How to Get The Cheapest Airfare This Holiday Season

how to get the cheapest airfare

The holidays are quickly approaching, and that means people are planning Christmas vacations and trips to visit family.

In fact, 25 million people were expected to travel via airlines during the Thanksgiving holiday alone last year. And with so many passengers traveling, airline tickets can be expensive. Not to mention getting a good deal becomes much more challenging.

Yet, learning how to get the cheapest airfare can be a huge help financially. Especially since airfare is often the most expensive item on your travel budget.

If you are able to get cheap holiday flights, you can free up more money for gifts or pocket the savings for a rainy day. Luckily, there are ways to cheat the system and get the best deals possible this holiday season.

How to save money on flights

When it comes to getting discounted fares, timing is everything. And when you book your airline ticket can make the difference between getting a great deal and overpaying for a seat.

When to book your flight

If possible, book your flight weeks in advance. According to CheapAir, who evaluated millions of flights last year, you will get the cheapest rates if you book 47 days in advance of a domestic trip.

When you select a particular flight number, check how full the plane is by looking at the seat map.

If the aircraft still has plenty of seats available or it’s an unpopular flight–such as an early morning departure–the prices will likely go down later to attract new customers.

Conversely, if the plane is full, the prices are not likely to drop, so you should seal the deal and book quickly. And if you are getting down to the wire and are within two weeks of your flight’s takeoff, the price is unlikely to drop at all.

This is especially true in November and December near the holidays. Demand is high, so airlines rarely discount the seats. So make sure you book the lowest rate you can find as soon as possible.

The best day to buy a ticket

Many airlines announce sales and drop prices late Monday night, so Tuesday mornings are usually the perfect time to score the best deal.

If you are unable to monitor pricing from your desktop, sign up for an app like FareCompare. It can help you figure out how to get the cheapest airfare on the go.

And, FareCompare will even send you text or email notifications when flights in your intended route go on sale at the moment. So you can act fast and grab a good deal as soon as it pops up.

Buy one-way tickets instead of round-trip

While it is more time-consuming, you can save hundreds of dollars by booking each leg of your trip individually, rather than booking a round-trip with one airline.

That way, if an airline has a great sale for your departure date but a high price on the return trip, you can score a deal with another carrier.

Kayak is helpful for simplifying this process. They also provide Hacker Fares with their results, which identifies the cheapest airfare from different airlines for every leg of your journey.

Fly at specific times to get cheap holiday flights

Besides when you purchase your tickets, the time and day of the flight can make a significant difference in price.

Business travelers typically fly at the beginning and very end of the workweek, so fares tend to be much higher. Consider skipping these high-traffic times during the holiday season and save money instead.

The middle of the week tends to be the best, with most travelers avoiding early morning flights. If you can get up in time for a 6:00 a.m. flight, you can get a big discount.

Other undesirable flights include flyovers and overnight trips, so airlines often reduce those fares, too.

And try to give yourself some wiggle room around the holidays. The average airfare around Thanksgiving last year was $397 in October, while the average Christmas flight cost $476 during that same time.

If possible, leave a few days ahead of the holiday and potentially cut your airfare in half.

Don’t be loyal

While frequent flyer miles and reward credit cards can be helpful, being loyal isn’t how to get the cheapest airfare.

Around the holidays, airlines actively compete for customers’ dollars. So you can save a lot of money by shopping around.

Use price comparison tools like Priceline, Expedia, or Kayak to find the cheapest flights from various airlines. They sometimes have offers for users you would not be eligible for if you booked directly through a specific airline.

Book your flight now

The holidays are just around the corner. And since it’s one of the most expensive times to travel, the airlines are in a fierce battle to attract travelers.

Luckily, their competition can make it possible to get a great rate on your airfare. And right now is the perfect time to get the lowest rates on your trips.

So do your homework, compare rates, and check fares on different airlines to get the best prices this holiday season.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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