From time to time, I post Travel Deals. These are deals that I find around the internet that can be of use to my readers. These deals may be cheap hotel offerings, low airfare, mistake fares, great point/mile earnings, etc. I do my best to vet them to some degree to make sure that I don’t get you to do something that may leave you stuck. At the same time, I want to get them to you in as timely a manner as possible.
So, what should you do when these travel deals pop up? First of all, if the deal sounds remotely of interest to you, the first thing you need to do is BOOK IT! There are many ticket sites and airline sites that offer you the ability to cancel up to 24 hours after purchase (like United) or up to midnight of the following day (Delta). Orbitz also gives you the ability to cancel most tickets. So, when the airfare can be purchased through these sites, you can purchase with comfort knowing that you can cancel within that particular timeframe if needed. Thanks to these cancellation policies, you can book these travel deals and then work on the details later (vacation time, race applications, hotels, etc).
The second thing that you should do is make sure that you use a credit card that gives you the most points for the purchase. In the heat of making a travel deal purchase, it is easy to just grab whatever card is at hand or even use your bank debit card. The cards that you should use in order of priority are as follows: 1) cards that you need to meet a minimum spending on, 2) American Express Premier Rewards Gold – 3x points per dollar on airfare – or the American Express Business Rewards Gold card – also 3x points, 3) Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2.14 points per dollar on airfare, 4) the card that is co-branded with the airline you are purchasing from (like the United Chase card for United purchases) – these give 2x miles per dollar for the airline specific card, 5) finally, the American Express SPG card – it gives 1 point per dollar but these are very valuable points.
The third thing to do is to remember to add your frequent flyer number to the reservation. You can do this at anytime (even at the airport), but I find that if you do not do it around the same time of ticketing, you will forget. No matter where you fly to, you will not want to leave these free miles on the table.
The fourth thing to do concerns changes to your ticket. If you purchase the ticket right away but find out shortly after that you need to change it to something different, don’t select to change the flight! That would incur change fees and repriced fares. Instead, book another ticket to fit your new preferred schedule. BUT, you must cancel the old ticket as soon as you get the new one ticketed. The airline computer systems run sweeps and they will cancel tickets when the same person has a flight that overlaps. The important thing to remember is to book the new ticket before canceling the old ticket. This way, if the fare disappears while you are trying to book the new one, you at least still have the original ticket that you may be able to work with.
Hopefully, this little guide helps when the next travel deal comes along. I operate like this all the time on deals like this. For instance, last year when I booked my Rochester-Japan ticket, I did it right away. However, I had a couple of changes within the cancelation time so I made new flights and canceled the old ones. I had told others that were looking for a similar ticket about the deal and they said they would let me know that night. They were surprised when I told them that the deal had disappeared. I told them it is always better to buy now and work it out later. This is the big rule with travel deals.
So, with this guide now read, be ready the next time a good deal pops up!