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AJ: When it comes to buying airline tickets, everyone wants to find the best deal! Sometimes you have plenty of time to research options, have flexible dates, or even find an another location that has cheaper prices. Other times travel is needed last minute, the dates are set, and can only be to one location.
Whether your travel is either one of these extremes (or most likely somewhere in between), you may be trying to figure out when is the best day to purchase airline tickets?
Looking for the Best Day to Buy Airline Tickets?
This question is not a new one, as folks have been trying to figure this out for years. Airfare prices to go up and down depending on the time of year, how much people are traveling, or even the day of the week. Knowing how and when to book airline tickets can give you Big Travel with Small Money.
We searched to find what the experts say to find out the best day to buy airline tickets, and want to share with you how you can find the best deals!
Here Is the Best Day to Buy Airline Tickets
One article in Business Insider provided some research to see if the rumor that Tuesday is the best day of the week to buy tickets is true. They found Tuesday can be the best day of the week, but only if the tickets are purchased 3 weeks in advance.
Even then, they found that this is only an average finding and the savings are typically only a few dollars. Another article in Budget Travel agrees that while middle of the week purchases may be slightly cheaper, the cost savings aren’t typically too great. However, this article does go on to say that last minute airfare purchases are not the best idea. So if your plans allow, it is almost always better to book at least 3 weeks in advance.
A recent post in US News and World Report mostly agreed that there is not necessarily a particular day of the week to purchase airline tickets, but did give good advice on flying certain days of the week (check prices for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays) and flying earlier in the day.
I’ve found booking airline tickets on a certain day of the week hasn’t made much difference. But how far in advance I have booked tickets as well as the days of the week I travel seems to help me find the best deals. If it’s a popular time in the city I am traveling to, such as a festival or a sporting event, pushing the trip up or back a week if possible can save a ton of money.
I have also found with Southwest, usually the earlier I book the cheaper prices are. This is because their cheapest fare called “Wanna Get Away” becomes less available as the flight date gets closer. However, even this is not always true because Southwest sometimes has sales that make tickets even cheaper.
One last thing to keep in mind is that not all airline tickets are the same. For example, Southwest offers 2 free checked bags per person and does not charge for additional items like carry-on luggage or change fees. However, some airlines like Spirit charge for checked bags, carry-on bags, seat assignments, or printing your boarding pass at the airport.
Even airlines like Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines have introduced “basic economy” tickets that charge you for items like seat assignments and sometimes carry-on bags. Therefore, it is always important to know what you are getting for the cheaper price.
Is There Another Way to Get Cheaper Airline Tickets?
Besides trying to figure out the best day to book tickets and the best day to fly, there is another way many folks have found to fly cheap, and sometimes free!
Miles and points earned from credit card rewards can help offset some or nearly all of airlines ticket costs. With all of the options for credit cards it can be overwhelming to find the right one. Here are a few of our favorites:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Apply Here: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. That’s worth $500 in cash back, $625 in travel when you book through the Chase Travel Portal, and potentially much more when you transfer points to travel partners like Hyatt and United Airlines!
You’ll also get:
- Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases worldwide
- Primary car rental insurance – Covers damage due to theft or collision to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card
- Trip delay reimbursement – Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours
- $0 foreign transaction fees
The card earns 2X points per $1 on travel and restaurant purchases. When you redeem these points on the Chase travel portal they are worth 25% more, so your sign-up bonus of at least 54,000 points (50,000 points from the sign-up bonus + at least $4,000 points from spend) is worth $675! Many folks find even better value by transferring their points to many of Chase’s partners including Southwest, United Airlines, or British Airways.
This is our favorite card for beginners because, along with the nice sign-up bonus, the annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. This allows you to try the card out for ~11 months before deciding if it is the right fit for you!
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Apply Here: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account. However, when redeemed on the Chase travel portal the points are worth an extra 50% (versus 25% on the Chase Sapphire Preferred).
You’ll also get:
- 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) & dining worldwide
- 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1 on all other purchases
- $300 annual credit every cardmember anniversary for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels
- $100 statement credit for Global Entry
- Free Priority Pass Select membership for access to airport lounges
- No foreign transaction fees
- Visa Infinite benefits like $25 food and beverage credit at the Luxury Hotel Collection and complimentary car rental elite status with Silvercar
- Rental car discounts with National Car Rental and Avis
The $300 credit is available every card member year, meaning that you can begin using it as soon as you open the account and again every year as long as you have the card. This applies automatically to the account when you make an eligible travel purchase, which includes a wide variety of purchases such as airfare, hotels, rental cars, train tickets, taxis, rideshares, and more!
The Priority Pass membership will get you and unlimited guests into eligible airport lounges when you enroll in the included membership. Keep in mind that beginning August 26, 2018, this will be restricted to the account holder and 2 additional guests.
The one downside to this card is the higher annual fee of $450, and it is not waived the first year. Many folks still pay this because they can take advantage of the $300 travel credit, additional points on travel and restaurants, and the Priority Pass membership.
I have this card and plan to keep it since my family is able to take advantage of the 3 points per $1 on travel and restaurants as well as the annual $300 travel credit. Plus the Priority Pass membership is a nice bonus when we travel through airports that have these lounges. However, since my home airport of Nashville does not currently have a Priority Pass lounge, I would not pay the fee only for this particular benefit.
If you travel frequently, this card could make a lot of sense for you despite its higher annual fee. However, if you don’t travel more than a few times a year then the lower fee Chase Sapphire Preferred could be a better option.
Capital One Venture Rewards
Apply Here: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Many folks love the simplicity of the Capital One Venture card. It comes with a generous sign-up bonus of 50,000 Venture miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. The 56,000 Venture miles you earn after meeting your minimum spending requirements (50,000 mile bonus + 6,000 miles from $3,000 spending) is good for $560 in airline tickets!
- 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
- 10 Venture miles per $1 you spend on hotel stays booked and paid for with your card through this Hotels.com link (through January 31, 2020)
- Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- NO foreign transaction fees
Capital One Venture miles are worth 1 cent each. You can redeem miles for nearly any travel purchase, like taxi rides, hotels, room service, and free flights. And you won’t have to worry about blackout dates or searching for available award seats or hotel nights!
To redeem your miles for travel, just buy travel like you normally would with your card. Then, you have 90 days to sign-in to your online account, find the travel purchase, and “erase” it with your miles.
There’s NO minimum redemption increment when redeeming miles, unless you’re using miles to partially pay for a travel purchase. In that case, the minimum is 2,500 miles ($25).
The $95 annual fee for the card is waived the first year, so this is another card that you can try out before deciding if it is right for you. While I personally prefer the Chase Sapphire cards for the bonus categories and transfer partners, the Capital One Venture is a great travel card for easy redemption!
Can You Be Approved for Top Travel Credit Cards?
While banks don’t publish what their requirements are for approvals, most folks have good luck getting approved for these cards with a 700+ credit score. If you don’t know your credit score, there are many places you can check for free.
But your credit score is not the only thing banks consider when applying for credit cards. They will also look at your income, number of recently opened accounts, and payment history.
Chase also has the “5/24 rule” with most of their cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the past 24 months with ANY bank (except Chase business cards and certain other business cards) it is unlikely that you will be approved for either of the Sapphire cards.
Also keep in mind that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite card, which typically requires a credit line of $10,000 or higher. If your income or other factors would not result in at least a $10,000 credit line then Chase would likely NOT approve you for the card.
Should You Apply for a Travel Rewards Card?
While credit cards with travel rewards can be a great way for cheap or even free flights, it is very important to pay the credit cards ON TIME and IN FULL every month. Rewards credit cards typically have much higher interest rates, so any interest you would be charged by not paying the statement balance in full every month would negate the value of travel rewards.
There has been a lot of research for the best time to buy airline tickets. While many agree that purchasing tickets at least 3 weeks in advance is better than last minute, and booking in the middle of the week can save you a few dollars, there is no consistent rule as to what is always the best time.
The best idea is to search multiple airlines and be flexible with dates, while considering what additional fees you could face on your flight.
Credit card rewards can make those high airline tickets much more manageable from generous sign-up bonuses, great return on spend, valuable travel credits, and airport lounges. Just remember to pay your bills in full and on time to be able take advantage of these offers.
In your experience, what have you found is the best time to book airline tickets?