With Priceline's Name Your Own Price service, you select your dates, areas of a city where you want to stay and preferred star ratings, and then place a bid for a hotel room without knowing the hotel name in advance. If Priceline rejects your price, you have to wait 24 hours to bid again unless you add locations, change the star level or alter your travel dates.

Until now, your best resources for gaining a bidding edge were checking hotel prices on the competitor discount site Hotwire.com, where rates can be somewhat higher but are disclosed upfront, or consulting a bevy of bidding-help websites.

These sites, including BiddingForTravel.com, BetterBidding.com and BidOnTravel.com, collect winning and losing Priceline bids, often through message boards, and offer tips and strategies. But, acting on their sometimes-outdated information can be heavy-lifting.

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