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Flying is great…when you don’t have to spend a lot of money.
When I was an undergraduate I was #BLESSED to have my parents pay for my Thanksgiving/winter break flights home. Now that I’m “independent,” whenever I want to fly, it’s on my own dime…and as a graduate student, cha girl doesn’t have a lot of dimes. One of my main priorities when looking to travel is, of course, looking up ways to save money on flights.
*Related Post: Check out how I moved across the country here!*
The main reason I fly these days is to visit my boyfriend in California, but for whatever your reason you decide to fly, it feels great to save money dat ca$h. Keep scrolling to learn of the best ways I save money on flights, and how you can too!
Frugal Flying 101 – How to Save Money on Flights
1. Watch the calendar.
Traveling certain months/seasons of the year tend to be more expensive than others. The best times of year to fly are
- January- After the holidays when everyone goes back to work. womp.
- Spring- April and May, right before the peak summer (not sprangggg breakkkk).
- Late August to October- After the summer.
- Early December- Right before the holidays.
I’ve personally noticed that it’s for sure cheaper to fly on weekdays as opposed to weekends, so if your travel days are flexible I would definitely recommend flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Additionally, I’ve read on several different websites that around 6 weeks before traveling is *usually* the best time to purchase your ticket.
I say *usually* because that’s never been the case for me. I would still recommend monitoring flight prices online or with your smartphone daily if you want to save money on flights.
2. Compare prices.
Different websites and apps allow you to compare flight prices through different airports and airlines with just a few clicks. My favorites include:
These websites/apps give you the option to plan your itinerary, compare prices, and quickly share information with your friends and family.
The Hopper app can also be downloaded and set to notify you when prices drop for the flights you want, making monitoring virtually effortless.
I would also recommend signing up for an Ebates account if you haven’t already. Through Ebates, you can earn cash back when you book a flight. Not only can you earn cash on flights, but you can while shopping through other online retailers too. The deals change often, but I’ve had the opportunity to get “up to 15% cash back” on flights purchased through the site. Also, you can install a little browser widget through Google Chrome that notifies you if a site you’re on offers cash back. It’s 100% free, and so freakin easy.
*Related Post: Check out more information about Ebates here!*
3. Sign up for mileage programs.
When I fly, I’m not picky about the airline. THUS, I have signed up for five mileage reward programs. The application process is easy peasy, and typically free for the most basic package. You just need to put in your information when you book the flights and you’ll start racking up miles. Each program has pros and cons, so it’s important to note that before signing up.
I’m signed up with:
Signing up for mileage programs is one of the best ways to save money on flights!
4. Get yourself an awesome credit card.
Since my credit card is expiring soon, I applied for a credit card where I would get miles for every purchase I make. Now, I only use my credit card to make purchases because I love earning me some miles.
I have the Capital One Venture One Card because it has no annual fee, and gives me unlimited 1.25x miles for every dollar I spend. It gives me ultimate flexibility, with the ability to book my flight on any website with any airline. I also spent $1,000 within the first three months so I got 20,000 bonus miles. Talk about a sweet deal.
The Capital One Venture Card has that annual fee (that’s gonna be a no for me dawg), but spenders earn unlimited double miles on every purchase with the same flexibility as the Venture One.
I love Capital One because of their great security monitoring and flexible options. Jennifer Garner ain’t lying on those commercials…but to qualify for these cards you need Good to Excellent credit!
Some friends of mine have credit cards associated with certain airlines, but if you want more flexibility I would recommend getting a card that works for all airlines. Your credit card can help you save money on flights! Do ya research!
5. Find express deals.
My favorite way of saving money on flights is by using the Priceline Express Deal option.
*Note* that you need to be relatively flexible in your flight times and layover length/location, but they will always provide you with a departure/arrival time range (morning, afternoon, evening, or overnight), and an estimated layover length (i.e “no more than 3 hours”).
I think it’s totally worth it, as long as you have the wiggle room.
Several weeks ago, I booked a relatively last-minute flight to LAX from a small regional airport and saved about $350. I was H*CKIN PUMPED.
Additionally, although I have never personally used these options, there are several websites that focus solely on students. Student Universe and STA Travel have some decent prices for students traveling…but the Priceline tool usually saves me more $$$.
Safe travels my lovely friends!