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‘Im Flying First Class Most Of The Time: 5 Travel Hacks To Beat The Summer Crowds And High Prices

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‘Im Flying First Class Most Of The Time: 5 Travel Hacks To Beat The Summer Crowds And High Prices

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‘Im Flying First Class Most Of The Time: 5 Travel Hacks To Beat The Summer Crowds And High Prices
‘Im Flying First Class Most Of The Time: 5 Travel Hacks To Beat The Summer Crowds And High Prices

April is National Financial Literacy Month. To mark the occasion, MarketWatch will be publishing a series of financial fitness articles designed to help readers improve their financial health and provide tips on saving, investing and spending their money wisely. Learn more here .

Summer is still months away, but many Americans booking flights and hotels now may be surprised at the costs. Experts share their favorite tips for making travel a little cheaper with MarketWatch.

According to the federal government, airfare costs rose 4% in March compared to the previous month. Short-term hotel and motel prices also rose 3.1% in March. In contrast, headline inflation increased by only 0.1% over the same period.

How do you cut travel costs ahead of what airline experts call a "summer of airline dissatisfaction" in the upcoming travel season?

Travel experts recommend researching credit card values, doing lots of airfare research with Google Flights, and signing up your child for airline miles.

Trick 1: Use a credit card to pay recurring bills

The pandemic has impacted travel, but tour groups have never stopped racking up hundreds of thousands of points from credit card offers. This prepares them for a season of (mostly) free driving.

DC Government Counsel Ryan Horn runs Profits and Points. Horne says strategic spending and withdrawals from his credit card have earned him 500,000 points during the pandemic years, allowing him to travel in style.

“Most of the time I fly first class, which I would never pay out of my own pocket. I stay in good hotels because I've learned how to manage points and miles, credit cards, and sign-up bonuses," said Horn.

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After identifying a credit card that earned him tens of thousands of points, such as the American Express Platinum card, he pays $20,000 in rent plus prepaid utilities just to get his reward. (Rent payment services exist, and some landlords have portals that allow credit card payments, although fees often apply.)

Trick 2: Strategically subscribe to credit cards before you spend a lot of money

Horne says he's looking forward to big expenses like weddings in 2024 by signing up for a new credit card that offers tens of thousands of points.

"Every time I pay for our website or make a large payment to a seller, I get a new credit card," says Horne, "and hopefully pay off my honeymoon."

Marylander Derrick Dye, who had recently left his job as an insurance attorney, founded Travel on Points with his wife. His credit card strategy has earned him more than 10 million points over the past two years, allowing him to travel overseas business class and stretch.

Dai notes that the past three years have been great for accumulating points, and "a large part of that has been COVID incentives for credit card spending," says Dai. "This is truly an unprecedented time for sign-up bonuses and credit card offers."

Keep in mind that Dai also spends around $8,000 a year in credit card fees to earn this award.

Dai also suggests including auto insurance on credit cards, as well as property taxes and income taxes.

To be clear, there are sometimes fees when paying by credit card. For example, paying Internal Revenue Service tax liability on a credit card costs between $2.20 and $2.50, according to the government's website. If you pay by credit card, the IRS will add a fee of between 1.85% and 1.98%. If you have a large tax debt, this debit card bundle can be cheaper than paying higher interest and fees.

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Ultimately, this isn't a plan for everyone, says Horn.

"You have to be financially savvy and knowledgeable about your finances," says Horne. "As you can imagine, some people struggle to find a sign-up bonus they can't afford and end up spending more than they should."

Trick 3: Use Google Flights to find the cheapest flights

According to Jess Darrington, an Idaho travel blogger who runs the website Where Is Briggs, checking flights on Google can also be helpful if you have some flexibility on what day you want to travel.

"By changing your travel plans, sometimes throughout the day, you can save hundreds of dollars on tickets," says Darrington.

Durrington's travel brand is named after his first son. She postponed the trip because she was expecting her second child to be born in a few weeks.

Horn also uses Google Flights to track flights. "Price tracking features have been a godsend this year," he says, "just watch the price and jump on it on the way down."

Like Darrington, Horne said he was deliberately being flexible with his travel bookings this year and trying to find good deals. However, he also admits that not everyone has the opportunity to travel all the time.

Tip 4: Pay attention to the amount of luggage you bring with you

Traveling light can be a blessing when booking travel.

It's cheaper to carry simple carry-on luggage than check-in baggage. Unless you're traveling overseas, have special credit card benefits, or other circumstances, most airlines charge checked baggage fees. Those fees can range from $30 to $150, according to The Points Guy.

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"Sometimes you can get really cheap tickets, but the cost of hand baggage and checked baggage for each family member almost amounts to the total cost of the flight," says Darrington.

For families with young children, remember that most airlines allow babies and toddlers to check in diaper bags free of charge, as well as strollers and car seats on board.

Darrington recommends vacuum bags for people planning long trips and encourages family members to share luggage whenever possible.

Trick 5: Register your child in their own rewards account

Finally, Durrington recommends travelers with children get the youngest enrolled in their premium account for each airline.

“Accounts are generally free to create, and you can earn points for them the first time they fly,” says Darrington.

"Sign up to receive emails from your favorite airlines you regularly fly with and find out if they have promotions to earn double or triple points," he says.

Dinner with airfare $30,000

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