When you're looking to boldly go where no one has gone before, or maybe just boldly go on vacation, travel website Priceline.com provides booking options for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises so you go almost anywhere in the known universe – or at least on Earth.
William Shatner's endorsement isn't the only reason Priceline earned our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award. This website revolutionized the online travel industry with the Name Your Own Price feature. When you want to book flights or hotels, this feature allows you to cast bids to travel companies. This means you can catch serious discounts before leaving your home. In addition, the Priceline app provides extra discounts and allows you to pay with Google Wallet.
Searches on Priceline begin like all online travel sites. Whether you're booking a flight, car, vacation package or a cruise, the homepage prompts you to fill in some basic information such as travel dates and destination. During our test searches, Priceline performed consistently well. International flights were generally less from Priceline than other online travel sites.
The hotel search yields plenty of results for destinations around the world. During our test, Priceline scored 90 percent for hotel searches. The hotel prices we found on Priceline were, on average, lower than the rates we found on other sites. While you can't sort by hotel chain, you can narrow results based on star rating, price range, amenities and part of town. This is only a problem if you travel frequently and use hotel loyalty points. From the hotel page, you can view crucial information about the hotel, photos and guest reviews. Each hotel profile also lists hotel policies like cancellation or check-in times.
Flight searches on Priceline are equally easy to conduct and sort. Once you enter passenger information, Priceline provides special deals at the top of the page. These are best to look into if you're searching for flights and hotels or want to name your own price.
Priceline's most notable feature is the Name Your Own Price feature for booking hotels, flights and rental cars. This system allows you to place a bid of your ideal price for these reservations. When you name a price, Priceline gives you a suggested price range. The price you bid through Priceline reaches airlines that then either accept or reject your offer. If your price is accepted, the airline and Priceline then use the payment information you gave during bidding to purchase the reservation.
The Name Your Own Price system has its advantages, but there are disadvantages in the fine print. For example, although you can select the cities and dates you arrive and depart, you won't be able to choose the time for your flights. You also won't know the name of the hotel you've reserved until a hotel has accepted your offer.
Priceline takes little or no effort to use. We were able to fly through searches and find the results we wanted quickly. This travel website provides most of the helpful search tools like flexible date searches and calendar-style date selection. However, if you tend to have trouble remembering flight arrangements, Priceline does not send travel reminders.
Whether you choose to bid for the best price or scroll through the Priceline options, you can purchase travel protection for any booking you make through Priceline. This protection covers you in case of unexpected cancellation or itinerary problems, and it covers cancellation fees and booking new reservations under special conditions. For example, if your flight is canceled due to natural disaster, your cancellation fees and new reservation are covered.
Priceline also has a mobile app for booking flights, hotels and rental cars. The app is optimized for the iPhone 5 and runs on iOS devices with iOS 6 and up. Android users with versions 2.3 and up can use the app on their devices as well. If you use Google Wallet, you can pay for your reservations directly through your Android phone. The mobile app also gives you access to special coupon codes and promotions.
Support options on Priceline cover all the basics. If you have questions about your reservation or while booking a reservation, you can use email, phone or live chat to connect with a customer representative. The FAQs section for this online travel site is the best place to go for quick answers.
As far as travel websites go, Priceline offers the essential reservations like flights, hotels and rental cars. Standard searches make it easy to navigate and find what you're looking for, but the Name Your Own Price plan is Priceline's signature method. We recommend using this system if you're booking flights months in advance or when your travel plans can be flexible because you won't know any times or finer details for your reservation until the hotel or airline accepts your offer.
If you use Google Wallet, you can pay directly through the app.
When you use the Name Your Own Price tool, you won't know important details about your itinerary until the airline or hotel accepts your offer.
The Name Your Own Price tool saves money, but it's best to use this site when the fine details of your travel plans can be flexible.