11 Best Hotel Booking Apps of 2021 – Get Cheap Deals on Rooms

You have more choices than ever when it comes to booking hotels. And using a hotel booking app can help save you time, hassle, and money when planning your next trip. Here are the apps you should download for your next trip.

Independent Hotel Booking Apps

Independent apps are not affiliated with a specific hotel brand or chain. Instead, they aggregate options across a range of hotel chains and independently owned accommodations to provide you with a bevy of choices. Here are the heavy hitters among independent booking apps.

1. Booking.com

Arguably the most popular website for reserving accommodations, Booking.com has a robust, easy-to-use app that deserves a spot on your smartphone. One of its best features is the sheer number of options it offers, including accommodations in off-the-beaten-path locations around the world.

If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, the app makes it easy to view the address of your hotel in the local language. If you need to show a taxi or Uber driver where you’re headed, you can simply pull it up in the app and point.

Finally, the interface makes it easy to see all past, current, and future trips, and it highlights any loyalty discounts you’re eligible for at properties across the globe.

2. Hotels.com

Another major player in the online booking space, Hotels.com includes hundreds of thousands of properties in more than 200 countries and territories. One of the perks users like most about Hotels.com is that you get one night free for every 10 nights you book through it.

Redeeming reward nights incurs a $5 charge if you use the website to book. However, if you use the app to make a reward booking, you won’t be charged this fee. The app also lets you view or modify current reservations and view your reward progress toward free nights.

3. Priceline

Priceline was established in 1997 and is one of the longest-running hotel booking sites. The website is popular for its “Name Your Own Price” feature, which is now also available on the app.

You can book hotels, flights, rental cars, and even cruises through the Priceline app with a tap of your finger. The app includes exclusive discounts and promotions on hotels not found on the website. Priceline focuses on offering deeply discounted prices on travel but does not include a rewards or loyalty program.

4. Expedia

If you enjoy playing the travel rewards game and want to see just how steeply discounted a rate you can find, Expedia is the app for you. It often features exclusive app-only deals like double rewards points and extra discounts that may not be available on the Expedia website. You can also use the app to book other Expedia services like flights, rental cars, tickets, and tours.

5. HotelsCombined

A relative newcomer to the accommodation aggregate world, HotelsCombined sets itself apart from the rest in a few ways. It offers tons of pictures of potential hotels, which appeals to people who want to know exactly what they’re getting into when booking a room. It also has a “Price Alert” feature that lets you sign up for an email notification when a room you’re interested in drops in price by 10% or more. If there’s a specific hotel you want to stay in and you can plan ahead, this feature might be just the ticket for scoring a great deal.


Hotel Booking Apps For Last-Minute Deals

According to Business Insider, hotels have an average occupancy of about 65%. That means 35% of their rooms go unused each night. There are apps that take advantage of this fact, offering these vacant rooms for far less than their list price. If you enjoy the thrill of booking your nights’ accommodation at the eleventh hour, or if you need a place to stay in a strange city on the fly, these apps have you covered.

6. HotelTonight

Perhaps your Airbnb host cancels your reservation the day of your arrival, or you miss your flight and the first available connection isn’t until the next day. With HotelTonight on your phone, you can book a hotel for the same evening or up to seven days in advance.

HotelTonight aggregates a city’s empty hotel rooms in one place, and you can book one for up to 50% off the full price. Deals through the app go live at noon each day, and in some cities, you may have thousands of hotel rooms to choose from across multiple price points. The app is user-friendly and has a tiered loyalty program called HT Perks, which can net you even better rates the more loyalty credits you accrue. Even better, those loyalty points never expire.

7. One Night

If flying by the seat of your pants when you travel sounds appealing, One Night is the app for you. Using the One Night app, you can book a reservation only after 12pm for the same day in a select number of cities. Once you book a night, you can extend your accommodations for up to seven days.

The thing that sets One Night apart from other last-minute booking apps is that when you select your hotel, the app gives you hour-by-hour suggestions for fun, quirky things to do in your destination city. If you like to travel like a local, this is the app for you.

Hotel Chain Apps

If you take advantage of travel loyalty programs, it’s smart to have the app of your preferred hotel on your smartphone. With these apps, you can skip the line, choose your room, and unlock other member perks with ease.

8. Marriott

Marriott boasts more than 6,700 hotels in 130 countries. That means 1 out of every 15 hotel rooms in the world is owned by the Marriott group. So you definitely won’t be starved for choices if you book accommodations on the Marriott app.

Once you make your booking, you can request upgrades and late checkouts right from your phone. You can also request extras for your room, like a hair dryer or extra towels, from the app. If you frequently stay at Marriott or any of its 30 brands of hotel properties for work or play, keep this app on your phone.

9. Hilton Honors

If you’re a Hilton Honors devotee, you’ll love the app feature that everyone raves about: getting to choose your exact room ahead of time. At many hotels ,you can see a map of the property and pick the room you want via the app. This is especially popular with travelers who have a particular preference, such as a high floor with a view or distance from the elevator, or who want to be near a specific amenity like the pool or fitness center.

The app also has a digital key feature, so you can use your smartphone to unlock the door to your room at select properties. Finally, being able to check out of your room at the end of your stay via the app means you won’t be stuck in line at the front desk during checkout.

10. Hyatt

After a relaunch in August 2019, Hyatt’s mobile app, called World of Hyatt after their rewards program, is up and running with better functionality than the previous version. Among its features are the ability to stream personal entertainment content through the TV in your room with Chromecast, unlock your room door with your phone, and contact the hotel directly in real time through a new chat function both before and during your stay. You can view your progress toward rewards and see any points they’ve earned with previous stays at a Hyatt property.

11. IHG

Shorthand for InterContinental Hotels Group, IHG has almost 6,000 hotels across the world. Its app encourages customers to book travel directly with the chain instead of using a third-party site. It does this by offering a member-exclusive rate with savings of 3% on average if you book directly.

The app also features special rewards offers and discounts and lets you view your points balance toward a free or discounted stay. In addition to a user-friendly interface, the app also has a travel tools section with neighborhood guides and maps. Finally, it offers a white noise feature in case you don’t sleep well in hotels or suffer from insomnia.


Final Word

If you enjoy hunting out the best hotel deal to save money on vacation, or if you like racking up loyalty points you can trade in for free nights and other perks, it pays to download the above apps to your smartphone. From skipping the line at check-in to maximizing your savings to simply being able to view the property ahead of time, using hotel booking apps is an easy, free way to be a savvy traveler.

What’s your favorite hotel booking app? Why?

Source: moneycrashers.com

The Best Cities for Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers

The Best U.S. Cities for Each Generation

Some places have certain attributes that make it a paradise for some, yet not a great fit for others. Personal preferences aside, where you are in your life impacts where you should live, as each generation has different needs when it comes to local amenities. What’s best for Millennials isn’t always what’s best for Baby Boomers.

We took a look at the unique factors inherent to each generation and found the best cities for each age group to live in the United States.

The 10 Best Cities for Millennials

The 10 best cities for Millennials in the U.S.The 10 best cities for Millennials in the U.S.

First, we looked at the data specific to Millennials, which focused on median home price, the number of entry-level jobs, and the population share of this age group. Based on these factors, we found that Orlando, FL is the best city for Millennials in the United States. It boasts over 500 entry-level jobs per 100,000 people and has a relatively low median home price. Followed by Orlando on our list are Minneapolis, MN and Salt Lake City, UT.

The 10 Best Cities for Generation X

The 10 best cities for Generation X in the U.S.The 10 best cities for Generation X in the U.S.

Next, we looked at factors important to Generation X. These include school quality, the number of management-level jobs per 100,000 people, and the population share of this age group. Once again, Florida earned the top spot with the city of Miami. The city boasts an average number of management jobs, but is home to high-quality schools and has a strong representation of Generation X individuals living there. Following Miami are Atlanta, GA and San Francisco, CA.

The 10 Best Cities for Baby Boomers

The 10 best cities for Baby Boomers in the U.S.The 10 best cities for Baby Boomers in the U.S.

Finally, we wanted to see which cities are the best for Baby Boomers, so we focused on healthcare availability, retiree tax-friendliness, and the population share of this age group. Pittsburgh, PA won top honors with almost 425 doctors per 100,00 people and a high number of Baby Boomers living there. Following Pittsburgh are Birmingham, AL and Miami, FL.

Largest 50 Cities Ranked for Millennials

The best and worst cities for Millennials in the U.S.The best and worst cities for Millennials in the U.S.

Even if your city doesn’t rank in the top 10, it’s important to know how it compares to other cities if you’re a Millennial and how the largest 50 cities stack up may surprise you! The top 10 on our list are a mix of regions, while the bottom 10 mostly come from the West or South. Even more notable is how some of the more ‘trendy’ cities — Los Angeles and New York — are some of the worst for younger people.

Largest 50 Cities Ranked for Generation X

The best and worst cities for Generation X in the U.S.The best and worst cities for Generation X in the U.S.

Similarly, we wanted to show how all 50 cities rank for Generation X. Although San Jose, CA was the bottom-ranking location for Millennials, you’ll find it in the top 5 for this generation. Interestingly, the bottom 10 for this age group is mostly made up of cities located in the Midwest or Northeast regions of the United States.

Largest 50 Cities Ranked for Baby Boomers

The best and worst cities for Baby Boomers in the U.S.The best and worst cities for Baby Boomers in the U.S.

Lastly, we wanted to show the results for Baby Boomers across all cities. This list shows Raleigh and Charlotte in the bottom 10 whereas, for Generation X, these North Carolina cities were both in the top 10. Furthermore, there are 3 cities in Texas present in the bottom 10 for Baby Boomers.

Methodology

In order to determine the best and worst cities for each generation, we compared the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas across three key dimensions for each age group. For Millennials: 1) Millennial Share of Local Population, 2) Median Home Price, and 3) Entry Level Jobs per 100,000 People. For Generation X: 1) Generation X Share of Local Population, 2) Management Jobs per 100,000 People, and 3) School Quality. For Baby Boomers: 1) Baby Boomer Share of Local Population, 2) Retiree Tax-Friendliness, and 3) Healthcare Availability,

Each of these indicators is graded on a 5-point scale, with a score of 5 representing the most favorable conditions. We determined each city’s total score from the total of each one’s individual factor scores, which were weighted according to their significance for each generation. Each is listed below with its respective weight and data source.

Generation Share of Local Population (All) — Weight: 2.0

  • Source: U.S. Census

Median Home Price (Millennials) — Weight: 1.0

  • Source: National Association of Realtors 2018

Entry Level Jobs per 100,000 People (Millennials) — Weight: 2.0

Management Jobs per 100,000 People (Generation X) — Weight: 1.0

  • Source: Glassdoor

School Quality (Generation X) — Weight: 2.0

  • Source: Homes.com internal school score data

Retiree Tax-Friendliness (Baby Boomers) — Weight: 1.0

  • Source: Kiplinger state-by-state study

Healthcare Availability (Baby Boomers) — Weight: 2.0

  • Source: HealthGrades count of doctors, per 100,000 people


Cheria is an aspiring homeowner and the Content Marketing Coordinator for Homes.com. When she isn’t working, she stays busy sewing, designing, and diving into all sorts of DIY projects.

Source: homes.com

How Long Do Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report & Affect Your Score?

Your credit score is an important part of your financial life. Good credit can help you qualify for loans and credit cards and secure lower interest rates on those loans. Poor credit can make it expensive to borrow money and make some lenders refuse to lend you any money at all.

Usually, when you apply for a loan or credit card, the lender looks at a copy of your credit report. This places an inquiry on your report, which drops your score by a few points.

Understanding the impact of credit inquiries and how long the impact lasts can help you manage your credit score while applying for loans.

Calculating Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number that lenders can use to quickly gauge your trustworthiness as a borrower. Scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850, with higher scores being better. Generally, anything above 760 is seen as an excellent score while scores above 700 are good.

There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Each tracks your interactions with debt and credit to build a credit report for you. Using the information on those reports, as well as a formula from FICO, they calculate your credit score, often called your FICO score.

There are five factors that affect your credit score.

1. Payment History

Your payment history is the most important part of your credit score, determining more than a third of it alone. It tracks your history of timely vs late and missed payments. Making timely payments helps your score. Missed and late payments hurt your score.

One missed or late payment has a much larger impact on your credit than a single timely payment, so it’s essential that you work to never miss a due date if you want to have good credit.

2. Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization measures two things, your total amount of debt and the amount of credit card debt you have in relation to your credit card’s combined limits. The less debt you have, the better it is for your credit score.

3. Length of Credit History

The length of your credit history is also composed of two factors. One is the total amount of time you’ve had access to credit. A longer credit history means more experience with debt, which can help your score.

The other is the average age of your credit accounts. Lenders prefer borrowers who stick with credit cards and loans over those who bounce from account to account. The older your average account, the better it will be for your score.

4. Credit Mix

The more different types of loans you’ve had, such as mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, the better it will be for your credit score. Dealing with different types of debt shows that you can handle all the different types of credit.

5. New Credit

New credit looks at both any new accounts that you’ve opened as well as new loans you’ve applied for. This is where credit inquiries appear on your report. Each inquiry can decrease your credit score slightly.


What Is a Credit Inquiry & How Long Does It Affect Your Credit?

When you apply for a new credit card or a loan, the lender wants to know whether you’ll repay your debts.

Typically the lender asks one or more of the credit bureaus to send a copy of your credit report. When a credit bureau receives the request, it makes a note of the inquiry on your credit report. Each credit inquiry decreases your score by a few points.

Credit inquiries reduce your score because applying for new loans on a regular basis can indicate a risky borrower. If someone asks a lender if they can borrow $25,000 to buy a car, that is a relatively reasonable request.

But if someone asks to borrow $25,000 for a car, then needs another $10,000 personal loan the next week, and $50,000 the week after that, and then a new credit card a day later, it can throw up red flags. The person might be sending in so many applications because they’re running into financial trouble or because they don’t plan to repay those debts.

A single inquiry on your credit report can reduce your score between five and 10 points. It’s not a huge impact, but it’s noticeable for someone who is right on the border between good and excellent credit or fair and good credit.

Each additional inquiry drops your score, so applying for multiple loans can cause your credit score to drop quickly.

The impact of each credit inquiry reduces over time. If the rest of your credit report is good, your score will return almost to normal within a few months. Inquiries completely fall off your report after two years.


Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

When someone checks your credit report, it can place an inquiry on the report and drop your score. This can sound scary to people who use a credit monitoring service to keep an eye on their credit score.

The good news is that not every inquiry will hurt your credit score. When you apply for credit, lenders typically make something called a hard inquiry when asking the credit bureaus for a copy of your report. The bureaus take note of hard inquiries and put them on your credit report.

By contrast, soft inquiries are used by credit monitoring services or companies offering promotional credit offers or those helping you check if you’re pre-approved for certain products.

The credit bureaus don’t record soft inquiries into your credit, which means that soft inquiries have no effect on your credit score.

In simple terms, applying for a new loan or credit card usually involves a hard inquiry. Checking your credit without actually applying for a loan or credit card usually involves a soft inquiry.


What About Rate Shopping?

One of the best ways to save money on a loan — especially a large loan like a mortgage or an auto loan — is to shop around. If you get quotes from multiple lenders, you can choose the one with the lowest interest rate and fees to minimize your costs.

If each application results in a hard inquiry that hurts your credit score, rate shopping too extensively could damage your credit.

The good news for borrowers is that the FICO scoring formula accounts for the importance of rate shopping. For large loans like mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, all inquiries that occur within a short span — 14 to 45 days depending on the formula used — are treated as a single inquiry when calculating your score.

That means that you can safely compare rates from multiple lenders, as long as you get your quotes within a short period.


Final Word

Applying for credit cards or loans can place credit inquiries on your credit report, which can drop your score. To make sure you keep your score healthy, do your best to only apply for loans that you need.

As long as you use your credit responsibly and don’t apply for too many accounts in a short period, you shouldn’t have to worry about the impact that inquiries have on your credit score.

Source: moneycrashers.com

What Are the Challenges of Buying a Historic Home?

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Home is where the heart is, so the saying goes. For many, that means a personal connection with a home and community. That often entails buying a home in a historic neighborhood. Buyers want to be located in a historic part of the city and have a home with unique features like carved moldings, custom fireplaces, and vaulted ceilings.

In some older cities, homes can date back to the 17th century, but often, historic homes were built in the late 19th or early 20th century. Historic homes are registered with the National Register of Historic Place, and they are deemed historic or “architecturally significant” if they exemplify a certain architectural style, demonstrate the essence of a certain period in history or are associated with a famous person.

Historic DIstrict SignHistoric DIstrict Sign

Located in a Historic District

When you consider the purchase of a historic property, you first need to determine if the home is located in a historic district. The United States has 2,300 local historic districts, and those districts place specific regulations on modifications to the property. Before you buy, you need to determine the rules that govern the district. Often times, a historic review board must approve any renovations to the property. The goal is to preserve the community’s historic feel. You don’t want someone adding modern elements to the façade of a historic home.

There is much debate about whether buying a home in a historic district is a good financial investment. Some find the regulations burdensome, but others believe there is strong demand for historic properties that have been well preserved.

“I think buyers see a property in a historic district as a negative because it restricts what they can do,” says Paul Whaley, of Boston’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Investors don’t like it either as it takes longer for approvals. In general, I think it depresses the value of a property.”

However, some studies have proved otherwise. In 2011, a study was done of historic districts in Connecticut, and it concluded that property values increased 4% to 19% annually. A different study of properties in New York City found that values between 1980 and 2000 increase more significantly for properties in historic districts on a per square foot basis.

An Emotional Investment

For many, buying a historic property is an emotional purchase. Historic homes are unique and often have a great story. People feel an emotional connection to the property and the historic community. That is not necessarily a negative, but it’s important to acknowledge that the emotional connection exists. You want to fully realize any potential problems without making an unwise decision. Step back and give some distance when making a decision that has such an emotional investment; it will minimize the chance for buyer’s remorse after purchasing.

Expensive to Maintain

Historic homes by their very nature are old and generally more expensive to maintain than newer construction. Unless they have been updated, the sewer, wiring, and electrical systems can be a nightmare to maintain. Plus, there is always the chance that significant water damage has happened over a long period of time. To conduct maintenance in these areas,  you often need to hire a specialized contractor, especially if changes must be approved by a historic review board. That means living in a historic home can be an involved commitment and require a significant amount of financial resources.

Possible Lead Paint and Asbestos

Lead paint and asbestos used to be common building materials in the United States, but they are now banned. When they are discovered in a historic home, you are often required to hire specialists to mitigate the problem. Lead paint and asbestos are both highly toxic substances, and you do not want them causing health problems to you or your family. You want to have them disposed of properly.

Historic Cape May HouseHistoric Cape May House

Mature Landscaping

Historic homes have been around for generations, and that often means the landscaping has been highly refined. Trees and shrubs are probably mature and well established. This might be an attribute that you desire, but it is something you need to be aware of when purchasing a historic home. You might have less ability to make major modifications to the landscaping.

Possible Tax Incentives

If you purchase a historic home, you might be eligible for tax credits for making modification and improvements. The federal government encourages people to purchase and rehabilitate historic structures and offers the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program. The program has helped preserve 44,341 historic properties since 1976, and has seen $96.87 billion worth of private investment. States and local communities also offer historic preservation tax credits. For example, Georgia offers a tax credit for 25 percent of qualified rehabilitation costs.

Financing and Insurance Can be a Challenge

Lending institutions often shy away from financing some historic properties, because they can be viewed as a higher risk. Lenders will often charge higher interest rates and fees when providing a mortgage for a historic property given the increased risk. As well, many historic homes do not qualify for a Federal Housing Administration loan guarantee. It’s a good idea to do your research before you make an offer on a historic home. You don’t want to get into the process and realize it will cost a lot more than you anticipated.

The same can also apply to homeowners insurance. Insurance companies want to limit their exposure, and they don’t want to have to pay to repair a historic home to its original condition. Unique architectural elements can be expensive to replace. Many times, insurance companies will want to have someone personally inspect the property before the policy is written. You will probably need to find an insurance company that specializes in covering historic properties, especially if the home is over 100 years old.


James Shea is an award-winning journalist and author. He owns Media Lab, a content marketing and search engine optimization company is Richmond, Virginia.

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Source: homes.com

How Professional SEO Services Can Help Your Website

Attracting customers to your website is very important for a strong online presence. Professional SEO services can help your website succeed.

By

Andrew Charles, Partner
April 16, 2021

major search engines. To do this, you should consider working with a professional SEO service. Professional SEO services can help your website in a variety of different ways.

No matter what type of business you are in today, having a strong online presence is very important.

Consultation for current website

When you hire a professional to help with SEO, the first thing that they will do is provide you with a consultation on your current website. The service will be able to provide you with data on where your visitors are coming from, how many visitors you are receiving and what is attracting visitors and customers to competitor’s websites as well. They can then help you identify what part of the website is attracting customers and what may be reducing visitation. They can show you what landing pages are effective and what landing pages could use some improvement.

Development of strategy

A professional SEO service can also provide you with the guidance to help you develop a strategy for your website. After assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your website, the team can help you develop a strategy that will be effective to maximize the SEO position of your website. This can include coming up with target phrases that will help you to attract your desired customer base and including content that will help improve the overall integrity and quality of your website. A lot of aspects of SEO require strategy and expertise, such as creating a landing page that converts. Professional SEO services know the best practices for landing pages and what is needed to improve SEO rankings and increase conversions.

Implementation of SEO strategy

Once you have agreed upon a strategy with the SEO service provider, the next thing that they will do is implement it for you. The SEO service will spend time altering content to include target keywords, placing new blog posts, and making website adjustments that will help to make your website more SEO-friendly. When this occurs, you will start to show up higher on the relevant search engines when people perform relevant keyword searches. The team will also add valuable content to your site and help you make your website a more enjoyable place to visit, which will help ensure people continue to come back after they have found your site.

Professional SEO services know the best practices for landing pages and what is needed to improve SEO rankings and increase conversions.

Evaluation and management of campaign

While implementing the initial SEO strategy is important, the plan and process do not stop there. To have an effective SEO plan in place, you will need to continue to monitor it on an ongoing basis. An SEO service will be able to provide you with real-time information about your visitation and other data. Based on this and changes in the search engine algorithms, the SEO service will be able to make additional changes to your website to ensure that you continue to show up high on the top search engines.

Identify other revenue streams

Once an effective SEO campaign has been implemented, it should help to drive more and more traffic to your website’s landing pages. If this happens, your website will be more attractive when it comes to receiving ad revenue and placing relevant outbound links. Both of these can be a great way to earn some additional income for your business, which could then be invested into other areas of your website or business in an attempt to help it grow.

Anyone that is going to try to improve their business needs to have a quality online presence. Part of this includes making sure that you are able to attract customers to your website. Through the use of professional SEO services, you can appear higher on the relevant search engines while also having a quality website that will keep customers coming back.