10 Best Economy and Budget-Friendly Hotel Brands and Chains (September 2023)
If you’re planning an upcoming trip and still have yet to book your accommodations, you may be a little torn. Do you go with the affordable and budget-friendly big-box hotel brand? Or do you shell out the majority of your travel budget for a room from a high-end hotel?
Luckily, you don’t have to choose. Going with a budget hotel chain these days doesn’t mean seedy motels on the side of the road. There are quite a few economy and budget-friendly hotel chains that offer spectacular service, clean and stylish guest rooms, and great locations in awesome destinations. And it’s all on the cheap.
We’re breaking down some of the best economy and budget hotel brands and chains around the nation. We’ll also look at a few you’re more likely to spot around the globe. Here’s how you can pick the best budget property for your next trip. Our best websites to book cheap hotels guide, our how to find cheap hotels guide, our best credit cards for hotels guide, and our Hotels.com guide expands on how to get the lowest prices at your favorite brand.
Table of Contents
Best of the Budget-Friendly
When price is your key concern, look no further. These best economy hotel chains are going to give you the cheapest deal, every time.
1. Super 8
Super 8 is one of the most affordable hotel chains in the country, with nightly prices routinely dipping down under $50 per night. One thing that sets it apart from some of its competitors is that most locations are a true hotel, not a motel. You will have to go inside the property to access your guest room, versus being able to access your room from the building’s exterior. This is an important feature for solo travelers, as it’s just a little added safety precaution.
While most Super 8s aren’t going to give you an exactly glamorous experience, you can still expect most to be clean. They’re manned by a courteous staff. They also provide a continental breakfast during each day of your stay. In other words, this is one of a handful of budget-friendly hotels where you’re truly going to get more value than you paid for.
As far as traditional motels go, the Travelodge brand is one of your best bets. Most locations are true motels in that you do access your guest room from the buildings’ exteriors. But, the brand is pretty family-focused. It’s usually found around popular attractions such as national parks or other tourist hubs. Amenities are surprisingly plentiful. They usually include an on-site restaurant or bar, as well as WiFi and an in-room coffee maker.
While the Microtel brand might not give you as an affordable rate as, say, Super 8, the brand is still pretty affordable. It’s a pet-friendly hotel that comes with free breakfast, free WiFi, a pool, and a fitness center. Additionally, this is one cheap hotel brand that you won’t just find in the United States. You can also stay with Microtel when traveling internationally, if you’re headed to Canada, Mexico, or select locations in the Asia Pacific or Latin America.
Did someone say free breakfast? This is one of the few traditional motels that offers a free daily breakfast. Additionally, Econo Lodge properties are often situated near highways, making them an ideal choice for a budget-friendly road trip. The properties are usually also on the smaller side, to provide a greater level of service and fewer crowds.
5. Motel 6
Motel 6 ranks up near Super 8 in terms of price. However, it is lacking some of the amenities that make Super 8 one of our top picks for budget hotels. This makes it just slightly less desirable. Motel 6 also offers prices around $50 per night (though you will need to pay extra for pets). What it doesn’t offer? Free breakfast, which is a big perk if you’re traveling on a budget. Despite this, if you’re looking for a cheap stay and you want a chain you can rely on for cleanliness, you can’t go wrong with the Motel 6 brand.
6. Days Inn
Wyndham’s Days Inn properties are a little more expensive. However, you get what you pay for (even when you’re trying to save some cash). Days Inn hotels are typically larger, with more amenities, such as indoor pools and on-site dining and bars. They also offer complimentary breakfast. Sure, they might be a tad dated in terms of decor. But, you likely won’t complain about the comfort or cleanliness.
One Days Inn property (in State College, Pennsylvania) is frequently ranked as the top hotel of the year within Wyndham’s economy hotel offerings. It beats out all of the brand’s other budget-friendly properties in the world. It’s all thanks to high rankings in categories such as accommodations, evaluation scores, guest satisfaction, and operating performance.
Sleep Inn by Choice Hotels is branded as a budget-friendly hotel for business travelers. It’s a hotel, not a motel, and it provides the amenities that business travelers are most likely to need. However, everyone can appreciate a free breakfast buffet and free WiFi. Most locations also offer a pool and a gym. By budget hotel standards, the rooms are pretty modern and stylish, with bright walls, modern artwork, and sleek furnishings.
Best Residence-Style Budget Hotels
Sometimes, you need a hotel that is more like a home away from home. Residence-style hotels typically are outfitted with larger guest rooms that come complete with a kitchen. They also usually have a large living room. The hotels generally offer daily or weekly cleaning services. This depends on how long you’re staying. They also sometimes provide extra, long-term guest-tailored services, such as laundry and dry cleaning. Since they’re suitable for longer trips, they’re often filled with business travelers.
Sound like exactly the type of hotel you need? Here are a few brands to consider.
The Residence Inn by Marriott brand offers full suites with full kitchens, ample living and working space, and typically very desirable locations near areas where extended-stay guests most want to be (think near conference centers, business parks, or hospitals). In terms of budget-friendly residence-style hotels, Residence Inn by Marriott is one of the nicer options.
Some residence-style budget hotels can lean closer to the mid-list range. This depends on where the hotel is located, how new it is, or the parent company. But, InTown Suites is one of the few residence-style budget hotels that is consistently cheap, no matter where you go. Its reach isn’t as broad (it’s currently found in about half the country) as some of the other brands. However, if you can find an InTown Suites location, you’ll be assured a comfortable stay, with amenities such as weekly house cleaning and high-speed internet. Rates change depending on your length of stay, so if you plan on sticking around for a week or more, or even a month, ask the front desk upon check-in if you can get a discount for a longer stay.
10. Studio 6
Studio 6 is the extended-stay version of Motel 6, so you can expect a similar experience at both brands. Studio 6 properties can be found all across the United States and Canada. They’re usually located around business complexes and entertainment complexes, so you’re sure to enjoy a convenient location near dining, shopping, and other amenities.
Studio 6 doesn’t have its own website and booking platform. Instead, you book your Studio 6 stay directly through Motel 6. Studio 6 properties come with full kitchens and expanded entertainment options.
Budget Chain Rewards Programs
As any good frequent traveler knows, a hotel is only as good as its rewards program. After all, if you can score free hotel stays just by traveling as you were planning to anyway, why wouldn’t you snag those free nights? Additionally, rewards programs members enjoy awesome perks that can range from early check-in and late check-out, to free food and access to special sales.
If you’re planning on staying with any of the above best budget hotel brands, here are the loyalty programs you’ll want to check out first.
Wyndham Rewards Loyalty Program
The Wyndham Rewards loyalty program allows you to earn 10 points per dollar spent at a hotel, or 1,000 points total, whichever is more. You can also earn points through everyday shopping, budget car rentals, and even Marathon gas purchases. Then, once you’ve acquired some points, you can redeem free nights for as little as 7,500 points (which means, feasibly, you could earn a free night after as few as seven stays). You can also enjoy discounts and pay for rooms with partial points and partial cash.
Of our hotels listed above, the Wyndham Rewards Loyalty Program applies to Super 8, Travelodge, Days Inn, and Microtel Inn and Suites properties.
See our complete Wyndham Rewards Loyalty Program review.
Choice Privileges is a top-ranked hotel rewards program that will allow you to earn points at Econo Lodge and Sleep Inn properties. Members earn points for every stay and receive additional benefits, like free coffee and shopping credits, and then can use points to redeem free nights, gift cards, and more. Members also enjoy access to special sales and travel deals. The higher your membership tier, the more perks you receive.
See our complete Choice Privileges Loyalty Program review.
If you’re planning to stay at a Residence Inn by Marriott property, you’ll want to be sure you’re signed up for Marriott Bonvoy. The newly-revamped loyalty program from Marriott, Bonvoy allows you to take advantage of cool perks such as mobile check-in straight from your phone, free WiFi, and member-exclusive rates. Plus, if you own enough points, you can redeem them for access to exclusive, VIP Bonvoy events.
You can earn Bonvoy points in so many different ways, well beyond simply staying at your favorite budget hotel. Earn points when you rent a car, go on a cruise, fly, dine out, and more. You’ll earn either 5 or 10 points per $1 spent on a room, depending on the hotel brand, and free nights start at 7,500 points.
See our complete Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty Program review.
Lastly, the My6 loyalty program is more of a niche loyalty program. It’s only going to work for you if you frequently stay at Motel 6 (or Studio 6) properties. On the flip side, if you were to sign up for, say, Choice Privileges, you’d not only save and earn at Econo Lodge properties but at all of the Choice Privileges brands. These include higher-end and mid-tier brands such as Clarion hotels, Cambria hotels, and the Quality Inn.
With My6, the benefits are bare-bones, but still there. You get exclusive member offers, priority booking, a simpler booking process, and easy access to your booking history.
Which Rewards Program is the Best?
But out of all of the above, which rewards program is the best? When U.S. News & World Report compared hotel loyalty programs based on factors such as benefits and how easy (or difficult) it is to earn and redeem free nights, the publication found that Wyndham Rewards takes the cake.
With more than 9,000 properties worldwide and an easy membership system that allows you to rank up to higher membership tiers to gain more benefits, Wyndham Rewards is going to give you more love for your loyalty. The Marriott Bonvoy program isn’t too far behind, though. So, if you know you’re more likely to stay with the Marriott brand, you wouldn’t be making a mistake signing up for their program.
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