Want to know some ways to save money on your next vacation? It helps to know the cheapest days to fly.
As a smart traveler, you understand that paying for airfare is one of your biggest travel expenses. By juggling your travel dates, you can save hundreds each time you book a flight.
But, choosing the best day to fly is only part of the process. There are plenty of ways to save money on airfare. As seasoned travelers and deal seeking fiends, we’ve tried about every trick in the book. Here are some of our favorite ways to save on flights.
11 Ways to Find Cheap Flights
Using one of the best travel rewards credit cards points and miles is the cheapest way to fly, bar none. By redeeming points and miles to fly, you can save hundreds of dollars per ticket. And, when you use points and miles to travel on the cheapest days to fly, you save even more. Additionally, co-branded airline cards may provide you with additional perks – including free checked bags, lounge access, and more.
Don’t believe credit card rewards work? Last year, we used credit card rewards for 2 round-trip tickets to Italy, paying a total of just $109 in taxes. Pretty sweet, huh? And, that’s not the only place we’ve been. Over the last 18 months, we’ve been to London, Paris, Jamaica (twice), Cancun, Las Vegas, Denver, Los Angeles, St. Maarten, and more – all on rewards points. Want to get in on the action? Here are a few of our favorite cards right now:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Right now is a great time to pick up our favorite rewards card of all, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card. It isn’t a straight travel card, per se, but Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer at a 1 to 1 ratio with 11 different travel partners. That is some super sweet sauce, my friends. You’ll earn 2x points on travel and dining expenses and 1x points on everything else. But here’s the best part: Currently, you can earn 50,000 bonus points just for signing up. That’s worth $500 in gift cards or about $600 in travel! All you have to do is spend $4,000 in the first 3 months and you’ve earned the points. There is a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card has one of the best travel offers going right now. You earn a $200 bonus when you sign up for the card and spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. Once the bonus hits your account, you can redeem it as a $200 travel credit on your next statement. That’s $200 to spend on travel related items like airfare, rental cars, hotels, etc. Plus, unlike many rewards cards, this one has NO ANNUAL FEE! You’ll also earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent, regardless of category.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
If you’re looking to book an international flight, you can save big money by earning American Airlines miles with your Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®. With the current offer, you’ll earn 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in 90 days. If you and a spouse both sign up, that’s over 60,000 miles you can earn. We’ve used those miles to take 2 round-trip, off-peak flights to Italy for practically free (about $100 in taxes and fees). You can also hit places like St. Maarten (we did that too), London (check), Paris (did that), and more. Please note that there’s a $95 annual fee which is waived for the first 12 months.
Pick the Cheapest Days to Fly
Seriously peeps, if you’re flexible with your travel schedule, you can save tons of money. That’s why we always like to research the cheapest days to fly first. Sometimes, you can knock off a few hundred bucks each way! Save that money and add it to your vacation budget. Better yet, stash it away and take another trip in the near future.
Even if you’re using points and miles, flying on the cheapest days still works out best. In general, points and miles are tied to the actual cost of the flight. So, the cheaper the flight in dollars, the less points you actually use. Hoard those points and use them to travel more often.
So, what are the cheapest days to fly? It makes sense that the cheapest flights are found on the least popular travel days. It’s a classic case of supply and demand, y’all. Generally speaking, the cheapest days to fly are:
- Tuesday: When we travel, we almost always have a Tuesday flight included in our plans. Think about it. Tuesday is neither on the weekend, nor can it be used to extend the weekend like Monday. But don’t feel sorry for poor, unloved Tuesday. It makes a perfect day for the budget traveler to fly!
- Wednesday: Along with its lame cousin Tuesday, Wednesday is another boring mid-week day. But, for the deal seeker, Wednesday is a great day to save on flights. Again, it’s tough to connect Wednesday to a long weekend, so most people would rather avoid it all together. But, if you’re flexible with your travel schedule, you can travel Wednesday-Tuesday and save a bundle!
- Saturday: Who the heck wants to fly somewhere cool, then cut their weekend short and fly home on a Saturday?!? People who want to save big money on flights, that’s who! Most people aren’t flexible or creative enough to even think about flying on a Saturday. That’s why Saturday is almost always one of the cheapest days to fly.
Avoid Popular Days to Fly
It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Avoid flying on popular days. Everybody and their mother wants to hop on a flight and enjoy a nice weekend somewhere swank. That’s why Friday is typically one of the most expensive days to fly. Of course, those people also have to get home, making Sunday and Monday pricier as well.
Additionally, flights are always more expensive around holidays. Any day that bookends a holiday is going to be popular and, thus, more expensive. If you can, avoid flying immediately before or after a holiday. Instead, try to find flights a few days before or after to save money.
If you want to find the cheapest flights, you need to plan ahead. Most people tend to plan their vacations about 3-6 months before they head out. Airlines know this, and they seem to increase their rates during this time. According to CheapAir.com, the best time to book is 49 days in advance. At about seven weeks out, the airlines have a pretty good idea how full their flights are going to be. Thus, they may either increase flight costs or discount them depending on how many available seats each flight has left.
Personally, we’ve always had the best luck booking our flights about 9 months in advance. It seems like barely anybody is buying that far out, which makes prices remarkably cheap. Of course, this is totally dependent on the airline and the individual flight…but for us, it seems to work. In my opinion, the further out you plan, the better off you’ll be.
Compare and Monitor Flight Prices
When you’re planning your next trip, don’t just look and book! Compare flight prices between airlines and continue to watch them for a while. Airline fares can fluctuate wildly, and sometimes daily! Pick out a few target flights, and pounce when you think the deal is best.
This strategy is especially important if you plan to book your flight early. You can cancel and rebook your flight if you find a better fare later on. We’ve done this dozens of times, and it has saved us a lot of money (and points). However, if you’re using points, be careful. Not every airline will refund your points, so make sure you check that out before you cancel.
Fly Early (or Late) in the Day
Just like searching for the cheapest days to fly, you should also search for flights during the cheapest time of day. Early morning and late evening flights are often far less expensive than those flying mid-day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten up at 3 AM to head to the airport for a 6 AM flight. Yes, I’ve boarded many flights looking like I stepped off the set of The Walking Dead. But, taking the first flight of the day has saved us tons of money. As an added bonus, we also get to our destination much earlier, giving us a whole extra day to explore.
Most vacation destinations have peak and off-peak times of year. So, when the destination is busier, flights to and from that destination will be in higher demand. In fact, we’ve found some off-peak flights cost 40-50% less than the same flights during peak times. Keep this in mind when you’re planning your next trip. Not only will this help you save money on flights, but traveling off-peak can help you save money on hotels as well.
For European vacations, off-peak flights are usually found from November through March. Generally speaking, you’ll find cheaper flights to Caribbean destinations from May through November.
Don’t Be Afraid of a Layover
Look, I know layovers can be a bear. Who wants to sit around at an airport for hours, waiting for the awesome vacation to begin? Seriously, I get it. But, because nobody likes a layover, it can also mean saving money on airfare (especially on the cheapest days to fly).
Although it isn’t always the case, choosing a flight with a layover could save you some serious cash. And, while spending time in an airport isn’t everybody’s idea of fun, there are plenty of ways to pass the time. Walk around and shop in the malls, read a good book, or surf the internet using the airport WiFi. Better yet, head to one of the lounges. There you can relax in a comfortable chair, enjoy free snacks, and use the internet for free. These usually cost money, but you get free lounge access with certain travel cards like the Citi Prestige® card.
Use Frequent Flier Programs
One of the best ways to get cheap flights is to earn miles through the airlines’ frequent flier programs. Each time you fly, you’ll earn points or miles that can be redeemed for additional travel. Becoming a member could also earn you extra perks, like free checked bags, lounge access and more.
Frequent flier programs are best utilized by those who pay for their flights. Personally, I prefer to use credit card rewards, as I am able to rack up points faster. However, if you travel a lot (especially for work), be sure to join the program. Even if your job pays for the flight, you can earn the frequent flier miles under your own personal account. Now that is savvy traveling!
Watch Out for Taxes
Imagine this: You’ve searched the cheapest days to fly. You’ve compared airlines. You’ve monitored the fares for months. You’ve found a great deal and you’re ready to book. When you head to check out, you’ve noticed the price has increased several hundred dollars due to taxes and fees. How freakin’ frustrating!!!
When searching for cheap airfare, particularly if you’re flying internationally, you need to watch out for taxes and fees. Depending on where you’re flying and who you’re flying with, taxes and fees could add several hundred dollars to the cost of your flight. This has happened to us several times, and we now avoid targeting flights through certain airlines (I’m looking at you British Airways!). Now, we always do a test run of the check out process before settling on our preferred targets. To do that, just head to the purchase page as if you’re actually going to buy the tickets. There, you can see what the taxes will run before adding that flight to your target list. Trust me, this saves a lot of headache (and heartache) when you’re actually ready to book.
On our trip to Italy, Holly and I actually packed only carry-on luggage. We saved money on checked baggage, plus we didn’t have to wait for it at Rome’s baggage claim. (We read lot’s of horror stories.) So, learn to pack lightly. It will save you time and money.
Finding the Cheapest Airfare
Finding the cheapest days to fly takes a little bit of skill and whole lot of patience. By being using the tips above and staying flexible with your travel plans, you can save hundreds of dollars per ticket. If you’d like tips on how to travel for free, check out our “Free Travel Advice” page. Just let us know where you’d like to go, and we’ll help you build a travel rewards plan personalized to your needs.
Thanks for reading, and happy travels!