Tips to Help You Save Money on Flights

By Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 6:47:54 PM ET
Woman standing in an airport
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Almost everyone loves to travel, but the cost can add up quickly, especially when you start adding flights. Airfare alone can cost more than your lodging, food and souvenirs combined. In some cases, you could drive, but sliding behind the wheel isn't always appealing when you're traveling long distances, particularly when you only have a few days for your trip. With the right tips, you can quickly learn to save money on all your future flights.

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Be as Flexible as Possible

The more flexibility you have when you travel, the better chance you have of finding good rates. This applies to every aspect of your trip. For example, if you know you want to travel in April, but you aren’t locked in to a specific week, take a look at rates for the entire month to see which dates are the cheapest. On the flip side, if you just want to get out of town on a particular weekend, but you aren't set on a specific city, check rates for cities that aren't in their peak travel seasons. You could also fly out of a different airport if you have more than one choice nearby. Of course, flexibility isn't always possible, but it’s best to keep your options open when possible.

Don’t Demand Direct Round Trip Tickets

The dream is to hop on a plane, fly straight to your destination, have the time of your life, and then fly straight back home without stopping. You book one round trip flight and pay one fee. Unfortunately, that dream could be costing you more than necessary. Flights that require you to switch planes or spend a few hours in another city are often much cheaper. It could also be cheaper to fly to your destination on one airline and fly home on another. Think of it as an adventure — one that saves you some extra cash. You could even explore the layover city if you have time.

Use Apps and Social Media

You probably use social media and other apps every single day to communicate, shop, entertain yourself and complete any number of tasks, so why not use them to save money when booking flights? Services like Next Vacay, Secret Flying and Skyscanner keep an eye on flight prices, and you can set alerts to inform you when prices on certain flights change. You can follow some services on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with posts about particularly good deals. If you’re plans are flexible — see point one — this can be a fun way to choose your next vacation destination.

Pack Smartly

This tip has to do with packing for your flight rather than booking it, but it's equally important. First, weigh your luggage before you leave your house to make sure you aren’t surprised with extra fees when you check your bags. Make sure you only pack what you really need and include items you can mix and match to cut back on volume. If you need to take a heavy jacket or coat, wear it on the flight so it doesn’t take up space and add weight to your suitcase. Consider buying some items when you arrive at your destination instead of packing them — travel-size toiletries, for example.

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Earn Points with Your Credit Card

Using a credit card that allows you to earn reward points when you spend isn’t for everyone, but it can help if you want to cut down your cost of airfare. You may even occasionally fly for free or at greatly reduced rates. Some cards are connected to a particular airline, so keep that in mind when shopping around. Others allow you to redeem your points with any airline. Using your card for everyday purchases and paying your balance off each month can make those points and rewards add up quickly.

Know When to Book

The minute you decide to go on a trip, you should start looking for rates and then book quickly. In most cases, the sooner you book a flight, the lower the rate. Many experts recommend booking at least six weeks in advance if possible. If you can’t book that far out, try exploring flights at different times of day or on connecting days. Except for special rate offers, flights on Fridays and Sundays always cost more than those on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Red eye flights and those that leave very early in the morning (before 7 a.m.) are also typically cheaper.

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