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8 ways to cut down on flight costs 

Hotels, attractions, meals. The costs of travel can add up quickly, especially if you need to add booking a flight to that list. But with a little planning, you have several ways to save on this travel expense.  

1. Be flexible with your travel details

Consider using travel service websites if you don’t have a specific destination in mind. Input your departure airport, then browse and find a vacation within your desired price range. No matter where you’re flying, look for flights on weekdays, early or late in the day, or during non-peak travel seasons for potentially lower ticket prices.  
Already have a specific destination and timeline for traveling? Try flexing your departure and return dates by a day or two when searching to find a price that works for your budget
Read more: Tucking away some cash for your next big trip? Buckets and boosters can help keep your savings organized and automated. 

2. Use flight comparison websites

Keeping all your travel options straight can be a struggle. Luckily, travel service websites allow you to compare flight prices (and other details) all in one place. 

3. Sign up for airline newsletters and alerts 

Airlines may notify their existing customers or newsletter subscribers of new deals, so consider signing up for their emails or turning on app notifications. Another savvy approach is to set price alerts through various flight search engines to get notified if and when the fare drops. Continue searching, though, as the specificity of this method can let other deals fall through the cracks. 

Even if you don’t know where you’ll stay, consider booking airfare first and figuring the rest out later.

4. Consider alternative airports 

While a direct flight to the airport closest to your destination will certainly save you time, flying into other airports might be more affordable. Be sure to factor in additional transit costs if the airport is further away. 
Layovers may also save you some cash, as nonstop flights are typically more expensive. Check out price differences, along with layover lengths and locations, to determine if it’s worth the savings. You can also consider purchasing each leg of the journey separately. If you’re flying from Chicago to Paris, for example, research the cost of a ticket from Chicago to Amsterdam and a ticket from Amsterdam to Paris as a potentially more affordable option. 

5. Book early (or last minute)

Most airlines raise prices as more tickets are purchased on a flight. Even if you don’t know where you’ll stay, consider booking airfare first and figuring the rest out later. 
Airlines may offer empty seats at a steal in the days right before a departure, especially for low-demand flights. But waiting until the last minute is a risky game, so don’t count on this approach if it’s essential you make it to your destination on time and under budget. 

6. Utilize frequent flier miles and reward programs

Certain credit cards can make it easy to earn miles and points toward travel. Or, consider saving the money you earn from using a cash back card like the Ally Unlimited Cash Back Mastercard to help pay for a flight. Some airlines also have their own credit cards, allowing you to earn points as you spend.  
If you don’t want to open another line of credit, consider joining an airline’s frequent flier program that accrues points as you fly — but remember, those points can only be used for flights on that airline. 

7. Book tickets individually when traveling with a group

Sometimes it’s cheaper to book tickets individually than buying multiple at once. Look up the price for the number of people going on the trip and calculate the cost per ticket, then look up the price of the same flight for a single ticket to see the difference. 

8. Be open to budget airlines

Budget airlines may offer fewer frills, but the price is often significantly cheaper than larger commercial airlines. Keep an eye out for potential charges on comforts like checked bags, in-flight snacks or seat selection.  

Break away without breaking the bank 

Travel should be an escape, not a budget killer. Do your due diligence and take a proactive approach to get to your dream destination affordably and without worry. 

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