Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PSECU, a Pennsylvania-based credit union.
Say you go to your favorite search engine and look up round-trip tickets to your desired destination, whether it be Bali, Paris or Tokyo. You see flights are $500 — perfect. You close your laptop and plan to book another day. But when that day arrives and you go back to the search engine, suddenly prices are sitting at $800 or higher. What gives?
This blood-boiling phenomenon is due to cookies, bite-sized pieces of code that remember your internet search history. Convenient for storing all those passwords, but it also means you aren’t seeing the lowest prices when booking. When you search the same flight details a second time, this indicates to the site you’re likely to book soon, even if it means at a higher rate. Use your incognito browser when searching for airfare to avoid cookies and save money.
2. Buy on Sundays
It’s a myth that the middle of the week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — is the best time to buy plane tickets. New research indicates the best day of the week to purchase airfare and save money is Sunday. The second least expensive day to book? Saturday. It turns out the weekend is a perfect time to search for savings.
Flight prices can fluctuate, but travelers find the greatest savings by avoiding weekday purchases. If you have no choice but to book during the week, try to purchase flights on Tuesdays. While ticket prices are typically a few hundred dollars more than on weekends, it is still cheaper to purchase on a Tuesday than other days of the week.
3. Travel in the Off-Season
Every destination has a peak season. Also referred to as the high season, it’s the time of year when most people travel. This is usually during the summer months and holidays. Flying around these times means paying a high premium, not to mention a more crowded destination. If you have flexibility with your trip, plan for the off-season to save big money.
For many destinations, the off-season is between November and March, when most people are enrolled in school, busy at work and kept from traveling due to the constraints of day-to-day life. The shoulder season — the transition period between off-season and high season — is from April to May and September to October. By traveling when the throng of tourists is low, you can save on all aspects of your trip, from airfare and car rentals to hotel rooms and more.
Years ago, you had to fly with an expensive international airline if you wanted to cross the Atlantic or Pacific. But today, budget airlines offer long-haul routes at discounted prices, making it easier than ever to travel for little money.
Some of the most popular budget airlines around the world include:
- Jetstar Airways
- Southwest Airlines
Keep in mind that some budget airlines charge additional fees for baggage, including carry-on. Spirit was the first to start the practice, with fees ranging from $40 to $55 per bag. It's often cheaper to pay for carry-on and checked baggage prior to your departure date, with the price increasing once at the gate.
5. Use Rewards Points
The first time you fly, create a rewards account. It doesn’t matter if you purchase tickets weekly or once a decade — your points can be used to save money and earn free rewards and upgrades. If you have a preferred airline, be sure to add your email to their mailing list to learn about surveys, special offers and discounts before they’re gone.
Another way to earn points and save money on travel is to use your credit card. Most credit card companies offer rewards programs where you can earn free flights, hotel stays, car rentals and much more. Each dollar you spend, whether it’s to pay rent or stock up on groceries, translates into more points in your account. If you spend and collect points wisely, you can travel on a very tight budget.
How to Find Cheap Airfare
The key to an affordable trip is to find the right airfare. While you may not get the results you want by googling, “dirt cheap airplane ticket,” finding discounted prices doesn’t have to be hard.
Use an incognito browser and search for tickets in the off-season to find cheap fares. Try to keep your plans as flexible as possible — simply flying out of a nearby airport could save you hundreds. And take advantage of airline and credit card offers to accumulate points and cut down on costs.
Pin this post, and refer to it when you next book a flight!