Shopping for cheap flights is a challenge, but with a little training, you can become an expert at finding the best deals out there. Sure, you can compare sites to see if you can find lower airfares, but you can do so much more than that to help yourself find the cheapest flight. Here are some tips to help you find cheap airline tickets that you may not know.

Plan Your Trip During the Week

ways to save on flights - plan the right day

One thing you should look for when you’re about to explore flight deals is what day you travel. Flights that leave anytime on Monday through Thursday morning will most likely have lower airfare than other flights. This is what is known as “off-peak travel.” Changing your travel dates to fall on these days is one of the top easiest ways to save on flights.

Book Promotional Non-Refundable Fares in Advance

So you know you’re traveling? Then why wait? Book at least 21 days in advance. Chances are you’ll have more seats and better travel times to pick from compared to if you waited only a week or two before your travel. Of course, the rule is a little different if you’re looking to travel during high season or to popular destinations (such as Hawaii, Orlando, or Acapulco in the spring or summer) then you should book between 60 and 90 days in advance. However, your dates will need to be firm; otherwise changing these promotional tickets can add up.

Related: 9 Tips to Avoid Baggage Fees

Check Out Nearby Airports

ways to save on flights - choose a nearby airport

Convenience is always the first thing that comes to mind when booking flights, but it’s something you definitely pay for! Instead of flying into main hubs like JFK, look into flights landing at a nearby airport like one in Newark, New Jersey. It all comes down to your car rental situation. If the cost of a car rental would equal the cost of flying into a main hub, choose the main hub, unless you’re renting a car regardless. Then you should choose a nearby airport.

Pick Your Destination and Dates Based on the Deals

ways to save on flights - look for cheap flight deals

The biggest key to saving money on your next flight is to be flexible. Rather than starting your search with a specific date and destination in mind, you should shift your strategy to look at the best deals available and choose your trip specifics based on that. In other words, follow the deals rather than going into the booking process with a specific plan in mind.

Using multiple search engines to play around with different dates and destinations will yield the most variety of choices. You’ll also save more money if you’re willing to be flexible and choose a flight with a layover rather than a direct flight. The bottom line is that you cannot expect to see the best savings if you’re not willing to be flexible with your travel dates and destinations. Going into the trip planning process with an open mind with savings as your priority will ensure that you stretch your travel dollar.

Use Fare Alerts to Track Deals

ways to save on flights - use fare alerts

When it comes to saving money on airfare, you should harness every bit of technology that you can to find the best deals. There’s no shortage of apps available that will help you find some of the best savings on the market. Signing up for fare alerts will ensure that you don’t waste valuable time searching each day. Letting the sites do the work for you will take the hassle out of looking for the deals that you need to be able to afford your next travel adventure.

Once you receive an alert for a flight option that fits your needs and budget, it’s also a good idea to go directly to the airline’s site to see if you can score an even better deal. Specific airlines tend to offer the best deals if you book directly with them. However, since it’s impossible to check every airline site every single day, you’ll find it extraordinarily helpful to let the scanning services do the research for you.

Watch Out for Hidden Fees

If a deal seems too good to be true, your hunch may be right. Before you click that purchase button, it’s vital that you check for all of the hidden fees that are often associated with airfares. You don’t want any surprises when you get your credit card bill because you didn’t make the effort to check all of the fine print.

There are various ways that airlines can stack your bill with hidden fees. Some of the most common fees are baggage costs, extra price hikes to simply be able to choose your own seat, and fees associated with food and drink on board. The airlines love to offer a great deal to hook you while adding the extra costs along the way. Before you know it, you’re at a price that’s way higher than you intended to pay.

Open and Book with an Airline Credit Card

ways to save on flights - use an airline credit card

A powerful tool in your quest to get great deals on airfare is an airline-specific credit card. If you’re shopping for a new credit card, it makes sense to find a card that’s associated with an airline. Bonus points if you choose a card with your preferred airline.

Many credit card companies will offer a significant amount of bonus miles after you open an account and spend a certain amount of money. Most cards will also offer bonus points when you use the card to purchase flights, compounding the amount of money that you’ll save on travel. Some airline cards will even give you one free or significantly reduced flight per year in exchange for being a user. While you want to be careful and keep your credit score in mind when applying for new cards, choosing a credit vehicle that helps you maximize your travel savings can be a good investment strategy for your overall budget.

What’s one of your travel tips for finding cheap flights? Tell us in the comments below!

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