Hotwire can help you book flights, rental cars and vacation packages, but this online travel agency specializes in booking hotels on the cheap. Although flights and rental cars are plentiful, the best deals through Hotwire apply to hotels. You can get multi-reservation deals for flights, rental cars, hotels and any combination of the three. Unfortunately, Hotwire doesn't provide booking for cruises.

The most prominent search feature on Hotwire is the Hidden Deals search. This search is the default setting for searching hotels, and we found four-star hotels with prices discounted up to $100 in multiple cities. The catch is you won't know the name or exact location of the hotel until you book your room. However, Hotwire provides you with a list of similar hotels when you look at one of the Hidden Deals, so you can have an idea of what you're purchasing. You'll also see a percentage of approval from customer reviews, a list of amenities that comes with the hotel and the area of town where it's located.

You can search for hotels at the regular rate instead of focusing on Hidden Deals, and the site lets you sort them by star rating, amenities and price. The regular-rate search will result in higher prices, but you'll be able to see the name and location of the hotels on the list.

Hotwire has a deals finder to find discounted rates for flights. These deals are often for very specific locations and dates. Generally, departure dates for these deals are a week or two in advance, so you'll have some time to prepare if you decide to seize the opportunity. When you book a flight on Hotwire, you can fly almost anywhere from the U.S. or Canada. Flights that take off and land internationally are tricky for Hotwire, but not impossible. For example, if you wanted to fly from London to Tokyo, Hotwire can search for fares, but it uses other travel websites to conduct the search for you instead.

The mobile app for Hotwire works for devices with iOS 7.0 or Android 4.0 and up. Although you won't be able to book flights or rental cars through the app, you can still check the status of any of your pre-booked reservations. The app specializes in booking hotel reservations, bringing you an automatic discount for booking online. If you're into on-the-fly road trips, the app is best for last-minute booking and provides maps with nearby hotels.

Hotwire Summary:

You can catch some deeply discounted reservations from Hotwire, especially for hotels. But some of these discounts come with a catch. The Hot Rate Hotels cut the price, but you won't be able to see the name or exact location of the room you're booking until you've paid. If you plan to travel internationally, be aware that you can't book international-to-international flights through this website. Instead, Hotwire sends you to a partner or other travel site for this type of booking.



Hotwire specializes in hotel reservations.

Hotwire only provides booking for flights that arrive or depart in the U.S. or Canada. You can still search for international travel with Hotwire, but the searches are redirected to other sites.

The Verdict:

Hotwire's forte is hotel booking, so you may miss some options for flights that you could catch with other travel websites.