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Y’all know everyone here at MMS loves using miles & points earned with the best credit cards for travel for free (or nearly free!) airfare. But sometimes it just makes more sense to pay cash for a ticket.
If your travel dates aren’t flexible and you can find a cheap ticket, you can buy your airfare and save miles & points for a more expensive ticket another time.
Google Flights has a price alert feature that can help you find a cheap ticket. Here’s how to set up a Google Flight alert.
How to Set Up Google Flight Alerts
If you can’t find reasonably priced award seats, some might prefer to just buy a plane ticket and save your miles for a better value later. That’s when Google Flights price alerts come in handy.
You can track prices for flights, to help you decide the best time to book. And Google will even email you when your ticket price drops!
Here’s how to set up Google Flight alerts.
Step 1. Enter Your Travel Information
Enter your travel details into Google Flights (number of passengers, origin airport, destination airport).
Step 2. Choose Your Dates
Enter your travel dates. If your dates are flexible, Google’s drop-down calendar is helpful for finding the current cheapest dates. After they’re selected, you can click the “Done” button and then the “Search” button.
Step 3. Click the “Track Prices” Toggle
Right below the first few flight search results, you’ll see a “Track prices” box. Click the toggle to start tracking flights that match your search details. Google will then keep tabs and automatically notify you if there are changes to the price.
If you aren’t signed in on Google, you won’t be able to track flights. A box will pop up, asking you to sign in.
Step 4. Click “View All”
Once you move the “Track prices” toggle, you’ll see a black box that contains a “View all” link. You can click this link to see all the flights you’re tracking. And flights you’ve tracked in the past.
Step 5. View the Flights You’re Tracking
From this page, you can see Google’s data on the flights you’ve asked it to track. It won’t have much to tell you immediately after you’ve set an alert. But in a few days, you can look back and see how the prices have changed by clicking the “Price History” dropdown.
Here’s a flight I tracked a few months ago. You can see how the prices changed with Google’s line chart.
Google will tell you when your flight price will likely increase. And it will notify you right before it predicts an increase. It will also tell you how confident it is in its prediction.
Step 6. Monitor Your Email
Google will email you an alert if the price of your flight decreases. So you don’t have to waste all your time checking throughout the day!
Here’s an example of a flight alert email. The ticket price decreased by $156. And for good measure, Google listed a couple other similar flights to help me see all my options.
You can click “Manage Price Tracking” at the bottom of the email to go straight to the flight tracking page with the line graphs. And you can click “Unsubscribe From Emails” if you don’t need the alerts anymore.
What Could Google Flight Alerts Do Better?
I really like Google Flights price alerts. But it lacks in a couple areas.
1. No Historical Data
Google Flights only begins recording data for certain flights after you request it. So you’ll have to wait several days before Google can show you any kind of airfare trend.
There are other sites, like Kayak.com, which uses previous data to tell you immediately whether it thinks you should buy your ticket or wait. This is helpful if your travel dates are in the relatively near future.
Kayak also lets you create an email price alert.
2. Price Alert Thresholds
Airfare prices can swing frequently. I’d like to be able to set a certain dollar amount on my Google Flights email alerts, so I won’t get an alert unless the price change is over that amount. That way Google won’t blow up my inbox with fare changes.
Don’t Forget to Use the Right Credit Card to Earn a Bonus on Airfare Purchases
If you’ve found a cheap ticket through Google Flight alerts and are ready to buy, remember to use a credit card that earns bonus miles or points for airfare purchases, like:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel (including airfare)
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel (including airfare) up to a maximum of $150,000 in purchases per account anniversary year (combined with shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 5X AMEX Membership Rewards points for flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel
Check out our full list of the best airline credit cards for more options!
Google Flight alerts can track airfare trends to help you decide the best time to purchase airfare. Google will email you when your flight price will likely increase, and notify you right before it predicts an increase.
Do you use Google Flight alerts or a similar tool? Let us know if it’s saved you money!
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