How to Find Cheap Flights For Your World Travel Adventures
How to Find Cheap Flights For Your World Travel Adventure
Finding cheap flights can make your brain feel like it’s going to explode! There are just too many tips and pointers out there, too many changing variables, and too much noise in this space. But finding cheap flights to anywhere doesn’t need to be stressful. Finding cheap flights can actually be easy.
Here I break down for you the easiest ways to make sense of finding cheap flights for your adventures. Whether you are booking a round trip flight to just a single destination, or a myriad of one-way tickets around the world, you will find what you need here. If you’re planning a Family Gap Year, this is the perfect place to start.
How Many Ways Can You Find A Cheap Flight?
You can book travel tickets through a variety of sites and using a variety of points and miles cards. But how do you find the cheap flights? What is the best way to get actually find the cheap flight you need for the lowest price?
How We Find Cheap Flights
- Use SkyScanner to figure out the cheapest flight legs in and out of your preferred destination. My post on using Skyscanner will walk you through how to do this quickly and easily.
- Once you have determined which airlines and flight legs travel to/from your destination, you can track the price of flights using Google Flight Tracker. My post on using Google Flight Tracker will walk you through how to setup your flight alerts simply.
- If you hope to use points or miles for your cheap flight you can either: book through the airline directly, book through your credit card’s travel portal (which often gives you more bonus points/miles for your account), or with some cards (Chase), you can pay for the flight then login to your card portal and “erase” the charge with your points.
- Follow The Points Guy and Scotts Cheap Flights for outrageously cheap flights. These websites usually let you know about flights happening in the next 2 weeks to 3 months, that would need to be booked right away to nab the deal.
My Favorite Way To Find Cheap Flights
Flying cheap can be difficult with a family. Not impossible, but nearly. Using points and miles to find cheap flights can be confusing as well. But, here is a simple breakdown of how to build points and miles for the trips you want to take. My best tips, hard earned from the mistakes we have made, are below.
There are SO. MANY. points and miles teachers out there. I am not one of them. I do love The Points Guy as a starting place for identifying the cards that will suit your needs best. I also follow a number of points and miles accounts on Instagram, and have learned some pretty amazing things from them!
I am going to tell you some things that they don’t always tell you though. Once you have identified the cards you might want to open, these tips will help you make the best decisions for your family and your financial needs.
Using The Adults In Your Family To Build Points and Find Cheap Flights
You and the other adult in your family count as separate people. Sometimes, families I talk to forget that. You can open a travel rewards card for yourself, and then one for your spouse. Together you are getting double the bonus miles! Simply transfer the miles you earn from one person to the other when you are ready to book a ticket. Ta da! The easiest ways to accrue points and help you find cheap flights. Tip: NEVER place you or your spouse as authorized users on these cards. Otherwise it will count against you!
Wait 90 Days Between Opening Cards
I always recommend waiting at least 90 days between opening any cards. Many cards will deny your application if it is too close in time to a previous opening, and a denied application can be a hard hit to your credit score. Wait 90 days per person. So about every 45 days you could be opening one.
Be Mindful of Annual Fees
Each card has its perks. Some cards carry a heavy annual fee, but make up for that in travel credits. For example, one of the Chase cards has a $395 annual fee, but offers a $300 travel credit when you book travel. Essentially, that makes your annual fee $95 but the perks much higher than the traditional $95 fee card. Booking a cheap flight on points should actually be cheap. The perks of your card must be worth the annual fee! Decide for yourself if you value lounge access, too, and if so go ahead and get a card with lounge access. But remember, it will usually only give access to you (and maybe one other person). So consider how much it may cost to get the rest of your family in.
Downgrade Your Card to a No Fees Option
What happens when you have used your points/miles and no longer want to pay an annual fee? You can call the credit card company and request to downgrade to one of their no-fees cards. This prevents you from having to close the card, which can affect your credit score. So, you can use the sign up bonus to find cheap flights, then downgrade the card after the 1 year anniversary. Also, some cards allow you to open the same card over again, and earn points for it, after a certain amount of time!
Remember to Use Each Card at Least Once a Year
Even when you are no longer using your points/miles bonus for a cheap flight, you will want to be sure to use each card you have at least once or twice a year. This prevents the card company from closing your account, which can affect your credit score.
Know About the 5/24 Rule
The 5/24 rule is one to know. Many credit card companies will not allow you to open more than 5 cards in a 24 month period. So choose your 5 cards carefully. American Express often doesn’t participate in this restriction and most business cards don’t count toward your 5/24. But any personal card you open will count towards the 5/24!
Always Pay Your Balance In Full
If you are the kind of person who pays their balance in full every month, then credit card travel hacking is for you. Keep in mind the minimum spend for bonuses are usually between $2000-4000 in a 3 month period. This is pretty easily doable if you place your recurring bills and expenses on the card you are building points with. Once you meet the spend, you will see the points/miles in your account. If you hold a balance, or don’t pay your card, though, you may not get awarded the bonus points.
What Cards are in My Wallet?
Here is the list of cards I currently have working for us:
- Delta American Express: Our homebase is a Delta Hub, so this card has helped us fly direct to many international destinations!
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: This helped us rack up tons of points that are flexible and can be transferred to a variety of airlines, hotels, and more.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards: We wouldn’t usually get more airline specific cards, but this year we wanted to go to Hawaii for free. So we worked our travel hacking magic with 2 Southwest Rapid Rewards cards, earned more than enough points to pay for our flights, and also earned 2 YEARS worth of Companion Passes which will cover the kids’ flights.
I hope these tips will help you when searching for cheap flights for your family! Bon Voyage!
What Cards Am I Looking for Next?
Our next cards will be based on our travel goals. We have some big international trips coming up, and honestly the accommodation far outweights the flight expense. I’ll be on the lookout for some excellent point offers for worldwide hotels!
Read about how we travel hacked Hawaii!