “if you find.” If you want to get a refund to match a price drop, you’ll have to search for the lower price yourself.
But a new site, Tingo, is offering to do the legwork for you. When you book a hotel room through the site, it will automatically monitor the price of rooms at that hotel, and if a room of the same type during your travel date is offered at a lower price, you’ll automatically be rebooked and have the difference refunded on your credit card. The site will rebook you as many times as necessary until your travel date to make sure you get the lowest price possible for that hotel. You can also set a minimum price drop to trigger the rebooking – if it’s set at $10, for instance, you’ll only be rebooked if the price falls by $10 or more.
Of course, there are some limitations that customers should be aware of. Most significantly, the refund policy is only for select rooms – those indicated with an icon as “Money Back” rooms. A spokesperson for the company explains that whether or not a room qualifies depends on whether it’s refundable, since the Money Back program depends on canceling and rebooking the room. While it’s not clear what proportion of hotel rooms qualify, the company says that 95% of hotels on the site have at least some Money Back rooms.
That same limitation also means that the time frame for the rebooking is limited to the hotel’s cancellation policy. That means, for instance, that if you have to cancel by a week before your stay, then Tingo will only rebook until that point. You’ll be able to see the hotel’s cancellation policy before you book.
Despite these limitations, Tingo still has the potential to save travelers some money. A company spokesperson says that during the past two months, observed price drops would have saved travelers an average of $36 for a two-night stay. That’s not a fortune, but if you’re going on vacation that’s a little more spending money in your pocket to use however you please. And perhaps just as importantly, using the site gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you’re getting the lowest possible price for your room.
Matt Brownell is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Brownellorama.