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9 Ways to Get a Free Hotel Upgrade

©istockphoto/Massimo Merlini

©istockphoto/Massimo Merlini

Free room upgrades aren’t just for the rich and famous.

There are a few tricks you can pull to increase your chances of getting bumped up to a fancier room at no extra cost—and you don’t have to be a VIP to make it happen.

Here are 9 tips for boosting your chances of getting an extra sweet suite at your next hotel stay.

Be Nice
The number one way to earn yourself a free upgrade is to be nice. A little friendliness goes a long way, especially when paired with the other tips on this list.

Don’t even think about going down the demanding, difficult to please route. A positive attitude will actually get you much further, so be polite, patient and understanding, and you’ll end up on top.

Book Directly
Booking directly with the hotel may boost your chances at getting an upgrade, so phone them directly or book through their website. Finding cheaper deals on third party sites? Call the hotel and ask if they’ll match the price; most of the time, they will.

Timing is Everything
When it comes to free upgrades, timing matters. You aren’t going to get bumped up if a hotel is full, but if you’re traveling during slow season, your odds of getting an upgrade will definitely increase.

Similarly, aim to check in a little later. If you check in at, say, 6 p.m., the hotel may have a better idea of what rooms are available for the evening than they do earlier in the day when check in officially begins.

Be Loyal
If you’re a frequent traveler, aim to stay with the same hotel chain whenever you can. In addition to the perks you’ll get with the official loyalty programs, the check in staff may give you additional upgrades to reward your support.

Research Partners
Check to see if any of your existing affiliations—such as credit cards, insurance or professional associations—have any hotel partnerships. You could get automatic upgrades based on those connections. Know your credit card has some travel perks, but not sure how to exercise them? Just give them a call, tell them where you’re going and they’ll take it from there.

Ask… Discreetly
Sometimes, getting a free upgrade is as easy as simply asking for one. You might ask upon check-in, “Hey, are there any free upgrades available today?” Try to be discreet; if there’s a long line of people behind you listening in on your requests, you’ll probably get a polite decline.

Alternatively, you could make a specific request. If your room has a parking lot view and you’d rather a room on the other side of the building that faces a forest, ask. If you get placed in a noisy room by the elevators, see if you can switch out for something better.

Share Details
Are you visiting the hotel on your honeymoon or to celebrate a big birthday weekend? Share your story with the staff, and you may be treated to an upgrade or a special treat, like a bottle of bubbly. Do, however, be honest; employees can usually tell when you’re faking it.

Don’t Be Cheap
You’re less likely to get an upgrade if you book the very cheapest room. Many insiders recommend booking something mid range, which will give you a better chance at a free room upgrade.

Try Something New
If there’s a new hotel in your destination of choice, they may be willing to go out of the way to please their customers in order to generate some positive buzz. Give them a chance, be extra nice and see what they have to offer. This is one instance where taking a little risk can pay off.

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