If I ever added up how much money I’ve spent on travel over the past few years, I’d probably cry. Even though I’ve gotten incredible value from these experiences, I’m always looking for free travel.
Luckily, there are new travel services being introduced all the time. Some of them are built to last, offering a unique approach or significant cost-savings. Others are simply average but will give you a discount the first time you try them out. Saving $25 here or there adds up over the course of a year — letting you travel more often for the same cost.
All of these programs will offer you free travel credit just by signing up. The first group of services are one I’ve returned to even after the initial discount because I love what they have to offer. The others, admittedly, I’ve used only once to take advantage of a good offer. I’m sure there are even more which I’ve never had the opportunity to try (if so, please share them in the comments).
Many of these programs offer a referral “bonus” to me in the form of additional travel credits if you book a stay. You don’t have to sign up through my links — look in the comments for other readers’ links and share your own, or ask a friend for their link. However, these services advertise via word of mouth, meaning if you sign up without a specific link, you might not get the savings.
Save Money on Travel – Free Credits With My Favorite Programs
Airbnb – $25 Off Your First Stay: Airbnb is one of my absolute favorite booking engines. Staying in guesthouses, private apartments, or cottages is often cheaper than a standard hotel. Plus you can get more space, kitchen facilities, or other special amenities. Hint: Plan ahead because private owners can’t always pull a reservation together quickly.
Read more: Use Airbnb to Save Money on Vacation
HotelTonight – $25 Off Your First Stay with code RPOKORA: Now that HotelTonight offers a large variety of cities and 7-day advanced booking, I really like it. Sometimes their offers are huge bargains; other times, barely better than booking directly. Do your research and wait until you save big. Hint: Similar options that I haven’t tried include Blink (for Europe travel) and Hotel Quickly (for Asia).
Orbitz – $25 Off Your First Hotel Booking: You can earn Orbitz Rewards on every purchase, which I frequently do when booking airfare. However, you can also get $25 in rewards credits free just for signing up and booking your first hotel over $50. It’s valid at almost all non-chain hotels worldwide, giving you maximum flexibility.
Uber – First Ride Free (up to $30): I was slow to try Uber, mainly because I rarely use taxi services and prefer public transportation, walking, or a rental car. However, I’ll admit that sometimes a taxi makes the most sense. Uber is a streamlined way to hail a car from your mobile phone and pay via credit card (and even split tabs). I like it way more than calling a taxi service!
Yonderbound – $10 Off Your First Booking: Yonderbound is a fun way to review hotels because you can create “Yonderboxes” showing off your favorite hotels in a destination in order to inspire others. You’ll earn rewards when someone books from your box or you can use their advice and suggestions to make your own reservation. It’s more personalized than TripAdvisor and a little addicting.
Try it Once for the Discount
HotelEngine – $25 Off Your First Booking: HotelEngine charges regular price for its hotels and instead offers rewards after your stay. I’d prefer an upfront discount, but since they’ll give you $25 off your first booking, it’s worth trying once. I do like their easy search interface, showing which rates are refundable, offer wi-fi, and even which hotels are the most “walkable”.
HotelQuickly – $23 Off Your First Booking: This app has limited usability since it’s only for last-minute bookings and only in Asia and Oceania. However, the deals are really great – often 50% off list prices and you can stack the promotional credit and a coupon code for further savings. A 4* Bangkok hotel for $20 is hard to beat. Use code Pdafg for a random $23 discount and Survyay for an additional 5% off.
Jetsetter – $25 Off Your First Booking: Jetsetter offers savings off list price, but a discount on a high-end hotel can still lead to a high price tag. Still, this one’s worth bookmarking for an upscale stay in regions with affordable prices, like snagging a 5* hotel in Nicaragua for $100.
Lyft – $10 Off Your First Ride with code REBECCA076369: Lyft isn’t as sexy as Uber, but it works roughly the same way. Once you download the app, you can get a discount on your first ride.
Roomer – $25 Off Your First Booking: Roomer is very different from other websites because they re-sell other travelers’ nonrefundable options. Those people are just looking to offload an otherwise sunk cost, so there are steep discounts. As a downside, there aren’t many options so you’ll need to be flexible on location or date unless you get lucky. It can be a fun way to plan a spontaneous getaway though!
Silvercar – $25 Visa Gift Card After First Rental with code RPOKORA: No doubt about it, Silvercar is different from other rentals. They provide a full-service experience and Audi vehicles to set themselves apart. Of course, you’ll pay for that privilege: about double a normal rental car cost. However, with the first time discount (or when you want to drive in style), I think it’s worth it. Hint: Silvercar is unfortunately only in 7 U.S. cities.
Stayful – $25 Off Your First Booking: Stayful lets you name-your-own-price for independent, boutique hotels. Unlike Priceline, you’ll know the exact hotel you’re staying at before you bid, so there’s no risk. The website recommends a bid price (typically 10% off), but you’re welcome to try low-ball bids for bigger discounts. Combined with the $25 credit, that’s a bargain.
TravelPony – $35 Off Your First Booking of $200+: Hitting a $200 purchase isn’t hard on a multiple night stay, plus this discount can be used in addition to coupons/promotions they offer. Keep your eye out for savings events to get the best price possible.
BONUS! Travel Free with Rewards Points
Frequent flyer miles are another great way to travel free and you can get a headstart on collecting miles by simply signing up for some programs. Check out the list of airlines offering a bonus before you start flying.
With all these options (and new ones being added every day), there aren’t a lot of excuses to pay full price for your next trip. Every dollar I’ve spent on travel has been worthwhile, but overspending is just wasting. Add up all these savings and maybe next time, you’ll have enough saved up for another trip.