Whether you’re booking far in advance or are taking a last-minute vacation, Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot, has some easy ways to save money before booking your next trip.
It’s the Golden Rule of flying on the cheap. If you have some flexibility, red-eye flights, flights with layovers and off-season flights are usually the cheapest. Flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday will also often get you a better price on your airfare.
Deal sites like Google, Kayak and Hopper offer the option to watch the flights you’re interested in, sending updates if and when prices fluctuate. Most sites also offer calendar views, date grids or price graphs that map out the cheapest days to fly.
There might actually be a prime time to buy, too. According to CheapAir.com, the cheapest and best booking window for flights is between 112 to 21 days in advance. So file that away in your memory bank next time you’re planning a trip.
Search the RetailMeNot travel section for thousands of available travel deals updated daily. You might even be able to earn cash back on your vacation—I recently earned $50 for booking on Hotels.com!
If you’re interested in international travel, try signing up for a service like Next Vacay that delivers the cheapest flight deals from your home airport to your preferred destinations directly to your inbox. There is a small, $25 annual fee, but the first month is free and there is a six-month money-back guarantee if you don’t like the service.
It’s also worth following pages like The Flight Deal on Facebook and Secret Flying on Twitter for hot travel deals around the world.
If you have a flexible schedule and multiple destinations in mind, keep your eyes peeled for airline flash sales. Airlines like Southwest, JetBlue and Frontier run flash sales between certain cities and during specific timeframes, allowing you to book airfare for a fraction of the cost.
Booking a flight and hotel together on sites like Expedia, Booking.com and Southwest Vacations can oftentimes save you hundreds of dollars on your vacation. Expedia even offers the option to bundle in a hotel up until your trip starts with “Expedia Add-On Advantage,” so you can take your time finding the best accommodation option while getting a great deal.
If you’re in the market for a new credit card, consider signing up for one that comes with travel rewards. Nowadays, pretty much every airline has their own credit card—including Southwest, Jetblue, United and American Airlines—where you can earn points on purchases to redeem for flights, gift cards and more. Most will award you bonus points after spending a certain amount within the first few months—enough to land you a free flight. You’ll also benefit from travel perks like discounts on in-flight purchases, priority boarding, travel and purchase coverage, no foreign transaction fees, a free checked bag and more.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is another great option for frequent travelers. You’ll get 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months (equivalent to $750 towards travel), earn twice the points when you spend on travel and dining, and get 25% more value when you redeem your points for flights, hotels, car rentals and cruises.
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