For first-time travelers and even frequent flyers, booking an affordable flight can be a challenge. Nobody wants to overpay, but many don’t know how to avoid it, so the questions multiply: What's the best time to travel? What kind of flight should I take to save money? What are the advantages of a rewards program? Where should I book my flight?
The good news is that there are answers. Saving money on flights isn’t a guessing game. Following a few essential tips will make the process a little easier.
Travel on least crowded days
Airlines charge more on busier days, especially on major holidays such as July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. If you can, avoid the peak times to save money.
You can take the same approach regarding which day of the week to fly. Since most people depart and return on weekends, Fridays and Sundays are high-volume travel days. Flights on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday are less crowded and will save money. Also, be sure to check if any major events or conventions are occurring at your destination that could increase demand and push up the price of your ticket.
If you have the flexibility, you can take this strategy of avoiding peak times to save money to another level. Instead of choosing your destination and dates first and trying to save money second, reverse the order. Look for the best deals first and choose your destination and dates on those deals.
Book connecting flights when possible
Many people like the convenience of direct flights because they get you to your destination faster without the hassle of changing planes. But there is a cost. Because of the demand, direct flights are always more expensive than connecting flights.
Connecting flights are a better option if you're trying to save money. They can have other advantages, too, especially for international travelers who appreciate a rest stop between long flights. Also, some airlines offer free stopovers, which, in essence, are extended layovers between flights.
Stay flexible when looking at dates
For many people, scheduling travel involves figuring out which dates will least impact their schedules, applying for time off from work and then booking the flight. Once the dates are chosen, they seem set in stone, and the options for finding the lowest price are limited.
If you’re looking to save money, a better plan would be to first decide on approximate flight dates so that you have more options to find the best prices before committing. Sometimes changing travel dates by a few days can result in significant savings.
Use points or miles when you can
A great way to save money on flights is to join a rewards program. Airlines appreciate loyalty for a good reason. It means you will be a returning customer, and therefore, they will reward you with perks.
If you regularly fly a specific airline and are a rewards member, you can earn and accumulate points or miles every time you fly and redeem them for future discounts and upgrades. Some of the benefits of being a rewards member include discounted or free tickets (except for taxes and fees), priority booking, first-class upgrades and access to airport lounges.
Book tickets through a travel portal
Travel portals are online platforms managed by credit card issuers that offer various travel services, including bookings for hotels, airline tickets and rental cars.
The Citi Travel portalSM is a convenient way to book your flight if you have an eligible Citi® card. It offers many filter and sorting options that search and compare flights by price, duration, flight times, connections, and even your favorite airline, making it easy to book the right flight. If you have an eligible Citi credit card, you can earn Thank You® Points when you pay for part, or all, of your trip through the Citi Travel portal. You can also redeem your points towards flights and more through the Citi Travel portal.
Disclosure: This article is for educational purposes. It is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and is not a substitute for professional advice. It does not indicate the availability of any Citi® product or service. For advice about your specific circumstances, you should consult a qualified professional.