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This is kind of a big deal alert: Fly to San Diego for under $150 round-trip

Dec. 12, 2021
6 min read
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To know San Diego is to love San Diego. It's a city that has near-perfect weather, a great food scene and one of the best downtowns in the country, the Gaslamp Quarter. Most of all, it's a place where people know the value of a day spent relaxing at the beach or the park. San Diego is a city that has perfected the laid-back California vibe.

If you haven't been to San Diego or are looking to make a return visit, check out the fare sale happening right now. Some of the available flights are incredibly low, and there are more than a few nonstop routes offered, too. In addition, the sale includes main cabin seats on American, United and some Delta flights.

The best availability we saw was for winter travel, and who wouldn't want to visit southern California then? Oh, and the fare deals work in reverse if you live in San Diego. As always, to get the best prices, it helps to be flexible with your travel plans.

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Thanks to our friends at Thrifty Traveler for alerting us about this deal, which they gave out first to their premium subscribers. Non-members can find sale prices by using Google Flights to search for desired routes and dates.

Related: Top 15 things to do in San Diego

Deal basics

Airlines: Alaska Air, American, Delta, United
Routes: AUS/BOS/DEN/EWR/FLL/JFK/MIA/MSP/MSY/ORD/PHL/SEA/SFO and other cities to San Diego, CA (SAN)
Cost: Flights available from $117
Dates: January - November 2022; availability varies by city.

Pay with: The Platinum Card® from American Express for 5x on airfare booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year); the Citi Prestige® Card for 5x on airfare; the Citi Premier® Card (3x on air travel); Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on air travel); the American Express® Gold Card for 3x on airfare when booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for 2x on travel — which you could redeem for as little as 13,000 points.

The information for the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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The Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. (Photo: Philippe Turpin for Getty Images)

We found nonstop fares from San Francisco (SFO) to San Diego (SAN) on Alaska in February for just $117 round-trip. That's for a main cabin ticket, which comes with a free carry-on and a seat assignment.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

We found similar bargains for flights departing out of San Francisco in January. United has nonstop economy fares for just $127 -- substantially cheaper than that route typically costs. And as the screenshot below indicates, you can downgrade the ticket to basic economy and save $10, if you're OK traveling without a full-sized carry-on bag.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Related: Planning a family trip to San Diego

You can fly cross-country nonstop from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) to San Diego for just $169 round-trip. The lowest fares we saw were for January travel on American.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Since this fare sale supposedly includes November travel, we decided to see what bargains were available 11 months out. Turns out you can book a Fort Lauderdale-San Diego round-trip ticket for less than $200.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Newark (EWR) to San Diego in March can be booked on Alaska for $153. That's more than 50% off the normal price of that ticket. It's a Saver fare, which means you have no seat assignment and board the plane in the final group, but you do get a carry-on and the knowledge that you probably paid less for your seat than anyone else on board the plane.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Delta also has $153 nonstop fares out of Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York City to the west coast. Overall, we found the most availability at the lowest prices for flights out of Newark and NYC in February and March.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

We also stumbled across some deep discounts on February flights out of New Orleans (MSY) to Ron Burgundy's favorite city. American has Main Cabin seats for just $171 round-trip, a significant discount from normal prices.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Maximize your purchase

Don’t forget to use a card that earns bonus points on airfare purchases, like The Platinum Card® from American Express for 5x on airfare booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year); the Citi Prestige® Card for 5x on airfare; the Citi Premier® Card (3x on air travel); Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on air travel); the American Express® Gold Card for 3x on airfare when booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for 2x on travel — which you could redeem for as little as 13,000 points.

Bottom Line

San Diego is one of those rare places that can offer big-city fun while retaining a small-town atmosphere. Once you book one of these bargain fares, make sure your itinerary includes a visit to the USS Midway Museum and the San Diego Zoo, breakfast at Richard Walker's Pancake House, and save some quality time in the evening for the bars and restaurants in the Gaslamp.

Featured Image by David Toussaint for Getty Images

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023