If you're looking for a hotel deal, it might pay to wait until the last minute - CNBC
Sep 26, 2021 1 min, 8 secs

While conventional wisdom holds that travelers get better rates for accommodations, air and other vacation components by reserving early, research from NerdWallet found that 66% of the time they'd save more by waiting to book a hotel room until 15 days before arrival, compared to four months out.

The idea that booking early is better has actually always been more about choice, said Sally French, a travel expert at NerdWallet.

Hotel rates rise as travel starts to resume.

NerdWallet studied more than 2,500 hotel room rates in 2019, 2020 and the first half of 2021 at hotels worldwide across price point and brand, comparing prices for nights 15 days and four months out.

From 2019 to 2021, the average room rate in North America booked 15 days out was $203, while that for a unit booked four months out was $233, NerdWallet found, a 12.7% difference.

French said prices fell about 33% year-over-year in 2020 but are now 30% cheaper than in 2019, meaning they're on the rise.

In addition, most hotels will price-match cheaper rates for the same room and travel dates, according to French, or travelers with reservations at hotels with flexible cancellation policies can cancel more expensive reservations made earlier and rebook at cheaper rates

Destinations with cheaper hotel rates include Bangkok and Tokyo abroad — where rates are still off 2019 prices by more than 50% — and, in the U.S., business centers like New York and Philadelphia, according to French


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