Booking flights can be a real hit to your bank account. Flying seems prohibitively expensive at times, but there are ways to start saving money long before you step foot in the airport. Whether you're flying home to see family, heading out for a business trip, or just taking a vacation, we're here to give you six tips to keep more money in your pocket. We have you covered with saving tips and tricks from flight deals to check-in.
Baggage fees are outrageous. There's no denying that. If you're taking along a lot of luggage, you're going to pay a steep price. Average bag fees range from $30 for your first bag all the way up to $150 for bag number three, and the numbers vary pretty wildly between carriers. For instance, you'll get your first checked bag for free on Southwest but could pay an eye-popping $89 for the first bag if you fly Frontier. That's a major difference and one you want to avoid when you're looking for ways to save money.
Whether you're paying $30 or nearly $90, that's money better spent elsewhere. So how do you avoid it? To cut down on your out-of-pocket costs, learn to pack smarter and work the baggage system for all it's worth! If you're flying an airline like Southwest, take advantage of your free checked bag. Otherwise, try these tips.
- Use your credit card benefits - Certain credit cards, like the Delta SkyMiles Gold AmEx, offer a free checked bag as a perk for using the card. This is a great option if you're a frequent flyer, as you'll also earn two miles for each dollar spent on Delta flights, get access to early boarding, and other related benefits. There are many credit card rewards centered around travel, but don't pass up your free bag if you have the Skymiles Gold card.
- Choose a good carry-on bag - VIrtually every airline allows you to take one carry-on bag and a personal item for free. As long as your bags fit into the required dimensions, you can use them to pack whatever you like - including all of your clothes, toiletries, and electronics. This is especially helpful if you're heading out for just a few days. If you pack lightly and carefully, you won't need to worry about those bag fees. And if you're searching for the perfect carry-on for the task, there are plenty of reviews online to help you find bags with the most space and utility.
Use Flight Aggregators
Search aggregators are the best way to get a sense of flight prices. If you use a site like Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, or others, you'll get prices for multiple different airlines. You can check the cost of a direct flight, scan the costs for different travel dates, and generally determine how much your plane tickets might be. It's the best way to see the range of possible deals and prices, especially if you're searching well ahead of time. If you see a price that fits, you can typically book flights through the site or be navigated to the airline.
If you've already made your free account with Comrade and installed the browser extension, you'll be even luckier. Comrade partners with brands like Skyscanner, so you may see a recommendation pop up as you shop for flights. Interact with it to get the best deals on flights and earn cash back for something you're already doing. It's hard to beat saving money and earning it at the same time, so make sure you have Comrade installed before you start shopping for your next trip.
Use Credit Card Benefits
Credit card rewards were mentioned briefly, earlier, but getting a travel-friendly credit card is a must if you travel frequently. You'll earn points every time you fly and reap all manner of different rewards. Depending on which card or company you choose, you may get:
- Waived resort fees
- Free upgrades to business class or first class
- Access to airport lounges
- Baggage insurance
- Dining credits
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- Trip insurance
- Travel credits
- And more!
That just touches on the wide range of benefits and travel perks available across different credit cards, and you may find additional discounts. Of course, you can also use any credit card points you accumulate to pay for future flights or other travel costs, too.
There are many travel-centric credit cards out there, but you'll sometimes find travel benefits tucked into other cards, too. As an example, the Gold American Express card has several travel-related perks even though it's not typically billed as a "travel" card. You'll still earn 3x points when you book flights through airlines or AmEx travel, for instance. If you have a credit card (or multiple credit cards) it's worth checking out the benefits or rewards already available to you. You might be surprised!
As a general rule of thumb, you'll save more by booking your flight earlier. This is especially true for international flights, where you'll typically find the best deals at least 3 months before take-off time. You might get lucky and catch some serious last-minute deals, but that's a gamble you could lose (to the tune of hundreds of dollars).
If you know where you're going and when you need to get there, start checking for international flights about six months before your departure date! There's a little more room with domestic flights, but it's still wise to book a couple of months before you need to go.
Check Budget Airlines Carefully
Budget airlines may seem like the most obvious way to save money on flights. That's often true, and they do usually offer lower-cost tickets than legacy carriers. Just remember that "often" and "always" are not the same, so don't depend on them to always have the best prices. While you can get some great deals by flying budget airlines on any continent, legacy carriers will sometimes beat (or equal) their prices. By only buying budget airline tickets, you could miss out on a more comfortable flying experience.
It's important to check for additional fees, too. If you get hit with three or four hidden fees by the airline, suddenly the lower-priced ticket stops saving you money. Your best bet for finding great deals is to check around everywhere. Don't just depend on budget airlines to have the best deals by default.
While you can't bring drinks with you through security, packing food is worthwhile if you have a long layover or know that you'll need to eat in or near the airport. Airport food and drinks tend to be exorbitantly overpriced, so unless you're okay with paying up to 200% of the standard price for basic items, bring your own from home! Try packing these options before your next flight:
- Crackers and hard cheese or summer sausage
- Granola bars
- Dried fruit and nuts
Don't forget to bring along an empty bottle, too, so you can fill it with water once you're through the security check!
While flying is expensive, it's entirely possible to cut back on costs. Follow the tips listed above and you'll be taking off with more money in your wallet to spend on the things you want (or save for a rainy day). Earn a little more with Comrade while you're at it. Sign up today and let brands pay you for your attention!