Finding inexpensive flights often means scouring dozens of websites to find the best prices. The process can be so time-consuming that you may feel travel-weary before you even take off. Fortunately, there are some easier ways to fly on the cheap that don’t require you to sacrifice hours of your precious time.
Leverage your credit card rewards
The key to saving on flights may already be in your wallet. If you have a rewards credit card that allows you to earn points, cash back or miles on purchases, those rewards could translate to paying less for air travel. Take the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, for example.
This card offers 6% cash back at supermarkets, up to the first $6,000 in purchases each year. That amounts to $360 in cash back rewards. If you use the card to book your next flight, you could apply your cash rewards as a statement credit after the fact to help bring down the cost. If you don’t have this card but you want to apply, take time to check your free credit score with Credit Sesame first.
Don’t discount budget airlines
Booking sites and flight aggregators can be a helpful way to scan airfare prices in one place but they don’t always include flights from budget airlines. Budget airlines may lack some of the bells and whistles of the big brand carriers (think less leg room and no in-flight meal) but they can make up for that with rock-bottom prices on flights. Just remember to check the baggage and boarding fees since smaller airlines may try to make up what they’re not charging for your ticket with extra fees.
Book on the right day
There’s a lot of debate about which day is best to book flights. Tuesday has long been the go-to day for booking cheap flights but research from Hopper, an airfare data forecasting company, suggests that you may find a better deal on Thursday, with Wednesday coming a close second. As for the best time of day to book, try early morning to mid-afternoon.
Regardless of which day you book, check the airline’s policy on refunds before you commit. If you find the same flight cheaper elsewhere, your carrier may refund the difference back to you. Booking travel sites often have price match guarantees if you use them to plan your flight.
Weigh convenience against cost
Rethinking your travel plans can save you money but it may have a price of its own. For example, you may have to shift your travel dates to get a better deal. You may opt for a red-eye flight, which is often cheaper, or book a flight with multiple layovers which can add to your travel time.
Or you might decide to pack light and buy any essentials you need once you reach your destination to save on baggage fees. Comparing any inconvenience against your savings can help you decide if frugal travel tactics are worth it.