5 credit card tips to save on vacation flights

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Your credit card could help reduce these travel costs.

Key points

  • Holiday flights are much more expensive this year.
  • If you have credit card rewards, you can put them in your plane ticket to save money.
  • An introductory 0% APR card is worth buying if you have to pay for flight fees over time.

The holiday season promises to be costly for travellers. According to travel booking group Hopper, plane tickets for Thanksgiving are on average 25% more expensive than last year. Average plane ticket prices over the Christmas holidays are expected to be 55% more expensive than a year ago.

No one wants to spend their entire vacation budget on plane tickets, but there are ways to use credit card perks to spend less. Here are some credit card tips to consider so you can save on your vacation flights.

1. Redeem miles for your plane ticket

When spot prices are high, that’s normally the best time to book your ticket using miles. There are several ways to go about credit card miles, depending on the exact card you have.

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Airline credit cards allow you to earn miles with the airline that issued them. For example, if you have one of the Delta Air Lines credit cards, you can use the miles you have earned to book a flight with Delta.

There are also travel credit cards with transferable rewards. These allow you to send your rewards to any airline in that credit card’s rewards program. For example, if United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are part of your card’s rewards program, you can transfer your rewards to either airline and use them to book a flight with miles.

2. Redeem your rewards for a receipt

Maybe you don’t have miles that you can use with an airline. If you have other credit cards with rewards, you can probably still use the rewards you’ve earned to save money on your flight costs.

Let’s say you have a card that earns loyalty points. Many card issuers will allow you to redeem points for cash travel purchases. However, before doing this, check the value you will get. It should be at least $0.01 per point, which means 10,000 points will save you $100. If you’re going to get less, that’s probably not a good way to redeem your points.

You can do almost the same thing if you have a cashback card. After you book your ticket, use your cash back as statement credit to cover as much of the flight as possible.

3. Use a 0% APR credit card if you need to pay for tickets over time

It’s best to pay for your vacation flights in full when your credit card payment is due. But if you want to travel and tickets aren’t quite in your price range, another option is a 0% APR card. This type of credit card has a 0% APR on purchases for an introductory period, such as 12 or 15 months.

If you ever need to pay off a balance over time, whether it’s for a vacation flight or for any other reason, then 0% APR credit cards are the way to go. You will be able to pay off your balance while avoiding interest charges for the introductory period. However, the standard APR applies after the introductory period ends, so be sure to pay the balance before that date.

4. Book with Capital One Travel for price drop protection

Capital One made significant improvements to its online travel portal this year. One of the features offered by this portal is price drop protection. If you are looking for travel and Capital One recommends booking a specific flight immediately, Price Drop Protection will apply to that purchase. To find out if a flight is eligible, look for the phrase “You must book now” on the flight list.

When you book a flight with price drop protection, Capital One monitors the price for a set period of time. If it falls, you will be reimbursed up to a maximum of coverage.

5. Use an airline credit card for a free checked bag

“Travel light” is wonderful advice, but it’s not always doable, especially on vacation. If you’re bringing gifts for family or friends, one carry-on and one personal item might not be enough.

With most airlines, checked bags cost extra. Fortunately, many popular airline credit cards include a free checked baggage benefit. If you’re going to check a bag and it would otherwise cost $35 per flight segment, it’ll save you $70 on a round trip.

Since vacation flights are so expensive, check out all the benefits your credit cards offer to see how they can save you money. It might also be worth opening a new credit card if it offers travel benefits you can use. All the money you save on flights is more than you can spend on gifts and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.

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