Travel hacking and saving money on flights has become quite common as people are traveling more on a budget. Gone are the days when you have to pay full price for a flight as there are several ways to get $$$ off your flight.
My friend Elaine recently wrote a post on how she got a free round trip to Hawaii by taking advantage of credit cards. You can check it out the full post here.
Saving money on travel and figuring out new travel hacks is one of my favorite things to do. Another way I save on travel is by using Airbnb. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can check out my pros and cons list of the service here.
So let’s get to it! Here are 11 ways to save on flights so you can travel more often on a budget.
Below are 11 ways to save money on flights that actually work.
1. Use Hopper
Hopper is an easy to use user-friendly app that tells you the best time to fly and when to buy your ticket. There is no spam, ads, or popups at any time on the app, and you can book your flight directly from the app.
Here are the directions from their website:
First, search for a trip by tapping dates on the color-coded calendar.
Then, get Hopper’s prediction about when your flight will be cheapest. We’ll recommend whether you should wait or book.
If we say WAIT, tap the binoculars to watch. Hopper will keep an eye on that trip for you and send you notifications the instant prices drop. If Hopper says BUY, choose your flights and book in just a few taps and a swipe. Save your passenger and payment info so future flight booking is even quicker. – Hopper
2. Compare airlines
There are so many airlines out there to choose from and they’re all in competition with each other. A few cheap U.S. airlines will be Frontier, United, Southwest, Spirit, and American.
If you’re looking to get to a destination the cheapest way possible and don’t care about the extra stuff, I recommend choosing Southwest. There are at least 3 crying babies on the plane every time I fly with them (I’m lucky), but the service is always great and the employees are so friendly compared to other airlines I’ve flown.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious flight, I recommend booking with American Airlines. I’ve flown with American to 5 continents around the world, and have sat in their first class, business class, and coach all around the world. I’ve always had excellent service, and have noticed that families rarely ever fly on AA (I’ve heard a crying baby ONCE out of the million flights I’ve taken with them). They’re redoing all their airplanes and I have noticed they are a lot more comfortable and spacious compared to the cheaper airlines.
There are usually discounts for seniors, college students, and active military. Not all airlines offer airlines, but you’ll know if they do or not by a little check box asking if you’re active military, 55+, or a college student. You can also use Ibotta to save on flights and other travel-related expenses.
Get $10 by signing up with my link here and start saving money on everything and anything, including groceries!
Related: 50 Ways To Save $500+ Each Month
4. Use a travel agent
Travel agents are very affordable and worth it in the long run (some are even free and get paid on commission through the hotels or agencies you’re booking with). Not only will they find you the best flight at the cheapest price, they’ll also help you in case anything goes wrong with your flight. Travel agents are experts at what they do, and they’re only getting better and better.
5. Learn about credit card rewards
Figuring out how credit cards for travel rewards work are the easiest way to get free flights or land a first-class seat on an international trip. It’s critical you pay your bills on time in order to maximize your potential for travel rewards, so if you aren’t good credit cards, I would skip #5. Million Mile Secrets has a great article on credit card rewards and breaks everything down clearly.
A few of the best credit cards for travel rewards are:
- Capital One® Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Chase Freedom
- Discover it – Cashback Match
Related: 50+ Ways To Make Extra Money
6. Sign up for email alerts from airlines
Signing up for email alerts from airlines ensures that you get the cheapest tickets on your flights. RyanAir (Europe’s budget airline) would often email me when I was living in Europe as an au pair. I’d get notified before non-email subscribers when they’d have their $10 deals to different countries. That means I’d score great deals before anyone even knew about the sale going on!
7. Use Ebates to save on flights
Using Ebates allows you to get cash back on flights, and many other travel related sites. You can save on flights, rental cars, Amazon, vacation packages, spas, and much more with Ebates. As an added bonus, you get $10 when you sign up for Ebates with my link here.
8. Be flexible
Be flexible in terms of booking, and not only that but when a front desk employee is asking for a customer to give up their seat to take the next flight, be the first to volunteer. Giving up your seat means you’re almost certainly going to get an upgrade, or free hotel accommodation, or actual money.
9. Book on certain days
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday’s are the best days to fly since the airports are less crowded, meaning everyone’s booking for a flight on Friday and Sunday, making your flight cheaper on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. I always choose a flight at 5 AM as they are the cheapest. Who wants to wake up at 5 AM? No one!
10. Clear your browser history
Clearing your history and cookies is important. Airlines are smart and are keeping an eye on you every time you refresh your browser to check for flights. Most airline websites will increase their ticket prices when they know you’re constantly checking for a certain flight as they know you’re most likely going to have to purchase it eventually, leading you to think you better buy it now before the price continues to rise.
Related: Free Christmas Savings Plan
11. Travel during the low season
Traveling during the low season means you’re paying a fraction of the cost for a flight. This also means that your accommodations, tours, and other travel-related expenses will be cheaper as well. I’ve traveled to many places during the low season and they always end up being a great trip as touristy places are way less crowded.
Saving on flights and travel hacking is easier than ever with credit cards with travel rewards and knowing a few hacks to “beat” the system. Though I’ve been flying for free for my life due to a family friend working for a major airline, I will most likely be using credit cards in the future for travel rewards. If you’re totally new to travel hacking, I encourage checking out this book on everything travel hacking so you can save lots of money on your trips.
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