If you’re planning a vacation, you know plane tickets can be one of your biggest expenses. In some cases, your airfare could cost even more than your hotel stay.
However, it is possible to save money on flights. The more money you save, the more you can spend on food, wine, or excursions once you arrive at your destination. Knowing how to get the best deal can help you save hundreds, extending your travel fund.
5 Ways to Save Money on Airfare
Stretch your budget further by planning ahead and using these five tips.
1. Use an travel rewards card
One of the best ways to earn money for your trip — and to start saving for the next one — is to apply for a travel rewards credit card. Many companies offer incentive bonuses for new cardholders in the form of airline miles or cash back rewards. Depending on the offer, it could be enough to cover the cost of a roundtrip ticket.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
, you can earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 or more in the first three months after opening an account. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus, you can earn points for your flights, hotel stays, and even transportation.
2. Rethink budget airlines
Although many people dismiss budget airlines like Spirit or Frontier because they think the planes lack in comfort, they’re worth a second look. The airlines are able to offer such low fares by stripping down extras, eliminating amenities like in-flight entertainment or snacks. But, if you’re prepared and bring your own, you can get a cheap flight for a fraction of the cost of what it’d cost with another airline.
For example, a flight from Orlando to Philadelphia on United Airlines costs $116. That trip on the same day on Spirit Airlines costs just $62.
3. Time your purchase carefully
When you buy your ticket, your departure day and time affects your airfare cost. According to CheapAir.com, the best time to buy a ticket is 47 days ahead of your trip.
Waiting for last-minute deals is rarely a good idea. Most people who book flights just days ahead of a trip are business travelers, with companies footing the bill. That means there’s less incentive for airlines to lower prices, and instead you might pay a premium.
Similarly, flying on the weekends will mean paying extra for the convenience. If at all possible, schedule your flights for mid-week to get the best price.
4. Shop around
You likely know about major sites like Kayak and Priceline to find cheap flights. However, if those two sites are the only ones you use, you could be missing out on great deals. For your next trip, check out these tools:
ITA Software Matrix: If you’re flexible on your travel dates, the ITA Software Matrix can help you find incredibly cheap flights. It allows you to search with multiple departure dates and even from nearby cities, ensuring you get the best price.
Momondo: A great tool for international travelers, Momondo searches online travel sites that other tools skip, helping you find hidden gems.
Scott’s Cheap Flights: Rather than an app or site, Scott’s Cheap Flights is a newsletter that contains special deals and discounts on airfare.
5. Look for discounted gift cards
You can get more for your money by utilizing discounted gift cards. On sites like Raise and Gift Card Spread, you can buy gift cards for a fraction of their original cost. Depending on when you shop, you could score an airline gift card for as little as 80% of its face value.
Although traveling can be expensive, finding affordable airfare can make a vacation feasible on your budget. Click here for more tips on how to save money when you travel.
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