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Over the years, I have learned an important lesson about getting the best deals on just about everything. Extreme bargain hunters have something in common: timing. No matter what they’re trying to save on, they’ve got it down to a science, knowing specific days (and even the exact time of day) when a bargain is at its best.

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I’ve had the privilege of interviewing some of the tops experts in their fields (love my job), and oh, what I learned. I’ve tested these secrets and they’re for real.

Want to save like an expert? Learn these deal-hunting secrets. 

Hotel Rooms 

Best time to book a room? 4 p.m. local time on a Sunday, says CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg. Calling then can save you significantly, but the process can be tricky. Forget everything you think you know and follow these steps: 

1. Call the hotel’s local direct line, not the 800 number. The 800 number will connect you to a clearinghouse that books rooms for hundreds of locations. “The people who answer those phones don’t have the power to give you a better deal,” says Greenberg. Look up the local phone number for that hotel location.

2. Don’t ask to speak with Reservations—that will only get you routed back through to the 800-number clearinghouse. Instead, ask to speak to the manager on duty at the specific location. He has the authority to negotiate rates. 

3. Be courteous. Tell the manager that you’re shopping for a great room rate during a specific week, followed by, “What can you do for me?” If you feel hesitant, think of yourself as a valuable commodity. After all, you want to take an unsold room out of inventory. 

4. Say thank you and bask in your good fortune. 

Air Travel

There’s nothing more confusing and frustrating than buying plane tickets. One day you check ticket prices and think, Maybe I can get them cheaper if I wait. A few days later you check again—and the same seats have jumped $100 each. Arrgh! So how do you know when to buy?

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