Searching for a cheap flight for your next vacation? You already know that you should be flexible with your dates and try to only pack a carry-on bag. But is there anything else you can do to lower the ticket price? Why yes there is… However, several of these tips and tricks are counter-intuitive, which is why they are so clever.
Here’s our list of lesser-known hacks for cheaper airfare.
1. Sign up for fare tracking alerts.
Most flight search websites offer this important feature, which can save you a lot of time. Or you can head straight to a site like Airfarewatchdog to track flight prices.
2. Apply for a frequent flyer program that works for you.
If you use a credit card for most of your purchases, use one that gives you points and/or miles for each dollar spent. For some excellent deals check out the frequent flyer cards offered by Southwest, United and Delta, as well as Chase, Capital One and CitiBank.
Find and compare airline cards and frequent flyer cards in SuperMoney’s Credit Card Reviews section.
3. Search for airfares with a mobile app.
You may sometimes find better prices through a search engine’s app than its website, like the apps from Kayak and Expedia.
4. Book a package deal.
As crazy as it might sound, when you book a flight plus car rental and/or hotel thrown in, you are actually accessing deep discounts and can save hundreds of dollars. If you really don’t need the hotel or car rental, check it anyways to see the savings.
5. Book a trip beyond your destination.
“If you are trying to get tickets at a major hub airport (eg. Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, etc.), and can stand just bringing a carry on, try booking a flight in a city past your destination that goes through your destination city. I always book for Atlanta by booking Orlando, saving around $50 each trip.” – Whitson Gordon, Lifehacker
6. Clear your browser data.
Clear your cookies and use different IP addresses every time you go back to a search engine. Often times, sites will remember which prices you’ve seen and not update when there’s a better deal.
7. Mix and match your own ticket combinations.
You can combine a low-cost airline with a commercial carrier. Kayak.com allows this, or you can book tickets separately through the website of each airline.
8. Book your trip at the right time.
Don’t book less than 14 days in advance or more than 5 months in advance.
9. Be flexible with the airports.
Choosing a nearby airport for your destination or even your return trip home can dramatically cut your airfare.
10. Buy in the local currency of your destination country.
If you are traveling internationally to visit a friend, ask if your friend can purchase the tickets for you through a local travel agency or with a local credit card, and have you pay them back. Paying in the local currency can sometimes turn out to be much cheaper.
It takes some creativity and a bit of planning ahead, but if you know where to search and have these fare hacking tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be saving money for your next vacation in no time.
Suchi Rudra is an avid traveler and freelance writer from Texas who covers personal finance, travel, green building, tech, and entrepreneurship. Her work can be found in VICE, The Guardian, Vice, American Way, BBC Travel, Fodor’s, Transitions Abroad, PlanetEye.com, TravelStart.com, Expats.cz, The Writer and India Currents and many other publications.