4 Ways to Lower Your Costs When Traveling by Plane

A woman wearing a backpack and walking down the center aisle of an empty airplane.

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Here's how to save money on your next bunch of flights.

Key points

  • Air travel can be expensive, no matter your destination.
  • By booking your plans strategically and using the right credit card, you can slash your costs.

You'll often hear that hopping in the car and taking a road trip is less expensive than boarding a plane to get to your destination. And in some cases, that may be true, such as if you're traveling in a group and can split the cost of gas with a bunch of people.

But sometimes, air travel is unavoidable. If you're short on time, you may not have hours to spend cruising down highways to reach your city of choice. And of course, some destinations can only be reached by airplane (driving from California to Hawaii just isn't going to work).

The good news is that there are steps you can take to slash your spending on airfare and related costs. Here are four tips worth employing.

1. Book your flights ahead of time

Sometimes, you'll get a deal by booking a flight at the last minute. But often, waiting until you're within weeks of your trip will result in higher airfare.

If you know when and where you'll be traveling many months ahead of time, consider booking your flights then. Some airlines post their flight schedules up to a year in advance, so you should have plenty of options when it comes to securing your plans well ahead of schedule.

2. Avoid holiday weekends

It can be tempting to travel on holiday weekends to take advantage of the extra day off. But you'll almost always see higher airfare prices on holiday weekends than on regular weekends. If you can avoid traveling during those times, you might spend less to get where you're going.

3. Travel at the midpoint of the week

Generally, there's more demand for flights on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays than on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If your work schedule is flexible and you're able to travel mid-week, you could shave a nice amount off of your airfare costs.

These days, many people work remotely and can do their jobs from anywhere. It may be possible to fly out to your destination on a Wednesday, work remotely for a day or two, and then only take vacation days for a long weekend.

4. Use a travel rewards credit card

Booking a flight on a travel rewards credit card won't necessarily make that flight any cheaper. But your credit card might include built-in benefits that end up saving you a lot of money.

Many travel rewards cards offer perks like free checked bags on flights. These days, it's common for airlines to charge $30 or more for each bag, so that's a good way to shrink your costs, especially across multiple flights. You might also benefit from discounts on in-flight purchases. And if your travel rewards card makes it easier to earn bonus air miles, you may end up scoring a free flight at some point, too.

Air travel has gotten pretty expensive, and it's become harder to snag deals on flights. But if you follow these tips, you might manage to eke out some nice savings when traveling by plane.

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