Airfare sales happen every day but not necessarily from your home airport. In order to take advantage of some of the best deals out there, you might have to get a bit creative. There are plenty of options available to help reduce the cost of airfare. You may save money by positioning yourself to nearby airports or by using your frequent flyer miles like cash to reduce the cost of a ticket. If you’re earning points on a credit card you will want to access their travel portals to see if your points have greater value there. Additionally, using a combination of award tickets and purchased tickets for securing your airfare may result in paying less. Try these combinations to find the best deal.
Use Miles to Position to the Cities with the Best Airfares
Not able to find an airfare deal from your home airport? Whether you live in a remote town or a hub city, finding a deal on airfare when you’re ready to travel can be challenging. There may, however, be better airfares from neighboring cities or cities that could be easily reached with one short award-ticket purchased with miles. To find airports near you with better airfares, you can utilize sites such as Google.com/flights for finding flight deals across the entire world. The site allows you to add up to five departure cities for your outbound flight and look at the world map to determine the best airfares from those cities.
Access Frequent Flyer Programs that Allow Cash and Miles Options
Many frequent flyer programs offer the option to pay for your airline tickets with a combination of cash and miles. Alaska Air’s Money and Miles program simplifies the redemption process. You can elect to receive $100 off a round trip ticket for 10,000 miles or $200 off a round trip ticket for 20,000.
Delta also offers the option to pay for flights using a combination of miles and cash. Members of Delta’s SkyMiles frequent flyer program which is free to join, can utilize the Miles and Cash redemption option when purchasing certain award tickets. For example, you could spend 25,500 miles and $11.20 (taxes/surcharges) for a round-trip ticket or select the Miles and Cash option of 15,500 miles and $191.20. In other words, you would be saving 10,000 miles by spending the $180. Not the best redemption value but an option for those who do not want to pay full price for the ticket. Members must have at least 5000 frequent flyer miles in their SkyMiles account to utilize the Miles and Cash option.
Delta has another program, Pay with Miles, which allows members who hold Gold, Platinum, or Reserve Delta American Express credit cards, a special redemption option at a value of one cent per mile toward ticket purchases. For example, if you used 10,000 miles towards the price of a ticket using the Pay with Miles option, it would reduce the price of the ticket by $100.
British Airways is another airline offering their British Airways Executive Club members an opportunity to reduce the cost of airline tickets. Using Avios, (the name BA has given to their frequent flyer miles) savings start at around $12 when 1,250 Avios are applied. Their Executive Club frequent flyer program is free to join.
Use Credit Card Point Redemptions That Offer Points and Cash Combinations
You never have to worry about having enough points to secure a flight as you can use a combination of points and cash to facilitate the purchase with several credit card reward-earning programs. A few of these programs include Chase Ultimate Rewards points which are earned on Chase credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Thank You Points earned on Citi credit cards can also be redeemed utilizing a combination of points and cash to complete your flight purchase. American Express Membership Rewards points is another program that offers the opportunity to pay for all or a part of your flight with rewards points and the remainder with your American Express card. You’ll realize the best valuation for your points by booking flights on the corresponding rewards travel portal as redemption values can be much greater. For instance, Chase Ultimate Rewards points receive 25% more value when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel site.
Use Your Miles for One-Way Tickets versus Round Trip
If you don’t have enough frequent flyer miles in your account for a round-trip ticket, consider booking a one-way flight with miles and the other half of the ticket with points or cash. For example, let’s say you want to fly from Chicago to New Zealand. The price of a round-trip ticket for the time frame you want to go is $1,600. Try pricing one-way tickets in each direction. In this scenario, I found that the outbound flight priced at around $1,100 one way and the return was around $500. But using miles for the outbound ticket I found a one-way award ticket could be purchased with American Airlines for 40,000 frequent flyer miles. A return ticket one way from Auckland, New Zealand to Chicago was $508. Only you can decide which is better for you, but I’ll use the combination of miles and dollars to book my trip instead of paying the $1,600.
Before you begin your search, take inventory of all your resources including frequent flyer miles, credit card points and cash you’re willing to spend. Try to be as flexible as possible if your number one priority is securing the best deal. If you’re using a separate ticket to position yourself to a city with lower fares, allow plenty of time for delays and cancellations. If you don’t have the luxury of allowing extra time, consider not using this option. The bottom line is that you’re comfortable with the combination you’ve put together and you’ve saved some money doing it.
Travel Credit Cards You May Want
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
- Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
- No foreign transaction fees
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Citi Premier℠ Card
- + Earn 3 points on Travel, Including Gas Stations
- + Earn 2 points on Dining Out & Entertainment
- + Earn 1 points on All Other Purchases
- Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- 60,000 Points are redeemable for $750 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center, or $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
- No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
- + Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
Citi Prestige® Card
- + Earn 5X ThankYou points on Air travel and Restaurants, 3X ThankYou points on Hotels and Cruise Lines, 2X ThankYou points on Entertainment (former cardholders only, through 8/31/19), and 1X ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases.
- + $100 Global Entry fee credit every 5 years
- + $250 air travel credit
- You'll get 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 within the first 3 months of account opening, equal to at least $500 when redeemed for travel.
- Complimentary 4th Night Stay: Get your fourth night free with no black-out dates if you book four nights in a row through ThankYou.com or your Citi Concierge, and pay using your card, ThankYou points, or a combination of both. Starting September 2019, this perk is capped at two uses per year; uses before that date don’t count toward the cap.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee