It's never too early to start thinking about holiday travel. Take it from me, while this time of year is fun, it's also expensive. The cost of gifts can really add up, and the cost of travel can be just plain scary. But follow a few simple tricks and you can cut down the cost of traveling home this holiday season.
We are all guilty of procrastinating when it feels like our to-do lists are piling up, but when it comes to saving on travel, procrastination is not an option. If you are going to be redeeming airline miles the available seats will be taken, and if you are paying cash you'll likely see ticket prices skyrocket once November hits.
If you are going to be traveling during the holiday season, don't put off buying those tickets! Buy today and you'll thank yourself when the fare goes up $300 tomorrow.
Fly on the holiday itself.
If you are not opposed to traveling on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day you may be able to save a nice amount of money. Flying on a holiday is a good way to get cheap flights, as most people have already reached their destination by that time. In past years, we've seen discounts of around $67 off a domestic round-trip ticket on Christmas day.
Sign up for fare alerts.
Websites like Airfarewatchdog will allow you to sign up for fare alerts for a specific route. I fly a lot from Denver to Chicago, so this is an invaluable resource for me. I now get regular emails alerting me of all the current fares in between these cities on the dates I want to travel, so I know when to buy, and what airline has the cheapest flights.
Use online travel agents.
Airfare around the holidays can go up and down every day, so by making your purchase through an online travel agent like Orbitz or Expedia you can make sure you're not paying more than you should. When you use Orbitz you will receive a refund for the price difference if your flight drops in price at any point between the time of booking and your travel date. Expedia will refund the difference if the price drops within the first 24 hours.
Redeem your credit card rewards
I rarely travel these days without cashing in on my credit card rewards. Most issuers will give you enough miles to earn at least one free flight just for signing up for their credit card, and these free flights are perfect for use around the holidays. Two of my favorite credit cards for domestic travel are the Chase Ink Plus and British Airways credit card.
When you open a Chase Ink Plus card you will receive 70,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points when you spend $5,000 within the first three months. You can then transfer your your points to one of a couple handful of transfer partners; my two favorites are Southwest Airlines and British Airways.
With Southwest you can redeem the points on any "Wanna Get Away" fare. If I booked today, I could fly from Denver to Chicago on December 23 for just 9,767 points. That means the Chase Ink card would allow my wife and I to both be able to fly round-trip for just the cost of the government fees.
If you will be traveling a shorter distance for the holidays, the British Airways Visa Signature cardis a good idea. Spend $2,000 in the first three months and you'll get 50,000 British Airways Avois. British Airways offers short haul (650 miles or less) flights on Oneworld alliance member American Airlines for just 4,500 miles.
For more information on which cards garner the best rewards check out this blog post!
The holidays are an expensive time of year for most people, but traveling home to see friends and family doesn't have to be. By following some or all of these tricks, you can cut down on the price of travel this holiday season.
This article originally appeared on Brad’s Deals Blog. Read more from Brad’s Deals Blog: