Last-minute bookings and loyalty programs can help you save. By Lisa Gerstner, Contributing Editor From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, February 2013 Economic recovery means people are traveling again. And that means hotel prices are going up. The average price paid for a hotel room rose by 4% worldwide in the first half of 2012 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the Hotels.com Hotel Price index. SEE ALSO: Our Special Report on How to Save on Travel Fees are proliferating, too. The American Hotel & Lodging Association found that 23% of the U.S. hotels it surveyed in 2012 charged extra for Internet service; just 15% did so in 2008. Christopher Ervin frequently books hotel rooms for business and leisure trips. To keep costs down, he minimizes the number of nights he stays and uses loyalty programs for discounts. But Ervin recently skipped a conference because the room rates were beyond his budget. Travelers like Ervin will have to remain vigilant—experts expect domestic lodging rates and fees to rise 5% in 2013. Save money by steering clear, if possible, of cities where major conferences or events are being held—room rates spike during those periods. If you can wait until the last minute to book (say, within five days before your stay), you might snag a room at a discount. Prepaying for a room may trim the rate, but you likely won’t be able to cancel the reservation. Use Web tools to monitor rates. If you book a room at a “Money Back” hotel through Tingo.com and the price later drops, the site rebooks at the lower rate and refunds the difference to your credit card. Kiplinger's Top 100 Money-Saving Tips are guaranteed to help you save -- and make -- more money. Download them now for $1.99!