It’s hard navigating through credit card points and miles to find the best deals on hotels and airfare. Our friends have often asked us how do we get such great deals on airfare and hotels, so we thought we’d put together some of the tricks we use.
Book tickets sufficiently ahead of time
We’ve bought some of the best deals by booking tickets far ahead of time. Sometimes airlines have the best prices right after dates become available (around 330 days ahead of time). We suspect these are cheaper because they are susceptible to time changes or cancellations, but it is well worth the risk. Most airlines will provide you a full refund or voucher for trip changes if it doesn’t fit your schedule. We have tried this on Delta, Air France and Southwest.
Depart on Monday – Thursday
Try saving money by leaving on days that are not so popular for travel. All airlines have cheaper prices for flights leaving on these days instead of the weekend (Friday through Monday). If you have extra vacation days, this would be a great opportunity to use them.
Avoid leaving right before a holiday weekend
Holiday weekends are the busiest time for travel in the United States and also the most expensive. Many people want to make use of the extra days to travel so airline tickets are in high demand. If you must travel during this time, try leaving a day or 2 earlier and return a day later. You still get to use the extra vacation day and might get a better deal. It is, however, a trade-off with spending more on your hotel/Airbnb.
Off season travel
Off season travel is a great way to save on both airfare and hotels. Most airlines offer steep discounts during winter in the United States. For example, a ticket to Austin, TX from San José, CA is listed for $204 whereas the same ticket in summer is a whooping $427! Of course, off-season travel would require you to put up with cold or wet weather or if you’re extremely unlucky a winter storm, but the savings are tremendous.
Points and miles
This is one of most favorite ways of travel! We usually end up traveling during the peak tourist season and airline miles (and using tips #1 & #2) have always helped us get great prices during summer. The best way to earn miles faster is to sign up for an airline miles credit card.
Flights with layovers are often cheaper
This is a great trick to get cheaper tickets. Sites like Expedia and Kayak actually provide options that allow you to select multiple carriers for cheaper tickets. Plus if it’s a lengthy layover, it a nice way to get to know a place that’s not necessarily on your main itinerary.
Get an airline credit card
Airline credit cards help you earn miles faster and also accumulate frequent flyer rewards faster. Most cards offer perks like priority boarding, free check-in bags and maybe free annual ticket vouchers. It’s best to choose an airline card for an airline you fly the most (if it has a local hub at your airport you will find more convent flights).
We highly recommend the Delta Gold & Platinum card from American Express. You can read more about the card here:
Flights from neighboring airports could be cheaper
Our home base is the Bay Area and we have 3 regional airports in addition to SFO. Many times flights from San José or Oakland end up being considerably cheaper. Google Flights allows you to choose multiple airports as a point or origin and lists the best flight. See the example below:
Budget airlines are a great way to save money for those who travel light. It’s best to have just a carry-on bag and lose the extra clothes if you are going to a sunny destination. Of course any piece of luggage is charged almost the same price on most budget airlines. These are not the best option for travelers used to high quality service.
Overall, patience is key to finding a great deal on airfare. Don’t give up and stay tuned for our next post on apps and other websites that may help you get to your destination cheaper.