There are a lot of apps out there that claim to help Canadians travel for less. This week, we decided to take a look at Hopper, a travel app that says they help save money on flights, accommodations, and car rentals. Is Hopper worth the hype? Let's see.
Hopper is one of the best money saving travel apps on the market. When the app is opened, the first thing that comes up is a main menu of icons. Most of them were pretty self-explanatory. We started by looking at the first icon: Hotels.
Booking hotels through Hopper
The Hotels icon takes the user immediately to a search engine. Here, they can look for cities, neighbourhoods, or specific hotels. We just chose a city to get an idea of how things worked with this app.
The feature that we really liked in the Hotels section was that it laid out which days were the cheapest. It was colour-coded by price, making it even easier to see dates that might be cheaper. People waste a lot of time trying to find the cheapest days with the cheapest prices. This app being laid out like so clearly is a real time saver.
Once the dates were chosen, the site directed us to make more choices about our stay. The options were plentiful! There was a price range slider that went from $38 to $1,200.
There were additional options to choose from including hotels rating, hotel quality, plus what amenities you want. If you chose a high quality hotel for too low a price, the search came back empty. Otherwise, Hopper was good about offering several options for each filter.
Just to check out the app, we input a price range between $50 to $240, excellent condition, free breakfast and free wi-fi. The first result was surprisingly for $60 in a beautiful inn on the outskirts of the city. The two other options were just as varied.
Other price-comparison sites tend to just compare chain hotels and motels. It was refreshing to see a locally-owned inn as option.
Booking flights through Hopper
The first thing to come up with the Flights feature was, naturally, a search button. One nice feature of the search bar was that it autofilled and gave a few airport options, just in case the user isn’t sure what they’re looking for or are unsure of the airport initials.
Once both airports are selected, the user will see something similar to this screen. For such a simple layout, there is a lot here. There is the option of what type of flight, along with a filters button.
They also had a price guide that was colour-coded to show which days were the cheapest to fly. This feature is a game changer when it comes to finding inexpensive flights. Otherwise, people are just left clicking repeatedly to see which days are cheapest, which can be both frustrating and time-consuming.
However, the airfare search filters is nowhere nearly as exhaustive as the hotel search. For those who are looking for the cheapest flights, there is a basic fares option. These come with restrictions and fees on baggage, seats, and other things. There is a choice for how many layovers you are willing to accept for each flight. This is useful because some people would rather have a more expensive flight without a layover, while others would deal with the inconvenience in order to save money on a ticket.
In addition to these choices, it is possible to choose your preferred airline. Many people don’t realize how many Canadian airlines are available. Several of the new options are significantly cheaper than the marquee names! You just need to keep an open mind.
Renting cars through Hopper
The car search option is similar to the hotel search at first glance. It asks for the dates for the car rental. Unlike the hotel search, the car rental search gives a choice of drop-off and pick up times. There is an additional option to book now and pay later for a car, which can be helpful.
The filters allow for choosing small, medium, and large cars. There is also a toggle for a price range, similar to the hotel search filters. In addition, it allows the user to filter out for free cancellation only, automatic transmission only, and no ‘young driver’ fee only.
The search finds different cars from different rental companies that fit the your criteria. While specific makes and models are not listed, it has descriptors like “standard car”, “SUV”, or “van” with examples of possible makes and models.
There is a Map feature that allows the user to access a map to the car rental place. A pick-up guide is also included. It includes answers to the following questions:
- What is needed when I pick up my rental car?
- What are the diver’s licence requirements?
- What payment methods are accepted for my car rental?
- Will there be any additional charges at pick-up or drop-off?
- What is a car rental deposit and when is it taken?
Renting homes through Hopper
The Homes icon finds home, apartment, and condo rentals. After inputting the dates, a map appears with the results and the prices. There is also the option to filter by:
- Number of beds
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- The following amenities:
- Air conditioning
- Internet access
- Outdoor space
- Coffee & tea
- Fitness centre
- Hair dryer
- Barbecue grill
- Kid friendly
- Meal available
We discovered that applying too many filters will end up with zero results when it comes to a home search.
Finding deals with Hopper
The Deals icon gives the user several options for vacation packages in locations that are on sale at that moment. There is also a countdown under each package, letting the user know when each deal expires. This is a useful option for someone who wants to go somewhere at the last minute, doesn’t have a specific destination, and wants a good deal. After scrolling down, you see a list of upcoming deals.
Freeze prices with Hopper
This icon allows for the user to do a price freeze on hotels, flights, homes, and car rentals. This is useful for the traveller who can’t or doesn’t want to pay for them immediately. There could be a number of reasons for this, including not having the money ready or needing to solidify plans before paying for it.
This process involves four steps:
- Plan your trip: search for hotels, flights, and car rentals.
- Freeze the price: once you’ve found a price you like, look for the Price Freeze button, and pay a fee to lock in the price.
- Take your time: finalize plans or wait for the next paycheque to come in. Do whatever you need to do before you decide what to do about your frozen price.
- Make a decision about your trip: you can return to Hopper any time before your price freeze expires to book your trip. If the price goes up, Hopper will cover the difference. If the price goes down, you pay the new, lower price. If you no longer want to book the trip, just don’t book it and let the price freeze expire.
Whatever the reason, prices often increase with time, so this allows the user to lock in the price at the time that they search for it. There is a small fee, but the fee is usually less than a price jump will be.
Hopper plants trees
When the user clicks on this icon, a number comes up of how many trees were planted. This icon isn’t really a feature, but it is really great business practice. For every booking that occurs on the Hopper app, four trees are planted.
They go on to explain that it is part of Hopper’s new carbon offset program. The app explains that the planet is facing an unfolding climate crisis and travel plays a role in the carbon emissions that contribute to this crisis.
Nothing additional needs to be done on the part of the user. Hopper automatically plants those trees every time a booking is made. It explains that over the course of its lifetime, a tree will offset about 900kg of CO2.
There is also a section where they explain ways to travel that are better for the environment. I know, airplanes are not environmentally friendly. Hopper is at least trying. Some of their advice is to fly directly, use refillable bottles, take the bus, walk or bike, and choose accommodations that practice sustainability, etc.
The Hopper Wallet
The Hopper Wallet is a digital wallet is where the user sees how much Carrot Cash they have accrued. What is Carrot Cash? You earn rewards as Carrot Cash, and redeem them for future bookings. Furthermore, if you link a travel credit card to the Hopper app, you’ll be able to accumulate both Carrot Cash and your card's travel points at the same time.
Here is how to earn Carrot Cash:
- Earn 1% back on flights
- Get 5% back on hotels
- Earn 3% percent back on car rentals
New Carrot Cash rewards appear in your Hopper Wallet within 48-hours after booking. You can use them for flights, hotels, or car rentals prepaid on Hopper. They expire if there has been no booking activity on Hopper within the last 6 months of your booking.
There are also vouchers that are available as one-time discounts. Some examples of vouchers seen on the app are:
- $10 off your first hotel booking
- $10 off your first flight booking
- $25 off your first Hopper Picks hotel
Finally, there are flash deals. These deals have an expiration date and time, but are better deals than the voucher typically can afford. Some examples are:
- $30 off of car rentals at San Jose del Cabo airports
- Up to $500 off of activities in Las Vegas
- $25 off select Swoop flights
- $25 off of hotels in Montreal
Pros of using Hopper
There were a lot of great features to this app. The feature on the hotels and flights where it shows which dates are cheapest was our favourite attribute of Hopper. This will help travellers save a lot of time and effort.
The price freeze was another great feature. This allows customers to freeze the price of a booking for a small fee. In most cases, the fee is less than any interim price increase.
The filters offered a lot of choices in amenities at hotels and homes. It was nice because every traveller has different priorities and this allowed them to choose accommodations that only fit their criteria.
Whether it comes to flights, cars, hotels, or homes, there is a lot in the way of choice. There were flights from several different companies with different layovers and fees. The hotels ranged from name brand hotels to simple inns. This allows the customer to choose which option is the right one for them as well as be able to choose from options that are not ordinarily offered in other travel apps.
Cons of using Hopper
Like with any app, there are some cons that we found to Hopper. As soon as the app opems, there is an icon in the lower right corner where you can get customer support. When you click on the icon, it goes to an FAQ page. This is frustrating. There is a VIP customer support option that indicates that better support is available for people who can pay for it.
The filters option could use some work. If the user clicks too many filters in a search, no results will come up, even if it’s known that there are accommodations that fit those search parameters. Also, Hopper is only available for use on newer phones and tablets, making it less than optimal for those who use older devices.
Hopper: the takeaways
The Hopper app is useful for anyone who is looking to save money on travel. There are some drawbacks, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. In the end, we would recommend this app to anyone who is looking to save money on travel expenses.
About The Author: Arthur Dubois
Passionate about personal finance and financial technology, Arthur Dubois is a writer and SEO specialist at Hardbacon. Since his arrival in Canada, he’s built his credit score from nothing.
Arthur invests in the stock market but doesn’t pay any fees because he uses National Bank Direct Brokerage online broker and Wealthsimple’s robo-advisor. He pays for his subscriptions online with his KOHO prepaid card, and uses his Tangerine credit card for most of his in-store purchases. When he buys bitcoins, it’s with the BitBuy online platform. Of course it goes without saying that he uses the Hardbacon app so that he can manage all of his finances from one convenient place.
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