Hotels.com (tel. 800/2-HOTELS; www.hotels.com) wants you to hit the road with its latest promotion, which we've made the smart deal of the week. This summer its gas card campaign (www.hotels.com/gas55) is entering its fifth year, giving guests who book three nights or more on its website a $55 prepaid MasterCard, which hopefully should fill up your tank (or not -- sorry Hummer drivers). You can, of course, use it wherever you want on your trip as long as MasterCard debit cards are accepted, but nevertheless, it's yours for the taking.
Here are the stipulations. You must book by August 10 and travel by August 13. More than 50,000 properties are included in the promotion, ranging from hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals (yes, they also offer those), and even all-inclusive resorts. The card will arrive in the mail after you reserve your trip but prior to your departure.
Additionally, the company has introduced a promotion that's relevant here, called deal of the week, geared toward families. For the next two weeks (through August 9), a new promotion is posted on Mondays with a booking deadline of the following Sunday. At press time, the current offers pertained to destinations offering free breakfast and reduced rates, such as the Residence Inn by Marriott in Orlando, available from $79. Starting July 27, the promotion will change to 40% off select properties to be announced.