The price of domestic and international flights can vary considerably depending on the time of year you fly, departure and arrival destinations, and the airline you choose. Whether you fly frequently or want to make a special trip, most people want to save money on airline tickets or find flight deals.
There are several trip-planning websites, loyalty programs, and other offers out there geared toward getting you the best flight deals and putting more money in your pocket. Keep reading to get some of the best tips and tricks to make your next departure date inexpensive and hassle-free.
Find the Right Time to Buy
There are certain sweet spots for purchasing plane tickets. If you're flying internationally, a good rule of thumb is to purchase your tickets around three months before take-off. The earlier you buy, the better deals you'll find. This is particularly true if you're traveling during peak times of the year (typically spring or around certain major holidays), where booking up to six months before the trip will get better prices.
Starting early also gives you plenty of time to shop around. You can check different sources for the cheapest deal and jump on the opportunities as they arise. Don't wait too long and back yourself into a corner, paying top prices because you waited to book just a few days before you intend to leave. Unless it's an emergency, plan ahead!
Check Budget Carriers
Budget airlines can have some incredibly cheap flights, especially to certain destinations. In the United States, there are a handful of well-known budget airlines to check out, including those listed below.
If saving money is your main goal, they're a great place to start. However, don't make the mistake of assuming that budget airlines will always have the best prices. You should check major carriers, too, and see what types of deals you can cut.
There are plenty of budget-friendly airlines across Europe, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. Even if you're flying internationally, it's worth checking to see what's available. Start by searching for flights from these airlines.
- Pegasus Airlines
- Jetstar Asia
If you're okay with no-frills flights and are looking for an inexpensive way to get to your destination, budget air travel is a great option. Just make sure you Google flights with other carriers to compare, too!
Join a Loyalty Program
If you're a frequent flier or simply favor one particular airline, sign up for their loyalty program. Taking the same airline as much as possible yields several different rewards, including special deals on flights, upgrades, various in-flight amenities, and more. Most airlines even let you accumulate rewards points to cash in for free flights once you've earned enough airline miles.
Loyalty programs benefit the airlines, too, as they help them retain customers. You can expect to be treated well and get plenty of perks. It might not mean getting the cheapest flight every time you fly. Still, there are plenty of long-term benefits to establishing a loyal relationship with an airline - especially if you find yourself in the skies often.
Flexible Dates and Times
There are certain parts of the year when everyone wants to fly. Major holidays, summer vacations, and spring break are all busy times at the airport. If you're determined to fly during those periods, expect to pay more for the privilege. However, if nothing is stopping you from traveling at a different time, book flights outside the busy season.
Additionally, certain days of the week and times of day are more popular (and more expensive). Friday through Monday tend to be the most expensive days, as business travelers move on Friday and Monday, and weekends are popular for trips. Early morning and late night flights are less expensive than their midday counterparts, too, so the time frame matters if you want a lower price.
One of the best ways to save money on flights is to open up the shopping window. Whether you're looking for domestic or international flights, check a broad range of dates and times. You'll quickly see that prices change considerably at different points, and you could save hundreds of dollars by choosing to fly on a Wednesday morning in February instead of a Friday afternoon in June.
Keep Your Destinations Open
Are you just looking to travel but aren't set on a specific destination? Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, and other services allow you to broaden your search for flights. You'll be able to see special deals for different locations and pick where you're going based on price. Typically, you can enter a particular window of time and search an area (or even the whole world) to compare flight prices.
This is the perfect option for travelers looking for an adventure on a budget. If you want to see something new and aren't picky about where you go, you'll be able to save money and get some excitement.
Use Credit Card Points
Plenty of credit cards have special rewards geared toward travelers. You may earn more points for booking hotels, rental cars, or flights (often through preferred airlines) that can be cashed in for free flights and other perks.
There's such a range of cards available that you're likely to find one tailored to what you enjoy doing. For instance, the American Express Gold Card rewards those who fly and dine out, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has excellent travel perks like trip and baggage insurance, hotel credits, and five times the reward points if you book your travel through their rewards system.
Again, this is the type of service geared toward frequent travelers. If you just take an annual vacation and a couple of weekend getaways each year, it might not serve you as well as some of the other options on this list.
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Flying doesn't have to break the bank. There are so many clever tricks to finding inexpensive flights. With a little flexibility and a couple of minutes spent signing up for great services like Comrade or airline loyalty programs, you can get cash, perks, and the lowest prices out there. The savings add up quickly, and you might find yourself on the runway more often!
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