We all do it – when we shop online, whether it be for travel or products, we will often default to the lowest price offering. If you are on Amazon and see a price range, it is common to select the different options to find which one is marked the lowest. When we search for travel, we instinctively look down the columns of the Restricted Economy options for airfare (or some similar wording) or Advanced Purchased for hotel rooms. But, looking beyond those columns can save you some money and points at times – while getting you a better option for your travel!
Looking Past The Cheapest Options Can Save You Money And Points!
American Airlines has had this happen quite a few times – you scan the price chart for a particular flight and First Class may actually be cheaper than Business Class on the same flight. For whatever reason, (fare mistake, undisclosed sale, etc) it happens and you can fly a little cheaper and a little better!
This is just the most recent example for me, but I was searching for a particular flight next year and was a little surprised to find that Turkish Airlines was actually pricing the Flexible Economy option (cancellations, etc) $30 cheaper than the Promotional Fare! Fortunately, Turkish marks the cheapest fare options with a star so I likely would not have missed it unless I was dead set on buying a promo fare, but it is still nice to take notice of something like that! Not only would I be getting a cheaper ticket, but I would also be getting one with greater flexibility if I want to/need to change or cancel it.
Tip: Look past the cheapest economy ticket price when hunting for tickets – even if it means you are in the business or first class columns. While it will not always be cheaper (in fact, most of the time it won’t be), you may find it only a little more expensive to go that route and actually save money in the end as a result (free baggage, free seat assignments – in a premium cabin, more miles earned, etc.).
With hotels, it can be quite a bit more common, especially with OTAs like Orbitz. You may be planning on selecting the standard room but if you click the button to show more rooms, you could actually find the better rooms at a cheaper price! This has happened a lot more to me than the airfare example. Sometimes it is a mistake but sometimes it may just reflect the demand on the hotel for the standard rooms.
In my most recent example, it was with Hilton and actually ended up with a cheaper point rate than cash rate. By this I mean that it was requesting fewer points (only 2,000 but still!) for a Deluxe room over the standard selection. The cash price for the difference in rooms actually had the Deluxe room about $34 more per night than the standard so if I had booked the Deluxe with points, I would have gotten a better point value plus a better room.
Tip: Make sure you select an option (if available) to search more rooms at the hotel. Also, scroll down and look closely at the amount of points being required vs the cost of the room.
Car Rental Example
Here is a bonus one for you! Car rentals can vary greatly based on demand and location, as far as what you end up with. I cannot tell you how many times I have driven off the lot paying only a couple of dollars more per day for a much nicer vehicle while I had reserved an economy model. But, you can save some money (or even points!) even earlier than at the counter!
This example is from several years ago so I would not expect this to be a common incident at all, but still a great example. I had Continental Onepass miles that I was not using and I really needed to get a rental car for 10 days. I looked through the options available on Continental’s website for redeeming miles for cars/hotels and found quite a few options. The Economy option was requiring 36,000 miles for a 10 day rental – not a good deal for me at all. But, changing the sorting method to show cheapest rate popped an amazing deal. It was a Luxury car for 10 days for 18,000 miles! That is a pretty good deal!
So, I ended up driving off the lot with a Lincoln MKZ for only 1,800 miles per day!
While searching for the cheapest travel path often is with the area of the most restrictions, it can pay (and save) sometimes to look beyond those choices. You will not save money every time, but when you do, it will make you realize how good it was that you looked further.