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Here at TPG, we love deals. Whether it’s maximizing your points and miles to snag a “free” ticket or taking advantage of flight deals (such as this dirt-cheap business class ticket to Europe), we’re all about saving our readers money.
If you haven’t yet heard, today is National Cheap Flight Day, which was created by online travel agency CheapOair. It calls August 23 the best day of the year to find cheap flights. The company says that airfare is at its lowest “for a four-week period beginning the third week of August and lasting through mid-September.”
“This off-peak season is a great opportunity for travelers to visit destinations they wouldn’t normally consider,” Tom Spagnola, a CheapOair executive, said in a statement. “There’s a bit of excitement in seeing a great deal transform into a memorable adventure.”
While CheapOair says its data shows the next few weeks are the best time to buy flights, we see plenty of deals come and go throughout the year.
“The entire premise of there being a singular day when airfare is at its lowest or begins to decrease — the idea that we can predict that is frankly just flat out wrong,” said Scott Keyes, founder and CEO of deals newsletter Scott’s Cheap Flights.
In fact, if you’re looking to score your next cheap flight deal, Keyes suggests that you not wait for a specific day to book your ticket. Doing that can cause you to miss out on deals such as a round-trip business class ticket to Asia for under $600.
“Cheap flights are so random with so many variables that it’s really hard to predict in the first place,” Keyes continued, “that the idea that we can have any sort of certainty about when they’re going to happen in the future … I would never be able to guess on any given day what deal is going to pop up that day.”
To be fair, Keyes notes that there are trends where flights are usually cheaper (flights to Europe, he said, typically go on sale every five to seven weeks). And here at TPG, we typically publish flight deals to Europe weekly.
Keyes also said his team has noticed cheaper flights to China and Peru recently. Yesterday, we published nonstop flights to China for $285 round-trip. There are also apps like Hopper that can predict whether airfare may rise or fall.
Instead of waiting for a specific day, here’s what you can do year-round to make sure you score the best bang for your buck:
- Bookmark our Deals page! Our writers work hard daily to track down the best deals from various US hubs to cities around the world. You can also follow The Points Guy on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to text message alerts from our deals feed, @tpg_alerts. Subscribing to a flight deal service like Scott’s Cheap Flights or Dollar Flight Club can help too.
- Set up Google Flights alerts. For example, if you’re dead-set on traveling from Chicago to Rome for a week, want to fly nonstop, but don’t want to pay over $400, you can set alerts on Google Flights to notify you when prices (with those specifications) drop.
- Bookmark airline deal pages. Airlines such as JetBlue, Southwest and Delta often run sales — but you have to know where to look as airlines don’t always publicly announce or make it obvious to find flight sales.
- If you see a good deal — don’t wait. It may be gone when you come back. You have the option of booking your ticket and canceling within 24 hours for a full refund. That hopefully gives you enough time to sort out your affairs and decide if you really want to keep the ticket.
To have the best luck at finding the cheapest flights, Keyes recommends planning ahead. “For domestic flights try to book at least one to three months in advance,” Keyes said. “For international flights, try to book two to eight months in advance.”
Once you’ve found your perfect deal, you’ll then want to make sure you’re using the best credit cards to maximize airfare purchases. For instance, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), while the Citi Prestige® Card offers 5x on airfare. Other cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express® Gold Card, Citi Premier℠ Card offer 3x points on airfare, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 2x points on all travel purchases.
Featured image courtesy of Air Canada
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