Tired of Overpaying for Flights? Google's New Tool Could Be a Game Changer

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  • Google has released a new suite of travel tools, aimed at making it easier to find a hotel, book a flight, and plan activities.
  • If a flight is marked with its price guarantee badge, Google will refund the difference if the price goes up.
  • Credit card rewards, airline deals, and other search tools can still help you score good value bookings.

Google's new price guarantee could help you know you've found the best deal.

Google dominates the way many of us use the internet -- whether it's for work or pleasure. But soon it may dominate the way we vacation as well. The tech giant has just announced new tools to help you book hotels, flights, and plan your trip. They make it easier to check hotels from your phone and get prices and information about activities once you've arrived.

Flight-wise, it is piloting a new program with a price guarantee. For certain flights, Google is so sure the price won't go down after you've booked that it will refund you the difference if it does. There are a few caveats, which we'll discuss below. But if you've ever hesitated to book a flight in case the price drops a few days later, you'll know how useful this tool could be.

How Google's flight price guarantee could change the way you book your holidays

Google's price guarantees mean you could say goodbye to price alerts and time spent monitoring other services to find the cheapest ticket. Unsurprisingly, you'll need to use almost everything Google to search and book your flight. That means using Google Flights to search and its Book on Google feature to reserve. If you receive a payout because the price drops, you'll need Google Pay to get it.

The program itself is free. Look for the multi-colored price guarantee badge when you're hunting for flights. If it's there, you'll need to check the "Price Guarantee" box when you book. If the price drops by more than $5 before you fly, you will get an email and receive the difference in your account.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Right now, Google's price guarantee badge only applies to certain flights that are either in the U.S. or depart from the U.S.
  • Your region must be set to the U.S. and your currency needs to be in U.S. dollars, otherwise you won't see the price guarantees.
  • You need to use a U.S. billing address and phone number when you book.
  • You need to have the Google Pay app installed to claim any money back.
  • You can receive up to $500 back per calendar year, and have up to three price-guaranteed bookings open at any one time.
  • Multi-city trips do not qualify. The guarantee only applies to one-way and round-trip flights that depart from the United States.

How to get the best flight deals

When it comes to getting the best deals on flights, Google's new box of tricks is not the only gig in town. There are a lot of other ways to get great deals, especially if you can be flexible with your dates. It isn't always feasible work-wise, but having a few days of flexibility on either side can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars.

Here are some other ways to score low cost flights:

  • Use a travel rewards card: Travel rewards credit cards can be a great way to reduce the cost of flights or hotels. Look for ways to both maximize your rewards and get the best value when you come to redeem your miles. You may be able to redeem them directly for travel or transfer them to an airline or hotel. Check out our guide to how credit card points work for more info.
  • Watch for deals: Airlines often have sales with discount flights to a range of destinations. Keep tabs on their social media accounts and don't dismiss airline emails as spam, especially if you're planning a big trip.
  • Use search tools: Google Flights may eventually dominate this market, but until it does, there are a bunch of other options to help you find the lowest cost flight. Check out Kiwi.com, Skyscanner, Kayak, and more to find one that suits your needs.
  • Watch for extra fees: Budget airlines can seem like a great deal until you find you have to pay for pretty much everything. I recently got a budget flight that only allowed me 2 kg of hand luggage and nothing in the hold. Another charged me for online check in. Those extra charges can add up and at times mean budget airline tickets cost more than regular ones.

Bottom line

If you're planning this year's vacations, check out Google's new travel products. But don't let them blind you to the existing ways you can reduce costs. It's worth also checking other sites and your credit card travel portal to see if there are better deals out there.

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